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  • Air Diver (Sega Genesis)


    Source: GamePro – Issue Number 11 – June 1990 

    Air Diver is a combat flight simulator released for the Sega Genesis in 1990. It has the distinction of being one of the first third-party games released for that system, at least in North America. However, being first is no guarantee of quality.

    While being labelled as a flight simulator, this is really more of an arcade game like Afterburner only from a first-person point of view. The plot is rather typical and simplistic but it isn’t really important for a game like this. You play the role of a fighter pilot in a fictitious stealth fighter aircraft. There are a variety of missions which include boss fights.

    Unfortunately, this is a rather mediocre game. Chances are that it was rushed to market to be one of the first games on the shelves for the Genesis. Graphics are ok and represent an improvement over 8-bit games of the era but they don’t really show the true capabilities of the Genesis. However, it is really the gameplay that is lacking. The missions and gameplay are rather repetitive and there really isn’t a whole lot of replayability. Its only really interest is as an early example of third party development for the Genesis and of course it would have had more appeal in the early days of the Genesis when there wasn’t a lot to choose from. It just doesn’t hold up too well today.

    If you do want to play this game, then you will have to track down an original or use emulation. There was eventually a sequel, Super Air Diver for the Super Nintendo, but the original has never been rereleased and probably never will be. The good news is that original copies are pretty cheap.

  • Sega 32X


    Source: Next Generation – Issue Number 1 – January 1995

    Sega’s 32X is certainly an odd beast. It was introduced only about a year or so before the Sega Saturn and while it was quite a bit cheaper, it still couldn’t exactly be called inexpensive at the time at $159 (plus the cost of a Genesis if you didn’t already have one). It plugged in to the cartridge port of the Genesis. You could then plug in either standard Genesis carts and it simply acted as a pass through or you could plug in special 32X cartridges that took advantage of the 32X hardware. It could also be used in conjunction with the Sega CD for 32X enhanced CD games.

    As an add-on, the 32X was a pretty powerful device. In included two Hitachi 32bit RISC processors running at 32 MHz (compared to the 7.6 MHz Motorola 68000 CPU of the Genesis) as well as a new Video Display Processor with 3D capabilities. It enabled 32,768 simultaneous colors (compared to the 61 colors at once out of a palette of 512 available on the Genesis) and added 4 Mbit of RAM. The CPUs were essentially the same ones used in the Sega Saturn.

    So why did Sega release this system only a year before the Saturn would be released in North America? There were a couple of reasons but it retrospect it was a bad idea.

    The 32X was originally conceived as a stand alone console that would compete with Atari’s Jaguar. As it would turn out, this was completely unnecessary but apparently Sega was worried about competition from Atari at the time. They instead made it an add-on so as not to alienate Genesis owners though an all-in-one Genesis/Sega CD/32X was planned but never released.

    The other theory that Sega apparently had was that the Saturn would not be a mass market item because of its price and it would be the Sega Genesis/CD/32X systems that would compete for the dollars from the masses. I guess they envisioned a video game class system of sorts. In the end, this was a huge mistake for Sega and the start of their downfall in my opinion. They rushed the 32X to market to compete with the Jaguar and get out ahead of the Saturn and the games suffered for it. Then they rushed the Saturn to market to beat the PlayStation and there really weren’t any games available for it for a while. In addition, the Saturn was initially priced much higher than the PlayStation. Part of this was probably due to system cost but I think part of it was due to their concept of a video game class system. They did a pretty good job of resolving these types of issues once the Dreamcast came out but it was already too late for Sega.

    Only 40 games would ever be released for the 32X (36 in North America) including 6 that were CD based.

    I’ll leave you with one of the more cringe-worthy ads for the 32X (or any other video game or system for that matter). The ad below as well as all of the images above are from the premiere issue of Next Generation magazine from January 1995.

  • Tecmo NBA Basketball


    Source: Electronic Gaming Monthly – May 1993

    I’ve never been a really big sports fan when it comes to video games with a few exceptions. I always enjoyed Winter Games and Summer Games on the Commodore 64 as well as the original Tecmo Bowl on the NES. While Tecmo Bowl was probably Tecmo’s most famous sports games, it made several others as well including Tecmo NBA Basketball and Tecmo Super NBA Basketball. The first was for the original NES while the second was for the Super Nintendo. The NES version was released in late 1992 while the Super Nintendo version was released in early 1993. A Sega Genesis port of Tecmo Super NBA Basketball would follow a year later.

    Tecmo NBA Basketball (NES)

    If you were looking for a basketball game in that era, this was a pretty good one. Both the 8-bit a 16-bit versions offered mostly the same features with the 16-bit versions obviously having better graphics and sound. These were the first basketball games to have licenses from both the NBA and the NBPA players unions (though the Intellivison game NBA Basketball had an NBA license in 1980). Tecmo Super NBA Basketball featured all 27 teams from that time (1993) and over 320 real players. For the time, this was a very comprehensive game and definitely the one to have if you were looking for real teams and players.

    Tecmo Super NBA Basketball (Super NES)

    You’ll have to track down originals if you want to play this one (or use emulation). Old sports games, particularly licensed ones, rarely get re-released. One of the 16-bit versions is best but if you are an NES fan then that one is ok too. I think I’ll stick with Tecmo Bowl though.

    The ad above is from the May 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.