A couple months ago I decided that I wanted to re-experience some of the games that helped define my childhood. Specifically, I wanted to explore the Sega Genesis library and revisit games that were attached to some really fond memories.

The Genesis was in my sister’s room, while I had the SNES and NES hooked up in mine. As a result I didn’t get to play it as much as I wanted, as my sister wasn’t too keen on me being in her room, especially since I had a tendency to hang her Barbie dolls from the ceiling fan and engage in other such sibling nonsense.

For me, the Genesis experience was mostly confined to a bunch of sweaty preteen guys jammed in a hot bedroom during the summer break, staying up literally all night taking turns playing games like Sonic the Hedgehog or Mortal Kombat.

I’ve lost touch with some of those friends and family over the years, and some are no longer living, but those memories have stayed with me. I found my old Sega Genesis equipment, but sadly most of the games had been lost, and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about trying to hook it up to our newer TVs, so I opted to splurge on an Analogue Mega SG (Retail Price $189.99). The Mega SG plays Sega Genesis cartridges, and is capable of playing Master System and Game Gear games as well.

The Mega SG hooks to the TV with HDMI and miraculously maintains the sound and picture of the older games as faithfully as one can without hooking the old system to an old TV. I just want to reiterate here, this thing makes the games look and sound absolutely fantastic on modern televisions. Couple that with a wireless controller (sold separately), and you have a sleek, functional system capable of playing all of your old favorites as they were mean to be played without the issues with sound and color associated with some emulators.

Now, I know that there have been various Sega Genesis collections over the years, as well as the Genesis mini, and many of the games that the Genesis is remembered for are available for next to nothing on PC, so why drop a couple hundred bucks on a system like this? For me the answer was pretty simple. Ease of use and hook up was one consideration, but the main reason has to do with the availability of games. The collections I mentioned earlier are virtually all first party titles, with a few extras thrown in there.

A lot of games that I really loved growing up were licensed titles that are unlikely to ever be made available again outside of emulators, and I’ve never been overly enthusiastic about emulators. The games that I wanted to play included some of the more ubiquitous titles like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Vectorman, but also titles like Taz in Escape From Mars, Batman Forever, and Jurassic Park, each of which were really important games for me as a kid

As it turns out, there’s a whole library of games like those out there sporting characters from Disney, Looney Tunes, and various movie franchises that we are never going to see re-released. I can guarantee that each of them was someone’s favorite game, and the Mega SG gives us the ability to replay them in all their glory, or to explore games that we never got around to playing because Santa didn’t pay enough attention to what we had circled in the Sears catalog all those years ago.

Are these the best games out there for the Genesis? Not necessarily. But that’s the fun in nostalgia. Sometimes I pick up a game like Batman Forever after a couple decades and realize that it just doesn’t hold up well at all, despite how much I might have loved it as a kid. Other games, like Taz in Escape From Mars actually hold up really well, and has been a great introduction to the world of 16-bit platformers for my own children.

My oldest daughter is 9. Her favorite games are Super Lucky’s Tale (first game she ever beat!) and Animal Crossing. She was incredulous about the fact that when she used up her lives she was taken to a continue screen and the beginning of the level. But then she hit continue, and kept on trying to make progress in a game that I never quite finished, and that alone was worth the price of the only gaming system I keep hooked up to the main TV in the house for my family to play.

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