SEGAbits Forum Member’s Round Table: SEGA AM2 Memories

am2roundtable

SEGA AM2 Month has come to an end, and before we move onto February’s developer we wanted to look back on fond memories we have of SEGA’s most iconic and prolific developer. Usually the SEGAbits round tables involve our writers and contributors, but this week we thought we’d give up our seats to our loyal forum members! Of course, we promised the best entries SEGA 3D Classics codes, but to our surprise several forum members shared their memories despite already owning all the games or not having a use for them. What am I saying, of course this wasn’t a surprise. If there is one thing all SEGA fans excel at, it’s sharing fond memories of their favorite games and developers.

segaismysavior – Daytona USA

Daytona3I wasn’t sure which memory I’d choose, there are so many concerning AM2, but I’m landing on Daytona USA. This is likely SEGA’s first 3D game in an arcade that made me stop, look at, and refuse to do anything but gape at the action on the screen. I had seen polygons before in Virtua Fighter, but not texture mapping, nor 60 frames per second movement through a roller coaster version of a race track.

Sitting down to actually play it made my heart rate increase, my eyes glaze, and my legs go numb. It was the day that SEGA was more than Sonic or the Genesis, and a prime reason that I got a Saturn during the 32-bit era. Never mind the original Saturn port turned out awful, but AM2 was now on my radar as a top-tier developer thanks to Daytona, and their glorious Saturn ports became events during my early teenage years.

Supa – Shenmue

Shenmue18Favorite AM2 memory…of course it has to be Shenmue. The first Shenmue to be exact. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but it was either late 2001 or early 2002. Before Shenmue II came out in North America, my friend was over at my house. My parents had came back from town, and made a stop at the flea market. They picked up three games to try out on the good ol’ Dreamcast: Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense, Grandia II, and Shenmue. Of course, we tried them all. Vigilante was fun, and the only one we could both play at the same time. Grandia seemed cool, but not something to play when a friend is over. And Shenmue, I honestly brushed it off as being just another game. Wow, was I wrong.

shenmue_intro

After my friend left the next day, I was able to start exploring more of the two games that were one player only: Grandia II and Shenmue. I ended up getting blown completely away by Shenmue, more than any other game I had ever played…the graphics, the music, everything was incredible and I loved it. I still remember being terribly sick, home from school one day, and I was so thrilled that I got to play it all day 🙂 . I remember I was on disc 2, trying to sneak into the old warehouse district, and I kept failing. Shozo Mizuki came and helped me, several times. I could not figure this out. I was so frustrated, that when my mother came in to bring me some breakfast (scrambled eggs and bacon in a bowl, I still remember 🙂 ), that I asked her to try it for me. Keep in mind I wasn’t even in middle school at the time. Of course, she got it, and at this time it was much easier since I had maps and less guards due to Shozo’s help. She gets me in to Old Warehouse #8, and I continue the game. I was so shocked when Gui Zhang said “We always have trouble with that gang…those dirty bastards.” 😀

forklift

Anyways, I continued on, loving every minute of it, especially the forklift job, and finished the game. Was incredibly impressed, I was mesmerized by this game. It was instantly my favorite video game of all time, it was a story that drew me in, and made a personal connection with me…I felt sorry for Ryo, I felt his pain throughout all of this, and as cheesy as it may sound, I feel like I kind of grew a little with him through the second game as well.

ShenmueII_DC_JP_Box_Front_LEI was constantly on the internet looking up anything and everything I could about Shenmue II, or if one existed. I was not a current gamer by any means…the Dreamcast was not bought new, in fact, the last console we bought first hand was a Genesis. So I didn’t know anything about DC dying, or Shenmue II coming to the Xbox,- right away. I remember finding all sorts of pictures and screenshots, and a really old Project Berkeley ad that was about thirty seconds long, that I still have never seen since (except on my computer!) . I read all sorts of rumors that Ryo would be able to call home to Japan in Shenmue II, would receive letters from Nozomi, and more. Finally, I got word that Shenmue II was coming to Xbox, and I immediately convinced my parents to put one in Walmart layaway. I am in sixth grade now, and I remember instantly making my way over to the video game section every time my family was in Walmart. They had up the Xbox demo disc with the Shenmue II Zhang QTE sequence on it, that started with the Dou Jiang Free Battle.

Shenmue2DC2
I don’t think I ever quite beat that demo due to me never knowing what to do with command QTEs, but I still was in love. So excited to finally get this game. Eventually, I think it was either December 2002 or January 2003, we got the Xbox and Shenmue II out of layaway. The Xbox came with Rallisport Challenge, SEGA GT 2002, and Jet Set Radio Future, but all I wanted to play was Shenmue II. We got home with it, and I was so excited! My brother had gone to a school dance that night, and my dad wanted to try out the games with me, but didn’t want to watch me play Shenmue. We glanced through the other three games, and he even stayed for a bit to watch, and then I was all alone to enjoy the experience. I remember thinking that I needed a memory card to save my game and that I wouldn’t be able to save, but when I found out I could, I was ecstatic! I still have that old Xbox with me very first Shenmue II clear file on it…I should go back and check the date, but I think I beat the game around March or April. After that, still not knowing much about the franchise and SEGA’s current situations, or Shenmue III, I again swarm the internet to find out when Shenmue III is coming out, because you can’t end a game like THAT!!! I stumble upon the Shenmue Dojo on Gamespy’s Planet Xbox, and finally registered as a member in April of 2004. I remember all of the letdowns, all of the LanDC hacks and discoveries, the announcement of Shenmue Online, the announcement of Shenmue Gai…all of it. Such a wonderful time playing through those games all those years ago, and here is to my undying wish that we will someday see the ending of the Shenmue saga, as it was meant to be, in a video game.

