Legendary gaming giant Sega recently announced that it is interested in bringing back some of its classic franchises and returning to AAA game development. Exciting news indeed, as the company has a number of excellent IP that have been collecting dust for years, decades in some cases. Most of us figured that the Sega we all knew and loved– the Sega of the Genesis, of dominating arcades in the ’90s– would forever be in the past after focus to the mobile gaming market a few years back. This recent development is a reason to be optimistic that maybe Sega can return to greatness if it brings back the right franchises in the right way.
However, Sega certainly shouldn’t bring all of its franchises back. For every one that deserves a reboot, there’s at least one other that is best left to history. Maybe it just wouldn’t work in a modern context, maybe there are just too many other games like it, or maybe it’s a franchise that simply was never as good as we thought it was and should just stay untainted in our rose-colored memories. Getting reboots that we only think we wanted but shouldn’t have asked for can lead to disasters like Golden Axe: Beast Rider.
Here are 8 Sega Franchises That Need To Come Back (And 7 That Don’t).
15. Bring back: Daytona USA
It’s hard to say exactly why arcade-style racing games fell out of favor, but over the last 15 years or so the genre has slowed to a trickle. It was once one of the most prolific categories in video games, and few companies were more representative of the genre’s golden age than Sega. While OutRun has managed to stay around longer than most, the majority of Sega’s racing game franchises have been stuck with four flat tires for much of the current millennium.
Daytona USA is the perfect candidate for a revival. The positive buzz around the upcoming indie racer Racing Apex, a game deliberately done in the vein of Daytona USA and other Sega racers, only proves that there is still an audience for those types of games. Further evidence that there is still a market for Daytona USA is that, despite how niche arcades have become and how little space most of them have, there are still a fair amount of four-unit Daytona USA machines up and running to this day.
14. Don’t Bring Back: Crazy Taxi
Crazy Taxi is the perfect arcade game– simple to pick up, difficult to master, and an absolute blast in five-minute bursts. When the concept is stretched out much further than that, it tends to lose its luster, which is what made the various home ports and direct-to-console sequels feel a little less special than the arcade original. The whole setup is also just a bit simplistic for a AAA video game released in the late-2010s, which makes the prospect of a new Crazy Taxi not especially appealing.
Another huge issue is licensing. One of the things that made the original such a blast was all of the real-world stores and restaurants that served as taxi stops, and those were all cut out in favor of generic locations for later ports to PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, which sucked a lot of the fun out of it. Even if they were able to get a bunch of companies on board for a new game, product placement just isn’t as novel in 2017 as it was in 1998. It’s basically a no-win situation in terms of making a new Crazy Taxi feel the same as the original did.
13. Bring back: Virtua Cop
Sega’s “other” light gun franchise, the one that doesn’t involve zombies, is the less popular Virtua Cop. Unlike its much more prolific counterpart, VC got a part two pretty quickly and then languished in obscurity for nearly seven years before its third– and so far final– game was released exclusively to arcades. It deserves much better.
As one of the first polygonal light gun games– and shooters in general– Virtua Cop not only paved the way for other 3D light gun titles like Time Crisis but also influenced first-person shooters. The developers of the landmark FPS Goldeneye 007 have stated that the game was basically their attempt at taking many of the innovations of VC and applying them to an FPS. Guns with only seven bullets, a reload button, having to avoid shooting innocents, different animations depending on where characters were shot, and an aiming mode– all of these are now mainstays of the entire genre that we take for granted.
Whether a VC comeback means maintaining the series’ on-rails roots, following the progression to an FPS, or just bringing Virta Cop 3 home finally, the series should definitely get another shot at the blockbuster success it deserves.
12. Don’t Bring Back: The House of the Dead
When it came to Sega light gun games, House of the Dead was the clear winner in the public’s eyes. The game has gone on to over a dozen sequels and spin-offs, including the ingenious The Typing of the Dead. It also got a great modern reboot in the form of House of the Dead: Overkill, which re-imagined the franchise with a more distinct ’70s grindhouse movie vibe.
Between already having a fairly recent reboot, and pop culture in general being a bit over-saturated with zombie stuff– video games being no exception– there isn’t any reason for Sega to have House of the Dead in its upcoming roster of new games. Again, it would run the risk of once again overshadowing a new Virtua Cop, which would be history just unfairly repeating itself. It’s time to let the forgotten Sega gun game have a chance in the spotlight, and to give us a break from yet another game involving zombie killing.
11. Bring back: Vectorman
Consoles used to famously release games near the end of their lifespans that pushed the limits of what their hardware could do. While they were no match visually for the SNES’ beautiful Donkey Kong Country series, Sega’s impressive Vectorman Genesis games still looked fantastic for their time and gave Sega fans who were still sticking with the 16-bit workhorse a few more cutting-edge action titles to enjoy in the mid-90s.
