Growing up, and still today, I was a big Sega Genesis fan. I had (and still have, although it’s grown a lot) a decent collection of games, but one really stood out for me: Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!
You may be asking yourself: wtf is Greendog? And if you’ve played it before: wtf, why is Greendog such a stand-out game for you? And either way: is that a hat or his hair? It looks like his hair on the cover, but a hat in the game?
All valid questions.
Greendog was released in 1992 and was part of an attempt to create a mascot for Sega. Ultimately, Sonic was chosen as the mascot and that’s for the best, really, but Greendog is a pretty damned fun game.
I came across the game by accident– my dad and I were in a used game store and Greendog happened to be playing on a TV on the counter. My dad said it looked fun enough and bought it.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but then a cousin from out-of-town spent a couple weeks at my house one summer and we got obsessed trying to beat it.
You play as Greendog, a stereotypical surfer dude with an Aztec curse. As part of this Aztec curse, Greendog has a pendant stuck around his neck and when birds and other living creatures are near him, they lose their minds and try to kill him. It’s kind of awesome. But also kind of annoying. Sometimes you get a dog, and that dog is awesome and will attack those animals for you. I love dogs.
Oh hai doggy.
Also, in the opening story, you get to look at a 16 bit bikini lady. Hey, it was before the Internet and we had to get our kicks somewhere.
In order to lift the curse, Greendog has to collect pieces of some Aztec treasure and put them back together.
Upon beating the boss and obtaining the piece of treasure, Greendog has to get into this weird copter thing with a punching glove on the front that he uses to punch birds and fish the fuck out while collecting hamburgers and hot dogs that parachute in from the sky above. Yeah, I don’t know either. How can you not love this game?
The underwater level is one of my favorites, unheard of, I know. The music is jammin’, you get pearls, and there’s floating eyeballs that turn into spiky puffer fish. It’s brilliant!
Next up is a level where you’re skateboarding. How cool is that? There’s little ramps every couple screens allowing Greendog to catch some air before he goes into the subway station-type level.
Here, Greendog has to deal with subway people. The level shakes when a train is going by, which is a nice touch. And um, I think this is racist?
Remember, every living creature (besides his dog for some reason) freaks out whenever Greendog is around. Tourists are included in the living creature category.
The game was received okay, but most people were indifferent to it. Let’s be honest, Greendog isn’t exactly mascot material. There’s a few clear reasons why Sega went with Sonic and why that worked for them. But Greendog is a fun game, even if I have to defend it to Lee whenever it’s brought up. The only thing that bothers me about the game is that Greendog says “ow!” every time something hits him. Brotha, I know it hurts.
Greendog was later ported to the Game Gear, but no other Greendog games have ever popped up.
I know I’m not the only one who enjoys Greendog– the dude managed to get in on some sweet envelope art in Sega Visions magazine:
Of course, that’s likely the only two instances where Greendog fanart exists. Please don’t Rule 34 this.
The controls are easy to use, the levels are fun and colorful, the music is this crazy beachy-calypso-y soundtrack that you can really jam to. Each level is different, which helps to keep your attention.
In conclusion… is Greendog my favorite video game? Oh my god. I thought it might just be underrated, but maybe it is? I don’t know who I am anymore. And I’m still unclear on if that’s his hair or a hat.
Check out this review in the November/December 1992 issue of Sega Visions for more back story and game info: