SEGA: The Soundtrack of My Youth

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  • Red Hot Chili Peppers poster on the wall? Check.
  • Drum set with dirty clothes stuffed in the bass drum? Check.
  • Bed unmade? Check.
  • Exposed carpet nail strip that you stepped on each time you entered the room? Check. Ouch!

Welcome to my childhood friend’s brother’s room. It was here that I discovered golden axes, dolphins that echoed, and a faster than fast hedgehog. Of course, I am talking about the pinnacle of the 16-bit era, the SEGA Genesis.

When not outside playing with G.I. Joes or swimming in the pool, my friend Greg and I would often sneak into his brother’s room and take turns playing Sonic the Hedgehog. I remember thinking that the game was incredibly fast. As advertised, Sonic was a lot faster than Nintendo’s Mario. SEGA. One of our most favorite games to play on the Genesis was Golden Axe. What is sad is that we were both terrible at it. I remember getting mad at each other for accidentally hitting the other person’s character. Whoops! I also recall typically playing as the muscled-out he-man. Greg would play as the dwarf with the long white beard. Sad to think that we never beat the game, especially after all the hours we sunk into it.

My experience with SEGA systems goes even further back than Ryan’s aromatic room–dirty laundry mixed with deodorant–. I remember my cousin Casey introducing me to the 8-bit SEGA Master System. I must have spent the afternoon with her playing Alex Kidd. She had all the cool toys, even Mario Paint on the NES. Beyond Casey, my friend Andrea also had a Master System– what is it with girls having all this video game goodness?–. I don’t remember what games I played over at Andrea’s house, but I do remember the distinct packaging of the Master System games.

The 16-bit era is probably my most favorite when it comes to video games. These are the games that I played late into the night when I slept over at friends homes. SEGA games play like a soundtrack to my early childhood. Highlights include:

  • Beating Vectorman while hyped up on Vicodin.
  • Hours of playing Road Rash.
  • Airline Tycoon.
  • Feeling of claustrophobia from playing Echo the Dolphin.
  • Never beating Sonic the Hedgehog. (I can admit that the underwater portions always did me in.)

The Collection Revisited

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As I was reading an article by Syp over at BioBreak, from this past week, I suddenly had the urge to start collecting video games again. Different titles and systems paraded through my mind in all their 16-bit glory. I could see myself engrossed in games that I had loved playing as a kid.

Something stopped me though. I felt this weird sense of deja-vu. I have been down this road before. Now, I’m not saying anything negative against Syp, I think that it is great to collect different things that interest us. For me though, collecting video games became more of an identity. It was who I was. In fact, I wrote about it back in January of this year as copied below:

The Collection

Once upon a time, I collected video game systems and games as a hobby.

Please note that my collection never looked like this...I wish!

I slowly built up my collection over time. A SEGA Saturn here; a random game there. Often I would plug in a misc.  system and play some of the games I had for the fun of it. As time progressed, however, I found that my collection was gathering dust. Mt interests had changed. I mean, I still liked playing video games but didn’t feel the need to collect them anymore. So, I started to sell off the mounds of hardened plastic I had accumulated. I remember that  upsetting me at first. No longer would I be able to play Panzer Dragoon for the heck of it. The collection that had been everything to me was being dwindled away into nothing.

We all find our identity, who we are, in the things that we believe and do. For a long time, my identity had been as a video game collector. With the selling of my collection, that was a title I would no longer bear. Perhaps this was a good thing though. Collecting chunks of plastic, consoles and games, only to let them collect dust and ultimately not be played makes no sense. It’s like me going into the public library, buying all the books up, only to never read them or let anyone else read them for that matter. “Captain it is simply not logical.”

Since the great video game purge, I have tried to limit my video game library. I have done this by becoming an avid user of Goozex, on online video game trading site. This has allowed me to obtain $60 games by getting rid of games that I no longer play. This has occasionally led me to slight dilemmas of which games to get rid of -the inner collector in me wanting to keep them all!- . As I stated above though, this makes no sense. Especially when I can take a game I no longer play and trade it in for something I actually will.

The Collection

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Once upon a time, I collected video game systems and games as a hobby.

*Not my collection. Would have been cool though...

I slowly built up my collection over time. A SEGA Saturn here; a random game there. Often I would plug in a misc.  system and play some of the games I had for the fun of it. As time progressed, however, I found that my collection was gathering dust. Mt interests had changed. I mean, I still liked playing video games but didn’t feel the need to collect them anymore. So, I started to sell off the mounds of hardened plastic I had accumulated. I remember that  upsetting me at first. No longer would I be able to play Panzer Dragoon for the heck of it. The collection that had been everything to me was being dwindled away into nothing.

