Tagged "Sega"

Feb 15
By Matt Gander In Retro 3 Comments

A Greek gamer has blogged about his joy of finding five brand new Sega Mega Drive II consoles and six new GameGear handhelds thrown away in a skip next to a Greek toy store.

Although the boxes were dusty, their contents were completely intact. Just imagine how much these consoles would have been worth back in the day – over £1,000, easily. Shame to think they could have potentially ended up in a landfill.

I once saw a boxed copy of Ballz on the Mega Drive in a skip but didn’t touch it. The builders were hanging around the skip at the time having a fag so I would have looked like a right skank.

Feb 15
By Matt Gander In Retro 3 Comments

Being the mere human that I am, curiosity runs through my veins. Bootleg multi-game carts just so happen to be something that gets my curiosity glands flowing – there’s joy to be had from coming across one of these mystical beasts, plugging it in, and seeing what treasures it contains. If you’re currently scratching your head, allow me to fill in the blanks – multi-game carts are cartridges often manufactured in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Cornwall and contain copious amounts of pirated software.

When it comes to making a purchase you never know what you’re going to get. Some promise 50-odd games but only actually contain a few games cheekily repeated with different names. My worst offender is a Mega Drive cartridge promising 500 titles but the genuine amount is just 5. This means that some poor soul had to think up of 495 alternative names for the 5 games it included – Rambo III, Tiny Toons, The Flintstones, Sunset Riders and World Cup 92, if you’re wondering.

Others live up to their promise of featuring whatever number is printed on the label, albeit the bootleggers have chosen older games that are small in memory size so they can be crammed into the innards of a cheaply manufactured cartridge. The artwork on the cartridge label can never be taken as gospel either – some mention or feature artwork from games that are nowhere to be found. One Game Boy Advance cartridge I own has boxart from Yoshi’s Island, Gladius and Power Rangers but doesn’t contain any of them.

Game Boy Advance multi-carts in particular are brilliant finds for retro fanatics – they usually contain a couple of Game Boy Advance games and a lengthy list of NES and Famicom titles. This amuses me greatly – when Nintendo released the NES Classics range they charged £15 for a single NES game on a Game Boy Advance cartridge.

Sega GameGear multi-carts are interesting too – most have a handful of GameGear games plus Japanese SG-1000/Sega Mark III (aka Master System) games such as Transbot, Teddy Boy and My Hero. One of my GameGear carts has a reset switch on the cartridge itself which helps battery consumption as you don’t have to keep power cycling the handheld to choose games. Another GameGear multi-cart features shoddy versions of Super Mario Bros. and Dr. Mario – known as Super Boy 2 and Dr. Hello.

For collectors multi-carts are highly desirable, especially those that come with boxes. And with new variants always being discovered – it’s impossible to tell how many of these things were made – there’s always something to keep your eye out for on the likes of eBay.

NB: Games Asylum does not condone piracy of any kind. We didn’t even like the fact that there’s going to be a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

Feb 11
By Jake In Street Viewtiful 5 Comments

Everyone loves a good poke around on Google Street View. So, in an idea I’ve shamelessly plagiarised from myself, we’re going to take an irregular jaunt around the world of games via that very medium.

Where better to start than the scenic M4 motorway heading out of London? That’s where, as well as a number of those huge displays which alternate between the time and temperature, you’ll see Sega’s UK headquarters. That familiar blue logo peeking up over the flyover raises a little smile every time.

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It is, I’m sure you’ll agree, a building very much in-keeping with its glorious surroundings.

I’m pretty sure that last time I drove past there, a big Sonic had been added to the other side of the building. Sadly, when the Street View cameras visited, it was still the Agfa logo. Which is definitely a lot less fun.

Jan 23
By Matt Gander In Retro 6 Comments

It made me smile when websites started speculating that the Kinect could end up being another Sega 32X. This is because similarities between them are vast – the Sega 32X also promised a new gameplay experience, bolted onto an already existing console, required software especially developed for it and was designed to extend the life of its host. With 8 million Kinects sold so far it’s fair to say that Microsoft’s motion detecting device hasn’t been another 32X. But although the 32X did damage Sega’s reputation, it’s still far from being the worst thing ever to be released.

Let’s start with how the Sega 32X came to be. Back in 1994 the 3DO and Atari Jaguar were gaining a lot of attention, especially from the hyperbole filled gaming magazines around at the time, and with the Sega Saturn still a year away Sega wanted something to put the spotlight back on the Mega Drive. Sega of America were in charge of designing the add-on which was allegedly sketched out on a hotel notebook within the space of an evening. Under the mushroom shaped plastic it housed two SH-2 32-bit RISC processors – the very same that the Sega Saturn would be packing. This turned out to be something of a mistake as Sega ended up fighting with themselves over parts.

