OK, so this one isn’t really a game, but I still think it’s worth covering both because it’s an excuse to illustrate the incredible software bundle that came with the Sega CD hardware as well as a little snapshot of the multimedia entertainment industry in the early 90s.
Among all the major promises made about the CD revolution back then, the one that people tend to forget is how much cheaper disc pressing would be than cartridge manufacturing. While it can be argued that savings never really made it to the customer in any obvious way, Sega seemed set on demonstrating it with the pack-in software bundle on the first run of the Sega CD.
When you got the system, as far as games went it came complete with Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Volume , Sol-Feace and Sega Arcade Classics Collection. The first was an FMV title, the second a generic cartridge shooter with extended, animated intros and good music, the the last a collection of four classic Genesis games (Golden Axe, Columns, Streets of Rage, Revenge of Shinobi, two of which had redbook soundtracks).
Aside: I am positive that the first Sega Arcade Classics pack-in disc was meant to include Super Monaco GP as well. So much so that I vividly remember the game being on the case for my disc, but not on the actual disc itself. I’ve never really found any proof of this, though. Super Monaco GP was eventually added to the compilation and packed in with the Sega CD-X.
Along with that fairly broad spectrum of pack-in games came two music samplers. Because, hey, the future is a set-top box where all of your audio-video needs are served, right?
The first was Hot Hits: Adventurous New Music Sampler. This featured 10 tracks from 10 different artists, most of whom I’d barely heard of at the time. Dramarama, Saigon Kick, The Escape Club (I know them!), Yo-Yo, The Wolfgang Press, They Might Be Giants (heard of ‘em), Chubb Rock, Throwing Muses, Sister Double Happiness and Lush all made an appearance.
The disc wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I’d say the TMBG and Chubb Rock songs are the only two that have really stayed with me.
The second sampler was Rock Paintings, which was a CD+G disc. For those of you who’ve never heard the term CD+G, it stands for Compact Disc plus Graphics, and was a short-lived attempt to make your music a bit more multimedia. As the audio played, a separate track would run what amounted to a glorified, themed screensaver on your television. It wasn’t a very highly supported format, though it was probably more prevalent than most people think. Warner Music in particular gave the whole thing a good shot (all the artists on Rock Paintings were from their label).
This disc also had 10 tracks, this time from five different artists, all of whom were far more recognizable than the ones on the first disc – Little Feat, Chris Isaak, Information Society, Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix.
Sega was really trying to push the whole one-box-that-does-everything aspect of the Sega CD. I think they were a little too ahead of their time in that respect – the public and the hardware both weren’t really ready at that point. But I’ve still remained extremely impressed with the software bundle included with the Sega CD and how it seemed aimed to hit almost every note of the new hardware a consumer had just connected.