Saturday Morning Cartoon memories

It’s been a few years since the major networks ceased doing their Saturday Morning Cartoons blocks on TV. As a child in the 80’s and into the 90’s the whole ritual of getting up early on Saturday morning and being glued to the TV wasn’t just something we did, it was pretty much all we did.

Everyone has different memories of the Saturday Morning cartoons. For me it was often fighting my three sisters for control over what we watched next. Fortunately we did have 2 TV sets, although the smaller one was in black and white and was mostly used for video games, it still caused many fights that often ended with someone getting hurt. My oldest sister is 3 years my senior so she always wanted to watch stuff like Soul Train and in later years MTV. My immediately younger sister was barely a year and a half younger than I was so she typically had similar tastes in cartoons as I did, except she had this weird obsession with puppets so he gravitated towards stuff like Eureka’s Castle, Fraggle Rock and things of the like. I could get her into Pound Puppies, Snorks and Muppet Babies just fine, but she protested watching Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Transformers, G.I. Joe or even Scooby Doo. I never could figure out what she didn’t like about Scooby and friends. Then there was my baby sister. She had no say, all she wanted to watch was Rugrats and Nicktoons, didn’t matter what day of the week. When they moved Doug and Recess and all that Nickelodeon crap over to my network TV slots I sort of moved on and let her have it.

Of course not all the cartoons we watched aired first on Saturday mornings. Often times they were re-runs of syndicated shows and shows that ran earlier in the week. To that end we never really knew what we were going to get. My earliest memories were watching the Heroic Autobots battle the Evil Decepticons for control of the world’s energy sources. You could argue that watching this show about robots running out of energy contributed to my interest in alternative energy sources, but let’s not give too much credit to the animators of a Japanese cartoon. Save some of the blame for Captain Planet and his Planeteers that would come much later.

Another thing I liked to do during the week was record episodes of cartoons, commercials, and other shows that interested me and play them back on the weekend. I didn’t do this often but it was something I would dabble in. Normally I would end up erasing one of my sisters’ boy band concert videos so when they found out I taped over their boy crush for a bunch of random commercials and crap they would usually go ballistic. Most of my memories were fighting my sisters over what to watch more than enjoying the actual program. Because of this what we typically did was landed on one channel, watched it until commercials then flipped as fast as we could to the next and so on and so forth. This meant we were only getting bits and pieces of each show, but it was better than sitting through an entire episode of that lame New Kids on the Block cartoon that, in my opinion, never should have existed. Those brief moments in between when I got a glimpse of M.A.S.K., or C.O.P.S (why did so many cartoons back then use acronyms?), that’s when I would get excited.

I did eventually get crafty in my ability to turn my sisters on each other. I found ways to get the baby to play with her toys while I would get my younger sister and older sister fighting over a hair brush or article of clothing or something sisters cared about then I would sit on the floor way too close to the tube and claim it for my own. Once my parents would see I was firmly engrossed in a show if one of my sisters tried to change the channel they would get scolded with a firm “You weren’t even watching it, he was let him finish his show.” This strategy worked more often than not. I can’t be sure if they ever caught on because the oldest sister moved on to chasing boys and the youngest sister was easy to manipulate leaving the one opponent, the middle child. Even at the tender age of 8 I quickly learned how to negotiate with the middle child. I would usually agree let me watch this show and the next one and you can have it after that while I play Super Mario Bros. Since I tended to hog the Nintendo and always force my sister to be Luigi, it was easy for me to casually hint that she could play as Mario while I watched my shows. Then all I had to do was enjoy my programs while she romped through the Mushroom Kingdom with player 1 controller in hand for a change. This strategy didn’t always work as my parents were slow to increase our catalog of Nintendo games and my sister was quick to lose interest in the three games we did own for the longest time.

Manipulating my sisters was only half the battle. I also had to find crafty ways to get my parents out of the house in order to prolong the part where dad would kick me out of the house to play outside while he napped on the couch with the TV tuned to some fishing show or NASCAR or whatever else it was adults watched to fall asleep. Normally by the time the parents told us to play outside I would casually, sometimes sneakily, make my way into whichever side room had the video games and try to get in as many rounds of Atari or Nintendo as I could. We still had both systems well into the 90’s so this usually worked out until my parents just decided to give me my own TV set and I ended up winning the war for the TV after all was said and done.

For me it was mostly fought on Saturday mornings. Everyone remembers those blocks. I didn’t have much preference either. I would sit through an episode of the Alf or Teen Wolf cartoon, flip it over to an episode of Care Bears or even sit through an episode of Rainbow Brite if that’s what it took to keep the cartoons going and the old westerns my parents enjoyed off the TV. The battle continued Monday through Friday as I would get up at 5 in the morning, turn the TV to a minimum volume and sit through episodes of The Odd Couple, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, even Kate and Allie, just so I could stake my claim to the TV set before school.

I had a set list of shows I couldn’t miss. Transformers was TOP priority. It didn’t matter if it was Saturday morning, before school, after school or a random tape I rented from the video store, if there was a chance I could get my buddy Optimus Prime on the TV set I was going to do whatever it took. Priority number 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would also watch this regularly whenever it aired as well as rent tapes from the video store. Priority 3 was X-Men the Animated series. This came alter but once I discovered it this show became a must watch. Fortunately for me both of my younger sisters developed an equally strong interest in X-Men characters (they each also collected the comics and trading cards as did I) so it was much easier to get them to call a truce when that show came on. Then down the list the priority was, shows with robots, shows with magic, shows with mutants, shows with cute girls that had purple or pink hair (yeah I was weird sue me) then at the bottom of the list was shows with talking animals. This, of course, only applied to cartoons.

