Ed (Sahdow Heart) has been lurking around destructoid for a few years now when his other favorite gaming communities went away (1up for example). Now I am hoping to contribute to this lovely community, where "gamey" games are still appreciated.
I have been gaming since I was a *wii* lad, ahem, and I am now approaching 30 and I have found that as I have gotten older I am appreciating the golden era I grew up in for gaming, that being the early 90's through the very early 2000's.
While I still enjoy some of the stuff that comes out today, I find my backlog is ever expanding, and I am really enjoying rediscovering and newly discovering all the games of yesteryear and how they inform (or don't) inform what we see today.
I tend to be fairly opinionated about my love for gaming and my other passions, anime, and the paranormal! I have built up and run some smaller online communities centered around webcomics, anime, and gaming, and am proud to have done so, But I find myself coming here enough that I feel like contributing here as well :).
I hope you guys can embrace me into your fold, and I look forward to contributing many blog posts. And may the ever-loving robotic deity of destructoid shine his praise upon me in thy mercy.
Come....sit my children, and gather round for ye olde Sega commercials.
Back when saturday morning tv shows were worth a damn *shakes my old man cane in your general direction* we used to enjoy the fine visual cuisine of Sega and Nintendo's often uncomfortable, cheesy, awkward, but often memorable stints in marketing and advertising on the ol' tube box. I personally feel they peeked in the mid to late 90's but there is just a certain timelessness about these productions I feel is worth sharing. So join me fellow asshats while we nostalgia-punch ourselves into blissful dorkitude.
The post modern attitude that found it's way into the late 80's and especially the 90's in just about all forms of TV media made for some rather awful or genius commercials. These days we are used to clean graphics, a clip montage, and either some hipster sprinkled in or a cynical call to follow whatever half assed social media project they have going to promote there market tested products with. Remember when we were just *gamers*, and not a given focus grouped subset of age demographics? No? Well, ok then, I suppose we were always being catered to both effectively and ineffectively, it's just the names have changed. The goal is still the same. Let's start with the one of the first US commercials for the genesis.
Sega had HD graphics before "all ya'll bitches son".
A set that looks like a reject from nickelodeon's guts? Check!
White kids with slight messiah complexes? You got it baby!
Que the fan to blow wind on our bored friend here so he can feel the epicness. Yup.
How Can We forget Blast Processing?
Who gives a flying fuck about Tessellation, Antialiasing, and Anisotropic Filtering. It's all about blast processing, whatever the hell that even means. Sega was trying it's best to differentiate itself from its arguably superior Nintendo competition (and I love me some Sega, so it pains me to say that). This ad made all of us feel a bit less tubular and radical if we only had a SNES.
Sega appealed to us poor kids....that was me.
This one rather explains itself, but again, it hearkens back to a time when there was a lot less use of CG, and practical effects were still the norm. It gives these commercials a timeless and yet somehow equally dated quality. And well, let's be honest, what white kid DIDN'T have an awesome flannel shirt near or on him.
Kudos to that kids crazy ass eye moving skillz though. For realz.
Angry Black Guy.
Because Angry Black Guys.
Quick Cuts and Epileptic Goodness.
Sega was not only ahead of it's time with gaming consoles during this period, but they also predated the internet's crazy obsessions with stringing random shit together. This was back when FMV (full motion video) was all the rage as the next emerging technology on consoles and PC's. Interactive movies! SEEEEGAAAAAAAA!
Even Sega promoted the idea that salesmen preferred selling Super nintendos. Go figure.
Notice....the use of the world radical here. Ah the late 80's early 90's was a plethora of cowabungas and radical dudes. It seems marketing people felt we all talked and acted like ninja turtles.
Let's move onto some 32X shall we?
Now by this point, I had already stopped buying Sega peripherals and I was hankering for some of that shiny new PlayStation goodness and I was eagerly anticipating news of Nintendo's next beast, rumored to be a true blue 3d capable system. Still, you gotta love the offbeat and sometimes creepy/edgy (for the time) ads that Sega pimped out. The 32X was a giant flop, and the genesis was starting to look downright obese with add-ons.
Oh, and more flannel. Because 90's.
More Angry Black Guy.
Apparently unlike most of Sega's customer base, angry black guy had moved on from Sega CD, and was aggressively supportive of the 32X. Sega really did love it's innuendos though.....just stick it in fellas.
Oh, and apparently when doctor's examined you they found sega peripherals and it drove them wild.
Lou Rawls wants to have your baby and your 32X.
I really have no words for this, but the commentator of this video rightfully points out the weirdness of Sega's then super duper aggressive ad campaigns and the smooth honeysuckle timbers of Mr. Rawls's buttery voice making you not only want to drop your pants in his living room and rub your nether regions with cocoa butter, but also do so while looking at images of sonic. Squiggly Tv. The 90's <3's squiggly TV's.
Now let's move onto the first and rather existential ad for the mighty Sega saturn.
