SEGAbits Round Table: Our Favorite SEGA Games of 2013

Since 2010, it has been a SEGAbits tradition for our writers and editors to share their favorite SEGA games of the year. This year, we aren’t breaking that tradition but we are adding to it. We’re introducing a couple of special digital two-dimensional trophies: the gold SEGAbits Editor’s Choice Award and the platinum SEGAbits Writer’s Choice Award. The gold award is selected by George and I, Barry the Nomad, while the platinum award will go to the game selected as a favorite by the most writers (this year we had a tie!). Not only is 2013 a special year with the introduction of our digital trophies, but we also have some new writers contributing including recent arrivals from Sonic Retro, Bartman and TimmiT, and the newest contributor to our YouTube channel, Liam “Tracker” Ashcroft. What SEGA games were our favorites this year? Read on!

Barry: Sonic the Hedgehog 1&2 (iOS/Android)

You can’t beat the classics, but in today’s world of retro rereleases you certainly can beat the quality. For years SEGA had the unfortunate reputation of screwing up rereleases of their classic games: the Game Boy Advance’s abysmal Sonic the Hedgehog, several Genesis titles on iOS released on shoddy emulators, Sonic Adventure on XBLA and PSN lacking widescreen, and Crazy Taxi missing its iconic soundtrack are just a few examples. Thankfully, something happened internally at SEGA West in 2011, and ever since they have been showing great care and attention to their retro rereleases.

No titles show that care and attention more than Taxman and Stealth‘s Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for iOS and Android devices released in June and November of this year. Rather than releasing a ROM running on an emulator, SEGA hired two talented members of the Sonic scene to build both games on the Retro Engine. The result is the video game equivalent of a Criterion Collection blu-ray release. Not only do the games run at a solid 60fps with full screen support, but several new additions have been made including whole new special stage levels and Hidden Palace Zone, debug mode easter eggs, and the inclusion of Tails and Knuckles. Sure 2013 saw the release of the latest 3D Sonic game, but I can’t deny that my brightest Sonic experience of the year was revisiting two fantastic classic Sonic games.

Runners up: Sonic Lost World, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, 3D Classics, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

George: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (iOS/Android)

I think ports and remakes are very underrated. Some people see them as ‘lazy ways’ to make money and in most cases they are right. But what SEGA and Christian Whitehead have done with the re-worked Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been beyond the call of ‘ports’. Not only has he reworked all the pixels to look glorious in 1080p and gotten them to run at a stable 60fps, he has also added ton of content.

Some of that content included cut levels, snuck in more playable characters and did it all while being 100% true to the original classics. These are the best versions of these games out there and that’s hard to say considering Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is considered a retro masterpiece. Yes, its easy to ignore ports like these due to big budget games like Sonic Lost World, Company of Heroes 2 and even Total War: Rome II coming out. But sometimes you just can’t beat the classics.

Bartman: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

This is the year that SEGA has made it their prerogative to focus on digital distribution as their core market and luckily, SEGA has been going strong in some aspects, even so much as to throw in some pretty crazy surprises and bold moves. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is an amazing release that came out of nowhere. It took the original House of the Dead: Overkill game and used that as the base of a long overdue entry to the Typing of the Dead series. While not quite as inventive as the original typing game, it makes a game that’s already ridiculous and gives it a rightful place for a genre that needs more attention; typing tutor games. Not only would I feel that this would encourage people to become better keyboardists, its fresh, funny, and fun.

Then you got the dynamic duo of Stealth and Taxman re-releasing Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for mobile platforms. Your typical consumer won’t know the difference with these ports at first, but both releases give new reasons to play the games again with the additional characters and game features; such as being able to play as Tails or Knuckles in Sonic 1, or the expanded multiplayer features in Sonic 2. I can also set my tablet to display on my TV, play with a controller, and the games run and look great without losing the feeling the original games give me.

Both of these games have some rather unfortunate technical and fundamental flaws that I can’t possibly cover here, but I’m giving the win to The Typing of the Dead: Overkill for SEGA’s most solid effort of the year. It’s amazing to see that SEGA put forth their best effort to develop a type of game that would work well for an audience that didn’t know wanted it.

[Read the Typing of the Dead: Overkill review]

Runners Up: Sonic 1 & 2 iOS/Android, Castle of Illusion, 3D Classics on Nintendo 3DS, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F

Ben: Sonic Lost World (Wii U)

2013 was a year of many crazy changes in my life, changes which had little to do with video games. Sadly, it meant that video games took a bit of a backseat at times, and SEGA especially found itself neglected because of it. I think in all honesty, the SEGA game I played the most this year was Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; a truly fun game that was (psh) released in 2012.

