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A Brief History of Gaming
What's Wrong With the Official Sega Genesis Seal of Quality?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 05, 2014   |   Episode 29 (Show Archive)  

After the game crash of 1983, first-party companies like Nintendo and Sega were quick to learn the lessons of their forefathers. Gone were the days of being able to shovel any old product to the market; publishers had to be much more selective if they planned on keeping the video games industry afloat.

Sega had an even bigger obstacle to overcome. Thanks to Nintendo's strong-arm tactics, third parties were kept from publishing games on other platforms. This meant that Sega would have to look beyond the usual players and find a ragtag group of publishers made up of arcade makers, second-generation console veterans and foreign companies looking to break into the United States.

With names like Kaneko, RazorSoft, Nuvision and Renovation, they were a motley crew with a largely unproven track record. But that didn't stop Sega from bestowing them with the highest honor they could give, the Official Sega Genesis Seal of Quality. And just to make it official, the company ran a two-page ad announcing this dream team to the world.

Official Sega Genesis Seal of Quality

While not as flashy as Nintendo's third-party line-up, there are a few gems in the crowd. Bimimi Run and Whip Rush are underrated action games, and the critics went crazy over Technosoft's Thunder Force III. I've gone on record praising DJ Boy, Populous was fantastic on the PC, Technocop is insanely violent and Atomic Robo-Kid is a franchise in serious need of a resurrection. It might not be an attractive group, but there are a lot of good games featured in this advertisement.

El Viento
Unfortunately, consumers weren't interested in this "commitment of excellence." Looking over the seventeen companies featured, only a few remain. While a few made it into the 21st century, most of Sega's early support died before Bill Clinton's second term.

This was the fate of Sage's Creation, which published Shadow Blasters, Crack Down, Ka-Ge-Ki: Fists of Steel and King Salmon: The Big Catch before closing shop in 1992. Nuvision's Bimimi Run may have been well-received by critics, but that wasn't enough to get Bean Ball Benny, Swamp Thing and Guardian Angels Safety Patrol published.

With hits like El Viento, Ys III: Wanderers of Ys, Syd of Valis and Time Gal, Renovation published some of the most memorable games of the 16-bit era. But like
Target Earth
Treco (Fighting Masters) and RazorSoft (Stormlord), Renovation ended their run in the early 1990s.

There are a few familiar names, including Tengen. Tengen is best known for their sought-after Tetris cartridge and unlicensed Nintendo Entertainment System arcade ports. They managed to get the seal of quality on the Sega Genesis, leading to disappointing releases like Paperboy 2, Pit-Fighter, Slap Fight MD and Race Drivin'. Sadly, none of this was enough to keep Tengen afloat. The company went under in 1994.

Then there are companies that didn't even get around to publishing Genesis games. INTV Corporation was prepared to bring Curse to Sega's 16-bitter, but apparently something fell through. And before you ask, Target Earth was not made by the same people that brought you Shrek. There are two different companies with the name Dreamworks. Go figure.

So how many of the 17 companies still publish games? As you have probably already guessed, the answer isn't pretty. Below you'll find an updated version of the ad, highlighting only the companies still alive and kicking.

Official Sega Genesis Seal of Quality

As you can see, only three companies remain -- Activision, Namco and Electronic Arts. These companies bet on the Sega Genesis, which certainly helped propel them to the next level. Mondu's Fight Palace, Phelios and Populous aren't exactly the banner games from these companies, but the Genesis did eventually see Rolling Thunder 2, Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and Road Rash.

As we continue to see large and small game companies close their doors, it's important to remember that this is just a part of the business. Even with the seal of quality, this is a harsh industry and success is never guaranteed. All we can do is enjoy the games while they're here.



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