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Sega On The Wire
December 30, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

OVer a decade before PSN and XBLA there was Sega Channel.

Debuting at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show and active between 1994 and 1998, Sega Channel streamed games over a cable network and into a Sega Genesis/MegaDrive console.

In its time, Sega Channel was covered by Advertisement Age, Popular Science and the New York Times.

You can watch television promos and gameplay footage.
posted by griphus (29 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh Sega. Always a little too ahead of your times. I remember playing tons of Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast, but it would be almost 7 years before people -really- started feeling the online play for consoles.
posted by yeloson at 8:24 AM on December 30, 2010


Yeah, Sega's hardware ventures have always been Too Soon: Sega Channel and PSO, 3D glasses for the Master System, Sega CD's real capability was never really harnessed, the 32X ... oh god, the 32X.
posted by griphus at 8:30 AM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh Sega. Always a little too ahead of your times.

Indeed.

posted by Dr-Baa at 8:30 AM on December 30, 2010


3D glasses for the Master System

The master system had everything first. Remember the games that were delivered via credit-card with a sim-looking chip on them?

I loved that system, but it was about 10 years old when I got it so I couldn't get any new games or accessories. That didn't stop me from lustily reading about all the awesome accessories in the instruction manuals.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:46 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


...the Game Gear, the TV Tuner for the Game Gear, the Nomad...
posted by griphus at 8:48 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I spent years obsessing over this game. It was so infuriatingly difficult.

Why'd Sega get out of the hardware game? I thought dreamcast was a hit?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:08 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The PS2 practically destroyed it. The fact that piracy for it was as simple as downloading and burning a disc image didn't help.
posted by griphus at 9:15 AM on December 30, 2010


Bummer. We used to play PSO at my cousins house. I remember being dumbstruck when he told me that he had just burnt it to a disc and it worked.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:17 AM on December 30, 2010


We had Sega Channel in one of my off-campus apartments for a year or two. The offerings were a total mixed bag, but it was a really neat service, and way ahead of its time.

(But the Sega Channel cartridge on top of a 32x on top of a Genesis on top of a Sega CD--even before you add in the multitaps, that was a monstrosity.)
posted by box at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


(But the Sega Channel cartridge on top of a 32x on top of a Genesis on top of a Sega CD--even before you add in the multitaps, that was a monstrosity.)

Shit that just sounds like a fire hazard.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:35 AM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was suckered into getting the Sega CD — although it was a disappointment, I still loved it.

I couldn't talk my parents into Sega Channel though. Bummer. My gamer mag of choice was EGM, back then. Anyone else remember it? I wonder if it was as funny as I remember it.
posted by defenestration at 9:56 AM on December 30, 2010


Yeah, EGM was great; they're the ones that had the masked ninja reviewer, right? I had a subscription to Video Games Magazine as a kid (the sister mag to Tips and Tricks.) My all-time favorite mag was GameFan, though. So thick! So well designed!
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on December 30, 2010


Why do all TV promos from 1996 geared towards 12 year-olds look exactly the same?
posted by spamguy at 10:05 AM on December 30, 2010


I read EGM religiously when I was younger, but my all-time favorite game magazine from around this time would have to be Game Players / UGP. The editors had kind of a twisted sense of humor; the whole thing felt more like some off-kilter indie zine rather than a well-staffed publication.

God, this post brings back memories. I had a friend who had Sega Channel, and going over to his place was always a Very Big Deal (he also had a totally sweet Amiga computer with a big trackball and a ton of games, which was all foreign and wonderful to me). Seeing what games Sega had on tap at the moment was exciting. They had a constantly-changing pool of games to choose from, if memory serves. It was great. Lots of Streets of Rage 3 action went down.

I miss Sega's hardware offerings, too. I was quite the partisan Sega fanboy for the longest time. I'd love to see them have another go at it. Even if it had its flaws, the Dreamcast was an awesome console, and I got a lot more mileage out of it than any of its contemporaries.
posted by kryptondog at 10:38 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't miss the loading times of my Dreamcast. Whiiiiiiirrrr wick wick wick whirrrrrr wick clunk wick whirrrrrrrr (repeat for 10 minutes).
posted by tmt at 10:55 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even if it had its flaws, the Dreamcast was an awesome console, and I got a lot more mileage out of it than any of its contemporaries.

I don't miss the loading times of my Dreamcast. Whiiiiiiirrrr wick wick wick whirrrrrr wick clunk wick whirrrrrrrr (repeat for 10 minutes).

One of my neighborhood friends had one. I remember playing Ready to Rumble and Powerstone for 5 hours when he first got it. When I snapped out of it and stood up, my 12 year old hands were these achy, arthritic claws. I had managed to abrade my thumbprints off.

