When we think about how we started down the path and became avid gamers, we always begin with our first console and/or game associated with some life altering experience that transformed our devotion for video games. As a kid, I had seen and played others’ NES games like Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros, but had yet to call one my own. Eager for my own console, I received my first at seven years old, the Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This began my journey within the Sega franchise that blessed me with profound video game experiences.
Playing Sonic The Hedgehog 3 consistently spurred a drive of gratification upon completing each stage. I took pride as a kid to search for secrets, passages and bonus rounds as well as being the quickest to complete a game. I played this game so thoroughly; I could navigate a player blindfolded. Though I may brag about it now, it was not easy. In the underwater second level of the game, I hit my biggest fear: underwater death. This level caused me so much stress and anxiety when the countdown to dying from drowning or when you had to race against the wall was closing in on you while being underwater that I normally gave up whenever I reached this level. For so long, I denied myself the game because of this fear. It ate away at me and it took the joy away from playing, so I embarked on overcoming the fear. Time and again I played until finally on the last hurtle where Sonic is propelled up into the air out of the race against the wall and losing his breath, my mind was freed. In that moment, I was Sonic shooting into the sky and out of danger. It was one of the most liberating experiences as a kid as I completed the game feeling accomplished. I cannot say that about many other games.
Great titles were born on this system like Mortal Kombat, Streets of Rage, ToeJam and Earl, Altered Beasts, and X-Men. I remember so vividly watching Kitana in Mortal Kombat use a fatality where she kissed the opponent and they just blew up; Mileena eat up opponents and spit their bones out; or Raiden fry someone up with his powers. As a kid, that messes with your head and I avoided kissing boys and toasting bread. Even now, “Fatality” has become a jargon in video game vocabulary, but the concept of deciding to disembody your opponent after you defeated them created in me an impressionable ego of bragging rights. Not many games create such a monumental effect to create a vernacular all in one word.
In X-Men, the soundtrack was one of the most critically acclaimed I have ever had the privilege to hear on the Sega Genesis. To be quite honest, I did more dancing with my characters by kneeling and punching to the rhythm then actually playing. The hard distorted guitar notes and drumming were classics to the 80’s music and was like tomato soup with grilled cheese; a great combination. The game was a single or co-op game, but I always played with someone else. It was just so much more fun to play with someone else. The greatest aspects of the game, the controls, abilities, levels, and game play, created such a awesome experience that it felt like I was obligated to have another player further enhance the game experience. Like playing Halo with your buddies makes the game so much more vibrant and humorous when you were driving recklessly in the warthog and end up pulling of a ridiculous stunt destroying the enemies. They’re just priceless moments that are only formed with other players.
Soon after, I received my most favorite and last Sega console: the Dreamcast. This system was a thing of beauty that just got lost in the hubbub. Introducing such creative titles like Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure and Shenmue, the Dreamcast was the perfect satisfaction to any Sega fan after the Sega Saturn. The system allowed the games to explore to their fullest capacities and beyond, bringing games the possibility to be so creative and unique that it made owning any other console absurd. I was in love with the capabilities to use my memory card as portal game system. If you played Sonic Adventure, you could put your Chao into the VMU and raise its stats and level it up to battle in the Chao Races. Bringing that baby to school always made me look cool during the Tamagotchi era. Then to go home and have my Chao fight, mate, or grow based on its out-of-the-game experience was so emotional. The system created a bond with a virtual pet and me that when it finally died; I felt I lost a child. No other game had ever spurred such sentiment within me and it felt so unreal.
The hard punch to the face on the Dreamcast was none other than Shenmue. The story, plot, fighting system, graphics, and maybe just everything about it were so eccentric and captivating it became one of my most cherished treasures. At that time, I had this hunger to go to Japan and this game seemed to be the closest to going there that I could experience. It was such a raw and real experience walking through the streets of Yokosuka and interacting with people, arcades, vending machines, transportation vehicles, animals, and items in such a massive virtual space of Japan.
Although there were many games I would of loved to put in here, it was tough to fit them all and explain my experiences. Looking back at Sega’s history, even with their poor choices in hardware a great deal of my experiences as a gamer were thanks to SEGA. I became the aggressive, competitive, thought-provoking, adventurer I am today. I love games and have a deep seeded appreciation for them all thanks to SEGA. I look at games today, and you see less games with the capability to create imprinted stamps in player’s video game experience. It really is a shame Sega turned into a third-party software developer, but who could blame them? As of late, Sega has yet to bring out anything worth mentioning that would remind me of its prominent years. Back in the day, games had tons of secrets and finding them were a pain in the arse. There weren’t any guides to resort to, only your exploratory passion. That was a major beauty about classic games; if you wanted to know the secrets of these world you’d devote time and effort to master and push the limits of your skills in which you actually left a game feeling proficient and even educated. Even now, I still have all my functional consoles and games. Although, some of its recent games do not rival its former glory, I have learned that some old school games are in development such as Jet Set Radio, Virtual Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Phatasy Star Online 2, and Aliens: Colonial Marines all of which will be interchangeably available on the Xbox, XBLA, PSN, iOS, Android, PS3, Wii, PC, and PSVita. If Sega can pull it together and bring out some nostalgic great games of the past, I would dump my Xbox and PS3 in a heartbeat; I am a diehard Sega fan, after all.
Are you a Sega fan? What’s your most pronounced moment in Sega’s history? Let me know.
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