| > As many Strategy/RPG fans know, Sega is one of the best developers for this genre. As it turns out I've come to realize that Dark Wizard (DW), a Sega CD exclusive, is actually a prelude to the excellent Dragon Force (Saturn). There are a lot of similarities which I'm certain originated with DW. At any rate, DW can best be described as a cross between Shining Force CDand Master of Monsters (Genesis). |
> The game takes place in the golden lands of Cheshire, where you take the part of an army leader who's job it is to rid Cheshire of the Dark Forces which killed the Queen. There is some RPG talking in DW, but most of the game centers around turn-based strategic battles between your army and various other armies. Another object is to take over castles, cities and towns which provide you with more income so that you can hire and pay for units (hired and summoned).
|> Most of the graphics are basic, 16-bit, 2D fare, but they get the job done. DW also includes some nice cartoon animated cut-scenes to help set the stage. The battles, which can be toggled to text mode, are animated but aren't worth watching like they are in Shining Force. Basically, you're almost always looking at a hexagon map (hexes can be turned off too) of your current battlefield as you would be in this type of game.|
| > Everything in the game is accomplished through the easy to use menu system. Whether it be buying weapons, moving, summoning, hiring, saving, searching, using magic, attacking or checking stats -- the menus in DW work well. As in Master of Monsters, your leader must be over a castle to hire warriors or summon beasts. This all costs money too, which you earn by taking over cities and castles. |
> During battles you can go into cities and talk to people in shops, taverns, town squares, inns, churches and at the mayor's house. Once a unit passes level 5, then he will automatically increase a class (assuming the given unit can do so). You're usually given a choice of classes... For instance, when an Elf increases class, you get a choice of Fighter, Priest or Mage. Naturally, unit attributes increase as levels do and magic spells are acquired as well.
| > The music is quite good, albeit repetitive. You'll hear orchestral hymns which sound the battle cry and vary depending on whose turn it is.|
> The sound effects are decent. You'll mostly hear various cues, magic effects and voice narration.
|> Thanks to games like this, I'm a diehard Strategy/RPG fan for life. Yes, the battles can get repetitive, but I never seem to get tired of thinking in order to win (which of course, I will). There are 4 rulers to choose from when you begin: Armer IX (Prince), Robin (Cavalry Leader), Amon (Puppetmaster), and Krystal (Sorceress). No two games are ever the same...|
|> If you like Strategy/RPGs like Shining Force or Master of Monsters, then Dark Wizard is a must have. Sega is a master of this genre and it shows in quality and quantity. Unfortunately, this game is hard to find so good luck finding it...|
|Overall: 8.9 | Graphics: 8.0 | Control: 9.5 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 9.5|
In theory, the Sega CD peripheral could have worked, since the company already had a built-in fanbase ready to march with them into the "future of gaming." But in retrospect, they failed due to a very questionable, mediocre catalog of "interactive" titles full of cheesy acting, low-quality video clips, and some extremely lackluster gameplay. However, if you dig deeper, move past the QTE adventures, the Marky Marks, and the PowerPoint presentations, the library had a selection of games that actually tried being more than odd tech demos. AH-3 Thunderstrike seemed to be such a product; not only does it take advantage of the Sega CD's sound and FMV capabilities, but there's an actual, full-fledged game constructed between these stimulating aspects. Weird, right?
With ten operations to choose from, each containing anywhere from three to six missions, you're given a monumental task that's never been accomplished in video games: blow things up. You'll do this in the comfort of the fictional Thunderstrike/Thunderhawk attack helicopter, destroying a constant stream of tanks, SAM launchers, gunboats, planes, and rival helicopters in a first-person cockpit view. And while the game is often labeled a flight simulator, it doesn't hold too tightly to that identification, leaning much more towards an arcade vibe. At best, the sim aspects mostly come from using the radar capabilities to find mission targets and dodge incoming missile attacks.
Once you get the hang of switching between helicopter functions on the Genesis 3-button controller, such as changing height and locking on to targets, Thunderstrike is pure wanton destruction. After receiving voice-narrated mission briefings and short FMV shots of the helicopter, you're left to your own devices on each individual map; go straight to the objective, demolish buildings, radio towers, and silos, and easily finish a mission in less than three minutes, or fly all over the battlefield and annihilate anything that shows up on your extremely-pixelated screen. The action really looks like a mess in motion, but the funny thing is, the severe pixelation never becomes an issue. While the lock-on and two radars, one for objectives and one for enemies, help tremendously in that regard, I never had trouble making out certain objects on screen, especially during firefights.
At first glance, the game appears to be a solid, albeit basic, outing for the Genesis' add-on, treating fortunate gamers to some surprisingly fast-paced action; keep in mind, this was the early 90s, and "flight sims" on consoles usually moved at abysmal speeds. At the very least, Thunderstrike succeeds by not succumbing to typical Sega CD problems... on the very simple basis that it's a normal video game.
