It seems as though there are still plenty of Sega classics still to talk about, so welcome to part three of this mini-series of articles which is dedicated to taking a closer look at some titles from the past that have been strongly associated with Sega, or are developed by Sega. The first two parts of this series featured some real gems, like like Streets of Rage, Shenmue and Comix Zone. Surely with those great games out of the way, there couldn't really be much more to talk about, right? Wrong.
Before we really get into the nitty gritty of this fabled franchise, let's get one thing straight. Yes, I realise that there was a modern remake of Golden Axe called Golden Axe: Beast Rider, but I also realise that it was borderline offensive to the world of video games. For that reason, I'm going to pretend that the game simply didn't exist and we'll move on from there.
Looking back on the original Golden Axe now, the gameplay is actually really basic, especially in comparison to the superior Streets of Rage. The AI was pretty shocking, and could easily be glitched into killing itself. Similar problems existed in Golden Axe II, but the production values were so much better and this was really the standout title in the series. The magic was much more refined and the animations and graphics were much much smoother. Blocking was introduced in the third title along with some strange new characters, but it was never seen outside of Japan until its virtual console release.
Despite its muted existence since Golden Axe II, it's still a franchise that holds a place in the hearts of many gamers. Sega clearly had good intentions when they made Beast Rider, but it just didn't really work out. It was a single player game and the beasts were always a minor part of the original games. If they can make Bayonetta work so well, why couldn't they afford Golden Axe the same courtesy?
Despite being one of Sega's oldest mascots, Alex Kidd is hardly one of their most well known and was replaced by Sonic due to his inability to compete with the juggernaut that was, and still is, Mario. He originally appeared on the Sega Master System as a free game that was part of every console. All gamers had to do was simply start the system without any cartridge in the port and Alex Kidd in Miracle World would boot itself up.
The game was actually a whole lot of fun, even though it was punishingly difficult. While the majority of the gameplay was side-scrolling, there were also plenty of vertical levels and memorising the levels was definitely necessary to get the best stuff. To round things out, there were even some fun rock, paper, scissors games to defeat bosses, instead of the typical fights that were commonplace in platformers.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing the original title, but the titles that came after failed to really re-capture what made the original so good. Their gameplay faltered and loads of odd quirks were introduced. Sega were probably right to phase him out, because they really dug his own grave. However, the platforming genre is still around and still quite strong. Who's to say that a solid Alex Kidd title couldn't shake things up a bit?
Back in the day, EA's Road Rash series, which saw its first three instalments released exclusively on the Mega Drive, was absolutely fantastic. It just offered something completely different to everything else around at the time. Not only did it have motorbike racing, but it had motorbike racing that was entirely illegal and also featured melee combat.
It was a huge hit and gamers literally couldn't get enough. However, after the third instalment things really went off the rails. It next appeared on the 3DO, PlayStation and Saturn, but the game just failed to recreate the original feeling and was very lacklustre in comparison "“ the graphics didn't really help either. Similar things happened with later releases and Road Rash: Jail Break ended up being the nail in the coffin.
Doomed to the archives, Road Rash had been forgotten, until Criterion released a free DLC pack for Burnout Paradise which allowed gamers to drive around Paradise City on motorbikes. It was great and proved that EA had the capability to make a stunning bike game, should they wish to. I really hope they see the potential that's there, but it looks like Criterion are too busy with Need for Speed for the time being. Fingers crossed that EA let them tackle Road Rash when they're finished.
Crazy Taxi, as the name would suggest, is a rather crazy game. It personifies the arcade gaming genre, as there is basically no campaign at all. The options are between a few challenges and a mode, which puts players against the clock. When the clock reaches zero, it's game over.
The reason Crazy Taxi was a success though, is because it was just so damned fun. It didn't matter that the game was short, because playing over and over again wasn't a chore at all. However, once the game left the Dreamcast it really took a big nose dive. It might be because things have evolved, and with the new mediums available, there probably hasn't been a game that screams "PlayStation Network and Xbox Live" more than Crazy Taxi; as it would be absolutely perfect that that market. It's extremely accessible, has quick games, popular music and features non-stop action "“ win all round.