Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The day the megadrive ran out of road and fuel.

It was in a toy store who's location are now lost to the winds of time. There were two kids who were at the age where the coolest thing around were the Ninja Turtles and thoughts of mortgages, repayments, hot women and fast cars wouldn't be thought of for many years to come. In a time way before the internet (1990 evidently), it was the newest, sexiest toy ever - the unknown entity that was black and sleek, almost dangerous looking with more buttons than we knew how to handle. It was the next step in evolution that took what we knew for granted and flushed right down the can and then whizzed on it once again for good measure.

A black Lamborghini Contach?

Nay! But I'd still like one.
 Maybe the Ferrari Testarossa of its time?

No. But I had a poster of this on my wall. Also it's red, not black.
 So what was it?

It was the Big Brother to our humble Alex Kidd playing Sega Master System. The horrendously priced ($400 originally when we saw it) yet so desirable superior Sega flagship. 16 bits of pure gaming awesomeness that was so ahead of it's time, we thought it had taken a trip back in time to impress those of us in the dark ages.
I would've flogged my brother off for one if I had the chance (not so much now, he's awesome).

They called it the Genesis in the states. It was called the Sega Megadrive here.
And it was glorious.

Angels wept. Mothers milk. Desirable description!
 We stood enthralled for at least an hour as the demo for Altered Beast played over and over again. Like the first time you discovered the internet was drowning in porn, we were completely gobsmacked. Remember that for an 8 and 10 year old who were used to 8 bit gaming that looks pre-school nowadays by comparison, this was like looking at the Holy Grail of gaming. We wanted to press start, mash those buttons, save the princess, punch the zombies, grab the power ups and be the coolest kids on a system we'd never heard of.

The original walking dead.

We wanted one. Desperately.

But no parent in their right mind were ludicrous enough to shell out 400 large for a gaming box that was yet to take the world by storm. So we watched and waited and looked on as the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo climbed into the ring to slug it out to find out who was king in the console wars that slowly followed. The Mega Drive had Sonic, the Nintendo brought forward everyone's favorite Italian plumber Mario to bare. It was battle lines drawn and arguments in gaming magazines and across playgrounds over which should be crowned as champion.

We still wanted but in the meantime we were satisfied with Golfamania, Rampart, California Games, Rampage and Gran Manaco on our blob of grey plastic that was the Master System 2 (The Datsun 120Y of it's day).

One side Webber!

But time passed, the two awestruck boys grew up to become
gentlemener...older and the Sega Mega Drive became a fond afterthought of gaming goodness. I bought a Playstation one, then a pc, then a Playstation two and an Xbox 360. My brother walked the path of the Mac (and the 360 and the Wii). Our gaming journey continued on without a short side trip to Megadrive Mall.

Until now...

Until recently when I decided that it was high time I spent not much at all and find out what I was missing. Bring on the retro memory flood, I have a ship ready.
In a fit of 'Hey I have a spare $20' and half a tank of fuel, I decided to source an original Megadrive and game (hopefully Altered Beast) and take myself back to the time when I thought women were actually aliens in disguise.
Yeah - great in theory. Trouble is, they don't exist. Anywhere. The Megadrive is no more.

I trawled the second hand stores, the Salvos, Cash Converters and even the recycling centre (aka the tip) but not even a controller was found. Questions were answered with blank looks, posts on local forums remain unanswered. The fuel dwindled, the options dissipated.

(Now before someone who works at K-Mart chimes in - I know there is the latest release Megadrive gaming box with 15 games built in now for sale for about 60 bucks with different controllers for nostalgics, but it's missing the point. It's like buying a 2000 series VW Beatle and trying to point out how it matches an original from the 50's and 60's in both class and history.)

The $400 gaming monster of it's day is no more. Wherever they may be, they're not around here. Ebay has only a few but some of the prices are more hopeful than people wanting Pippa Middleton to join the adult fan industry (maybe they payed full price way back when?). 
And I'm not spending a fortune on something I might only play once in a night of beer fueled gaming history.
It was a force to be reckoned with back in the day and you couldn't help but walk into Casho's and trip over the bloody things, they were plentiful. Now tumbleweeds roll past you on your search. Somewhere in the dessert are a whole pile of them, sitting there, unused (right next to all the Atari ET Cartridges). The game buttons unmashed, the beast unaltered, the Alex no longer a Kidd.

One game game playing fingers, one day...

Edit: I just had a look at prices. Oh dear...


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