The Past, Present, and Future of Sega’s Best Franchises

It’s no secret that I’m a Sega fan or more specifically, an old-school Sega fan. Sega has been blessed with a great history and a legacy of phenomenally innovative games that helped fuel many a console war. However, now that Sega is now software-only and many of its most prolific developers have moved onto other development houses or their own ventures, Sega’s game have not only decreased in quality, but there are many landmark franchises that have been left dormant.

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In Sega’s best years, they were constantly trying new things and developing new characters. Some of them were quite successful while others were cult classics that didn’t sell well. With Sega’s recent concern about making money, they have (somewhat understandingly) been taking fewer risks. However, one would think that with such an established set of characters and gameplay mechanics, Sega would dig deeper into their history to update and refine those franchises that have had some potential for higher greatness. In this feature, I will be taking a look back the most important games and franchises in Sega’s library and comment on the past, present, and possible future status of each.

If you have a grand vision for a few of your favorites, I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.

  • After Burner – The great shooting franchise has been neglected until recently with the release of After Burner Climax.  In a rare occurance, Sega modernized an old school arcade game and kept the addictive gameplay intact.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t always equate big sales.
  • Alex Kidd – Once Sonic established himself as the primary mascot of Sega, Alex Kidd was basically killed off. (Check the gravestones in Altered Beast) We haven’t seen anything from Alex since the early Genesis/Megadrive days. I surprised Sega doesn’t do a little fan-service and make a quirky little game for the old-school fans.
  • Altered Beast – Sega would really have to take some liberties with this nostolgic franchise to raise it from the dead. An unimaginitive remake on the PS2 fell flat on its face.
  • Baku Baku Animal – a wonderful puzzle game that is due for a new release on the portable platforms if not a download service like the VC or XBLA
  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg – A relatively new, but oddball franchise from Sonic Team. Billy Hatcher had an interesting concept, but has more potential for creativity and fun gameplay.
  • Clockwork Knight – This low-profile franchise enjoyed two platforming games on the Saturn, but hasn’t been seen since. Not sure if it’s quite flashy enough to resurface on a modern console.
  • Columns – The brand name is recognizable, but the game itself hasn’t been touched in years adn the mechanics are pretty bland by today’s measures.
  • Comix Zone – The unique brawler from the Genesis is due for a remake. Why leave a good concept behind?
  • Confidential Mission – This James Bond-style light gun shooter would be a great fit on the Wii and is a great complement to Virtua Cop and House of the Dead.
  • Crazy Taxi – The fast-paced action racer was revolutionary in its day, but there wasn’t much to improve on for later installments. The game is availible on every post-Dreamcast platform in one form or another. Maybe someday when Sega finds a new gimmick to bring the game back to life we will see it again.
  • Daytona USA– Sega perfected the art of arcade stock car racing with Daytona USA via gradual upgrades on the Dreamcast and in the Arcades. For some reason, the racer has never been brought to any other consoles. Daytona hasn’t seen a drastic graphical upgrade in a while, but it is one of the few big-name arcade racers around.
  • Legend of Oasis / The Story of Thor– Sega’s attempt at rivaling Zelda resulted in some interesting games on the Genesis, Saturn, and Game Gear, but didn’t nearly match up with the competition. With Sega’s inability to make engaging action RPGs under the Shining name, I’d be surprised if this franchise ever sees the light of day again.
  • Dragon Force – This strategy RPG was developed for the Saturn by Sega and then brought over to the US by Working Designs. It was re-released on the PS2 in Japan, but has never been revisisted in any other region.
  • Ecco the Dolphin – Starting on the Genesis/Megadrive, Ecco provided gamers with a thinking-mans platformer filled with lots of puzzles and beautiful waterscapes. The series transitioned onto the Dreamcast and PS2 will little fanfare.
  • Eternal Champions – This 2D fighter died off quickly after it failed to make a dent into Street Fighter’s dominance. Not likely to make a return since Sega/Sammy has the Guilty Gear franchise.
  • Fantasy Zone – This cute-em-up shooter series was ported to many platforms in the 1980’s but hasn’t been seen since.
