In the last few years we have been getting more officially licensed SEGA books than ever before, with each of these books offering readers a unique slice of SEGA history. While most of the books have a unique take or format, it seems that most of these books try to center around SEGA’s most popular console, the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive. It seems a lot of publishers aren’t very interested in covering SEGA before this time period, that is until Bitmap Book’s Master System: A Visual Compendium.
Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games was written by Ken Horowitz, who runs the long running SEGA-16 fansite. As a longtime Sega fan and lurker on various sites, especially before I started this blog, I was a huge fan of what Ken was doing at Sega-16. One of the biggest resources the site offers is a review for almost every single Sega Genesis game published. That’s quite the feat. While his work on getting a review for almost every single Sega Genesis game is amazing, I truly love his website because he interviews some of the most interesting people from Sega’s glory days. I first heard about the site when doing research on Sega Technical Institute, after finding his interview with Roger Hector about his time being director of the studio I started checking daily for more Sega historical content. Ever since then I have been a huge fan of the site, when I heard Ken was writing a historical Sega book we invited him on our podcast (listen to that below).
When SEGA’s Sonic Boom was unveiled in October of last year, all we had to go on was four silhouettes and a press release detailing the people behind the TV series and the general direction. What a difference a year makes, as here we are now with a much better idea of what Sonic Boom is all about, as well as an expanded offering of Sonic Boom materials ranging from the TV show and video games, to toys and comic books. Never before has an offshoot of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise spanned so many forms of media, and such a broad spectrum says a lot about how invested SEGA West is in Sonic Boom. While the TV series is a little over a week away (Saturday, November 8th on Cartoon Network) and the games release in the following weeks, we have the first form of narrative content from Sonic Boom available to us in the form of Archie Comics’ Sonic Boom issue #1. I’ve read it, and now I’m going to review it!
The above sentence is found on the official website for the book “Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation” by Blake J. Harris, and having read through the book myself, it’s an accurate description. Upon reading “Console Wars”, I couldn’t help but feeling a bit bloodied and bruised, but proud to have chosen the side that I’m on as a fan. “Console Wars” is not a detached history lesson of the SEGA vs. Nintendo rivalry of the 90’s, it does not read as several wikipedia articles.
Instead, “Console Wars” is a very real and personal story largely told from the perspective of SEGA of America President and CEO Tom Kalinske during the first 6 years of the 90’s. Taking the journey along with Tom, readers also occasionally go behind-the-scenes with Nintendo and Sony, and receive a few extended history lessons on the histories of companies like SEGA, Nintendo, Sony, and others. This mix provides the reader with both factual and emotional reasons for why SEGA and Nintendo did what they did, and as such is the most honest and truest account I have ever read of this period of video game history.