For a brief period, it looked as though Sega was going to revive Vectorman during its early years as a third-party publisher, with a planned reboot game for PlayStation 2 (pictured above). Unfortunately, Sega was attempting to take the more lighthearted vibe of the original games and change it to be yet another gritty action game– and one that was a little too obvious in its attempt to look like Halo. The response was justifiably harsh.
While Sega was smart to listen to the barrage of criticism and cancel that particular game, it also spelled the end for the Vectorman franchise overall. A new Vectorman game could definitely work, even in 3D, but it needs to be more Ratchet & Clank than Halo.
10. Don’t bring back: Alex Kidd
It used to be a necessity that every video game company have a “mascot”; a character that served as the face of the company’s brand and, in many cases, also starred in their own series of games. Before Sega hit on Sonic the Hedgehog, which became one of the only characters in gaming history to ever actually make Nintendo nervous, its mascot was the cute star of the Alex Kidd games.
While there were only a couple of Alex Kidd adventures, with the character and his franchise really only lasting a few years, it’s easy to see why Sega would be tempted to bring him back as the company digs deeper into its history for revival prospects. Character-driven action games have been on the upswing in recent years, with other niche platformers from yesteryear like Giana Sisters, Putty Squad, and Rocket Knight getting modern HD makeovers. Alex Kidd doesn’t need to join that trend.
If Sega really wants a piece of that niche platformer revival market, there are much more deserving games– Ristar, Kid Chameleon, or one of their their great 16-bit Disney games, just to name a few better candidates.
9. Bring back: Jet Set Radio (aka Jet Grind Radio)
In its short life, the Dreamcast was responsible for a ridiculous number of great games that made it one of the most beloved consoles of all time despite essentially only being around for two years. That era saw Sega firing on all cylinders creatively, trying crazy things and making games that were innovative and interesting even if they weren’t guaranteed mega-hits.
One of the best examples of this was Jet Set Radio— called Jet Grind Radio in North America– a game with striking cel-shaded visuals all about rollerblading around a huge city, doing tricks, avoiding cops, and tagging walls. Thanks to Sega’s arcade roots, it was also astonishingly easy to play, allowing players to do a variety of actions and maneuvers without the need for overly complex controls. It only ever got one true sequel before being put on indefinite hiatus along with a lot of Sega’s other less-mainstream franchises when the company hit lean financial times in the mid-2000s.
With open-world games all the rage these days, it’s as good a time as any for Sega to bring back a game that’s all about traversing a large metropolitan area at ones own pace while accomplishing fast, fun objectives.
8. Don’t bring back: Nights
Some games, while great, are of a very specific time and place. Nights Into Dreams is such a game. It was one of the Sega Saturn’s bright spots, a bizarre yet magical alternative to the more traditional platform games that PlayStation (Crash Bandicoot) and Nintendo 64 (Super Mario 64) were offering at that time. People initially didn’t really know what to make of it. Is it a flying game or a platformer? Is it 2D, 3D, or both? Why are the time limits so strict? And what’s up with the grading system? But once people put in the time and peeled away the game’s multiple layers, many found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience that is among its generation’s most innovative adventures.
Why shouldn’t it make a comeback? Its disappointing 2007 Wii sequel proved that the concept just didn’t seem to hold up beyond its original game. The first game offered up a type of for-its-time magic that can’t be repeated. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it doesn’t make for a game that lends itself to making a big modern comeback. As its title suggests, Nights is perhaps left to our nice dreams of it.
7. Bring back: Panzer Dragoon
There’s a commonly held belief that the Saturn couldn’t really handle 3D visuals very well. An interesting theory, since one of its launch games– Panzer Dragoon— was a 3D dynamo. The game, and its stellar first sequel, not only played amazingly but showcased one of gaming’s most unique, original worlds. In fact, such an interesting universe almost seemed somewhat wasted on just being used for on-rails shooting games. So Sega decided that the third installment, Panzer Dragoon Saga, should be an epic 3D RPG that featured the flight-based combat of the first two games, wrapped within one of the best role-playing games of all time.
Unfortunately, Saga wasn’t released until the Saturn had already begun its commercial nosedive, and the game never really had a chance to get the audience it deserved. The next– and so far, final– Panzer Dragoon game for Xbox was great, but disappointingly returned to the non-RPG, standard shooter style of the first two installments. An HD remake of Saga will always be at the top of most gamers’ wish lists, and most of us would happy enough just to get that. A new, true Saga follow up would be even better.
6. Don’t bring back: Altered Beast
There is nothing wrong with having fond childhood memories of games that are actually awful. The problem is when you reach adulthood and you aren’t willing to admit that some of the bad games you used to love, aren’t actually very good.
The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is admitting that Altered Beast is, and always has been, a terrible game. It’s slow, it’s clunky, it’s boring, and it’s short (even for a late-80s arcade game). Worst of all, the only redeeming feature of the game– the man-to-beast transformations– is really only cool the first time you see it. That they were already reusing beast forms just with different colors, even though the game is only about 20 minutes long, is inexcusable.
There was a 2005 reboot attempt for PlayStation 2 that was only released in Europe and Japan but never came to North America due to lack of interest–and more importantly, quality. That seems like a fitting place to leave this franchise indefinitely.
