Sega’s glory days weren’t all about Sonic. I mean, they were a lot about Sonic, but there was an inventiveness and creativity from the Japanese company that made Nintendo look like boring old stick in the muds by comparison. So when it was reported earlier this week that Sega were looking to revisit some of their classic game IPs, it got us thinking back to the best games they managed to bring to market.
A few days later, here’s our 100% definitive and completely final list of games that Sega should bring back from the dead to live on the latest generation of console. You are, of course, welcome to debate it ad nauseum in the comments below, just beware that you will inevitably be wrong if you disagree. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.
1. Alex Kidd
Alex Kidd defined my childhood in a similar way to Sonic, despite being much weirder and now somewhat lost to the mists of time. If you’ve never played it, it’s a platformer set in a fantasy realm that became popular partly by being built into certain models of the Master System. It is also incredibly strange and makes little to no sense, which doesn’t stop it being excellent.
Part of this weirdness is the fact that boss battles are resolved by a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, which makes now the perfect time for a revival of the Alex Kidd series. You see, if you remember the Nintendo Switch launch presentation, when they showed off the IR sensors on the Joy-Cons, they explicitly showed off the controller’s ability to differentiate between the hand gestures for rock, paper and scissors, making it the perfect console for a new Alex Kidd game with increased immersion.
Couple that ability to actually play Rock, Paper, Scissors with a Sonic Mania style presentation that maintains the look and feel of the original title while utilizing modern production values to give a more polished looking product and Alex Kidd could actually be a real winner. At the very worst it’d make me happy.
2. Streets of Rage
Most Top 10 lists for the Sega Mega Drive will have at the very least one game off this venerated franchise. Yet because of the opinion of former Sega of America executives, the franchise’s fourth entry was canned despite the reception of previous titles. It’s a huge shame too as there’s life in the series yet.
Side-scrolling beat-em-ups are few and far between, but innovative ones are even more so. Perhaps the way forward lies within a particular fan project – Streets of Rage Remake. In the past, Sega of Japan have taken a dim view since the game was using their licence, however given the change of attitude from Sega as a whole recently, the inclusion of branching pathways showed just where the series can go.
Perhaps taking it to the next level would mean adopting another genre’s level design – the Metroidvania. After all, it’s a big city that the series takes place in and while retreading areas might betray the original vision, it may revitalise things in a similar way to Castlevania’s reinvention in the ‘90s. It would still play like Streets of Rage and still be 2D, but maybe this is a possible future.
3. Jet Set Radio
Those crazy rollerblading kids from Tokyo need to come back. One of my favourite games from the Dreamcast, it had an undeniable sense of style, from its cel shaded graphics and fluid gameplay to the fantastic soundtrack that went from funk and rock to J-pop, hip-hop and acid jazz. Ironically, it’s a similar kind of style, attitude and feeling that Nintendo have tapped into recently for Splatoon.
This might have been given the remaster treatment last generation, but let’s this deserves at least a remaster of Jet Set Future, if not a brand new entry that brings the series up to date. Future ditched the onerous level timers, for one thing, and there’s plenty more that could be done to modernise this, with a big open world take on Tokyo and a slicker all round presentation.
4. Power Drift
Sega have rebooted most of their racers over the years, Out Run has been on most systems, but poor old Power Drift was last seen at home during the 16 bit era. The problem back then was that the home systems just didn’t have enough power to shift the graphics around the screen but we have no such limitations today, and, apart from Mario Kart, there isn’t a really good arcade racer on consoles.
If you never encountered the game in the arcades, it’s a fun racing game with tracks that twist and turn and actually bridge over other sections of the track. Back in the day that was mind-blowing, you could drive UNDER a bridge and see other racers flying across it! The arcade cabinet also tilted the view of the graphics with some versions including a hydraulic cabinet that tilted with the game.
Power Drift would have to be radically overhauled for today’s market, losing the ‘zoomed’ graphics that made up the roads and features, but with a decent team – I vote for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed developers, Sumo Digital – a classic could be revived.
5. Crazy Taxi
Crazy Taxi was one of those games that was perfect for a pick up and play session. There was no story to worry about or characters to get to know. You just drove your taxi in the craziest ways to pick up and drop off passengers while racing against the clock. And after such a long hiatus now is the perfect time to bring it back.
Sure you could just modernise the graphics and expand the city but then there’s no real innovation. No the next crazy taxi has to be set in a future world where flying cars are the norm and you don’t just navigate north, south, east, and west but up and down too. The main inspiration for such an idea comes from The Fifth Element, and this world could be just as outlandish.
Just think about it. Dodging through traffic in the air while trying to make sure your passenger doesn’t fall out, and being able to do things like loops or turning the car on its side to fit through tiny gaps mid flight. It would be glorious and a fresh direction for the Crazy Taxi brand.
