With talk of Sega reviving some of its dormant franchises, there are plenty of classic games that deserve a comeback.
There was a time when Sega had such a wide variety of franchises under its belt it rivalled even Nintendo for its first party output. As the years have gone on though, its list of active franchises, at least those made in Japan, has dwindled.
The company has continued to profit off the likes of Sonic The Hedgehog, Yakuza, Total War, and everything Atlus puts out but there has always been a demand from fans to bring back games and characters from Sega’s earlier days.
This month, Sega mentioned in its earnings report that it is examining those dormant franchises for potential remasters, remakes, and reboots. And while nothing has been confirmed yet, the possibility alone has generated excitement from long-time Sega aficionados.
So which games are the most deserving of a revival? And which ones are the most likely to succeed and thrive in the modern era? We have some suggestions.
This one’s a bit of a cheat since there’s already evidence of Sega reviving its own fighting game franchise. The company teased some sort of esports related project last year and something called Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown was spotted on the Korean ratings board.
If accurate, it’s no doubt meant to be an upgraded re-release of the last major entry in the series, Virtua Fighter 5, which first released in 2007.
3D fighting games like Tekken and Dead Or Alive were heavily influenced by the groundwork Virtua Fighter lay down and with fighting games and the competitive scene only growing in popularity, a Virtua Fighter revival could do much better now than even just a few years ago.
Fans would probably have preferred a Virtua Fighter 6, but Sega is likely testing the waters with an already established title before it fully commits to a brand new game.
We’d also like to give a special mention to Fighting Vipers, another 3D fighting game, where characters wore armour and would take more damage when pieces of it were knocked off.
It never became its own series, only ever receiving one game for arcades and the Sega Saturn. Sega may argue that it doesn’t need two fighting franchises to manage so perhaps Fighting Vipers’ characters and mechanics could be incorporated into a future Virtua Fighter. Or maybe they could just bring back crossover game Fighters Megamix.
Jet Set Radio
With its cel-shaded visuals, funky soundtrack, and a premise all about fighting the oppressive powers-that-be, Jet Set Radio remains a beloved classic in many peoples’ eyes.
It has greatly influenced modern games like Sunset Overdrive, Lethal League, and the upcoming Bomb Rush Cyberfunk. That last one even boasts a near identical art style and has Jet Set Radio composer Hideki Naganuma doing the music.
Clearly there’s still a market for something like Jet Set Radio, perhaps a new game could put players in an open world with more mission variety and maybe a grander, more in-depth story. Or maybe even borrow some influences back from the more action-packed Sunset Overdrive.
Space Channel 5
For some, it’s almost impossible to not think of Space Channel 5 when discussing Sega. It won many fans thanks to its unique premise of investigating and thwarting an alien invasion in the form of… a rhythm action game.
There was a new VR game last year, but it lacked content and was not played by many. A proper follow-up would go down a treat with fans as well as attract fans of rhythm action games in general.
A sequel would probably require more meaty content and some additional side-modes and challenges. Maybe it could take a few inspirations from Sega’s other rhythm game series, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva, such as a variety of unlockable cosmetics for main character Ulala, different dancers, and super intense challenges for masochists.
Crazy Taxi is the epitome of arcade fun. The simple goal of taking passengers to their destination as quickly as possible proved to be such a winning formula that even Fortnite copied it (but not enough for Sega to sue).
So far, the series has only survived in the form of mobile games that are completely removed from the original concept (such as Crazy Taxi Tycoon, which is more of a management simulator).
Sega could simply put the original game on modern platforms, but that would probably be tricky considering how much licensed music was in it. Maybe it should try something akin to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remakes. Combine the first three games with updated visuals and music and Sega could have a winner on its hands.
Many hoped that Square Enix’s Balan Wonderworld would fill the void that NiGHTS left behind. But despite bearing many similarities, Balan Wonderworld failed to capture audience’s hearts in quite the same way and quickly became one of the Internet’s newest punching bags.