5. Bring back: Comix Zone
In 1995, the 3D era of video gaming was well underway with the introduction of the new wave of consoles and more capable computer hardware. Many of the games on largely 2D systems began to emulate the trend, resulting in games like Vectorman that tried to replicate a 3D look within a 2D game.
All of this made that year’s Comix Zone all the more refreshing, as it not only stayed distinctly two-dimensional, but also wore it like a badge of honor in a unique way. The game is set up to take place within the pages of a comic book come to life, as the hero has to move from panel to panel, bad guys can be kicked so hard it causes the “page” to rip, and a hand appears to literally draw the enemies into the scene. It’s a visual setup that could really shine with today’s technology, especially if it retains the original’s hand-drawn look.
The animation in games like Rayman Origins and the upcoming Cuphead prove that games really can look like living comic books and cartoons now, and Comix Zone would be able to look the way it was always truly intended to.
4. Don’t bring back: Eternal Champions
A fighting game that debuted on consoles and wasn’t an arcade port was a fairly rare thing in the early-90s, but that’s yet another trail blazed by Sega with the Genesis title Eternal Champions. While it lacked the polish and balance of Street Fighter II, EC was still a solid fighter with a unique time-spanning setup and diverse cast of characters. Sega CD follow-up Challenge from the Darkside upped the ante with gory, elaborate finishing moves that put Mortal Kombat to shame. A third game was reportedly in the works for the Saturn, but axed when the system’s popularity began to decline. It would be the last the world saw of the EC series.
While it’s too bad that EC doesn’t appear on many Sega retro compilations, it’s probably for the best that the franchise stays in the past. The fighting game genre isn’t as prolific as it once was and can’t sustain nearly as many separate franchises, and a new EC game would likely just get overlooked. Plus, its more fantastical characters probably wouldn’t translate the best to more modern makeovers anyhow.
3. Bring back: Streets of Rage
Sure, Streets of Rage bites so much off of Final Fight that Capcom probably should’ve sued Sega. Considering that Streets of Rage 2 is the best beat-em-up of all time, it’s almost irrelevant where it drew its inspiration. Beat-em-ups have had a rocky transition into 3D and very few to this day have gotten it right, so it’s not hard to see why Sega has been reluctant to revive its acclaimed series.
Like Vectorman, a 3D reboot was planned at one point but was eventually cancelled. Perhaps Sega saw how poorly games like Final Fight: Streetwise fared and decided it was better not to bother. Ironically, though, Sega is actually one of the few companies who does know how to do 3D beat-em-ups right, being the people behind the incredibly fun Dynamite Deka series– North American gamers will know the series better as Die Hard Arcade and Dynamite Cop.
They’ve already got a solid foundation to work with in bringing SoR into 3D. They could also just go the Double Dragon Neon route with a retro/modern 2D game. Either way, we need a new Streets of Rage already.
2. Don’t bring back: Golden Axe
A lot of potential Sega reboots of classic franchises never made it passed the planning phases in the 2000s. Considering how Golden Axe: Beast Rider turned out, it’s easy to see why–there’s the potential for them to go so, so badly. How Beast Rider is the one that made it to store shelves is a mystery, but one can only assume that the cancelled ones were just that much worse. Focusing entirely on female warrior Tyris Flare–and going with the trend of the time of making her absurdly under-dressed and having a camera that was more concerned with always having the ideal butt shot rather than a good view of the action–Beast Rider was a misguided attempt to re-imagine a fun swords-and-dragons romp as a hyper-violent, hyper-sexual, hyper-generic affair.
Did Beast Rider retroactively make the entire series bad? Of course not. The original Golden Axe games rightfully remain classics. And while Rider shouldn’t forever be the franchise’s swan song, the series also shouldn’t get a second chance at a modern reboot when so many Sega franchises still haven’t had a first. Give some others a chance at their own comeback before Golden Axe gets to redeem itself.
1. Bring back: Shinobi
It might seem hard to believe, but the rebooted Ninja Gaiden series is now almost as old as the original series was when the first reboot was released. Meanwhile, Shinobi has barely had a presence at all in the past twenty years, and its attempt at a 3D reboot in 2002 and a 2D reboot in 2011 were both admirable attempts that ultimately felt short of the series’ former glory.
Not only were the 16-bit Shinobi games some of Sega’s best of the era, they remain some of the best action games ever made, period. They were slower, more methodically-paced games than their action game peers of the time, suggesting some early examples of stealth gameplay and cover mechanics. As such, most fans would probably rather see a reboot that has more in common with Tenchu than the modern Ninja Gaiden games, as those tend to be pulse-pounding slash-fests. Ninja games of recent years seem to have largely lost any semblance of stealth and precision, and Shinobi could be just the game to bring that back.
Shinobi was always better than Ninja Gaiden in the early days. It’s time for it to be better in the present day, too.
What Sega game do you most want to see revived? Let us know in the comments!