  • Fighters Megamix – With the continued success of the Virtua Fighter series, it would be interesting to see where Sega could take Megamix. Unfortunately, since it has abandoned it’s other fighting franchises, this may be an unlikely development.
  • Fighting Vipers – It may be tough to break into the market with Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur, Tekken, and Dead or Alive, but Fighting Vipers had some interesting takes on the 3D fighting genre that could add some variety if executed and marketed correctly.
  • Golden Axe – The sidescrolling hack-and-slash brawler made a transition to a 2D fighter in the arcades and on the Saturn, but hasn’t been seen since.   A XBox 360 and PS3 revival was announced a while ago, but not solid details have been released as a follow-up.  Regardless, the Golden Axe name is still filled with nostalgia, but the gameplay will require a gimmick of some sort to make it as a worthwhile resurrection.
  • Guilty Gear – Now that Sega has merged with Sammy, they now have this high-resoltution 2D fighting franchise under its belt. It was impressive in its early outings, but it has recently been falling short of expectations due to lack of innovation.
  • Hang-On – Racing games are not hard to come by in today’s gaming market, but there has been a lack of motorcycle racing games as off late. Being the biggest name in the subgenre, Hang-On could stand to be remade every now and then.
  • House of the Dead – This zombie-filled blaster fest is the most frequently updated of Sega’s lightgun frachises. It enjoyed its first three installments on the Saturn, Dreamcast, and XBox and the fourth House of the Dead game is making its way to arcades and may arrive on the XBox 360..
  • Jet Set Radio – One of my all-time favorites. The original on the Dreamcast is still my favorite, but the XBox “Future” sequel wasn’t to shabby either. Obviously, I’d love to see this one show up again — maybe as a mulitplatform game so everyone can enjoy it.
  • Kid Chameleon – This all-but-forgotten platformer from the early Genesis days could be a prime target for a modern remake or sequel.
  • NiGHTS into Dreams – After a long wait, Wii owner will finally get a long-awaited sequel to the Saturn classic. Lets just hope Sonic Team doesn’t screw it up.
  • Out Run – The recent Outrun revival on the XBox and Playstation platforms actually turned out quite well and maintained the feel of the original. Not a huge seller, but a success in my book.
  • Panzer Dragoon – Panzer Dragoon Orta on the XBox was a masterpiece that exceeded the Saturn originals in many ways, but was under-promoted resulting in disappointing sales. It would be a shame to let that get in the way of another installment.
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga – I’m mentioning Saga separately from the other Panzer Dragoon games since it is obviously in a different genre. Saga is remembered as one of the greatest RPG games of all time, but so far has been doomed to be a limited-run Saturn game. A remake and/or sequel should be mandatory for the good of the modern gaming community.
  • Phantasy Star – Phantasy Star Online thrived in the trendy MMORPG world, but it would be nice to see a new single-player RPG that could continue the legacy of the original Master System and Genesis games.
  • Propeller Arena – This cancelled Dreamcast game could be given a second chance and thrive in as a online dogfighting thrill-ride.
  • Puyo Pop Fever – Sonic Team did a great job reviving this aging puzzle franchise. It had successful ports on all the major platforms. An under-appreciated success.
  • Rent-A-Hero – Started as a top-down RPG on the Genesis/Megadrive, this featured battle sequences that were similar to fighting games. A 3D remake was made on the Dreamcast and then ported to the XBox.
  • Ristar – The little gem of a platformer was a fun-filled experience on the Genesis. Ristar was a charming character and arm-stretching gimmick was catchy, so its a shame our little yellow friend hasn’t had a new adventure yet.
  • Rez – The phsycadelic rails shooter is an audio/visual experience not to be missed. The cult classic landed on both the Dreamcast and the PS2 (in limited numbers), but only rumors are to be heard about it resurfacing again.
  • Sakura Taisen – A tactical war game mixed with a dating sim. How can you go wrong with that formula? At least in Japan, that is. The Sakura Taisen series has seen seven installments over a handful of platforms — the Playstation 2 being the most recent.
  • Samba de Amigo – Samba was one of the essential party games for the Dreamcast, but sales were hampered by the expensive maracca controllers (even though it is still fun with a standard controller). Now that the Wiimote can serve as a maraca without the added cost, it’s surprising that Sega didn’t make a new Samba de Amigo as a Wii launch title.
  • Sega Bass Fishing / Sega Marine Fishing – Two arcade classics that warrented their own fishing controller on the Dreamcast. Isn’t this the concept that Nintendo was showing off with the Wii-mote?
