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Late to the Game(s): Celebrating Sega’s 60th anniversary with free Sonic the Hedgehog

By: Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Some of our favorite video game companies of today have very interesting roots. Nintendo, for instance, started out as a manufacturer of playing cards. Sega, beloved by thousands of Gen X gamers for their Genesis, Saturn, and DreamCast consoles – consoles that some considered ahead of their time, especially the DreamCast – started out as a manufacturer of slot machines and other mechanical diversions aimed at entertaining soldiers on military bases. The Hawaii based company, originally Service Games, shortened that to Sega and provided slot machines on U.S. military bases until they were outlawed. After that they switched their focus to providing the slot machines on U.S. bases in Japan and in importing other games, like pinball machines, eventually manufacturing their own replacement parts for the imported games. 

The company that we know as Sega today was founded in 1960 from the earlier Service Games and mergers with other Japanese amusement companies. Sega made their first original game in the 1960s when they began distributing the electromechanical submarine arcade shooter, Periscope. By the early 1980s they were producing arcade machines and their first home video game systems, releasing the SG-1000 in 1983 and Sega Master System in Japan in 1985 and North American in 1986. But they wouldn’t become the company we know today until the release of the Sega Genesis (or the Sega Mega Drive in Japan) in 1989. 

That system would introduce the world to a certain blue-haired hedgehog in 1991 who would go on to become an icon for the company, in the same way Mario was for rival Nintendo. 

Today, Sega focuses on software rather than hardware, which is a bit of a shame. As noted the Sega Saturn was a groundbreaking system, one of the first consoles to distribute games on compact discs rather than cartridges. (Nintendo didn’t move to CD until the GameCube launched.) 

It’s successor, the DreamCast, still has a cult following to this day. 

But because Sega today is focusing on games, instead of the hardware you play them on, we can not only play new Sonic games on multiple platforms, from PlayStation to PC to Nintendo, we can also access Sega’s huge back catalog of games on these platforms as well. 

Right now, to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary, Sega is holding huge sales of their back catalog titles, including all their Sonic games, so you can scratch that nostalgia itch while zipping through the Green Hills Zone in multiple games. 

You can even scratch it for free, if you play games on PC, because Steam is offering Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for free if you claim it in their game store right now. The follow up to the original Sega Genesis title brings you the same high-speed platforming fun you already know and love, and is a nice title to play with your kids if you want to show them what hardcore meant when mom and dad were young. 

You can claim your copy now for free, and it will remain associated with your Steam account after the anniversary celebration has passed, by visiting Steam and looking for the game, or by navigating directly to https://store.steampowered.com/app/71163/Sonic_The_Hedgehog_2/. 

So what are you waiting for? Run! Now! Like Sonic! And claim your copy before this deal zips away faster than you can say “Robotnik.” 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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