When I wrote a while ago “My Mega Drive is better than all of your NextGen!” I was probably not the only one who thought that way. Well, maybe the only one who put it in so uncaring words, because “SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis Collected Works” from the small English Readonlymemory publishing house, which brings its books to life through Kickstarter, is a much more elaborate declaration of love.
Black has always been the non-color of the Mega Drive, and the book sticks to it.
“The SEGA Genesis altered the course of the global video game industry. Not only did it bring me endless hours of entertainment, it gave us the opportunity to go really big. To move from making little games in our bedrooms to making blockbusters that everyone talked about. It’s no exaggeration, that the Genesis changed my life. ” (David Perry, Game Designer, from the foreword)
After the already very pretty “Sensitive Software”, you now put a lot of extra work into it. And really “neat!”. If Sensible was a journeyman’s piece, Redonlymemory delivers a masterpiece here. This is already clear from the haptic impression. This time the hardcover was properly bound, the cover is adorned with a few punched lines that stylize a mega drive and trace and round it off against the light, the whole thing is done with a teasing, red dot: “Power: On.” It’s fun to pick up this book.
“I went location hunting in Europe in order to create authentic race stages for OutRun. I hired a car and toured several countries, collecting ideas. One of the stages was inspired by the medieval walled city of Rothenburg, located on the Romantic Road in southern Germany. It was a very beautiful location and left a lasting impression on me. For that reason, the Rothenburg course is my favorite. ” (Yu Suzuki, Game Designer)
The book covers an episode in the video game world and that’s no small ambition to approach such a project. In the first part you will find a series of fantastically staged images of the hardware, which have obviously been processed with great care so that they reflect the ideal image of the console. The way you imagined it would come from the pack, only of course never did. To see the old, familiar technology in this way has something very special that makes it clear to you how different the design requirements were between the former competitors Sega and Nintendo. If the latter set 8- and 16-bit to office beige with small color accents, Sega chose a futuristic and yet almost timeless approach, which is excitingly interrupted by nowadays completely archaic elements such as the analog slider for the volume. It also becomes clear how boring and heartless the current generation of consoles has been made.
“1. Metallic Stage … A gleaming, gold plated landscape with a Southeast Asian feel. 2. CG Style Stage … The background consists of a blue sky and green hills, rendered in a CG style never seen before.” (Sonic The Hedgehog design document 1990, Naoto Oshima)
Staging beautiful pictures is one thing, but above all the book is not stingy with glimpses behind the scenes. You will find the technical drawings and plans on large-format pages that can be opened, plus impressions from the specification documents. Concept drawings give an impression of the wild creative years when virtual reality was considered for a system with barely 10 megahertz. But what is a console without games. Instead of just printing the cover, they took the trouble to separate the title from the cover artwork and let both speak for themselves separately. Some of these artworks are pure 80/90 gold: the surprisingly gloomy Altered Beast, the Space Harrier II immersed in 70s sci-fi madness, the legendary embarrassing and epic Streets of Rage 2, each of these images tells a little story a little forgotten game and let it come back to life for a few seconds. Here, too, a small selection was given the large double pop-up screen, followed by concept papers on well-known titles such as Sonic or Gunstar Heroes, character concepts and finally over 800 pixel figures, backgrounds and levels from a whole generation of games.
“There was a rumor that Nintendo was going to release the Super Famicom, so towards the end of the design process my manager asked me to consider doubling the graphic memory capacity to dramatically improve the console’s performance. I had to redesign the way timing worked – the memory access cycle – and minimize the additional circuit size and number of IC pins needed. I managed to increase the graphic memory capacity but it resulted in only a very incremental performance improvement, for example, increasing the number of display characters. This was, when I hit the brick wall. I learned the painful lesson that designers need to imagine all the eventualities that may appear later in the process, and so must design in a way that makes it easy to change the design later. ” (Masami Ishikawa, Hardware Designer)
The book closes with a series of specially conducted interviews, from which some of the quotations here come. There are a few brief insights and reviews, the informational content of which unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. There is little to criticize, but here I wanted more depth, especially on the part of the technical development of the console.
Well, there is always something. But in this case it is very little. “SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis Collected Works” is a gorgeous designed declaration of love to a still somewhat exciting piece of technology. If you should only browse through one book for a console in your life, then let it be this one for the SEGA Mega Drive.
(“SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis Collected Works” was published by Readonlymemory Verlag, author Keith Stuart. Price: £ 35.00 + £ 7.00 shipping (approx. 55 euros including shipping))