  • Sega Rally Championship – Back in the Saturn and Dreamcast era, Sega Rally always seemed to play second fiddle to Daytona USA as Sega’s trademark racer. However, as the drifting scene has become more popular over the years, Sega Rally has become a more attractive franchise for the modern gamer. Sega Rally Revo is a new-gen installment of the series and looks to bring much of the original game’s excitement to the more powerful consoles.
  • Sega SuperStars – Sega SuperStars is not so much of a franchise on its own, but a compilation of franchises in minigame form. It was a game to make use of the PS2’s EyeSite camera and its motion detection. It seems like a new version of the title would be appropriate for the Wii.
  • Shenmue – No Shenmue fan can deny that the saga needs to be continued. However, to clue in those that never played on a Dreamcast, maybe they should re-issue the previous games on a newer console before releasing part 3.
  • Shining Force – There have been plenty of mediocre Action RPG spinoffs on nearly every platfrom, but a solid turn-based strategy RPG like the originals would do wonders.
  • Shinobi – The popular franchise from Sega’s earlier days was modernized with moderate success on the PS2. But not much has been spoken about Sega’s popular ninja since.
  • Skies of Arcadia – Skies is Sega’s best RPG of the decade so far and their best that is without a sequel.  The Dreamcast game was released as a “director’s cut” of sorts on the Gamecube, but that’s it.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog– There is no denying that I love the original 2D Sonic games, but as I’ve discussed in great detail, Sonic hasn’t transitioned to 3D quite as well as we might have hoped and the latest installments have been a severe disappointment. Sega will supposedly be taking a break from the mascot, but hopefully, they will take some of my recommendations to heart when the Blue Blur returns.
  • Space Channel 5 – The rhythm game that oozes retro-futuristic style would be swingin’ on a new-gen platform. Wii-mote interaction would be ideal. Creative possibilities abound.
  • Space Harrier – With more modern rails shooter liks Panzer Dragoon and Rez stealing the spotlight, the Space Harrier franchise has been all but forgotten. Sega created a popular but rare arcade sequel, Planet Harriers, but it has never been brought to the home consoles.
  • Streets of Rage – The side-scrolling brawler genre is making a small revival with games such as Viewtiful Joe and Castle Crashers showing up every now and then. Maybe its time for Sega to revive the franchise that got the adrenaline flowing for many a Genesis owner.
  • Super Monkey Ball – Forget the Super Monkey Ball Adventure fiasco and get back to the puzzles that made the series great.
  • Toejam & Earl – The first game from this duo was an overhead action adventure on the Genesis that included some RPG elements. It was a quirky game that spawned a number of fans. The sequel morphed into a standard sidescrolling platformer. It was a good game, but dedicated fans were upset to see the gameplay change. A third installment was planned for the Dreamcast, but was cancelled and then moved to the XBox. Toejam & Earl 3 was a hit with some, but didn’t catch on with the mainsteam.
  • Vectorman – This great run-n-gun shooter from the Genny almost had a lackluster sequel on the PS2 before it was killed off. It would be great to see a new 2.5D shooter done right.
  • Virtua Cop – The Virtua Cop series thrived as it brought the light-gun game into the 3D world, but was forgotten for a number of years. Virtua Cop 3 made an impressive return in the arcades, but the promised home port never materialized. Again, the Wii seems like a logical home for Virtua Cop 3 and potential sequels.
  • Virtua Fighter – The series slowed down a bit with the third installment, but once Virtua Fighter 4 and 5 stepped up, it became on of Sega’s most skilled franchises in the modern era.
  • Virtua Quest – I love hybrid games. Because of this, I was initially excited when the Virtua Fighter RPG was announced as an RPG game that used Virtua Fighter characters and an actual fighting engine instead of old-school turn-based battles. The game went through a number of revisions and delays until it was spewed out as Virtua Quest with very little of its initial appeal left intact. Sega might want to consider giving this project another try and stick with its original vision.
  • Virtua Racing – Now that 3D racing games are everywhere, Virtua Racing is just a memory as a pioneer in the genre. The brand name is still powerful, but Sega would have to step up the realism and exceed the competition for a new installment to live up to its name.
  • Wonder Boy – This series was one of Sega’s earlier platforming endevors and showed up numerous times (six different games) in the arcade and a handful of platforms including the Master System and Megadrive.