Live-action shows was much different. I prioritized shows with a cute girl I crushed on, Saved by the Bell it was Kelly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains it All it was, you guessed, the awesome Melissa Joan Heart, and okay well there wasn’t a cute girl on Boy Meets World, I just found that show funny as hell. And in case you are wondering, it was the red head with glasses on any show that had a red head with glasses. Or any girl with glasses. For some reason I was into chicks with glasses… Okay moving on…

By the time the 90’s rolled around I was shifting into more live-action stuff like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, and CGI animated shows like Reboot and Beast Wars. I only gave Beast Wars casually passing as I was a die-hard TRUKK NOT MONKEE type. Still I eventually came around and became more interested in that show. The 90’s also saw my tastes briefly shift to anime. I got into Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball Z, The Slayers, Patlabor, and even Digimon for a while. By the time my anime watching friends were getting into Powerpuff Girls I had snapped out of it and the anime spell was broken. I haven’t hardly looked back either. I do remember though, the Saturday Anime block that came on the Sci-Fi channel. We didn’t have cable when we were very young, so we didn’t have the Sci-Fi channel (as it was called back then) until mid-95. By that time I was pretty much over the Saturday Morning cartoon craze.

Those are some of my memories, please comment your thoughts, memories and stories plus favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, anime excluded if you can.

My thoughts on the Civil War crisis affecting our country

I want to preface this by saying I personally am a white, Republican, college educated, Southern Baptist, who voted for our current president for various reasons. I, in no way shape or form, support the removal of Civil War monuments, statues, or historical markers that honor the soldiers who fought and died for their country and what they believed in. As far as I am concerned, white, black, slave owner or not, Christian or otherwise, they were PATRIOTS fighting to defend their families and their homeland from what they considered an invading army. Those men are heroes and need to be honored and remembered. The battles that took place need to be marked so people can remember what that conflict did to our nation.

HOWEVER: The generals, the statesmen, the Confederate leaders, are not heroes who served their country. They were traitors to the United States, they led a rebellion against their country, in violation of the Constitution they previously swore to protect. The instant they broke their word they became liars. God throws Liars in the pit of hell. A man is only as good as his word, when a man swears allegiance to the Flag of the United States, swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, then turns around and violates the clause of the Constitution that expressly forbids the individual states from entering into treaties, they not only become liars and traitors, they are no longer worthy of the respect of their fellow countrymen.

It is different than the British Patriots who determined they were no longer being represented by a distant government. Washington was not distant to the south, D.C. sits on Virginia soil. The reason monuments to the CONFEDERATES and the CONFEDERACY need to come down is they are symbols of, rebellion, treason, unpatriotic, and to some racist. The racist issue is at the center of the debate. To me, I don’t care about that. I won’t get into the details but as a REPUBLICAN, the party that led the Union (not the North it was NEVER just North versus South. There were FOUR slave owning southern states that fought on the side of the United States, there were ZERO free northern states that fought on the side of the Confederacy.)

I want to explain why people in my position are appalled these monuments even exist in this day and age. First, those who claim it’s jumping the bandwagon or following the mob, you are wrong. Many people, myself included, grew up in parts of the country where the civil war had no impact, I am from Idaho and Nevada we learned about it but there are no monuments to it, no traces of its lineage. So for us, we ASSUMED the issue was settled 150 years ago and the nation healed in the interim. I had no IDEA there even were confederate monuments still in this country.

For me personally I see that as an attack on the UNITED STATES, not an attack on white people, or a symbol of slavery or racism, just a memorial honoring a TRAITOR to the UNITED STATES. I am an AMERICAN first, a resident of whichever state I reside second, and a Republican all the way throughout (Although our current president is giving me doubts). The reason *I* am in favor of removing all statues that HONOR the traitors, the generals, the statesmen, the LEADERS of the rebellion, is because the Union won. We remained UNITED and the soldiers who fight today, even those who hail from former, FORMER, Confederate states, they join the U.S Army to serve their country, the United STATES of America. The Confederacy ceased to exist.

I am appalled because I honestly had no clue these monuments to REBELS even existed, let alone on PUBLIC property. Here is my take. In the instance where the VOTERS of a district decide to remove these statues from public land, so be it the VOTERS decide. Not terrorists like Anonymous or some other organization, not Black Lives Matter, not even the Democratic Party.

Likewise, if the VOTERS in Charlottesville VIRGINIA decide to remove a statue, it would be UN-AMERICAN for anyone who is NOT from Charlottesville Virginia, to interfere with local politics, no matter which side they proclaim to support. That is where WE as Americans need to stand united and draw a line. If the voters in a DISTANT state far from where you live want to remove a statue, it is NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Stop calling people liberals, snowflakes or idiots when you don’t understand what is actually going on. Some of the people who are crying out are liberals, some are overly sensitive and easily offended, but you have NO RIGHT to tell people to “get over it” or that they HAVE to feel, as in their emotions, have to be the same as yours. THAT IS UNAMERICAN.