So pretty much by default, my vote this year will have to go to Sonic Lost World. And I guess there are worse games that I could have given this honor to. Sonic’s latest adventure featured some bold new changes for the series, which is a key thing to keep the blue blur moving forward. Sonic Team thankfully gets the idea that sticking with the same ideas, even if they’re ideas that seem to be working, will quickly grow tiring, both for themselves and for the fans.

Sonic Lost World to me was flawed in many ways. A patch has just arrived which helps to address some of the game’s issues; I wish it had been in there to begin with. But its existence at least helps me feel better about awarding Sonic Lost World with my SEGA Game of the Year award. The game’s not without its fun and certainly made some interesting attempts to shake things up. Here’s hoping that the next Sonic game really hits it out of the park, and that it doesn’t seem quite so scared to feel like a Sonic game.

[Read the Sonic Lost World review]

Runner up: Anarchy Reigns

TimmiT: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

As a kid I loved watching old Disney cartoons involving Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy etc. Besides that, I also loved playing video games based on those cartoons, including the classic Castle of Illusion. So obviously my pick for the best SEGA game of 2013 goes to the Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse remake.

My pick isn’t just because of nostalgia though, most of the new games (not counting updates on old classics) I wanted from SEGA this past year turned out to be disappointing, with Castle of Illusion being the sole exception. It had pretty much what you expected it would have: great looking updates on levels from the original classic. And on top of that, the levels were mostly redesigned and Sully from the Uncharted games did the narration. I don’t think anyone actually wanted the latter, but still, you can never have too much of Sully.

A special shout out to runner up Anarchy Reigns, which had one of the best soundtracks of the year. Sadly nobody noticed that the game was even released, so the online multiplayer was pretty much dead a week after release. Meaning that it’s not really worth getting anymore.

[Read the Castle of Illusion review]

Runner ups: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, Sonic 2 for iOS/Android, 3D Classics.

Tracker: Sonic Lost World (Wii U) & 3D Space Harrier

Sonic Lost World probably emerged as a favourite of mine this year – I now await the people with pitchforks chanting “your opinion is wrong!” But hell, I loved the game – the gameplay reminded me a good amount of Sonic Adventure (easily my favourite Sonic game) and it was refreshing to see a Sonic game that was challenging for once – though I will concede sometimes the difficulty was down to poor mechanic implementation. Also I found the parkour mechanic, though badly explained, really fun to mess with, and made speed running a far more entertaining aspect of the gameplay than the Sonic games of the past few years – which don’t get me wrong, were also pretty good. Lost World was far from a flawless game, but I reckon it’s one of the best from SEGA this past year.

3D Space Harrier could be considered a cop out – it is a remake of a classic arcade game after all – but hell, it’s too good not to mention. The love that has gone into this game courtesy of M2 is insane – the moving cabinet mode, movement range setups based on faulty cabinets people may remember, and most notably, an Arcade recreation of the boss Haya-Oh from the Master System version of Space Harrier – complete with an arcade sound font version of his fantastic boss theme! The 3D Classics line really has shown what M2 are capable of – as if they hadn’t already proven it with their fantastic back catalogue – and I for one am hopeful the next range of 3D Classics releases over here – because hey, 3D After Burner!

Kori: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

After the release of The House of the Dead Overkill: Extended Cut for the PS3 and Lost Reels for mobile phone, I’ve been itching for another House of the Dead game. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill was one of the unexpected of 2013. The Typing series has been House of the Dead‘s most well known spin-offs of the series since it’s debut on the Sega Dreamcast.

Famous for its fast paced typing gameplay, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is that kind of game that will teach you how to kill mutants with words and even sentences. As I played this game on STEAM, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill grabbed my attention with 60fps gameplay. Even faster than the other Overkill ports.

Not only that, SEGA has given us The House of the Dead Overkill as a bonus bundle so the player can play the original PS3 game on their PC. The Multiplayer DLC is another feature that made me love this game even more as you can play The Typing of the Dead: Overkill online with your friends from all over the world which makes this game the second The House of the Dead title (House of the Dead 2 for PC was the first) to feature online gameplay.

Hope to see more House of the Dead remakes, ports or perhaps a sequel next year in 2014! Dogs of the AMS, time they made a move! PS: Where’s Loving Deads: The House of the Dead EX SEGA?!

