Sega Genesis

June 18, 2008

If I had to pinpoint two things that remind me most of my childhood, I’d have to go with orange Flintstones Push-Pops and the greatest video game console known to man, Sega Genesis. For my money (read: allowance) it didn’t get much better than finishing the night’s homework to earn an hour of gameplay in the quiet comfort of my basement. Surrounded by stacks of cheat books for Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, I’d go to work, fingers dancing across the sleek three button controller. On the weekends, my friends and I would engage in battle: NBA Jam tournaments, head-to-head races for rings on Sonic the Hedgehog, epic face-offs on Street Fighter and adrenaline-fueled match ups in countless EA Sports games. With Mortal Kombat alone we’d spend hours trying to master the damn near impossible “Fatality” codes. Remember how you used to have to enter the button combinations at warp speed? It’s partially due to that game alone that I can type faster than 30 words-per-minute.

Some might argue that Super Nintendo was the superior 16-bit system. This is simply not the case. What Sega may have lacked in graphics, it more than made up for in gameplay and breadth of game library. Talk about Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam, Earthworm Jim, Eternal Champions, NHL’s 94, 95 and 96 (!!!!), Road Rash, Lion King, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (!), Shaq Fu, Primal Rage, Triple Play Baseball…the list goes on. (If I’m forgetting any great ones, don’t hesitate to add on).

In today’s way-too-real realm of video games, Xbox 360’s and Nintendo Wii’s are flying off the shelves. Yet I’ll always prefer the simplicity of Sega to systems where I have to effectively play Twister to touch all of the buttons on the controller or have the dexterity and agility of an Olympic athlete just to be competitive. Plug in that cartridge, hit the “ON” button and let’s go. SEEEEEEEEEGGGGAAAAAAAA.

In a series that oozed ’80s nostalgia, the Celtics ousted the Lakers in six games to win their 17th NBA championship and first since 1986. The Celts consistently proved themselves to be the superior team and took game six by a punishing 39-point margin. All this despite myriad adversity: Paul Pierce’s knee, Rajon Rondo’s ankle, Kendrick Perkins’ shoulder, Ray Allen’s son’s illness, Doc Rivers.

I personally can’t stand Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and therefore rooted whole-heartedly for the Celtics. I was thrilled to see first-class players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen get their first rings and happy that Paul Pierce was able to redeem himself after a roller coaster career in Boston (a topic covered in detail in this week’s Sports Illustrated).

While I’m a bigger fan of the college game, I found myself particularly engaged in this year’s playoffs perhaps due to the intrigue of a Celtics-Lakers match up. The level of play was awe-inspiring at times, especially that of Finals MVP Paul Pierce who legitimately willed his team to victory. In Garnett and Allen, Boston also has two players that seem like respectable human beings, a rare find in professional sports these days. It’s frustrating when the marquee athletes in each major sport (Bryant, Bonds, TO) come off as complete assholes. Personalities such as these are hard to stomach and often deter me from enjoying the sport. When Boston was showered in confetti tonight, I could actually say that the good guys won.