While it may be questionable to try and capitalise on a rival company’s failure, Sega would be remiss not to use the opportunity to bring NiGHTS back in some form or another.
A simple re-release of the original NiGHTS Into Dreams on modern platforms would make a great starting point, but ideally Sega would put together a package of both the original and its Wii sequel from 2008.
Barring that, while an actual sequel seems a tad unlikely, a full-on remake of the first game with more finely tuned controls, updated graphics, and extra story content that puts it more in line with the sequel’s structure could be what NiGHTS needs to draw in new fans.
Technically, the Shining series as a whole appears to be doing alright for itself. It has been consistently receiving new games over the years, with the latest being 2018’s Shining Resonance Refrain (although it is an enhanced port of a 2014 game).
However, that game was an action role-player, closer in spirit to Bandai Namco’s Tales games. The series initially began as dungeon-crawlers before transitioning into turn-based strategy games and it’s that style that’s most popular with fans and most overdue for a comeback.
The last entry was 2009’s Shining Force Feather on the Nintendo DS, but that remained exclusive to Japan. With it being over 10 years now and, so far, no new Shining games at all on the horizon, a new strategy game could be just what it needs.
There’s already a strong market for these sorts of games thanks to Fire Emblem and Square Enix’s upcoming Project Triangle Strategy. With a good marketing strategy, Sega could potentially cultivate Shining Force into a more recognisable franchise, rather than try to ride Bandai Namco’s coattails.
Skies Of Arcadia
This turn-based role-playing game from 2001 is considered one of the Dreamcast’s best games. It later received a GameCube port only a couple of years later and fans have been hungry for a new entry ever since.
Even some of its staff have wanted to return and make a proper sequel for the game, with developer Kenji Hiruta saying as much last year on Twitter.
It may be a bit much to expect a sequel, or even a remake, at this point though, considering neither version of Skies Of Arcadia sold particularly well and Sega didn’t even mention it in its earnings report.
The company definitely remembers the game exists, with main character Vyse making guest appearances in some Sonic The Hedgehog comics and as a playable character in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (how about a sequel to that game as well, Sega?).
At the very least, a digital re-release of the original game wouldn’t hurt. And while it may never become Sega’s own Final Fantasy, it should be more readily available so newer role-playing fans can see what they’ve been missing out on.
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Sega has already begun reintroducing the Panzer Dragoon series to the world with last year’s remake and a remake of its sequel scheduled for this year. But while the series has primarily consisted of rail shooters, there is one outlier that could warrant a remake or re-release of some kind.
1998’s Panzer Dragoon Saga was an attempt to translate the series into a role-playing game. At the time, it received near universal praise from critics, who called it one of the best games for the Sega Saturn. It even boasted numerous full motion video cut scenes and full voice-acting, something not even the Final Fantasy series had by that point.
Unfortunately, thanks to a number of reasons, the game was a commercial failure. It has never been re-released since and copies of it can be found on eBay going for upwards of hundreds of pounds. Not least because Sega famously lost the source code and that, together with how notoriously difficult it is to emulate Saturn games, has made a remaster financially impossible.
Panzer Dragoon Saga definitely deserves a second chance at success though, whether that’s a new game or some kind of archaeological recreation.
Okay, one last role-playing, we promise. Granted, Phantasy Star games are still being released to day but only via action role-playing MMO Phantasy Star Online (the original inspiration for Monster Hunter).
Phantasy Star Online 2 finally made its way to the West only last year, after being a Japanese exclusive for eight years, but there hasn’t been an old school Phantasy Star role-playing game for years now.
Given the success of the online game, a new role-player could easily piggy-back off it on the branding alone. The Mega Drive is often accused of being weak on role-playing games but the Phantasy Star games were very good and yet they’ve all but been forgotten now.
Maybe Sega could at least release a new compilation of the original four games, so people can see what they’re missing out on.
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