Monday, January 26, 2015

You're Never Too Old to Play Sega Saturn

I've been pretty busy on the writing front lately, between Discotek Media's Horus, Prince of the Sun DVD and Ghibli Blog. This weekend, I put away the work and spent my time slacking off and playing video games. This becomes a rare luxury when you reach my age; being a grownup is a full-time job.

I dusted off my Sega Saturn, the Japanese model in the eggshell white, and spent most of my time playing through Steep Slope Sliders, Cave's excellent snowboarding game from 1997. The graphics still look wonderful, in that squarish Sega Saturn style; the gameplay is still sublime. I find myself competing endlessly for higher scores on the courses. Another hill over here, another drop over there. I could work in another 720 backflip over the railroad tracks if I time it right...

I can only imagine what today's teenager, with a new Playstation 4 and its earth-shattering technology, would think of this. Could they even stand to look at these old, blocky, chunky, ugly graphics? Could they bear the horror of a controller that doesn't have dual analog sticks and 18 buttons? Do they even have the gameplay skills, after years of sitting quietly, idly watching the millionth Call of Duty movie cut-scene? Who knows? Who cares. If they can't grok greatness, then it's their loss. I feel sorry that they missed out on arcade video games.

It's probably true that, as the old folks say, "you had to be there." Playing Sega Saturn in the Year of Our Lord 2015 is one part nostalgia, one part defiance. I'm rebelling against the passage of time and its erosion of all things I hold dear. But I'm also having a lot of fun playing Sega Saturn, and enjoying myself in the present. These are the greatest toys ever invented, and when its creators became obsessed with "creating art," something very crucial was lost in the equation.

Why can't Sega release a new video game system that plays all the old hits from their classic consoles? There has to be a market for a "Netflix of Video Games." Somebody just has to get off their butts and remember what video games were like, before the industry was taken over by Hollywood Envy. And I'll bet I could win those teenagers over to the charms of Sega Saturn. Just a couple runs on Steep Slope Sliders, enough to get the blood pumping. That should do the trick.

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