I’ve been spoiled by the super ridiculously amazing longevity of video game cartridges. In all of my hundreds of cartridges from the 80’s and 90’s only two have ever died. These things were built to last and they have already survived the test of time.
However, my very significantly smaller Sega CD collection (standing at 50 games) hasn’t done as well. Three games (Dungeon Explorer, Lords of Thunder and Wolfchild) purchased within the last year(ish) have failed or are showing signs of trouble.
I purchased Dungeon Explorer from Lukie Games in July 2018 for $67 USD (~$88 CAD). When it arrived I found it just would not load at all. When I told Lukie Games about this they were quick to send a replacement. But unfortunately the replacement also did not work. I tried the original and the replacement on two working Sega CD’s so I’m sure the fault is with the CDs. It wasn’t a fun experience but to their credit Lukie Games did refund my money and I got to keep the broken game.
Lords of Thunder works perfectly except it will not play any audio music. The game loads, plays and sound effects can be heard. It’s only the Audio Music that is entirely absent. Lords of Thunder is well known for its intense hard rock music and losing this aspect of the game really steals it’s thunder (see what I did there?).
I bought Lords of Thunder from a fellow member over at Sega-16 in August 2018 for $120 USD (~$155 CAD) and I knew the audio music didn’t work. The seller was straight up about the problem.
Wolfchild will very reliably fail to load level one. Making it not much better off than Dungeon Explorer which does nothing at all. I purchased Wolfchild from Kijiji for $100 CAD (~$76 USD) just last month.
Fearing that these CD’s might be forever dead or half functional I took them into Retro Game Bros who (as I’ve recently learned) are very skilled at the art of re-surfacing optical discs.
Retro Game Bros had my CDs for just one day. When I returned to pick them up I was told they didn’t have a Sega CD to test if the re-surfacing had helped. But despite this they made some incredibly good predictions.
I’ll cut right to the main event; Lords of Thunder is now working perfectly. And thank goodness for that! It’s by far the most expensive game of the three. Retro Game Bros told me they expected good results from this CD. Before resurfacing they could see some mild scratches and scuffs that they were able to remove.
Dungeon Explorer they were not as sure about. There were a lot of scratches on this disc and the resurfacing actually revealed more scratches. They said maybe… and as it turns out the CD does load and play now. During the intro story the audio does have a hard time transitioning to a new track but it will muddle it’s way through and carry on. So I can’t be certain if the entire game will be playable but it feels entirely possible.
Ironically the Wolfchild CD looks absolutely perfect. With no signs of scratches, scuff or imperfections. Which is why Retro Game Bros were certain that resurfacing will not help. But at my request they tried anyways. No joy. The CD will still freeze trying to load stage one. Wolfchild is likely a victim of disc rot or some such age related degradation that can affect optical media.
If you have any optical discs that are not working or having any kind of trouble I really do recommend having them professionally re-surfaced if a gentle cleaning doesn’t help. Make sure a professional calibre machine and skilled people are at the helm. It’s important and I do believe this is the the last resort to save a disc.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I very highly recommend the Retro Game Bros for all of your re-surfacing needs. This has been such a great experience. Even if Wolfchild cannot be saved I still have piece of mind that I tried and… LORDS OF THUNDER WORKS!