Despite the tumultuous history it’s experienced over the past 15 years, Sega’s Genesis console remains a highlight of the early 1990s for many gamers. It’s the gaming machine that birthed Sonic The Hedgehog, was, for many years, the best place to enjoy arcade classics like Altered Beast and Space Harrier without dropping dozens of quarters on a single game, and still plays host to the best Phantasy Star titles Sega has ever made. That said, the console always lacked a certain something, and as a result the Genesis lagged behind the Super Nintendo in most major markets.
Most critics would tell you that this element was an expanded color palette or a more advanced sound chip, but two industrious French gentlemen seem to believe that what the Genesis was missing was the ability to electrocute anyone foolish enough to play the thing.
According to a Verge translation of a piece on French gaming site NowhereElse, the Gallic duo (using the presumably pseudonymous handles of “Dyad” and “Furrtek”) connected a pair of stock Genesis gamepads to electrified collars similar to those used to train dogs not to bark. After a bit of light coding, and ensuring that the hack wouldn’t start any fires or decapitate users, the two men found that their gadget would offer up painful shocks to players every time they received damage in a surprisingly large number of Genesis titles.
Helpfully — though that word doesn’t seem entirely apropos — Dyad and Furrtek quickly realized that masochistic modifications for classic gaming consoles might be entertaining for the rest of the world and uploaded full instructions on how to build a GeneZap of your very own to the ‘net. Unfortunately for all of us statistically monolingual Americans, the instructions are in French, so unless you can read popular European romance languages you might want to hold off on slapping together a Sega-branded pain machine.
On the other hand, the duo also uploaded a video walkthrough of the GeneZap in action to YouTube (see below). Now those Genesis enthusiasts who are both intensely lazy and terrified of pain can enjoy the gadget in their comfort of their own homes. Or, failing that, they can enjoy the suffering of scruffy foreign youths. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
Now, if you suddenly find yourself racking your memory in a vain attempt to recall where you’ve seen this thing before, we’ve got good news: You aren’t losing your mind! Sean Connery’s final Bond movie, 1983’s Never Say Never Again, included a scene in which the famous spy competes against the film’s antagonist in a video game that physically injured players every time their foe scored a point. Likewise, an art collective known as “/////////fur//// art entertainment interfaces” recently modified a Pong arcade cabinet to cause pain in players and dubbed it the “Painstation.”
That said, the GeneZap is the first truly consumer-grade iteration of the concept. We’re not entirely clear on how we feel about this.