Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gaming Ads: SETA U.S.A. and Shiny Entertainment

SETA, which is short for Super Entertainment and Total Amusement, was a Japanese company founded in the early '80s that released its first game in 1985. It was involved in the development or publishing of more than 40 games before being acquired by Aruze in 1999, exiting the game industry in 2004, and closing in 2009. SETA U.S.A. was based in Las Vegas and published its first game, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, in 1989 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It released just over a dozen games through 1995; all of its games were for Nintendo platforms.

Shiny Entertainment was founded in 1993 by David Perry. It's best known for the Earthworm Jim series that can be seen in ads from publisher Playmates Interactive Entertainment. Other popular games from Shiny include the original MDK, Messiah, and Sacrifice. Infogrames acquired Shiny in 2002 and had it develop a couple games based on The Matrix films. Shiny was sold to Foundation 9 Entertainment in 2006 and merged with The Collective in 2007 with the result being Double Helix Games. While Shiny is gone, Double Helix Games was acquired by in 2014 and is still in business.

SETA U.S.A. albums: Facebook - Google Photos
Shiny Entertainment albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Year 3: April Update

Star Wars Galaxy Trading Card #289
(Artist: Bunny Carter)
April -- and really this year -- seems to be moving along rather quickly. The weather still feels like winter sometimes but spring is pushing through next week, hopefully to stay. Earlier this month I did a week of Sega content and unfortunately, nobody commented! Okay, nobody ever comments on the blog so that's not exactly unusual (actually, I get a lot of spam comments). The post/video that I really expected to get attention was Letters From Sega. It's something that's at least a little unique and I actually Tweeted that one at Sega so it was quite disappointing to not get a like or re-Tweet (from Sega; user BackLoggedGamer liked it, thanks!). Normally I don't Tweet at companies, however, I see re-Tweets from companies all the time for what I consider to be pointless things so I figured why not, and really thought Sega would enjoy seeing the old letters. Oh well. I'll mention something again that I stated in the Sega ads post since I've not seen it covered by any major gaming sites. Atlus U.S.A. is no more; Sega has completely absorbed it and in North America the Atlus name is now just a Sega brand.

As I write this I've not played any games is six days which is a decent stretch though I hope to do a Let's Play video tomorrow. Most recently I got the platinum trophy on the PlayStation 4 version of Persona 4: Dancing All Night; my first platinum was for the Vita version of that game which I played on PlayStation TV. I've played Minecraft a bit as well and despite its age and popularity, it's a game I had only tried once before on the Xbox 360. My nephew has gotten me into that along with Human: Fall Flat which is a game he loves that I don't find to be much fun. In Minecraft I built my childhood home and an AT-AT in my world and a centipede head (based on the arcade game) in my nephew's world. Of course, being Minecraft you can only be so detailed and they might not look great in the screenshots. I also put a hatch on the top of the AT-AT and it's possible to walk into the head that has windows on the front.

Before I took a game break I was playing Tropico 6 too. It's a series I've enjoyed since the first game (never played the second one) and the new one isn't bad though it does have a different developer than the past few and I've not done very well on the missions I've played. There has been some relatively big game news since my last update. Sega announced the official Genesis Mini plug 'n' play console that will have 40 built-in games of which only 20 have been announced. It's releasing September 19th which I assume is to maybe look similar to the Dreamcast's 9/9/99 date; this would be 9/19/19 and that's only 10 days after the Dreamcast's U.S. 20th anniversary. In other console news, Sony started talking about the next PlayStation system (Wired exclusive) and Microsoft unveiled the long rumored and now official Xbox One with no disc drive. Next generation's consoles will still use physical media but there will likely be options to go digital only. By the way, the former Xbox exclusive Cuphead is now available on the Switch.

The other big game news came from the Star Wars Celebration that took place in Chicago. Respawn Entertainment was on hand to talk about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; it announced the release date (11/15/19) and showed a trailer that didn't have any gameplay in it. I'm not a big fan of characters looking like the actors that voice them and that's what we have in this new game, and is something we saw in Star Wars: Force Unleashed. I'm still very much looking foward to it as I always want more single-player Star Wars games. There is likely a new LEGO game coming from Warner Bros. Interactive though nothing has been officially announced. This year marks the 20th anniversary of LEGO making Star Wars toys and it has a handful of sets to mark that occasion: Slave I, Snowspeeder, Imperial Dropship, Anakin's Podracer, and Clone Scout Walker. They're a bit expensive as usual but each one has some nice mini-figures plus a bonus mini-figure. Aside from the anniversary sets there is a new Tantive IV set too.

Hasbro unveiled a bunch of new Star Wars toys that you can read about here: Lastly, if you somehow missed it, a teaser trailer was shown for the next movie titled The Rise of Skywalker.


