The last thirty years have seen computer games move from pixellated bats intercepting juddering phosphorescent squares to the hyper-realistic GPU powered content found on the current generation Xbox or Playstation. Somewhere near the beginning of this timeline, a young gamer, used to the garishly coloured sprites of the Spectrum and creme coloured chassis of the BBC Micro was walking through an anonymous Red Brick Council Estate. His destination, an erstwhile peer’s bungalow and onwards onto a pub that they were both way too young to actually be allowed into. Invited into the friend’s room, the gamer saw a smooth black square attached to a tiny TV on a desk. The occupier of the room had been lucky enough to be an early adopter of the Sega Mega Drive.
The future screamed from the screen as a black suited Ninja mowed down enemies with well timed shuriken, sudden sword slashes and chanted magic. The difference in graphical quality with contemporary machines and the accessible controller stunned the young gamer, evicting all other thoughts. Like the proverbial Helen that launched a thousand ships, this experience with silicon beauty launched a future spent interfacing with machines and crafting games for the youngster.
Many years later a number of gamers, developers and reviewers looked back on similar experiences with fond memories, which Darren Wall channeled, launching a Kickstarter project, which would go on to capture the definitive story of the machine.
The output of the Kickstarter as an artefact is lush. The large grey, well bound hardback book with a subtly rendered Mega Drive on the front cover, opens into a tome containing all the data a Sega completist would enjoy. Each page is crafted to evoke nostalgia in the original lucky generation and will give readers an exact view of the thought and industrial design that went into creating the silicon and plastic dream machine. The artwork is suitably impressive, with a range of full colour pages containing annotated Mega Drive blueprints, some of the best game cover art this side of Sonic, game sprite colour plates and shots of the various hardware revisions and peripherals. A history of the creation and trajectory of the machine is included, as well as interviews with such luminaries as Yuji Naka the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog and Yu Suzuki the director behind Space Harrier and Out Run.
Elegantly rendered, the book is such a perfectly bound time capsule for Sega console connoisseurs, that it could only be improved if opening the front cover caused the words, “SE-GAAA” to vibrate from the pages.