Was that the most terrible controller design ever?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:00 AM on December 30, 2010


Maybe in ten more years the Nintendo channel will be as good as today's XBL.
posted by meowzilla at 11:04 AM on December 30, 2010


At the time Sega Channel was like a dream come true for me. I can remember getting up early before school on the day of the month it would switch to a new set of games and then all day anticipate coming home from school and playing the new games (or returning favorites). I had a friend with it too so we'd often compare notes, especially on those days. I spent a serious chunk of time glued to the TV in my basement room during the time I had Sega Channel; it was pretty much a religion for me my devotion and adoration was so complete. Having since gotten used to the Internet and Everything On Demand it just wouldn't feel the same at all if it debuted today, but at the time I found it to be such a treasure. What I'm saying is that it consumed my life lololol

There's a game I've been trying to recall for years that I only ever played through Sega Channel. It was two players, and the gameplay if I remember right was like arcadey kill-everyone-on-the-other-team utilizing all kinds of weapons, including a flame thrower I think. I want to say the battling all took place on a single screen, and it was fast paced mayhem with a comedic military theme if I recall correctly. I can remember playing this game addictively with my friend, it had quite the reputation among us from all the laughter it caused due to its over the top action and fast pace. Can anyone identify this game? I don't remember enough of it, the two teams might have been red and blue, and I'm 90% sure there was a flamethrower and military theme, but most everything including the name escapes me, and it's possible I'm wrong about some of the details I've given. But does the description ring a bell for anyone?

Oh, and Mutant League anything never got old. Memories!
posted by palidor at 11:29 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


...battling all took place on a single screen, and it was fast paced mayhem with a comedic military theme... the two teams might have been red and blue, and I'm 90% sure there was a flamethrower and military theme...

Super Smash TV?
posted by rh at 11:38 AM on December 30, 2010


Other early game networks offering subscribers downloadable content (according to Wikipedia): Hard to imagine using anything other than bits over TCP/IP now. So... exotic!
posted by rh at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2010


It was probably Total Carnage, which was developed by the SSTV people, iirc. I'd link to it. Ut I'm on a phone.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on December 30, 2010


...battling all took place on a single screen, and it was fast paced mayhem with a comedic military theme... the two teams might have been red and blue, and I'm 90% sure there was a flamethrower and military theme...

General Chaos, great game!
posted by Herschel at 12:10 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


General Chaos?
posted by fusinski at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2010


Bang... nevermind :)
posted by fusinski at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2010


Oh man, I didn't even know this existed and I considered myself a Sega kid in the '90s (to the point of saving up for and buying my own Saturn in '95). The Saturn had an external 28.8k modem peripheral and the Dreamcast had a built-in 56k one which could be swapped with an ethernet adapter if you were one of the lucky few to have broadband a decade ago. It's a real shame being ahead of the curve doesn't pay off.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2010


General Chaos! Bizarrely enough the name finally came to me as I went to check this thread, but had my brain not found that rare moment of working order I'm glad MeFi is here. And I should have explicitly stated it wasn't Smash TV since I immediately thought of that when I typed kill-everything, heh. Man, I don't think any other game topped General Chaos in pure two-player fun, at least during that time for me. I guess what really made Sega Channel a treat was being able to find those rare gems, because there were certainly plenty of games that went ignored every month or were met with apathy when they reappeared on the list at the start of a month. Still, as someone who grew up regularly renting games it was pretty awesome to have a new wall full of games to play every month.
posted by palidor at 3:07 PM on December 30, 2010


Oh Sega. Always a little too ahead of your times. I remember playing tons of Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast, but it would be almost 7 years before people -really- started feeling the online play for consoles.

Nintendo actually had a modem for the Famicom (NES) in japan. So there!
posted by delmoi at 5:06 PM on December 30, 2010


Just speaking of two-player fun and rare games, the game I played most on Sega Channel was probably Gunstar Heroes.
posted by box at 5:26 PM on December 30, 2010


There's a game I've been trying to recall for years that I only ever played through Sega Channel. It was two players, and the gameplay if I remember right was like arcadey kill-everyone-on-the-other-team utilizing all kinds of weapons, including a flame thrower I think. I want to say the battling all took place on a single screen, and it was fast paced mayhem with a comedic military theme if I recall correctly.

It's probably General Chaos. Wonderful game if you can find someone compatible to play it with. Made by Game Refuge, one of the great unsung hero companies of game development, the guys who, when they were at Midway, made Arch Rivals, Rampage and Pigskin 621AD. For General Chaos they just went one step further with their sports games; instead of making a team sports game with some fighting aspects, they made a combat game that played like team sports! Works very well too.

There's an outside chance it's Gain Ground. Total Carnage it probably isn't because that game has scrolling sections. Same is true for Cannon Fodder (and I'm not sure that game got a Genesis release -- AND it scrolls).

On the Dreamcast: Yeah, that system got a bum deal. I still maintain that piracy didn't affect it nowhere near as much as people say it did. It's not actually hard to make a Dreamcast game difficult to pirate; GD-ROMs have greater capacity than a CD by a few hundred megabytes. And yet, many games ended up only using a fraction of that capacity. I will say that the ease of pirating DC games has probably helped its legend to spread a fair bit longer, since people don't have to hunt down copies of, say, Cannon Spike to play them.

I will freely admit that I spent hundreds of hours improving my score in Crazy Taxi.
posted by JHarris at 6:37 PM on December 30, 2010


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