Sega Swirl: The puzzle game time forgot.

Every once in a while, I kind of go on a “vacation” with the site. It’s not that I hate writing for this site (In fact, I love all those who read this site, especially those who leave hateful comments on that Doom mods article I wrote in 2014!), it’s that I get into a writer’s block, struggling for ideas. But then those vacations give me interesting ideas while I’m doing other things. Suddenly I get an idea, and get back to writing. Today, I’m dipping into a bit of late ’90s-early 2000s nostalgia.320px-Dreamcast_logo.svg

Sega was going through some rough times throughout the ’90s. The back-to-back failures of the Sega CD, 32X, Game Gear, and the Saturn put them in pretty bad shape by the time they released the Dreamcast. While they made a lot of games that I loved (Crazy Taxi and Chu Chu Rocket were my jams, man), it wasn’t enough to fend off the PlayStation 2 and the forthcoming GameCube and Xbox, forcing Sega to bow out of the console race for good around 2001. Nowadays, Sega is merely a husk of what it formerly was, occasionally putting out a Sonic, Football Manager, or Total War game to keep them afloat.

But let’s go back to the glory days of Sega. Around 2000, Sega’s PC arm made this game available to freely download, which became a wonderful time-waster during my middle school years:

What the heck kind of company is
What the heck kind of company is “Sega of America Dreamcast” anyway?

Introducing Sega Swirl, a fairly simple puzzle game released by Sega, loosely inspired by the Dreamcast logo swirl (seen above).

Sometimes, simplicity is better than complexity when it comes to menus.

The gameplay is fairly simple: You’re given a grid of swirl colors, and your goal is to find groups of colored swirls for points. Removing them shrinks the playfield down, making it easy to build up combos. The only danger is removing a single swirl rather than a cluster, which’ll give you a score penalty.

They almost look like colored cinnamon rolls.

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Sega Hot Wheels, from 2003.

Back in late 2012, I wrote about Atari Hot Wheels. These were Hot Wheels cars based on old Atari games that had rather dubious car choices. At the end of the article, I had mentioned that I also had Sega Hot Wheels, and that I’d get around to writing about them someday. Well, now is the time, because I finally completed the whole set a few days ago.

So the Atari ones were not the first video game tie-in Hot Wheels cars. These Sega ones came considerably earlier, from 2003 to be exact. By this time Sega had already abandoned their console heritage and started publishing games for the other game systems like the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. Each car is based off an existing Sega game from around that time period, and like the Atari Hot Wheels, a few of them are based on unique Hot Wheels lines than real cars. But enough about that, let’s look at the cars themselves:

  • A car from the “Fandango” series based on Space Channel 5
  • A car from the “Phaeton” series based on The House of the Dead III
  • A 2003 Lotus Esprit, based on the Shinobi reboot
  • A car from the “GT Racer” series based on Super Monkey Ball
  • and a custom 2003 Mercury Cougar based on Jet Set Radio Future.

These cars give a perfect snapshot of Sega from this period. This was back when they were experimenting with old series frequently and making sequels to games like Jet Set Radio. This was back when Sega actually cared and made cool new games, as opposed to today where they’re content with pumping out mediocre Sonic the Hedgehog games while making decent bank on the Total War and Football Manager series. But I digress.

The Sega Hot Wheels look considerably cooler than the Atari ones, as they’re based on car lines that would seem grounded in reality rather than the weird toy cars they made for the Atari ones. You could probably use these on those Hot Wheels racing tracks that were super popular twenty years ago. I think I still have mine kicking around somewhere…

As for how I got these, it’s a little more complicated than paying $12 at a Bi-Mart for them. I already had the Space Channel 5Shinobi and Super Monkey Ball cars as they were in a giant bin full of 2001-2004 era Hot Wheels cars that we have that probably have little to no value. I found the House of the Dead III car at a garage sale last year, and picked up the JSRF car at an antique store in Milwaukie, OR for the low low price of 50 cents. So now I have two complete Hot Wheels sets. This, along with having a Back to the Future DeLorean Hot Wheels, makes me have a pretty modest Hot Wheels collection now. Though, I probably won’t start collecting all of them, I do have my limits.

Now, I’m willing to bet that these aren’t all the video game Hot Wheels out there. Knowing Nintendo’s crazy marketing frenzy in the early ’90s, there might be a Mario car. There might’ve been other companies willing to make deals with Mattel for more Hot Wheels tie-ins. If there’s any more like these, let me know in the comments (or on Twitter, Facebook, et al) and maybe I’ll be back here again talking about other Hot Wheels cars based on video games.

What a way to start 2014, with more silly game trinkets…

A pile of items off my desk.

So I’m a messy person. My desk is usually cluttered with loads of junk on it. It doesn’t help that my desk is straight out of 1995, complete with old shelves and cut holes to plug stuff in like printers. I was fed up, and on Monday I decided to clean up my desk. It’s less of a mess now, but I then found a bunch of junk that I couldn’t have the heart to throw away.

