Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the Sega Genesis, also known as the Mega Drive in other parts of the world, in North America. To celebrate the life of the little black box that gave the “Big N” a run for their money in the 90’s, I’m going to look at ways in which Sega affected comic book games with the Sega Genesis.
1) FIRST-PARTY COMIC BOOK GAMES
Comic book games nowadays come from third-party publishers (Activision, WB Games, Capcom, etc) but in the days of the Genesis, Sega published some themselves, including Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin (or simply Spider-Man,) Batman Returns, The Adventures of Batman and Robin and several X-Men games on both the Genesis and the Game Gear handheld. According to the resume of one Randel B Reiss, who developed Marvel games for the Sega Genesis, over 2/3’s of people who owned the console purchased a Marvel game, effectively causing the comic publisher to extend a licensing agreement they planned to cancel.
2) FIRST TO MARKET 16-BIT COMIC BOOK GAMES
Sega raced Nintendo to the 16-bit market when they released the Genesis in 1989, but they also produced some of the first 16-bit super hero games, including the above mentioned Spider-Man. While not the first 16-bit X-Men game to be released, that would be LJN’s Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge, Sega’s X-Men was the first ever official 16-bit console X-Men game to feature just the mutant team, and also the only one to get a sequel in X-Men 2: Clone Wars.
3) THE HOME OF THE PUNISHER
Arcade ports were big business in the 16-bit era, as evidenced by the fight between Sega and Nintendo to get Capcom’s Street Fighter II on their respective machines. A majority of ports: Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat’s 1-3 made it to both machines, however the only way to play Capcom’s The Punisher at home outside of owning a several thousand dollar arcade cabinet was to buy it for the Sega Genesis.
4) THE BEST VERSION OF CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE AVENGERS
Data East’s arcade game beat-em-up Captain America and The Avengers was ported to every handheld and console available at the time. Versions on the NES, Game Boy and Game Gear were derivations of the arcade game at best, or simply shared the title in the case of the NES SKU. The closest representation of the arcade experience at home is in the official port to the Sega Genesis from Data East. A lot of licensed arcade classics, like Konami’s X-Men and The Simpsons have made it to download services like XBLA and PSN with near arcade perfection, yet we haven’t seen, and probably won’t see, a port of Captain America and The Avengers. Outside of illegal emulation, you need a Genesis to play this officially, and for the love of which ever deity you believe in, DO NOT PLAY THIS ON SNES!!!
5) COMIX ZONE
Sega as a company has always had a reputation of making quirky off the wall games through to their days of become a third-party developer after the unfortunate death of the Dreamcast (…sniff…) Toe Jam and Earl, Space Channel 5, Seaman and Decap Attack are just some of the examples of this. Though not based on a comic book property, Sega released a game late in the cycle of the system called Comix Zone about a comic book artist who was transported into the pages of his creation where the action literally took place in the panels of a comic that the protagonist could move between. It’s a game I hope to cover in the future, and is available to download on both PSN and XBLA if you don’t happen to have access to a Genesis.
Not to spit in the eye of an anniversary, but I’ve stated in previous articles a tad bit of disdain for the system (I grew up exclusively with Nintendo systems.) That being said, I realized that I’ve given the Genesis the short end of the stick in-game coverage and felt a little ashamed that I couldn’t spotlight a Genesis game this week, not even knowing it had an anniversary on Thursday. Two games I’m not in possession of but really want to cover are both Sunsoft games: Batman (based on the film) and Batman: Revenge of the Joker, a port of the 8-bit game that I enjoyed quite a bit. When I get the opportunity to get my hands on these, as well as Comix Zone (I’m a bit of a purest who likes to play things the way they were meant to be played) you’ll see the review here, so stay tuned!!!