If you disagree fine do so in a CIVIL and ADULT manner. Not name calling, not making false accusation or assumptions, and for God’s sake, white or black, if you are a CHRISTIAN, AMERICAN, REPUBLICAN, then stop pretending that you actually care about the Confederacy unless 1, YOU HAVE ANCESTORS THAT ACTUALLY FOUGHT IN THE CONFLICT, and 2, (and this is where you need to shut up) actually ARE secretly racist. That’s it, everyone else should be disgusted these statues to TRAITORS exist. I am not telling you how to feel, I am telling you how *I* feel and explaining it with grown up words. Please try to do the same.

Dr. Mario: A look back at an iconic game

For most people who had a Game Boy throughout the 90’s, Tetris was all the rage. The game was all about stacking falling blacks into patterns to clear the screen. I didn’t get my Game Boy until 1998, in the form of a Game Boy Pocket. And yes, Tetris was the first game I picked up to play on the wonderful little device. Yet there is one more puzzle game that I think deserves even more recognition that good old Tetris. Of course I am talking about Dr. Mario.

My first exposure to the game was in the form of a goofy TV commercial with that witch doctor song as the backdrop. I was pretty young at the time, probably seven or eight, so I didn’t know it was actually a real song. I just thought it was made up for that commercial. It wouldn’t be until seeing the iconic story of first love, My Girl, before I learned it was a real song. That’s besides the point.

Since I didn’t have a Game Boy I played the NES version. Now if you think that made it any easier you would be wrong. See we were pretty poor so the spare TV I had set up in my bedroom that we used to hook the NES up to was one of those old little tube sets with the rabbit ears and the UHF/VHS channel dials on the front. It also didn’t have coaxial inputs, we had to use one of those adapters with the y shaped prongs, you know which ones I mean if you had an Atari or similar console. Anyways the real issue was, it was an old TV which meant it was black and white. Now this was the same TV that brought me the magical wonder of the Atari in all it’s glory, so I was pretty used to playing games with no color. My first experience with Super Mario Bros. in fact was on that black and white set. So let me tell you the fact I got good enough to beat level 20 playing on a black and white TV should tell you how dedicated I was to that game. Oh, and it was a 3-day rental so I had to learn the game and get good at it in a very short time span. I instantly fell in love with that game.

Dr. Mario, for those that don’t know, is a puzzle game where the goal is to line up multi colored pills to match colored viruses. It sounds easy but if you take the colors out it’s much harder. This was back in the NES days when I still flipped through the manuals to read the story. I forget what it was but the fact it actually had some sort of narrative to justify Mario throwing pills into a jar was really cool to me. I kind of miss the days where you really had to use your imagination to flesh out the story for our video games. I kind of get sick of playing interactive movies. Not that I think modern games all suck, but still there is something special about a simple game with a straightforward objective, in this case clear the screen of colored viruses.

One thing I enjoyed about the game was the animations the viruses made. The way they danced around the petri dish in rhythm with the music. Or the way they would fall down kicking and screaming when you killed one of the viruses in the bottle. The game was pure magic. I even picked up the Game Boy version a few years later. I didn’t play it much. I wouldn’t actually play a handheld version again until I got the Classic NES edition for the GBA.

I also loved the music in this game. Like many puzzle games you really didn’t have very many tracks to chose from. But the few you did were still really great. I preferred the slower, angrier track to the happy up beat circus sounding music.

This isn’t so much a review of the game as just a trip down memory lane. I would spend hours playing this game. I had a few other versions over the years too. I bought Tetris/Dr. Mario for the Super NES during it’s heyday. I skipped the N64 Dr. Mario but I did have the Classic NES one on GBA. I also played Dr. Luigi on Wii U and there was a Dr. Mario On Wii but I think it was online only and I skipped that one too. I try to stick to the NES as my preferred way to enjoy this classic puzzle game starring my favorite video game character by far.

 

 

