Games of My Youth: Part II – Genesis

Sega Genesis made its way to the United States in 1989. It was a hugely popular system, especially in the early stages of its life. It helped Sega give Nintendo a run for their money.

Aside from being one of the most popular gaming consoles of the early 90’s, the Genesis was the second system of my youth.


Acquisition:

The side-story behind how I got my Genesis is quite a tale. It’s a story that combines indecisiveness, jealousy and intrigue all into one!

It had to have been around Christmas of ’93 or so… I woke up Christmas day, and under the tree was sitting a brand new video game console! A Super Nintendo! WOW! Was I ever excited! I opened it up and never looked bac -- er, wait a second…

Shane was a childhood buddy. He had two years on me. My family was good friends with his family, and so we were pretty good buds. As my elder, I looked up to Shane. Shortly after Christmas, I received word that Shane had received a brand new Sega Genesis from Santa!

Thoughts started running through my head. Sure, I got an SNES -- that’s great and all, but… Shane has a Genesis, and I don’t! Surely, having spent two more years on this Earth, Shane is more qualified in determining which is better, no? I confessed my feelings to my parents. After receiving confirmation that my decision was final, they managed to bring my SNES back and swap it out for a Genesis (how they did this I’ll never know).


Memorable Games:

Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic vs. Mario. Mario vs. Sonic. Isn’t that what the 16-bit era was all about? Sonic was a fantastic game. It was fast-faced, and had some really challenging-but-entertaining parts to it. There’s really not much I can say about this one, its name and reputation speaks for itself.



Random Memory:
After beating a boss, you’d stomp down a switch on the top of that strange contraption and out would pop adorable little bunnies and other friendly rodents. This image is forever engraved in my mind.





Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Simply a better version of its predecessor. This one is a lot more enjoyable than the first, and one of the best games that the Genesis saw during its lifespan. The bonus area you were able to get to really blew me away; it basically consisted of 3D graphics, quite the feat, considering the year was 1992. Speaking of the bonus area: the only time I was ever able to get Super Sonic was by using a Game Genie.


Random Memory:
Shane boasted about the level select code he had found. We used it, and went all the way to the final level of the game. Dr. Robotnik had never looked so cool – nor had he ever been so intimidating! The last fight in this game is pretty spectacular.




General Chaos
Genre-wise, General Chaos is in a category of its own. It’s almost like a mini-real-time strategy game. In it, you control a group of four soldiers, each of whom specializes in a certain weapon. You then take on an opponent, at which point all hell breaks loose. You play the role of a commander, instructing your troops to obliterate your enemies.

Random Memory:
My cousin – who pronounced the title “General ‘Chose’” – and I had some epic two-player wars while playing this game.





Jungle Strike
Jungle Strike was the sequel to a game by the name of “Desert Strike.” You were basically this helicopter pilot that flew around, taking orders from the president. Most of these commands were pretty simple: “blow **** up,” although you’d have to rescue the occasional prisoner or recover some miscellaneous stolen goods. In addition to flying your helicopter, you also got to experience a few short stints as a motorcyclist, a hovercraft driver and even the pilot of a stealth bomber! The introduction/title music to this game was really awesome, I might add.


Random Memory:
Level five (I believe) takes places in a cold, far-away land – everything is covered in snow. I remember this stage being extremely difficult. The enemies you face are very powerful, and you’ve really got to take your time. I think it takes upwards of an hour just to beat this one, measly level (which is pretty long by this game’s standard).

Another Random Memory:
Jungle Strike had a sequel, a game by the name of “Urban Strike.” I really wanted to try this one out, namely because you were able to run around as just a little solider – something I thought would be awesome. Sadly, none of the rental stores in my town ever carried this game, and so I never got the chance.



Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park the movie was fantastic, inspiring me enough to ask for this game. I got it as a gift and loved it. It was pretty neat – you could play through as Dr. Grant, or fight your way out as a Raptor. The former was more enjoyable – especially later in the game when you get to ride around in the motor-driven raft. Unlike most movie-inspired games, this game was actually good.



Random Memory:
Late in the game while playing as the Raptor, you find yourself in the Visitor’s Center of Jurassic Park. A series of incredibly intimidating obstacles stand in your way: … doors. To get past these doors, you simply stand next to them and press “up” on the D-Pad. Unfortunately, the instructions don’t tell you this anywhere. It’s eerily reminiscent of that Carnival Night: Act 2 barrel from Sonic 3. The door “riddle” had me so stumped that I was desperately begging my parents to call one of those “hint lines;” they never let me, though... I did eventually stumble upon the solution, albeit after hours and hours of frustration.



Road Rash II
Road Rash was a motorcycle-based game in which you took part in illegal street racing. It had a cool twist, though: you were able to bash your opponents with your arms and legs, and were also able to acquire weapons (like a blunt object and a chain) that you were able to maul people with. There were police officers that would hide behind advertisement signs and and chase you down for speeding; if they caught up (eg: you crashed), they'd dish out clever lines like, "you were flying like a bat out of H-E-double hockey sticks!"


Random Memory:
When I rented this game, I spent hours (probably 4-5) saving up for the nicest bike in the game. I beat the easy track over and over again for paltry sums of money, but my stash eventually grew to a size that allowed me to purchase the bike I had my eye on. Just as I was about to give it a test drive, my dad came in my room. He suggested I let him have a try. I obliged. Predictably, he lost the race, and in doing so, he lost me my brand new cycle. You were given a chance to win the bike back by winning the next race, but I couldn't muster up a victory. Hours and hours of work and saving, for nothing!



Beyond Oasis
Terrific game that is relatively underrated. The best way to describe it would be to compare it to Zelda, only with a little more freedom in your controls; unlike Link, the protagonist -- a young man by the name of "Ali" -- is capable of jumping, a skill you've got to utilize pretty frequently. Aside from hacking-and-slashing, you've also got to incorporate magic, solve some puzzles and test your dexterity with some tough jumps over bottom-less pits; couple these elements with non-linear gameplay, and you've got yourself an awesome game. While the graphics and gameplay of this game are rock-solid, I distinctly remember it having really poor, muffled-sounding audio.


Random Memory:
The first time I played this game, I remember one of my first thoughts being, "wow, I have got to buy this!" Did I ever own it? Well, no. But I feel its worth noting this little anecdote, because it shows how great of an initial impression it had on me.



Closing thoughts:

There were a handful of games I left out, for one reason or another. A lot of them were one-time rentals which, although fun, probably didn't deserve an entry in this article. There were a couple other titles I owned (TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist, as an example) that I simply don't have enough concrete memories about to warrant adding it.

Looking back in hindsight, it was, to some degree, a mistake swapping my Genesis out for an SNES. From an objective viewpoint, the SNES was simply the better system. With that said, I'm not at all angry with my decision, because my Genesis brought me years and years (and hours and hours) of genuine enjoyment.