Instead, Thunderstrike succumbs to normal video game problems.
Here's the thing: the game has over 40 missions. If you're planning on having that many missions in your product, you either better have strong variety or some very engaging gameplay to sustain the player's interest up to the finale... Between missions where you simply fly to a base and blow up all its targets, the game mixes things up with assignments that involve destroying a bridge to stop enemy movements, or clearing a path full of navel mines for a U.N. boat convoy. But these are sparse, and worst of all... Thunderstrike runs out of fresh ideas after the third operation. So for the remainder of the playthrough, you basically just go through the motions of wiping out bases, while those scarce variations repeat themselves.
Unfortunately, it's repetitive, mindless action. And that statement is coming from someone who enjoys action games that are often labeled mindless drivel by others. But the thing about those action titles is that they are constantly changing from stage to stage, level to level, and different enemies and obstacles are introduced. There's structure and flow, and more times than not, those games benefit greatly by being short, therefore curbing the repetition. Thunderstrike doesn't feel like a self-aware product, in which the devs couldn't fathom players would be tired of going through the same generic mission structure for nearly 50 missions. Seriously, by the time I finished the third operation, I was legitimately considering ending my playthrough; I begrudgingly plowed forward, because I wanted to see if the game would throw something drastically different at me... at some point... any point.
But it never happened, and the entire experience just felt like tedious work. Quite ironic for a game designed around the thrill of obliterating everything with such destructive weapons, all while a 90s rock soundtrack pounds away. I really didn't want to dislike the game, but the more I conquered, the more Thunderstrike did everything in its power to irritate me with its lack of... things. I would have gladly accepted a shorter campaign if it meant the devs had more time to create a gripping, entertaining romp. Quantity did this game no favors.
If you enjoyed this AH-3 Thunderstrike review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!
Lunar: The Silver Star Was One Good Argument For The Sega CD
Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today let’s give a listen to Lunar: The Silver Star, the marquee Sega CD RPG which kicked off the long-running series.
The Sega CD gets a lot of criticism, and it’s mostly on point: Sega and other developers didn’t do the best job of justifying its existence. But! But. If you were lucky enough to have one—they cost a hefty $299 back in 1992—it got just enough cool games to regard the add-on fondly in retrospect.
Lunar: The Silver Star (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) was one key example, a Sega CD-original RPG with super-cool anime-style character designs and fancy-schmancy animated cinematics (in retrospect, not that fancy). The gameplay and story were standard JRPG stuff, but that felt newer back in 1993 so it was fresh enough for me and a generation of other soon-to-be Lunar aficionados.
Being on Sega CD, the game’s other key attraction was obvious: music! Composer Noriyuki Iwadare is well-known today for his work in Grandia, Ace Attorney, and other popular series, but Lunar was his star turn.
Game Arts / Working Designs / TheQueenOfGaming (YouTube)
Much of Lunar’s soundtrack is pleasantly laid back, with the initial town theme and first overworld song setting a relaxed tone. They also demonstrate another quality: extreme brevity, likely due to the need to fit an entire RPG’s worth of redbook audio tracks on one CD-ROM. Redbook takes a lotta space, which is probably one major reason fewer and fewer disc-based games used full-quality redbook tracks after the early PlayStation / Saturn era.
In Lunar’s case, many tracks spend 15-30 seconds starting up, deliver a nice twist or bit of development, and then play themselves out at around 60 or 80 seconds. Simply put, Iwadare crafted no-nonsense, highly efficient melody bombs. It’d be nice if they stuck around longer, but what’s there is potent.
Some highlights include the prologue song, the aforementioned overworld, the dragon cave (only 49 seconds!), a tragic piano elegy, and the second overworld theme, which kicks in when the storyline’s shit gets real. Lunar also has, I think, one of the better battle themes from an RPG. Like every other song here it just dives right into the drama, which is good for a track you’ll be hearing every 30 seconds. The game’s got two pretty good bossthemes, too.
And yes, let’s not forget the enthusiastically sung intro number, which is the very definition of a guilty pleasure.
Any discussion of Lunar: The Silver Star’s music would be incomplete without mentioning the first of its puzzling number of remakes and pseudo-remakes, 1996’s Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (playlist / longplay / VGMdb) for Saturn and PlayStation. Think Lunar, but with a 32-bit coat of paint, lots of story changes, and an almost entirely new soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the music is mostly worse. I know, I know, a lot of y’all are nostalgic, I played it too. But the newly composed music’s now sequenced for the PlayStation’s limited audio processor, decimating the synth quality compared to the Sega CD version’s pristine-sounding redbook. Not necessarily a deathblow—lots of PS1 and Saturn games have wonderful sequenced music—but I think the new compositions are far less catchy and interesting, too. Compare Sega CD overworld to PS1 overworld, Sega CD battle to PS1 battle, and on and on. That’s a downgrade to me. (I’m sure some will disagree.)
