Friday, May 30, 2008

Djinn of Nordic Descent

As is perhaps typical of that Fetishizer of the Facile, Lafayette "Fat" Contradiction has once again latched his attentions to (what I thought was) a mere side-thought in one of my writing. This times, it’s the (what I am now calling) Element of Display Distinction.
Also, display as a concept and a reality, including the elements of design and set-up (what kind of shelf? what order? etc), is a critical distinction which sets any sort of hobbyist collection apart from mere archiving (a mere matter of semi-accessible storage).1
Upon further reflection, I perceive a murky delineation on my part. I will now attempt to clarify.

The distinction at play is between collections where Display Elements are almost as important as the collection's content, and collections where Display Elements are not (in which case, elements such as accessibility are more important).

It’s the difference between a couple fistfuls of Genesis carts in a shoe box shoved under your tv stand, and a shelved row of games in cases with printed, color covers.

And let's face it: there's a whole breed of joyless collectors out there who buy Stuff and immediately store it in the attic, basement, or closet w/o ever removing it from its packaging. I feel secure in positing that Reviewiera is not habitat to this breed.

However, the degree to which the Display Element is present in a given collection easily falls victim to circumstance. After all, one cannot prominently and colorfully display games in cases if one has no cases. And, if one has cases, one has need of a color printer, and a resource for games covers from which to print, before she or he can have a games case with a colorful cover.

The short of it, then, is that I've further tinkered with custom Genesis cases.

Since my initial foray involved my Genesis RPG stalwarts of Phantasy Star II and Shining Force, the next subject was clearly Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom. III, however, is lacking in appealing cover art, North American, Japanese, or otherwise. Undaunted, I searched for manual art, concept art, and similar peripheries (though not fan-art), and found success with the color cover of a manga spin-off.2 This became the centerpiece for the new cover, of which I'm quite satisfied.

Phantasy Star III

At some point in looking for Japanese cover art I had stumbled across the French Mega-Drive site Guardiana, which has a plethora of Japanese versions.3 Of particular interest was Gunstar Heroes, the Japanese version's manga-style cover of which quite accurately reflects the game's on-screen busy-ness. Ranger-X, a personal Genesis fave of mine, features the titular mecha in artful repose.

Gunstar Heroes, Ranger X

More recently, another bevy of Madden cases facilitated a simple "what should I make covers for?" projekt. Beyond Oasis is a game I really want to like, and really want to play, but every time I slot it up on the Genesis or the Nomad, I only dink around for a few minutes and then decide to do something else. Still, it was called Story of Thor4 in Japan and Europe, and I like the Japanese manga-style (again) cover art for it, so I made it a hybrid, keeping the N.American name intact.

Sonic & Knuckles is a game that I do, in fact, like. I just don't play it often. Generally, games which lack save points don't see much eyeball time w/ me. Which doesn't mean I don't like them. I just don't have the time laying around to make that kind of a push.5 The cover I cobbled together's mostly a less-cluttered Japanese version, w/ some text from the N.American release on the back.

Beyond Oasis, Sonic & Knuckles

Since I was already making covers for games I respect but don't play, and since the subject of Sonic had been broached, I figured the 1st Sega Genesis game I ever owned should have a cover & case of its own: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the pack-in that came with the Genesis I presented with for Christmas '91 or '92.6 Sonic n' Tails are taken from the Japanese cover, and the back cover stuff from the N.American edition. The Japanese cover wasn't the best resolution so I ran it through a filter a few times and gave this, I dunno, cel-shaded look?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

You may have noticed I'd developed a bit of a set style by this point: GENESIS big on the front, usually 90degrees CCW; GENESIS in white font w/ black background at top of spine. More white background than on the original covers. I figure this is more in line with the SegaCD/Saturn/Dreamcast style of spines/layout. Of course, I had to tweak my Phantasy Star II and Shining Force covers to fit this new style.

Phantasy Star II, Shining Force

Finally, most importantly, the new and expanded view from the shelf.

Custom Covers

Way better than a pile of carts shoved behind my PS1 and DC games.

-d.d.

1 "Hybridization," Feb. 22, 2008.
2 Or something like that.
3 Although, sometimes frustratingly, usually at a lower resolution.
4 To clarify: a Arabic-themed, or at least Arabic-inspired, action-RPG, with Djinnis, a very Sinbad-esque main character (poofy pants), etc., with the word "Thor" in the title, and no hammer to be seen anywhere.
5 S&K is also a rather fine (and successful) example of the proud Sega tradition of add-ons and peripherals. S&K is "stackable", with a game slot under a hood on top of the cart. You put S&K in your Genesis, and then you can put either Sonic 2 or 3 in the S&K slot and play those games with Knuckles. No one ever really talks about the implications of this I but I kinda figure it as the first instance of "new content" for a new game.
6 In typical teenager fashion I wrangled my parents into getting one, and then basically got bored and walked away from it, leaving my sisters to develop freaky brand loyalty to Sonic 2: I got them all the plug-n-play version of Sonic 2 two Christmas' ago, and then they preceded to blitz through the first 4 or 6 levels like they'd never stopped playing, oh, FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

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