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Category Archives: Sega Genesis

Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl

Jerry Glanville’s Pigskin Footbrawl Brought Hyper-Violent Football to the Genesis in 1992

American football is often seen as a violent sport. Charlie Camosy, a professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York, called it “a great combination of raw caveman strength and gladiatorial combat and the most complicated chess match you can ever imagine.” This was part of a BBC interview in which he questions the ethics of football as a sport that glorifies violence. But long before professors (and columnists) began debating about the more violent aspect of the United States’ beloved sport, back in a golden age called the 1990s, a few game developers had the idea to simply turn that violence up to 11 and run with it. Thus Pigskin 621 A.D. was created. Released in 1990, this arcade classic pitted two teams of brutish Medieval warriors against one another in a game that resembled modern American football.…
Jurassic Park Sega Genesis

Jurassic Park for Sega Genesis Was a Worthy Movie Tie-In

The Jurassic Park blockbuster movie was an unstoppable hype machine in the mid-1990s. This means there were Jurassic Park video games on just about any game system you could imagine back then, including arcades, NES, SNES, Game Boy, DOS, 3DO, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear, and even the oft-forgotten Sega CD. While the Sega CD version might be my personal favorite, BlueSky Software’s Genesis version is a close second. In it, you take on the role of Dr. Alan Grant and platform your way across a chaotic, dinosaur-filled park. It’s not very long, but it’s brutally unforgiving — filled with faith jumps and lacking anything resembling a mid-level checkpoint — and it culminates in one of the most obscure platform puzzles I’ve ever encountered.…
Aladdin Genesis

Disney’s Aladdin for Sega Genesis Is Still Ridiculously Good

Licensed video games have been hit or miss for pretty much the entire history of gaming. However, in the early- to mid-1990s, Disney’s properties were making the transition to the gaming world unbelievably well. DuckTales for the NES perhaps led the charge in 1989 in the hands of Capcom, who created a very memorable game with some of the best music of its era. Virgin Interactive Entertainment would collaborate with Disney for a while, creating the Holy Trinity of Disney games for the Genesis: Disney’s Aladdin, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book, and The Lion King. (Virgin would also develop more forgettable titles like Disney’s Pinocchio.) Of these games, Aladdin is probably the best. Aladdin also appeared on the Super NES, but this was an entirely different game developed by Capcom.…
Spot Goes to Hollywood

The Mysterious Ending of Spot Goes to Hollywood

1993’s Cool Spot may have been an advertainment game designed to make players’ mouths water for 7up, but it was also a genuinely great game. It had some fantastic art, really neat level design, and a phenomenal soundtrack by the talented Tommy Tallarico. A sequel, Spot Goes to Hollywood, followed in 1995, but it didn’t live up to the expectations set by its mighty predecessor. In fact, it was just plain weird. In the ending credits, there’s a scene of Spot attending the premiere of this movie he had apparently been filming throughout the game, and it presented a childhood version of myself with a tantalizing puzzle. This movie shows a title card for Cool Spot 3, a fact that baffles me to this day.…
Bubsy

A Chat with Bubsy’s Michael Berlyn – Part 1: The Rise and Fall of Bubsy

Michael Berlyn is a man of many talents — he’s an accomplished novelist, musician, game designer, and more — but he’s probably most notable, at least in the gaming world, for being the creator of Bubsy. I had the chance to chat with Mr. Berlyn on Skype for almost an hour as he was putting the final touches on his latest gaming project Ogg. (You can see more of his work at the Flexible Tales website). He walked me through the world of game development in the 1990s, the heartbreak of watching the Bubsy franchise crumble, and some of the work he’s been doing since returning to the industry more recently. Read on for the full interview: Josh: Bubsy was a game I really loved as a kid — I mean, I was a kid in the 90s — and I loved it.…
Bubsy

Bubsy Two-Fur Successfully Brought Two Bubsy Titles to Steam Greenlight

Unlike Mario, Bubsy isn’t the sort of franchise you’d expect to see represented on “Best Games of All Times” lists, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of at least a footnote in the history books of gaming. Bubsy: Claws Encounters Of The Furred Kind launched on the Super NES and the Sega Genesis in 1993, introducing the world to Bubsy, a smart-mouthed bobcat who leaped and clawed his way through 2D platforming levels. A curious choice was the addition of fall damage (which, in my opinion, has no place in a classic 2D side-scrolling mascot platformer). A sequel, Bubsy 2 came out a year later. In 2015, over 20 years after their initial releases, the two original Bubsy games launched a successful Steam Greenlight campaign under the title Bubsy Two-Fur.…
ToeJam & Earl Cover

