Not all gaming stories occur in front of the television. In fact, many of the best ones take place "outside the box", quite literally! In "Extended Play", Rob "Flack" O'Hara tells us his tales where gaming meets real life, and vice versa.
2004: The Year of the Sega Genesis
Have you ever seen one of those animal calendars they are always in Chinese restaurants? According to an old Chinese legend, a different animal represents each year on the calendar. Along with fortune cookies, part of the fun of eating at Chinese restaurants includes looking up what year you were born and discovering what animal you are supposed to be. Ha ha, I’m an Ox, my sister is a dragon, and 2005 will be the year of the rooster. According to the paper placemat calendar that was in front of me at lunch today, 2004 was the year of the Monkey. I, on the other hand, will always remember 2004 as the year of the Sega Genesis.
Near the beginning of 2004, I mentioned publicly that I had never owned a Sega Genesis. In fact, other than one night at a friend’s house over a decade, I’d never even played on a Sega Genesis (my friends and I were either computer geeks or Nintendo fans). A fellow gamer took pity on me, and soon bequeathed me the Sega Genesis he had owned as a kid, complete with half a dozen games. I spent a week or so playing Mortal Kombat, The Jungle Book and Zoop. A few eBay auctions and Digital Press deals later, I had built my Genesis collection up to around 100 games.
Something funny happened this spring. As I began visiting garage sales, thrift stores and pawnshops, I begin seeing Sega Genesis units everywhere. Since 2004 had now been officially decreed the year of the Sega Genesis by me, I began picking them up. I decided to turn it into a little game and only pick up Genesis units that I found for $5 or less. Even that turned out to be a substantial amount of consoles. It didn’t take long before I had one of each of the three main Sega Genesis models. After a couple of months of picking up every Genesis I found less than $5, I had amassed over a dozen Segas, mostly model twos. I quickly learned how craptasticly the units stacked. Unlike the NES and Playstation, the Sega Genesis is curved just enough that two stacked on top of one another become wobbly, and three high is near impossible.
I had a blast picking up Sega Genesis stuff. At one thrift store I found a boxed one for $10 once (I bent the budget a bit on that one). At another I found SegaCD and 32X units. Controllers of all styles (three buttons, six buttons, wireless) were as common as the consoles themselves were. I even picked up a flash card for the Genesis (it holds about 70 ROMs and plugs in just like a cartridge) and managed to find a Multi Game Hunter, a disk-based console copier for the Genesis! Throughout the year, I amassed quite a collection of Sega Genesis consoles. Now came the dilemma – what to do with them?
I thought I had that problem solved on Halloween. About a week before Halloween night, an idea popped into my head. In a frantic scramble, I scrounged up power supplies for ten of the consoles, and wrapped them in small bundles along with a controller and a video cable. My idea was to allow trick-or-treaters to choose between candy or a Sega Genesis. We only had three or four kids visit our house before I had to leave with my son, but would you believe every one of those kids chose the candy? Seriously! When we got back home from trick-or-treating, most of the other neighborhood kids had already called it a night. I waited anxiously by the door for a pint sized ghoul or goblin to come and take a Genesis home in their Halloween bag, but no one did. Back to my game room shelf the Gennies went.
Yes, Christmas! This was going to be perfect! As my wife scurried around the house dusting and vacuuming and preparing for a long evening of holiday cheer, I began dragging out Sega Genesis packages. If I couldn’t give them away for Halloween, I’d give them away for Christmas! Surely my nieces and nephews would enjoy some retro gaming goodness for Christmas! Unfortunately for me, the Grinch, a.k.a. Mrs. Flack, quickly squashed my plans. After a not very Christmassy exchange of words, my wife let me know that under no uncertain terms was I going to be handing out old dusty videogames for Christmas. “They’re not that dusty,” I said, but it was no use. Sulking, I took the consoles back to my game room once again, where they sit piled today. The shelf directly to my right is currently bowing in, due to the weight of all the Genesis consoles I’ve piled onto it this year.
And so today at lunch, as I sat across from my wife at the Happy House Chinese Buffet, I glanced down at my placemat and saw that 2004 was the year of the Monkey. For me though, I’ll always remember 2004 as the year of the Sega Genesis. As the waitress came by and picked up our plates, I noticed that 2005 is the year of the rooster. Of course, a rooster is kind of boring. Maybe 2005 will be the year of the … SEGA SATURN! Yeah, or maybe the TurboGrafx , or the 3DO, or, or …
Ah nuts. Happy New Years you guys, and may you all have a great year of the rooster.
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