Getting to know famed video game collector The Immortal John Hancock

When I started getting really into video games I went all in. At the height of my collection I had hundreds of games spanning dozens of consoles. I couldn’t begin to list all of the games I had, but I can tell you the systems I had games for. When I sold off my collection to help pay for college I had an Atari 2600, 5200, Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, N64, Game Cube, Game Boy, GBA, DS, DS Lite and even a Sega Nomad.
Well none of that amounts to much compared to a “super collector” that goes by the name: The Immortal John Hancock. A middle-aged family man, Hancock hosts a Youtube channel where he talks about his massive collection. How massive is his collection? For starters it was large enough to be featured in a January 2004 article in the Tips N Tricks magazine. Hancock’s collection consists of 26 complete sets. That is, he owns every single retail game released for 26 different systems. Still not impressed? The man has been collecting since the 1970’s.
How does a person find the time to collect all that stuff? It didn’t happen all at once.
“My mother was a collector. I used to go to flea markets with her as a kid. I began collecting carts, comics and figures. The collection evolved into games which I found much more satisfying.” he said.
His first game console he had as a kid was a Radio Shack TV scoreboard. He described it as basically a Pong clone.
As someone who also had a Radio Shack pong system myself as a kid, I find it refreshing to know many of us can still go back to our roots. In fact one of my only 2 true retro consoles remaining is a Sears Super Pong. My other retro console that sits in a box, a dusty old Intellivision 2 with Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module. What’s interesting about Mr. Hancock is he started by seeking out unique Pong systems.
“I always have had a fondness for collecting pong consoles.  Mostly due to them being forgotten by others.  I just picked them up along the way due to being very affordable.” he said.
As a family man he enjoys sharing his collection with his wife and kids.
“My game collecting is something that I can share with my kids.  I always try to remember balance.   More strengthens my bond with my kids.” he said.
He also enjoys the support of his wife in his endeavor.
“My wife does not collect but she supports my hobby and I return the favor by not having it affect our relationship in a negative way.”
he added.
So what games do his kids enjoy? Well probably the same ones we all did when we were kids.
He said, “My kids love Nintendo and playing on games like Smash Bros or Mario Kart on the Wii U.  ARMS on the Switch is also a favorite.  Hard to say if they like video games the way I like them, but I can see them carrying on the mantle of at least playing video games with others.”
In recent years he has stated one of his goals is to some day see his games in a museum. Preservation has become more of a focus of his in the last 10 years. He is currently building a new game room onto his house to showcase his collection to his Youtube followers. His internet fame has begun to get him and his wife noticed. He said he gets noticed more at shows or conventions, and it hasn’t had any negative impact on his life to date.
A no regrets kind of guy, he has stated he doesn’t give much thought to his legacy after he is gone. He prefers to just do his best to be as good a person as he can.
“[I] ry to do my best as a human being whatever I do each and every day.   Teaching, talking, and interacting with others each day gives an opportunity to make a difference.” he said.
Speaking of teaching, aside from being a public figure on Youtube, he is also a school teacher. We all had that one school teacher that stood out for us. For me, when I was in grade school I had a teacher that would keep me after school to teach me BASIC programming on the classroom’s Apple II computer. At the end of the school year, I was able to demonstrate my programming ability to the class by showing off the program I had written. It was a monochrome bit map recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars. It was programmed line by line. It sort was sort of animated but not much. To me it was just really cool to have a teacher that recognized my potential outside of the classroom to give me that opportunity. Mr. Hancock has demonstrated that himself by using his video games to teach his students.
“I offer my kids experiences playing classic gaming at the end of the year. This last year my students got to play the original Oregon Trail.” he said.
He also shared he gives considerable thought to his students who has also impacted his own life.
His true goal is preservation. He wants to tell the story of gaming history and keep an objective outlook on the early days of video games. He shares his collection through his own channel, The Immortal John Hancock, and with his friend MetalJesusRocks, who helped launch his channel, and his friend Drunken Master Paul, also on Youtube, who helped give him the nickname that has become a part of his branding.
As I look back on the games I gave up in order to fund my college education I find solace knowing there are people out there that aren’t chasing down the rare games just to horde them, you have people like The Immortal John Hancock, and others, actively trying to preserve video game history. I can’t even begin to imaging ever building my collection back up to where it was so I can at least tell people about this interesting man whose videos often remind me of all the fun I had chasing down those rare video games. Maybe someday I will get back into it, for now I will gladly keep an eye on my subscription feed for a new video from The Immortal John Hancock. You can find John Hancock on Twitter and Facebook.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 8

In this episode I talk about Disney pulling out of Netflix. Introduce my Youtube channel along with a few ideas for shows. I mentioned my thoughts on Tha Dogg Pound and their impact on the 90’s gangsta rap scene. I also talk about the Nintendo Switch as a hand held device and why I use it more as a home console than a portable system.

What was the best era for console gaming?

With every new console Generation The Fanboys always come out and start to ask the question, who won that particular console generation.

The question we never asked though his which console generation was the best. That’s the question I want to try to answer if I can.

I’m not going to number the generations partially because there’s too many of them and I really don’t know if I can keep track of all of them. Instead I’m thinking about just focusing on the generations as a whole or specific console Wars depending on the circumstances. For example the bit Wars covers the 8-Bit 16-bit 32-bit and 64-bit generation; but those Generations can further be divided up. So let’s get started.

First up the classic generation:

Discounting the pong consoles this generation refers to everything that starts with Atari 2600 and Magnavox Odyssey 2 and goes up to but not including the NES.

I’m not going to look at all of the different consoles I’m only going to look at this 3 that matter batard 2600 intellivision in the ColecoVision. For all intents and purposes the 5200 might as well have not even existed. ate same can be said for the Channel F and the Bally Astrocade.

Taken as a whole the Atari 2600 is really the standout. Now while I won’t discount the importance of the Intellivision or the ColecoVision in terms of their historical significance. I will say that the Atari 2600 pretty much defines that generation.

So when you look at it I do have a lot of fond memories as do most Gamers of the Atari 2600 and the other Atari games. What most people are remember from this early console generation is the Primitive arcade ports as well as the early attempts at differentiating console games from computer games.

Some standout games from the time include Frogger, Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, Popeye, Haunted House, Superman, ET, Q*bert, Asteroids, Millipede, Centipede, Moon Patrol, Pac-Man, Missile Command and Aventure. That’s not to say these were all the best games or that there weren’t other games but for the most part these are the ones that most people remember or that really stood out.

From a purely nostalgic perspective I have nothing but admiration for the Atari 2600. From historical perspective the significance that played could not be understated. However when you take it as a whole you could almost consider it the forgotten generation.

The 8-Bit era:

There are four machines that make up the 8-Bit console generation. You could argue there are more but the ones were going to focus on or the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Master System, the Turbo Graphix-16, and the Atari 7800 Prosystem.

This generation lasted a little bit longer than the classic generation and has a little bit more overlap. Most people depending on what region you live in are going to say that the NES is the only one that matters. But in certain regions the Sega Master System, or the PC Engine as the Turbo Grafx-16 mattered more, if not as much as the NES.