Well, they referenced your sphincter...that about sums this up. Sega was really interested in your bodily functions in the 90's, don't ask me why, I have no fucking clue.
CreepyFace (tm) and a dancing asshat with his...hat.
Well....at least he wasn't wearing flannel, I'll give him that. I'd be full of it however, if I said I didn't want his hat. Sega at this point was competing with the N64 and PS1 which were absolutely dominating. Sega saturn was a fantastic 2D platform, but it was really complicated to program for when it came to 3D games, which at the time were getting all the marketing and budgets from game companies, developers, and marketers.
Here is the longer promo video this was taken from with more 90's styled randomness the marketing geniuses thought would make the Saturn look "cool".
Move over Nintendo....Sony is the new threat.
This ad is important for two reasons as it shows that unlike the other guys, Sega was still willing to directly reference the competition (although now they don't mention the competition's name). But also it signifies the shift that the industry took at the time from the direct rivalry of two console makers to a 3 man race.
The consumer base was becoming more savvy, and the old marketing tactics were not working as well, as Sony simply out classed Sega in one console cycle when it came to branding and marketing. But still, you gotta love the underdog. it was still trying to take the "blast processing" angle and tout it's two 32 bit bit cpu's. But at the end of the day, it was too little too late.
Segata Fucking Sanshiro.
Sega's marketing in the genesis days was far superior in the U.S. than it was in Japan, but by the time Saturn had arrived, the reverse was true. This One man army of awesomeness kept the youthful combative spirit of Sega's worldwide brand but did so in a way that really captured the heart of Japanese fans and allowed the system to prosper in it;s native country far more than it did stateside.
I could have a whole blog dedicated to this beautiful man, but I decided to provide the one video to rule them all instead which has every Japanese ad he was in. From wikipedia:
"Segata Sanshiro is a fictional character created by Sega to advertise the Sega Saturn in Japan between 1997 and 1998. He is a parody of Sugata Sanshirō, a legendary judo fighter from an Akira Kurosawa film. Sanshiro is a dan holder for multiple Japanese martial arts (karate and iaidou first dan, judo third dan, battoudou fourth dan, toudou 7th dan etc..). He is portrayed by actor Hiroshi Fujioka, who, until that point, was best known for playing the hero Takeshi Hongo in the influential tokusatsu superhero series Kamen Rider."
Bless this man and all the good works he doth commence.
There is a reason there is so much love for this console, and this effective ad really demonstrates why. It was a refinement of the marketing they previously engaged in with edginess and being "cool" but toned back and with a greater highlight on the wonderful IP's and brands they had on that platform.
I'll admit, I abandoned Sega after the genesis. I never had much cash and couldn't find nor afford all the added peripherals that came along, nor did ever see many of my freidns playing Saturn. We were all hooked on N64 platformers and PS1 gems from epic RPG's to survival horror franchises.
The dreamcast brought me back though, and I never regretted it. I was about 15-16 at the time and the ps2 was the new hotness for 400$. You couldn't find it anywhere, and my mom at the time, in a rare showing of generosity, offered to buy me one for my birthday. I said no, I want a dreamcast, which at that time could be had for like 100$. Not only did I not want my mom spending money I knew she didn't have, but I somehow knew....this may be Sega's last....and I fell in love with sonic adventure, and all the colorful aracdey gems to be found on that magnificent platform.
But really. I would have bought it just for shenmue, a game that for me, truly defined Sega in all the goof and bad ways it could. That game changed my world, and to this day I have never experienced anything like it. It was comfort food for me at a time when I sorely needed it.
Japanese Sonic Adventure Ads with Plushies....Yep. Love it.
This actually reminded me a it of some of the fun ads that nintendo would produce in the mid to late 90's. I fucking loved Sonic Adventure.
Sega was Jacked In Baby.
This was a big one, once again showing off the various IP's and brands Sega had accumulated for it's new system while also still appealing to the "cool" kids/youth demographic they had always sought after. This company was truly ahead of it's time with this feature until microsoft eventually picked up that ball and ran with it, quite successfully.
The Japanese Ads were amazing too.
This was pretty much a straightforward cyberpunk ghost in the shell/bladerunner-esque ad from japan that really tried to sell the Dreamcast as a futuristic piece of gaming goodness.
Dreamcast Best Buy Ad.
It wasn't just the broski's who loved them some dreamcast, the neighborhood Dad's wanted to find out where they could find some sailors too.
We all wanted a piece of Nozomi, don't lie, you know you did.
Shadow sucks, jus' sayin'
Cute hedgehogs vs asshole hedgehogs who fuck up large mammals apparently.
My last two videos.
So while there is far more to show, I would like to conclude with these last two videos:
This was a segment done for "Computer Chronicles" which covered all the hottest tech news and information at the time. They often covered consoles and had company reps demonstrate and show off there wares. This was both hilarious, uncomfortable, and fascinating to watch. New video game genre Alert: Dance video games/music videos come to life just moonwalked into my geeky heart.