19 Comments

  1. Marurun says:

    “they have (somewhat understandingly) been taking less risks.”

    Less needs to be changed to fewer.

    Why yes, I’ve been writing too many papers for school lately. How did you guess?

  2. racketboy says:

    Fixed — thanks 🙂

  3. Davs says:

    I’ve often wondered why Daytona USA has fallen off the map. We’ve gotten a million versions of Ridge Racer in the last seven years, but I always thought Daytona was the superior game back in the day.

    Here’s hoping NiGHTS on the Wii rocks our faces! And Samba on the Wii would be awesome. Maybe they could make little Wiimote attachments that make the “shakey-shakey” sound when you shake them.

  4. Richard says:

    I don’t see Skies of Arcadia…, where is it???

  5. Ramses says:

    simply put:

    You forgot Initial D! 😛

  6. jeffx says:

    wow dude, you really know your Sega. Quick note, the ARPG Shining Forces are actually amazing if you’re into Diablo-clones, and thanks for reminding me about Virtua Quest and Altered Beast… I have yet to try them, no matter how crappy.

  7. Mues says:

    Hi. First time I read this site.

    There is announced a new Golden Axe for 360 and PS3.

    After Burner Climax is far from underwhelming, actually is considered by hardcore arcade gamers as one of the very best arcade machines of lately while still been absolutely tied to its roots. I think that beeing tied to its root is what actually doesnt allow it to grow even more.

    About Confidential Mission and other light guns… I actually would prefer to see something like the new 2Spicy arcade game (see, another new IP. That is Sega), or even Ghost Squad.

    About Legend of Oasis… one that fits better in the “zelda clone” category is Soleil/Ragnasentry. Still none of them were developed internally, nor the Shining Force Exa games.

    Seeing how the excellent Outrun 2 didnt catch the mainstream I dont see why Daytona will (not to mention Virtua Racing).

    Still, new Sega Rally looks sexy, knowing its parent it seems even sexier, and offroad racing is on the wave again.

    I dont like wii Sonic at all, but firsts 3d sonic on Dc were pretty good despite people say.

    Glad you say Baku Baku animal, is my favourite puzzle game ever with paneldepon and tetris.

    About not resurrecting their others 3d fighting IPs. Kataoka said some time ago that 3d fighter market is not than wide at present for having many different IPs. Thats the reason they focus almost exclusively for now on vf. May change.

    Samba de Amigo seemed like a given for the Wii.

    By the way, there is a new Seaman for ps2 too.

  8. Timerever says:

    I think most of these should be left alone because they’re either no longer relevant or don’t need/can’t have any update. Special mentions to:

    Comix Zone: I think this game needs a HD remake, this game with with res and full 32 bit colors would be awsome.

    Golden Axe/Streets of Rage: Castle Crashers it taking care to this part, while I’d like to see a new SoR I bet Sega would screw it.

