GameSpite Journal 12 is available for purchase as a print-on-demand book on the GameSpite Blurb store. Handily, the coupon code WONDERFUL will net you 15% off a purchase through the end of August.
You can acquire the books as:
Or you can just read it for free here. The second Sega volume should appear next spring. Are you excited? Can you wait? Well, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to.
Preamble: The Boss of the Arcade
Of all the companies currently producing video games, Sega has a pretty solid claim to being the one that’s been doing it the longest. Sure, Nintendo is a much older entity, but Sega planted its flag in the arcade industry back when Hiroshi Yamauchi was bouncing schizophrenically between running sex hotels and selling Disney toys. Atari was the first to make actual video games, but that company ceased to exist ages ago, its name adopted by a European group with no ties whatsoever to Nolan Bushnell or Jack Tramiel. Of all of gaming’s old guard, Sega has been tending to its business the longest.
Founded as Service Games (later shortened to the first syllables of its name, Japanese style) in the 1960s, Sega belongs to the unique moment of history that birthed it. Sega actually resulted from a merger between a Japanese company and Rosen Enterprises, a venture established by an American named David Rosen who served overseas during the post-WWII occupation and recognized business opportunity in the rapidly burgeoning Japanese market. His focus shifted from peddling art to providing coin-op entertainment—mainly jukeboxes—to servicemen stationed in Asia. In time, that discipline expanded to encompass arcade machines: First mechanical games, and once Pong exploded across the world, video games as well.
The company’s earliest video games consisted of the usual ’70s fare: Pong clones, racers, and mundane shooters. It wasn’t until 1981 that the company developed its own proprietary integrated circuit board and abandoned analog and mechanical devices. The advent of the G80 board and games like Eliminator and Blaster – unremarkable as they were — nevertheless marked a significant milestone for the company and it changed its focus from distribution to internal development.
Rosen held a major stake in Sega for decades; throughout the ’70s, in fact, the company was a division of Gulf + Western, the same corporation that owned Paramount Pictures. It was, for all intents and purposes, an American company. Yet today, the world regards Sega as a Japanese entity. One can point to any number of events along the Sega timeline as pivotal moments in its international metamorphosis. For our money, though, Sega moved beyond its origins and became the modern concern we see it as today when it took control of its own game development and began hiring some of brightest and most creative young programmers and designers in Japan.
Game history — especially as written by those who remember well the 16-bit era — tends to pit Sega and Nintendo as rivals. In truth, they were more complementary than competitive. Outside of Donkey Kong, Nintendo saw only modest success in the arcades and quickly shifted its focus to home gaming. Sega, on the other hand, struggled for the better part of a decade to establish a firm foothold in the living room. Until the Genesis came along, its fortunes stemmed almost entirely from the potent impact of its arcade creations, unparalleled in creativity and tech.
Likewise, Nintendo’s history as a toy company has always informed its video game design sensibilities: Its consoles host no end of ridiculous add-ons, its graphics are presented in a colorful, child-friendly manner, and its games tend to exist as a sandbox or toybox of discovery. Sega’s focus on arcade games give its games a harder edge. The graphics were crisper, the sound harsher, the play more challenging and delivered in bite-sized, quarter-munching chunks, even at home. Nintendo creates games for customers to take home and explore at their leisure, while Sega is more aggressive. Even before the Sega Scream, people always took away a different feeling from a Sega game than they did a Nintendo game.
Past volumes of GameSpite Journal/Quarterly have explored several Nintendo consoles. Sega’s long history of vital, vibrant arcade design (and the resulting home ports) makes it harder for us to divide up the company’s history along neat console-based lines. Rather than release a slim volume of Master System history, a beefy Genesis book, and a massive if largely redundant arcade tome (etc.), we’ve instead broken the company’s history into two eras: Everything up through the Genesis and its offshoots, and the history of the Saturn and beyond. It’s a different approach for GameSpite, but Sega deserves nothing less. The company’s always done its own thing… which is precisely why we love it.
