Genesis Did, Does, and Always Will
Few things about my childhood remain so fervently strong in my memories as video games. And the crowning neuron among all those synapses is my affection for the SEGA Genesis. To try and explain it in words is difficult because from 1991 to 1993 I had so many memories and experiences during my formative teenage years.
I had console systems before and after, but I came of age during the early console wars (I highly recommend Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake Harris if you were a child of the era. It is very well written and done with both maturity and knowledge by one who grew up during then). There was no internet, and television and magazines were your only sources. You were either a fundamentalist Nintendo, SEGA, or NEC solider; school blacktop allegiances lived and died by your decision. Being 14 at the time of the Genesis’ release in the States I was squarely caught up in its rapture.
There is also a resurgence in 8- and 16-bit nostalgia going on. From coffee table books to posters to fan remakes it’s difficult to quantify how much money many of us are willing to cough up to retain physical, and digital, evidence of our perfect youth.
Since I’m not a novelist I will save the nostalgia road trip by highlighting specific moments forever sealed in a fixed quantum state.
- Borrowing CJs Genesis for the weekend to play Sonic the Hedgehog. My fee was to return his video game rentals in the town over from us; a solid 3 mile bike ride each way
- Conquering Streets of Rage 2 on Maniac (hardest difficulty level) with James. My Max almost made it to the end but it was enough assist his Axel to victory in what seemed like forever.
- Level grinding in Shining Force 1/2. Once you hit level 30 if you acquired 5xp for a kill that was a lot (you need 100xp to level up). Getting a character to level 34 was dedication.
- Playing Revenge of Shinobi demo under glass in a future tech store in 1990 whose name escapes me. WHAT?! THREE BUTTONS ON A CONTROLLER? HOW CAN I KEEP TRACK??
- Getting Street Fighter 2: Hyper Fighting including a six-button controller. Life was good again. Standard controllers had to press select to toggle between punch and kick buttons.
- Playing through Sonic 3 and Knuckles using lock-on technology. By far the best Sonic game to date with its 14 gems to acquire, save data ability, and sheer length of gameplay for three possible characters.
- Stage 3-2 in Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi. Ascending the Statue of Liberty in a closed stage, f***ing up ninjas, avoiding helicopter fire, and rocking out to some electronic guitar dance piece. There is plenty of video game music that is amazing, and this instantly felt perfect to me.
- Playing as Shiva for the first time in Streets of Rage 3. He made the game infinitely easier, and infinitely more fun. Just make sure to hold down the B button when you finish killing him as a boss.
- Beating Alien Storm on the hardest difficulty. This mostly involved lots of run-and-slash and resetting combo attacks on your enemy since your projectile ammo was severely reduced.
- Blood code for Mortal Kombat. As a teenager this made all the difference.
- Batman (by Sunsoft) being an amazing movie licensed game. The NES version was phenomenal too, but this one edged out with both its platforming and driving stages.
- Golden Axe being wonderfully faithful to the arcade. All playable characters, their magic levels, and riding dragons and griffins? YES, PLZ.
- TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist had a badass soundtrack, fast, dynamic gameplay, and trying to beat it without dying. One of the games I played the most repeatedly.
- Beating the first stage of Shinboi III without using a shuriken. Run, slash, and dropkick your way to that 30,000 point bonus.