“Hey! You still don’t have a Sega CD? What are you waiting for, Nintendo to make one? You have seen the games, right?” Thus goes the “angry black guy” ad from Sega. Sadly, the games he proceeds to “show off” are all horrendous FMV (full motion video) games. Don’t know what an FMV game consists of? Well, imagine that instead of playing a game, I smash your controller with a brick and you’re forced to watch a movie made by Satan and Pauly Shore. That’s about the gist of it. Live-action video does not belong in video games… unless it's Wing Commander (Hey, Mark Hamill’s in it!).
So, rewind to 1992. CDs were cutting edge, to the point that even a full year later, the girl in Jurassic Park had her mind blown when she saw them, “It’s an interactive CD-ROM!” During this time, the Sega Genesis had, with the help of brilliant, in your face marketing, usurped Nintendo in 16-bit sales. Sega must have been pretty sure of themselves, to the point that they decided to make a radical new expansion… by creating a CD add on for the Genesis.
The main problem for the lazily titled Sega CD was this: It really wasn’t needed. Not only did Sega not need to push it financially, but consumers didn’t want to spend an insanity inducing 300 dollars on something that wasn’t even a stand-alone console. To make things worse, the pack-in game, Sewer Shark, was literally as much fun as playing in a real sewer. The death-knell for the Sega CD came quickly. People realized that, above all, the Sega CD did not provide a next generation experience and couldn’t produce 3D visuals. Later, Sega shot themselves in the foot again by releasing yet another Genesis add on, the Sega 32X.
Well, things sound pretty bad here, huh? Yes, the Sega CD never should have been released at such an early stage, but since it was, there are quite a number of great things about it. See, Sega marketed the thing completely wrong. Quite simply, you were not going to get a computer experience with this product… However, you were going to get super improved versions of Genesis games, with Redbook quality music and, if done in moderation, cutscenes and voice acting that accentuate the story.
It’s really unfortunate that folks are unaware of so many hidden gems on the Sega CD. Sonic CD is one of the best Sonic games, with a jazz and funk inspired soundtrack (Sonic Boom is sick). Snatcher is a cyberpunk, Blade Runneresque adventure game that lets you pick different branching paths. Lunar: Silver Star is an RPG with anime influences and copious amounts of legitimately decent voice acting. Heart of the Alien combines the highly acclaimed cinematic platformer, Another World, with an entirely new chapter. Finally, Final Fight CD offers a sort of director’s cut to the arcade classic, optimized for the CD format.