Most people remember the NES as the most standout system of this generation the Sega Master System, at least in the US, didn’t really have a breakout library or didn’t stand out as much as the NES (Famicom) did. If you’re looking at North America or even Europe the TG16 barely even existed.

Still because of YouTubers like the Angry Video Game Nerd & Pat the NES Punk, among countless others, the NES has become a defining console generation all on its own.

Some of the most memorable classics from the period include Ninja Gaiden, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Battletoads, Super Mario Brothers, Contra, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man, Ghosts and Goblins, Metroid and countless others.

The NES was also the first generation that really broke out from the arcades. While it did have a significant number of arcade ports most of them were intentionally redesigned for the Home console Market rather than just being inferior ports due to the hardware limitations as with previous console Generations. This allowed the NES library to stand on its own. The NES by itself could carry the entire 8-bit generation and taken as a whole when you add the TG16 and SMS library, (we won’t even count the 7800 because there’s no point), the generation itself is still very impressive and most memorable.

But I still don’t know if I could argue that it’s the best console generation. Certainly one of the more fun consoled generations though.

The 16-bit Wars:

It’s been debated all across School yards internet discussion boards and countless YouTube videos: who won The 16 bit Wars?

I’m going to limit this to the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. I’m not going to include add-ons like the Sega CD or the 32x partially because I consider those not technically consoles themselves but more or less accessories to the Sega Genesis.

If you limit yourself to the base systems the Super NES versus the Sega Genesis I’m not going to pick a winner because to me they’re about equal. Taken as a whole it’s certainly a superior generation to the 8-Bit generation in my opinion. Not only do you get to see continuations of series taken to their potential such as Super Metroid Super Mario World Zelda A Link to the Past Super Castlevania 4 TMNT Turtles in Time Contra 3 and dozens more. But even better you get to see the introduction of some really new, exciting iconic, gaming franchises. Some of the breakouts include Sonic the Hedgehog, Toejam & Earl, Vectorman, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, and one of the best selling console game franchises of all time, Madden NFL football.

Another thing that you see in the 16-bit generation, and one of the things that often defines it, is the rise of the Japanese RPG game or jrpg. Games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 3, Super Mario RPG, Breath of Fire, and Avtraiser; as well as Sega’s very own Shining Force and Phantasy Star, all make the RPG one of the defining genres of the generation.

You even get to see the beginnings of 3D gaming on home consoles with the likes of Star Fox, Doom, Donkey Kong Country, and a handful of other forgotten titles. Overall the 16-bit era is probably more fondly remembered than the previous generation. It’s debatable if the generation could be considered as historically accurate is the 8-Bit generation with the NES getting credited with Reviving The us video game Market.

Still I think taking is a hole I would put the 16-bit generation above the NES generation, excluding nostalgia.

The multi-media ara:

There’s not a lot to say about this one you have the Sega CD, the Turbo CD, the 3DO, and if you want to count it, the Philips CD-i. What you really saw what this generation was a push into full motion video or FMV and you saw a lot of ports of point & click adventure games from the PC. Pretty much all the rest that you saw or just a few slightly improved ports of games usually would just see the audio added or occasionally bonus levels, not typically anything worth getting excited for. 

The downside of this generation, however, was it was priced out of the range of most consumers. The Sega CD was a $300 add on to $150 console. The turbo CD was a $200 add on to $150 console. The CD-i, if you want to count it as a game system, was about $500 to $600 depending on if you wanted to get the video CD capabilities through the MPEG card to play those FMV games. And the Infamous 3DO was a whopping $700 when it launched. So most people didn’t even get an opportunity to experience the games for these four systems. Not to mention the fact that there was some overlap between these systems and the 32-bit generation that would follow immediately. Taken as a whole there’s really nothing at all worth getting excited about from any of those for platforms.

The 32-bit era:

Well this is going to technically include the 64-bit Nintendo 64 it’s going to focus mostly on the 32-bit CD based consoles: the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation.

For a lot of Gamers this is where things finally start to get very interesting. I’m not going to run down everything that makes this generation one of my personal favorites, because I do rag on it a lot. Instead I’m going to just say that the launch of the Sony PlayStation pretty much changed the entire landscape of the video game industry.

Taken as a whole the three library from these 3 consoles have dozens if not hundreds of masterpieces and hidden gems as well as several above-average to excellent games. On the Sega Saturn you have stuff like Panzer Dragoon, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Nights into dreams, the Virtua Fighter and Virtua cop series, as well as a few choice games.

On the N64 side you have masterpieces like Super Mario 64,  Star Fox 64, Star Wars Rogue Squadron, Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, and the introduction of the world famous Super Smash Bros.

Once you get to the Sony PlayStation you start finding awesome games like Tekken 3, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Crash Bandicoot, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, Grand Theft Auto and of course the game-changing Final Fantasy 7.

For me personally I typically have a hard time choosing between the Super NES and the Sony PlayStation as either my personal favorite or the greatest game console of all time. So for me taken as a whole that’s going to make this generation a contender for the best game console generation.

The PS2 era:

By the time the Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, a Nintendo GameCube all come along, the Bit Wars no longer matter.

Some people disagree over should the Dreamcast be included in this generation or the previous generation and I just lumped it in here to make this easy.

