We all have our own personal favorite SEGA moments. So this week the staff is sitting back, thinking about our favorites. As always you can let us know your favorites via the comments.
The release of Shenmue
I should probably start talking about other games in these round tables but again the answer to ‘your favourite Sega moment’ has to be the release of Shenmue.
I waited for months, waited with more anticipation for this game then any game before or since. I bought every magazine that even had a slither of information about it and I trawled the internet like a deep sea fisherman scooping up any morsels of information I could without a seconds thought for the dolphins.
I argued with the kids in my high school who said the PS2 was going to be better then the Dreamcast and Shenmue was my big gun, even they were stunned at how awesome it looked.
Finally the night before the game came, I was staying over at my friends house and we were up discussing it all night, which sucked because we had school exams in the morning… I had already given my mother money to pick the game up from town while I was taking my exams and when I got home, same friend in tow. It was sitting on my bed waiting for me. Like a giddy school girl I ripped off the plastic factory seal and sniffed the content, mmm the smell of brand new Shenmue booklets.
We hurriedly put the game into my Dreamcast, turned it on and played all weekend only taking breaks to pee and sleep. We must have spent at least an hour just wondering around his house before we even stepped outside, examining everything. The graphics, the attention to detail and the sound of Ryos socked feet thudding on the wooden floorboards are ingrained in me for ever more.
Shenmue, may we never forget.
Barry The Nomad
Playing Legit Phantasy Star Online
I have many favorite SEGA moments, however one that has been at the front of my mind as of recent has been my memories of playing Phantasy Star Online on my Dreamcast. I’ve been thinking about PSO a lot as PSO2 is set to hit this year, though when and on what exact platforms has yet to be known. Despite those uncertainties, I am really looking forward to returning to the world of PSO and more specifically I’m looking forward to playing with old members of LPSO.
LPSO is a gaming group founded when PSO released stateside in early 2001. The “L” stands for “Legit” and the meaning of “PSO” is obvious. The group made strives to keep gameplay legit, so there were no hacks allowed, no illegal items, no unlimited meseta. Everything had to follow the rules of the game. Playing with the LPSO players was a lot of fun, as you didn’t have to worry about some hunter class character entering the room with a cheese needle, paralyzing every creature with the first shot and killing the room with the second shot, giving you a black screen of death and then logging off. Items and meseta was fairly distributed and mission goals were properly followed, and in turn every player progressed much faster than those struggling to play alongside hackers and rule breakers.
[drawing of Reiko, circa 2001]
This isn’t to say I didn’t bend the rules myself. While I was a good little LPSOer, playing as Fokker the human hunter, I had another character that was pure evil: Reiko the HUnewearl. Reiko has all the meseta she needed, given to her by hackers who found her attractive (I pretended to be a Japanese girl), and touted a number of hacked weapons (again, given to her by sugar daddies). Both Fokker and Reiko played both sides of the PSO world, bringing many exciting, humorous and strange moments to the game. Here’s hoping PSO2 allows me to bring them back for more great SEGA moments!
Owning a Dreamcast
So many great SEGA experiences. I’m definitely with Sharky on the Shenmue one, and my first time playing Sonic Adventure on my brand new Dreamcast was probably my very best video game-related memory, though I’ve discussed both of these in earlier Roundtables. Being given a shiny new SEGA Genesis with Sonic 2 was another awesome memory and really the start of my time as a video gamer, with the DC moving me from just playing video games into following and writing about the gaming industry itself.
There was something so special about playing video games on the two SEGA systems I’ve owned. Every time I’d boot up a new Dreamcast game I’d be excited to see what awesome visual tricks and, in the case of SEGA games, great new innovations, would be right around the corner. From the Offspring’s All I Want in Crazy Taxi to the awesome Sonic Adventure opening and the amazing experience that was Jet Grind Radio….almost anything on the Dreamcast system can trigger a bit of sweet nostalgia. SEGA made games like nobody else; they made games for an audience that unfortunately didn’t exist in large enough numbers to make their consoles successful. But SEGA was always SEGA, and as a console maker and 1st party, they always remained SEGA, and there was nobody else like ‘em.
