I can still remember the moment vividly. It was Christmas, just after midnight, and I snuck down to the living room. There, next to the TV, Santa had set up my very own Sega Master System. I turned on the TV, made sure the volume was all the way down, and switched that bad boy on. The rest was history. When I was growing up there were two factions of gamers, the Nintendo loyal and the Sega loyal. That was it. The Atari was a thing of the past and it was time to choose sides. It was a very difficult decision.
On one hand, my next door neighbor had a Nintendo Entertainment System. The classic gray box that we played hours on end with games like Mike Tyson’s Punchout, The Legend of Zelda, and Blades of Steel. On the other hand, my cousins owned a Sega Master System, the sleek black and red rectangle not only had a cartridge slot, but a card slot as well. These were the two of the biggest influences in my young life and I had to choose which side I would stand on.
The NES had a larger assortment of games, a library almost too big to imagine. The amount of games seen upon stepping foot into a Toys R Us was nearly overwhelming. On the other hand, there was the Sega Master System, with a smaller cache of games but almost infinitely better graphics and an almost underdog attitude. To me, Sega was the Rebellion and Nintendo was the Empire. It was an easy choice.
As time went on, I continued to choose Sega, from the incredible Genesis with it’s 3 button controller and arcade ports to the noble Dreamcast where I spent hours on end playing Virtua Tennis in my dorm room with one of my roommates. As people came in, they asked us why we were watching tennis on TV, we’d slyly smile and tell them we weren’t watching tennis, we were playing a video game. This resulted in a crowd of people suddenly interested in watching the action. Sega for me, was a way of life. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t love Nintendo games, I did, and I played them at friend’s houses consistently for years, but when you were young, without infinite income, you had to make a choice and stick with it. That was your legacy, you were either a Sega person or a Nintendo person. Those were the choices you had to make.
That legacy is scheduled to be put onto the big screen, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg translating the book “Console Wars” by Blake J. Harris into the definitive movie about the first great console war of the late 80s and early 90s. Geeks in their 30s and 40s will surely be waiting with baited breath to hear the behind-the-scenes story of a rivalry that defined a great part of their childhood. To this day, I still have Sega vs. Nintendo discussions with friends and strangers on a consistent basis. The battle of the two console makers has everything that a great rivalry should and a translation onto the big screen is sure to start up the discussion again.
So please, let the games begin. Let the nostalgia fill the Internet as we discuss if Final Fantasy is better than Phantasy Star (it’s not) and if the Genesis version of NBA Jam was better than the Super Nintendo version (it was). Now that we can look back with clarity, it’s amazing that such bias holds true to this day. I’m still a Sega guy, even when Sega isn’t even in the console game anymore. The games I played on those systems shaped my life and the life of many of my friends. Gamers are defined by the games they play and for years those games were made by Sega and Nintendo. It’s about time the story of our heritage should be told, and now it looks like it’s time. So take a few minutes to dust off your old consoles, fire up that emulator on your PC and play the games that defined your life. We are what we play, and now it’s time to hear the story of how those games came to be.