    Guilty Gear: NEEDS SMOOTHER ANIMATION!

    Hang-On: Need to get the same treatment OutRun had, a must update title.

    Jet Set Radio: Another Jet Set game would be awsome!

    Phantasy Star: Have you played Phantasy Star 4? The series __ENDED__ with Phantasy Star 4, any sequel would be an instant screw up.

    Shenmue: WE NEED SHENMUE 3 DAMN IT!! X-D

    Wonder Boy: This wasn’t a Sega game was it? It’s a Westone game. Anyway, again, have you played Monster World 4 (aka Wonder Boy 6, thou a game with such name never existed since it wasn’t released in the west where the franchise used that name)?
    At the end of MW4 the genie explicitly says it’s the end of the Monster World series… sad, very , very sad but true.

  9. The GagaMann says:

    A X-Box 360 port of After Burner Climax would make me want the system 200% more. That game is incredible and exactly how Sega should be going about bringing back the old classics, in much the same way OutRun 2 was.

  10. racketboy says:

    Thanks guys, I guess I had the Afterburner Climax thing wrong. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but was basing my comments on what I had herd. But I guess I was listening to the wrong people. I’ve adjusted my comments accordingly.

    I’ve also added Skies of Arcadia (not sure how I missed that one!)

    Also added the comments about the new Golden Axe announcement. That was a few months ago, so I forgot about it.

    Keep up the great comments!

  11. kevinski says:

    Is this an update to an older post or something? The House of the Dead 4 has been in arcades for ages. I know this because I’ve held the top five spots on the high score list at a local club for quite some time. (I never bothered to fill up the second page of high scores.)

  12. kevinski says:

    By the way, an Alex Kidd game would be perfect for Wii. Janken, anyone?

  13. gnome says:

    Actually, only a slight reworking of the DC Ecco would be enough for the Wii. The graphics and gameplay are already brilliant so all they’ll have to add is something to use the Wiimote with. Preferably not fishing though…

  14. racketboy says:

    kevinski, I only saw the HotD4 cabinets a few months ago…
    But you are probably correct.

  15. jack says:

    That list is cool and all but I don’t want to see almost all of those games on the WII.

  16. Logan says:

    Burning Rangers is a must-add, in my opinion.

    As well as, I venture to say, Toy Commander. Although I’m not sure if Sega or No Cliche’ (or whatever’s left of it) own the rights to that game.

    Good ol’ Chu Chu Rocket could find a great home on XBLA as well.

  17. Logan says:

    Oh, and Ristar was on your list, but personally I think he’s the PERFECT choice for a new DS game. Tap an enemy of and object, and Ristar latches onto it. Simple. And if Sega actually marketed the game (which Sega never seems to do anymore) it could really catch on.

    I’ve always thought that Ristar had great icon potential, he was just never put to very effective use. It seems the mainstream market only really thinks of Sonic when Sega is mentioned, yet the word Nintendo conjures up pretty much the whole Super Smash Bros. cast. And really, that’s a shame.

    I suppose it would be justifiable if Sega were churning out new properties left and right like they used to, but they just don’t any more. They haven’t contributed any truly innovative ideas to gaming since they stopped supporting the Dreamcast, and really, they’ve only produced a handful of Dreamcast-era-quality games since. (Panzer Dragoon Orta, Super Monkey Ball, Jet Set Radio Future, and… uh…)

  18. Logan says:

    Oh, and God! Fantasy Zone needs a remake so bad!! As does Space Harrier. SO MUCH POTENTIAL!!

    You really have to wonder what’s wrong with Sega these days… even in their days of miserably failing hardware sales (e.g. Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn) they still churned out tons of great games. Anyone who’s been a fan of Sega for more than a decade could tell them how to turn things around, but they’re just not doing it.

    Then again, they appear to be making tons of money off mediocrity… they just kinda remind me of THQ now. Which sucks, because I hate THQ. And I think I’ve reached my depression quota for the day!! =D