Credit where credit’s due though, the fancy new animated intro song is exciting, and a newly added, early animated sequence in which Luna sings the plaintive, yearning “Wind’s Nocturne” (aka “the boat song”) is really well done. Yeah, that’s where my nostalgia for this one lives.
That’s it for today’s Morning Music! Now I’m thinkin’ about old RPGs... so, pretty much normal for me. What’s up with you today?
Video game console add-on
The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD[a] in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Mega Drive/Genesis produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and April 2, 1993 in Europe. It plays CD-based games and adds hardware functionality such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements such as sprite scaling and rotation. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
The main benefit of CD technology was greater storage; CDs offered more than 320 times more space than Genesis cartridges. This benefit manifested as full motion video (FMV) games such as the controversial Night Trap (1992), which became a focus of the 1993 congressional hearings on issues of video game violence and ratings. Sega of Japan partnered with JVC to design the Sega CD and refused to consult with Sega of America until the project was complete; Sega of America assembled parts from various "dummy" units to obtain a working prototype. It was redesigned several times by Sega and licensed third-party developers.
The Sega CD game library featured acclaimed games such as Sonic CD (1993), Lunar: The Silver Star (1992), Lunar: Eternal Blue (1994), Popful Mail (1994) and Snatcher (1994), but also many Genesis ports and poorly received FMV games. 2.24 million Sega CD units had been sold by March 1996, after which Sega discontinued it to focus on the Sega Saturn. Retrospective reception is mixed, with praise for some games and functions, but criticism for its dearth of deep games, high price and lack of support from Sega.
Released in 1988, the Genesis (known as the Mega Drive in Europe and Japan) was Sega's entry into the fourth generation of video game consoles. In mid-1990, Sega CEOHayao Nakayama hired Tom Kalinske as CEO of Sega of America. Kalinske developed a four-point plan for sales of the Genesis: cut the console's price, develop games for the American market with a new American team, continue aggressive advertising campaigns, and ship Sonic the Hedgehog with the Genesis as a pack-in game. The Japanese board of directors initially disapproved of the plan, but all four points were approved by Nakayama, who told Kalinske, "I hired you to make the decisions for Europe and the Americas, so go ahead and do it." Magazines praised Sonic as one of the greatest games yet made, and Sega's console finally took off as customers who had been waiting for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) decided to purchase a Genesis instead.
By the early 1990s, compact discs (CDs) were making significant headway as a storage medium for music and video games. NEC had been the first to use CD technology in a video game console with their PC Engine CD-ROM² System add-on in October 1988 in Japan (launched in North America as the TurboGrafx-CD the following year), which sold 80,000 units in six months. That year, Nintendo announced a partnership with Sony to develop its own CD-ROM peripheral for the SNES. Commodore International released their CD-based CDTV multimedia system in early 1991, while the CD-i from Philips arrived towards the end of that year.
Shortly after the release of the Genesis, Sega's Consumer Products Research and Development Labs led by manager Tomio Takami were tasked with creating a CD-ROM add-on, which became the Sega CD. The Sega CD was originally intended to equal the capabilities of the TurboGrafx-CD, but with twice as much random-access memory (RAM), and sell for about JP¥20,000 (or US$150). In addition to relatively short loading times, Takami's team planned the device to feature hardwarescaling and rotation similar to that of Sega's arcade games, which required a dedicated digital signal processor (DSP).
However, two changes made later in development contributed to the final unit's higher-than-expected price. Because the Genesis' Motorola 68000 CPU was too slow to handle the Sega CD's new graphical capabilities, an additional 68000 CPU was incorporated. In addition, upon hearing rumors that NEC planned a memory upgrade to the TurboGrafx-CD, which would bring its available RAM from 0.5 Mbit to between 2 and 4 Mbit, Sega decided to increase the Sega CD's available RAM from 1 Mbit to 6 Mbit. This proved to be one of the greatest technical challenges since the CD's access speed was initially too slow to run programs effectively. The cost of the device was now estimated at US$370, but market research convinced Sega executives that consumers would be willing to pay more for a state-of-the-art machine. Sega partnered with JVC, which had been working with Warner New Media to develop a CD player under the CD+G standard.
