Spotting video games on TV’s greatest sitcom Seinfeld is nothing new. Longtime fans of series know all about the Frogger episode as well as Jerry’s video shelf which features NES and SNES games sat next to cinematic classics like “Child’s Play 2”. When it comes to SEGA on Seinfeld, however, you’re going to have to look a bit harder. In the eighth season episode “The Comeback”, which aired January 30th, 1997, one of the plots involved Elaine becoming infatuated with a mysterious video store employee Vincent. Meanwhile, Kramer was more interested in the Gene picks. Champagne Video, a recurring location in the series, was the go-to spot for Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine when they needed to rent some VHS tapes. Throughout the series, the store evolved to feature what were at the time current videos, and in the episode “The Comeback” the set decorator took things one step further by littering the store with classic SEGA Genesis games.
On this installment of SEGA in the Media, we’re going to see how many SEGA Genesis games we can spot! Start browsing the shelves after the break.
As Elaine and Kramer browse the staff picks, behind them hang three SEGA Genesis games in plain sight. No real in-universe reason for them to be hanging there, given the video game section is on the other side of the store. It can’t be argued that these are the new releases, as all three sport the older Genesis style packaging and the games range from 1989-1992. Far too old for 1997. Maybe these are also staff picks? Or, far more likely, the set decorator needed something to fill the space, Genesis games come with built-in hangers, and the older black packaging doesn’t stand out as much as the current red banner packaging.
1 Bio-Hazard Battle is a bizarre choice, given it is a rather obscure game and (as we will soon see) is the only copy in the store. Known in Japan as Crying: Aseimei Sensou and released to the US under a new name in 1992, Bio-Hazard Battle is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up from several SEGA developers who had a hand in creating After Burner II.
2 Super Thunder Blade is next! Notable for being one of the two Mega Drive launch titles in Japan, alongside Space Harrier II, Super Thunder Blade brought the arcade classic Thunder Blade home as best it could given the limitations it had to work with. Despite the loss of the overhead sections, this is an adequate port. Still, nothing beats playing the real thing, and thanks to SEGA 3D Classics anybody with a Nintendo 3DS can now experience the arcade version of the game.
3 Decap Attack confirms my suspicions that this is an in-universe staff picks section. I mean, all three games are solid classic SEGA titles, and I’d wager a guess that Vincent chose these games as they are all obscure hidden gems from the Genesis library. A hack like Gene would have picked Stimpy’s Invention or some other licensed garbage. Decap Attack is a localized release of the Japanese game Magical Hat no Buttobi Turbo! Daibouken, based on the Magical Hat anime series. Decap Attack is a rare instance where a localization is better than the original, as who can place anything above a decapitated mummy named Chuck D. Head. Yup, definitely a Vincent pick.
On the opposite end of the store is the video game section, which largely consists of Genesis games, though there are a few Nintendo offerings. I especially love the single Game Boy game sat amongst the Genesis titles.
4 Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball dominates the shelves, with more than seven copies on display. Released in 1993, Sonic Spinball was one of the franchise’s earliest home console spin-off titles. I distinctly remember buying the game when it released and being confused as to why it looked and controlled so differently from the other Sonic titles. Little did I know that I was taking my first steps into the world of Sonic spin-offs! Probably one of the greatest things to come from Sonic Spinball was the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode “Attack on Pinball Fortress” – which you can read all about here in my SEGA Five covering all the times the cartoon referenced the games.
5 Virtua Racing, a SEGA arcade classic, sits on the top shelf with a few copies available. No doubt these are being kept out of reach from customers as that SVP chip really drove up the price of the Genesis port. A far superior version of the game exists on the 32X, but who owns one of those? Oh wait, I do.
6 Jurassic Park! Now we’re talking! Not a great game by any means, Jurassic Park was a must own title for any boy who owned a Genesis in the mid 90s. The game was so heavily promoted by SEGA that I swear every other game released in 1993 had a Jurassic Park game poster in the box. I must have owned at least five of those posters, which was great because it meant I could hang one up and still have a few in nice condition. The same can’t be said for my Mickey Mania and ToeJam & Earl posters which were lovingly hung on my bedroom door and probably were thrown away in 1999 when we moved.
7 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is without a doubt the best game on display at the Seinfeld video store. Need I say more about it? Sonic 3 was the series at its peak, and things only got better with the release of Sonic & Knuckles. Speaking of Sonic & Knuckles, why couldn’t they have that available to rent? They sure could have made space if they lost a few copies of Stimpy’s Invention.
8 The Ren & Stimpy Show Presents Stimpy’s Invention, speak of the devil! I know I’ve been ragging on this game a bit, and in all fairness it isn’t that bad a game. I know quite a few Genesis fans really enjoy this game, and if I were ever to revisit it I’m sure I would like it a bit more than I do. My history with Stimpy’s Invention goes back to 1993 when it was one of those weekend rentals. You know the type, you and your family hit the local video store (ours was named Mr. Movies) and you got to pick one game. You had to choose wisely, as that was your new temporary game for the weekend. Stimpy’s Invention just didn’t click with nine year old me. Most likely, I couldn’t wrap my head around the co-operative aspect of the game and didn’t want to solve puzzles. Blame Sonic the Hedgehog for making me such a stickler for speed-based platformers, and anything slower than a run that involved thought was too much for me.
Hi, Gene. Next to the register are three more games hung on their own. Given their proximity to Gene and the selection, I’m going to guess that these are Gene’s SEGA Genesis picks. I mean, look at them! They reek of Gene. This is the guy who had Weekend at Bernie’s as his staff movie pick.
9 Disney’s Aladdin is the first game in what I am deciding are Gene’s picks. A very Gene selection, Aladdin is actually quite a good game. The graphics are fantastic, the music and sound are amazing, the gameplay is pretty good. But like Weekend at Bernie’s, it just seems like Gene was picking what was popular rather than digging deeper for a more Vincent-like pick. Gene probably never even played the game.
10 Streets of Rage 3 is a Genesis game that I feel fans have never formed a general consensus on. Some dislike it for being not as good as the previous title, saying it is too fast and too difficult. Yuzo Koshiro’s automated composing system – while innovative – lead to a soundtrack that just wasn’t very memorable. Still, the game has its fans. There are those who like the increased difficulty and who doesn’t want to play as a kangaroo. Oh yeah, and Gene probably picked this one because he heard the series was popular.
11 World Series Baseball was an incredibly dated title by 1997. While it makes perfect sense for any of the other games to be on display, as the Genesis was still quite popular at the time this episode aired, World Series Baseball was released in 1994 and there had since been at least two newer titles in the series (’96 and ’97) with World Series Baseball ’98 released shortly after this episode aired. The only in-universe reasoning I can think of is that, once again, Gene is to blame for making such a poor choice.
That should cover it for the SEGA Genesis games on display at Seinfeld’s Champagne Video! See one we missed or want to try to name the non-SEGA titles? Have a complaint about Gene? Sound off in the comments below!