My first experience with the Sega MegaDrive

SonicToejam

In 1991, I played a MegaDrive for the first time at a friend’s of my Mother’s house. Her teenage son, who’s name I can’t remember, had a MegaDrive with two games, Sonic the Hedgehog, and ToeJam & Earl. In a weird way, these games were sort of like a first experience in drugs, where the first trip so was so bad I wouldn’t want to touch these games for almost a decade. But allow me to to describe why my seven year old self disliked these games to begin with…

supermario

Before I played Sonic the Hedgehog, I had played Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, and Super Mario Land. And even if I had played any other platfomers much as Mega Man or DuckTails, even they had a similar method in gameplay where you kill enemies by stomping on them or shooting at them, and search for secrets in the level. Sonic the Hedgehog on the other hand was different, and I didn’t like it back then…

MD_Sonic_the_Hedgehog

When I got the chance to play this, I was a little foolish to play Sonic the Hedgehog as if it’s a Mario game. I was trying to find secret places and tried to smash up every item monitor I could find. Back then I just treated it as if it was just another platforming game. But the reality was is that Sonic was made in a way to be a speed running game, way before “Speed Running” was even a thing…

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One of the things I struggled to grasp in the game was momentum. As the game was all about speed, one of the many unique features in the game is it’s trademark loop the loops. In order to loop around one you already had to have your momentum up to clear it. I remember as I struggled to climb up one as most of the time I was barely running at all, wanting to get all of the items inside the monitors. But my mother’s friend’s teenage son showed me that by moving away from the loops and then running you can then clear the loop. Again I was treating the game like a Mario game, as I knew I could just hold the B button to run. But in Sonic the Hedgehog, I had to build up momentum by continuing to move without stopping.

sonic spikes

Plus these spikes annoyed me big time! Though in reality they’re pretty simple as they have a rhythm to them that would allow you run across it without getting hurt. But try saying that to a seven year old who has never played the game before! lol

toejam_and_earl

Then there was Toejam and Earl. Sega of America’s bizarre rouge-like. According to this video, Toejam and Earl was originally going to be Sega of America’s mascot for the Sega Genesis. Clearly the blue hedgehog took that place, probably for good reasons. But this game was weird… Really weird… I mean fair enough you had Super Mario jumping around in the mushroom kingdom stomping on turtles and killer mushrooms. But this game took bizarre to a new level…

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The Hula dancers always got me in the game, if you get too close, you just start dancing and not move, at all! They were a trap and drove my seven year old self crazy as had to get assistance to get myself out of a dancing frenzy.

sega-dreamcast-sonic-adventure-2

So, what made me get into the Sonic games then? Well this is going to be rather embarrassing, but it was to do with a crush I had in my late teens who I played A LOT of Sonic Adventure 2 with on the Dreamcast. In a typical old school gaming session, we would alternate playing a level and we wouldn’t go to the next stage unless we got A grade in every level so that we can unlock the secret Emerald Hill Zone level. Unfortunately this crush would never actually go out with me, but she proved to me that Sega and the Sonic games were worth playing after all. So I ended up buying myself a copy of Sonic Adventure 2 on the GameCube on release, and then ended up getting myself a second-hand Dreamcast to play Soul Calibur and Jet Set Radio.