Anyone who thinks the 32X was nothing more than a steaming pile of shit has never played Shadow Squadron. If they had, they’d not only know that the 32X had its share of great titles, they’d know it played host to what was quite easily the best space sim available for fourth generation consoles. It may have paled in comparison to PC sims like Wing Commander and the X-Wing series, but it beat the shit out of anything on the 16-bit consoles.
I think there’s no better way to end 32X month then with a look back at one of the platform’s best titles. Known as Stellar Assault in Europe and Japan, Shadow Squadron was one of the closest things the 32X had to a true killer app during its brief lifespan. Check below the fold as we explore what makes this hidden, forgotten gem so special.
Alright, we haven’t been too kind to SEGA’s marketing campaign for the 32X, so I thought it would be great to end things on a high note: the Doom ad. The Doom ad is fucking awesome, embodying everything that was great about SEGA marketing in those days.
Is it edgy? Yeah. Does it match the tone of the game? Hell yeah. Does it make you want to go out and buy the game? Fuck yeah. Doom was known for being a gory, violent, bloody game, and on the higher difficulties it could be a hell of a meat grinder. Placing it in a slaughter house, with lots of kid friendly gore and even an actual meat grinder? Having butchers who are surrounded by real gore every day talking about how intense the violence in Doom is? Genius. This is an ad that understood its product and knew how to sell it, easily making it the best 32X ad SEGA’s produced. It’s simple, smart and doesn’t get into any of the distracting weirdness or camera mugging of other ads. Most importantly, this ad didn’t just tell, it showed, something every other 32X ad failed to do.
So enjoy, and be sure to tune in next week, as we start taking a look back at a considerably better advertisement campaign for another, more successful SEGA platform…
Back in 1995, SEGA promised 50 titles for the 32X by the end of that year. Unfortunately, the onslaught of the “true” next gen systems from SEGA and Sony would take its toll on SEGA’s little mushroom, and it died a silent death with only 39 titles in its library. Numerous titles were canceled, many of them notable, including Daytona USA and Castlevania Bloodletting. Some however, were just prettier ports of Genesis titles. Today’s game is one of those titles, a never before seen version of Spot Goes to Hollywood. Dumped to a mere 35 reproduction carts earlier this year, this ROM has yet to be released to the public.
Today, SEGAbits is proud to present a first look at a game only a few hundred people have ever seen before. What is it like? What makes it unique to other versions of the game? Answers lie below the fold.
Since the day I joined SEGAbits, one of my goals has always been to shed light and draw attention to some of the more obscure games in SEGA’s history. With 32X month in full swing, it just didn’t seem right to let the month pass without writing some kind of article that sheds light on one of the rarest titles in the system’s small library: Darxide. This is a game that few people have played and even fewer people know how to play, so today I’m not only going to go over the history of the game, I’m also going to explain its mechanics so that if you do ever get to play the game, you’ll know how.
Kolibri is a neat little cute-em up shooter from the Ecco development team Novotrade. It’s probably best described as a mix between Ecco the Dolphin and Fantasy Zone. In some levels the goal is to fly around a level to seek out and destroy enemies. In others, you need to solve an environmental puzzle to progress to the stage goal. Finally, some stages are just straight up, left-to-right scrolling shooter stages. It’s an interesting and unique game with a soundtrack to match.
The soundtrack was composed by Zsolt Dvornik, a Hungarian Jazz guitarist. It sounds reminiscent of Ecco’s soundtrack: atmospheric and subdued. Infestation has a very primal sound that goes extremely well with the game’s realistic art style and wilderness setting. Compared to the bombastic soundtrack of most other side scrolling shooters, Kolibri is a unique and wholly different beast.
That awkward sexually infused ad we featured at the beginning of the month wasn’t the only 32X ad rapper Chill E.B. starred in. He also featured in this other, considerably better advertisement that focused on the math rather than the weird sexual innuendo one could infer from two consoles hooking-up.