As always, thanks for reading,

Gaming Ads: Seika and Seismic Software

I'm having a hard time finding information about Seika outside of a brief article at FreeAssociates that details a Consumer Electronics Show booth and marketing campaign for Seika's Nintendo Entertainment System games. As I posted a while back, Seika did work with Kemco from 1989-91 to distribute games in North America under the Kemco Seika name. Seika itself published and distributed games from the late '80s through the early '90s for computers and Nintendo platforms. There is a Seika Corporation in business today that was founded in 1947 but it's hard to say if it had anything to do with this Seika. However, it's not unusual for a company to not include its past video game operation in its corporate history as I've come across that quite a few times.

Similar to Seika, Seismic Software is a company that operated in the late '80s through the early '90s and little information is available about it. Seismic only released five games, one for the Sega Master System and the other four on the Genesis. There is also a company called Seismic Software in business today but it is unrelated.

Seika albums: Facebook - Google Photos
Seismic Software albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Cadaco Booklet

I'm in the process of trying to lessen the amount of stuff I have and board games are one of the things that has to go. Some have a bit of a musty smell so I probably can't donate them which means the trash even though I hate to do that. Not too sure anyone would really want board games even in donations as I did try to sell some for a buck or two at a garage sale and saw no interest. I just never play board games these days and if I do play one it would likely be Scrabble. Anyway, I am removing items like some small pieces and booklets, such as the one I have here. This Cadaco ad was pulled from Adverteasing which is the only game listed that I've played. Some of these are board games and a couple are games of skill. Oh Nuts! certainly looks amusing and that chicken game reminds me a bit of a Tomy game I've got with electronic parts that no longer work.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Gaming Ads: SegaSoft

SegaSoft was founded in 1995 by Sega of America and CSK to produce and publish games for the Saturn and home computers. At the time CSK was the majority stakeholder in Sega and if you recall from the Sega ads post earlier this week, one of the three people that purchased Sega's Japan subsidiary back from Gulf+Western was the CEO of CSK. It only published three Saturn games -- Mr. Bones, Scud: The Disposable Assassin, and Three Dirty Dwarves -- as it decided to focus on the PC market in 1997. Aside from games, SegaSoft created the online gaming network that both Sega and other publishers used for multiplayer server listings. Both and SegaSoft closed in 2000 due to financial problems.

SegaSoft albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Friday, April 12, 2019

[YouTube] Letters From Sega

When I was younger I'd write letters to game companies. Most of the time I believe I was inquiring about upcoming products and probably offering ideas for new games that, of course, would always be politely declined. Today with the Internet, electronic mail, and social media we're overloaded with more information than we need on every game. It's also much easier to reach out to those that make games and yet, at least to myself, it feels like there is less of a connection. In 2019 more people play games than ever before and I expect the big publishers get flooded with messages on a daily basis. Obviously there isn't time to reply to everyone and certainly not via snail mail which is time consuming and costly, and so that personal touch is not something modern game players will likely ever experience. However, 30 years ago the industry was still small enough that players could feel like they were part of something bigger and that they mattered.

While I own quite a few video games, one of the highlights of my collection isn't a game at all, it's a hand-written letter from Sega. Based on the responses I still have, I wrote to Sega at least five times between 1988 and 1996. Only the first response I received is hand-written; that's the one from 1988, before Sega grew in preparation for the launch of the Genesis. That first letter being hand-written makes it feel much more personal than the other responses, and certainly leaves a positive impression, especially on a kid.

In the letter scans the addresses are removed which is why you see blank spaces even though I'm sure you can see that in the video. I know I put so much personal data out there already that it likely doesn't make a difference. Anyway, as you can see in the letter it does begin with the standard corporate message and then Sandy talks about the games I must have written about. I never did get Phantasy Star, unfortunately, as I think I got Miracle Warriors instead and then moved onto Genesis games the next year where I played a lot of Phantasy Star II. Sandy might be taking a shot at Nintendo with the strategy guide remark and as she states, she did send me hints which is something Sega often did. You can find numerous scans and videos of the hint pages online that fans received back then which, like the letter, was very nice of Sega to do. I've no idea what Nintendo's customer service was like but Sega's was top-notch and it had to be since it was way behind Nintendo in the 8-bit market. The rest of the letters aren't nearly as interesting and are all typed but you can see the various Sega letterheads. Looking at the envelopes and reading the letters in order does paint a picture of the changes going on at Sega as it got bigger and bigger with its success in the 16-bit generation.

I did search on the name of the person who wrote that first letter (and the second one which is typed) to see if they still worked in the industry and if I could actually ask them a few questions about their time at Sega. My search failed though I did find a Sega newsletter at Sega Retro (Page 10) that has an article about Sega's customer service department in 1988. It's a great read that details how the department operated and the eight employees that worked there, half of which worked the phones. Sega had a toll free phone number for a while but I was much too shy to ever call that. The Master System wasn't huge in North America so I was surprised to learn that the four people that answered the phone lines received about 1,000 calls every week! The team also got to play all the games at work when they weren't writing or answering phones; they had to so they could be knowledgeable when writing to or speaking with the fans.