 I did a whole podcast or at least a section on the podcast on why I believed that this was the greatest console generation even if you take the Sega Dreamcast out of it. The Nintendo GameCube combined with the Gameboy player and even for good measure the eReader by itself make this one of the most unique and interesting console Generations. Once you add the massive PS2 Library, including all of the countless amazing titles too many to list, and you see the definitive PC in-a-box for the living room in the form of the Microsoft Xbox, you start to realize that home consoles have finally surpassed PC’s for the most part. You also start to see for the first time cutscenes combined with full motion video and pre-recorded dialog done in a way that almost matches a Hollywood production. I also look to this generation as one of the better ones because it is also one of the last Generations where the focus was still on Gameplay at its core. Still you have to take into consideration the nostalgia factor of some of the previous generations, as well as the historical significance.

The modern era and postmodern era:

Basically everything that came after the Xbox 360 to me is more PC than home console, Nintendo Wii excluded.

 the games felt for the most part more like interactive movies or intentional Throwbacks to previous generations. Even the Nintendo Wii, for all of the Innovation it gets credited for, it’s mostly known for its strong nostalgic Library not just in the form of the Virtual Console, but also the constant reissuing of games and compilations as well as all the remasters that were released for the system.

 looking at the PS3 and 360 Library I don’t see a whole lot of standout games that I think will be remembered fondly in the future. To that and I’m not seeing a whole lot of differentiation from the current generation as well considering it’s mostly just the same games with higher resolutions.

I think when you look at the whole of Gaming the period that starts in 1989 and ends in 2004 is what I would consider the best years of video games.

If I had to pick a true best console generation I think it would be a tie between the SNES/Sega Genesis 16 bit era and the Sony PlayStation/Sega Saturn/N64 era. What’s a very slight edge going to the 16 bit stuff.

Remembering DOS games

Every PC gamer worth their salt ought to have a memorable story of booting a game up on good old DOS. My first experience with DOS, that I can remember, was trying to load up this Pac-Man clone game on an old Apple II. I know Apple DOS was not the same as Microsoft but it was similar. I remember spending what felt like hours, but was probably only 20 minutes, typing and retyping commands to get the game configured and working. I don’t even remember what the game was called just it was running on my cousin’s old Apple II computer (and it was old at the time, this was early 90’s.) My first experience with MS DOS, the DOS most PC gamers think of when they hear the words DOS, was at a friends house. He was showing me his IBM clone PC with Windows 3.1. It was so much fancier than my cousins crappy Apple II. He showed me a game called Duke Nukem. I spent a few minutes playing the game. I think by the time I beat the first level I told him, yeah it’s, okay I guess but it’s no Sonic the Hedgehog. He agreed then showed me a game I knew my beloved Genesis didn’t have, Dungeons and Dragon’s Eye of the Beholder II Legend of Darkmoon. I can’t say I was blown away, but I was very impressed.

I was so hooked on playing PC games on my friends IBM-clone (that’s what we called them back then, we didn’t just say PC because there were dozens of types of PC’s back then.) I told him, dude you are so lucky to have this I want a computer so bad. He shrugged, then replied. No way dude, I’d trade it for a Sega Genesis straight across. I think what he envied about the Genesis was how the games just plugged into a cart slot and were ready to go. That was fine but what I envied about his machine was the complexity of the games verses the simplicity of console games. I wasn’t converted into a PC gamer overnight, but I was starting to see them in a different light.

It would be a few more years before I finally got my first PC of my own. Unfortunately it was just a decade’s old Atari 8-bit my dad found at a Goodwill store for a few bucks. Oh don’t get me wrong I was SO delighted just to have a computer I went whole hog into that machine. I became so obsessed my dad showed me the film WarGames to see what computers were like when that thing was still relevant. I was so excited. The problem was, I already had an Atari 2600 and this stupid thing really didn’t play games more advanced than what I was already getting there, for the most part. Oh well it was still a nice entry point for me, in 1996. By the summer of 1997 I would get my second old PC, a Commodore 64. This was at least a little closer in quality of games as the NES and there was a lot more variety in terms of products supported so I had a blast getting to know my retro computers. Finally I picked up a 486 PC clone, I honestly can’t remember the brand, in late 1998. It was a full on DOS machine. I started scrambling to grab any floppy disk that said DOS compatible at the thrift stores as I could. I quickly learned that having no experience prior with DOS, no instruction manual, and no clue what the hell I was doing, I ended up junking the thing out of frustration as I never could get even a single game to load up. Remember I didn’t have the internet yet, and our high school was just starting to get computers in the library, not even in the class rooms yet. So it would be another 2 years before I finally got my first, real, PC.

My great-grandmother passed away sometime in 1999 and her daughter, my grandma Frankie, used some of her inheritance money to buy my mom, and her kids (us) a computer. It was a Compaq Presario running Windows 98 SE. It had a modem built in! Oh and a CD-ROM! I was so excited to finally be working with a real computer, and it was actually current at the time we got it. I remember the specs even ingrained in my brain as I scrambled frantically to find games that would run, DOS or Windows I didn’t care. It was a 533 Mhz Pentium with 64 whopping Mega Bytes of SD RAM. It had a Soundblast compatible sound card, several new fangled USB ports, and a built-in modem for networking.