Most will probably not have played the majority of the Shinobi franchise, after all there were Arcade versions, arcade conversions of the original, a Saturn game with photographic sprites, and even PS2 and 3DS games. I still fondly remember Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master on the Mega Drive though and this for the majority of people will probably be the same thing.
As for where things are going with Shinobi for a potential future, it could almost certainly adopt a more stealth orientated experience in the vain of Tenchu, only a more modern setting to accompany its past titles, culminating in similarly well designed boss fights. There is also some merit in taking the franchise back to its roots of a well-executed 2D sidescrolling platformer with multiple plains to walk on, perhaps incorporating some 2.5D visual effects.
7. ChuChu Rocket
I didn’t play ChuChu Rocket on Dreamcast, where it was one of the first online console multiplayer games, but rather found my love of the game on Game Boy Advance. On Nintendo’s handheld, it was more about the puzzle mode, with a hundred from Sega and thousands drawn from the departed online service.
However, sticking with Nintendo would make an awful lot of sense, with ChuChu Rocket an ideal little madcap party game for up to four people on Nintendo Switch, each plopping down directional pads to redirect the ChuChu mice into their rockets, while trying cartoonishly evil KapuKapu cats follow not far behind.
8. Panzer Dragoon
The Sega Saturn played home to some of the best games of its generation, though it was resoundingly beaten into a cocked hat – which was then stamped on – by Sony’s era-defining PlayStation. Panzer Dragoon was one of the games that proved that the Saturn could not only produce convincing 3D graphics, but that Sega were amongst the best world-builders in the business, fashioning a compelling and enticing series of locations while the on-rails dragon riding action remains one of the best examples of the genre.
While the first Panzer Dragoon, and its superior sequel Zwei, stuck with the Space Harrier-esque shooter aesthetic, the third game in the series, Panzer Dragoon Saga, took the franchise and remoulded it as a turn based RPG, building into the incredible mythos of the world to fantastic effect. While 2003’s Orta returned to the series’ roots, a modern remake could take either approach, or meld them together, with a full RPG experience crafted onto the shooter’s bones, though there’s also huge potential for a VR experience that would allow you to actually ride the dragon. That alone sounds like a license to print money.
9. Virtua Tennis
I’ll never forgive Tim Henman for breaking my Dreamcast controller. That guy was a demon to play against on Hard difficulty in Virtua Tennis 2, and made me have an awful lot more respect for a player eternally stuck in the semi-finals of Wimbledon in real life. Thankfully, he’d departed the professional circuit by the time Virtua Tennis 4 landed on PS Vita – a smashed Dreamcast controller is preferable to an entire handheld.
The simple fact of the matter is that there haven’t been any tennis games of note for quite a while, and they make for a great head to head multiplayer game, backed up by a career mode that takes you to all corners of the globe. The slight oddity is that even six years on from Virtua Tennis 4, so many of the same players are still at the top of the pile.
In fact, Sega should bring back all of the Virtua sports games.
10. Golden Axe
We don’t talk about Golden Axe: Beast Rider here at TheSixthAxis, and with good reason. The 2008 action adventure game was meant to propel one of Sega’s most fondly-remembered franchises into the 21st century but, with poor scores across the board, only sullied its good name.
Even with Golden Axe missing in action, the 2D brawler has continued to endure – mainly thanks to indie developers as well as Japanese studios such as Vanillaware. It’s one of those genre that allows for myriad experimentation despite being one of gaming’s oldest.
With a trusted team attached to the project (maybe Creative Assembly?) Golden Axe could easily be spun into a modern character action game though purists will no doubt want to see a return to the series’ roots after the abysmal Beast Rider. A smaller, 2D-focused title would definitely fit the bill though Sega would do well to take note of its more recent competitors.
Honorable Mention: Crystal’s Pony Tale
1994: Crystal’s Pony Tale is a children’s action-adventure game developed and published by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994. The game features the adventures of protagonist Crystal Pony, who journeys to rescue her friends and stop an evil witch. It was mostly pink
2017: Crystal’s Pony Tale is a dark, adult adventure rebooted by Telltale Games. Sara is a deadbeat drug addict, alone on the streets of New York. After selling her body to make some cash she scores some Crystal Meth and jacks up. She is visited by a black pony, eyes blazing with fire, who predicts her death in a horrible fire. Waking up, Sara decides to try clear up her life, but she keeps on seeing the Death Pony – is she still high? Is she going mad? Will she survive…
These are just some of our picks for game series that Sega should revisit and revitalise. Maybe we’re wrong, though? This being the internet, I’m sure you’re already barely containing your desire to make sure we know we forgot to include Ecco the Dolphin, or whatever else your favourite Mega Drive game was.