Here’s yet another “failed” console (or add-on if we’re being pedantic) that I personally find not only endearing, but essential for retro gaming fans. Yes, its another CD add on, following both the Turbo CD (for the Turbografx-16) and the Jaguar CD (for the Atari Jaguar), on my most recent “deep dive” collecting and playing sprees.
Depending on who you ask, the Sega CD was both a success and a failure. It generated decent sales figures for Sega as one of the first (not THE first of course) CD based add-ons and helped usher in a new video gaming sub-genre, the Full Motion Video (FMV) Game. Looked at as possibly the future of gaming, FMV titles ended up only being a fad, due mainly to the disconnect between what gaming companies thought consumers wanted and what consumers actually wanted. You know, games that were actually fun, had tight controls and weren’t simply glorified interactive films (with significantly lower production budgets and D-list acting). I believe a lot of people do not consider the Sega CD a success due to their opinions of FMV games in general and their belief that the system only offered these types of games as well as slight upgrades to existing titles.
In regards to that last point, slight upgrades to existing titles make up a small but significant portion of the Sega CD library. Games like Ecco the Dolphin, Final Fight, Earthworm Jim and Road Rash (games I am looking to add to my collection) all benefited from being ported onto CD technology but their original Genesis or SNES versions were already adequate to excellent in terms of quality. So were they system sellers? Probably not. FMV titles such as the pack-in Sewer Shark, the controversial Night Trap, or possibly the odd-ball adventures of Wirehead seemed like more likely system sellers when the system was first released. Over time, the strengths of the Sega CD became more apparent. Top notch red-book audio, upgraded graphical presentations, the ability to save progress of games to the Sega CD hard drive or through the use of a Memory Cart, eliminating the need for lengthy passwords. CD technology was indeed the future of video gaming. This prediction became a reality during the next console gaming generation with the release of the 3DO, the CD-I, the Sega Saturn and of course, the Sony Playstation. Most gamers saw this evolution coming so the Sega CD add-on seemed like a nice compromise for the millions of built in Genesis owners to take advantage of.
What also became apparent after the Sega CD’s release was that there were essential games available exclusively (in North America). Games like Snatcher, Popful Mail and Keio Flying Squadron have become synonymous with the Sega CD in the years since its demise. Sadly, unless you bought these games back in the 90s, they have exploded in price due to the demand far exceeding supply. Thankfully for my own collection, I already own Snatcher and Popful Mail, but Keio’s current asking price, which often exceeds $1100 for a complete copy, is much too expensive for consideration. There are other excellent exclusives that are more affordable, so don’t give up hope on collecting for the Sega CD. Some games in my own collection that come to mind are The Terminator, Sonic CD, and Android Assault, but there are several other exclusive titles available on the Sega CD that I’m looking to add to my collection. These games are Robo Aleste, Vay, and Shining Force CD (which happens to be remakes of a couple of Shining games created for the Game Gear). All generally considered good to excellent games and only available in North America & Europe for the Sega CD.
I’ve toyed with the idea, on more than one occasion, of working towards a complete collection of Sega CD games. With “only” 146 games in the system’s library, it would certainly be achievable. However, the cost of adding Keio Flying Squadron hinders me from ever being able to get to 100% of all the North American releases. Adding all of the low quality shovelware and sports titles that exist in the Sega CD library, for example game such as the ESPN branded sports titles, or games like Wheel of Fortune and Power Factory Featuring C + C Music Factory, would mean I would have a lot of crummy titles in my collection with no sense of achievement to make it worth the effort. Instead, I’ve decided to try and get as many of the high quality exclusives, interesting FMV and upgraded 16-bit hits games as I can and call it a day.
The Top 5 Sega CD games I’d like to add to my collection are:
5. Time Gal
4. Shining Force CD
3. Final Fight CD
1. Lunar: Eternal Blue
In addition to games, I would also like to own the original model Sega CD, the one with the CD tray that sits under the model 1 Genesis. I own the model 2 version that fits better, aesthetically speaking, with the model 2 Genesis. This version of the system is a more reliable than the model 1, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I thought the model 1 Sega CD is more visually pleasing. Therefore, I’d like to own one even though my model 2 works perfectly fine.
I’d also like to add the Robin-egg blue Justifier Gun, likely as part of a Lethal Enforcers bundle, mainly so I can play Snatcher with a light gun. These aren’t very expensive to find, so I just need to dig in and find one at a price I can live with.
Collecting for the Sega CD can be a rewarding experience as there are quite a few games that are worth playing, but there are too many low quality games for me to consider going for a complete set. Since Sega made the choice to use the large, brittle plastic cases to house their CD games, a mistake they continued on with their Saturn console, buying complete in case versions with nice looking cases isn’t always an easy task. Sometimes buying a cheap sports title with a nice looking case to swap out for a rough looking case of a better game in your collection is one way to add less desirable games to your Sega CD collection, but thankfully, most of my cases are in pretty good shape as of now. If I can knock out my wish list plus maybe a few of the other “upgraded” versions of games like Earthworm Jim and Ecco the Dolphin, I’ll be quite content with the library I have.