I’ll admit that I’m a huge Sega fan boy. The Master System was my first console and I have fonder memories of the Genesis and Dreamcast than the SNES and Nintendo 64. I’m also a fairly intelligent human being that has never let such bias get in the way of reality and the reality is my nostalgia for Sega products will never bring back the good ol’ days nor will it cloud my perception.
The relationship between Sega and me is not unlike that of a first love that let herself go physically. While there’s a lot to be said for loyalty, if someone can’t respect themselves, then how in the hell are they going to respect me? I’ve moved on, but I can’t help but get a bit hot under the collar when people generalize my affections.
Myth 1: I played the Genesis because it was for an older crowd
People often refer to the grittier, more in your face commercials that ran during the promotion of the Genesis as a defining characteristic of people who purchased that system. I can only speak for myself, but I was a child at the time and frankly speaking, those commercials kind of scared me. Sega was thought to be trying to draw attention to the system (especially given the rise of Generation X, AKA Generation “Wrinkled Flannel”) and highlight that it wasn’t solely focused on the younger demographic. While the commercials may have been telling one story, the reality was that the Genesis didn’t really offer content that was that much more mature than what Nintendo did. In fact, the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat actually required a secret code to enable that infamous blood.
This was a difference in marketing and not necessarily a difference in user base. Sega had to stand out from the darling of the video game world and this meant being bold. Before the aforementioned campaign was utilized, Sega actually ran the “Genesis Does” commercials, but those no longer applied once the SNES came out. If anything, many adopted the Genesis because of its huge library and lower price point, but commercials don’t really catch attention a teen’s attention when front-loaded with fiscal responsibility.
Myth 2: I think the Sonic games were better than the Mario games
This is false based entirely on the fact that the comparison between Sonic and Mario is one that can only be made at the level of mascot. The Mario series up to that 16-bit generation of consoles was a true platformer that focused quite a bit on the adventure/exploration side of things (especially in SMB3 and SM World) where as Sonic was more about maintaining a certain flow through the levels and the power that came with speed. As a gamer that had both systems, the games complemented each other more than they competed and I got a completely different sense of accomplishment and entertainment our of each. Now, some people may have preferred one style of game play over another, but saying Sonic was better than Mario is a pretty ignorant statement regardless of one’s affinity for Sega.
Myth 3: I refuse to buy Nintendo Products
I’ve purchased at one time or another every console that Nintendo has created outside of the current handhelds. In fact, I’ve kept up with Nintendo products far better than I have with Sega ones, it’s just that the major systems had more of an impact on me than Nintendo’s did. The rivalry was all business on their end and while I don’t mind arguing why I liked the Genesis better than the SNES, I would only be punishing myself if I’d drawn a line in the sand.
I will say that I don’t see myself purchasing Nintendo products anytime in the near future because I’ve lost faith in it, especially after the gimmicky paperweight that is the Wii and the out of touch showing at this year’s E3. While I see quite a few parallels between the death of Sega as console manufacturer and Nintendo’s future, at least Sega died because it couldn’t keep up as opposed to Nintendo feeling like it doesn’t have to.
Myth 4: I think Game Gear was better than the Game Boy
As cool as it was to have a portable console with a color display, the Game Gear was super weak. The battery life alone sunk that ship. Even though I liked the landscape controls a lot better than those of the Game Boy, I was also in elementary school and couldn’t afford the endless batteries or the battery pack that added about five pounds to the system. Nintendo grabbed its position as the king of portable gaming at this point in time and never let go, which is perfectly fine by me because that is one thing they continue to do right. Besides I was a fat kid with horrible allergies; leaving the house was a death sentence (well maybe not a death sentence but it greatly increased the potential for wheezing).
Myth 5: I convinced myself the Dreamcast was a good system
The fact of the matter is, there wasn’t much convincing that needed to be done. The Dreamcast was a pretty solid system that suffered the consequences of going toe to toe with the superior Playstation 2. Unlike the Wii, which catered to a much different audience than its more powerful competition, the Dreamcast had a very similar demographic to Sony and didn’t have the gimmicks to make up for the hardware disparity. Regardless, my memories with the Dreamcast are ones defined by satisfaction, not disappointment.