The first thing I did was go online and search download DOS games. I found a website that hosted all sorts of games for download. I grabbed both Duke Nukem games and Duke 3D, Wolfenstein, Jazz Jackrabbit, Eye of the Beholder Legend of Darkmoon, and a ton of others. I went nuts installing DOS games all day long. I started learning all the disk commands, fdisk especially, and going through all the settings trying to get each game configured perfectly. I also started buying new games on CD at K-Mart and Target. We didn’t have a Walmart yet so those were my choices. I would grab all sorts of those random 150 games packs with a ton of crap on them. We got You Don’t Know Jack, Myst, Who Wants to Beat Up A Millionaire, Doom, Quake, Unreal, Alone in the Dark, and several Star Wars games ranging from various X-Wing and Tie fighter games, Dark Forces, Force Commander, and plenty of others. By mid-2000 I was hooked I was a full fledged PC gamer. This didn’t mean I gave up console gaming entirely, I still had my trusty SNES/Genesis tag teaming it up in my bedroom, my newly acquired PS1 and N64 consoles I grabbed on my 18th birthday, and the aging NES sitting in my sisters room as she liked to play old Mario games still. The one PC game I enjoyed the most at that time was MechWarrior 2. I was so thrilled to finally be able to play that game on high settings for once.

By the time I finally got fully invested in PC gaming I started to realize I was in over my head. I was getting error messages all day long about this game not being compatible, this driver crashing something or other, or some blue screen of death kicking me out of my zone. The problem was I didn’t have a dedicated graphics card, not enough RAM for most games and was running on aging hardware with each passing month. I did buy a nice little Radeon graphics card, upped the RAM to 256MB from that paltry 64 it came with. I then replaced the CD-ROM with a CD Burner in hopes I could get more out of that machine. It was all in vein as none of the games I was buying at the time were able to run on this now outdated machine. So I finally used my own money for once to buy my own desktop PC. This was in 2003. I bought my own Compaq, this time I got one with 1Ghz CPU, 512MB ram stock expanded to 1GB and bought another Radeon GPU this one a little more expensive than the previous, and topped it off with a DVD-Burner because I felt I needed to be state of the art. Or as state of the art as my wallet would allow. The problem is that DVD burner changed my priorities. With DSL internet, a larger hard drive (the original Compaq my mom bought had a 20GB drive I expanded with a 10GB slave drive) Mine came with a 80 GB drive I replaced with a 200 GB drive and stuck a 100 GB drive in the slave slot. I was shifting from games to movie downloading. I had a DVD burner so that meant I could download entire movies, burn them to a DVD and, hope the copyright police never found out what I was doing. I never sold movies but I did eventually discover the legality was not as gray as I was lead to believe and stopped cold turkey once I got my first copyright notice from my cable company. I was shocked into walking away.

Getting back to games. I didn’t really stick with DOS for too long. I dabbled in it off and on in the 90’s, grabbed a few DOS games off the internet in 2000 and 2001, then migrated to Windows games before giving up on PC gaming for the most part. I still game on the PC today, but it’s far less than I used to. I stick to the ease of use I get from PS4 and Nintendo and save my PC for games I either can’t get on a console (like Guild Wars) or games where the console experience is so lacking it’s not worth it (like the Sims or Sim City) The rest of my PC gaming is done through emulators. Unlike some PC gamers, I don’t really look back on the DOS era with rose tinted glasses. I remember a few games fondly enough, but the whole experience was such a mess I gladly traded performance and graphics for the simplicity of consoles.

A look at the Sega Saturn from the perspective of a Sega fan

I got my Sega Genesis for my 12th birthday in 1994. I instantly fell in love with that thing. The first game I played was the amazing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that came bundled with my soon-to-be favorite game console for several years. Prior to getting a Genesis I couldn’t really say I was a fanboy or even just a fan of any platform. I had an NES, and before that we had an Atari. Before that I did all my gaming at the arcade.

As someone who was a HUGE fan of video arcades and arcade games the Genesis was a blast. By the time the Sega CD and 32X came along I was seriously contemplating buying either or both of those upgrades to gladly keep my Genesis alive. But things started to really turn around the closer the Saturn came to launching. The hype began building up. I starting to really consider saving all of my after school money I was earning from throwing newspapers, mowing lawns, and working in the corn fields on the side.

At the time, what drew me to the prospect of wanting to get a Sega Saturn was a combination of my love for the Genesis, arcade games, and the transition to the new world of 3D gaming. As the 90’s dragged on a few things started to become apparent to me early on. First thing I noticed about the Saturn was the lack of games. Remember when you are a kid flipping threw the gaming magazines all you have to go on is the information they offer. I didn’t have any way of knowing what games were coming out unless Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Pro, or Sega Visions told me about it. Considering Sega Visions ceased following the launch of the Saturn, I didn’t really have much faith in the new product early on. I can’t say I “knew” it was going to fail. Far from it, I wanted one but I wasn’t sold to the point of I have to have one.

Whenever I would read a review of a Saturn game and the reviewers would point out how the game felt rushed, incomplete, buggy, or some other similar phrasing, I started to get skeptical. I distinctly remember reading a review for Virtua Fighter where the reviewer flat out said skip the Saturn and stick to the much cheaper 32X version. I also remember reading a really lousy review for the Saturn version of Mortal Kombat II, a game that was running smooth on the Super NES! I felt like if the Saturn can’t even handle a game both 16 bit consoles did okay, not to mention the 32X version was a huge selling point on making me want a 32X, I started to get a bad feeling about Saturn. That’s not to say it didn’t have games I wanted to play, just not very many must have games were jumping out at me.

