Sega Games

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The Swollen Goiter of God
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Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » August 8th, 2014, 10:29 am

Might as well have a thread for Sega games. I dig lots of Sega games.

I'll start the thread off with this pretty poor review the two dumbest Red Letter Media guys did for the first three Sonic games:



They focus on how Sonic sucks because he's a reaction to Mario and was designed to be a mascot. They also focus on how Doctor Robotnik's plan and the game's back story are both lame. They also focus on how, according to them, the games punish you for going fast despite marketing themselves as games designed for speedrunning.

In response to the mascot point, I say this: if the game's good, I don't think it should matter whether or not the character was designed from the ground up to be a mascot. Sega had plenty of original characters they could have made into mascots for the Genesis. Maybe they went with Sonic because they realized they had something special on their hands.

In response to the lame back story point, I say this: it seems silly to focus on the ridiculousness of Sonic's back story and not mention the ridiculousness of Mario's back story. I mean, damn. The Earth-plumber-saves-alien-princess-from-evil-snapping-turtle back story is famously dumb. It was a different gaming era. The games are fun. No one gives a shit.

In response to the games-punish-you-for-speed point, I say this: it seems like the guys are angry at the games because they suck at them. When watching their play footage, I noticed they aren't doing much spinning. No wonder they're getting killed at every turn. The spin's pretty integral to survival when Sonic is rampin'. (Note: I'm not referring to the spin dash. That didn't come around until Sonic 2. I'm referring to the simple spin attack.)

The first Sonic games (along with Sonic and Knuckles, which they probably should have included) are only moderately difficult. The better you get at them, the more you want to go back and improve your speed and play. You also want to seek out and unearth hidden items and pathways, just like you would with various Mario games. It requires the usual mix of skill, reaction time, and memorization required by most of the best games. It invites repeated play, and it's not brutally difficult. It's also different enough from the other side-scrolling platformers of the era to stand out.

It's not like I'm a total Sonic fanboy. I'm a Genesis fanboy, maybe, but I'm also an NES fanboy. I'm not protective of Sonic as a character or a brand, and I'm not protective of Sega as a company. I just think the early side-scrolling Sonic games are rewarding experiences. I had about twenty games for the Genesis (the majority of which were given to me by my ex-stepbrother), but I spent way more time playing Sonic games than I spent playing anything else. The only other Sonic games I've spent much time playing are that one pinball game for the Genesis and the first Sonic game for the Game Boy Advance. (The GBA one is also a side-scrolling platformer, and it's also a lot of fun to play.)

Jubbers let me play the isometric Sonic game (Sonic 3D Blast?) that was included on some GameCube disc. I was pretty terrible at it, and I didn't enjoy it all that much. I'm no good at isometric games, turns out. Maybe I'd be better if the D-pad were shaped like an X. Or maybe I'd be better if I'd ever get used to the analog stick. I think this particular game was originally released on older platforms, so I think pressing up makes you go up and left or up and right at a forty-five degree angle. I played it for a couple hours, and I never quite got the hang of it.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by Mal Shot First » August 8th, 2014, 2:33 pm

I'm currently reading Blake J. Harris's Console Wars and I'm gaining an appreciation for Sega. When I was growing up, Sega and the Mega Drive/Genesis were sort of on my radar, but until the PlayStation came out, I had basically assumed that Nintendo was pretty much the only thing available in terms of console gaming. I certainly wasn't aware of the heated battle that was being waged over the video game market. Part of that might be related to Sega of America doing most of the heavy fighting. Harris's book makes it seem like Sega of Japan wasn't nearly as aggressive in the marketing of their console, and sales weren't as impressive back home as they were in the U.S. Europe kind of gets left out of the picture, but I assume that the "war" didn't feel like as much of a war as it must have felt in America.

According to Harris, Nintendo was a huge pain to work with in the 80s and early 90s because of how protective they were of their business. Developers hated them because Nintendo made them sign agreements that prevented them from working with any other publisher and that extremely restricted their output. Retailers didn't appreciate Nintendo's practice of intentionally low supply and their refusal to mark down older games or titles that weren't selling well. Sega of America attacked every one of these weak points at once and sought to present itself as an anti-Nintendo. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing, overall, but it was a smart business strategy and led to more versatility in the gaming industry. This meteoric rise was also only possible because they came up with a compelling character and a great flagship title, without which even the best marketing campaign probably would have fallen flat. You can't just discount Sonic as a second-rate character because he was created with the intention of finding a mascot for Sega. If he were so lame, he wouldn't have endured as long as he has.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » August 8th, 2014, 4:42 pm

I think it was clear to most of us back then that Sonic was, in large part, a reactionary creation. Sega went out of their way to make it clear for us. They did the same with the Genesis. Here's the commercial that first put the console on the map for a lot of people in my area:



I'm not sure exactly when the console was first put on the map for me. I know it was at least a little before the commercial, since I remember knowing of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker and James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing before seeing the commercial. More than likely, it was thanks to ads in comic books. I think the commercial might have been the first time I saw Michael Jackson's Moonwalker and James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing in motion.