How ToeJam and Earl Almost Became Marijuana-Smoking Mascots

Like most people who have played the 1991 Sega Genesis classic ToeJam & Earl, I’ve always wondered what sort of drugs had inspired the creation of such a wacky game. But unlike most people who have played ToeJam & Earl, I actually had a chance to ask series creator Greg Johnson about this. The surprising truth is that Greg has never done drugs in his life, and ToeJam and Earl aren’t into that either. However, the “high life” was one that these two funky aliens narrowly avoided. Greg told me: Here’s a little interesting tidbit for you: Mark [Voorsanger, co-creator of ToeJam & Earl] and I were approached at one point to sell the property for quite a bit of money to an organization that was focused on legalizing marijuana.…
ToeJam and Earl Genesis

ToeJam and Earl Don’t Do Drugs

I’ve always had this suspicion that ToeJam & Earl was a game that was inspired by drugs (probably marijuana, but even something harder than that never felt like it was out of the realm of possibility). So when I finally got a chance to talk to Greg Johnson, one of the creators of the franchise, I asked him about it. It turns out, I was way off. Here’s what Greg told me: I don’t do drugs, and I never have. Any type. That’s sometimes shockingly surprising to some people who are absolutely sure that ToeJam & Earl came out of some drug-induced state of mind… I understand when people make that comment because there is a certain quality to them that’s maybe kind of familiar with that crazy, associative, let-it-flow kind of humor, but that’s not really where it came from.…
ToeJam and Earl Hot Tub

ToeJam & Earl’s Greg Johnson Gets Hit with the “Love Hose”

In March of 2015, I spent about 40 minutes on Skype with Greg Johnson of ToeJam & Earl fame. He was in the middle of the ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Kickstarter, so I brought up the fact that, with the series back in the limelight, there are all sorts of interesting stories that people are sharing about their experience with the games. I wondered what it was like to experience that fresh batch of love from a creator’s perspective. Greg told me: It’s been very eye-opening for me and for the other members of the team. And Mark [Voorsanger, co-creator of ToeJam & Earl] as well. But I’m the one that’s kind of getting it mostly directed at me.…
ToeJam and Earl Ship Piece

Talking ToeJam & Earl with Greg Johnson – Part 3: Drugs

This is the final part of a three-part interview with ToeJam & Earl creator Greg Johnson. You can read the second part here, or start from the beginning by clicking here. Josh: So, back to ToeJam & Earl… This is going to be a super weird question probably, but this is something I’ve genuinely always been curious about. How much would you say that drugs influenced ToeJam & Earl? Greg: [Laughing] That’s funny. Well, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t do drugs, and I never have. Any type. That’s sometimes shockingly surprising to some people who are absolutely sure that ToeJam & Earl came out of some drug-induced state of mind. Josh: It almost feels like, if you’re looking, you can see some references and things.…
Doki Doki Universe

Talking ToeJam & Earl with Greg Johnson – Part 2: How Race Affected Doki Doki Universe

This is the second part of a three-part conversation with ToeJam & Earl creator Greg Johnson. You can read the first part here. Josh: I’d like to transition real quick to Doki Doki Universe, because I finally did get a chance to play it. I was really blown away by a lot of the things you did with it conceptually, exploring what makes us human and what that might look like to an alien. Because you’ve got this very human character who’s a robot, and he experiences some pretty traumatic stuff (that’s kind of glossed over a little bit for kids), but it has the issue of being abandoned somewhere for 20 years [correction: it was actually 32 years] and just kind of patiently waiting for someone to come pick you up… That really affected me deeply on a lot of levels.…
ToeJam and Earl Say What's Up

Talking ToeJam & Earl with Greg Johnson – Part 1: Developing a Beloved Game Franchise

On March 18, 2015, I had the opportunity to spend about 40 minutes chatting on Skype with Greg Johnson, one of the creators of the ToeJam & Earl franchise. We mostly talked about the original ToeJam & Earl game, but we also brought up the more recent ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (which was funded on Kickstarter in March of 2015), and Doki Doki Universe, which Johnson also created. It was an incredibly interesting conversation, in which we explored racism, drug references, linguistics, and more. Read on for the full interview. Josh: Since you announced this [ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove‘s Kickstarter campaign], there’s been so much enthusiasm. It seems like it’s almost coming out of the woodwork probably.…

