If We Ran Sega

January 24, 2010

If We Ran is a look at what we’d do if we were in charge of gaming companies and series.  We offer an 8-step plan to get them back on track.  In this inaugural edition, we look at a company that needs a lot of work: Sega.

After years of running the Sonic series into the ground, we’re ecstatic that Sega is (supposedly) taking things back to their roots with the horribly-named Project Needlemouse.  If we ran the company, we’d ban all characters introduced after Sonic 3 (we’re okay with Tails and Knuckles) and make sure Needlemouse is a true Sonic 4.  In fact, we’d name it that.  The game should also be in 2-D, and heck, we wouldn’t mind a retro art style either.  Also: Ryan Drummond would be reinstated as the voice of Sonic.


Rez has already made the leap, and rumors suggest Sonic Adventure will make its XBLA debut soon.  Of course, we’d rather see some titles that haven’t been re-released already, and some are perfect for the service.  At the top of our list would be ChuChu Rocket, Ooga Booga and Jet Grind Radio.


Now, though the series gets panned more than it probably should, this isn’t about the quality of the Mario & Sonic games and our desire for more.  No, we just realize that some of the things we’re suggesting, while better for the long-term image of the company, might be a bit costly in the short run.  Mario & Sonic games sell like, well, Mario games, so any excuse Sega has to get in on that gravy train is one they should exploit.  On the other hand, the Sega “star” compilations are not such a good idea.  Though they’re relatively fun, there’s just not a rabid following for those characters, and the final products just feel second-rate as a result.  


A big company like Sega doesn’t often have an overlooked masterpiece like Valkyria Chronicles.  Of course, it was a pre-2009 PS3 game, and the sequel is coming to the PSP, so it won’t fare any better.  Bring VC3 back to consoles and run a few ads.  It can appeal to the Final Fantasy crowd and the Fallout 3 crowd too…if they knew it existed. In the meantime, VC2 would be a tough PS3 port, but throw it on the Wii anyway, since that port is common.


While Sega was a colossal failure in the hardware market for the most part, the most impressive part of their games was how the early ones on each system really pushed the limits of the chips.  Blast processing looked amazing on the Genesis, and the speed of Sonic Adventure made the Dreamcast a must-have at launch.  Valkyria Chronicles looked great on the PS3, and it would have made a big splash if it was available in 2006.  Sonic and the Secret Rings would have been great at the Wii’s launch as well.  We’d work closely with Sony, Nintendo and/or Microsoft to get a cool game out early next time, and they’d be happy to have something impressive too.


Sega’s had a moderate amount of success in Japan with card-based arcade games like Mushiking and Sangokushi Taisen.  Of course, the American arcade is dead, but there’s a solid DS version of Sangokushi Taisen, and it’s an interesting title on its own merits.  It’s a big risk to get cards translated and printed, but we feel like America’s ripe for another card-based craze.


A lot of the problems Sega games have had recently are related to glitches and bugs.  It’s a shame, because those problems can be worked out with just another layer or two of QA.  The downfall of the Sonic series since Sonic Team USA folded has really been that the problems make them unplayable.  Then again, Sonic Team Japan hasn’t made anything good in a long time…


Sega’s latest, Bayonetta, is a result of the publisher providing support to a small but accomplished outside developer.  The company’s internal teams aren’t the most promising as of late, but Sega could make a big splash publishing more cult favorites like they are with Platinum Games’ titles.  Even if they just get into competition with Atlus and Ignition in exporting Japanese hits, it’d help.


What do you think?  Are we crazy?  Should Sega take action on some of these? Let us know in the comments!