We all find our identity, who we are, in the things that we believe and do. For a long time, my identity had been as a video game collector. With the selling of my collection, that was a title I would no longer bear. Perhaps this was a good thing though. Collecting chunks of plastic, consoles and games, only to let them collect dust and ultimately not be played makes no sense. It’s like me going into the public library, buying all the books up, only to never read them or let anyone else read them for that matter. “Captain it is simply not logical.”

Since the great video game purge, I have tried to limit my video game library. I have done this by becoming an avid user of Goozex, on online video game trading site. This has allowed me to obtain $60 games by getting rid of games that I no longer play. This has occasionally led me to slight dilemmas of which games to get rid of -the inner collector in me wanting to keep them all!- . As I stated above though, this makes no sense. Especially when I can take a game I no longer play and trade it in for something I actually  will.

E3: Booth Babes

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The first E3 that I can remember attending was in 1999, at the Los Angeles Convention Center; 1999, the year of the Dreamcast. I will never forget walking onto that crowded showroom floor, choked full with geeks and sweaty nerds, and getting to check out Sega’s latest entry into the console market. Sonic Adventure blazed across the huge screens that had been set up in Sega’s booth. However, what really caught my eye was the speed of 3D fighter Power Stone. In no time, my friend and I were swinging off lamp posts and dealing cartoon damage to one another. Good times indeed. In the midst of all the excitement of being able to play with games and consoles that would not be on shelves until months later, E3 contained what was once a video game industry norm, the booth babes.

Using sex to sell video games to buyers and those in the video game industry, the practice of using women to arouse and entice was largely a norm. I have distinct memories of lines to get your pictures taken with your favorite scantily clad video game vixen. I also remember my Uncle wanting to hang around where the official Tomb Raider model was. Boys will be boys right?

Scantily clad women no doubt helped sell the latest and greatest video games (until E3 2006, when they were banned), but I wonder at what cost? No, I’m not talking about what the models were paid per hour to be ogled/ groped at. I’m talking about the eternal costs of lust. What we take into our minds will eventually come out in some way…causing all sorts of trouble when it does.

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Song of Solomon 8:4b)

Top Games You Miss Playing With Your Friends

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Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

SEGA Genesis

Nintendo 64

  • Banjo Kazooie
  • Bio F.R.E.A.K.S.
  • Diddy Kong Racing
  • Duke Nukem 64
  • Mark Kart 64
  • San Francisco: Rush
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Turok
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • 007

PC

  • Battlezone
  • Command and Conquer / Red Alert
  • Diablo 1 & 2
  • Drakan
  • Homeworld/ Cataclysm
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  • Mechwarrior 2
  • Monkey Island Series
  • Myst
  • Sam and Max
  • Starcraft/ Warcraft/ Warcraft II
  • World of Warcraft

Arcade

Any games you miss playing with your friends? Add to the list in the comments below!

Podcast Spotlight: Retronauts

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A trip to nostalgic beach is often the order of the day around JohnnyBGamer. 1up’s Retronauts, with host Jeremy Parish, provides an insightful podcast that fills that nostalgic need. Discussing games of the bygone era, Retronauts explores the early days of the gaming industry. From the highs and lows of the Atari to the golden age of Sega and Nintendo, Retronauts never fails to deliver an informative and entertaining podcast. For those wishing to revisit their childhood video game memories, this podcast is for you!

Just subscribe already!

Give them a listen (link will open iTunes).

R.I.P. Paperboy

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Paperboy Menu

Growing up, the theater in my hometown had an arcade that was above the concession stands. I clearly remember the smell of popcorn mixed with games of Afterburner, Super Hang-On, and Paperboy. Killing time, both before a movie and afterwords, was never so much fun! Fast forward a decade…

Paperboy

My memories of Paperboy were recently rekindled when I came across vNES, a website that hosts Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games. Dodging skateboarders, runaway tires,  and unsupervised children recalled a time when videogames were more simple. However, please don’t read the word simple as meaning easy. Paperboy was never easy for me. Everything in the world of Paperboy seemed built to kill. Hitting common fences, dogs, and even construction workers meant a loss of life. I truthfully do not know how the nameless paperboy portrayed in the game kept at his job. I would have quit long after the old lady ran out of her house in newspaper delivery rage. Perhaps the silent paperboy was well paid? I doubt it. More likely a virtual slave to programming. I dedicate this post to him, the 80’s, and memories of waiting to be picked up at the local theater. Thanks Mom!

Paperboy Calls It Quits!

Such a promising kid.