I absolutely loved the Sonic Advance games as a child. And this is where I became interested in his earlier games, I wanted to play the first Sonic game but I didn’t know about the retro systems and how to get them. I actually remember having a Sega Mega Drive but I sold it which I deeply regretted (and I still do despite having three systems…yes, three).
Then one day, I was reading an Argos catalogue (for the Americans, we have a store where you can buy items and wait for it and you can collect a free catalogue to pick which items you want). I was reading the catalogue and went to the toys section and lo and behold, a plug and play system where you can play Sonic 1, it was £14.99. This was my one opportunity at the time to finally play Sonic 1 and I had to have it for Christmas. Remember, this was way before Virtual Console, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network; in fact, this was way before the next gen consoles so this was the only way to play some of the old games…I mean there was Sonic Mega Collection but remember, I didn’t have any home consoles at the time.
That Christmas I got the machine, put some batteries in it and plug it into the TV and so it starts and I start playing Sonic the Hedgehog and oh boy was it fantastic. I really enjoyed it. But then I went back to the menu and found out that there were 5 more games, you see, when I was reading the item on the catalogue I saw some other titles, these included Golden Axe, Flicky, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Altered Beast and Kid Chameleon, I thought these were levels from Sonic 1, only to find out that these were actual games. And this was my first foray into playing retro games, this machine got me interested into retro gaming, though it wasn’t until I was a full blooded teenager that I eventually became a dedicated collector but it was a great start.
Playing Sonic the Hedgehog as a child was awesome but was challenging, especially Labyrinth Zone, the most notoriously difficult water level for me at the time. Golden Axe was a perfect hack ‘n’ slash but shows its age now. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine was a unique puzzle game for me, though I only realised that it’s a localised version of Puyo Puyo many years later. Altered Beast was hard, so hard but I played it again and again but couldn’t get to stage 3. Kid Chameleon was fun but confusing.
A couple of years later, a new catalogue came out and released a second plug ‘n’ play machine now including Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Same price but this time I got it on my birthday. This time it includes Sonic The Hedgehog 2, The Ooze, Gain Ground, Ecco The Dolphin, Columns and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle. Sonic 2 was awesome and remains one of my favourite Sonic games of all time…until I played Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Gain Ground was really confusing. Ecco the Dolphin was confusing…until I jumped up in the sky and some vortex sucks up all the sealife except for Ecco and this freaked me out back then. Columns was a fun puzzle game…that’s all. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, a fun but hard platformer and I didn’t realise that he was the first mascot. And The Ooze terrified me from the music to the scary imagery to the point where I didn’t even play it until many years later.
These 12 Sega Mega Drive games were my first experiences playing games that were before my time. In fact…the very first retro console I brought WAS a Sega Mega Drive when I started retro game collecting, a respectful start to the collection.