The Genesis

Now, here's the system that I just loved to hate. It was in competition with all the systems that I most wanted to survive, and it represented what I hated most about the videogame industry: American tastes.

The Genesis was the system that stole Nintendo's thunder, but it didn't do this by making better games. Rather, it did it by gaining "street cred", something which Nintendo seldom had in its systems (barring the hugely successful Gameboy). The Genesis acted all cool and flashy, and conquered the SNES in the realm of sports games. Now, I am not a fan of real sports games, but the Genesis made me despise them further. North Americans tend to lap up sports videogames like mad, making them continually place in the top 10 videogame sales charts. Japanese and European gamers, on the other hand, tend to take a more relaxed and balanced approach to videogames; a typical month's sales chart would have a sports game or two, a couple of RPGs, some action games, some driving games, et cetera. Not so the Americans.

Because of the large division between the types of games that Genesis owners in America and Mega Drive owners in Japan wanted, many completely enjoyable MD games were not brought out here at all, or at least intact. My prime example of this is the Japanese MD game "Magical Hats", which was a cute platformer with bright, exciting graphics. It came out in America, brutalized, as "Decap Attack", which was a morbid platformer with dark, macabre graphics. Parents complain about the amount of gore in videogames, yet Sega obviously thought their game would sell much better by injecting the American version of "Magical Hats" with blood. This kind of second-guessing of American tastes happens on all systems, of course; however, no system is as prounounced in this respect as the Genesis, whose popularity in America was far greater than that of its counterpart in Japan.

I never really had the outright desire to purchase a Genesis system either. I did continually keep abreast of all the new releases though, and really liked the looks of some of the arcade conversions, like Golden Axe, Strider, Midnight Resistance, and Toki. Sonic and Gaiares were also exceptional games. The Genesis was great at arcade-style games. Its graphics capabilities were superb, and its sound actually not that bad. Unfortunately, the two were seldom stretched to their limits, and so many Genesis games as a result turned out having dark, murky, and poorly defined graphics, with bloody awful music. Gunstar Heroes is an example of a great game with superlative graphics and sound. Why didn't they make them all this way?

So, anyway, in 1998 I bought a Genesis system for $2 from a pawn shop near me. I spent the occasional day afterwards looking for those lost classics to play on the Genny. However, any typical search through a game shop will net me nothing. For example (and finally to get to the point which I started right at the beginning), a Cash Converters store near my university stocks about 100 used Sega Genesis games, 90 of them being sports titles. Tastes, indeed.