ToeJam & Earl Are Coming Back

One of the best multiplayer games of the 1990s was ToeJam & Earl for the Sega Genesis. There was so much to do and so many laughs to be had, and the hip-hop stylings made it the perfect way to have a blast For years I wanted a true sequel with more presents, more levels, and more crazy characters to run into. After 24 years of waiting for this very thing, I’m ecstatic to report that the time of waiting is coming to an end. Greg Johnson, the original creator of ToeJam & Earl has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the brand new ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove, a game harkening back to the retro glory of the original.…
ToeJam and Earl Hangin

It’s Official: ToeJam & Earl 4 Is Back in the Groove

I followed some clues, which led me to the discovery that a brand new ToeJam & Earl sequel was in the works. ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove will be a true sequel to the original game, with the old isometric viewpoint and randomly generated, stacked levels, and it’s been fully funded via Kickstarter. Since then, I’ve been in touch with Greg Johnson, the man behind this new funky venture (and 50% of the men behind the original ToeJam & Earl). He was kind enough to clarify a few things in a press kit he recently sent out, and I’m kind enough to share them with you, the clever and attractive Retrovolve audience. Johnson has mentioned before that the direction that ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron took was not the intended vision for the game but one that was sort of dictated by Sega at the time.…

Is ToeJam & Earl Getting a True Sequel after 24 Years?

Am I dreaming, or have the stars aligned in such a way that a true sequel to the Genesis classic ToeJam & Earl might actually exist? Recently, Tim Evans (of GeekParty, Retrovolve, and the Tim and Andy Show) talked about the game’s 16-bit sequel, Panic on Funkotron, saying it was one of his biggest gaming letdowns and calling it “a mediocre side-scrolling platformer.” While I don’t necessarily agree with him (I actually enjoyed Panic on Funkotron as a kid), I will admit that changing the format from an isometric, exploration-heavy game to a side-scrolling platformer was a weird design choice that might not have worked in the best interest of the series. On that very post, a user named Greg Johnson left this comment: He claims to be the designer of all the ToeJam & Earl games, explains that the design direction in Panic on Funkotron wasn’t ever his initial intent and was influenced by Sega, and claims that he is finally working on a true sequel that’s closer to his original vision.…
ToeJam and Earl Loot

Several Versions of a ToeJam & Earl Sequel Were Pitched Unsuccessfully

ToeJam & Earl was a beloved masterpiece of a game when it launched back in March of 1991. So when Greg Johnson, one of the creators of the game, wanted to make a modern-day follow-up to his bizarre little roguelike, the industry should have thrown a party in celebration of this epic return of the alien duo, right? Apparently, there are a lot of publishers who don’t think so. Back in 2013, Johnson made an appearance on the Sega Nerds podcast, and he talked about his efforts to get a new ToeJam & Earl game greenlit: There was a point at which I was pretty actively pitching, going around to a lot of publishers and trying to get a new TJ&E game off the ground.…
Spot Goes to Hollywood

Spot Goes to Hollywood Was a Dark, Bizarre Piece of Advertainment

Virgin Games was inexplicably successful with Cool Spot, a blatant advertisement for 7up in Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge form. The game was more than just competent, it was enjoyable and memorable, with great art and a phenomenal soundtrack. As happens with a vast majority of successful games, Cool Spot spawned a sequel. You’d think Virgin would stick to the formula that worked so well with the first games, but they really, really didn’t. They outsourced the project to Eurocom, who decided upon a very strange direction for the series. The result was Spot Goes to Hollywood, a game that — more than it does anything else — simply confuses me. The original Cool Spot was a 2D, side-scrolling platformer. Spot Goes to Hollywood abandoned that completely, opting for an isometric viewpoint.…

Sega Genesis Games Were Pretty Expensive Too

Here at Retrovolve, we’ve been cataloging MSRPs for Super Nintendo and N64 games, and the prices we’ve been finding are completely insane. Games that were released more than twenty years ago are expensive even by today’s standards. While the listed prices are pretty jaw-dropping, they weren’t all that shocking me. I’ve bought a lot of Nintendo games over the years, and I remembered paying exorbitant sums for plenty them. But while I’ve dropped wads of cash on Nintendo titles, I grew up in a Sega-free household. That made me wonder if the high prices I was seeing were isolated to Nintendo, and if Sega Genesis titles were affordable in comparison. The word “nope” isn’t entirely accurate. A quick glance through old issues of GamePro did show that my supposition was sort of right. …

