Playstation 2 is the most powerful video game system
on the planet. It is faster and has better graphics
than any other system evermade. In fact, many consider
it to be greatest video game system of all time.
Just don't tell that to Mark Shaker.
"The first video game I bought was a Vectrex
in 1982, and I've been playing it eversince."
Mark said. TheVectrex was released in 1982 and quickly
faded into obscurity. It was the only system ever
made to use 'vector graphics' an obsolete graphical
form that allowed for 3D-like graphics. Except all
the games were in black and white (for color you had
to buy and put plastic color sheets on the monitor),
and to play them you needed a special monitor, and
the system cost $400, as much as the Playstation 2
costs now. This has not deterred Mark, though, who
said that the Vectrex is still his favorite game system.
Even though Mark said he loved the system, he was
still surprised to learn about the support the system
has online, "I got connected to the internet
and discovered the classic gaming community. I was
blown-away by the fact that people were programming
new games and manufacturing multi-carts and such.
These new toys breathed new life into my Vectrex."
Since then Mark has been making his own games for
the Vectrex, and has even been selling them for a
profit at his website (http://people.mw.mediaone.net/mshaker/),and
he's not the only one.
There are hundreds of sites supporting classic video
game consoles, from the Vectrex to the Atari 2600
and the Sega CD. Even rare systems like Atari's handheld
Lynx continue to get support online.
While Mark has just been making these games in his
spare time, others have set up entire companies to
sell old video games, as well as new ones, for obsolete
systems. Good Deal Games has sold original games for
systems such as the Atari2600 and the Sega Genesis
for years, but they have now moved from selling games
to distributing new games for defunct systems. Bug
Blasters: The Exterminators and Star Strike
are their first efforts at this, and are the first
games to be commercially released for the Sega CD
in almost a decade. Both games were developed years
ago, but never released.
Bug Blasters is a shoot-em-up game that has you
fighting a group of warrior insects that have taken
over Los Angeles and is the vein of Sega CD games
such as Sewer Shark. It, as well as StarStrike,
a space-war action game, contain full motion video
and CD quality sound.
"TheSega CD was definitely ahead of its time,
and truly the 'Next Generation' machine as it claimed
to be," said Good Deal Games owner Michael Thomasson,
who, while not selling classic video games, is an
animator in Lexington, Kentucky. Michael is also a
die-hard gaming collector, "My private collection
is almost complete. Just about every cartridge game
ever created is in my personal collection, and most
CD based games released - spanning over thirty consoles!"
he said. His company focuses on games for classicsystems,
but supports new systems as well, including the Playstation
and theSega Dreamcast. His website, www.gooddealgames.com,
touts having1000s of games for sale or trade on over
Michael believes the Sega CD was a great video game
system that just did not catch on. Unfortunately,
it's development cycle ended earlier than it should
have, and so the true power of the machine was never
fully realized. Knowing that there were games that
were developed for the system that were never released,
Michael said he thought these games would be ideal
launch titles for Good Deal Games (GDG) new publishing
division. "We needed to find a platform which
would allow us to produce games in a cost-effective
manner. Especially considering that GDG is a small
entity. This meant that a CD platform was preferable,
since cartridge manufacturing is very expensive,"
Despite his love for the Sega CD platform and his
enthusiasm for the two games his company released,
the effort has yet to turn a profit. "Releasing
games for defunct systems is not a profitable business.
We have yet to recoup our initial costs for BugBlasters:
The Exterminators and Star Strike."
Michael did say however, that this is not the end
of GDG's publishing enterprise. "The idea is
that once these titles can turn a profit, we then
will use that money to release other titles. We have
access to under a dozen yet-to-be-released Sega CD
titles, and are very close to closing negotiations
for Penn & Teller: Smoke and Mirrors. This
has been an incredible demanding (and expensive) title
since the game needed to be negotiated with both the
original developer and Penn& Teller," he said.
Michael also said he hopes to expand past the Sega
CD and onto other systems, "The 3DO platform
also interests us, and we are doing ample research!"
Also, despite the lack of sales, Michael still holds
optimistic feelings about the games. "Are they
a success? I'd say, overall, certainly. It is really
rewarding to get e-mails from purchasers that really
like the games. We also received contact from many
of thegame creators, and they were pleased that their
hard work had finally materialized. More importantly,
the games are now available to those which will enjoy
them, instead of sitting idly on a shelf being lost
GDG certainly does have support from gaming fans.
"I love the Sega CD and I'm glad to see people
are still making games for it," said Bryan Macafee,
a Freshman English major or Ohio University, and an
avid Sega CD fan.
"I own a dozen or so games for the system and
I still play some of them. I'm always looking for
more and I plan on getting these games as soon as
I can. When I found out about this site it was so
cool, I was so happy to see people are still making
games for the Sega CD."
GDG is not the only company that continues to make
video games for systems that one would consider to
be extinct. Songbird Productions is another, with
their main focus being on old Atari systems, mainly
the very powerful but short-lived handheld Lynx and
their (even more) short-lived Jaguar. Carl Forhan,
an engineer for a large computer company in Rochester,
Minnesota, started the company in his spare time because
of his love for Atari. "I was an Atari fan since
age 11 or 12, and it's unfortunate that they no longer
exist. All these great systems don't have support,and
that's a shame." Said Carl.
Since its inception in March of 1999, Songbird has
released 10 games, four for the Jaguar and six for
the Lynx. Among some of the Jaguar games are Protector,
a shooter in the vein of classics like Gradius,
and Soccer Kid an unusual adventure game where
the main character uses a soccer ball for a weapon.
One of Songbird's most unusual and high-profile releases
has been for the Lynx, the expansion pack for the
puzzle/adventure game Crystal Mines 2, entitled,
Buried Treasure. Not just a game, it allows
the user to connect the game to their computer and
make their own levels for the classic game. Other
games for the Lynx include Ponx,a remake of
the classic Pong and Championship Rally
an overhead perspective racing game, which was their
most recent release. Like GDG, Songbird Productions
usually does not make much money on their games, but
this is something Carl does not mind, "Songbird
certainly does make some profit on some releases,
but I think everyone understands that I do this as
a labor of love first. Though compensation is always
nice, I have to admit."
One reason that Carl as well as Mark with his Vectrex
games and Michael at GDG are able to make money with
their releases is because of the tight-knit classicgaming
community on the internet. "They tend to be very
supportive of new releases." Carl said.
It is true that the classic-gaming community is very
close. Dozens of web rings are out there, some just
dedicated to a single system or company, such as Atari,
a company that has a lot of support on the internet.
The sites also have a strong sense of community and
work together. There may be dozens of sites out there
making games for the Jaguar, but they never seem to
compete with each other, infact they tend to do just
the opposite and promote each other.
"The classic gaming community online is great.
A while ago I was bored and just went online looking
for a few sites about the Sega CD, I expected next
to nothing, but I found so much, it was great. I certainly
didn't think there would be new games for it and other
old systems." Bryan said.
And if anything, the gaming fans online will keep
these old systems alive. Even if no more new games
are made and even if you can't find a used Sega CD
on E-bay anymore, there will always be a place for
these games online.
"A lot of people like these games, I don't think
these systems are ever going to die, which is great."
article was originally a college term paper prepared
He kindly chose to share it with us, and so it is
available for all of us to read and enjoy here. Thanks