Cory Ker on
November 13, 2000
Special: Sega Does What Nindoesn't. Or Sony. Hah.
Gather round, all - I have a few events to share with you. Sega has had quite a history, and unfortunately not all of it has been golden. Think of the sloppy business tactics, the somewhat underpowered systems, and the completely ass-backwards marketing campaigns. But is that really what we will remember Sega for? In the future, when we'll all be driving flying cars, and living in colonies on the moon, what will our trips down gaming-lane uncover? What points shall we wax nostalgic about? As I've already said, Sega has had its share of misfortunes. But given the command to pick one word to describe Sega, the answer clearly rises straight to the top: Innovation. I'll bet a lot of you immediately think of the current software innovations, i.e.. Jet Set (Grind) Radio, Shenmue, and the like. But in the past, Sega has wowed us with not only revolutionary games, but also hardware, accessories, and marketing techniques. So read on, and let me enlighten you on a few of the reasons why Sega is gaming bliss.
Lock-on Technology -
I remember this well. This might've been costly, and just a bit of a novelty, but damn, it was cool. It went basically like this: You took your Sonic and Knuckles
cartridge, conveniently equipped with said technology, and slid it into your Genesis. Now, there was a whole game in this, and a good Sonic game at that. But say you've beaten the game, and have tired of playing your other Sonic escapades. Take a closer look at the cart, and you'll notice a little flip-up lid - Contained in it is a structure looking similar to that circuit board the cartridge clicks onto. And it indeed is just that. Pop any of your other Sonic games on that baby, and you can now play through any of those games with Knuckles. He may not kick as much ass as he does in Sonic Adventure, but hey, he's still better than that annoying prick Tails.
Online Gaming From a Console -
All the buzz might be on SegaNet nowadays, but Sega felt the internet revolution coming way before this. That's right, we're talkin' bout NetLink. I have really got to commend Sega on their instincts: Who knew the "net" was going to explode as fast and as fiery as it did? Sega, that's who. NetLink, of course, was an 28.8 Kbps Modem for the ill-fated Saturn, that modified it for web browsing, e-mail, and the coup de grace, online gaming. One absolutely glaring flaw was the way in which games were played online - It used a point-to-point dial-up system. What this meant was, unless you were playing a buddy down the street, you were stuck with a pretty irritating long-distance bill. One plus of this though, was that the direct dial-up offered literally lag-free gaming. Ah well. Baby steps.
The First 3-D Fighter -
We all know what I'm saying here. It's obviously Virtua Fighter
. No longer were we constrained to simply moving forward and backward. We now couldn't bitch about getting hit with a fireball, while we wondered "Why the HELL wouldn't I just step to the left?!". Yes, Virtua Fighter might pale in comparison to the Soul Calibur's and DOA2's of today, but it brought rock-solid gameplay mechanics, if not jaw-dropping visuals. And like NetLink to SegaNet, we owe Yu Suzuki and his one of two great accomplishments we'll mention today (No cheating, you better not scroll down to see) for our current favorites. We certainly owe VF.
The First CD-Based Console/Add-on/Whatever -
No contest, the Sega CD. Released way back in 1991 in Japan, the system housed another 68000 CPU, more RAM, and an improved graphics processor. While somewhat underpowered, it offered a lot more storage space for developers to play with, and was an important step in forgetting those archaic cartridges forever.
But there were two big problems, the first being cost. Initially released for 49800 YEN (500 bucks !!!), it was very pricey, especially considering it's second flaw. That being: The games sucked. Especially at it's the release. As with any system, the games improved over time, and actually built up a decent US release list. But regardless, the game just didn't warrant the cost. Shame.
The Sega Scream -
Finally, those "marketing techniques" I mentioned earlier is coming to life. Yes, we all remember this. It established my opinions about the then-Big-2 gaming companies, in the respect that Nintendo was the cutesy company, and Sega was the bad-ass. While Nintendo appeared to barely squeak out its name in a pre-pubescent whisper, Sega went right for the balls. You couldn't help taking notice of this company when it was yelling "SEGA!". We've gotta be thankful that Sega has resurrected it, and done away for good with that "It's Thinking..." crap. Oooh, mysterious...
The Game that Will Change the World -
Yu Suzuki's second milestone that I'll mention, it's got to be Shenmue
. Critics may scoff that it's nothing more than an interactive movie, but it'll be quite a ride. The most expensive game in history and definitely one we'll remember. I just can't wait to pick up my copy any day now. Epic graphics, an engaging story, and that certain aspect that just makes you think about the work and determination that went into it. Give me something like this on PlayStation 2, and maybe I'll change my views on the *cough* Crappy! *cough* err, recently released console.
So what will we remember Sega for? Let's forget the bumps and bruises in Sega's history, and focus on those aforementioned smooth paths of road. Oh, and be sure to buy Shenmue - It will change the world.