Until mid-1991, Sega of America had been kept largely uninformed of the details of the project, without a functioning unit to test (although Sega of America was provided with preliminary technical documents earlier in the year). According to former Sega of America executive producer Michael Latham, "When you work at a multinational company, there are things that go well and there are things that don't. They didn't want to send us working Sega CD units. They wanted to send us dummies and not send us the working CD units until the last minute because they were concerned about what we would do with it and if it would leak out. It was very frustrating." Latham and Sega of America vice president of licensing Shinobu Toyoda put together a functioning Sega CD by acquiring a ROM for the system and installing it in a dummy unit.
Sega of America staff were also frustrated by the Sega CD's construction. Former Sega of America senior producer Scot Bayless said: "The Mega-CD was designed with a cheap, consumer-grade audio CD drive, not a CD-ROM. Quite late in the run-up to launch, the quality assurance teams started running into severe problems with many of the units—and when I say severe, I mean units literally bursting into flames. We worked around the clock, trying to catch the failure in-progress, and after about a week we finally realized what was happening," citing the need for games to use more time seeking data than the CD drive was designed to provide.
Sega announced the release of the Mega-CD in Japan for late 1991, and North America (as the Sega CD) in 1992. It was unveiled to the public for the first time at the 1991 Tokyo Toy Show, to positive reception from critics. It was released in Japan on December 12, 1991, initially retailing at JP¥49,800. Though the unit sold quickly, the small install base of the Mega Drive in Japan meant that sales declined rapidly. Within its first year in Japan, the Mega-CD only sold 100,000 units. Third-party development of games for the new system suffered because Sega took a long amount of time to release software development kits. Other factors affecting sales included the high launch price of the Mega-CD in Japan and only two games available at launch.
On October 15, 1992, the Sega CD was released in North America, with a retail price of US$299. Advertising included one of Sega's slogans, "Welcome to the Next Level". Though only 50,000 units were available at launch due to production problems, the Sega CD sold over 200,000 units by the end of 1992 and 300,000 by July 1993. As part of Sega's sales, Blockbuster LLC purchased Sega CD units for rental in their stores. The Mega-CD was launched in Europe in the spring of 1993, starting with the United Kingdom on April 2, 1993, at a price of GB£269.99. The European version was packaged with Sol-Feace and Cobra Command in a two-disc set, along with a compilation CD of five Mega Drive games. Only 70,000 units were initially available in the UK, but 60,000 units were sold by August 1993.
Emphasized by Sega of America, the benefits of the Sega CD's additional storage space allowed for a large amount of full motion video (FMV) games, with Digital Pictures becoming an important partner for Sega. After the initial competition between Sega and Nintendo to develop a CD-based add-on, Nintendo eventually canceled the development process of its own peripheral after having partnered with Sony and then with Philips to develop one.
Sega released a second model, the Sega CD 2 (Mega-CD 2), on April 23, 1993 in Japan at a price of JP¥29,800. It was released in North America several months later at the reduced price of US$229, bundled with one of the system's best-selling games, Sewer Shark. Designed to bring down the manufacturing costs of the Sega CD, the newer model is smaller and does not use a motorized disc tray. A limited number of games were developed that used the Sega CD and the 32X add-on, released in November 1994.
Night Trap controversy
See also: 1993 congressional hearings on video games
On December 9, 1993, the United States Congress began to hold hearings on video game violence and the marketing of violent video games to children. One game at the center of this controversy was the Sega CD's Night Trap, a full-motion video adventure game by Digital Pictures.Night Trap had been brought to the attention of United States SenatorJoe Lieberman, who said: "It ends with this attack scene on this woman in lingerie, in her bathroom. I know that the creator of the game said it was all meant to be a satire of Dracula; but nonetheless, I thought it sent out the wrong message." Lieberman's research concluded that the average video game player was between seven and twelve years old and that video game publishers were marketing violence to children.
In the United Kingdom, former Sega of Europe development director Mike Brogan noted that "Night Trap got Sega an awful lot of publicity.... Questions were even raised in the UK Parliament about its suitability. This came at a time when Sega was capitalizing on its image as an edgy company with attitude, and this only served to reinforce that image." Despite increased sales as a result of the hearings, Sega recalled Night Trap and rereleased it with revisions in 1994. Following these hearings, video game manufacturers came together in 1994 to establish a unified rating system, the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Newer CD-based consoles such as the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer rendered the Sega CD technically obsolete, reducing public interest. In late 1993, less than a year after the Sega CD's launches in North America and Europe, the media reported that Sega was no longer accepting in-house development proposals for the Mega-CD in Japan. By 1994, 1.5 million units had been sold in the United States and 415,000 in Western Europe.
In early 1995, Sega shifted its focus to the Sega Saturn and discontinued advertising for Genesis hardware, including the Sega CD. Sega officially discontinued the Sega CD in the first quarter of 1996, saying that it needed to concentrate on fewer platforms and felt the Sega CD could not compete due to its high price and outdated single-speed drive. The last games scheduled to be released for the Sega CD, ports of Myst and Brain Dead 13, were cancelled. 2.24 million Sega CD units were sold worldwide, including 400,000 in Japan.
