A Hedgehog called Sonic
Guest Blog by David Morley
My older brother grabs the good controller. It’s the enhanced one as it’s been used more and it’s not as rigid apparently. “Hold on, let me get comfortable.” EA Sports it’s in the game! The early nineties were hard, a lack of money for my parents being the main issue. So when my oldest of two older brothers bought me a Sega Mega Drive for my birthday and gave it to me early. It was a big moment.
It’s 1993 I’m about a week away from my fourteenth birthday and forever being lifted into 16bit gaming heaven. A back story for my gaming knowledge previous to this day would be the commodore 64, my friend Paul’s bedroom and a Peter Beardsley manager game called… wait for it: Peter Beardsley’s International Manager. I recall the day like it was yesterday; the brand new Sega Mega drive box with images of the games that you could buy like Hang On, Sonic the Hedgehog, Italia 90 and Columns, pictured on the back. My first ever game was, of course, Sonic the hedgehog. The little spiky- haired dude who would refuse to jump lava in the marble zone levels consistently for about a week. The SEGA start up title blasted out and I was addicted.
Even now, that little blue Sega intro is etched on my brain forever, instantly transporting me back to that moment in time. Out of the box, the Mega Drive was instant gaming. My older brother showing me how it’s done, his skills came from spending his time in the very place from where the Mega Drive evolved. Driven by the arcade generation before it, the games were in now in your home and on your television. There is a show on streaming platforms which charts the history of gaming. I urge you to check it out.
I played Micro Machines 2 until it was late, with its super league promotions and relegations; Aliens 3 with it hard, thumping heartbeat theme; Desert strike with its cry to war, fast-paced intro and Mortal Kombat with its party line, ‘get over here’. All of this, with a controller which felt more comfortable in my hand than any of today’s efforts. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Sometimes harmful, but the longing induced by the Sega Mega Drive, is more than that. The Mega Drive was a first step on my way to a lifelong obligation and commitment of playing and collecting video games.
An ugly sibling to my nostalgia is my cynicism of where gaming is going. The comparisons I have are not to sound old-fashioned but the Mega Drive era was a just a better time. The game boxes were an art form and
insanely detailed. Every genre was covered and some with big celebrity names to go with it. The lack of a save game option challenged the players longevity.
My paper round or pocket money went on the computer magazines like Sega Magazine and Sega Power. They came with cheat codes at the back which added another dimension when you completed said game.
*Whilst the demo is playing, hold A+B+C and Sonic will get confused and die. To name one of the more random ones.* Up, up, down again might sound like me longing for the past but there was something about a magazine delivering the newest gaming news as well as how to cheat. There was, of course, something that felt like a physical cheat or hack which was to blow into the cartridge when the game failed to load. I’m still not sure this was ok to do and if it even helped, but the game did work afterwards. Returning to the Mega Drive’s controller and some rather ugly palm sweating. This still happens today, whilst comfortable to handle it does makes the purlicue part of my hand sweat and go dry. Too much information given! Sorry, I’ll move on.
As I sit reading through what I have written, I realise this was meant to be a review of the Mega Drive console. I would, of course, give it 100%. 10/10. But what I have found whilst writing this, is that, I actually wanted to review this time period of gaming now commonly referred to as retro gaming. I want to rant and tell the world that retro and Mega Drive was better. My fear, of course, is that in time the console and game prices will surge and, like all other hobbies, become unreachable to some.
So, out of a huge bank of over seven hundred games that were available, I leave you with a list of my favourite games from a 16bit heaven; Mega Bomber Man, Earthworm Jim, Aladdin, Streets of Rage 2, Aliens 3, Italia 90, WWF, NHL 94, Toe Jam and Earl, Cool Spot, FIFA, PGA Golf, Sensible Soccer, Micro Machines 1&2 , Nba Jam. Pete Sampras Tennis. Senna GP, Mortal Kombat. Road Rash, Desert Strike and Theme Park. *though I preferred it more on the Amiga 1200.*
For my epilogue, I will admit that the Mega Drive had its opponent and if you were lucky, you had them both. But you can keep Mario, Luigi and their karts and worlds. You can say no to Donkey Kong and Street
Fighter, as there was only ever one 90’s console for me. So I urge you; Put away that 32 inch curved monitor with its insane GPU power. Subscribe to TheGebs24 on YouTube for more of your retro needs. Find a little space for the tiny but heavy CRT television and transport yourself back. You will not be disappointed.
Guest Blog by David Morley
I really enjoyed reading this. I myself was a Nintendo owner, but some of my friends had MegaDrives. We would often swap consoles for a week or so, just to experience new games and a different platform. Great read.
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