A reader gives some detailed recommendation on find out how to revive Sega’s fortunes, including a retro arcade collection and a Panzer Dragon Saga remake.
We had four TV channels, the Queen was a sprightly 66 years old, The USSR was still a thing, social media wasn’t a thing (how much better was society without that) and Gazza’s tears captured the feelings of a nation. 1990 – what a time to be alive! The Mega Drive was also released in Europe that year and so began Sega’s assault on Nintendo’s dominance of the console market – the first console war, if you will.
As the 90s rolled on, Sega seemed to go from strength to strength, with the creation of Sonic and their arcade division creating genuine jaw dropping moments, with games such as Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter 2. However, their downfall was all too rapid, due in no small part to releasing things like the Mega CD, 32X, and Saturn in relatively quick succession and then having to play third fiddle to Sony with the release of the PlayStation.
Even the Dreamcast couldn’t save them from themselves, which may well go down as one of the most underrated consoles of all time, and so Sega left the console market to concentrate on being a third party developer and publisher.
I don’t want to reminisce too much, as this article is primarily about what I would like to see Sega do going forward. I admit I have a better chance of waking up in Jennifer Anniston’s bedroom to find out I’ve won the lottery than any of this happening, but it’s nice to think of what could be.
1. Make a good Sonic game
This should be so obvious that it feels stupid saying it, but there hasn’t really been a great Sonic game in over 20 years. I admit Sonic Mania was fantastic (which makes a mockery of my comment saying there’s been no great Sonic game in two decades), however Sega, or more precisely Sonic Team, didn’t really have much to do with it (which was probably a blessing) and the reason it was so good was because this was the blue spikey mammal in his two-dimensional pomp from Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and 3 days.
To use the Italian plumber as an example, Mario has been in some utterly magnificent games such as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, and Super Mario Odyssey. Even things like Super Mario 3D World put anything Sonic has been in to shame, which is sad as I think he deserves a modern 3D platformer that’s actually good.
To go about making this mythical game I would use the aforementioned Super Mario Odyssey as the benchmark in terms of the quality and gameplay standard that would be required. I’d also keep the secondary characters to a minimum and just make this primarily about Sonic beating Dr Robotnik, almost like a soft reboot, if you will.
Throw in some nostalgic 3D versions of places like Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, and others from the 90s, make them fun and I think they could be onto a winner. Also don’t make everything about going as fast as possible. Certainly have sections or zones where speed is key but Sonic was a platformer, give him some tight controls and let him platform.
*I know Sonic Frontiers is in development and whilst I do hope it turns out to be good, it appears to be slightly underwhelming. I think it has 6/10 written all over it. Time will tell.
2. Embrace the nostalgia
The Sega Mega Drive Classics collection is a great assortment of games which includes things such as Sonic The Hedgehog, Streets Of Rage and Gunstar Heroes, to name a few. Sega have also released the Mega Drive Mini, which was a wonderful little piece of kit and are set to release the Mega Drive mini 2 in the near future. This is all well and good, and I do applaud Sega for doing this, but it’s starting to feel like the same games have been released half a dozen times now and I would love to see some new ones.
One of Sega’s hardware producers recently made comments to the effect that at present it would be too costly to produce a Saturn Mini or a Dreamcast Mini, so instead of making either why not put the games on a disc and release a collection?
I know games from the Saturn and PlayStation era don’t lend themselves too well to modern TVs but Dreamcast games still look good. The Dreamcast Delights collection could include gems such as Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Shenmue, Virtua Tennis, Metropolis Street Racer, Crazy Taxi, Dead Or Alive 2, Soulcalibur, Power Stone 1 and 2, Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, Headhunter, Grandia, and Skies Of Arcadia.
I know there will be licensing issues and numerous other complexities but get things like Marvel Vs. Capcom and Street Fighter 3 in there as well and include online play and local co-op (especially for Power Stone). It’s like printing money.
3. Release an arcade classics collection
In the 90s Sega ruled the arcades and had a ton of hits. So re-release them. They could even split them into three separate packages as follows:
Driving: Virtua Racing; Daytona USA 1, 2, and 3; Manx TT, Sega Rally 1, 2, and 3, Sega Touring Car Championship, Scud Race, F355 Challenge, Star Wars Arcade and any others I’ve missed. Include local and online co-op play for added fun, imagine 40 players on the Daytona 777 Speedway?! [Why only the later games? What about the more famous Super Hang-On, OutRun, and Power Drift? – GC]
Lightgun: Virtua Cop series, Jurassic Park, The House Of The Dead series, plus a plethora of other obscure lightgun shooters they have released over the years. Include a decent lightgun in the package and I’m sold.
Fighting: Virtua Fighter series, Fighting Vipers series, Last Bronx, Sonic Fighters, Virtua Fighter Kids, as well as a few other fighting games from the Model 2 and 3 days to flesh the package out.
Failing that idea just make a compilation of the greatest ones and include some random unlockables in there like Virtual On, Crazy Taxi, Die Hard Arcade, Sega Bass Fishing, and so on. Again, include online play and local co-op and I think plenty of people would be interested.
4. Remake some forgotten masterpieces
If Sega were to release a Saturn collection I would be more than happy, however I think the 3D games from that era don’t look too good anymore (although I do still love them). So I propose a solution: remake then from the ground up using modern technology and release them on the current gen consoles. I’m sure that would only cost a couple of quid.
