Gamersgate are currently running a week long sale on classic SEGA Mega Drive titles... but sadly, it's a bit of a false saving when you shop around. For the same price as one or two games, you can grab volume 1 of the classics collection from 101CD, Blah DVD and their affiliates - which contains the likes of Golden Axe, Comix Zone and Altered Beast.
If you're looking for some retro bargains, this is probably the best place to start - and cherry pick the rest from Gamersgate.
A couple of years before Sonic sprinted onto the scene for SEGA, hell bent on taking on Nintendo at their own game, the Mega Drive was already showing that it could become a platform for pioneers and new genres. With so many games of the 8 and 16 bits generations sticking rigidly to one genre, learning the rules of those genres and focusing on implementing them well, it was rare to see games that broke the mould and crammed two or three genres into one game.
But Technosoft did...and went and developed a couple of seminal games that were to have an indelible imprint on the RTS genre.
The original Herzog was quite a linear affair with bases on either side of a long vertical strip and the victor being determined by destroying the opposing side's base. The game's currency increased automatically - 10 credits every half second - so although resource management wasn't a primary consideration by any stretch of the imagination, there was a degree of flexibility in terms of unit construction. You essentially took control of a Land-Armour unit - a hovering mech - and created units that would charge out towards the enemy bases, attacking foes on the way, occasionally speeding things up by zipping units further down the track with your mech to press home the victory. It was simple stuff, but it spawned a sequel that would establish a number of RTS conventions for decades to come.
Get any group of veteran gamers together for a local multiplayer session and you'll witness the same argument. One will want to play a classic arcade game. Another will want to dig out the N64 for some Goldeneye deathmatch action. Yet another will dive straight for Modern Warfare. Videogames have spanned many different eras and iterations over the last 40 years... and yet it's difficult to pin down when it was at it was at its peak. When gaming truly enjoyed a Golden Age.
Let's try and sort out that age-old question once and for all. It's time for a look back at gaming's finest eras... and to decide which is the best.
A few grizzled veterans cling to the idea that the 1970s and eighties represent gaming's Golden Age... and there's no denying that these formative years were incredibly important. Bedroom coders and hobbyists bent primitive hardware to their will in order to make home computers good for more than just calculations. In 1972, a group of Stanford University students created a little company called Atari; championing the idea that videogames could be commercially played in public places. Pong, Space Invaders and Pac-Man became household names and birthed the first arcades... and increasingly powerful personal home computers such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 eventually came to the fore (along with new advances in technology and game design).
The seventies and early eighties were incredibly important for our medium, but they certainly weren't a Golden Age of videogames. Instead, they actually represent a stone age where pioneers banged together the crudest of tools to create primitive yet functional innovations. We salute these brave men and their dedication... but gaming was still very firmly in its infancy. We've come a long way, baby.
Co-opting personal home computers and designing custom arcade boards was the only way to game for a long while. However, Nintendo and SEGA were waiting in the wings to define what we've now come to know as home consoles. The Nintendo Entertainment System brought 8-bit gaming to the masses... but it was the 16-bit era that we need to concern ourselves with.Click here to continue the quest for gaming's Golden Age...