"Look at this guy here, uh, taunting Micheal with the pool que, you know he's bad and he's after him. You can't do that on an 8-bit system."
And of course.....the grand daddy of them all.
Have any commercials you feel are worthy of sharing? They don't have to be sega related. I do love seeing ads for the many failconsoles that launched over the years.
I have been playing RPG's of both tabletop flavor and video game flavor since I was a young nerdling. I never proclaimed to have a preference for either as I grew up in the era when both varieties of RPGdom had there heyday, and for a time, particularly in the late 90's when they both shared the stage equally. I give to you two fine and well known examples of that:
Baldur's Gate and Final Fantasy VII
Both of the games are considered to be some of the very best in class, and more than well known to the destructoid and broader gaming audience as a whole. But what about some of those unsung heroes that followed these titans of RPG goody goodness? For the JRPG crowd....there was plenty to choose from coming from the ps1 generation and into the ps2 era, but one such title really came as a welcome surprise for me and many fans.
This was a real breathe of gothic, goofy, quirky, and occasionally fetid air (and I say that with all the dorky otakuness I can muster.
I was initially turned off by the seemingly wacky characters and designs that seemed to clash with the really sincere and earnestly dark gothic art and atmosphere this game was going for as it was set, loosely, in an alternative version of our own real world history (with significant historical liberties I might add). But I found, and seemingly many others who gave this early PS2 gem a chance, a world you could easily get lost in, in so much as an JRPG of it's vintage could do.
Here is a short video overview giving you a taste of the overall game play for this old school gem. It really does have a rich atmosphere for something dating back to the early 2000's on ps2.
Turn Based Mechanics Aren't Evil! (But I did Enjoy This Fresh Take on Them.)
And I still do for that matter!
This game introduced a turn based battle mechanic that I continually found engaging and rewarding through all 3 games of this series. They called it the "Judgement Ring" and it annoyed me at first, but then when I got the hang of it, I found it to be one of my favorite implementations of turn based mechanics in quite some time.
Basically it is a timing turn based battle system where a ring would appear after you select an action, and there will be one, two, three, or more "wedges of varying size that you need to hit in order to either land a strike or to complete a larger attack or "spell". The very tiny end tail end slices of each of these wedges could be hit for maximum damage or impact, and the more powerful the attack, the smaller the wedge and strike zone become. This can be mitigated and altered depending upon equipment and item buffs, along with leveling up as per your typical JRPG.
The speed in which the cursor moves over the ring can also be adjusted through these equipment and item changes, in addition to spells or consumable items that can also alter timings to your advantage. This can also work in the reverse as status effects and ailments can also hinder you by greatly shrinking the wedges of the ring or making the cursor spin so fast as to make hitting anything far more difficult (but fair). Here is a typical, non spoiler example of typical combat:
The Characters. As with most JRPG's, It Often Comes Down to Characters (although not always).
Yuri, the main character and protagonist, is a harmonixer who absorbs and fuses the souls of the enemies he fights for new abilities and stats. This is a fairly common mechanic found in most JRPG's and I feel it's done quite well with this series.
I have found this to be really satisfying when combined with the timing based judgement ring mechanic. It keeps things varied and fresh enough, and made for some fun boss encounters as well. The other characters are your typical wacky sidekicks, but I found them to be particularly memorable none the less.
But really, what stands out is the the genuinely funny and witty dialogue that plays out, and the banter back and forth between characters, which for many JRPG's can be more than bit groan inducing, but if done right, can really elevate an RPG. I also enjoyed all the small nods and references to the original game in the two sequels. Yuri and Alice have a really touching back and forth, and the romance angle isn't too overbearing but just right.
This RPG series has it's roots going back into the PS1 era with with it's spiritual precursor, Koudelka, which itself was a turn based RPG that few new about or played, despite being a very flawed but enjoyable RPG with the same gothic and alterna-world overtones as its more successful spiritual sequels.
The soundtrack for this game, and really the whole series as a whole is just beautiful, and I think, rates among the very best the JRPG genre has to offer. Yoshitaka Hirota is the series primary composer with various other small contributions from other talented artists. However, what initially had me look at the first game's soundtrack, beyond digging the music as I played the game, as the fact that some of these tunes had a very "world music" and familiar sound and I soon found out why.
One of my favorite all time composers, Yasunori Mitsuda (famed composer of the Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross games) contributed to the overall sound of the soundtrack to the first game and contributed some of his own fantastic tracks. He really brought the music to another level. There is more music to love than I could possibly fit in this post but I will share the theme, and some of my favorites!
The Shadow Hearts Main Theme:
Track Name: Sphere Qu
Track Name: Callback From Jesus
I could go on for awhile about this wonderful game and series as whole. I have been playing games, and RPG's in particular since the NES days, and this series truly has stayed with me. I love all three games, and feel the second game, Shadow Hearts: covenant, is the series high point. Do yourself a favor and pick these up if you can, the first game is becoming harder to find and is steadily climbing in price, so don't miss out!