Freedom Planet Is The Best Sonic Game Since The Genesis

It’s impossible to talk about GalaxyTrail’s Freedom Planet without mentioning Sonic The Hedgehog. For one the indie title was borne from a Sonic fangame but beyond that it just reeks of the Genesis’ most famous platformers extending from the blue blur like Gunstar Heroes and Ristar. It feels like a Genesis platformer with the power of a Neo Geo behind it… …and my god is it ever glorious. You choose between three distinct Sonic-esque furries. One is super fast, one can fly a ways, and one is more suited to close combat. Sound familiar? Well, I’ve always said the line between homage and ripoff is drawn with love, and this is definitely a more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates. The only real distinction between the 16-bit Sonic games and Freedom Planet in terms of gameplay are combat the health system.…

Sega Wanted HOW Much for an RPG?

Being an RPG fan in the 80s and 90s wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, we had the chance to experience classics like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest when they were still brand-new, but most RPGs flew off shelves before we even knew they existed. Sometimes they were only on obscure hardware like the Turbo CD, and sometimes they were monstrously expensive, like Phantasy Star IV for the Genesis. Phantasy Star IV is one of my all-time favorite RPGs, right up there with the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI. That being said, I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy of the game until the advent of eBay many years after its initially release.…
Monster World IV

Monster World IV Is an Import Worth Playing

Released very late in the Genesis’ life span, Wonder Boy VI: Monster World IV is a game that slipped the radars of American and Japanese gamers alike. By this time the PlayStation and Saturn were looming on the horizon, so investing in a new game, regardless of its pedigree, would have been a risky gamble for most players. I want to tell you, though, that this is certainly a game worth tracking down. Combining elements of The Adventure of Link with 16-bit platforming goodness similar to QuackShot: Starring Donald Duck, Monster World IV delivers everything you could want from the genre: collectibles, weapon and armor upgrades, catchy music, colorful graphics, and a perfect difficulty curve. “Wow, sounds fantastic Tim. Why didn’t we see it in North America?” I can hear you squeal it out as you test the carrying capacity of the backside of your undies.…

Beavis and Butthead for the Genesis Is Too Smart for Its Audience

I fondly remember renting Beavis and Butthead for the Super Nintendo when I was a kid. It was nothing more than a dumb side scrolling beat-em-up with humor from the show and a stupid plot about getting GWAR tickets. It made sense as a game, but it was definitely nothing special. The other day I decided to pop in its Sega Genesis counterpart. These multi-platform titles always seemed better on the SNES, but I figured I should experience the music on Sega’s system of the same era. Well, it turns out it has the same plot but the gameplay is a whole different affair. This version of Beavis and Butthead is more like a Monkey Island or King’s Quest game. You’re tasked with gathering items and completing tasks around town to get your tickets back instead of just clobbering people.…
Cool Spot

Cool Spot Had Some of the Best Music on the Sega Genesis

Cool Spot was a way better video game than it had any right to be. What was essentially nothing more than a $50 ad for 7up somehow managed to be one of the golden treasures of the Genesis’ game catalog. It couldn’t have come out in any other era, not with it’s cooler-than-cool, sunglasses-wearing protagonist and its platforming/exploration hybrid gameplay. It’s truly a self-aware relic of 90s pop culture. Oh, and it included ditties like this one: And this one: Almost two decades later, these melodies have stuck with me, residing in some corner in the back of my brain. I could still hum or whistle them to you on command if prompted. When you think of more recent licensed dreck, things like Aliens: Colonial Marines and Battleship (the game based off the movie based off the board game) come to mind.…

The Retro Monolgues: Sega Genesis

We’re kicking off The Retro Monologues with a discussion about the Sega Genesis and a countdown of Andy’s ten favorite games for the legendary 16-bit console. The next edition of The Retro Monologues will analyze the video game crash of 1983. If you have any questions you would like to ask or opinions you would like to share, please leave a comment below!…
Altered Beast

