I’ve told this story a number of times to my friends over the years, but I never had actually written it down. I felt it was time to do that!
This is all about my history with my Sega game consoles and the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. It holds a lot of meaning for me – so significant, that my homepage even says it If you know me, there’s a 99.9% chance you already knew that to some degree – after all, it’s in my domain name!
My Entry into Sonic & Retro (Sega) Gaming
Long ago, I was stumbling around YouTube, and I encountered some meme videos. I was curious about them, and from them, I was introduced to & found interest in Sonic the Hedgehog. It wasn’t long until I got to play the original Genesis titles online, and had a lot of fun with them! On PC, I got to play the original, Sonic 2, and 3(&K).
After some time of this, I was having a retro gaming craze of sorts. I already really found vintage computers very interesting, but I was finding myself taking interest in retro gaming hardware as well, and had done a lot of reading about it. I really wanted to get my hands on a real Sega console! I was just a young teen saving up money at the time – but I really wanted one.
All about the Sega Nomad
In August of 2011, I managed to score my first game console – a Sega Nomad, for $60 at an eBay auction! It’s a nifty little handheld gaming device, that’s legitimately a whole Sega Genesis console’s worth of hardware, control buttons, a small speaker and a small LCD crammed into a relatively-portable package.
There were two main problems with the console – first, the STN LCD was very blurry and low-quality. As any LCD of the type, which as far as I know was most any color LCD back in the nineties, it suffered from severe ghosting due to a slow response time. TFT panels existed by the mid-’90s, but clearly it was cost-prohibitive to put such a thing in an already-expensive console handheld launched at $180.
The other problem was the battery life. Naturally. As anyone with one of these things will know, to run unplugged from a 9V DC power supply (same as Genesis model 2/3), you need an extra battery pack that slides & locks into the back of the device that holds six AA batteries! Whew! And this thing burned through them, too – in a couple hours, all six of your batteries were toast! I can’t imagine that to have been seen any better back in the day, with the higher costs of these electronics then.
Otherwise though, it’s a pretty nifty little device. Personally, I didn’t find the screen blur to ruin the experience for me – not even as an avid Sonic player – though it certainly isn’t great, especially if you’re used to today’s screens.
Now, the funny thing is that the Nomad has been found by Genesis enthusiasts to actually be the highest-quality version of the console! Many Sega Genesis revisions were made, and many more than just the models 1, 2, and 3. No, there were many revisions within those. They were cost-cutting measures, so generally the newer revisions weren’t as good in terms of video and/or audio quality. The model 3 is the worst one, and ideally the earliest-revision Model 1s are the best. The Nomad, however, was found to have the least of these issues.
All that aside, I had a lot of fun playing on the Nomad. What really wound up bugging the hell out of me was that apparently these things are quite prone to cracked solder joints in the DC jack! When this happens, if you wiggle the cord, the console will turn off. A terrible thing, especially in the case of the majority of the game library which did not feature game saves!
The issue begun getting really bad, and I wound up buying another second-hand Nomad for about the same price. It too developed this problem. Bummer!
Now, fortunately it wasn’t all completely useless to me, because besides somehow achieving the unnatural task of remaining still while playing a handheld console, I had gotten sixteen Enercell NiMH rechargeable AA batteries from my local RadioShack! They gave me a deal on getting all that stuff, and a speedy charger to go along with it. (I can’t remember what I paid.) I got about two hours of gameplay time, at which I then could progressively charge those up with the four-bay charger, while doing some more gaming with the other six readied ones!
Doing it this way, I had a lot of fun back then playing a few different titles, a couple of which were Outrun 2019 and Road Rash II, but most of all it was Sonic 3 & Knuckles!
(Retrospect: Around 2016, when I learned how to solder, I would come back and fix both consoles’ DC jacks. I also managed to source a third Nomad on the cheap in 2019!)
My Sega Genesis & Dreamcast
In the beginning of 2012, I bought another console second-hand – this time, I got the Genesis model 1.
Finally, no more DC jack trouble! I played this Genesis I had a trash-picked Emerson EWF2006 19″ CRT TV that worked great and its image looked absolutely gorgeous – it was perfect. And to top it all off, I got two Sega MegaFire controllers, which featured a switch above each of the three buttons to either rapid-fire a button without pushing, rapid-fire only when pushing, and normal (non rapid-fire) functionality. I had a blast with it all!
The model 1 only had mono audio output via the AV cable, strangely enough. I wound up routing a 3.5mm audio cable out the front and into my TV, to get that sweet stereo sound.
The Sonic Adventure
By the time of mid-2012, I wound up getting a Dreamcast for just $40. I also got Re-Volt and Toy Commander, two unique and very fun little games on the system. Definitely recommended by me, if you’re looking for games to try! I was getting interested in trying the Sonic Adventure series out for more Sonic experience, seeing as I was already such a fan. Though, I just wasn’t so sure I wanted to take the chance of spending money on them, due to conflicting opinions of the games. Adventure was about $20, but Adventure 2 was a whopping $60!
Well, in August, I met someone who was also a Sonic fan, who took interest in my playing around with my Sega Nomad and told me all about how great the Adventure games are. He had played the Genesis Sonic titles too, but then got to see Sonic on a whole new level with Adventure 1 & 2!
Lo and behold, he wound up finding his own copy of the games, and wound up lending them to me. I got to play them, and man, oh man – although initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about the games, I was blown away! Especially with Adventure 2. That game blew my mind. By the time I played it to the story end, that was the most amazing, thrilling experience I had in a video game.
Still today, 10 years later, I remember that experience. I also still have the discs as he never had asked for them back. I haven’t heard from him in a long time – dude, if you’re out there reading this, thank you so much. These games really blew me away. They’ve made me a huge fan of Sonic, which already had a big impression on me – but this really made it all the more significant. Oh yeah, and let me know if you want your discs back. That’s important too.
My Connection with Sonic
A big part in this isn’t only the fact that I had fun playing around with the old game consoles, no – a lot of it is also in the fact that I identify a lot with Sonic.
Specifically, I’m talking about the character – the speedy blue boy himself. I find him to be a great influence. He has a lot of great qualities; he’s energetic, confident, bold, brave and strong, but yet also kind, thoughtful and caring for his friends. Anyone can agree that’s a great list of qualities!
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that he won me over. I’m not even certain what it is, but that isn’t necessary to me because what I do know is very meaningful. I have a strong admiration for him, even if he’s a fictional character. He’s inspired me to become a much better person overall, and that means a lot!
I never talked about this for a number of years – much less posted online about it – but over time with talking to others, I’ve been able to find quite a bit of people who feel the same as me about him, and I think that’s a very wholesome thing! There’s plenty of videos on YouTube of peoples’ character analysis of Sonic, and many have such glowingly-positive things to say about him, just like I do.
It may well sound funny, but it really is real. Whatever it is, anything that brings you positivity and makes you a better person, is something certainly worth having in your life!