Here are a sample of some of the aforementioned masterpieces that I would select for a remake:
A first person shooter set in and around Egypt where a city has been taken over by unknown supernatural forces and you’re a soldier who has to try and sort out the mess. Think Doom meets The Mummy and you’ve got the gist. Give it a 2022 makeover with jaw dropping graphics that show crystal clear waters, beautiful sunsets, giant pyramids, and let me blast Anubis soldiers with supernatural weapons and bazooka King Ramses in the face.
A game where you run around putting fires out may not sound like fun, but it was surprisingly entertaining. There were also small puzzles to solve and civilians to rescue, plus one of the gimmicks of the game was that each level had random elements so each time you played it you would in theory be playing a slightly different level and going a different route.
Due to the limitations of the Saturn there were only four levels, so for the remake a lot more would be needed, or an open world could be created with numerous different buildings including things like skyscrapers or historic buildings that needed to be protected at all costs.
Panzer Dragoon Saga
One of the greatest role-playing games ever made say some (me) and absolutely worthy of a remake. Set in an ancient world, you play as Edge, a young man trying to get revenge on the Black Fleet who try to kill him, after he discovers an ancient artifact that turns out to be a woman. In your quest for revenge you get to fly around on a dragon.
The original battles were turn-based, so update them to be real-time and make them truly epic, like Top Gun: Maverick but on a dragon. I’d also expand on the side quests, update the graphics to make the world mesmerising, and the dragon a thing of beauty. Finally, I’d add some combat for the protagonist along the lines of Mass Effect, which would add a new layer to the game.
Shining Force 3
Another role-playing but set in a time of kings, emperors, wizards, and witches. Two countries are on the edge of war and you and your band of merry heroes must try and stop this from happening, all whilst trying to deal with a powerful religious sect with plans for world domination and numerous other political struggles going on in the background.
This was a turn-based role-playing where your group of 12 warriors would face off numerous enemies and bosses over the course of the games battles. The interesting thing about this game was you got to play as parties from both sides. Scenario 1 was released in Europe but Scenarios 2 and 3 never saw the light of day here. So for this remake all three would be released together, with all the bells and whistles modern consoles can provide, and the game would be XCOM 2 crossed with Game Of Thrones. Take my money now Sega.
Think Resident Evil underwater and you have the right idea. One of the last games ever released on the Saturn, this was meant to be Sega’s own answer to Resident Evil. It even came with its own fantastically cheesy dialogue and bad voice acting. Again, with the new version get it to look and play like Resident Evil 2 remake, add some new monsters, and make the game a bit more atmospheric – a bit like Dead Space or Event Horizon. Keeping the comical voice acting is a must.
Again failing that, release a Saturn package with all of the above games and throw in NiGHTS, Dragon Force, Sonic R, and Guardian Heroes.
6. Make some great new games
This also sounds like an obvious thing, but upon checking Sega’s website for their upcoming games they only have three: Endless Dungeon, Company Of Heroes 3, and Two Point Campus. Now these may be decent, but I just don’t get the feeling that they’re anything to get excited about. That’s not to say Sega don’t make or publish any good games as they do. Things like Yakuza and Football Manager are very good games, but I feel as though Sega need a magnum opus to put them back on the gaming map.
I’ll give them a daft idea for free, which may not quite be a magnum opus but could be fun all the same. It can be called Game Runners and begins with four friends uncovering a plot by a giant gaming corporation (we’ll call them AE Games) who want to riddle every game that’s ever existed in the world with bad gaming practices. AE games finds out that the four friends have uncovered their plans, so they teleport them into a game to meet their certain death. This then leads the players having to fight their way through numerous different games to thwart the plans of the evil AE Games and get back to reality.
The first game they get dropped into could be Altered Beast where they can then ‘game shift’ so their avatars become like the Arnold Schwarzenegger characters of that game. Together they have to fight hordes of enemies, then after the first boss they get teleported through other games like Alien Storm, Golden Axe, Bonanza Brothers, Sonic, etc. all whilst having their avatars ‘shift’ every time they change game.
A further level could begin with them in the pit lane of Daytona USA where they have to chase down a boss in another car (to the beautiful sound of Rooollliiinnng Staarrrttt!!) and after numerous laps of the course they crash through the giant Sonic wall and the game then changes to Space Harrier, then OutRun as they try and hunt the boss down.
Even the bosses themselves could be daft manifestations of things like microtransactions, lootboxes, buggy games, etc. I probably haven’t explained that very well but in my head it’s a scintillating game that’s packed with humour and fun to play.
Or make something like Hyenas.
Sega isn’t a bad company, far from it, however they seem to be sitting on an absolute goldmine of brilliant franchises that are dormant but ripe for bringing back to the present day (you could also apply this argument to companies such as Konami and Capcom).
I know a business is there to make money and Sega are doing that, I just think there is so much more potential that’s not being fulfilled. And yes, I have been slightly influenced by my 13-year-old self who adored a lot of these games growing up, but Sega used to make fun titles that took risks and I’d like to see them get back to that.
Bring back some dormant franchises and take care with them, create a brilliant 3D Sonic platformer, release a fantastic arcade package, and make a magnum opus. Dead easy!
If anyone from Sega would like to employ me to get all of this sorted, then I’d be happy to discuss personal terms. A nice salary, an unlimited Greggs card, and a Sonic mug is all I need. Remember: to be this good takes ages, to be this good takes Sega. Thanks for reading my ramblings.
By reader Torro
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