Welcome to another vintage console review, we have managed to acquire enough plutonium (actually the editors socks as they were the most powerful things we could find) to power up the Star Struck time machine to take us back to a time of gaming before CDs and Blu Rays and HD TV’s. We find ourselves In Europe, it’s November 30th 1990 and a little company called Sega are about to change gaming forever with the Sega Mega Drive video games console.
The Master System started gathering dust…
Following on from the Sega Master system the Sega Megadrive video games console was a giant leap forward in gaming with its 320×240 (PAL) pixels, 512 colour palette, 64 colours onscreen and its twin processing power this was undoubtedly the console to have for the time. Using the same cartridge based system as its predecessor and the fact it had been out for nearly 2 years across the pond helped sales due to large amount of games available at the launch. People were instantly blown away by the graphics this amazing 16 bit black shiny sleek box was producing, Altered beast, Afterburner and Golden Axe were amazing to look at and play leading to hours of gameplay helped along by the lovely curved 3 button gamepad.
It wasn’t just ports of Sega’s arcade that made this an awesome console but the variety of games that started to be produced was astounding. People were introduced to Road Rash, a simple motor bike racer the difference being able to kick and punch your opponents off their vehicles, Streets of Rage established itself as a firm favourite on release and was seen as a step forward from classics such as Double Dragon and Final Fight.
There was something for everyone on this console, if you wanted adult gaming Splatter house a highly violent side scrolling beat em up was available. But I want something soothing and relaxing with puzzles you say look no further than Ecco the Dolphin an amazing puzzle adventure game that spawned two sequels. Obviously as a parent you didn’t want your young child exposed to people being pummelled with metal bars or Motor bikers smashing each other in the face with chains, fear not the Megadrive had you covered with Games such as Tazmania based around the popular cartoon, Quackshot with Donald duck and Mickey and Donald world of illusion
Film adoptions were also in demand now from Fantasia and Moonwalker to Jurassic Park if it was coming to the big screen it was going to hit the Megadrive, not all of these were brilliant though and it was obvious some developers were playing on the strength of the film to sell the game.
Dick Tracy received a lukewarm reception at the cinema with mixed reviews but the game was a travesty with poor graphics and boring levels it was greeted less than favourable.
As mentioned before Jurassic Park wasn’t even safe a multi million pound hit film with dinosaurs converted to a game this is going to be awesome Yeah… Yeah…. No.. a platform game was produced allowing you to play as Dr Alan Grant or a velociraptor with clunky gameplay and platforms you would randomly fall through because of lazy programming (I hate lazy programming) what could and should have been great was now banished to the bargain bin. Disney on the other hand knew what was needed and rarely let the side down taking full advantage of the power of the Megadrive with games that were fast, colourful and huge. The lion king, Aladdin and even the Jungle Book were brought to life brilliantly.
Going back to old favourites
Sega also pulled off another amazing move to help the Megadrive dominate, a Master system converter, plug this little gadget in to the top of your console and you could go back and play your old favourites from its predecessor giving your old collection a new lease of life.
The Sega Mega Drive video games console also needed a mascot something to appeal to all players something unique that nobody had experienced before, Nintendo had Mario and was using him to a exceptional standard to sell games and consoles and Sega needed to get in on this, an Armadillo, a Dog and even a rabbit were considered before the choice was made of a spiky blue hyper speed Hedgehog and eventually replaced the built in Altered Beast game and the rest is history (vague on such an important character in the Megadrive chapter).
Sega Mega Drive video games consoles struggled with sales?
Again Sega struggled in Japan the Mega drive struggled to sell on its initial release in Japan due to the release of a certain plumber in a small game called Super Mario Bros 3. The Megadrive also struggled to outdo the Famicom released by Nintendo but still in the end managed to sell a estimated 40 million units worldwide before Sega discontinued it in 1997 selling the rights to Majesco so all focus could be put on the Sega Saturn. This is seen as a major miscalculation by Sega as the popularity of the Mega drive had been seriously underestimated with people now looking for games that were not there and the Sega Mega Drive video games console new games release started to dry up. Nintendo however did not take this route and benefited greatly from this marketing error.
I believe the Sega Mega Drive video games console had something for everyone was not overly priced and the game collection is without a doubt one of the best ever, I could go on forever how I sat in my room playing Ghouls n Ghosts, Toe Jam and Earl, Desert Strike and it’s sequels but we could be here for weeks but rest assured I will do my utmost to cover these games in future vintage game reviews.
The Sega Mega Drive is still going strong
If you have young children that have shown a Interest in gaming I cannot recommend enough finding a Megadrive, the games are a lot cheaper than current Generation online (EBay etc) it encourages playing together as there is numerous split-screen games, there is no Internet connection so no worrying of who they may be talking to or extra cost it really is a perfect little package