1 year after our team visited SEGA Europe HQ to celebrate Mega Drive Mondays, we look back on the quartet’s experience.
1 year after our team visited SEGA Europe HQ to celebrate Mega Drive Mondays, we look back on the quartet’s experience.
Just a couple of weeks ahead of the anniversary of the European launch of the Mega Drive Mini (and a few days after the anniversary of the Genesis Mini), we take a step back from current affairs to remember that time 366 days ago (thank you leap years!) when RadioSEGA’s UK crew packed their bags and departed for Brentford to celebrate the globally recognised holiday of “Mega Drive Mondays.” We got the crew back together to discuss their memories of the day itself and reminisce on their first experience with the console...
“Given that you’re all from different parts of the country, what was the experience of getting into London for the purposes of the stream like? Any eventful moments from throughout the day you can remember?”
Viper: I think I had it pretty easy to be honest, especially in comparison to everyone else. I got a lift to my local tube station and then just went to the closest possible stop. Little did I know that the walk to the offices was almost an hour, but you learn from these things.
I wasn’t taking any chances, so I arrived at this station at around lunchtime. Since we didn’t need to arrive until around 5pm and the others didn’t show up until around 4pm, I spent a lot of that afternoon watching the world go by. Not helping was the weather which was blissful when I got there but quickly turned dire by around 2pm so I spent most of it under cover until it was time to meet Gav. The overwhelming memory from that point onwards was getting lost in a public park comparable to Silent Hill while the clock ticked closer to the promised time and we gradually got wetter. All in all it was a pretty large headache of an experience, yet it was far easier than it was for some!
Gavvie: I’ve travelled to London quite a bit as that’s where Mena is from, so the actual travelling to London wasn’t too problematic.
Skyblaze: I've been to London many times, I have friends who live there, who I was staying with post-stream. That said, I almost didn't make it to the event since there was an issue on the London Underground, which meant one of the stations I needed to change at wasn't open. I ended up taking a taxi as close as possible then sprinting the rest of the way.
Ravsieg: I was coming from Croydon, where I worked at that time, so it was supposed to be a simple journey! It turned out not to be exactly the case...
Coming out of my job slightly early thanks to built-up overtime, the minor details escape me, but I'm pretty sure that it was an afternoon of near misses when we all tried to meet up before coming to the office! There were like 5 steps to it, but I eventually got to the office alone - having met no-one else from the team on my way. Turns out Gavvie and Viper took a route I had never heard of... so I stayed on the building's ground floor and had a coffee in the meantime!
“Being huge SEGA fans, the thought of being in the ‘belly of the beast’ must’ve been daunting. What was it like to visit the SoE offices?”
Gavvie: It was pretty cool to visit the SEGA offices, to sit in one of the meeting rooms. If I’m honest, it all felt nice and casual, and I actually felt quite relaxed before the stream.
Viper: Of course I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit breath-taking. My initial memory of the place is looking outside it and being unsure as to whether we were at the right building, but the waving and raving Ravsieg in the distance gave away that this was probably the right location. Oh, and the huge blue Sonic plastered on the side... Once inside, we fumbled around at the security desk for a bit trying to get our badges to enter and then all tried to squeeze through the security gate at once and failed pretty spectacularly. One trip to the wrong floor later and we were on the right track this time and stood 1 set of doors away from SEGA HQ! Once inside, I guess you could say I was a little perplexed? It didn’t look like I’d imagined and yet every bit like it at the same time. The walls were covered in artwork from releases in recent memory and the general SEGA guff left out on people’s desks did indeed confirm this wasn’t all a dream.
The stream room was where a good chunk of time was spent and it was insane. I vividly recall pointing at tons of stuff in the stream background and telling Gav “I’m having that'', knowing full well I was indeed not “having that.” Still, it doesn't hurt to dream. Unsurprisingly, the rest of it was your standard affair enterprise office with a little more character to offer, but the word “inviting” comes to mind when describing both floors. One day you shall be mine First4Figures NiGHTS statue…one day...
