sticker on the front['Parallax Memories' is a regular weekly column by Matthew Williamson, profiling classic '16-bit' games from the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, and other seminal '90s systems. This week's column profiles SEGA’s: Continue Japanese info book.]

FOR MEGA DRIVERS CUSTOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As an introduction to this little side story I just want to make it perfectly clear that I have almost no knowledge of Japanese besides recognizing the occasional kana or the characters for Save and Load. Knowing this (though I wish I could change it at times) I recently went ahead and purchased the Mega Drive Encyclopedia. It was pretty expensive and I could not find any kind of information on the book outside of the store that I was getting it from, so I just dove in and bought.

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Visual Shock!

The book itself comes in a nice black box with gold letters on the front identifying it as “16-BIT.” On top of that there is an interesting sticker attached to the plastic wrap that gives me either a distinct sense of excitement or the idea that someone was getting paid per punctuation mark.

Turning the box over reveals an interesting item: a Genesis gashapon (capsule toy). Specifically, it is not a Mega Drive, and even the strange box sticker brings this to your attention. The box is about 2” thick, and unfortunately the plastic container that holds the gashapon in place takes up a good inch of that space.

The dimensions of the book are approximately 8” high by 5” wide and it has a nice thin dust cover protecting it. On the book itself (under the dust cover) is an artistic picture of the Mega Drive, printed on the corners of the book as though it is shining through shadows. The paper stock of the book is high quality and a good weight. The words are all very clear and the color is perfect without any bleeding or blurring.


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Sound Shock!

The Encyclopedia is divided into three main parts. These parts start at the time of each of the three main Mega Drive releases: The Mega Drive, the Mega CD, and the 32X. The book is further divided by year starting in 1988 and ending in 1996. Each year is also noted with a black and white pictures from what I assume are important pieces of Japanese contemporary history.

There are reviews for 554 Japanese-released Mega Drive games for the consoles and accessories. They are broken up anywhere from one to three per page. At the end of each part of the book is a new interview with important people who worked with the Mega Drive. The only person who I recognized was Rieko Kodama of Phantasy Star fame. I am happy to report that many of the game highlighted in this column were made into one-page review items.

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Speed Shock!

But what this all boils down to is disappointment. To clarify, my disappointment is in the fact that I don’t understand the language. This is a fantastic set for Mega Drive fans. It’s comprehensive and has many new interviews and features with interesting facts that may have been previously unknown. The layout is spartan and gorgeous, and the love of the system can be seen on every page.

There are no cover shots for most of the games and even titles that were once in English were converted to kanji and kana; this makes it exceptionally difficult for me to learn of new titles I may have missed out on (my initial reason for the purchase) . So while it may not have been a smart purchase for me, I know that someone is going to get a lot of value from this.

[Matthew Williamson is the creator of The Gamer’s Quarter, an independent videogame magazine focusing on first person writing. His work has been featured on MTV.com, 1up.com, Chatterbox Radio, and the Fatpixels Radio Podcast.]