The few games I was interested in, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Cop and Sonic 3D Blast, all looked like they weren’t really showing off the true potential for what the Saturn was promising to do. At the time as I kept reading reviews of mediocre games, articles on how poorly the Saturn was selling, and the more I would see game after game getting announced for the new Sony Playstation and with no Saturn version planned, the more I started to lose interest. By the time the N64 finally started to make waves I had all but moved on from the Saturn. I wouldn’t give it another thought until the day my friend showed me his brand new Dreamcast. My reaction was, oh, when did they kill of the Saturn? I honestly stopped paying attention. As a self-proclaimed Sega fan this bothered me. I was saddened that the Dreamcast was already out and pushing the Saturn into obscurity. I also felt bad that I had missed my chance to get in on Saturn when it was still current tech. Then the more I looked into it, the more I realized, I wasn’t missing out on much.

I realize that over the years the prevailing attitude of the majority of sheeple on the web has shifted from thinking the Saturn was a mess of a console, to the Saturn was an overrated piece of junk to now it being considered a hidden gem or an underrated masterpiece. Whatever your attitude is, keep in mind this is a reflection from the perspective of someone whose whole life revolved around the Genesis.

At the time, as in during it’s life span I went through many phases. The first phase was excitement for a new console from Sega. This phase didn’t last long. I was already torn between wanting to get a 32X to give my Genesis new life, to wanting to save up money for a Saturn when it arrived. I even remember reading about the E3 thing, a whole month later in a magazine, thinking, what just happened?

I had been following the PSX and Saturn launch hype for months so I was shocked to learn Sega blew their wad and was now seeing all their hype fizzle. I maintained some hype for while, thinking erroneously Sony wouldn’t last. My logic was Playstation was too similar to the doomed 3DO. I ended up being wrong but more on that down the way.

My attitude started shifting as I started reading reviews. I kept holding out hope with each review that maybe the next game would prove to be worth owning. I would demo some of these games at local stores from time to time, so I wasn’t relying entirely on other people’s impressions. Still, the reviews were not doing the system many favors. There were a few hidden gems along the way but at the time I kept thinking this is not a good score. At first I thought everyone was judging the console unfairly. But looking back I think the opposite, I think they were being too soft because they didn’t want to accept Sega was messing up so bad.

When I realized the Saturn was in trouble was about the time I read a review, or even a preview, for the game Virtua Fighter Kids. My 13-year-old brain thought, wow, that’s a stupid idea for a game. Even then I felt like the system must be in trouble if they are resorting to such an obvious cash grab knowing full well it was just a cheap way to get another game on stores shelves in a big hurry for minimal effort. I knew that if this was the case the system was in trouble. All it really took was flipping through the magazine past thew 2-3 pages of Saturn games before stumbling upon the 8 or more pages of Playstation games to start to realize, Sony was getting all the love. Remember N64 wouldn’t be on the scene for a whole year later and even as I started reading articles on the upcoming Ultra 64 I started to get worried the Saturn was in trouble. By the time the N64 came out I had already forgotten about the 32 bit consoles and was already buying into the 64 bit hype train. I ended up dropping the money to get an N64 on launch day.

Looking back the most obviously issue with Saturn was the games. A few years later after I had grown up, gotten a job and began collecting video games as a hobby I went back and dug into the Saturn library. Unfortunately the passage of time was not a friend of the console. The games that would have blown me away in 1995/1996 had I gotten a chance to experience them then, were severely outdated in 2004 when I was buying them up. I didn’t go after any of the super rare or ultra expensive games, but I had a decent enough assortment when it was all said and done. In the end my Saturn collection consisted of X-Men Children of the Atom, Sonic 3D Blast, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, Sonic 2, Virtua Cop 1 and 2, NiGHTS into Dreams, Bug!, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Revolution X, Daytona USA, World Series Baseball, Mortal Kombat 3, Gex, even Tomb Raider. I might have had a couple other games but honestly nothing stood out in my mind as particularly noteworthy. I felt NiGHTS was so overrated I became very hostile to the Sega bots online that insisted I was playing it wrong. No, the game just didn’t appeal to me, at all. The fighting games were mediocre at best, the X-Men game was fun but not worth the asking price. Panzer Dragoon felt too bloated for what was basically a Star Fox type game which I wasn’t a big fan of Star Fox either. While I did enjoy Virtua Cop 1 and 2, and even as bad as it was to some people, I really had a lot of fun playing Bug! and Sonic 3D Blast. The rest of the games were just, eh nothing special.

I since went back and checked out much more of the consoles library via emulation. However that’s shoddy at best. The real trouble with Saturn collecting is all the expensive games aren’t worth the price you pay. Even if a game was on both PS1 and Saturn it could go for 3-4 times as much money on Saturn than PS1, and for all intents and purposes they’d be basically the same game. I grew so disgusted with Saturn collecting it was the first system I sold off. I traded it into a used retro game store for a big box of GameCube games and never regretted it.

I think the Saturn did have potential, but the truth is, I think most of that potential was too little, too late. Sega squandered all of their good will with Genesis fans before they even launched the Saturn. As the months turned to years I started to lose interest in the system. Today, even if I had the money I probably wouldn’t buy very many Saturn games. The console is, in my opinion, vastly overrated. It’s good for a few quick arcade ports and it has a handful of great hidden gems if you got the money to seek them out. The majority if the library, however, is available elsewhere for far less money. The handful of true exclusives aren’t even all worth the price of admission making Saturn truly a collector’s console.