In keeping with the recent 20 year anniversary of the Sega CD theme, I’d like to post about some of my first memories with the system. About 20 years ago, when I was in 5th grade, one of our teachers asked us to write down what we wanted for Christmas. I didn’t even know about the Sega CD, but one of my good friends, Jonathan, had heard about it, and his dad was quite well off so he requested a Sega CD with some games. So while I got some great SNES games that year, which were probably superior anyway, I was able to enjoy some SCD for the first time thanks to my friend.
Not too long after that Christmas season, my friend invited me over and I was quite intrigued with the system. After all, I had never seen or played any CD based game system in console form before. So as my friend first showed me his model 2 Genesis and Sega CD, I didn’t know quite what to think. After firing it up, what I noticed right away was actually the loading times, which of course do not boot up immediately like cartridge based games. The sound quality, however, was far superior, and I was certainly impressed by the capability of the CD quality sound. Today we of course take CD/DVD format for granted, and even phones are are capable of playing such amazingly great quality games with little to no trouble at all. Twenty years ago, however, there were only a handful of CD based consoles, so despite the overall market failure of the Sega CD, it still took some major pioneering strides.
Now you are probably wondering what games I played to start out with, and it’s a decent, albeit small mix. My friend had the pack in game Sewer Shark, which was one of the many failed attempts at putting FMV into a game to make it any good. As per many Sega CD games, developers thought it was the wave of the future to show off the console’s capabilities by pushing the graphical limitations, and in the process not thinking so much about the quality of the gameplay or controls. Thankfully, my friend Jonathan had the wisdom to pick up Sonic CD, Lunar: Silver Star Story, and Vay. These games are some of the best for the SCD, and I was not disappointed when trying these out. Seeing Sonic travel through time and hearing the incredible soundtrack, as well as seeing Metal Sonic for the first time, were some of the best game memories from my childhood. To this day, Sonic CD is still considered one of the greats, and second only to Sonic 3 and Knuckles in my personal list of favorite Sonic games. I am thankful to have played and appreciated it back in the day.
As for those other two games I first tried out- Lunar: Silver Star Story and Vay- these were localized by Working Designs… enough said. Well, I’ll say a little more for those who don’t know. Working Designs was a rather small company that basically produced only a relatively small number of games for the North American market, and most were JRPG style games which were even more of a niche market in the early to mid 90s than the games produced by Squaresoft and Enix at the time. Still, I personally consider Working Designs to be one of the best largely unknown developers of all time. Anyway, I was in awe at the animated cutscenes and voice acting in both games, and for some reason the simple concept and story of Vay is still enjoyable to me today. Sandor isn’t just your average prince out to seek revenge for the destruction of his homeland and family, but he does so by collecting an ancient suit of armor and orbs that power it to unbelievable levels, basically making him a one man army. Sure the game is just a basic JRPG on the surface, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. As for Lunar, it’s an incredible game as well, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Even after about 20 years, I still have only played maybe ten to twelve SCD games in total, but I know there are plenty more gems out there for me to try one day. It certainly isn’t the best console out there, but it was a pioneer for its time. Its steep price tag and relatively small library of games compared to SNES and Genesis made it not so feasible for most people to purchase. Nevertheless, if you are looking for some classic, old school, pre-Playstation era CD fun and have not given it a shot, then give the Sega CD a try.