Final Level of NiGHTS Into Dreams…
I had to sort through a lot of SEGA Moments before I finally came to this one. The destruction of your home base in Skies of Arcadia. The death of Ryo Hazuki’s father and the subsequent confrontations he went through in the quest to avenge him that followed. Fighting Godzilla in Shinobi II. The Doomsday boss battle in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Above all of these, however, is the final level of NiGHTS into Dreams.
NiGHTS is a game that says a lot with a little. The game has very little focus on storyline, and has only four real cutscenes shared between two characters to tell its story in a traditional fashion. Really, these cutscenes are mere bookends to a storyline told completely through game play as the main characters, Elliot and Claris, fight for their dreams with the help of Nightmaren turncoat NiGHTS. The first three stages show Claris and Elliot using NiGHTS to defeat the Nightmarens and take back their ideya. As your playing the game, you don’t think much of this, after all characters do fantastic things in games all the time. Just like how Sonic will always have his speed, Ristar will always have his stretchy arms, and Lagi will always be able to shoot heaps of blue lasers out of his mouth, Claris and Elliot will always have NiGHTS to rely on.
Except, in the final stage of the game, they don’t. Wizeman locks NiGHTS away in prison. When Claris or Elliot try to enter, they get bounced back by Wizeman and stranded on a small piece of land over a bottomless abyss. They are stranded and powerless. The only thing they have to guide them is a blue arrow, which lead them to NiGHTS in other levels. In this stage, it tells them to take a leap of faith. When I was first faced with this, I wasn’t sure what to do. In any game, leaping into a bottomless pit leads to death and a game over. I walked around the platform, trying to find out where I was supposed to go. After contemplating what the game wanted me to do, I finally decided to follow the arrow’s advice and jump. My character fell and disappeared underneath the clouds. Surprisingly, instead of a “Night Over” screen, I heard several notes from a flute. My character flew triumphantly up through the clouds. These powerless kids I had been playing throughout the game where now flying all by themselves. What followed was easily the most well put together level of the entire game, and indeed easily the best level of a game Sonic Team had ever produced period.
NiGHTS was a game I was struggling to understand throughout my time with it. It was at this moment that the game as a whole clicked with me. The way the music, graphics, and game play all work in concert to provide an experience that is borderline surreal. This level in particular features a wonderful melding of visuals, music, and game play to create a wonderfully whimsical, upbeat atmosphere that stands in stark contrast to the more menacing music at the stage’s start.
Perhaps the best thing about this level is that it’s a perfect example of storytelling through game play. Each level in NiGHTS has a subtitle that indicates and underlying meaning that this stage is meant to have. In other stages, this meaning is typically unclear, but in this one it is quite literal. The subtitle for this stage is “the Growth”. Throughout the game Claris and Elliot battle the Nightmaren through NiGHTS. NiGHTS serves as a crutch, since they could not face the Nightmarens with their own power. When they are left stranded on the piece of land, the player gets to actively participate in the moment when the character transcends his or her fears and powerlessness, takes that leap of faith, and flies.
This is, for me, one of the most memorable moments in entertainment period, and it’s one of the big reasons that I am a SEGA fan. NiGHTS was a game made by people who understood the depths at which their medium could go as an art form, and in my mind this moment is why NiGHTS stands as an unrivaled example of video games as art. Thanks for the memories, Sonic Team.
Owning a SEGA console
This could be considered a low blow, since everyone else picked a more specific thing. I think the best SEGA moment for all SEGA fans is having a SEGA console. Its not the same playing a SEGA game, not matter how SEGA this game is on a Microsoft or Sony console. Nothing beats the experience of SEGA on a SEGA console… nothing.
I think the consoles that impressed me the most right out of the box was both the SEGA Saturn and the Dreamcast. I think the most impressive thing about the Saturn was the music player. Back in these days a CD player was pretty rare, at least to me and the SEGA Saturn had a pretty impressive menu for a CD. It had a space ship in space, all rendered in 3D. Which was also new to home consoles, especially in that type of quality. Top it off it even had the ability to fast forward and play the music in slow motion. I know its a gimmick now, but I loved it as a kid.
The Dreamcast was also impressive, it had a web browser and modem right out of the box. Of course impressed me as a kid. You guys would have probably caught me every weekend in the IRC SEGA rooms, trolling away trying to make everyone mad. Not to mention I also played PSO just like Barry.