Time to put my final thoughts together on the two Sega Genesis add-ons from the early to mid 90’s, the Sega CD and the 32X. Both have received their fair share of criticism and derision over the years, some fairly, some not so. On the negative side, the Sega CD library did have quite a few mediocre FMV titles and early attempts at digitized characters and backgrounds with varying degrees of success. Sometimes being the first at something also means you’re likely to bear the brunt of growing pains for the technology. The Sega CD library had its fair share of point and click type adventure games which many modern gamers consider to be slow moving and boring. On the positive side, Sega definitely wanted to take advantage of the software capabilities presented in the CD format and many games were a bit adventurous in that regard. I have a hard time faulting Sega for trying to forge a new video and digitized based path for the 90’s even if it didn’t ultimately catch on.
The negatives for the 32X include minimal Sega support after launch and a small library of games that many times didn’t take advantage of the hardware. There were very few “must own” exclusive titles, no Sonic game and a few games that were just plain bad. There were also a handful of games on the 32X that were simply improved versions of their Genesis counterparts, which didn’t add to it’s appeal for many gamers at the time. The positives, like the Sega CD, are that you have do a little digging for the gems for this console but they do exist. Having not been that popular during it’s heyday, finding the quality 32X games in the wild today isn’t easy but definitely rewarding when come across one.
Overall, I had a great time playing & collecting for my Sega CD & 32X this month. I feel the Sega CD is more collectible overall as there were more games released and many odd-ball titles that were of their time, haven’t aged well but still represent an important part of video gaming history. The 32X is slightly less collectible in my mind because of the small number of games available (36 North American titles) and fewer A-list games, but in the same token, it could be considered a positive to have so few games to collect for if one wants to complete a set. The 32X is an interesting footnote but I understand why it failed.
I had relatively paltry collections for both of these systems prior to this month so I was able to knock off numerous games from my pre-existing wish list. For the Sega CD, I added complete copies of Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, Revenge of the Ninja, Silpheed, Sherlock Holmes/Sega Classics Arcade Collection & Third World War. For the 32X, I added complete copies of Knuckles Chaotix & Shadow Squadron and loose copies of Doom & Space Harrier.
- Cadillacs & Dinosaurs – A post apocalyptic rail shooter where you ride around in a Cadillac and shoot objects in your way while avoiding dinosaurs. An odd title with a lengthy comic book-like intro which you’ll want to watch once probably only once.
- Revenge of the Ninja – A laserdisc-like quicktime game where you’re prompted to hit a D-pad direction or a button at various moments to advance the game. Not much actual interaction and gameplay and generally these types of games don’t appeal to me but I wanted to pick this one up for the novelty of it.
- Silpheed – Space shooter where you control and fight against polygon ships over a pre-rendered background. Enemies come at you from the background making it somewhat difficult to determine how close they are to you before you need to dodge. I prefer side-view shooters myself so while this game has its moments, its not my favorite.
- Sherlock Holmes/Sega Classics Arcade Collection – This was a pack-in title for the model 1 Sega CD. Sherlock Holmes is a point and click adventure and Sega Classics takes 4 of the best sellers from the Genesis (Columns, Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage & Golden Axe) and packs them onto one disc.
- Third World War – A strategy based game where you take control of a nation and make decisions about real world scenarios ranging from coups to disease to military aggression and nuclear war threats. I guess the goal is to avoid a third world war but not sure that’s possible with as much shitty events they throw at you.
- Doom – What more needs to be said about Doom? This is the granddaddy of the first person shooter and I have many memories of playing this game on PC back in mid to late 90’s. The 32X version looks and plays like Doom, what more do you need? Maybe a larger screen without the lame border.
- Knuckles Chaotix – Knuckles the Echidna was originally introduced on the Genesis title, Sonic & Knuckles, and now he gets his own game….sort of. Knuckles is the star but in Knuckles Chaotix, you’re tethered rubber band style to a number of other characters (one of which looks a lot like Nights from Nights into Dreams) and are forced to work together to platform your way across Sonic-like landscapes. The tethering system was tedious for me but maybe I need more time to master before I can assess.
- Shadow Squadron – A polygon first person shooter similar to Star Wars Arcade but your fighter must not only attack other fighters but also larger carrier ships that require a number of hits to destroy. For an early polygon based game, Shadow Squadron looks good and gameplay is addictive enough to keep me hitting the continue button. Another highlight for the 32X.
- Space Harrier – An upgraded version of the Sega Master System shooter and the closest you’ll get to the arcade version on a home console.
There are a number of A-list titles for the Sega CD that I still don’t own for a number of reasons but largely because they are some of the most expensive games for the system. Snatcher, Popful Mail, The Lunar series games, Keio Flying Squadron & Shining Force CD are the primary games on my wish list at this point but all will require either an amazing deal or a fair amount of coin to procure. Additionally, I’d like to own the original model 1 Sega CD. For the 32X, my wish list still consists of Blackthorne, Kolibri, Afterburner and mostly due to it’s rarity, Spider-Man Web of Fire.
Overall grade for the consoles:
Sega CD: B