The Sega CD can only be used in conjunction with a Genesis system, attaching through an expansion slot on the side of the main console. It requires its own power supply. In addition to playing its own library of games in CD-ROM format, the Sega CD can also play compact discs and karaoke CD+G discs, and can be used in conjunction with the 32X to play 32-bit games that use both add-ons. The second model, also known as the Sega CD 2, includes a steel joining plate to be screwed into the bottom of the Genesis and extension spacer to work with the original Genesis model.
The main CPU of the Sega CD is a 12.5MHz16-bitMotorola 68000 processor, which runs 5 MHz faster than the Genesis processor. It contains 1 Mbit of bootROM, allocated for the CD game BIOS, CD player software, and compatibility with CD+G discs. 6 Mbit of RAM are allocated to data for programs, pictures, and sounds; 512 Kbit to PCM waveform memory; 128 Kbit to CD-ROM data cache memory; and an additional 64 Kbit are allocated as the backup memory. Additional backup memory in the form of a 1 Mbit Backup RAM Cartridge was also available as a separate purchase, released near the end of the system's life. Audio can be supplied through the Ricoh RF5C164, and two RCA pin jacks allow the Sega CD to output stereophonic sound separate from the Genesis. Combining stereo sound from a Genesis to either version of the Sega CD requires a cable between the Genesis's headphone jack and an input jack on the back of the CD unit. This is not required for the second model of the Genesis.
Though the Sega CD offers a faster processor, its main purpose is to expand the size of the games. Whereas ROM cartridges of the day typically contained 8 to 16 megabits of data, a CD-ROM disc can hold more than 640 megabytes of data, more than 320 times the storage of a Genesis cartridge. This allows the Sega CD to run games containing full motion video.
See also: Sega Genesis § Variations
Several models of the Sega CD were released. The original model used a front-loading motorized disc tray and sat underneath the Genesis. The second model was redesigned to sit next to the Genesis console and featured a top-loading disc tray in place of the motorized tray. Sega also released the Genesis CDX (Multi-Mega in Europe), a combination of the Genesis and Sega CD in one unit and initially retailed at US$399. Unique to this model was its additional functionality as a portable CD player.
Three additional system models were created by other electronics companies. Working with Sega, JVC released the Wondermega, a combination of the Genesis and Sega CD with high-quality audio, on April 1, 1992, in Japan, at an initial retail price of ¥82,800 (or US$620). The Wondermega was redesigned by JVC and released as the X'Eye in North America in September 1994. The Wondermega's high price kept it out of the hands of average consumers. Another add-on, the Pioneer LaserActive by Pioneer Corporation, required an attachment developed by Sega, the Mega-LD pack, to play Genesis and Sega CD games. The LaserActive was positioned to compete with the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, but the combined system and Mega-LD pack retailed at nearly $1600, making it too expensive for most consumers.Aiwa released the CSD-GM1, a combination Genesis/Sega CD unit built into a boombox.
See also: List of Sega CD games
The Sega CD supports a library of over 200 games created by Sega and third-party publishers. Included in this library are six games which, while receiving individual Sega CD releases, also received separate versions that used both the Sega CD and 32X add-ons. Among the games were a number of FMV games, including Sewer Shark and Fahrenheit. Well regarded games include Sonic CD, Lunar: The Silver Star, Lunar: Eternal Blue, Popful Mail, and Snatcher, as well as the controversial Night Trap. Although Sega created Streets of Rage for the Genesis to compete against the SNES port of the arcade hit Final Fight, the Sega CD received an enhanced version of Final Fight that has been praised for its greater faithfulness to the arcade original.Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side was noted for its impressive use of the Sega CD hardware as well as its violent content. In particular, Sonic CD garnered acclaim for its graphics and time travel gameplay, which improved upon the traditional Sonic formula. The Sega CD also received enhanced ports of Genesis games including Batman Returns and Ecco the Dolphin.
Given the large number of FMV games and Genesis ports, the Sega CD's game library has been criticized for its lack of depth. Full-motion video quality was substandard on the Sega CD due to poor video compression software and limited color palette, and the concept never caught on with the public. According to Digital Pictures founder Tom Zito, "Sega CD could only put up 32 colors at a time, so you had this horrible grainy look to the images," though the system was able to put up 64 colors at one time. Likewise, most Genesis ports for the Sega CD featured additional full motion video sequences, extra levels, and enhanced audio, but were otherwise identical to their Genesis release. The video quality in these sequences has also been criticized as comparable to an old VHS tape.
Reception and legacy
Near the time of its release, the Sega CD was awarded Best New Peripheral of 1992 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. Four separate reviews scored the add-on 8, 9, 8, and 8 out of 10; reviewers cited its upgrades to the Genesis as well as its high-quality and expanding library of games. Later reception in 1995 by Electronic Gaming Monthly showed a more mixed response to the peripheral, with four reviewers scoring it 5 out of 10, citing its game library issues and substandard video quality.GamePro also criticized the weak games library and substandard video quality, noting that many of the games were simple ports of cartridge games with minimal enhancements and commenting that "The Sega CD could have been an upgrade, but it's essentially a big memory device with CD sound." They gave it a "thumbs sideways" and recommended that Genesis fans buy an SNES before even considering a Sega CD. Likewise, in a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Japanese Mega-CD 2 a 17 out of 40.
Retrospective reception of the Sega CD is mixed, praising certain games but criticizing its low value for money and limitations on the benefits it provides to the Genesis.GamePro listed the Sega CD as the 7th-worst selling video game console of all time, with reviewer Blake Snow noting that "The problem was threefold: the device was expensive at $299, it arrived late in the 16-bit life cycle, and it didn't do much (if anything) to enhance the gameplay experience." Snow went on to note, however, that the Sega CD did have in its library "the greatest Sonic game of all time" in Sonic CD.IGN's Levi Buchanan criticized Sega's implementation of CD technology for the Genesis, noting, "What good is the extra storage space if there is nothing inventive to be done with it? No new gameplay concepts emerged from the SEGA CD—it just offered more of the same." Jeremy Parish of USgamer pointed out that "Sega was hardly the only company to muddy its waters with a CD add-on in the early '90s" and highlighted some "gems" for the system, but cautioned "the benefits offered by the Sega CD had to be balanced against the fact that the add-on more than doubled the price (and complexity) of the [Genesis]." Writing for Retro Gamer, Damien McFerran cited various reasons for the Sega CD's limited sales, including the add-on's high price, lack of significant enhancement to the Genesis console, and lack of ability to function without a console attached.Retro Gamer writer Aaron Birch, however, defended the Sega CD and wrote that "the single biggest cause of the Mega-CD's failure was the console itself. When the system came out, CD-ROM technology was still in its infancy and companies had yet to get to grips with the possibilities it offered... quite simply, the Mega-CD was a console ahead of its time."
The poor support for the Sega CD has often been criticized as the first link in the devaluation of the Sega brand. Writing for IGN, Buchanan described an outside perspective on Sega's decision to release the Sega CD with its poor library and console support, stating, "[T]he SEGA CD instead looked like a strange, desperate move—something designed to nab some ink but without any real, thought-out strategy. Genesis owners that invested in the add-on were sorely disappointed, which undoubtedly helped sour the non-diehards on the brand." In reviewing for GamePro, Snow commented that "[the] Sega CD marked the first of several Sega systems that saw very poor support; something that devalued the once-popular Sega brand in the eyes of consumers, and something that would ultimately lead to the company's demise as a hardware maker."
Former Sega of America senior producer Scot Bayless attributes the unsuccessful market to a lack of direction from Sega with the add-on. According to Bayless, "It was a fundamental paradigm shift with almost no thought given to consequences. I honestly don't think anyone at Sega asked the most important question: 'Why?' There's a rule I developed during my time as an engineer in the military aviation business: never fall in love with your tech. I think that's where the Mega-CD went off the rails. The whole company fell in love with the idea without ever really asking how it would affect the games you made." Sega of America producer Michael Latham offers a contrasting view of support for the add-on, however, stating "I loved the Sega CD. I always thought the platform was under-appreciated and that it was hurt by an over-concentration of trying to make Hollywood interactive film games versus using its storage and extended abilities to make just plain great video games." Former Sega of Europe president Nick Alexander commented on the Mega-CD, saying "The Mega CD was interesting but probably misconceived and was seen very much as the interim product it was. I am afraid I cannot recall the sales numbers, but it was not a success."
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Review sega cd
Let me make this clear from the beginning: The Secret of Monkey Island is a classic point & click adventure chock full of oddball humor and zesty piratey goodness.
The Sega CD translation, however, does a fine job of languishing on a dusty shelf. Preferably someone elses.
If youve ever played the floppy version youll discover that the only truly cool feature here is that the soundtrack is in redbook audio and an enhanced version of the Roland MT-32. It sounds leagues better than anything your crappy old sound card could put out back in the day now you can enjoy catchy pirate ditties, the pounding drums of the jungle, or just the distant crackles and hooting owls as youre wandering around in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for Sega theres also an enhanced CD edition for PC that offers the same thing.
Even more unfortunately, the transition from computer to the Sega CD leaves way too much to be desired. Theres still a brilliant game buried underneath the crap but when you add up all the flaws its too much of a pain in the ass to bother with.
