As Sonic fans, SEGA has invariably played at least some role in the tastes of everyone on the Sonic Stadium staff. Whether it is our love for their hardware, software or intellectual property, we each have a memory that either defined SEGA for us, or allowed SEGA to shape our tastes in gaming as a whole.
Today, on SEGA’s 60th anniversary, we thought it would be good to reminisce about the company that created a character we all have at least some fondness for.
I think it’s fair to say that, without SEGA, my life (especially on the internet) would have gone very differently. The Sonic Stadium was created way back in 2000 after my childhood love for SEGA and Sonic was rekindled, thanks to the launch of the Dreamcast (and Sonic Adventure). So I have that off-white box – and SEGA’s incredible first-party output during those very short but sweet three years of the console’s lifespan – to thank for basically the last twenty years, at least?
I grew up playing SEGA consoles since the early 1990s. My first console, in fact, was a SEGA Master System. I originally wanted a Mega Drive (after seeing Sonic the Hedgehog in action at a friend’s house and being totally gobsmacked), and I had saved up all my pocket money, but when I went to the game shop I didn’t have enough and the store clerk offered me a Master System… the only reason I went home with it was because it had Sonic 1 built into the system. And so began my love for Sonic.
In the UK growing up, 1990s playgrounds would be filled with words of war over who was better – Sonic or Mario? SEGA or Nintendo? In the UK, Sonic won that culture war – and I’ll never forget the year of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, where ‘Sonic Mania’ had truly hit and the blue blur’s face was on literally any kind of product you could think of.
When it was time to trade up my Mega Drive, the SEGA Saturn was already on its last legs in the UK; I made my move towards Nintendo with the N64 (and never looked back). But, when the Dreamcast came out, I was reminded of just why I fell in love with the company in the first place. Blue skies. Colourful characters with attitude. Amazing soundtracks. Addictive and interesting gameplay with every title (that might be down to SEGA’s arcade roots).
Although I’m a massive Sonic fan at heart (couldn’t you tell?), I remain a huge fan of a number of other SEGA franchises – new and old. Shining Force. Valkyria Chronicles. Jet Set Radio. Space Channel 5. Yakuza. Super Monkey Ball. Streets of Rage. OutRun 2. Shenmue. Panzer Dragoon. Even Renegade Ops. SEGA has such a rich history that can only be matched by its old 1990s playground rival – and the gaming industry would be a much, much poorer place without their creative magic. Happy Anniversary, SEGA. May you shine brightly for another 60 years. GO SEGA!
When I was young, I was lucky enough to have both a SEGA Genesis and a Super Nintendo… but ask anyone, and it’s clear which one I preferred: the one with Sonic. I was a SEGA kid all the way, and I remember so vividly asking my parents for a SEGA Saturn, but never got it. Then there was the hype leading up to the SEGA Dreamcast, and it’s killer app Sonic Adventure. I couldn’t care less about the N64 at that point, I was ready for the future.
Having it in my hands on Christmas morning was so surreal. I remember ripping the box open and plugging the console into the TV, only to realize that the set was too old and didn’t have any AV input! I had to beg to go to GameStop to get the coax cable (and eventually a VMU) so I could play Sonic Adventure. The Dreamcast was undoubtedly my favorite system, and as an adult I have only grown to appreciate it’s robust library and the passion SEGA had to deliver quality games at the time.
To this day, whenever SEGA is mentioned, my attention immediately shifts. When I have kids, you’d better believe they’ll have their hands on a Genesis controller long before a smartphone. I give my thanks to SEGA for providing countless hours of entertainment for so long. Here’s to looking forward to another 60 years for them!
Back in the ancient year of 2000, my gaming tastes were pretty limited. I mostly just liked to play platformers, like Sonic and Donkey Kong Country. I was comfortable in my little safe zone, as I wasn’t an avid gamer. I was interested in getting a new console, and after briefly considering the N64, I decided on the Dreamcast. By Christmas, I had one. By the end of the following January, it was discontinued. While my timing wasn’t great, being the new owner of an abruptly-killed console gave me something I’d never had before: a motivation to try new things.
If the Dreamcast wasn’t going to get new games, I’d at least try to experience everything it already had. It was through SEGA’s last console that I experienced my first racing games, fighting games, adventure games, rhythm games, online games, virtual pet games, RPGs, and shmups. Many of these games were made or published by SEGA: Skies of Arcadia, Seaman, Shenmue, Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, MSR, Alien Front Online, and so on. It was during this time that I developed a love for SEGA as a whole, which then led to me exploring the rest of their consoles and games, which further expanded my gaming tastes to stuff like NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon, and Dragon Force.
In many ways, I have SEGA’s darkest day to thank for my brightest memories of them. They shaped my tastes significantly in my formative years, and that’s reflected in the games I play today.
I had a weird zigzag of platforms when I was a kid. I jumped from NES to Genesis to SNES to N64 and so forth. I loved Sonic, Rocket Knight Adventures, Toy Story, Animaniacs, and other Genesis games, and I regularly brought my Nomad to school for recess. Eventually Nintendo’s sensibilities won my heart, mind, and parents’ wallets, especially because of Pokemon. Nintendo Power restoked things in 2002 when it was announced Sonic Adventure 2 would hit Gamecube.
I devoured Sonic games on that small purple box, and once I got disposable income, I expanded my interests to other Sega games: Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, and accounting for my namesake, F-Zero GX. I spent my freshman year of college over on GameFAQs message boards as one of “those guys” shouting into the void that “Oh no, the reviewers are wrong, Shadow the Hedgehog is going to be good!” and then proceeded to convince myself the game was good until I (arguably) emotionally matured.
These days, Sega has left me much more jaded as a company, but it’s hard for me to really feel bad. Every few years, we still get a delightfully weird Hell Yeah!, a rough but charming Rhythm Thief, a truly addictive Puyo Puyo Tetris, and… whatever it is that the Yakuza series has become. They’re not perfect, but they’re still a wildcard in an industry that doesn’t have as many left in the deck.
I have so many good memories, it’s hard to just pick one. Instead, I’ll make a list:
Playing Congo-Bongo and Zaxxon (at an arcade) on my first date when I was 12.
Playing the Master System at a friend’s house. He had Wrestling and Hang-On.
Saving up all my money working part-time at McDonald’s to get a used Sega Genesis. I got Golden Axe and Buster Douglas Real-Deal Boxing.
Playing Sonic the Hedgehog day one. Been a fan from the start.
Setting my alarm for 6:30 am Saturday mornings just to watch Sonic SATAM in bed, then going back to sleep.
Getting the first issue of SegaVisions with the only time that a Fleetway Sonic comic made its way to the US shores with Sonic’s origin.
Paying over $500 to import a Sega Dreamcast from Japan just for Virtua Fighter, Godzilla, and Sonic Adventure.
Making friends through the Sonic community, which led to me writing my own fan comic (Sonic Eggs), starting the Sonic Talk podcast, and working here on the Sonic Stadium, which then gave me the opportunity to attend events and conventions, and interview major Sonic creatives.
Helping with Sonic Revolution, a yearly Sonic convention that helped me meet many fans in person.
Finally, getting to see the Sonic movie with a ton of Sonic fans while wearing a Robotnik costume and getting to meet Ben Schwartz afterward.
What are YOUR favourite and fondest memories playing SEGA?
Share your stories with us in the comments section below!
And remember…. #GOSEGA!