Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sega, run to Dagobah!

I have this fond memory of the day I first got my Sega Genesis. It was an ordinary day. I just came back from school to find my mom waiting for me on the porch. She told me that she had a surprise for me, and I was curious as to what exactly it was. All I had to do was open the door and it was waiting for me on the step. I placed my hand on the doorknob not knowing exactly what it was, only to widen my eyes at the sega genesis box before me. This was great, considering the free copies of Sonic 2 and Aladdin that came with it, which was a amazingly developed game on it's own. While I explained this story, please note that I really had no interest in the Sega Genesis at all. I originally wanted a SNES, both because I was wowed by games like Super Mario World and Final Fight, but because my cousin had an SNES and it would of meant we could trade games back and forth like we did with the NES.

Even so, my love affair with the Genesis continued on throughout the years, as I found myself enjoying it's games, and looking past it's less-than-perfect sound chip to enjoy it's fantastic atmospheric sounds. It's the same love that had me write to Sega about hidden stages in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers only to get a thank you letter and a photocopied manual. It's the same love that pushed me to purchase the Saturn despite the bizarre direction Sega of America was going at the time. It pushed me to lust after the Dreamcast, despite the fact that I could only admire it from afar due to monetary constraints, and a slew of crappy jobs. Of course I eventually purchased a Dreamcast, only to purchase five games (one stolen from me, by a "friend") before the console was announced to be dead, and the Company went third party.

There's a reason for the anecdote above. In those days regardless of whatever bad decisions Sega has made business-wise they still were able to provide some of the finest games with some of the best content around. In short: Sega was truly a rival to beat when it came to it's first party offerings, which is why it's a damn shame to see what the company has become today. No, I'm not talking about Bayonetta, or Madworld. Besides, those are Platinum/Clover games, and only count on a publisher basis. I'm talking about the company who back in the 90's claimed "does what Nintendon't" resorting to begging Nintendo to put out mature titles so that it could thrive on the Wii. A move that leaves me saddened more than disgusted. It's like watching the moment a proud lion breaks after months of being caged and subjected to stares from nose picking kids. Sega just sits there with a glassy-eyed stare. Pining for the days when it roamed the pride wild and free.

I understand the claims are from Sega's France, and Spain branches. What I don't understand is why Sega is pushing for a "mature games" market when they already have a fairly mature back catalog just waiting to be revisited? Shining Force games are currently stuck on the DS. Golden Axe was stuck with a blah revival attempt. Streets of Rage is stuck in limbo, and only has an awesome fan-made game to show for it. Even games like Fighting Vipers, or Fighter's Megamix are past due for a revival, and could benefit from the amount of polish that was given to Virtua Fighter in recent years. Maybe I do know, why these games aren't being explored: Perhaps developers just don't have it in them to make games like these anymore? Let's face it most of Sonic's 3d adventures just suck, and the parts that are good are weighed down by bullshit. When the games are good they're either too short(Panzer Dragoon: Orta), or lack attention to certain details like Nights and it's muddy controls. We need that old Sega magic back! Depending on Platinum games will only get you so far, but then you risk being not only the "middleman" publisher, but having the reputation of being "past your prime."

There has to be more than coasting on licenses, and the occasional Sonic, Sonic and Mario tie-in , and Phantasy Star game. I just don't know if the Sega of today has what it takes to surpass the Sega of yesterday, which is their true enemy. It's like That scene in Empire strikes back, when Luke goes into the cave on Dagobah and cuts off Darth Vader's head only to find his own face staring back at him. That's you, Sega!! You have to look into your past to find what made your company thrive, and try to go beyond that. It's not in these "mature" outings. Games like those come and go with the changing times. Everyone knows that great games are timeless. I wish that someone from Sega would read this and strike up a change in the overall direction, but I'd be a fool to think that would happen. Oh well, Sega we'll always have the 90's

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