For starters the Genesis palette obviously couldnt handle the originals beautiful 256-color graphics, as the end results are pretty good overall but noticeably washed out, grainy, and too dark. Theres no mouse support either and a gamepad isnt nearly as comfortable, although its not really that big of a deal unless youre still using those massive three-button things for some reason.
But then theres the fact that were stuck with a single-speed CD-ROM drive, and the implications of this should be rather obvious.
* loading *
* loading *
* loading *
Switching to the next screen usually takes anywhere from 24 to 40 seconds as you constantly stop and enjoy the wonders of an empty black screen with only a watch icon and the CD drives frequent whirring for company. It doesnt end there, of course: theres also:
a lengthy interruption between cut scenes
massive slowdown whenever theres a bunch of sprites moving around or youre attempting to scroll across the screen (or both, as in the SCUMM Bar)
a short delay just before youre given a choice of responses in the midst of a conversation
a few stutters whenever the audio track loops
theres even a noticeable pause as you snatch up an item.
Did I mention that this game has an awful lot of loading? Because it does.
Should you understandably become weary of all this nonsense, youll be treated to a saving system that occasionally even manages to save something. Pausing the game reveals a simple four-digit passcode which does little more than remember a few major items and events (like, say, having completed one of the three trials) while casually resetting Guybrushs current location and all his conversations along with EVERYTHING else he may have been carting about.
Suppose I find myself in the middle of a forest carrying a gleaming pile of money, a leg of meat, a herring, and a handful of yellow flower petals maybe even a treasure map when suddenly I realize that were all going to die, Ive wasted my life, and I desperately need to flee into the beautiful day outside while screaming at the top of my lungs. Naturally I pause the game and record my password. After taking several deep breaths, entering this code and subsequently waiting the requisite minute and a half for the game to load, I discover that Im back on the first screen carrying only the money, meaning I get to collect all those items all over again.
This makes for particularly great fun during the countless swordfights, what with all those pauses in between every single dialogue prompt and being required to do them all in one sitting. Unless you already know how to solve the puzzles you can expect plenty of backpedaling to recover lost progress. Maybe the passwords are easy to record and re-enter at a mere four digits, and maybe the Sega CDs internal RAM isnt exactly expansive, but it probably would have been a worthwhile trade-off to considerably lengthen the passwords in exchange for their, I dont know, ACTUALLY STORING SOME DATA.
Dont be suckered by awesome ports like Maniac Mansion on the NES at a glance Monkey Island on the Sega CD look like a pretty faithful translation but in reality its no fun at all. Shell out the extra cash and track down Monkey Island Madness (featuring the first two games on CD) so you can play it in DOSBox instead.
If you enjoyed this The Secret of Monkey Island review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!
The Video Game Critic's Console Reviews
Sega CD (1992 - 1995)
| Manufacturer: Sega|
Controller Ports: NA
Save Capability: Internal memory, optional memory cartridge
Number of games: Over 100
Video Output: Composite
Initial Price: $299
Although the Turbografx-16 CD attachment technically beat Sega to market, the Sega CD was the first major CD-based system. Attaching to the underside of Sega's mega-successful Genesis console, it promised to take gamers to "the next level". In addition to displaying video and playing high fidelity audio, the Sega CD included internal memory storage (for saving games) and incorporated built-in scaling and rotation graphic capabilities. Interactive video titles like Night Trap and Sewer Shark were supposed to revolutionize gaming, but beyond sheer novelty value, these games' limited interaction and minimal replay value didn't hold most gamer's attentions. As we've seen with so many other video game technologies, just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea. Sega somehow failed to realize that the future of games lied in 3D graphics, not full-motion video. This continued shortsightedness was evident in their disappointing Saturn console, which was underpowered in terms of 3D capabilities (compared to the Playstation at least).
The initial version of the Sega CD was a square, front-loading model that attached to the bottom of the Genesis console. With no controls on the outside (just two lights), it was controlled entirely through software. Later, this sturdy model was replaced with a lightweight version that rode sidesaddle with the Genesis and had a pop-top lid. Compared to the first Sega CD, it felt flimsy and cheap. The newer model is also known to have problems running certain games. It should also be noted that Sega eventually released a hybrid unit called the "Sega CDX" that combined the bulky Genesis and CD units into a sleek and small combo.
The Genesis and its limited color palette was not ideal for video, and consequently the system's video footage appears extremely grainy. In most cases the video doesn't even fill the screen, but is displayed on a smaller window within the game screen. Although the Sega CD did add rotation and scaling capabilities, Sega couldn't really boast about this since the Super Nintendo already had those features built-in, with no upgrade required. Many Sega CD games were simply repackaged Genesis titles with enhanced music, FMV intermissions, and load times. To be fair, the load times are minimal compared to the Neo Geo CD or Playstation.
