With a Sonic the Hedgehog film setting records at the box office, now’s as good a time as any to reflect on Sega’s glory days in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But instead of focusing on consoles, a new book takes a deep dive on Sega’s iconic ride-on arcade machines and includes intricate pop-up paper models of six standouts.
Besides that hyper-active blue hedgehog, Sega, which started life as a company called Service Games that sold coin-operated amusement machines to military bases in World War II, is probably best known for its consoles that went head to head with Nintendo, including the original Master System and the Genesis. Sega put up a good fight and released some memorable games, but by the time the Dreamcast arrived, it was clear that Nintendo had won the console wars up to that point.
But one corner of the video game market that Sega absolutely dominated was arcade machines. Those of you who remember what an arcade was, think back to the times you stood in line to play a machine and there’s a good chance it was one of Sega’s ride-on games.
Known officially as Sega Taiken games, which translates to “body sensation”games, these arcade machines enhanced the gaming experience with simulator-like movements and cabinets that recreated the cockpit of a fighter jet, or a racing bike players could actually climb aboard. Read-Only Memory’s new book, Sega Arcade: Pop-Up History, takes a closer look at the development of six iconic Sega arcade machines—Space Harrier, After Burner, Hang-On, Out Run, Thunder Blade, and Power Drift—complete with 3D, pop-up, papercraft replicas of each machine designed by Helen Friel and Kam Tang.
If you’re willing to shell out $45 for just the wonderfully detailed pop-ups, no one is going to judge you. Pop-up books will forever and always be the superior form of book. But that’s not all you get. This hardcover title, written by games writer Keith Stuart, includes contributions from Sega employees like developer and engineer Yu Suzuki, who helped bring many of these games to life, and who shares new insights into how Sega was able to dominate arcades until arcades stopped being a thing.