Like many of you, if you were a fan of video games, particularly in the 1990s, you were either a Nintendo or a Sega fanboy. My path followed closely that laid out by Sega. I remember buying my first video game console with my own money, the Sega Genesis. Later, I became a fierce fan of the Sega Saturn. Finally, the Sega Dreamcast highlighted my dozen or so year love affair with Sega hardware. But all good things come to an end as Sega, after a rocky decade, could no longer support its hardware business and went on to exclusively be a third party publisher, supporting Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and others in their future hardware ventures. As a Sega fan I have seen the fruits and failures of Sega’s new direction.
So indulge me if you will as I imagine that Sega has hired me, a long time Sega supporter, to be in charge of a newly created department that would be responsible for developing games based on some of their most illustrious and notorious franchises. So I have selected several properties I think Sega needs to revive or reboot and how they need to go about doing so. So I have gathered my inner circle at Sega headquarters for our first meeting. Here are the games my staff will making:
Sonic the Hedgehog: The biggest name in Sega’s pantheon of characters is in need of the biggest reboot. Though Sonic has seen several launches over the last decade or so, yet it still has not been able to get close to recapturing its former glories. So I would decree to give the fans what they desire most, a return to the glory days. Sonic’s next game would be a 2.5-D revival based on the original two games of the 8-bit era. I would drop all of his friends except for Tails (useful in co-op situations) and use him in clever new ways to assist sonic. Like Epic’s Shadow Complex, once in a while Sonic would break the 2-D plain for some 3-D action. Leader boards, collectables, puzzles, and Chao raising (an amalgamation of Sonic Adventure’s Chaos and Night’s ‘A-Life’) would be incorporated to give the game legs. All this and a friendly price point to reel in the masses and I think Sonic would be once again on top of the world.
Phantasy Star Online: One of my all-time favourite games has already seen its own ‘next-gen’ remake, but I say don’t fix was is not broke. Forget Sony’s Home or Microsoft’s Avatars, my idea for a PSO revival is to reintroduce the series as a downloadable title via each consoles respective download service. Phantasy Star Online would once again become gamers social destination as the games lobbies would be filled by players wishing to chat or party up for experience earning, loot-grabbing expeditions. No subscription would be required, the game would become a gold mine via micro-transactions. You could tweak your look by buying unique styles for your existing armour, weaponry, and Mags. Also, new episodes would be made available for purchase to ensure you keeping coming back for more. The game would also support itself with in-game advertising (In all truth I hope that somebody at Sega actually reads this and gets them thinking along these same lines).
Crazy Taxi: the original Crazy Taxi was a runaway success, unfortunately its sequels could not recapture the originals fire and the franchise soon disappeared from our radar. Imagine if you will Crazy Taxi Online. Think of what could be done with a city not unlike Paradise City, where online players would compete for fares, do crazy stunts, and cause general mayhem. Crazy Taxi Online would be a licence to print money.
Seaman and Jet Set Radio: Two franchises that were made for the new generation of camera and motion control. Before there was Natal’s ‘Milo’, there was Seaman. This half human, half fish ‘lived’ in your Sega Dreamcast. As you raised it, it communicated with you and via a microphone included with the game, you communicated back. Now imagine Seaman brought to life with the Natal or Eye Toy. It would recognize your face, perhaps even sense your mood. Via motion control you could interact with Seaman and his environment. You could even map yours or someone else's face to the Seaman (creepy)! Like many Sega franchises, Seaman was ahead of its time. Natal was made for games like this.
Imagine Jet Set Radio using he motions of your arms and hands to spray paint or ‘tag’ your environment. Uh oh, the bad guys are on to you so it is time to book. You take off with the motion of your legs, or perhaps your Wii balance board to mimic skating. You direction changing or shifting of weight allows you to perform stylized stunts. Again I believe Jet Set Radio would be a perfect match for this generation of motion-based controls.
Panzer Dragoon: One of Sega’s most storied franchises, Panzer Dragoon has a rich and detailed universe that is begging to be remade for the next generation. I would like to rerelease the original Panzer Dragoon Saga along side the creation of its sequel. Saga’s unique melding of Dragoon’s patented combat in a RPG setting made this game an experience like no other. So much work has already been put into creating this properties universe, including its own spoken language, that it would be a shame that we never get to experience its colourful universe again. We were blessed to have four solid games out of Panzer Dragoon, but how many people really got to play them? I think we can do better for this franchise.
Shenmue: Say what you will about this franchise, but one thing is for sure, we need closure. GTA III changed the face of open world games forever, leaving games like Shenmue in its wake. So instead of trying to compete with that level of detail, I would like to produce either a series of interactive movies or one great episode to conclude the Shenmue storyline. Again, so much effort was placed into this franchise that it deserves a better fate. At the end of the day it may just be fan service, but with the guaranteed millions of earnings from the above titles, I think we can once again role the dice on Sega’s most notorious game series ever.
So far I think I have my new division at Sega off to a tremendous start. I think the above are the keys to returning Sega to its former glory. New Phantasy Star and Skies of Arcadia RPGs would be in the next wave. Also I need to put Chu Chu Rocket into the downloadable space as soon as possible. What Sega franchises would you like to see resurrected, retooled, or remade? I would like to hear from you, so please leave a comment. Sega has one of the most rich and beloved library of properties in the video game world. They need to get out there a grab the gold ring! Make it happen Sega.