Skyblaze: I was very impressed by the offices! They seemed pretty spacious and airy, and there was gorgeous artwork on the walls, and even etched into glass partitions. Most of it was Sonic-related, but some was for other SEGA franchises.
Ravsieg: It was daunting, yes. Personally, I had briefly worked for SEGA of Europe almost two years before, but the feeling wasn't any different to what it had always been - the office just gives out a special aura, whether it's your first or your umpteenth time going in there. To be extremely honest, I wasn't sure how I'd feel, considering my life and my situation was completely different - but it was just as joyous as it ever was. It's like there's an inherent love for the company transpiring from every room, every wall, every little item. If we add this to the amount of SEGA memorabilia and imagery around, triggering good memories and good times from us, it just transcends words. A dream.
“As it was the first time you got the experience the Mega Drive Mini, what were your thoughts on the console then?”
Viper: I should probably start by emphasising that this was the first time any of us had played the console or even seen it in person. No trickery or acting involved, once we arrived, we were chaperoned into the stream room and we saw it as we went live to the world. As I’m not especially expressive, it’s not really written all over my face on video, but I was very pleased with the machine. Small footprint, extremely accurate controllers and great emulation on all fronts with a slick UI. It was everything I had hoped for, experienced in a room I could’ve never dreamed of having sat in.
Skyblaze: Some of you probably know that I work as a games journalist. My trip to London to experience the Mega Drive Mini was paid for by the site I was working for at the time, OnlySP. So of course, I wrote an article about my experience with it.
Ravsieg: Being presented a compilation of Mega Drive games is by no means a novelty - we have had these compilations ever since the Saturn! However, the MD Mini amps the nostalgia factor with actual hardware. Whilst I personally focus on the games, I can fully understand why people might get nostalgic about it!
First things first - the UI and the system music are both AMAZING. It's a product that's incredibly joyful to launch and get to the games. And those, of course, never fail to disappoint. If anything, the Virtua Fighter fanatic in me would just have preferred the 16bit version of Virtua Fighter 2 not to get any further releases over the arcade original, but that's just a very specific point!
Gavvie: I thought the Mega Drive Mini was a lovely little console. Of the mini consoles I had played up to that point it was easily the best one (certainly better than the PlayStation Classic) and the range of games available catered to all tastes, although I do still find the addition of Tetris a little bemusing as, if we’re honest, it wasn’t a great version to begin with.
“Now that you’ve had the item in your own possession for nearly a year, what are your current opinions of the console?”
Skyblaze: Sadly, for various reasons, I never actually bought a Mega Drive Mini. Mostly because I own an original Mega Drive and couldn't really justify the expense. I keep being tempted by one, though. It's a hard thing to resist.
Ravsieg: I'm afraid I haven't bought a MD Mini yet. That day will probably come eventually, but it's already too tough cramming all my current physical possessions into my very humble flat! Every time I want to swap between my consoles when it comes to Elgato streaming, it already takes what feels like a whole load of gymnastics... As much as I'd want it, it isn't really an option to add more physical properties to the pile as it is.
Viper: My original thoughts still stand. It’s a great bit of kit that’s well worth the price of admission. I admittedly haven’t played mine anywhere near as much as I would’ve liked, but that’s at the fault of myself and nothing to do with the device itself. Having bought the Genesis Mini recently for the purposes of a stream, it’s completely rekindled my love for the micro console and I’m going back to both versions of the Mini and replaying some of my favourite classics and experiencing new ones for the first time.
Gavvie: I still think it’s up there with the best mini consoles, possibly alongside the PC Engine Mini (hardly a surprise, considering M2 worked on the software emulation for both units). I’m also happy that it was enough of a success for SEGA to continue producing mini units [such as the Game Gear Micro & Astro City Mini], although producing one for a global audience would be nice!
“Following on from what Gavvie mentioned, what are your thoughts on the soon to be arriving Game Gear Micro and Astro City Mini?”
