If you’ll recall, one of the earliest articles I wrote for this site was about Sega’s falling finances. Since that article was written, Sega’s been hit with the whole Aliens: Colonial Marines PR fiasco and they may be looking at a potential class-action lawsuit. Sega’s ship appears to be sinking once again, after losing one of the four or five key franchises they planned on using to remain afloat in these trying economic times, so now seems like as good a time as any to revisit the subject, wouldn’t you say? Last time, I explored the idea of other companies buying out Sega wholesale, but considering what happened with the bankruptcies of both Midway and THQ, it seems fitting to think of just what might happen if Sega gets cut up and each asset gets sold off to the highest bidder individually. So I’ve picked out 10 Sega IPs, some with recent releases, some that haven’t been seen for over a decade, some popular, and some so obscure you’ll probably think I just made them up. And just like last time, I’m not really dealing with what’s likely or possible, just what I personally think would be for the best when it comes to each individual intellectual property.
First up, the most obvious Sega franchise to get sold off: the blue blur himself, Sonic the Hedgehog. There’s an obvious answer to this one, folks. Some of you aren’t going to like it, but who cares. Nintendo has shown themselves in the past to be the best modern company when it comes to dealing with mascot platformers and even treated Sonic with respect when he made an appearance as a guest character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Needless to say, I’m sure that Nintendo is more than capable of continuing Sonic’s rehabilitation into a solid series, especially considering their heavy involvement in the recently announced Sonic: Lost World. Failing that, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ubisoft getting their hands on Sonic. Just imagine what a new 2D Sonic might look like on the Ubi Art engine. Just the thought of that gives me goosebumps.
Next up, Virtua Fighter, the first 3D fighting game ever. Not gonna say I’ve followed the series as much recently, but I loved the first 3 games. The obvious answer here is Tecmo Koei. Let’s face it, Dead or Alive’s gameplay is practically identical to that of VF (with a few minor tweaks) and while DoA is considering a wobbling, jiggling joke amongst serious fighting game fans, Virtua Fighter’s pedigree is assured. Besides, VF characters made appearances in DoA5. And while Namco-Bandai is an obvious runner-up, as they’ve made two of the most popular 3D fighter series of all time (Tekken and the Soul series), I feel like Virtua Fighter would be a much better fit for Capcom. Let’s face it, Capcom’s been trying to get back into the fighting game market, but their past 3D offerings have been…well, mediocre at best. Besides, Tekken and Virtua Fighter are two totally different animals.
Then there’s the NiGHTS franchise. Effectively Sonic Team’s first attempt at a 3D platformer, NiGHTS filled the gap left when the Saturn didn’t have a Sonic platformer to call its own. An interesting game in its own right, known for its beautiful (albeit extremely polygonal) artstyle and amazing soundtrack, which truly brought the dream world Nightopia to life. Just due to the family-friendly atmosphere of the series, I’m leaving it in the hands of Nintendo. Sure, Journey to Dreams was kind of lame for a sequel, but I’m sure that with enough time, the Big N could nail down the formula. Otherwise, the game itself seems like a perfect companion to the Klonoa series, so give it to Namco Bandai.
Speaking of games with weak sequels, how about Golden Axe? Man, was Beast Rider a stinker or what? I’d probably end up handing off this one to Capcom, simply for the purpose of killing two birds with one stone. Some people want a Golden Axe sequel that lives up to the original. Some people want a sequel to Capcom’s Dungeons and Dragons beat-’em-ups (which are finally being re-released on every major digital platform). So like that little girl in that taco commercial, I ask: why don’t we have both? Combining the Golden Axe mythos and setting with the gameplay from Capcom’s D&D games would be muy bueno, don’t you agree? If that doesnt work out, I guess Konami, the once-king of beat-’em-ups, is my saving throw. Just because I’d like to think that there’s a chance they could pick themselves up and stop making a mockery of their former glory. Fat chance.
Crazy Taxi was another one of Sega’s arcade hits turned console classics. It was also the subject of another lawsuit, this time in Sega’s favor against both EA and FOX Interactive in regards to another forgettable Simpsons licensed game. Regardless, Crazy Taxi was beloved in its own right, with its unique objective-based racing gameplay. I can only really think of one company these days that tackles arcade-style racing games (and isn’t EA) and that’s Namco Bandai. Nintendo would also be a good choice, as there’s a possibility they might just make it an arcade game again. Just not EA. Screw EA.
