Sega Mega Drive Mini: To be this good takes AGES, To be this good takes SEGA

Just in case you have been in a cave without any outside contact, get your diary out now and mark September 19, 2019 as the date that the beautiful Sega Mega Drive Mini will be released in the wild to go toe-to-toe with its old foe, the SNES Classic Mini! Oh yeah, this ain’t no Flashback system!

We were amazed to find the following letter, with love, from SEGA:

My Old Friend,

I know it’s been a while. Time moves forward, yet not a day goes by that you’re not on my mind. I, the popular, star-console, you, the shy, unassuming kid, but we found common ground when we played Ecco the Dolphin together. You were so fast, racing through the Green Hill Zone with my pal, Sonic!

You sure knew how to play. The way that CRT hue hit your glazed over face as you spent another hour playing Castlevania: Bloodlines…We both knew things would change and that we’d move on to other great things, but lately, I’ve been thinking about spending time together once more. We didn’t do what we were told, but we made a good team.

I look a bit different now. I’m much smaller. I’m packing 40 games inside my sleek, molded shell, and more blast processing power than ever before.

We lived fast and dangerously, together, playing the games some of the adults weren’t too keen on (but you had the cool parents). We had the games your friends wanted to play, a whole stack of them. Shining Force, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, and Earthworm Jim, to name a few.

Sure. there were other distractions (remember pogs?). I was never jealous though because we still had Altered Beast and Gunstar Heroes.

I will try to write more regularly. I hear there is this friendly meeting space called “social media” now where I can share more.

I hope to hear from you soon.

With love,

SEGA Mega Drive Mini @-}–

Wow. We’ve never seen the SEGA Mega Drive Mini express itself like that before. If you’d like to write back, here is some information you may find useful when crafting your reply 😉

When: September 19, 2019

What: Miniature Sega Mega Drive console which will be plug-and-play ready with 40 classic games built-in! Oh yeah, the controllers will have 3 fire-buttons, not 6 (Ed: Oh well, it’s better than nothing)

Price: AU$139.00 / US$79.99 (Pre-orders via JB Hi-Fi or Play-Asia)

Announced titles (and more to come!):

  • Sonic the Hedgehog​
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Shining Force
  • Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Comix Zone
  • Altered Beast
  • Gunstar Heroes

So there you have it. Are you excited? Of course you are! Let us know on Twitter or Facebook which other titles you would like to see make the list of 40 legendary games.

Now, there are no limits with the Sega Mega Drive Mini!

image source: Sega Mega Drive Mini

 

GORF: The Great Oz Retro-Technology Festival

Hey Retro Peeps, you can spend four days enjoying the company of other retro-technology enthusiasts at GORF: the Great Oz Retro-Technology Festival, at Urban Camp in Melbourne, from April 24th-28th 2019.

Modelled after the wildly-successful US KansasFest event, GORF is an ‘unconference’ that brings together 8 and 16-bit computer enthusiasts, classic console hackers and arcade collectors to celebrate a pivotal era in the development of modern electronics in a communal ‘stay and play’ environment where attendees sleep over at the venue.

Two keynotes will explore the history of the Australian MicroBee computer (with designer Owen Hill) and the local video-game development scene of the 1980s (with Doctor Melanie Swalwell), followed by presentations given by attendees (hopefully including you!) on a variety of subjects regarding a variety of computing and video-gaming platforms.

There’s also an event-long hackathon (coined the GORF-a-thon) where participants will compete to create the most intriguing retro-related project, a game competition night and a documentary screening. Meals will be provided, except Saturday night when attendees will go out on the town to visit Melbourne’s retro-gaming bars.

GORF: it’s a summer camp for retro-geeks. Go and join in!

Ticket sales close April 1st. For more information or to book visit GORF.

 

 

Nintendo Switch Review: SEGA Mega Drive Classics

Woohoo, the iconic retro collection Sega Mega Drive Classics has landed on the Nintendo Switch™ and boy, it is a ripper! We thought the PS4 version was awesome (which it is!), but you can’t take your PS4 on the train with you to play these classic Mega Drive games.

Sega Mega Drive Classics on the Nintendo Switch is the largest collection of retro classic games in one pack. There are 50+ classic Sega 16-bit games to satisfy almost every genre under the sun, from arcade action, adventure, pinball (sort of), shooters, beat ‘em ups, fighters, puzzlers, hack’n slashers, tactical RPGs to everyone’s favourite, platformers – and there are lots of platformers (which isn’t a bad thing)!

These old favourites aren’t just dumped from their cartridges and thrown in this package, no sirree, they have had a raft of cool modern features injected into them including mirror mode, rewind (for when you slip up), controller customisation, online multiplayer and achievements, optional emulation enhancement filters like pixel scaling and save states to save your game at any time, meaning players – both old and new, should find revisiting these retro games an absolute blast.


source: Five Star Games

Once we loaded Sega Mega Drive Classics we were totally impressed by the opening title sequence, which we will leave as a surprise (Ed: Unless you have already experienced it on the PS4/XBone), but we can tell you this much, it’s pretty darn awesome – either that or we are too easy to please. Anyway, once you stop drooling from the title sequence you are greeted by the menu system where you can access the 50+ Sega Mega Drive games and various other options. The menu resembles the bedroom of an early nineties Sega fan, which is a great throwback, with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of the aforementioned 50+ Mega Drive games, and of course, a CRT TV with the sexy Mega Drive console underneath it.

