Monday, January 25, 2010| Posted by Matthew Nyquist
“Hey, remember Sega Channel?”
(Shakes head with blank face)
You have no idea. Okay, never mind then.
I ‘ve had this conversation an innumerable amount of times. Sega Channel was great. It was awesome. But barely anyone seems to have ever heard of it. For those who were fortunate enough to have it as a kid, Sega Channel is fondly remembered as a magical gaming marvel. And since then, there hasn’t been anything like it.
Introduced in 1994, the premise was simple: Call your cable company, have them mail you a giant cartridge, plug a cable into the cartridge (the same cable that goes in your TV), put the cartridge in your Genesis and BAM: 50 new games to play a month. I would say the best channel on TV, wouldn’t you?
Talk about ahead of its time.
1994 was the same year that AOL released their version 1.5. Remember those days? You had to wait 20 minutes for a single page to load. The modem would dial in and if you listened closely to all those beeps and whistles, you could swear the James Bond theme was playing. (Okay maybe you never heard it, but I swear it’s in there!) If someone in the house picked up the phone, you were disconnected. And of course you couldn’t even be on the internet long or calls wouldn’t be able to get through. There were no cell phones. Only car phones. Oh boy. But I digress.
Sega Channel beamed 50 games through a television cable into your Sega Genesis. How about that?
Upon turning on the Genesis, or ‘Sega’, as I affectionately called it, a menu would load, allowing you to pick from a huge list of different games. The menu looked a lot like menus that are on satellite dishes now. The games were arranged by category. There was racing, action, fighting, sports, among others. The best part though, were the games that weren’t in stores. Golden Axe 4, Rolo To The Rescue (a game where you’re an elephant who saves his friends), and Marko’s Magic Football were just some of the classics I was able to enjoy. There are still some games to this day that I have attempted to re-locate but can’t find.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
On the first day of every month, my brothers and I woke up like it was Christmas. It was then that the Sega Channel updated its game list. We darted out of our beds, giddy for what awaited us downstairs. We raced to the Sega to see how we would occupy the month. We switched on the Sega Channel, switched on the Sega, and awaited a new list of games.
Imagine: 50 new games a month. Sure, there were some, like Earthworm Jim, who tended to be on there every single month. But ultimately Sega Channel gave me an opportunity to play some games that I otherwise never would have. (Izzy’s Olympic Quest, I’m looking at you)
You think I’m alone? Look how excited everyone was! They loved Sega Channel more than life!
It was all thanks to him: Mr. Sega Channel.
Na na na na naaaa na! I have Sega Channel and you don’t!
I didn’t know who this guy was. But boy was he cool. He loved his Sega Channel so much that he didn’t even bother playing it. He just paraded around town with his TV above his head. He wants you to know that he has it. And you don’t.
All good things must die, and with the death of the Sega Genesis came the inevitable death of Sega Channel. As much as I’d like to see a Wii Channel, PS3 Channel, or 360 Channel, it will simply never happen. Delivery services like GameFly or downloadable games are the closest thing we have today.
The trend of online gaming is still in its infancy stage. It is a relatively new concept (with Nintendo being dragged into it kicking and screaming).
But don’t forget: Sega did it in 1994. And it was magical.