Truth be told, I’ve been tempted to do another PC ports request article, but lately, there just haven’t been enough games released that fit the bill. After all, it’s not fair to request games to hit PC when they haven’t even hit the systems they originate on. So I decided to look at that series from a different perspective. Inspired in no small part by the recent announcement of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, the remaster of the Vanillaware’s PS2 cult classic, I’ve decided to start up a new spinoff. Instead of looking at more recent games and seeing what I would want to get ported to PC, I feel like delving into some forgotten older games that haven’t seen a release on 7th or 8th generation consoles and modern PCs for a change. Might as well spread the love, right?
The rules will be somewhat different from the PC port series. First of all, I’m going to be looking at games from the 6th generation (that is, PlayStation 2, Gamecube and the original Xbox) and earlier. Instead of limiting companies to one entry per article, I’ve decided to focus on one company for each article. I’ll also be discussing any potential improvements that could be made to these games, in cases where the games themselves would receive an HD re-release. To make things more fair, I’ll also be avoiding games that saw re-releases on 7th generation and later consoles, via PlayStation Classics, Virtual Console or anything like that. Sure, more substantial re-releases would be better, but it’s better than nothing.
So as I said, in each of these articles, I’m only going to be focusing on a single company. This time around, we’ll be looking at Sega. Now Sega may not be at their best at this point in time, but it’s hard to deny that they’ve got a rich history in their archives. That’s not to say that Sega hasn’t done a good job with re-releases in general, but lately they’ve slowed down on that front. It would be arrogant to assume that this article would have any real effect on Sega’s policies, but every little bit helps, right?
Sonic Heroes (PS2/Xbox/GCN)
I never really thought Sonic Heroes got a fair shake. It seems like a majority of people played it on the PlayStation 2, and that version…had a lot of issues. Personally, I played it on GameCube and had absolutely no issues with it. Besides, we’ve seen re-releases of the other two games in the so-called “Dreamcast era”, why not Heroes? For those of you out of the know, Heroes is perhaps the game where the running gag of Sonic having a million friends hit critical mass and the ensuing backlash would keep most of them off-screen for the foreseeable future. Players would take control of a team of three characters: one speed-oriented, one flight-oriented and one power-oriented, each providing their own advantages in specific situations. With four different teams (Hero, Dark, Rose and Chaotix), that’s a whopping 12 playable characters. Each team, however, would offer their own specific twists on the game’s stages. Team Hero was normal difficulty, Team Rose was easy mode, Team Dark offered a harder difficulty and Team Chaotix tended to offer alternate objectives, aside from just completing the stage.
Potential Improvements: Aside from upping the resolution for current-gen consoles and PCs, as long as they base the re-release on the Gamecube or Xbox versions, it should be fine.
Shenmue I & II (Dreamcast/Xbox)
Well, this one’s pretty obvious. I’ll be honest, I’m not really all that well-versed in the Shenmue games, but considering the gigantic megaton that was the announcement of Shenmue III, now is the best possible time to capitalize on the demand. After all, the success of Shenmue III’s Kickstarter proves that there’s definitely a high demand for this kind of thing. In fact, Blitworks, the companies behind the HD port of Jet Set Radio, said they had interest in bringing it to modern platforms.
Potential Improvements: Aside from increasing the game’s resolutions, perhaps including an option to decrease the difficulty of the game’s infamous quick-time events would be nice. Maybe just give an option for an easy mode, that would give players more time to react or multiple chances to get the QTE right. Clearly, this would work better as an optional chance, leaving the original QTE system intact for those who want a more authentic or difficult experience.
Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox)
Another game Blitworks mentioned they wanted to bring to modern platforms was Jet Set Radio Future. I’m a really big fan of the original JSR (or Jet Grind Radio, as I tend to call it) and I did actually own Jet Set Radio Future at one point. Unfortunately, I’ve long since lost my copy (it was from the bundle with Sega GT 2002) but have been itching to complete it at some point. Considering how much copies of JSRF go for online, I’d much rather see a re-release, especially because then I won’t have to plug in my Xbox again.
Potential Improvements: The obligatory high-definition resolutions would be nice, especially given JSRF’s interesting cel-shaded art style. Another nice bonus would be trying to put the soundtrack from the original into Future as well, just because that would be a pretty awesome addition.
Burning Rangers (Saturn)
Another game I never really got the chance to play, but considering what I’ve heard about it, it sounds amazing: rescue civilians and put out fires in a futuristic setting. Too bad it commands obscene amounts online, especially when it comes to the English version. Oddly enough, unlike other popular Saturn games like NiGHTS into Dreams and even the original Panzer Dragoon, Burning Rangers didn’t even get a re-release in the Japan-exclusive Sega Ages 2500 series on PS2. Despite being out of print for almost two decades, Burning Rangers still makes the occasional cameo in Sega games. It had a table in the Game Boy Advance Sega Pinball Party and recently had its own track in Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed.