Brave New World Order: New Champions for a New Era

As Sega was gearing up for the launch of the Genesis, they knew they needed a killer pack-in game if they were going to have any chance of competing with rival Nintendo. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Genesis first launched in 1989 and was bundled with a port of the arcade hit Altered Beast. The game was a solid demonstration of the system’s graphical and audio capabilities and was certainly an indication as to whom Sega was marketing the system towards. It was gritty and violent, and it allowed you to transform into things like werebears and weretigers at various points in the game. Still, Altered Beast wasn’t going to sell any systems on its own merits. As fun as carving up the undead as anthropomorphic mutants was, this certainly wasn’t the flagship-type of franchise that Nintendo had built their own gaming empire upon.…
Sonic the Hedgehog

Brave New World Order: Wrestling With Hulks and Hedgehogs

The 1990s were a decade of change. This was not so much political, economic, or even industrial, but the 90s brought a widespread upheaval of pop culture norms. The overly sugarcoated hair metal bands of the decade prior disappeared when Nirvana brought their brand of raw, chaotic, honest grunge rock out of Seattle’s nightclubs and into the mainstream. A renaissance in special effects technology brought forth some of the most influential and visually-impressive action movies of all time. Television viewers began turning away from traditional sitcoms and instead tuned in to reality-based programming such as The Real World. “Hip to be square” seems to be mantra in modern times, but in the 90’s, cool was everything. Therefore, the decade was Ground Zero for some seriously bitter battles for the world’s entertainment dollars.…
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

Strike Force Foxx Has No Aspirations to Be Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf

If you were a kid who was super into playing war, the early 90s were pretty awesome. There was this whole Desert Storm business going on, and Capitalist America used it as a golden opportunity to sell toy guns and army figures to children. Hell, I remember they released a whole series of collectable cards to commemorate that conflict. (I think I’ve got a few extra General Schwarzkopf cards lying around, if anyone wants to trade something for them.) Anyway, as part of this war profiteering racket, Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf was released for Sega Mega Drive, and I played the absolute crap out of it. To this day, I have a fondness for flying helicopters across an isometric desert and rescuing tiny little pixel people, and that fondness spawned from Desert Strike.…
ToeJam and Earl Rocket Skates

ToeJam & Earl Defines 90s Game Design in a Weird Yet Charming Way

ToeJam & Earl is the sort of game that triple-A developers would be afraid to make these days. For me, though, it defines what was great about game development in the 90s better than almost any other title I can think of. The 90s was an era when video games were allowed to be crazy and bizarre. Earthworm Jim was allowed to do battle against a bungee-jumping ball of snot. Cool Spot, the sunglasses-wearing mascot for 7up, was allowed to star in a game that was actually good. Boogerman was allowed to exist. Trio the Punch – Never Forget Me was allowed to do whatever the hell it was trying to do. The best thing, for me, about these games was that developers focused on the question “Is this fun?” rather than “Does this make sense?” or “Will this sell 5 million copies?” Game developers weren’t trying to make art, and they weren’t trying to make blockbusters.…
Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull Likes the Sega Genesis

I recently had the opportunity to see Manchester Orchestra play a show in downtown Minneapolis (sponsored by blu eCigs), where I managed to snap the above photo. And hot damn, Andy Hull’s voice gets me. As concert goers tend to do, I shared the lovely photo I had taken on Twitter and used the #ManchesterOrchestra hashtag to show off to my friends. This hashtag, I presume, is how the folks at blu eCigs managed to find me. See, I received a message from them letting me know that Manchester Orchestra would be at the blu eCigs HQ answering fan questions, and, considering I was obviously a fan, they wanted to know if I had any questions for the band. So where did my mind go?…
Jurassic Park Stripes

One of My Proudest Video Game Moments Happened in the Jurassic Park Game for Sega Genesis

The original Jurassic Park game for the Sega Genesis wasn’t necessarily the worst of the Jurassic Park-themed video games (it’s definitely better than Rampage Edition, also for Genesis, or the sub-par PSOne game), but it wasn’t the best either (I would argue that the Myst-like Sega CD version was the superior JP game). Still, I always loved the Genesis version. Between the dark and almost Flashback-esque visual aesthetic and some very memorable (though not particularly good) 16-bit music, it was a pretty great time for us young, Genesis-owning Jurassic Park fans. In it, you play as Alan Grant, a famed archaeologist (who suspiciously happens to be the male character with the least amount of onscreen chemistry with Ellie Sattler in the entire film, even though the two are supposedly an item).…
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