One of the things that I remember most about the Dreamcast was the robust nature of its launch titles. Sega did a great job of offering a little bit of everything, which definitely appealed to me as I was tentative about the purchase at the time. Knowing that I could be playing games ranging from Sonic Adventure and Hydro Thunder to Soul Calibur and House of the Dead meant I didn’t have to buy the system then wait till something I liked came out.
It didn’t hurt that the Dreamcast offered up a new Resident Evil experience in Resident Evil: Code Veronica which was a huge upgrade from its PS1 and Saturn brethren and was one of the many games that made the system for me. Even though the third party support wasn’t really there, Sega did a great job with its exclusives, many of which still rank up there in my top 100 of all time. The Dreamcast would be the first and only system I ever played a sports game on as I became utterly addicted to the NFL 2K series in its infancy. Powerstone and Powerstone 2 still stick in my mind as the most fun I ever had with 4 people and are games I still consider superior to Super Smash Bros. I realize Shenmue wasn’t a perfect game but it was still my first open world experience and acted as the bar for other games in that genre. Let’s not forget Ready 2 Rumble, Phantasy Star Online, Jet Set Radio and Panzer Dragoon Orta. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Blue Stinger, which despite its B-Movie antics was a game that I absolutely loved for all the wrong reasons.
Myth 6: I want a new Sega system
Despite yelling about such things on the podcast or in my sleep at times, the luster of consoles faded a long time ago for me. I’m running at about 80% PC right now and don’t have any desire to go back. What I’ve learned is that consoles constrain me way too much and if the failure of my favorite brand has taught me anything it’s that the longevity of such a product is based entirely on whether or not it can keep up with the competition from a hardware perspective, not necessarily from an entertainment perspective. People always want the more powerful product and that will always be the PC.
Additionally, I don’t really think there is much room for Sega (if it had the desire to release another system, which it doesn’t) to find a place in the scrum that is Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. That’d be like convincing a buddy to jump into a fight with three MMA fighters. I’m content with my memories on this one.
Myth 7: Altered Beast was the best pack-in game ever
Imagine this scenario: You’ve finally earned enough money to buy the new Sega Genesis system everyone is talking about, but quickly realize that you don’t have enough cash to buy a game. Upon opening the box, you’re surprised to find that a game is actually part of the package, but its one you’ve never really heard about. This Altered Beast looks like a simple brawler, which should hold you over until you earn more money and can get something better.
You load the game up and suddenly realize that your character is actually dead and buried in a creepy looking graveyard. A bit disappointing but before you can hit the power button Zeus himself hits your final resting place with a lighting bolt and orders you to “Rise From Your Grave.” You pop out in the form of a somewhat scrawny but nonetheless potent warrior and begin punching your way through hordes of zombies. Suddenly a white dog comes at you and once it’s met its fist-fueled doom, you absorb a ball of what has to be steroids and suddenly your character’s clothes are bursting at the seams. After ingesting another of these orbs, you’ve gone full Ferigno yet it doesn’t end there. One final energy sphere and the screen changes to a portrait of your character with flames in the background. He screams, a scream that morphs into a howl and suddenly your man face is replaced with a wolf face.
“This is too good to be true,” you think to yourself, but before you know it you’re dropping bombs on the denizens of the underworld in the form of a freaking WEREWOLF! Your prepubescent brain can hardly contain its excitement once you realize that you’ll be taking on the persona of not one but 4 animal/man hybrids throughout your journey. The crotch of your pants tighten up a bit and you look down and realize that you’ve gotten your first boner.
It’s safe to say that I 100% agree with this myth and can 100% attest to the aforementioned tale being one based in truth. I literally just tore my shirt thinking about it.
Don’t Be That Guy – Seriously, no one likes a stereotype and video games are full of them. In the best interest of taking gaming culture out of the shadows, we think it’s best that we leave some of these characters behind.