The Sega Hype Machine and the Sega CD
Oh Sega… you were such cunning marketers in the early 1990’s.
We all love the Sega Scream campaign and Sonic’s extra ounce of attitude that, in our minds, gave him the advantage over Mario.
However, once Sega attempted to move faster with their technology in order to stay a step or two ahead of their competition, some of the advertisements tended to exaggerate reality a bit more than normal. Take a look at this ad I pulled out of one of my old magazines (see text below)…
What are the technical advantages of Sega CD?
Basically, it offers massive storage. which means we can now use real video action. A 16-bit cartridge could only hold a few seconds of motion video. But the CD holds over 500 megabytes, so you can now play for hours, interacting with real video.
So the games will be more realistic?
Yeah, way more realistic. We have a second processor and a special graphics chip, so our zooming, scaling, and rotation is incredible. And we use a lot of real-life video you can actually interact with. Characters will speak to you and harass you.
What do you mean “interact”?
For example, there’s a game called “Night Trap:— that uses all real-life footage with real actors. and you control the action. You have to rescue girls from a house full of ghouls by operating a surveillance system, and trapping them in different rooms. It’s like controlling the plot and the action of a real movie, from start to finish. It’s pretty wild.
Do you have a personal favorite CD game?
Yeah. I like the INXS music video game, where you can re-edit their videos with different special effects and graphics. The sound on all the CD’s is pretty amazing; it’s just as good as an audio component. Plus we’re using a lot of original music. When you hook it up to your sound system, it’s like playing in a whole new realm. It’s really amazing. You forget where you are.
Looking back, it’s easy to see how all these statements were blown out of proportion. I mean, we still don’t have many games that really live up to that kind of hype a decade later. While the Full-Motion Video was a rather cool gimmick at the time and I was rather blow away by the audio in some games like Sonic CD, I don’t think I was that excited.
I personally enjoyed the Sega CD a great deal (and still do), but of course, I didn’t spend a couple hundred dollars on it. It’s easy to understand how Sega fans quickly turned away from the company after it hyped up these add-ons without a great deal of follow-up. This particular advertisement is just one of the many mega-hype pieces that Sega put together. If you’d like to see some game specific ads filled with hype, take a look at the Make My Video and Sewer Shark ads.
Do you have any other great Sega CD ads you’d like to share? Feel free to post links in the comments section below in addition to sharing your thoughts on the Sega Hype machine of the mid 1990’s.