The 4th Generation Sega console wasn’t exactly my first foray into gaming but at the mature age of 6 it was the first system I had to call my own.
Up until this point I had to share systems with my family members. Collectively we had a NES and Master System then replaced them with a SNES as well as an early PC but you couldn’t really log any quality gaming time when you had to compete with the rest of the family, it was always half an hour here or there. But when I got the Mega Drive everything changed.
Sonic the Hedgehog was obviously the staple of any gamer’s diet at this point, and mine was no different, I was obsessed with it, finishing it countless times and obviously with the lack of a save ability games had to be completed or else turn off the console and loose all your progress. This was a major progress in gaming for me and marked the start of something beautiful.
I’ve enjoyed numerous games over the years, and thanks to a local “games man”, or so we called him, and his week long rents of games for any system I pretty much played every game going on the Mega Drive and even the SNES. Out of all of them though, 3 cartridges in particular cement the Mega Drive as the start of my gaming life: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Mega Games I and Streets of Rage 2, all for different reasons.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic 2 is the first game I pre-ordered, granted it was with the previously mentioned “games man” but nonetheless I rushed home from school on the day of release and it was sat on the kitchen table waiting for me. It also marks the most proud I’ve been to finish a game, 2 days ahead of most of my friends. The story was pretty much the same as the last, but it made no difference, this time sonic had a partner, the game was faster and seemed a hell of a lot bigger, the addition of the multi-player option meant I could make my brother use the second pad and be Tails and also prove I was better than him in a 1-on-1 match. Ultimately the game best addition for me was the spin dash attack, I spent an age basically ‘revving ‘ Sonic up at the start of every level. In reflection this is possibly the first time I experienced a 3D element to a game, with the new version of the special stage. Mega Games I
Super Hang-On, Columns and Italia ’90. This Cartridge had 3 games…3 games! I couldn’t believe it, granted the three games were all pretty short and not exactly complex, but still there was something about it, granted I didn’t play Super Hang-On much, it just didn’t appeal to me much. Italia ’90 was probably one of the first sports games I played and even though it was pretty much a pile of crap I loved it, the fake footballer name, the same scenes for a goal kick, corner or goal but with a different shirt colour, the whole game was just simple and effective. Columns was the winner for me though, I spent and still spend hours on that game, I know it’s just a rip off of Tetris but somehow it hooked me and is probably the same reason I still play Hexic on the Xbox when i get bored. Plus the music was just pure win.
Streets of Rage 2
This game is without a doubt the start and reason that co-op gaming exists in my life, the reason that when on Halo I’ll team up with a friend and go into a battle rather than play lone wolves. Axel was my man on Streets and teaming up with my brother we’d attempt to finish the game on the hardest setting, I still have trouble with this so god knows how we did it and got to the end. This is without a doubt the most satisfaction I had completing a game while growing up, the difficulty and teamwork required made it all worth it in the end.
The Mega Drive obviously evolved over the years, when Sega released the Mega Drive II, the 32X Cartridge and the CD Adapter I’d pretty much moved onto the SNES as my primary console so never bothered with such devices. But I’m still proud to say I own my original Mega Drive with my original copy of Sonic 2, the rest I’ve had to re-purchase over time.
So I thank the Sega Mega Drive for my will to complete games, my love of co-op gaming, my ability to be entertained by the simplest of games and the fact that it was my first. I still play on it from when I can because even though the games have been re- released through the Xbox Arcade and the Virtual Console, nothing feels quite the same as having the original pad in your hand, playing it on the original console.