As you’ve probably guessed from my earlier posts, my household was a Nintendo household. My dad bought us on NES when we were little and I remember saving up my birthday and Christmas and paper route money to buy a Super Nintendo. I subscribed to Nintendo Power Magazine for many years and it wasn’t until after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree that I allowed my mother to throw them all out. I was confident that Nintendo was the Way To Go when it came to electronic entertainment.
But then, a neighbor down the street got a Sega Genesis and my brother and I met Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time.
I was immediately struck by his “cool dude ‘tude,” how he would impatiently tap his foot and check his watch if you left him idle for too long, for example. It seemed so different from the gentle worlds and idyllic worlds I was used to: Hyrule, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kirby’s Dreamland. Games and gamers were most assuredly Not Cool at this time, and I remembered briefly worrying that, even amongst the nerds who played video games, I might be a dork.
This was the era of the first of many console wars, and though I was confident that I had picked the right “side” for my own taste (there were never as many Genesis games I wanted as there were SNES games), I definitely felt the stress of being limited to one choice or the other. As a kid, it was unthinkable to request a second video game console from my parents. They would have laughed in my face. And if I saved up to buy a new console on my own, that would mean going without several games for the console I actually had. Nowadays, this is almost not a problem anymore when it comes to content. “Exclusives” rarely remain exclusive anymore, and my “console” of choice is the PC, so there are few things that I feel I miss out on. But at the time, it was definitely exciting to head over to my friend’s house and see how “the other half” lived.
Usually when I think back on classic games, I think about their music first and foremost. And there are some great tracks in the Sonic games. I still find myself humming the Green Hill Zone music sometimes.
And I remember the “encroaching death” music from the water levels (and the rush of bubbles when Sonic would succumb to the waters) as almost paralyzingly stressful.
And besides, when I say “Sonic” and “music” together, let’s be honest. You are really thinking of this:
Man I loved that show!
But it is really the visuals that I remember most about these games. The colors were so bright and the visuals moved so fast that it was hard to be angry when you accidentally crashed into an enemy. It was just too awesome. I remember the first time I saw Sonic explode into rings I was so mesmerized that I stopped playing the game for a moment. My friend snatched the controller out of my hands to pick up the few tokens that were still bouncing around on the screen.
Actually, I never did beat any of the Sonic games. They moved too fast for me and I never got practiced enough at any of them to advance beyond those damned water levels. And I never really played any of the next gen games, which I hear are pretty terrible.
Tell me about your console war experiences in the comments!