Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Encyclopedia Review
The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Encyclopedia book review
The Sega Genesis has always been a console that has eluded me. I never had one growing up, but I would go to a friend’s house and play sonic the hedgehog and jurassic park on his Genesis (or Mega Drive if you lived outside North America), while all the rest of my time was spent at home playing Super Nintendo. Since childhood, the fascination with the console grew but would quickly fade the moment I remembered that I could just play again Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time Where Captain Commando on my SNES. It’s in these types of games that the Sega Genesis thrived.
Looking through Chris Scullion’s latest encyclopedia, The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Encyclopedia, it became apparent that the games I loved growing up were arcade games brought to home consoles. The Sega Genesis was a haven for arcade ports as developers and publishers railed against Nintendo’s strict rules about what could happen on their platform, pushing games onto Sega’s 16-bit console. The two-year lead Sega held with the Genesis in North America and its mascot, the infinitely cooler Sonic the Hedgehog, helped propel console sales and maintain a lead over Nintendo’s Super Nintendo for the holiday season.
Those familiar with Scullion’s old encyclopedias will find a familiar design in the book itself. What sets this one apart is that it covers a lot more games, and even when games that have appeared on multiple consoles (like the abundance of movie links and third-party ports) resurface in this collection of games, Scullion does not copy and paste his previous comments to save time. Those who bought the Super Nintendo Encyclopedia will get their money’s worth because not only do you get a full list and descriptions of Genesis’ vast library of titles, but you also get an overview of lesser-known releases like the games released for the Sega Mega CD and Sega 32x.
For me, the appeal of Scullion’s books is that they are fantastic coffee table books. Each game has a small write-up that provides insight, sometimes focusing on story, gameplay, or other notable features; a screenshot that shows the game in action; some general information like the developer, publisher, year of release and the regions in which it found its place; and a fun fact about the title. Some games’ overlap with its SNES encyclopedia makes the fun fact a little less interesting in the Genesis encyclopedia, but your mileage may vary, of course. The upside is that, like the descriptions that have been rewritten for the duplicate titles, the fun facts are also different, so while they may seem lighter, they’re at least not the same.
The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Encyclopedia also has the unenviable task of covering a larger amount of games in a similarly sized package. The Genesis saw the release of 799 games in North America, Europe, Australia, and South America. Meanwhile, the Super Nintendo saw 779 games released in North America, Europe, and Australia. Not to mention the additional games released for the Mega CD and 32x that Scullion’s latest book also covers. It’s a gargantuan task and while some entries feel more quickly put together, those interested in retro gaming and titles they may not have heard of will still find value in having a library of games too. massive in an easily digestible format.
That’s the ultimate appeal of these encyclopedias for me. They’re not meant to dive deep into the history of the console they’re talking about, and instead offer a quick overview of everything on offer on the platform. For a finalist like me, it’s also worth getting an overview of the similarities and differences between the Genesis and SNES libraries. However, even if you don’t also buy the SNES Encyclopedia (which I highly recommend buying just because I still think its library is superior in many ways), you’re still in safe hands with the Encyclopedia Genesis due to Scullion’s dedication in even treating the retreaded territory as if it were his first time covering it. No one is left behind, which is rare when there is such an overlap of titles.
Fans of coffee table books will revel in the color screenshots and bite-sized descriptions. It’s an easy book to pull out and skim through at your leisure and serves as a great reference point when deciding which game to dive into next. All is not one sonic the hedgehog, Altered Beast, Where Golden axebut Scullion treats them no differently, which offers a refreshingly objective perspective on games of varying quality. The Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Encyclopedia is a must-have for console fans and a perfect addition to any retro gaming fan’s library.