Years of My Life: 1993

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To recap: This is a series of posts that will cover each year of my life since my birth in 1987; mainly the things that interest me that happened/were released or conceived that particular year. This will include happenings in the world of music, video games, literature and television that are of particular importance or nostalgia to me. I’m hoping that this will give my followers a better idea of where my interests and passions in life lie πŸ™‚

Check out the previous post for 1992 here.

On to 1993!

World events:

 

In Music:

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Blur – Modern Life is Rubbish (Released May 10th, 1993)

The Brits among us will remember the ‘Britpop’ phenomenon that emerged during this decade, in particular the infamous chart battle between Blur and rivals Oasis.(I quite enjoy both bands’ work for the record). This second album from the former is often seen one of the early defining releases of ‘Britpop’, and is essentially a product of dissatisfaction, homesickness (it was recorded following a tour across the US) and frustration in how successful a rival band, Suede, had been doing during their absence. This perhaps explains the snarky title – in fact taken from graffiti they had seen in Bayswater Road in London (ultimately a better choice than the working title, ‘Britain vs. America’, one could argue!) They also consciously ensured it had a ‘British feel’. So this album is their rise from the ashes, essentially, given that the album that followed, Parklife, was an undeniable success. Going back to Modern Life, though, the lead single, ‘For Tomorrow’ is probably one of my preferred tracks, and keeps with the British theme, the lyrics setting the London scene for us (and its ice that will freeze your toes), and of course the reflex to turn the TV on and make some tea. It’s a great opening track, full of energy and an appropriate start for their big reinvention. Other standout songs include ‘Chemical World’ and ‘Sunday Sunday’.

In Television:

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September 10th: First episode of The X-Files airs in the US.

I must admit I did not really watch the show when it was first being broadcast – it wasn’t until a few years after the series’ (original) conclusion in 2002 that I started borrowing the DVD sets from a friend, curious to see what the fuss had been about. And thus I was hooked almost instantly. Before this, I was of course aware of the show and its two leads, Mulder and Scully, such immediately recognisable names of the 90’s as they were, and had watched the quasi-crossover episode of The Simpsons that aired during the height of its popularity, The Springfield Files, but I had not ever sat down to watch an episode. I was glad when I eventually did. The show’s exploration of the paranormal and/or alien made it different from your standard ‘case of the week’ procedural show, and also paved the way for other, similar sci-fi shows such as Fringe that eventually followed. (also one of my favourite television series). The show essentially comprised two kinds of episodes – the standalone ‘Monster of the Week’ shows, and the ‘Mytharc’ episodes that elaborated on the series long-running story arc regarding extraterrestrial life and the government conspiracy to hide this. While the latter became arguably became increasingly confusing and convoluted as the seasons went on, it perhaps in some ways influenced later TV shows that had overarching mythologies and backstory, something we take for granted now. Some of the many, many MOTW episodes fall flat as well, but on the whole it is a fantastic show and well deserving of its reputation. The series was recently revived with a six-episode mini series, evidence of its legacy and place in TV history, which frustratingly ends with a cliffhanger – here’s hoping we’ll see more from Mulder and Scully very soon…

In Video Games:

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September 23 – Sega releases Sonic CD. Sonic CD introduces the concept of time travel to the series and marks the first appearance of Amy Rose and Metal Sonic.

While his next major sequel ended up being pushed back until the following year, 1993 was far from being quiet for Sega’s blue hedgehog. This was probably when his popularity exploded (at least in the US and Europe – ironically the series has never been a big hit in Japan, its country of origin); merchandise with Sonic’s face plastered on it was in shops everywhere, he received not one, but two American-produced animated TV shows (the light-hearted Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, and also a darker, more serious in tone series that ran at the same time, simply titled Sonic the HedgehogΒ -which would become known as ‘SatAM’ to fans, derived from its Saturday morning timeslot – the latter also shared its universe and characters with Archie’s comic book series that also began this year, which is still in print to this day). There were also many spin-off games released to bridge the gap between Sonic 2 and 3; including a Japan-only arcade adventure, a pinball/platformer game inspired by Sonic 2’s casino level,Β  a puzzle game featuring series villain Dr. Robotnik as the title character, and a Master System/Game Gear release that saw Tails’s playable debut on 8-bit systems. Perhaps the most notable, however, was the first-and only-Sonic release for Sega’s ill-fated Mega CD add-on for the Mega Drive; appropriately titled,Β Sonic CD.

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I did not play this game upon its initial release; and seemingly many others didn’t either, most likely due to the expense of the Mega CD, and its subsequent failure. It was later released for PC in 1996, which is when I finally got to experience the game. It basically exists due to the fact that Sonic 2’s development was handled in the US, while the members of Sonic Team who stayed behind in Japan worked on this instead, among them Sonic’s original creator, Naoto Oshima. His different ‘spin’ on Sonic is evident in pretty much every aspect of the game; the more surreal art style, the eclectic music (which was actually changed entirely for the American release of the game), and also the level design, which feels a little more ‘confined’. It takes some getting used to for those more familiar with the Mega Drive trilogy, but Sonic CD is still a good game in its own right. Of course the new ‘time travel’ mechanic is of the most interest; Sonic has to find ‘Past’ signposts while in the present era, and then build up enough speed to blitz himself back in time. Once there, he needs to find a machine placed there by Dr. Eggman, which threatens to turn that level into a dreary, mechanical dystopia unless you destroy it. Do this successfully, and you’ll have changed the future into a bright, cheerful one, free of the evil doctor’s influence. Fail, however, and you are forced to see the consequences upon reaching that level’s boss. This provides a good motivation to explore the levels and find the best places to build up speed to time travel, meaning you’ll instinctively play it differently to how you’d normally approach a Sonic game. This may not be necessarily to everyone’s taste, but you have the alternative of going to this game’s bonus stages to collect all of the ‘Time Stones’ instead (this game’s equivalent to the Chaos Emeralds), which have the same effect of creating a good future for each zone once they are all collected – so you are not forced to partake in the time travel mechanic if you do not wish to. For those curious to check out this forgotten gem, the best option is to play the 2011 remake, which is available for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, iOS devices and Android. It even has the option to choose between the Japanese/European and the US soundtrack, meaning that fans of both are catered for.

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December – Sega releases Virtua Fighter, laying the foundations for 3D fighting games.

While the blocky polygonal characters may look extremely crude now, there’s no denying this game’s place in video game history, one of the first proper 3D fighting games. This paved the way for other series such as Namco’s Tekken (which is still thriving today while the VF series appears to have been quietly swept under the rug, which is quite sad), and also of course the later VF sequels. While the action was still strictly on a 2D plane (the ability to actually move in 3D wouldn’t come until much later on), this game was truly groundbreaking for 1993. This game may well be the definition of ‘humble beginnings’, but its importance is indisputable.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, wraps up 1993. See you next time!

Previous entries in ‘Years of My Life’:

  1. 1987
  2. 1988
  3. 1989
  4. 1990
  5. 1991
  6. 1992

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

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