That math is pretty sketchy though, as it often was in these ads. Much like how bits and blast processing were little more than marketing terms that oversimplified complex technology, the math here seems to have very little basis in fact. I could believe the 32X being significantly more powerful than the SNES, but I sincerely doubt that the 32X was four times more powerful than the 3D0. The console that was two and a half times more expensive at the time, and even though it was being sold for a significant profit by companies that didn’t see a dime in software profits I find it hard to believe that the 32X could have simultaneously over-powered and underpriced the competition, at least without magic. The fact that the 3D0 produced better looking games doesn’t help SEGA’s case, either.
Of course, the 32X died off so quickly we likely never got to see what the hardware was truly capable, so who knows? Either way, this ad is one of the best that the 32X got. It emphasized what the consumers cared about: graphics and games. It highlighted the right and actually demonstrated what the 32X was capable of. The math may have been bullshit, but at least the games weren’t!
To answer the question posited by the article title: no. No. I may be playing 32X but I am certainly not “32X’n it” nor will I ever. Stop saying that, please.
So, this is an infomercial SEGA put together for the 32X, and boy-howdy is it a step down from that SEGA CD infomercial SEGA Europe put together a few years earlier. It’s like SEGA’s marketing team couldn’t come up with a single ongoing theme worth filling in five minutes, so they just took every random idea they threw against the wall, stitched them together and made an infomercial out of them.
This ad is all over the map in terms of tone, themes, music, and what have you. One moment we’re sitting in a living room filled with failed child actors, the next we’re sitting through a mercifully brief phone-line psychic segment. The commercial tries to be both edgy and quirky all at once, complete with SEGA’s trademark face-in-the-camera lens shots and it only succeeds in failing spectacularly. The only segment that made me chuckle in the way I was supposed to was the brief TSA safety video bragging about the 32X’s tech.
The 32X gets a lot of shit, and with good reason. The system stands as SEGA’s most abject failure, featuring the smallest library and shortest lifespan of any SEGA platform. It failed to live up to the promises SEGA made to its consumers and is a classic example of SEGA’s mid-90’s mismanagement.
An unfortunate side-effect of the 32X’s infamy is that the system’s better games are often ignored, or even worse, get the same shit that the 32X does. Knuckles’ Chaotix is a game that unfortunately suffers from both of these issues, and after having spent several days playing the game for 32X month, I’ve got to say that it’s a real shame. As far as I’m concerned, Knuckles’ Chaotix is a game every Sonic fan ought to play at least once, and here are five reasons why.
Knuckles Chaotix was the black sheep Sonic game of its era. Standing as one of the few major releases for an infamous peripheral, Chaotix had strange team based game play that played with Sonic physics in a way no game has done before or since, it featured an eclectic cast of characters that stand out even by modern Sonic standards, and it didn’t even feature Sonic or Tails among them. Even so, Knuckles Chaotix does contain one element that would be very familiar to any classic Sonic fan: a spectacular soundtrack.
Speed Slider is quintessential Sonic sound, chaotic and fast. It perfectly captures the speedy nature of its stage and the colorful, cheerful atmosphere of the game itself. Despite how infamous the 32X’s sound capabilities are, Knuckles Chaotix proves what the hardware was capable of in the right hands. In the hands of the Chaotix development team, the 32X sang.
Stick with us throughout the month as we examine some other great soundtracks from the 32X!
SEGA of America’s nineties advertisement strategy can be summarized thusly: come up with the most batshit insane thing you can and run with it. Anyone looking for proof need look no further than this…thing they produced to sell Comix Zone. I kind of get what they were going for, since old comic books often have over-the-top, melodramatic dialogue and bizarre storylines, but this is more like a crazy depiction of some weird cult than anything to do with super hero comics. Unless there was a weird cult in Comix Zone, since I’ve never been able to get much further than the second level.
Looking back though, does that really matter? I don’t think so! This is a fun, quirky little ad that encapsulate SEGA’s attitude more so then the game it’s advertising. It wouldn’t have sold me on Comix Zone back in the day, but it certainly makes me miss what video game advertisement used to be like. I’ll take this over a slick trailer filled with review scores any day.
As a little bonus, I thought I’d also include a print advertisement for Comix Zone, seen in comics and magazines. It’s a little blander, sure, but it also gets to the heart of what the game is a bit more. Check it out after the break!