[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sega Channel

September 2nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Sega Genesis Sega Channel advertisement - 1995"Get hooked in."

Since its debut in late 1994, the Sega Channel remains one of the most fascinating footnotes of video game history. Essentially, the system had two components: a hardware cartridge that a customer plugged into his or her Sega Genesis, and a premium subscription cable TV service (usually $14.95 a month) that provided a selection of games the customer could download.

Games, when downloaded, were saved temporarily to DRAM in the cartridge (which lost its contents when the system was powered off), and the customer could download up to 50 games a month. The service also provided news about video game releases in the form of text displayed on the screen. The information transfer was one-way, however, so Sega Channel could not provide truly interactive online content.

When news of the Sega Channel first hit, I called my local cable company as the ad suggests. Unfortunately, we never received Sega Channel service in our area, so I didn't get to try it out myself.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, September 1995, p.39 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever subscribe to Sega Channel? Tell us about your experiences.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 32X Through the Keyhole

May 20th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Sega 32X Genesis Electronic Gaming Monthly ad - 1994Surely you have newer locks in your house.

I bought a Sega 32X for $30 new in 1995 or '96 at Toys"R"Us. They were on clearance because nobody wanted them. (I also bought a Virtual Boy for $30 this way around the same time.) There were good reasons why no one wanted them: chiefly, because better machines like the PlayStation and Saturn were out there, and most games for the 32X weren't very good.

Still, I have a soft spot for this system. It touches some fundamental nerdy part of me that likes convoluted electronic expansion modules — it means more to collect, and more to mess with. I have a bunch of 32X games, perhaps even half of the entire library for that system, but I rarely play any of them. I seem to recall the Star Wars Arcade title being pretty good for it. Virtua Racing wasn't half bad either.

By the way, the only explanation I can muster for the inclusion of the keyhole in the ad above is that it's some sort of sexual metaphor, much like those found in Sega's other 32X ads at the time (See "The Sega Mating Game," Retro Scan of the Week, 2008). In other words, I guess we're spying on a Genesis and a 32X having electronic intercourse.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1994, p.180 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In an alternate universe where there was no Sega Saturn, do you think the 32X could have held its own against the competition for a few years?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Quickshot Joysticks

December 3rd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

QuickShot Joysticks by Bondwell - Python Maverick Starfighter Flightgrip Apache - 1991INSIST ON QUICKSHOT! THE GENUINE PIECE!!!

I own a few QuickShot joysticks, but I don't believe I've used any of these particular models. Third-party console controllers weren't all that popular in the age of the NES (relative to the 2600 days, at least), likely because the NES's own pads (and the NES Advantage and Max) were so good to begin with. Same with the Genesis and Super NES. That fact alone probably killed a few third party video game peripheral companies that were hanging on from the Atari 2600 era, although the QuickShot brand lived on until the late 1990s.

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, August 1991, p.21 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did/do you commonly use third-party controllers for your classic video game systems? Which one is your favorite?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Splatterhouse 3

October 26th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Sega Genesis - Splatterhouse 3 Ad - 1993"The kind of game rating systems were invented for."

Splatterhouse 3 is by far my favorite entry in the Splatterhouse series. The other two just don't cut it for some reason. I prefer Splatterhouse 3′s room-based approach to the game, and its controls are pretty good. It incorporates an on-screen map too, which makes it feel more like an adventure game.

Happy Halloween, by the way!

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1993 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the goriest video game you've ever played?

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