That Snail Maze game letter is kind of funny because it's written as if Sega suddenly decided to give me a free game when the game was always in the Master System console. It was a nice bonus to learn about and without the letter I'm not sure when I would have found out about it (magazines likely mentioned it eventually). I couldn't scan everything Sega sent since it would have taken way too long as there are a lot of hints and many pages of release information. However, you can see some of that in the video and I did scan some random pages. I'm not including Sega Visions here which was a free magazine Sega sent its customers beginning in 1990, another great gesture. Also, although that newsletter that looks like a magazine cover says $3.50 on it, I did get that for free as well. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

[YouTube] Sega Genesis 32X

This is a continuation of Tuesday's Sega CD post.

If I had felt burned by the Sega CD then I don't expect I would have purchased the Sega Genesis 32X. However, I do like the Sega CD and being a huge Sega fan I had to have the 32X too even if I would have some regrets later. At least I got a good discount (see below) and there was a rebate offer at the time as well. Today I would be hesitant to buy any console add-ons as they are a double-edged sword and might always be. While something like the Sega CD can increase a consoles lifespan by improving the technical quality of games, getting third-party companies to commit to an add-on can be difficult as game sales for an add-on are always going to be lower than those for the base console. The Genesis may have had a large install base but not everyone wanted or could afford to buy a CD player attachment that cost $300. Genesis owners would probably have been better off either buying more games or getting a Super Nintendo Entertainment System and a couple games so that they could experience Sega and Nintendo games. The Sega CD did manage to get more than 200 games made for it, which isn't bad even if they aren't all good games. Not a complete failure but not a great success, the Sega CD wasn't an awful move by Sega though the Sega 32X was.

It's challenging enough to support one add-on so why would Sega have thought a second one was a good idea? The 32X launched in the U.S. on November 21, 1994 for $159.99 while the Sega Saturn released in Japan the next day! Sega should have focused all of its efforts on the Saturn instead of splintering the Genesis community more and trying to convince its fans to spend their hard earned money on something that Sega had to have known wouldn't be supported for long. Poor sales of the 32X along with Sega's surprise announcement at the 1995 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) of the Saturn's early release (initially only at a few stores) in North America upset many retailers that ultimately never carried the Saturn. While I did eventually buy a Saturn, I waited for it to drop from $399.99 to $199.99.

Why did I and a few others (actually it did sell over 600,000 units) buy the 32X? It probably had a lot to do with brand loyalty. For myself, I was in my second year of college and working at a Toy Works store (east coast retailer owned by KB Toys). Employees received 10% off on video games but my boss decided to start up an employee of the month program at that time, made me the first employee of the month, and temporarily increased the discount to 20% -- which corporate noticed and didn't like -- so I went for it. I've actually got a copy of the receipt here which you can see to the right. It was on sale for $149.99 and then I got the employee discount, plus I purchased the Star Wars game that was $59.99 in 1994 -- the same price most console games cost today. Unfortunately, I didn't even get to play the 32X for a few weeks because it only includes A/V cables and my television lacked those ports so I needed a RF unit. The RF unit from the Genesis 2 works for that, however, I own the original model. Therefore, I had to get a new RF unit that were for some reason incredibly difficult to find at that time in Connecticut. My mother eventually found one at a Toys 'R' Us in White Plains, New York if I recall correctly.

The model one Genesis and Sega CD do fit nicely together though the 32X throws off the sleek look. It's also a pain that all three have large AC adapters that need to be plugged in -- Sega Power Strip to the rescue (see the Sega Genesis post). Actually, you could unplug the Sega CD when not in use as the manual does recommend. Genesis games are placed in the 32X so no need to take that out when you want to play most Genesis games (some are not compatible), and the video output of the 32X is better which can lead to the 16-bit graphics being slightly improved. Worldwide there were 40 games released for the 32X and 36 of those made it to North America. Unfortunately, a few of those games are simply upgraded ports of Sega CD FMV games and a few others are ports of Genesis games so there are not a whole lot of unique games for the 32X. I only own Star Wars Arcade, Doom, and World Series Baseball, and those are the only 32X games I've ever played so I can't say too much about the quality of the other games. Doom is a good port but I don't believe World Series Baseball is much better than the Genesis versions. Star Wars Arcade is a tough game that doesn't have a lot of variety; you just fly through space shooting enemy ships and eventually the Death Star.

Combined with the Sega CD post this was originally one blog entry but then I wrote so much I had to split it in two. I suppose I do have more memories of obtaining the add-ons than the Master System and Genesis since I was older and had to spend my own money to acquire them.