Saturday, April 20, 2013

Part 4: Welcome to the Next Level


Finally!  The blog entry you've been waiting for!  This time I talk about my history with a game console nobody played.  That's right, today's post is about the Sega CD.  But that's not all, folks.  I also mention the Sony PlayStation a few times.  Prepare yourself for Part 4:  Welcome to the Next Level.

In late 1992 or early 1993, I had heard through friends that a local video rental store called Video Clips had the then new Sega CD available for rent.  I had seen commercials for it and pictures of it in magazines.  Everything about it looked amazing.  I was absolutely stunned at the full motion video and the fact that the games were on CD and had actual spoken audio in them.  As soon as I could, I rented a Sega CD along with Sewer Shark and a bundle of other games the system came with including Sherlock Holmes:  Consulting Detective, Sol-Feace, and a disc with a few moderately upgraded Genesis games on it.  After renting it I was given a choice by my parents:  For my birthday, I could either have a Sega CD or we could go to the comic book store and I could get a few old comics.  This was right at the height of my comic buying hobby, so I ended up choosing the comic books.  I have always regretted that decision because even to this day I do not own a model 1 Sega CD.

"Let's go, rookie!!"
Later, I recall sitting in my home room class back in 7th grade reading an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly and seeing images of Sonic CD for the first time.  That was the breaking point for me.  I couldn't put it off owning a Sega CD any longer, and I asked my parents for one for Christmas of 1993.

Christmas arrived, and that morning I got up super early and opened my presents, so early in fact that my parents went back to bed after I was done opening them.  After opening up all my gifts, I took my new Sega CD back into my bedroom and hooked it up, and shortly thereafter I was playing Sonic CD.  That animated intro still impresses me!  I also got Ground Zero Texas for some reason (I actually wanted it, it wasn't just some odd game my parents bought) and the system came with Sewer Shark packed in.  Sonic CD and Ground Zero Texas were new experiences for me, but I had previously played Sewer Shark so it was no big deal at this point.  Sonic CD in particular was phenomenal.  The game was absolutely beautiful, and the soundtrack was a real treat.  I found out years later that the American soundtrack is different from the Japanese one, and that many people actually prefer the Japanese one to the American.  I am not one of those people.  I love the American soundtrack as that's the one I heard when I first experienced the game.  To tell you the truth, I'm not all that fond of the Japanese one.  Controversy!

Sega CD had some kind of magical hold over me.  I guess it still does, if I'm being completely honest.  There's just something about it and the games on it that seem so special.  I know it doesn't have that many memorable games, but the ones it does have are spectacular.  Just look at any game by Working Designs and you can't deny it.  Even back then I had a decent amount of games for it including the highly desired Popful Mail, the oddly awesome Dracula Unleashed, and the surprisingly great Dark Wizard.

It's really good.  I swear.
In my entire life, I have only ever got rid of three game consoles:  My original Atari 2600, my original NES that "malfunctioned" (blinking light), and my Sega Genesis/Sega CD.  Odd to find out that after singing its praises that I got rid of the thing, isn't it?  Getting rid of it was a big mistake, one that I quickly realized, and I would say it is wholly the reason I never part with any games or game systems anymore.  The aforementioned Dark Wizard is at the heart of this event.

I got Dark Wizard as an Easter present one year.  As the only information I can find on when Dark Wizard was released is "1994," I don't know if it was Easter 1994 or 1995.  If I had to guess, I'd say it was Easter of 1995.  I was really into Dark Wizard at the time and I had invested many hours into it.  I played it every single day and was close to finishing it.  One day I turned it on and found that my Sega CD RAM cart had been wiped, and I lost all of my Sega CD game saves.  I pulled the entire Sega Genesis and CD unit out of the entertainment center, gathered up all my games for both systems, and promptly sold the entire lot to a man named Donald Horn who worked in his family owned store called Horn's Market, which I have previously mentioned.  As I sold it to him, he queried if I was upgrading to a Jaguar.  "No," I told him.  "I'm buying a Sony PlayStation."  That was the end of me and the Genesis and Sega CD for a while.  I unloaded everything I had and received just enough money to buy the PlayStation, which all told ended up being around $300.  All those memories for $300?  Never again!

I took my $300 and I bought a PlayStation console along with Doom in early 1996.  I had to have Doom, as I didn't have a computer of my own to play it on at the time.  Soon, I got another game simply titled D, and I got Tetris Plus for Christmas that same year.  Those would end up being the only three games I owned for the system before completely losing interest in it.  It wasn't long before I starting to regret ever selling my Sega Genesis and Sega CD.  I started to become bitter towards the PlayStation, almost like it was responsible for me selling off those other consoles and games.

In my rage, I had my blinders on to everything the PlayStation had to offer.  I never wanted Final Fantasy 7.  I thought Castlevania:  Symphony of the Night was straying too far from the formula.  Even games I enjoyed like Jumping Flash! never had a place in my collection.  Eventually I had enough of it, and I traded my PlayStation and three games to a friend of mine in 1997 for his Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and all his games.  Donald, the man I sold my Sega games to, would later be quoted as saying, "Kind of self-defeating, don't you think?" as I bought back almost all of the games I originally sold him at a high markup.  I say almost all the games, because somehow all of the games I sold him were not in his store for rent.  Mysteriously absent were Golden Axe 2 and Pac-Mania, and I still have not been able to find Pac-Mania to buy again for my collection.  I should never have given him my RAM cart, either.  I guess I never intended on owning a Sega CD again after I sold it.  Of course back then I wasn't a game collector, just more of a straight up gamer.  Once I got all my Sega stuff back, I felt everything was right again.  I also felt, "Screw PlayStation" for quite a while after that, too.  Pretty much up until seeing Silent Hill 2 for PlayStation 2.

That is pretty much all I have to say about owning the original PlayStation.  Since I didn't really own one for very long, I don't have many memories of it.  Well, any good memories, anyway.  It wasn't until I got a PlayStation 2 that I was able to revisit all the games I missed out on due to the system having backwards compatibility.  So since that's all I have to say about it, maybe I should wrap up this lengthy read.