Following up on yesterday's post, I thought I'd share the story of how I originally came to own a Sega Genesis. As I mentioned before, my loyalties back then were firmly with Nintendo. I'd played the heck out of the original Nintendo Entertainment System for 5+ years before upgrading to a 16-bit console, and even though games like Altered Beast and Revenge of Shinobi had me tempted to ask for a Sega Genesis, I waited patiently for Nintendo to unleash the 16-bit powerhouse they'd been hyping for months in Nintendo Power magazine. That's right, I owned a Super NES before I owned a Sega Genesis.
I have to include the Super NES in this story, because my eventual acquisition of a Sega Genesis actually came about because of my like for a certain Super NES exclusive: Final Fight. Bet you thought I was going to say Street Fighter 2.
When Capcom released Final Fight for the Super NES, it was like a revelation to me. Giant characters, arcade quality graphics, and most of what made the arcade game great had been crammed into a tiny cartridge. I was a little dismayed that they were unable to include the 2-player mode, but that didn't stop me from playing it and playing it and playing it...
I used to bring Nintendo Power, EGM, and Game Players magazines to school to read during home room and at lunch. This was in 9th and 10th grade. Other classmates did the same. At some point, I got into a discussion about Final Fight with one of my classmates who was a Sega Genesis fanatic. He countered my joyful rant with one of his own, for a game called Streets of Rage. At the time, my own Nintendo fanboyism made me unable to hear his key argument, which was that Streets of Rage was a richer, more diverse experience thanks to its expansive move set and 2-player mode.
Sometime in early 1992, my mom received a rather large tax refund and asked me if I wanted anything. This was before magazines were thickly covering the eventual release of the Super NES version of Street Fighter 2, so I started thinking back to those discussions with schoolmates. By then, another classmate had also begun to drill me with praise of Streets of Rage, and positive hype about Sonic the Hedgehog was also in full swing. So I asked for a Sega Genesis and Streets of Rage.
When I got home from school on a Friday, my mom and I trekked out to Fred Meyer in North Seattle on a mission to acquire a Sega Genesis. Ignoring the TurboGrafx display, I made a beeline for the box containing the Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog pack-in. It was priced at $149.99. Sitting about 10 feet away was a "clearance" shelf with a different console set: the Sega Genesis with Altered Beast pack-in for $109.99. Since I mainly wanted Streets of Rage, I asked my mom if we could get that "cheaper" set instead and buy Streets of Rage seperately. She begrudgingly said yes and we walked out of there with the Altered Beast set, Streets of Rage, an A/V cable, and a second controller for roughly $170 (if memory serves me right).
We lucked out with that purchase. When we got home, we discovered that the clerk had put a glossy coupon in the bag that promised a free copy of Sonic the Hedgehog with the purchase of the Altered Beast set. If they'd advertised that bonus better in the store, I doubt the older sets still would've been on sale. As I recall, we sent in the coupon and the UPC code from the system box and a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog arrived in the mail in less than 2 weeks. During those 2 weeks though, I played Streets of Rage religiously.
For the most part, I realized my classmates' claims were correct. Streets of Rage was wickedly fun and offered more variety than Final Fight. My friend Don and I had so much fun playing the 2-player mode and it wasn't long before he convinced his brother to buy a copy for their (up to that point) rarely used Sega Genesis. Nevertheless, Streets of Rage didn't quite change my opinion of Final Fight or on the superiority of the Super NES, and though I did very much enjoy Streets of Rage and Sonic, I was quickly back to being a Super NES fanboy when Street Fighter 2 came out that summer.
On the whole, I spent most of my video game time in my teen years playing Nintendo's 16-bit console, but that doesn't mean I didn't give the Genesis its due. When Sonic 2 and Streets of Rage 2 came out, they were very popular at my house, especially when I had friends over. I also went completely ape for Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy thanks to the slick screenshot-filled spreads in Diehard Gamefan magazine.
Video games were a major part of my life for roughly 30 years. While some of that is simply due to the explosion in popularity of video games as an entertainment medium, I have to also give credit to both my mom, for buying me those first systems in the first place, and to the systems themselves, for providing she and I with additional bonding experiences. She was never great at playing them, but she nonetheless would sit with me and play Streets of Rage, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and anything else I needed a partner in when Don or the neighbor kid weren't around. I like to think those experiences gave her additional happiness also, since she quickly turned her room into a Tetris zone when I lost interest in the 8-bit NES.
And now, many years later, mom lives with my wife and I and has a room in which she still plays Tetris on a Sony Trinitron CRT television. With my reacquisition of a Sega Genesis, it's almost like a circle is being completed.