Review by TheRetroPlayer
"One of the reasons why I miss the 90s? This is one of them."
I remember back in 1992 when I first got this thing. Before then, I had another console. It was the NES, but it was very short lived because it was given to me by someone that neglected it to the point were it was dirty, and didn't even work very well due to poor handling. It took 10 minutes to get a game started up on there. That was trashed in favor of this new 16-bit system. This is the same console that stood up to Nintendo's dominance over the gaming market in the west, and gave it a good fight, but in the end, it lost its luster due to silly mistakes like the 32x, and the inability to keep consistency on their own 16-Bit machine until they released there 32-bit one. Though a a quick thing I like to point out is that this was the story in in regions outside of Japan, as the Turbografx-16/PC-Engine was more popular in Japan than the Megadrive (Genesis or whatever you like to call it), as well as the Super Famicom console which I found interesting. I guess its due to the JP only exclusives that were more appealing to the market over there.
Design 8/10 and 9/10 for the Model I
The Model I which was the one everyone had when it first came out is just simple yet effective. There is even a headphone jack, and volume turner at the front of the console that you can plug in a headphone into. When I had mines, I notice that my headphones didn't work for some reason, and I knew I would regret this since the headphones offered better sound quality. Only problem with the Model 1 is that add-ons for this console will take a little bit of effort to find, especially for the 32x since it needs a spacer to fit into the console? I think it is possible to mix different model add-ons but I could not find anything clear information about that, but I do imagine that it will look unnatural. The Model I console looks the best since the layout has more going for it, and its more upright. The model II looks good, but this model lacks the headphone jacks, and maybe has weaker sound output comparing to the older model, but it has the ability to use A/V cables over the RF one. The model 3 I know little about, but its maybe the worst of them all since its incompatible with the add-ons, and some of its own library of games though there are work around, but I don't know much about it.
Even in this age of 3D games, nearly all the games I played has some extremely good graphics for a 2D console. In its own right, it makes early 3D games look like a mess when you compare it to a few early PS1 and Saturn games. Seriously, do you want blocky and blurry graphics or grainy 2D graphics for some games? A good 2D graphics game? Look at the Sonic franchise. For its time, looking at a game like that was a big deal in comparison to games of the fading 8-bit era.
Sound and music 9/10
It might be primitive, but I feel some people give it too little credit. This is due to my obsession over synthesized 16-bit music, but I have to say that a FM based sound system is very fitting for video games at the time, and I honestly don't mind it even to this day. It can produce memorable and wonderful pieces of music. Arcade ported music even sounds decent enough for a downgraded version of that said game. What I like most about this system is that it can create dark atmospheric music due to the graininess that came with the sound system producing the music. Games like Shining Force II and LandStalker are good examples. Some SNES versions of the genesis counterpart don't feel the same in some cases because the graininess is not there. Its one of the things that makes the music good on this system IMO. A few games like the Battle Mania series (Trouble Shooter in the US), and Atomic Runner has more overlooked music that shows the Genesis is capable of music you would wish they had a soundtrack for. Oh and don't forget Thunder Force IV! That was something!
Most games had perfect controls since most were based off a 3-button system, but for fighting games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, a 6-button controller is a must. I found it funny that it took me 2 years to find out how to do kicking moves in Street Fighter II by pressing start on a 3-Button Controller. When I got a 6-button for the first time, I found out that you can pause the game since its not a 3-button system anymore that had to sacrifice the pause function to enable kicking. That is why a 6-button controller is a must for this console. Other than that, the controls are simple overall.
Games for the System 8/10
For its time, this has a modestly diverse library of games you can find on the system. Even thought a bit weak in the RPG department, but for someone like myself, that is fine since I was never a big RPG person growing and now, nor played any RPGs outside of classic D&D or on some of Apple's computers back then until I was at least 14-15 years old, but we do have the Sonic series, Streets of Rage, the Shinobi games, Contra, Splatterhouse, and Gunstar Heroes just to name a few examples of games that you will find yourself playing. Then there is some overlooked games like Atomic Runner, Trouble Shooter (Battle Mania 1 in Japan), Battle Mania 2 (JP only), and El Viento that is worth is playing.
The add-ons really were pretty much expansions of other gaming systems. The Sega CD which had potential, but it was mostly wasted on this FMV gaming fad back in the early 90s. Some 2D games for the system like Sonic CD showed what it could have done if they sticked to that format with the new features that this add on produced, like CD-ROM quality music and sound. The 32x was just something else. I had no idea what they were thinking. This thing was a second console that you added on to this one, but it hardly did anything to improve any games on the surface. I have more to say about this, but that is another review. Then there was a quick add-on for the Sega Channel. This thing had dozens of games to choose from, and you can play it any time of the day or night, something that would have caused lost sleep (not really) for me if I ever had it then. All you needed was to call the local cable company that had the channel in the area, and they'd set up the service with an adapter and receiver that is connected to the cable Television. Problem is is that you had to pay a one time set up fee, plus a $14.95 fee that is pretty much $22 in 2009 money. Just think of it as an online rental service. That is pretty much it for add ons for this console.
This console, and its rival, the Super Nintendo, are the console games I grew up with, and shamelessly continue to play today in this age of HD gaming and CGI graphics, because of the high quality games these two decade old consoles have to offer. This is what video games are too me. I don't see it the same way as it is for modern day consoles, and only up to the dreamcast with a few exceptions for the 6th generation (1999-2006). This console is already 21 years old as of 2009, and it makes me sad that most people born maybe after 1990 will have no clue about this 16-bit wonder that sparked a aggressive console war that I was oblivious of at the time. I still gravitate back to this over and over again since I no longer care about the modern gaming industry as I see it as something that has left me or more so the ship sailing away from me.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/22/09, Updated 05/21/14
Game Release: Genesis Hardware (US, 08/14/89)
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