Inspiring Sega. What’s it going to take?
Sega. A name that needs no introduction. Once synonymous with quality arcade and home games, the moniker is now only synonymous with two things: Sonic the Hedgehog and nostalgia. It’s a sad thing for a once-promising company who accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of dethroning gaming behemoth Nintendo at a time when Nintendo ruled the digital landscape.
Their success was shortlived, however, as they failed to maintain market share once the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation hit the shelves. The late 1990s saw a slight resurgence with the Sega Dreamcast, but their efforts to regain success proved ever-fleeting as the Dreamcast only lasted a short two years. Sega hung up the cleats and retired their jerseys as console developers, but they still make software to this day, albeit somewhat less inspired. What is it going to take to bring Sega back into the forefront of video gaming? What is it going to take to inspire greatness the way they did in 1990 when three young programmers created one of the most successful and beloved mascots in video gaming history?
Genesis: Reboots and Continued Advancement
I, for one, think it’s time for Sega to look at their roots and take advantage of the love that people have for their classic games. There were many truly excellent first party and exclusive games for the Genesis / Mega Drive, Sega’s magnum opus. While the Sonic the Hedgehog series stands out as their crowning achievement and is an obvious
franchise for continued development, Alex Kidd, Rocket Knight Adventures, Streets of Rage series, Vectorman series, Ecco the Dolphin series, Ristar, Gunstar Heroes, Comix Zone, Golden Axe series, Shinobi series, and Altered Beast stand out to me as instant candidates for reboots, sequels, and continued advancement.
I’m not talking about reinventing a series in the way Sonic Adventure and Super Mario 64 turned their classic 2D games into 3D adventures, but instead continuing to advance the classic 16-bit games with technologically superior sequels that look and feel like the originals! Sega tried this not so long ago with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episodes 1 and 2. Generally, fans were pleased. Sonic 4 was inspired and well-thought out, but better advertising, an opportunity for hardcopy purchases (made-to-order discs special ordered online), and more publicity could have helped tremendously.
Sounds crazy, right? For example, making Streets of Rage 4 or Vectorman 3 as cartoonish 2D games instead of bringing them into the 3D world may sound far-fetched, unrealistic, and possibly stupid. But think about it folks; If the word “Sega” is synonymous with nostalgic gaming, why not take advantage of that? There are millions of gamers who still love and cherish the classic games of yesterday, and what better way to appeal to those gamers than by bringing back their childhood favorites?
While it might not be the best idea to bring in a new Vectorman game titled “Vectorman 3” for fear of alienating all the youngsters who never played the first or second, the developers can always create a more suitable name that will attract all ages. Vectorman X. Vectorman: Vengeance. Vectorman: Nexus. Who knows? The sky is the limit. To keep things simple, I’ll continue using Vectorman as my main example here. When they reboot the Vectorman series:
1.) The main game’s mechanics should remain the same, except they should be tighter and more advanced with a larger weapon stash and Vectorman himself should have a greater variety of non-projectile attacks.
2.) The graphics, sound effects, and music should obviously be updated to take advantage of the current generation’s gaming hardware, but they shouldn’t overdo it. Much in the way Capcom remastered DuckTales; they didn’t try too hard to make the game feel super realistic. They maintained the classic feel of the cartoon show and the original game while updating the visuals tremendously.
3.) Keep it simple. Keep it 2D(ish). I think most people would appreciate some cool 3D elements, but the gameplay and visuals should stay on a 2D plane, or the same sort of visual presentation as its originals.
The original Ecco the Dolphin games, the original Streets of Rage games, the original Rocket Knight Adventures. Using these as examples. While these games weren’t flawless, they really were excellent titles. This is a great opportunity to cash in on fans’ childhood memories. We’re more than willing to shell out some serious cash to revisit our youth, but now we get a chance to experience something entirely new yet apparently familiar.
Sega already knows that their classic games from the Genesis are going to be their bread and butter. That’s why they continue to release these games on Nintendo’s 3DS, digital downloads, and in compilations such as Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Compilation. But c’mon. You can do more than that.
What About Money?
These reboots and sequels will be considerably cheaper to create. When you don’t have to create vast open-world environments that take 2 hours just to ride a horse from one end to the other (that’s 2 hours in real life), or realer-than-life graphics and animations, the time spent in development is obviously much less. That’s just one example of many in how these games can be made with much less capital. Less money spent on games means you can charge less money at retail, which means more people might be willing to give these games a shot. Even if they’re not sure that they want to invest a ton of time into Vectorman 3 or Golden Axe Reboot, at $19.99 a pop, they just might be willing to take a chance. PLUS, I’m sure that these games could be downsized enough to fit and play on mobile devices, further increasing their already broad appeal.
With a bevy of fans that have been itching to see Sega release their next big title (if that day will ever come), Sega need not spend too much time trying to choose which direction they should go. The best direction for Sega is to go back. Go back to a time when they reigned supreme and kids and adults absolutely adored their exclusive games. With the right development team, and a true emphasis on making these games great, they could garner some serious attention from newbs and veterans alike. But if Sega botches their marketing strategy, this could be viewed as a gimmick and could seriously flop in sales.
I can see it now. Can you imagine how you would feel if you saw a Sega advertisement on TV that simply said… “We’re back!” and it featured the classic blue and white “SEGA” logo and intro sound? Oh man, Sega fanboys would go nuts. While Sega can’t attack other developers or smear rival console companies like they did with their “Nintendon’t” campaign, they can still create aggressive advertisements to announce their return to form. Let the world know that you have a brand new Streets of Rage on the horizon. It’s bigger and badder than ever. Axel is back and he’s been lifting even more weights and he’s still cutting the fingers off the tips of his gloves! Or, the great Shinobi has returned to defeat the evil Neo Zeed once more with more advanced special ninjitsu techniques and perhaps a badass multiplayer mode!
C’mon Sega. You’ve got the talent. We know it’s there. I’m not saying that you should make more gaming consoles. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that. But what if, just WHAT IF, you made a new Comix Zone? I’m not talking about a Remaster or whatever. What I’m talking about is a true sequel. Or a new plot with a new character. Better graphics, sharper controls, same classic Sega feel. I have a feeling folks would shit their pants with nostalgic poopnuggets. Is it risky? Yes. But Sonic Boom isn’t going quite as planned, now is it?
So, my original question, the one in the title of this article is: What’s it going to take to inspire Sega? Well, they should be inspired by how beloved their classic games are! I feel that they’ve been ignoring their past. Use your experience with today’s current technology to bring the classics into the forefront. Hopefully this article inspires you Sega! Because we miss you and what you used to be.
All of the same can be said for their classic 80s and 90s arcade titles, some of the few great Sega Saturn games, and the really awesome Dreamcast games! Let’s get reboots and sequels for all of those great games! House of the Dead, Crazy Taxi, Panzer Dragoon, Sega Rally, Samba de Amigo, Power Stone, NiGHTS into Dreams, etc!
OFF THE WALL THOUGHT
If SEGA made these games and allowed us to custom order made-to-order Genesis cartridges, I would SO spend upwards of $60 or more on them. Easy. Sure, cartridges cost more to make, but without having to go through any retailers and by making the buyer pay for s/h charges, you could easily turn a profit on these. Don’t make a whole bunch and have people sit on inventory. Instead, make a limited number and sell them as collectibles or “special edition” items with bonus pack-in stuff like action figures and posters. Folks would easily pay big bucks for that stuff.
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