When selecting a game to play, its corresponding cart is removed from its case and then inserted into the Mega Drive console – pure nostalgia overload. On top of the already mentioned modern conveniences and features jammed into this package, the most important thing we can tell you is that the emulation of the games is spot-on. The word ’emulation’ may trigger negative connotations, but we are here to tell ya that this is as close as you will get to playing Mega Drive games without forking out for the console on eBay and then fishing around for the game cartridges.

A lot of you may already know this, but for the peeps that don’t know, we aren’t much of adventure or RPG fans, so we stuck to Sega’s arcade conversions, platformers, beat’me ups and puzzle games in this collection. After playing a lot of Sonic, Ristar, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns, Comix Zone and the Shinobi games, we can say that we definitely felt like we were back in the early 90s – good times!

Before we go on, here is the full list of games included in this package:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns III: Revenge of Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Decap Attack
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Galaxy Force II
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Landstalker
  • Light Crusader
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining Force
  • Shining Force II
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Space Harrier II
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Vectorman
  • Vectorman 2
  • Virtua Fighter 2

The problem with a pack like this is that players will concentrate on all the games there were left out. Granted, they probably could put the entire Mega Drive catalogue on the cute little Switch cards and flog it for $90.00+, but then we would find something else to complain about. The games that are included are solid, bar a few questionable titles, however, just because we don’t like adventure and RPG titles, it doesn’t mean they should be excluded. Same goes the other way, if you loathe platformers, beat’em ups and puzzlers, it doesn’t mean these genres should be thrown out for more RPGs. Actually, if there was a driving game like Super Monaco GP or a motorcycle-racing-bashing one like Road Rash, then we could say that most, if not all, genres are well represented. Come to think of it, a few more shoot’em ups, like Truxton and Thunder Force would have rounded out this already pretty awesome package. Ah, we can speculate all we want, but we have to give it to Sega, they have tried to cater for the majority and we reckon they have done an admirable job.

After waffling on about this Sega Mega Drive Classics package on the Switch, the ultimate decision to buy or not buy is yours, but we’ll leave you with this little nugget – if you want to get your Sega 16-Bit gaming fix on your modern console and also play it on the go, then you can’t go too wrong with Sega Mega Drive Classics.

Review System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date:
December 6 2018
Format: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One & PS4
Price: $48.99 on Nintendo Switch (via OzGameShop)

Disclosure: Sega Mega Drive Classics [Nintendo Switch] download code was kindly provided by Five Star Games for this review.

 

Mini 3D Printed Classic Consoles and Computers

Do you want to collect retro gaming consoles and retro computers? Do you have a space issue?

If you answered yes to both questions, then Dave Nunez of Rabbit Engineering has a solution for you! Dave has created and 3D printed a series of more than 100 miniature devices and peripherals based on classic old school computers and video game consoles, each of which is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand (Ed: space issue solved!). They may not be exact replicas or to scale, but they definitely capture the spirit and style of the system to induce nostalgia!

Here is a sample of Dave’s very cool creations – you can check out the rest via his Rabbit Engineering Etsy store.

image source: Rabbit Engineering

[via: technabob]

 

The Existential Horror of Sonic Adventure

Since his debut in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog had been more than a mascot for Sega. He was the lifeblood of the company, a saving grace that finally allowed the Mega Drive / Genesis to gain a foothold in a market utterly dominated by Nintendo. Next to their portly Italian plumber, Sonic was a revelation, a zippy speedster filled with rad 90’s ’tude.

Flashforward to 1998. Nintendo and Sony had entered the 3D space with spectacular results due to Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot, their dominance further cemented by the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon. Thanks to these titles, a solid formula was emerging for 3D platformers. Create a vibrant world, pop a cutesy character into it, and give the player responsive controls with which to steer them.

While these genre defining works were being released, Sonic the Hedgehog was suspiciously absent in the 3D realm. He’d failed to make an appearance on the Sega Saturn, due to a dysfunctional development cycle that caused his 3D debut to be cancelled. In turn, the Saturn died a quick death on the market, which some attributed to the lack of a Sonic title on the system. With the imminent release of their 6th generation console, Sega were not going to make the same mistake.

Hell or high water, Sonic Adventure would be the flagship title for the Dreamcast at its Japanese release, even if that meant a mere 10-month development cycle. In a post-Mario 64 world, Sonic Team sought to create large adventure fields for Sonic to travel through between the more traditional action stages. There would be a greater emphasis on story, quests and exploration. The action stages themselves would be expansive and frantic, fully exploiting Sonic’s foray into the 3rd Dimension. This would be a Sonic game for the next generation, proving that both Sega and their blue mascot were here to stay.

That was the idea at least. In practice, it tells a very different story.

Walking through the adventure fields, the player is immediately hit with an eerie sense of isolation. They’re huge, sprawling areas for sure, but for the most part, utterly devoid of any landmarks or NPCs. It’s easy to lose sight of your objective or overlook the key needed to open the next progression point, so the player often wanders aimlessly through the dull, lifeless environments. For a game starring Sega’s famous speedster, you spend a lot of time trapped in areas, going around in circles. Metaphorically, someone’s put lead in Sonic’s boots.

It doesn’t help that the longer you stare at the adventure fields, the more unsavoury questions raise their head. Why is Sonic suddenly a giant blue hedgehog living amongst humans? Why are ancient Inca ruins a train ride away from an American metropolis? Why is there a ladder that leads down to a solitary wooden pier, seemingly daring the player to jump to their watery doom? Beneath the bright colours and cheery J-pop, there’s the ever-present sensation that Sonic doesn’t belong in this strange world.

When you finally unlock a new action stage you feel nothing short of relief, though it’s short-lived. Simply put, Sonic is way too fast to control in a 3D space, and the fixed camera angles often have a stroke trying to follow Sonic at top speed. These issues are exasperated by a multitude of glitches that cause Sonic to get trapped in tight spaces, or plummet through platforms to his death. This makes later levels like the Egg Carrier and the Mystic Temple an utterly tortuous ordeal.

image source: Nerdbacon

Sonic Adventure feels like a surreal nightmare from which its titular character is trying to escape, and that’s quite fitting. Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot had proven that 3D platforming was the future, but for Sonic, it was his greatest existential threat; his iconic speed proving too much to handle in a 3D space. It makes sense then that Sonic doesn’t fit in this odd world of Inca ruins, garish casinos and lumpy looking humans, because in retrospect, he never should have abandoned his 2D origins.

The dissonance between Sonic and his game world are captured best in the unskippable cut-scenes. The dialogue and voice acting aren’t fit to lick the boots of the worst Saturday morning cartoon, but it’s the lip sync that’s truly abominable. Mouths pulsate and stretch in all directions, like a snake unhinging its jaw to eat an egg. Eyes enlarge and bulge. Nothing comes close to matching the dialogue spoken. In moments like these, the game feels like a horror-show, as Sega pushes these simple characters into dark areas they’re not equipped to handle.

In 2001, the Dreamcast was discontinued, and Sega exited the hardware business, surviving to this day as a third-party developer. For the first time, Sonic was not enough to save Sega from its financial woes.

Though Sonic Adventure continues to be remembered fondly, it’s patient zero for the problems that have plagued the franchise for the last 20 years. The dull adventure stages, the broken gameplay, the insipid storytelling – this is where it all began. In fact, it may be the first existential horror game in the platforming genre, in which a revered icon faces his complete obsolescence in a new era. The real antagonist of the game isn’t Dr. Robotnik or a cranky water god or even the horribly broken controls, but rather the steady march of technological progress. And that’s something not even Sonic could outrun.

Special thanks to Shannen Hogan for introducing me to the madness that is Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jack O’Higgins
Jack is a freelance journalist based in Dublin. He covers music, film, comics and video games. If this article angered you, please complain to him on twitter at @jackohigginz, as he really needs to raise his social media profile.

Follow Jack O’Higgins on Twitter

 

 

 

Custom-Made Video Game Toys by Dano Brown

We have featured a couple of brilliant custom-made toy builders here before, but we reckon Dano Brown takes the mantle for the most awesome hand-crafted video game related action figures and toys. Dano Brown, you sir are unbelievably talented!

Check out some of Dano Brown’s jaw-dropping custom-made toys below and then head to his Instagram to see the rest of his brilliant creations! Oh yeah, if you wanna buy any of these one-off custom toys, head to the iam8bit store.

image source: Dano Brown via Instagram

 

Celebrating the Sega Genesis

When Sega’s 16-bit beast was first released in Japan, it made a big enough splash that it got everyone around the world to sit up and take notice of the future in console gaming. On this day (August 14) in 1989, it was our North American friends’ turn to get their hands on the shiny new Sega Genesis console.

A leap from the Master System, the Genesis brought home (almost perfect) arcade conversions, especially those from Sega’s own arcade stable. While most of the western world was still in the micro computing craze with their C64s, Amigas and Atari STs, Sega stamped their authority with their latest, and as history would record it, their most successful console ever. Why would you play Golden Axe on any other system when the Genesis version was like having the arcade in your bedroom?

The Sega Genesis went on to sell more than 18 million consoles in the U.S. alone, which definitely put a dent in Nintendo’s party. Speaking of which, Sega of America’s advertising was brutal and effective, always taking subtle (and not so subtle) shots at their main competition. Who could forget the legendary, “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t.” ad campaigns – ah, those were the days! We have a few more ads below to give you a jolt of nostalgia.

So happy anniversary to the Sega Genesis, you magnificent beast! What were your earliest memories of Sega’s 16-bit beauty? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to let us know.

image source: arcadesushi.com