Potential Improvements: I’d like to see Burning Rangers get the same treatment as the recent NiGHTS into Dreams HD re-release: a version rebuilt from the ground up with high-definition graphics and widescreen support, with an emulation of the original Saturn version included as a bonus. Throw in a nice gallery and the soundtrack, and you’ve got it made.
Dynamite Cop (Dreamcast)
I will be honest, Die Hard Arcade is one of my favorite arcade games of all time. Unfortunately, it’s in this weird limbo, where it’s technically a licensed game (due to being inspired by the movie Die Hard, and named after it outside of Japan) while also not being a licensed game (the game is referred to as “Dynamite Deka” [Dynamite Detective] in Japan and stars an original character, Bruno Delinger, who would eventually make an appearance in the 3DS game Project X Zone).
So let’s do the next best thing: re-release the sequel! Dynamite Deka 2, released as Dynamite Cop outside of Japan, is a refined version of the original’s cross between 3D beat-‘em-up action and quick-time events, this time taking place on a cruise ship, instead of a skyscraper.
Potential Improvements: HD upscaling is once again on the agenda, but what would be really awesome would be if they included Dynamite Cop’s arcade-exclusive revision: Dynamite Deka EX: Asian Dynamite. Basically a rearranged version of Dynamite Cop, this time taking place in Hong Kong. The game itself is incredibly similar to Dynamite Cop, with extremely similar level layouts, but it would still be a pretty cool novelty to have a bonafide home port of this game, especially if the original can’t be included due to legal issues.
Fighters Megamix (Saturn)
Recently, Sega re-released some of their old Saturn-era 3D fighting games. Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers and Sonic the Fighters all made it to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network (but sadly, not Steam). They did, however, leave out one game, arguably the best of the bunch: Fighters’ Megamix. Fighters’ Megamix was Sega’s own attempt at a self-contained fighting game crossover, mostly starring characters from Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers, but with characters from other Sega games like Sonic the Fighters, Rent-A-Hero, Virtua Cop and even Daytona USA! That’s right, you actually get to fight as a friggin’ car!
Potential Improvements: Just make it on par with the other Model 2 Collection games, including the online multiplayer. That’s an absolute must for fighting games.
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (Gamecube)
Like Sonic Heroes, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is one of Sega’s early third-party titles that I feel just doesn’t get nearly enough love. It was a pretty interesting 3D puzzle-platformer with its reliance on the egg rolling mechanics, as well as having different eggs with different abilities. As with Burning Rangers, the game is gone but not forgotten, making appearances in both of the Sonic and All-Stars Racing games. Billy was even playable in the first one.
Potential Improvements: All I can really think of is HD upscaling.
Panzer Dragoon series (Saturn/Xbox)
This one’s pretty obvious and it’s been requested so much, it’s surprising that Sega hasn’t really addressed it. The original Panzer Dragoon actually has been re-released a couple of times before: once in the aforementioned Sega Ages 2500 series and as an unlockable bonus in Panzer Dragoon Orta for the original Xbox. Aside from those instances, we haven’t really seen much of these games otherwise. I mean, I can understand why Zwei and Saga weren’t re-released, but Orta should be achievable to some extent, or at bare minimum, even the first game. Ideally though, we’d see the whole set.
Potential Improvements: As with Burning Rangers, I’d say to give it the NiGHTS HD treatment. A full collection of all 4 games would be ideal, but I think that it’d be more workable if they made Orta a separate release, while bundling the 3 Saturn games into a collection.
Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast/PS2)
This one, I feel like I shouldn’t even need to discuss, but here we are. For whatever reason, only Space Channel 5 Part 2 has seen a re-release on 7th generation consoles and PC, while we’re still missing out on the original. It’s especially weird because both games had ports to the PS2, which I assume is what Sega used as the base for the most recent port. Still, having the sequel up without the original just seems…well, blasphemous.
Potential Improvements: Just make it on par with the games in the “Dreamcast Collection” or Jet Set Radio HD and it should be fine.
Zombie Revenge (Dreamcast)
The last game on the list is actually a spinoff from Sega’s popular House of the Dead series. Eschewing the traditional light-gun rail shooter style of the mainline series, Zombie Revenge goes for beat-‘em-up gameplay with shooter mechanics, not unlike Die Hard Arcade/Dynamite Cop. It’s an interesting little game that just seems like it should be preserved in some way, if only because I want more Sega-developed 3D beat-‘em-ups at my disposal in the here and now.
Potential Improvements: Aside from enhancing the visuals, very little comes to mind. Maybe they could throw in the original House of the Dead as a bonus game, at least for platforms where there’s a way to properly implement controls for a light-gun shooter.
Honorable mentions go to Blue Stinger and Skies of Arcadia. If I’m going to be honest, I thought this article went pretty well. Like I said, since the PC ports series is currently on hiatus, this will probably act as its replacement, at least for the time being. I do have some ideas when it comes to other companies I want to write articles for, but you’ll just have to wait until next time to see what they are. Of course, if you’ve been following the site, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea for what’s coming next.