Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works – The MegaBites Interview

fe9669b582212077de44b89c9e569e3a_largeAs you may have guessed, this site has something of a soft spot for a certain 16-bit console. Whether you know it as the Mega Drive or the Genesis, the chances are you’re equally familiar with the console’s spikey blue mascot, its blast processing prowess and its truly incredible back catalogue. But did you ever hear of its purple-buttoned prototype control pads? Have you cast your eyes upon its hand-drawn pre-development blueprints, or heard the inside story of its incredible hardware spinoffs? (Sega Neptune, anyone?) With these exclusives and more, MegaBites is proud to be amongst the first to reveal Read-Only Memory’s brand new Kickstarter campaign for its latest publication ‘Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works’.

From the Mega Drive’s earliest concepts, prototypes, mega-marketing campaigns and incredible rise to global fame, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works is set to showcase never before-seen material and industry insight from those closest to the console’s development and its biggest franchises – an indispensable resource for fans of the Mega Drive and retro gamers alike.

Fresh from the release of Sensible Software 1986–1999 and the title’s subsequent induction into the BAFTA library, MegaBites caught up with Read-Only Memory publishing’s Director, Darren Wall, for some exciting inside information on a project that is ‘mega’ in every sense of the word.

MegaBites: What can you tell us about Read-Only Memory’s new publication?

Darren Wall: It can all be traced back to the time of our Sensible Kickstarter campaign. I was in a meeting that was related to a separate work project. It was linked to a studio who conduct a lot of work with with Sony, as well as Sega. I mentioned to them about how I’d love to do a book on the Sega Mega Drive. The studio passed on the details of our Sensible Kickstarter to Sega.

Some time later, Sega contacted us and subsequently asked us to pitch a concept for a Read-Only Memory Sega publication. I think we were competing for the license against another publisher. We put together a pitch and we were offered the license.
Our next project will be a book about the software and related hardware of the Sega Mega Drive. Continue reading

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The Letter Through the Door

It was the morning of the 23rd September 1994, I was ten years old and this letter arrived in the post:EA Envelope

Electronic Arts UK had written back to me in response to my first foray into the world of video game design.

What followed in the coming years was an insight into the world of 16-bit game development, correspondence with some of the gaming greats of their era (mainly receptionists), freebie t-shirts in the mail and all the free gaming posters a school kid could ever desire.

Join me in the coming days for the first installment of (Mis)adventures in Game Development, a fascinating tale of one school kid’s desire to take on the gaming giants, armed only with a biro, a wad of A4 paper, an incomplete set of Berol felt-tip pens and a book of stamps (we’re talking pre-email here people).

It’s gonna be so retro, your floppy disk drives will be screeching from beyond the grave.

Sense and Sensibility

Welcome to the first in a series of company profiles, covering some of the Mega Drive’s greatest gaming developers.

First up… Sensible Software.

Sensible_software_logoEstablished in 1986, Chelmsford based Sensible Software went on to establish itself as a dominant force in the British software developer scene of the early, to mid 1990s. Following its demise at the end of the decade, the company has gone on to gain a cult following amongst gamers today.

Founded by Essex school friends Jon Hare and Chris Yates, Sensible Software was unique in its philosophy as an independent software house. A typically British sense of humor at its core, Sensible Software with its tongue-in-cheek gaming titles, and distinctive graphical style meant for a company who became synonymous amongst the video game industry.

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The Box In The Garage

The other day, I went into the garage and took a large cardboard box into the house. At first glance, it looked like any old box, nothing special. Yet, opening it revealed this collection of treasures:

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Contents:
– Mega Drive II console
– Mega Drive 32X console (and box)
– 2x Sega 3 button control pads
– 2x Competition Pro 6 button control pads
– AC adaptors, AV cables, RF cable, etc.
– Various Mega Drive and 32X game cartridges

Of course, I knew exactly what was in that box. Alhough my Mega Drive gaming collection has grown over the years, beyond the contents of this box, what I saw before me represented something no eBay or car boot purchases can never replace – memories. Each piece of hardware and software contained within this box is a piece of me, a piece of my childhood, of birthdays, Christmases, of endless summer holiday afternoons. Memories of after-school evenings with friends trying out the latest cheats, reaching the highest scores, discovering the highest levels, before the arrival of the all-too-familiar game over screen.

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Early One Christmas Morning…

megadriveFirst launched in Japan on 29th October 1988, the Sega Mega Drive sold almost 40 million units over the course of its history. From Europe, to Japan, Australia, Asia, India, Brazil and North America (where it was called the Genesis, by the way), Sega’s sleek black 16-bit powerhouse was truly in the minds and on the TV sets of gamers everywhere. My relationship with the console began in the early nineties, when I became the proud owner of not one, but two consoles in the space of twenty-four hours. Yes, two consoles. More on that later…

It was five a.m. on the 25th December 1993. I was just nine years-old and had been lying awake in bed for the past hour. I couldn’t get back to sleep. Why? For one, I’d already been gorging myself on the sweets left in my stocking, for the other, I knew this Christmas was going to be different.

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