You may have noticed that Sonic the Hedgehog isn't shown or mentioned in the commercial. That's because the commercial and all the games featured in it predate the release of Sonic by at least a year. The Genesis hit the U.S. market in the late summer of '89. The commercial is probably from the summer of '90. Sonic was released in late summer of '91.

Sonic didn't come packaged with the Genesis for a while. I don't know the date they began to include it with the Genesis, but I do know my ex-stepbrother bought his system before Sega was doing this. He had to buy Sonic separately. I remember Sonic's gameplay having a newer feel to it than the gameplay of the other games he gave me. It and Spider-Man were the "new" games of the bunch. I don't think they were even opened when he gave them to me.

Anyway, Sonic and Sega were unapologetically reactionary, but they were reactionary in the best way. They could have just focused on copying and leeching. Instead, like Mal mentions, they focused on addressing issues people had with the NES and with Nintendo's business model and practices.

* * *

One thing I really dug about the Sonic games was the music. I forgot to mention this in my last post. Those games were packed with music. Each zone had its own music, and the music was fuller sounding and took longer to loop than the music for most of the side-scrolling platformers I was used to. The music was usually pretty rockin', too.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by Mal Shot First » August 8th, 2014, 9:40 pm

Even though the Genesis had a leg up on the Super Nintendo in the 16-bit market for a while, Sega's sales weren't all that impressive in the first year: they had sold something like 150,000 to 250,000 units, which was respectable, but not even close to the sales of the NES, even at the end of its run. The ad you posted up there was still a remnant of the period before Tom Kalinske took over as president of Sega of America, and it's a perfect example of how the company was struggling to define itself. It wanted people to know that it's not Nintendo, but it was defining itself in negative terms. It wasn't until the summer of '91, as you mentioned, that Kalinske's team finally devised a structured plan on how to take on their rival. Rather than showing what "Nintendon't," they decided to actually highlight Sega's capabilities. They tapped print media and the radio, both of which were neglected by Nintendo, and saturated them with Sega content. They organized an American mall tour that was basically designed like the Pepsi vs. Coke taste challenge, except they let people play demos of Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World and decide which one they preferred (it turned out that over 60% preferred Sonic).

The 16 weeks before the '91 release of Sonic the Hedgehog were carefully orchestrated to set the stage for this game that was going to blow everyone away and win more market share for Sega. In order to complete the campaign, though, they had to give the game away for free. As soon as Sonic the Hedgehog was ready for release, it started getting packaged with the Genesis, just to get the console into people's homes (in some instances, they had just changed the boxing of already stocked units and replaced the previously contained free game with Sonic). I think they may have even had a deal where one could buy a Genesis a month or so before the release of Sonic, but one would get a different complimentary game that one could later exchange for Sonic once it came out. That's how much Sega was betting on the success of their new mascot. It almost seems like a forced fad.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by Mal Shot First » August 8th, 2014, 9:45 pm

This seems relevant:
http://mitemite.ytmnsfw.com/

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Re: Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » August 8th, 2014, 10:35 pm

This is all interesting stuff. The we'll-let-you-swap-the-packaged-game-out-for-Sonic offer rings a bell.

I've almost called Sonic a forced fad two or three times now. I'm not sure what stopped me, but it's cool that you brought it up. I guess I thought it was one of those almost-but-not-quite situations where I just couldn't get myself to commit to use of the term.

The more we talk about Sonic, the more I feel justified in my belief that it's simply a great game. It's also a game I got really good at, which only made me like it more. I've always been a middling gamer. It's rare for me to be better at a game than the average gamer. When I do find a game I like or find I have a natural talent for, I'll play the shit out of that game to get better at it.

With Sonic (and later with Mortal Kombat), I finally had a leg up on others. It's not really about beating others at something, though it probably sounds like it is. It's more about not being ashamed for once. When I get good at a game, It becomes more about beating my personal best than about beating others' scores. It's still cool to get a high score over others, of course, but I feel iffy about it when it's not a high score I'm proud of.

* * *

It took me a couple loops before I realized who was supposed to be performing fellatio on Sonic.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » March 16th, 2015, 11:05 pm

Jubbers, Jubboiter, and I went to Barnes & Noble tonight. I saw a copy of Console Wars and started reading the Goldberg/Rogen foreword. Didn't get very far. Jubboiter makes it incredibly hard to shop. I thought about buying it, but it would have been more than thirty bucks after tax. I may go the Kindle route, instead.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » April 13th, 2017, 11:56 pm

Here are some Fine Brothers/React videos featuring teens playing Sonic the Hedgehog and the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat (someone on the staff was kind enough to enter the DULLARD code for blood):





Jasser's the only one in either video to really figure the games out. He says in the Mortal Kombat video that it's his first time ever playing anything on a Genesis. He must just be a good all-around gamer.

It's pleasing to see Seth get trounced fairly easily in the Mortal Kombat semifinal. That kid just chaps my ass.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by The Swollen Goiter of God » May 18th, 2017, 9:54 pm



The "When will you learn... that your actions have consequences?!" bit has apparently become a meme.

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Re: Sega Games

Post by Mal Shot First » May 21st, 2017, 8:24 am

Your fantasies can't be quenched, indeed.

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