The late 80s and the early of the 90s were all about two console manufacturers, Nintendo and Sega. Of course, there were others around at the time, but none really gathered any real momentum with regards to their hardware and even Sega were mostly playing catch-up behind the dominant Nintendo. This of course lead to some legendary advertising campaigns, but it also lead to some great games being created by both companies as they competed for the attentions and imaginations of the general public.
I was one of the kids who got sucked in by Sega, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing all the exclusive titles they pumped out because the vast majority of them were actually pretty damn good. Quite a lot of those great games have drifted into the realms of video game lore though, or others have had a reboot that simply failed dismally and it's really disappointing looking in from the outside. So, here's the first part of my list of Sega classics, or games strongly associated with Sega, that I think really need a reboot, and a good one at that.
Be sure to check back in the future to read the next part of this mini-article series.
Streets of Rage
If there was ever a gaming franchise that doesn't deserve to be left in the history archives, it's Streets of Rage. Originally arriving as Sega's answer to Capcom's Final Fight, which appeared exclusively on the SNES at the time, it quickly became a must have title for the system. It focused on a couple of vigilante police officers who decide to literally take matters into their own hands in order to take down the nefarious Mr. X. Combat was simple, but rewarding and there was just something about the gameplay that made it compelling - it even had a special attack which saw a squad car decimate all opposition on the screen. To top it all off, it had an amazing soundtrack, which was composed by Yuzo Koshiro.
Following the success of the game, Sega produced Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3, which both appeared on the Mega Drive. They attempted to add extra depth to the gameplay, while continuing to provide the same great experience. Streets of Rage 2 is probably my favourite in the series, it was just the complete package. Streets of Rage 3, while arguably the best from a gameplay perspective, just didn't perform in other areas. It had the extremely odd Dr. Zan and the music was poor in comparison to the previous two games.
There have been rumours about a new Streets of Rage for some time now, although there hasn't been anything concrete for quite a while. Sega were reportedly interested in making a Streets of Rage game for the Saturn, using the Fighting Force engine, but nothing ever came from it. There was also a tech demo made for the Dreamcast which was dubbed Streets of Rage 4, but apparently due to Sega of America's lack of knowledge about the franchise, it was never pursued. We can only hope that someone informs them of this hidden gem, as if done correctly, this would sell like hot cakes.
Shenmue holds probably an unwanted position of being one of the most expensive video games in history, and in turn, being one of the least profitable ones in history. However, those who actually experienced the game will know that it was fantastic. The vision was fantastic as well, but it never really got to play out how Yu Suzuki intended it to. Focusing on Ryo Hazuki's quest for revenge, it was part adventure, part beat "˜em up. Players could explore local towns, get a job, take part in quick-time events and learn moves which would aid their performance in the inevitable street fights.
However, after the disappointing performance of the first title, the second one was never released on a Sega console in North America and I was extremely surprised when I was in my local video game store and saw Shenmue II on the shelf. Naturally I snapped it up pretty quickly and took it home only to find out the entire game was in Japanese, with English subtitles. This didn't ruin the hold the franchise had on me at all though and with the ability to carry over my progression from the first game it just made it even more exciting.
Unfortunately, this was all I, and gamers around the world ever got to learn about Ryo's quest. It's really disappointing too, because the story is all finished and Suzuki was very clear from the get-go that it was a game franchise that was meant to have many installments. However, despite persistent rumours about Shenmue III, nothing has come to fruition. Most recently, in January 2010, Sega of Japan stated that they could only really proceed with Shenmue III if it was backed financially by a current console manufacturer. It's unlikely Nintendo would do so, but Shenmue II appeared on the original Xbox and Sony do love to make landmark titles - so there is still hope... somewhere.
ToeJam & Earl
ToeJam & Earl are an interesting pair of alien rappers who first appeared on the Mega Drive in 1991. However, they only really gained considerable recognition upon the release of their second game, ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, which completely changed the dynamic of the game. Instead of focusing on a unique style of dungeon-crawling, it became a side-scrolling platformer where ToeJam & Earl had to find humans that had begun infesting their planet. I remember playing it and thinking how fun and vibrant the whole game was, the gameplay and music just capped off the experience.
There was a third game released on the Xbox, but it was met with a very mixed reception because despite it being developed by the original team, the game didn't translate overly well to the 3D space. I'm on the fence about whether this is a game that could actually work that well in 3D, but if they could re-create the vibe and fun of the second game, it'd be a great title. Unfortunately, it's not a game that's likely to see a fourth iteration any time soon.
They say that games which showcase a console generally come out near the end of its lifecycle, and Vectorman was certainly a testament to that statement. It had the smoothest gameplay and graphics which could easily compete with the much newer and more capable PlayStation. I remember being simply blown away by the fluidity of the gameplay although I also remember the gameplay being frustratingly hard sometimes.
There was talk of a Vectorman game coming out on the PlayStation 2 in 2003, but it was canned due to it drifting away from the original's roots. Personally, I don't think this game would be too bad in 3D as long it wasn't overwhelmingly open. A new 2D version would be a sure fire hit though, especially if it was made in the form of a downloadable title. Given how great they made it look back in 1995, they could make a seriously stunning title if they chose to.