Skyblaze: The Game Gear Micro is more like a toy or a novelty than an actual functional console. It's a shame, because modern tech can do so much with the concept. The Astro City Mini units are more interesting, but it's a lot to pay for not a lot of games. Then again, a major part of the appeal is the aesthetic of having an arcade cab - even a mini one.
Viper: I’m very excited for the machines personally, although that should come as no shock to anyone. I think these both fit into the “novelty item” market more than the Mega Drive/Genesis Mini (especially in the case of the Game Gear Micro) which would make them perfect gift items in the US/EU/UK if they were to ever get released here. The Game Gear Micro could do with a couple more games preloaded on each device, but the game selection on the 4 main colour variants is solid. The Astro City Mini seems to be scratching all the right itches for me so far with its game selection and various add-ons however. Needless to say, between having to pay for the collector’s editions of these devices and their import fees this holiday season on top of buying the new consoles, I think I’ll be out of the gaming tat market for a long while.
Ravsieg: Both releases are definitely geared towards the internal Japanese market, as both the Game Gear and arcades were much more successful in SEGA's home territory than elsewhere in the world. As such, it's understandable why SEGA of Japan wouldn't consider any worldwide release - demand for them would probably be restricted to the core of the die-hard SEGA fans, and all the work required to localise the devices in all levels (production, marketing, legal, licenses, language, etc) would likely far outweigh their expected return. We're living in an era where people are more than happy to spend some money in order to indulge into nostalgic experiences, but it only works if they've actually lived through the product on its previous releases. Taking logic out of the equation though, and purely on a fan's perspective, I would definitely go for both if they ever saw a Western release!
Gavvie: I'm quite looking forward to receiving mine...and not understanding quite a few games! As if I needed any more reasons to learn how to read Japanese!
“Any closing thoughts on the experience?”
Ravsieg: With absolute and all honesty, there are plenty of times I go back and reminisce about that day! How amazing it was to be there. How it felt to go back to a place I had previously been living the dream of working at - full of energy, hope and dedication. How great it was to be recognised as a SEGA fansite and community. How great it felt to have the cameras on me, I always felt like a natural. How great it felt to pull my "A" game on Sonic 2 right when it mattered and when the pressure was on. How much I took that audio competition as a very serious challenge, when it should've been good fun! There are very few things that would make me as happy as having another chance to participate, with all the added experience and understanding on how it goes! The last word needs to go back to our hosts, though: each and every single one of our hosts was simply amazing - showing us great care and treating us like royalty, when in reality we do owe their work a lot of appreciation. One year afterwards, a massive THANK YOU for making it a reality!
Skyblaze: One of the best moments was meeting several other RadioSEGA presenters in person for the first time. The stream itself was fun, especially 'Earthworm Jim and Earl' - I almost choked trying to hold in my laughter for that bit.
Chilling out at SEGA of Europe HQ with pizza and the MD Mini after the stream was also lovely, the SEGA staff were super nice and friendly and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about RadioSEGA. Would I do it again? Of course!
Gavvie: I absolutely loved the experience, and I would totally be up for doing it again. To sit within the offices of the company whose games got me into this whole thing back in 1992 was something I think about more than the actual stream, if I’m honest, because that part went by in a bit of a blur! I do wish I’d taken more photos, as I came away having only taken about four or five, but I suppose there’s always the Twitch stream that I can watch back. If SEGA were to invite us back, then I would jump at the chance - make it happen, guys!
Viper: Even to this day, I am humbled and still a little speechless that SEGA of Europe invited us to their offices and gave us the chance to play their latest console early. I speak on behalf of the entirety of RadioSEGA when I say that we are extremely grateful for the opportunity that SEGA gifted us. My heartfelt thanks go out to the entire team who did a great job in making us feel at home while we were visiting.
The most sincere of thank yous to SEGA of Europe for their hospitality while having four of RadioSEGA’s own test drive the Mega Drive Mini while promoting the station. If you haven’t experienced the rejuvenated nostalgic joy of the Mega Drive Mini yourself, pick yourself up one via available retailers from https://megadrivemini.sega.com/.
Requests between 22nd Feb and 28th Feb