After the many hours of enjoyment I had squeezed from the Master System as a console virgin, I upgraded to Sega’s follow-up machine, the Mega Drive, in 1991. The Mega Drive was more powerful than its predecessor, and looked a whole lot better under the living room television as well.
It was the 16-bit era, at the height of the console wars being fought between Sega and Nintendo, and I was ready for something that would blow me away. I had started getting into monthly video game magazines at this time as well, and everything I read told me the Mega Drive was going to revolutionise the world. Granted, I was buying official Sega magazines, but you know…
By this time I was earning my own money delivering papers before and after school, so being able to buy games without having to rely on my parents was a major bonus. I bought Phantasy Star II in 1992 for the hefty sum of £54.99 – expensive even by today’s money – but with inflation that amazingly comes in at just under £112. I can safely say that is the most expensive game I have ever purchased.
Sonic the Hedgehog was a massive hit for the system, and was the thrust of the machine’s early advertising campaign as it attempted to compete with Nintendo. I played that game to death, and all these years later the soundtrack is still bouncing around in my head.
My only memory of my dad playing a video game with me is Landstalker – an isometric role-playing game. I have a photo of us together, huddled in front of the TV, along with a vague recollection of moving boxes in the game, but I can’t remember any more than that. Perhaps there is a deep-seated psychological or paternal bonding reason for my fondness for the system that goes beyond just the enjoyment I found with the games themselves.
But without question, my favourite game from this era was Shining in the Darkness – a role-playing dungeon-crawler that stole a lot of my teenage time. It was crudely drawn, poorly animated, and it didn’t have a great story, but I loved it just the same. It was probably the title that got me interested in that video game genre, because I played a lot of similar games in subsequent years.
Other favourites of that era include the Michael Jackson endorsed platformer, Moonwalker; strategy game, Mega-Lo-Mania; and Sword of Vermilion, another role-playing game, that – like Phantasy Star II – also came with a massive one hundred page-plus hint book.
This wasn’t my final Sega console, but it was the one I enjoyed the most, and probably the one I had the longest.