When the Dreamcast breathed its last back in 2001, many thought it was for the best. “They’ll be more successful as a 3rd party publisher!” “They’ll be able to make more money since they’ll be on more systems!” But sadly, that wouldn’t be the case for a long, long time. In fact, only in the last two years has there been a big enough turnaround in quality. When Dreamcast died, much of the creativity and spark of the developers seemed to die with it, 2006 being the best example of Sega’s worst time in the industry.
But not all of it was bad. In fact, their initial outings on GameCube and X-Box were quite strong. Even during Sega’s worst times in 2003-2008, there were some diamonds in the rough. Continue on to see my top 5 favorite “post-Dreamcast” Sega titles from 2001-present.
Super Monkey Ball (Series)
Originally developed as an arcade game by Amusement Vision, Super Monkey Ball became on of Sega’s first original hit titles outside of the Dreamcast. SMB debuted in Japanese arcades in 2000 and on the GameCube in 2001. Playing similar to Marble Madness but with a lot more character, the game was a hit with both fans and critics alike. Sadly as time went on, the quality of the sequels started to deter. The problem with the Monkey Ball formula is that it didn’t leave much room for originality. When Sega tried something like Super Monkey Ball adventure, it bombed considerably. Monkeys in giant balls do not need stories. Since then, Sega has gone back to the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” approach with mixed results. SMB on 3DS was decent, but far too easy and with poor mini games. Fortunately, SMB on Vita looks like it may be a big breath of fresh air for this franchise.
Jet Set Radio Future
It would be impossible for me not to include the sequel to my favorite Dreamcast game of all time. Released in 2002, JSRF was a great sequel to the original Jet Grind Radio. Instead of selecting maps from the GG’s hideout, you now had a more open world but with a center hub to go to. The soundtrack was even more electric and funky than the original thanks in big part to composer God Hideki Naganuma and some other Japanese music artists like Guitar Vader and Cibo Matto. Many argue over whether this game is better than the original. I love JSRF, but I still like the original a tiny bit better. I liked doing motions to spray huge canvases while the police were on your tail. It made it more tense than just spraying beautiful art while zooming by.
While Sonic Colors didn’t save the franchise (it was never in jeopardy due to the younger fans still buying Sonic games in droves), it did break the dreaded “Sonic Cycle”. After Sonic Adventure 2, the quality of the console Sonic games started to decline. It hit rock bottom with Sonic ’06, which killed Sonic’s reputation as a quality platformer with many fans for some time to come. In 2010, many fan’s hopes of “project needlemouse” were dashed when they saw leaked videos of Sonic 4 (although many critics still loved it). But in the middle of all the nerd rage came an unexpected surprise in Sonic Colors. No epic story, no hub worlds, no ridiculously out of control speed. Instead, we got an incredible soundtrack, a light-hearted story and a major focus on 2-D platforming. To a lot of jaded Sonic fans, this was the answer to their prayers. In my opinion, Sonic Colors is without a doubt the best Sonic game since Adventure 2 and possibly better.
With 4 games and 3 spinoffs (Black Panther 1 &2, Yakuza of the End) under its belt, the Yakuza series is Sega’s most successful post-Dreamcast franchise in Japan. Mostly following the harrowing adventures of former Yakuza boss Kazuma Kiryu (except for 4 and End which focus on three others) as he takes on thugs and other Yakuza on the streets of Kamurocho, the Yakuza series is not only a great brawler, but a wonderful open world game with many shops and arcades to explore while going through the main story. In short, Yakuza is Shenmue without the bland parts. My only beef with the series is that it can get really complicated with its plots and sub-plots. On top of that, you have to have a half-decent knowledge of how Yakuza clans work to really know what’s going on. For me, it boils down to “Bad stuff’s going down. Kazuma has to fix bad stuff…with his fists.” Works for me!
One of the best deals Sega recently made was putting Platinum Games under their belt. While Madworld was a bit of a miss due to the chosen system and art style that hurt my eyes, Bayonetta was right on the mark. The game not only gives many nods to Sega’s past, the character of Bayonetta herself screams Sega attitude. She’s very sexual, defiant, stylish and brazen. Not only is the game one of the best 3-D action games of 2010 (the other would be PG’s other game Vanquish) it’s the best original Sega published title to come out in years.
Games that almost made the five.
Valkeria Chronicles: Seriously, I was very close to cutting out JSRF and Putting this one in.
Vanquish: Another awesome Platinum Games…game.
Panzer Dragoon Orta: Because it’s Panzer Dragoon. But frankly, Zwei was my favorite.
BTW, if I didn’t list your favorite Sega game, TOUGH! Deal with it. XP But you can mention it in the comments section below. 😉Ad: