Memories, Retrospectives

Sega and the Console from Mars

32xsolo_boxart

Misaligned, mistimed and ultimately misunderstood, sadly, the Mega Drive 32X will forever go down in history as one of the greatest failures in video game history. Although the tale of the 32X’s release and its rapid downfall remains a well documented piece of gaming folklore, much less is known about the hardware’s earliest conceptions. Read on as MegaBites takes a tantalising glimpse behind the closed doors of Sega of America’s development labs, to reveal a previously forgotten piece of hardware from a time before the 32X as we knew it – the Sega Mars Development Aid System.

It was the evening of the 8th January 1994 – the eve of that year’s Winter CES – as Hayao Nakayama (Sega CEO), Tom Kalinske (Sega of America President), Joe Miller (Sega’s Senior Vice President of Product Development) and a host of other top-level Sega personnel gathered in a Las Vegas hotel room. The night’s discussion centred around Sega’s strategies of introducing the gaming public to the brave new world of 32-bit gaming. Continue reading “Sega and the Console from Mars”

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Memories, Retrospectives

The 90s Cheat Survival Guide

debugCheats, hints, tips – call them what you may, but us Mega Drive gamers couldn’t get enough of them. From invincibility codes, to extra lives, and debug modes, if we weren’t playing a game, we were feverishly hunting down that illusive cheat, the one to – quite literally – take our gaming to the next level.

Those of us who remember the early-to-mid 90s will also recall one glaring factor – there was NO internet! Back in ye good olde 1990s, if we wanted a gaming cheat or strategy guide, our options were severely limited. More often than not, we had to rely on word of mouth – gaming secrets handed down from friend, to friend in some obscure alpha-numeric Chinese whisper.

I was recently thrust back into this mindset on a recent holiday, in which time I became re-acquainted with Sonic CD on iOS. A browse through the game’s menus revealed a number of unlockable extras. But how to enable them? A quick Google search would usually reveal all, but not in this case, not on this holiday. On this occasion I’d chosen to spend my vacation in a place beyond the far reaches of civilisation, a location where the concepts of wifi and 3G are as alien to its locals as a decent phone reception was to E.T. That’s right, I was in Cornwall.

Stuck as I was, I swiftly became aware of one key fact – I was back in the 90s, to a pre-Internet era, where I’d actually have to work to unlock Sonic CD’s deepest, darkest secrets. But how did we do it back in the day? Kids, read on… Continue reading “The 90s Cheat Survival Guide”

Memories

(Mis)adventures In Game Development – PART 1

Up until the 16-bit era, video games, for me, were objects that simply seemed to appear on store shelves, as if by magic, seemingly out of thin air. Of course, I was aware of developers such as Sega, EA, Capcom and so on, but I never spared a thought for how these games came to be. Being a kid at the height of the Mega Drive vs SNES rivalry, I never batted an eyelid, absorbing as much as a child consumer with a 50 pence per-week pocket money allowance, and the odd generous relative could at the time. Then one day, it came to me… “Where did these games come from?” Join me as we embark on a voyage of discovery and creativity, all through the eyes of my ten-year-old self.

BoxArtIt was 1994 and I remember hearing about an uncle of a school friend who’d made a name for himself as the software developer and inventor of some pocket dictionary / thesaurus software. As a ten year old, nothing seemed more mind-numbing than writing a dictionary. It was bad enough being told to write my name out 100 times by my head teacher, when I failed to use capital letters in handwriting class.

Some time later, I watched an episode of video games review show Bad Influence on TV (remember that one?). This particular episode had a feature in which presenter, Violet Berlin, talked about a group of kids who had developed ideas for a game which they had sent to a games developer. If memory serves me right, the game in question was a sim, in which the player ran a newspaper, set the task of finding stories to fill its pages. Seeing how these kids had set about inventing their own game concepts, I decided to go about it myself.

Continue reading “(Mis)adventures In Game Development – PART 1”