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Joystiq remembers the Sega Genesis


Today marks the 20th anniversary of the North American release of the Sega Genesis. To welcome the Genesis to the next level ... of its life, several Joystiq writers have revisited the Enchanted Castles of our memories to share a favorite anecdote about the beloved console -- which altered our lives as drastically as it altered beasts.

Truxt - on past the break for a blast (processing) to the past, and then let us know what set your 68000 heart on fire in the comments. And if you don't have any Genesis stories in your life, go make some! You'd be surprised at just how good the old Sonic games are. Like, so good they aren't terrible.

  • Andrew Yoon (@scxzor): Like Dave (and many others), I was a hardcore Nintendo fan when I was a wee lad. I remember teasing the other kids at school that had Genesis, because Nintendo was SO much cooler than Sega.

    To be honest, playing through Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection on PS3 made me realize that I didn't miss much. Other than the Sonic the Hedgehog games and Gunstar Heroes, I couldn't really get into many of these games. Maybe I'm a heartless bastard. Or maybe, just maybe, I'm still a total Nintendo fanboy at heart.
  • Ben Gilbert (@BigBossBgilbert): My time with the Sega Genesis can be summed up in three words: Mario Lemieux Hockey. I never dug Sonic, or played any Phantasy Star games, or even knew what "blast processing" was. The thing is that my brother is eight years my elder and as such, the majority of my gaming as a lad was competitive Street Fighter 2 (on SNES) or Mario Lemieux Hockey ... against his (again, much older than me) friends. He bought the consoles/games, I just played whatever I could get my hands on.

    A second caveat: I was really really into hockey when I was a kid -- again, mostly because my older brother was -- and schooling his friends in a hockey game was insanely gratifying. Sure, we had a 32X eventually and we bought a Sega CD on launch (er, at least I think -- it was the holidays and I wasn't the one purchasing it), but my fondest memories on the console surround the schooling of folks much older than myself in Mario Lemieux Hockey. I still have the "collector's edition" puck that came with it.
  • Chris Grant (@chrisgrant): In December of 1989, there was only one thing on the mind of a young Chris Grant: The Genesis. I had studied promotional materials for the system and had taken to reciting them, from memory, to my parents at every opportunity. "Dad, did you know it has a 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor?" "Mom, it can display 64 colors onscreen at the same time ... out of 512 total possible colors!" I was smitten. So, after one lengthy and, I was convinced, successful pitch, when my father told me, "I think you're going to be really happy with your Christmas present this year" I was sure I'd done it. The Genesis and I would spend the rest of our lives with each other.

    On Christmas morning, I had the singular focus of a nearly blind man searching for his glasses. By instinct, I could dismiss packages. Too small. Too long. Too heavy. As the pile of presents thinned out, I had been consistently ignoring a tall one in the corner. Too tall. Finally, unsure of what to do, I opened it and, lo and behold: The Miracle Piano Teaching System for the NES? Yes, my parents had misinterpreted my desire for the Genesis as a desire for a videogame-based piano training keyboard. I played some of those minigames, sure, but I always blamed the Miracle keyboard for dashing my hopes. I ended up getting a Genesis at some later point (birthday?) and indeed, we shared many incredible memories throughout the years. Even when the Genesis started to get old, we got a few extra years together thanks to technological advancements: the Sega CD, the 32X. Finally, one day, it was time to put it down (the controller, that is) – the PlayStation was coming. Did you know it had a 32-bit MIPS-compatible chip running at over 33 MHz?
  • David Hinkle (@DaveHinkle): I was always a Nintendo fan growing up, so we never got any of the Sega systems at launch when I was younger. However, one Christmas late in the console's life cycle, my folks gifted us kids the Genesis, Sega CD and 32X with a bunch of games. One of my dad's coworkers wanted to get rid of it all (I think he was declared insane shortly after selling) and, knowing how much I loved games, my dad took him up on the offer. That Christmas morning was magical and chock full of Mortal Kombat 3, Star Wars 32X and Sonic CD.
  • James Ransom-Wiley: One of my fondest Genesis memories was somehow convincing a middle school teacher to allow a few cohorts and I to do an in-school project using the console to "research" the educational value of video games. We borrowed one of the school's TVs and set up shop in the corner of the classroom, carefully angling the screen away from our teacher's desk and dialing down the volume. After a few days, and no doubt attracted by our gleeful cries, our teacher came over to check on our progress. We were playing Eternal Champions. Needless to say, we failed to argue the merit of "Overkills," and the scheme was quickly disbanded. Still, we got to play Genesis in school. That's better than soda in the water fountains.
  • JC Fletcher (@jcfletcher): Shortly after the launch of the Genesis, a business opened up in my hometown that was based entirely on the system. It was like those LAN game centers that would open a few years later, except with rows of TVs and Genesis systems instead of PCs ... and they weren't networked ... and you couldn't buy bottles of Bawls. Anyway. You paid by the hour, and could switch out games from a sizeable library whenever you felt like it.

    Because of this place (and because of its close proximity to our local grocery store) I got to play pretty much the whole Genesis launch-era lineup. I'm pretty sure I would never have been exposed to Slaughter Sport or Budokan: The Martial Spirit otherwise.
  • Justin McElroy (@JustinMcElroy):I'm not sure if this is cheating or not, but the most important thing about the Genesis to me was the Sega CD. People who know me know that I have a massive spot in my heart for FMV, and the Sega CD was really my entry point into that whole world. There was just something about the first time I booted up Sewer Shark and knew that real people counted on my performance. It was wonderful, but sort of creepy at the same time. I still don't know why it had such a profound effect on me, but if you ask me about my Genesis memory, it always involves watching C-list actors made of pixels the size of Buicks.
  • Ludwig Kietzmann (@LudwigK): Though I knew it as the "Mega Drive," Sega's 16-bit system is partially responsible for my young self's rabid devotion to all things Sega -- and entirely to blame for my inherent distrust of games in which you control a velociraptor. Enter: the Jurassic Park game, which boldly offered you two playable characters in the forms of a stiffly animated Dr. Grant and, um, a snarling dinosaur. When you're a kid, that's only one choice. And when you're a kid, that last part in the museum is the most frustrating thing ever. But man, you can play as a velociraptor!
  • Richard Mitchell (@SenseiRAM): I got my first Genesis in the summer of 1992. My brother and I were having a joint birthday party that year, because my actual birthday is in the winter, and I'd never gotten to have a pool party. My best friend had gotten a Super Nintendo the previous year, and that was the only thing I wanted for my birthday. Of course, an SNES cost $199, which in 2009 dollars is equivalent to $87,427 (roughly), no easy sum for my parents to afford. Thus, on the day of the joint party, my mother revealed my present and ... it was a Sega Genesis. It sucked the wind right out of my sails.

    I was upset, and that made my mother upset. To this day, to my incredible shame, I will never forget how much my reaction hurt her. I didn't know it at the time, but my mother's choice would turn me into a Sega fanatic for life. I still remember my fanboy days, when I would argue with friends about the ways the Genesis was superior to the SNES. Never mind that it could only display 64 colors, it had Blast Processing. It also had the best version of Mortal Kombat. Years down the line, I rode my Sega Saturn to the bitter end (I still regret the day I chose to buy an imported version of Dead or Alive instead of Panzer Dragoon Saga). The Dreamcast followed and, when it tanked, I got an Xbox. Know why? It had Sega's Jet Set Radio Future as a launch title. Well, that, and I'd be damned if I bought into Sony's evil empire (I was still mad at them for snatching up exclusivity to Tomb Raider).

    So, thanks, Mom, for the best present I've ever had.

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