Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five Excellent Car Trip Games

Of course, the Nomad can play any Genesis game. And 99.9% of those games are completely playable just as they are on the home screen, with the exception of eye-straining super detailed games, e.g. Lemmings. My favorite games back in the day were the Sonic series and Disney Interactive releases, and my choice favorites of those would come along on any road trip (those being Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Disney's Aladdin). But what of those other five spots I had in my carrying case? What follows are five excellent games that received little love at home, and so I brought them on the road for some much needed attention.


"This *pew-pew-pew* is Jeopardy!" What was once a boring game at home became one of my favorite car games. Complete with a digital old school mustached Alex Trebek, 1 or 2 players can play through the popular TV game show! While some of the questions are now a bit dated, the game has aged well. The game featured what was the first real dialog I had heard on the Genesis, I'll never forget Trebek's "Sorry." given at each wrong answer. An added bonus of playing in the car, I had access to my parents for help with any question I was stumped on (and I got a lot of those).


Another extremely boring at home game was my number two pick for travel play. Like Jeopardy!, Risk is best played with 2 players. What I remember most of this game is the kickin' revolutionary war music. Check it out in this intro movie. How can you NOT want to rule to work with that music in the background? One major problem is the inability to save. While at home a real life game would sit on a card table in the basement, Nomad Risk must be kept on and played through to the end. Of course, that's why I chose this game as a great road trip companion. You're stuck in the car for hours anyway, so why not see world domination through to the end?

The Lost Vikings
This frustrating nightmare in cartridge form saw little play outside the first level at home, but in the car I would usually make it to the fourth or fifth level. The game centers around three vikings who are abducted by aliens to become the latest additions to an inter-galactic zoo, of course the vikings would have none of that so they break loose and become lost in time and space. In a unique form of platformer gameplay that has most recently been seen in Sonic Heroes, you control all three characters each focusing on different strengths; speed, gliding & punching and the ability to reach out of reach places. Sound familiar to another trio? The game was quite difficult, but when you have the time to spare The Lost Vikings was a real gem of a game.

Sword of Vermilion
Sword of Vermilion was the one role playing game I owned for the Genesis during the time of the systems production, I had found it used at a Gamestop in mint condition with the mini hint book for a sweet $10. Being a youth raised on all things Sonic, I had little patience for the game but, like all the other games mentioned so far, when stuck in a car you learn patience. Having not played an RPG prior to Sword of Vermilion, I didn't have any other game to compare to. I loved the real time combat, and upon dying I'll never forget "Arise brave warrior! Our world needs you! But half your money goes to the poor." Playing the game now, it wouldn't be my favorite Genesis RPG, but Yu Suzuki made it and I love him like a second father.

Unlike the other games mentioned, I played Ghostbusters at home as much, if not more, than I did on the Nomad. While at the time I didn't know the game's design team background, it had a heavy Japanese influence in the gameplay and design. Bosses were crazy as fuck, easily putting Stay Puft to shame, and the music was so damn good that I cranked the Nomad to eleven. The game was very difficult to complete, and to remedy this I often brought along my Game Genie for the invincible code with the occasional infinite bombs code for fun. I loved this game so much that it was the first game review I posted on Segadojo back in 2000. Sadly, along with most of the site that review is long gone. :^(

Of course there are many other excellent games to play on the go with a Nomad, and had this been a top ten I wouldn't have been hard pressed to fill another five spots. This is where you, the reader, comes in!

Nomad Needs t'No:
What is your favorite Genesis game to play on the go? And if you don't own a Nomad, what Genesis game would you love to have on the go?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The History of the Nomad

What better way to kick off a blog devoted to Sega's black sheep (no, not the 32X) than to give a bit of historical background. Enjoy! (Photos courtesy of that wonderful resource "the internet")

Before the Nomad there was the Sega Mega Jet. And before making its way to homes and the backseats of cars, Sega took to the skies.

In late 1993 Sega released a semi-portable version of the Mega Drive for use as in-flight entertainment on Japan Airlines. Resembling a cheap AM/FM boom box that would have been the top ticket prize at Circus Pizza, the Mega Jet had everything one would expect from a portable system with one major exception: an LCD screen. Of course, on a Japan Airlines flight this wasn't an issue. Customers simply plugged into the video screen in front of them and instantly became members of the Sega mile high club.

On March 10, 1994 Sega of Japan released essentially the same Mega Jet to consumers but the system still lacked a screen. In October 1995 Sega of America released a reworked Mega Jet which became known as the Sega Nomad. The Nomad added a 3.25 inch LCD screen and a battery pack, making it a truly portable system. (Note: The Nomad was only released in North America) Another excellent improvement included A/V output and one controller input. This allowed for what was essentially a fully working Genesis-only home machine.

I say Genesis-only because while the Nomad was an awesome portable, it could not do everything that a home machine could do. While the hardware inside was capable of utilizing the 32X and Sega Mega CD (Sega CD in the States), the body of the Nomad was incapable of fitting together with either. It's like it you tried to mate a horse and a turtle. Or maybe not. Bad analogy, sorry.

So how did Americans respond? Not so well. While like most Sega products, the Nomad was ahead of its time. Two major problems the system had were portability (taking a Nomad on the go was like carrying a Disney VHS case around with you) and battery life. I personally had no problem with the former and the latter could easily be remedied with a car adapter or an extra four batteries on hand. But, despite what I thought, the masses preferred the smaller and longer battery life to what the Nomad had to offer. In a last ditch attempt to gain users, Sega dropped the price of the Nomad from $179 to $79.99. Unfortunately the price drop wasn't effective and the Nomad was discontinued.

As we approach the Nomad's 14th anniversary, the system is still quite impressive in comparison to what portables have to offer. Emulations of Genesis games found on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP are still not as good as the real thing. In terms or screen size, the Nomad still has Nintendo beat by .25 inches. As for system size, the PSP is larger than pocket sized and is still a major player in the portable world. Of course, the Nomad would never make a comeback and defeat what we have now, but it is much more worthy of a dusting off for portable enjoyment than many portables of the past.

So I call on all Nomad owners* to dust off your Nomad, take it out of storage and give your favorite Genesis game a go. The Nomad deserves your love.
*if you don't have one get on ebay pronto!

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Is This All About?

In the same vein as the Master System, Saturn and Dreamcast Junkyards comes The Nomad Junkyard! The Nomad was a wonderful portable by Sega that played Nomad games. Unfortunately there has never been a Nomad game published, but the system does play Genesis games. Consider this blog to be the first Junkyard to cover all that is and was Sega Genesis.

Edit: Upon further research I've discovered that the Genesis IS the Mega Drive in Europe ( I also learned that they spell "License" with a "c" in place of the "s")! And that means that the Genesis/Mega Drive Junkyard is already covered!! Shit.*

So while the Nomad is a very small faction of the SEGA family, or the SEGAverse as I call it, that doesn't mean there can't still be things to be said! So what can you expect from The Nomad Junkyard? Nomad hardware reviews, Nomad hacks, Genesis tidbits, recommendations of games that make perfect on-the-go Nomad games, historical lessons and random non-Nomad but still SEGA related posts.

Welcome fellow Nomads.

*I've actually always known this, I was just being funny.

Welcome to The Nomad Junkyard!