The Sega CD eventually faded, but not before amassing a sizeable library of games. Many of these have not aged well, particularly compared to their Genesis counterparts. Still, there are a few gems including the souped-up Batman Returns, the rapid-fire shooter Silpheed, the engrossing graphic adventure Snatcher, and a few critically acclaimed RPGs. Night Trap has great historical value. Along with Mortal Kombat, it was a lightning rod of controversy, prompting Congress to investigate the subject of video game violence. Utlimately this led to the establishment of the video game rating system in use today. It's also interesting to note that the standard Genesis system outlived the Sega CD. In fact, the Genesis 3 didn't even support the add-on.
Console design: B+/D. The original front-loading model is highly prized by collectors, and can be expensive to aquire. Clean and elegant in design, it fits neatly under the original-model Genesis. The only part that clutters the configuration is the "mixing cable" that runs from the Genesis headphone jack. The second (and more common) Sega CD version is easy to acquire but looks somewhat junky in comparison. Both systems feature internal memory for saving games, which may or may not still function after all of these years. Oddly, my older model still has working memory, but the newer one is dead. A Sega CD memory cartridge is available as a storage alternative.
Console durability: C/D. Like many old CD-based systems, the Sega CD is susceptible to disk read problems. In some cases this can be fixed by properly cleaning the lens, but in general, purchasing a used Sega CD system is a risky proposition.
Controllers: B. The Sega CD uses the same controllers as the Sega Genesis. These are highly regarded, in spite of their modest, three-button configuration.
Media: C. While the CD format is quite suitable for video games, the Sega CD didn't make the most of it. The sound quality of many Sega CD games is less than crystal clear, and the added load times probably made many early adopters think twice about their new investment. In addition, although CD games are considerably cheaper to produce than cartridges, Sega didn't bother passing along the savings to the customer.
Packaging: F/C+. Initially Sega CD games were packaged in flimsy cardboard boxes. A few months after release however, these were replaced by long, clear plastic boxes like those used for Saturn games. While these don't look bad on a shelf, they crack very easily and take up a lot of space.
Games: C-. The Sega CD is well known for its popular RPG's such as the "Lunar" series and "Popful Mail". The system also had an exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog title called "Sonic CD". Outside of these however, most Sega CD games can either be categorized as "enhanced" Genesis games or full-motion video (FMV) titles. Enhanced games like Batman Returns and Ecco the Dolphin offer added extra stages and improved audio at the cost of load times. As for the FMV titles, most gamers don't care for them due to their poor video quality and limited interaction. I personally tend to enjoy them, not as much for their gameplay as for their rock-bottom production values, idiotic dialogue, and laughable acting.
Graphics: D. Except for the full motion video, Sega CD graphics look identical to their Genesis counterparts. I imagine this came as quite a shock to early adopters who were promised "the next level" of video gaming. Genesis games don't look particularly bad, but they lack the color and sharpness of SNES titles. Sega CD games also tend to have "static" on the top and bottom of the screen, although this doesn't affect the gameplay.
Audio: B. Surprisingly, many Sega CD titles contain music that's not even CD quality! Although certain Sega CD titles do feature a CD-quality soundtrack (like Ecco the Dolphin), this perk isn't as great as its sounds. I personally find the distinctive electronic tunes generated by the Genesis to be far more interesting than the pre-recorded music tracks used in many Sega CD titles.
Collectability: D. Nostalga buffs might appreciate this system, but if you already have a Genesis, the Sega CD isn't much of an improvement. Many of the enhanced Genesis games aren't worth the upgrade, and most of the FMV games (Night Trap, Dragon's Lair) were done better on other systems (like the 3DO). Tracking down a working front-loading system is difficult, but the newer models are easy to find and relatively cheap. Since reliability is a factor, you'll want to confirm that the system is fully functional before buying it. Even well conditioned systems can suffer from read problems on occasion. Also, I'd recommend purchasing a system already attached to a Genesis unit, since the extra parts required to connect it to a Genesis may be missing. On a positive note, most Sega CD games themselves are readily available and relatively cheap, both new and used.
Innovations: First major CD-based system, internal memory storage.
Pros and Cons:
+ Games cheap and easy to find
- Grainy video hard to stomach
- Prone to technical problems
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No one was surprised, she constantly threw me, This story happened to me and my wife 2 years ago, now it's even hard to believe that this could ever happen. My name is Andrey, now I am 32 years old, I work as a system administrator in a fairly large company. In my youth I went in for swimming, though not professionally, but at an amateur level, I regularly visit the gym, I keep myself in great shape.
So, in spite of my age, I have a rather athletic physique.