August 12, 2012
In This Issue
- What the Heck is an SG-1000? by Jeremy Parish
- Mastering the Master System by Jeremy Parish
- Wonder Boy by Jeremy Parish
- Astro Warrior by Jonathan Anderson
- Alex Kidd by Jake Alley
- Fantasy Zone by Jake Alley
- Golvellius: Valley of Doom by Jeremy Parish
- Zillion by Jeremy Parish
- Phantasy Star by Jake Alley
- Alien Syndrome by Jonathon Howard
- Kenseiden by Lee Hathcock
- Wonder Boy in Monster Land by Jeremy Parish
- The Two Wonder Boy IIIs by Jeremy Parish
- Galaxy Force II by Ben Elgin
- Dynamite Dux by Ben Elgin
- The Deuteronomy of Genesis by Jeremy Parish
- Ghouls ‘N Ghosts by Jeremy Signor
- Ys by Michael Apps
- Revenge of Shinobi by Thomas Nickel
- Psycho Fox by Jake Alley
- Phantasy Star II by Paul McClain
- Phantasy Star III by Thomas Nickel
- Columns by Shivam Bhatt
- Dragon Crystal by Jeremy Signor
- Toe Jam & Earl by Tomm Hulett
- Ys III: Wanderers from Ys by Alex Reo
- M.U.S.H.A. by Thomas Nickel
- Gear Up: Game Gear by Tomm Hulett
- Warsong by Thomas Nickel
- Streets of Rage by Mike Zeller
- Golden Axe Warrior by Aaron Littleton
- Sonic the Hedgehog by Jeremy Parish
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System) by Thomas Nickel
- Sonic on Game Gear: A What-If Scenario Made Real by Luke Osterritter
- Quackshot by Thomas Nickel
- Shining Force Gaiden by Andrew Bentley
- Shining Force by Aaron Littleton
- Ecco the Dolphin by Marc Host
- Global Gladiators by Tomm Hulett
- Master of Darkness by Lee Hathcock
- Defenders of Oasis by Lee Hathcock
- Rethinking the Sega CD by Jeremy Parish
- Lunar: The Silver Star by Jeremy Parish
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 by Alex Reo
- Final Fight CD by Nadia Oxford
- Streets of Rage 2 by Mike Zeller
- Rocket Knight Adventures by Tomm Hulett
- Splatterhouse 3 by Rene Decoste
- Jurassic Park by Marc Host
- Time Gal by Thomas Nickel
- Gunstar Heroes by Lee Hathcock
- McDonald’s Treasure Land by Lee Hathcock
- Mortal Kombat by Marc Host
- Street Fighter II’: Champion Edition by Shivam Bhatt
- Landstalker by Michael Apps
- Disney’s Aladdin by Tomm Hulett
- Virtua Fighter by Matt Williams
- Sonic CD by Jeremy Signor
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles by Scott Lowe
- Castlevania Bloodlines by Jeremy Parish
- Vay by Andrew Bentley
- Crusader of Centy by Marc Host
- Streets of Rage 3 by Mike Zeller
- Pulseman by Jeremy Signor
- Shining Force CD by Andrew Bentley
- Dynamite Headdy by Lee Hathcock
- Astérix by Thomas Nickel
- The Death and Death of 32X by Jeremy Parish
- Shining Force II by Mike Zeller
- Snatcher by Lee Hathcock
- Comix Zone by Jeremy Signor
- Sylvan Tale by Lee Hathcock
- Ristar by Lee Hathcock
- Alien Soldier by Lee Hathcock
- Mega Man: The Wily Wars by Scott Lowe
- Phantasy Star IV by Jeremy Signor
- Star Wars Arcade by Alex Reo
- Popful Mail by Ben Langberg
- Beyond Oasis by Andrew Bentley
- Light Crusader by Lee Hathcock
- Lunar: Eternal Blue by Jeremy Parish
- Tails Adventures by Tyler Lindler
- Pier Solar by Lee Hathcock
- Star Odyssey by Lee Hathcock
Layouts, edits, and cover by Jeremy Parish.
All issue text available for free (eventually) here at www.telebunny.net. Come talk about video games, personal issues, and grotesque fan art at GameSpite’s forum, Talking Time.
All magazine text is © its respective author.
GameSpite Journal 12 Copyright Indicia: The images reproduced in this volume are printed under the banner of fair use as supplemental visuals to support critical writing. Our words belong to us, but we make no claim to the works and images in question. They belong to their respective owners.
The images reproduced in this volume are printed under the banner of fair use as supplemental visuals to support critical writing. Our words belong to us, but we make no claim to the works and images in question. As usual, most images in this volume have been sourced from the following sites, with explicit permission of the site owners and curators: Hardcore Gaming 101 (http://hg101.kontek.net); The Video Game Musuem (http://www.vgmuseum.com); and the Let’s Play Archive (http://www.lparchive.org).