Of course, playing through Shenmue made me experience Space Harrier, Outrun, Hang-On, and Afterburner II. Those were great games, and I have also enjoyed playing Virtua Fighter 2 on Saturn and PC, Virtua Fighter 3tb on Dreamcast, Fighters Megamix on Saturn, and more. But nothing compares to Shenmue for me.

Good times, great memories. Thank you, SEGA-AM2.

Moody – Shenmue II’s Hang-On

Super+Hangon+OST+Super_HangOnProbably the best thing I’ve experienced in an AM2 game was finding the hidden Hang-On machine in Shenmue II‘s yellow head building. As soon as I played it, I understood every sentiment people had towards the developer.

Hang-On was amazingly fun and fast, and the fact I had tons of money meant I could keep playing, but of course greater things demanded Ryo’s attention. There’ll probably be many times I boot up Shenmue II just to play Hang-On, it’s that much fun.
 

Centrale – Hang-On, OutRun & Many More

Hang-On_Cabinet_Ride_On_02For me, it’s been really fun growing up alongside most of the development of commercial video games. As a kid, seeing each new wave of arcade machines coming along and outperforming the ones before them was especially cool. And although Sega was already a name I knew well from their earlier games like Monaco GP, Turbo, and Subroc 3D, something seemed to happen in the mid-80s that propelled them to a league of their own.

Although it wasn’t until years later that I learned about many of their internal development divisions and designers, it’s clear to me now that it was AM2 that was revolutionizing the arcade experience. Hang-On was probably the first AM2 game I encountered, and its ride-able bike cabinet was certainly novel, it was soon after this time that I remember seeing OutRun.

outrun3Those were different times. Back in those days, we were blessed to have multiple arcades scattered throughout the medium-sized city I grew up in. And, unlike the current era of parental hypervigilance, it wasn’t unusual at all for my mom to send me off to play games in an arcade by myself while she attended to more serious errands elsewhere. On this particular occasion, I meandered through the arcade to see what new games had shown up recently. Like I mentioned before, Hang-On had been around for about a year, and although it was cool, it was pretty reminiscent of Pole Position in its overall presentation, aside from the cabinet. But I remember turning the corner and seeing a new racing game’s attract mode that immediately broadcast that things had changed forever. It was the stand-up cabinet of OutRun, and unlike any driving game before it, the road that the car was on twisted and turned with silky smooth movements, up and down over hills. I was mesmerized watching it and knew I had to play it immediately. That was when I noticed another surprise – it actually cost 50 cents instead of just one quarter! …a significant consideration for a kid without many quarters. I knew I had to make my coins count.

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That first playthrough held so many unprecedented moments… The car has a radio? I can choose the background music?! Then, weaving from lane to lane, realizing that the traffic could change lanes, too… crashing and laughing out loud at the Ferrari flipping end over end through the air as the steering wheel shook vigorously… coming to a fork in the road – I can actually choose which way to go?! It was absolutely amazing to me. And then came the most memorable moment to me: as I chose the left route and entered the stage I now know as “Big Gate.” At first it looked like just another landscape, and then suddenly, rushing toward me – huge stone gateways that stood not only along the sides of the course, but also arched over it. I was literally startled by this. I’d never seen anything like it before, and as I zoomed through these tunnels of stone gates, I experienced an intense adrenaline rush that, to me, is the unique signature of Sega AM2. I didn’t get much further than this stage in the game, but I even loved the mellow music and sunset of the high score table. My playthrough probably didn’t last more than three minutes, but it was a complete road trip, with a beginning, middle and end. I was in love. With OutRun, with driving, with road trips, and with the endless summer in which it made its debut, and which it will forever evoke.

outrun

Not long after that, I got to experience the deluxe sit down OutRun cabinet, which was a revolution in its own right. Then, the next year, After Burner… then I was able to bring them both home in their lovingly miniaturized forms for the Sega Master System, where I encountered Space Harrier for the first time, long before ever seeing its arcade original counterpart… of course, AM2 continued to blaze trails for years to come, but for me that moment of surprise and adrenaline in Out Run is the reason why Sega AM2 is part of my gaming soul forever.

Jumbomax – Virtua Cop 2

PC-VirtuaCop2My favorite AM2 moment is from Virtua Cop 2 on Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 for Dreamcast. My Brothers and I played Virtua Cop 2 a lot when we were young, and one thing that we would always do is pause and unpause the game through out the whole bosses because all the sounds played before it is paused get played again when you unpause. So you get bosses laughing and shouting “DIE!” while they’re falling to their doom. Plus on top of that all the explosive noises from the boss play too.
 

A big thank you to all our readers for following us throughout AM2 Month, our forum members who contributed to this weekend’s round table, and of course a huge thanks to all of those who worked on the many SEGA AM2 games over the years!

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3 responses to “SEGAbits Forum Member’s Round Table: SEGA AM2 Memories

  1. matty says:

    I don’t remember a lot of these games at the arcades, so I don’t have much of an AM2 memory.

  2. Crackdude says:

    Really wanted to participate, but couldn’t find the time to write it up..
    Really nice memories tho. I love the fact that we all love Sega this much

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