I had a bunch of old school IDs and school bus passes, papers for stuff I did about 2-3 years ago, old phone bills, and just loads and loads of junk I should’ve tossed. But there’s a small amount of stuff I found that’s worth writing something about. So here it is:

Isn’t it a pretty sight? Yeah, this might have more toys than games, I don’t think you guys will mind. Let’s start from the top.

  • Atari Catalog from 1982 (?). I honestly forgot I had this. Covers Atari’s game library for the 2600. Sadly, the front cover is badly damaged, but the rest of it is in good shape. You could sign up for the Atari Game Club, which apparently someone did. I think I got this along with some 2600 boxes and a Super Mario Bros. 3 guide from a garage sale years ago.
  • Laser Pop projector candy. It’s a sucker that doubled as a flashlight. Got this years ago as a gimmick purchase, held onto it because of the concept. I’ve heard of Ring Pops, but I didn’t see Laser Pops getting popular. The light still works, surprisingly.
  • Twin Super Brick Game 2-in-1: It’s a Chinese Tetris Clone. Got this somewhere, complete with a box that had “SUPER BRICK CAME” on the side of it. If I ever find the box, I’ll give this a quick video review.
  • Tiger Electronics catalog from 1998. Ah, Tiger Electronics. Makers of so many god damn electronic handheld games that now rot on the shelves of Goodwills everywhere. I’m actually fascinated by a bunch of the items on display, like the and R-Zone, Tiger’s attempts to tackle the portable video game market, as well as the “grip games” featuring Duke Nukem 3D. They were even selling Talkboys! I was surprised those were still popular by this time!
  • Back to the Future watch. I like Back to the Future. It’s my favorite film trilogy, partially because of the time travel aspect, but because it has such a wonderful charm over 25 years later. The watch itself is more stylized like an old style watch where you’d put it on your belt or something. I honestly don’t know where I got this.
  • SEGA IR7000 Communicator. This is a really nice piece of obscurity: A Sega PDA from the late 90s. It does the typical PDA stuff: Calendars, contacts, a calculator… But it also had a fighting game where you’d fight with other owners of the IR7000 and get XP, or compete against the AI, which was a cheating bastard. Alas, I’ve never found anyone else who owned this thing. $10 at a Goodwill long long ago.
  • Destructoid sticker. Got this at PAX Prime 2012. Destructoid is an alright site worth visiting.
  • My old phone. A Samsung Transform. My first smartphone, and it was one hell of a learning experience, realizing the thing ran an old version of the Android OS, was slow as hell, and couldn’t play any games. I upgraded to a Galaxy SIII this year, and it’s a drastic improvement.
  • Back to the Future Part II model DeLorean. Inspired by Micro Machines, this came in a two-car set along with the futuristic car from 2015 (that I’ve since lost). Pretty cool toy.
  • Pokemon Tic-Tac-Toe. This is really cool: It reminds me of the old “Toss Across” games, even though it’s just regular ass Tic-Tac-Toe. You flip the knobs on the side to reveal Pikachu or Raichu. It’s built on a keychain, so I bet a kid circa 1999 could be the cool kid on the block with this toy. Okay, maybe not, but it’s a cool toy nonetheless.
  • Link figure from The Legend of Zelda. I think I got this at a Round Table Pizza at one of them vending machines that dispensed toys. I had another cool toy from that same place: A mini-projector of images from Super Donkey Kong 2. Yeah, somehow a Japanese toy came to the US without anyone questioning it, or even correcting it to the US title (Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest). Sadly that got damaged and thrown away a long time ago. 😦
  • Army figurine. One of two items from the Wunderland visit back in December. The other item, the top, is in a plastic bag somewhere.
  • Chuck E. Cheese token. Oh snap, this is a blast from the past. Remember Chuck E. Cheese? If you don’t, it was much cooler when you were a kid. Nowadays they’re probably a shadow of their former selves. Funny enough, there is still a Chuck E. Cheese not too far from my house. I bet it’s a joy to visit these days.
  • Rubber band Axe. This is from some PAX booth, I just couldn’t tell you which one.
  • Bunch of old DDR1 RAM. I end up with a bunch of old computer junk, like video cards from years ago, a PCI wireless adapter that supports 802.11b, and this RAM. I think there’s about 2-3GB there. The question is: Who needs DDR1 RAM nowadays? Does it even work? If it doesn’t, where would you go to get rid of it besides tossing it into the trash?
  • Senario Games motion basketball LCD game. Our final item is a weird LCD game where you use the shoulder buttons on the ball to shoot in the game. Bought this at a Sporting Goods store, probably isn’t fun at all to play.

As for the other stuff in the picture, it’s just dinky stuff like a hairbrush,  my watch, and a Swiffer duster. Nothing too special there. Yeah, this was a silly entry for me to write. But I have a bunch of game-related junk, and I like sharing it to people. Someone’s bound to find this cool, right? 🙂

Also, I did a lot of stuff yesterday, including finding some game and magazine deals, which will be featured in an upcoming Game Finds video. Stay tuned!