As mentioned, gaming magazines were much more enthusiastic in the 90s then they are now, which is something that clearly fuelled hype for the system. It’s not particularly common knowledge that upon launch in November 1994 the system sold out in both America and Europe with stock short on the ground for months afterward. The three launch games – Star Wars Arcade, Virtua Racing Deluxe and Doom – were far all from far perfect but still pretty good, and Sega promised that many more games were on their way.

It wasn’t until a few months after launch – when the promised slew of titles turned out to be actually more of a trickle – that things started to look bleak for the add-on. Not so much in the US but Sega of Europe really gave European 32X owners a hard time and I think this is where so much negativity for the system stems from. Not only did it cost £170 (which was £70 more than it cost in the US) but new releases were few and far between and many 32X titles didn’t make it out of the US including BC Racers, Blackthorne, Pitfall, Star Trek and quirky platformer Tempo.

Europe did receive two exclusive titles though – FIFA 96 and David Braben’s DarXide, which was being primed to release alongside the Neptune – a combined Mega Drive and 32X. Japan also received an exclusive title in the form of Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire.

When it comes to collecting 32X stuff USA is the way to go. PAL games are expensive – even the common ones will set you back around £10 each – while the more desirable titles such as Knuckles: Choatix and Kolibri (a humming bird-based shooter from the developers behind Ecco the Dolphin) usually sell for £50-£100. This, however, is cheap compared to what a copy of Darxide or Primal Rage will cost. The PAL version of Primal Rage is so rare that it wasn’t known to exist until a few years ago. Generally most US 32X costs under £10, with the exception of Spider-Man: Web of Fire which was the last US release and will set a collector back around £150. A 32X systemshould only set you back around £30, but when purchasing it’s a good idea to make sure it has all the cables with it otherwise these will set you back another tenner each on eBay.

Fortunately it’s easy to play US games on a PAL Mega Drive. The 32X simply acts as a slave device and goes by what region a Mega Drive is set to, so all you need to have a region-free 32X is to have a modded Mega Drive. Many websites offer this service, such as ConsolePassion, or if you’re a dab hand with a soldering iron then you can always mod it yourself. A US 32X works fine with a UK Mega Drive II PSU so there’s no need for a step-down converter either.

It’s a usually said that the 32X has very few decent games. If you only take the PAL line-up into account then this is true, but with the larger US catalogue in mind I think it’s an unfair thing to say. It had the best home versions of NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat II, Pitfall and Blackthorne while games like Metal Head and Shadow Squadron looked better than some of the early Sega Saturn titles. Shadow Squadron was in fact converted to Sega Saturn. The Rayman-alike Tempo was a joy to play, Virtua Fighter was an impressive conversion that was better than the Saturn version due to having no loading times and although rather ancient the conversion of Afterburner and Space Harrier were the best around until Sega released Sega Ages on Saturn. Combine this little lot with Knuckles: Choatix and Kolibri – often touted as the two reasons to own the system – and I think you’ll agree that the 32X isn’t quite the harbinger of death that most make it out to be.

Jan 12
By Matt Gander In Our Pixilated Past 3 Comments

Released: 1995
Formats: Mega Drive (played), Mega-CD, SNES, PC, Amiga, 3DO

When Bullfrog started developing Theme Park for the Amiga and PC I doubt that even in their wildest collective dreams would the game end up on the humble Mega Drive. But EA gets what EA wants, and conversions for both Mega Drive and SNES arrived in 1995. Bullfrog should have just been grateful that EA didn’t want a GameBoy version.

The end result turned out pretty good – it’s better than the non-AGA Amiga version (in which all the shops are dull wooden huts) but not as good as versions released on more power systems. Here for instance there’s only one entertainer – a clown that juggles – but in the PC version a whole host of poor sweaty souls in costumes can be hired.

Navigating the menus does take a little while to master – I still struggle to find the option to delete buildings even though I’ve clocked countless hours playing it – but after half an hour or so you should get the hang of things. There are allsorts of options to play around with too, like adding extra caffeine in the coffee so that people go whizzing around the park. The odds of winning the sideshows, like coconut toss and hook-a-duck, can also be changed.

The music is both good and bad. Good, because it ingeniously changes on the fly depending on what ride is on the screen. Bad, because these music samples only play on a 10-second loop so they soon become tedious to listen to. Visuals fair better – it’s bright and colourful, and the Mega Drive copes well even when your park is packed full of visitors.

A lack of a proper save feature though means that only cash earned can be saved via passwords. Another thing I’m not keen on are the ‘handshaking’ sections where you have to come to an agreement regarding staff wages or stock costs. It seems impossible to come to an agreement in your favor.

Playing the game properly is all well and fine, but fun can also be had by using your imagination. I once opened a park full of nothing but toilets with a stupidly high ticket price just to see if any visitors came. It’s also possible to make roller coasters with dangerous bends that send your customers flying through the air. Whee!

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