One of the cornerstone franchises of modern-day Sega is the Ryu ga Gotoku series, better known outside of Japan as Yakuza. The games themselves are effectively a cross between open-world sandbox games (GTA, Saints Row, etc.) and modern 3D action games, particularly ones that ape the classic beat-’em-ups of old (God Hand) with some action-RPG elements thrown in for flavor, set against a backdrop inspired by popular Japanese yakuza films. I’ll be frank: I think Atlus is the best possible company to handle the continuation of the Yakuza brand, due to the fluidity of the brand. If they don’t pick up the rights, I’d just give it to Take-Two Interactive or maybe Deep Silver. Maybe it would help them experiment a little more with regards to their respective sandbox games.
Phantasy Star is one of those rare Sega games that debuted in the days of the Master System and still manages to see new entries to this day: the second Phantasy Star Online game is due to hit the West sometime this year, along with iOS, Android and even PlayStation Vita ports. Once again, I think Atlus would be the best ones to handle this franchise. They have plenty of experience with regards to many forms of RPGs, from traditional JRPGs (the Persona series)to RPG hybrids (the upcoming Dragon’s Crown). And considering the way their North American branch handled Demon’s Souls’s online, it seems like they’d be able to handle both the classic Phantasy Star or the much more popular PSO series quite well. Level-5 might also be a good choice, considering their work on games like Rogue Galaxy and Ni no Kuni.
Another series originating from Sega’s pre-Genesis days was Shinobi. Appearing on many systems ranging from the arcades all the way to the 3DS, Shinobi, while not one of Sega’s most lucrative franchises, is still among its most beloved over old-school fans. Considering their interest in the Darksiders franchise and their own (albeit recently-ended) relationship with Sega, Platinum Games seems like a fair choice to take on Joe Higashi et al.’s adventure, considering their success with action games like the Bayonetta series and Anarchy Reigns. FromSoftware would be another valid choice (they have self-published a few of their games in Japan) considering they’ve worked on a few Tenchu games and have made some games that are really difficult, like a good Shinobi game should be. Perhaps you’ve heard of one: Demon’s Souls? Regardless, as with Yakuza, keeping Shinobi Japanese seems like it should be a top priority for the series.
Now onto some obscure games. First off: Panzer Dragoon. Oddly enough, my top pick for the classic rail shooter is Q Entertainment, the developer behind such games as Child of Eden and…well, a whole bunch of puzzle games. Considering how well Q did with Child of Eden, their spiritual successor to Sega’s Rez, I think seeing their take on the Panzer Dragoon series would be interesting. Otherwise, give it to Treasure. Those Sin and Punishment games were amazing.
Then there’s what is arguably Sega’s most popular rhythm game, Space Channel 5. The rhythm market has kind of dried up lately, but I can think of a few companies that still make them. The one I’m going with is Nintendo: Rhythm Heaven is at least as quirky as the SC5 series was and frankly, I’d love to see what kind of stuff The Big N might do with either the Wii U’s gamepad or the 3DS itself. Namco Bandai, who are still making Taiko no Tatsujin in Japan to this day would probably be my second choice.
Next, there is what may very well be the most obscure Sega franchise I’ll discuss: Comix Zone. An awesome action beat-’em-up featuring amazing (at the time) comic book-inspired graphics and interesting fourth-wall breaking gameplay mechanics. Considering both the game’s strictly Western influences and the fact it was developed by Sega Technical Institute, a dev team located in the United States, I don’t think a Japanese publisher could do Comix Zone justice. I just ended up picking WB Interactive, considering they’ve done quite well with the Midway franchises they’ve obtained and the fact that they’ve published totally awesome games like Lollipop Chainsaw, I’m more than willing to say the franchise would be in good hands. Ubisoft‘s really the only other major Western publisher I can think of that’s dabbled in the beat-’em-up genre, with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Finally, there’s Space Harrier, one of Sega’s earliest franchises. Effectively one of the earliest on-rail shooters, SH had a few arcade sequels and a few home ports, but mainly lives on due to various references in other Sega games, such as Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed including the main theme on one of its tracks. Considering how similar the game is to the Sin & Punishment games, Treasure seems like a perfect fit for the franchise, especially given their history with Sega. Handing it off to Q Entertainment might also be interesting, they’d definitely have an original take for the series.
So there you have it, a dozen Sega games paired up with companies that might end up doing them justice. But let’s face it: I definitely missed some important franchises this time around. So see you later this month with Part 2 and another 12 Sega games I didn’t get to cover this time around.