Runners up: Sonic Lost World, Sonic Dash (Andriod), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Andriod)
Retro Mentions: Fighting Vipers, Dynamite Deka, Virtua Fighter 2

Nux: Anarchy Reigns

I had to think long and hard about this one, mostly because I haven’t really played that much SEGA this year, which didn’t really leave me with a clear winner. In past years I’d had games like House of the Dead Overkill, Vanquish, Shinobi 3D, and Rhythm Thief. But this year I almost found myself falling back on a Sonic game, something I try not do simply because as fun as those games are, it’s hard for me to really call them triple A titles (outside of last year’s All Stars game, of course). I have yet to play Castle of Illusion and I lack a PC rig capable of playing SEGA’s latest PC offerings. I almost picked M2’s 3DS ports. Then I remembered Anarchy Reigns!

I confess, I am kind of cheating with this one. Anarchy Reigns was the final game in the SEGA/Platinum Games partnership, and is a game I technically played mostly in 2012 via an imported copy. Someone inside SEGA had the bright idea of delaying the game’s western release from the barren summer months to 2013’s crowded first quarter, and low and behold…it at least made my decision much easier.

Anarchy Reigns is a ridiculously fun beat-em up game with a strong and well integrated online component. It has surprisingly decent production values and some great set pieces, not to mention an eclectic selection of characters that homage other Platinum Games characters. Hell, this game stars Jack from MadWorld, making this a pseudo sequel of sorts to that game. It launched for $30 back in January and has surely only gotten cheaper since then. I highly recommend you checking out this gem! And if you can…try to get it new. With luck, my nomination for game of the year in 2014 will not be Bayonetta 2. Give us some great stuff next year, SEGA!

[Read the Anarchy Reigns review]

Runners up: Taxman’s Sonic games on Ouya, Rhythm Thief’s eShop release, Sonic Lost World

My Life with SEGA’s Retro Pick: Comix Zone (Genesis)

comix zone title screen
In my opinion, Comix Zone has been unjustly criticized since its release in August of 1995. Many publications and gamers alike praised its gameplay, visuals and soundtrack, though its punishing difficulty and short length weren’t met with such high esteem. Some even argue it was released too late in the Genny’s lifespan, which is irrelevant, I feel. Vectorman graced us with its presence two months later and received nothing but a boat-load of accolades that led to an almost instant sequel. What the Hell?!

Comix Zone is an arcade-style button-masher where a struggling comic book artist/writer, Sketch Turner, is sucked into his latest creation and antagonized by an evil mutant, Mortus. If Sketch dies in Comix Zone, Mortus will earn his mortality and take over the world. Our anti-hero must hop from one panel to the next, beating the crap outta’ vile mutants, vicious rock monsters and various other alien oddities while avoiding traps and solving puzzles. Your only assistance is the beautiful General Alyssa Cyan, and a pet rat affectionately named Roadkill.

Yes, Comix Zone can be unforgiving, but it’s classic trial-and-error gameplay any hardcore gamer can appreciate. Yes, Comix Zone is a short-lived affair. There’s no denying that. However, aren’t most arcade games? If you’re looking for old-school arcade action with a great story, gorgeous 2D visuals and awesome hard rock tunes, look no further than Comix Zone.

Since it didn’t receive the attention it deserved in ’95, it’s my retro pick for 2013.

Runners up: Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn), Shenmue (Dreamcast), Streets of Rage (Genesis/Mega Drive)

What were your favorite SEGA games of 2013? Sound off in the comments below!


11 responses to “SEGAbits Round Table: Our Favorite SEGA Games of 2013

  1. TimmiT says:

    My pick is the only good pick.

  2. matty says:

    Binary Domain. I know, 2012, but I got it off PS+ a couple weeks ago for free. It’s so unique that I would have paid bargain bin for it if I had known it was so good.

    IIRC, you guys were talking quite a bit about in your podcasts back then. From now on, I’ll try to take your opinions a little more seriously. Maybe.

  3. Curty says:

    I kinda like the 3DS Lost World better than Wii U :0

  4. ezodagrom says:

    2013 has been rather lacking when it comes to SEGA games for me, the only ones that I’ve played were Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (PC) and Phantasy Star Online 2 (even though it was released in 2012, it keeps getting updated and reached the “Episode 2” version in 2013, so I guess PSO2 Ep2 counts as a 2013 game?).

    I also got Typing of the Dead Overkill, but haven’t played it yet (due to having a rather big backlog and other games taking priority…)

  5. TaroYamada says:

    Boo at the people who chose more than one game, that’s cheating! As for SEGA’s best in 2013, I think the Sonic games are a poor choice because of them being essentially updated ports, even if they are technically remakes.

    Castle of Illusion, Anarchy Reigns, Company of Heroes 2, etc. are the best choices imo.

  6. I never tried the new Sonic 1 & 2 on ios. I’m not a big fan of IOS controls for Genesis games.

    Also, why does My Life With SEGA get to pick games from the ’90’s? If he can do that, then the rest of you should be able to.

    My favorite game from 2013 was Spellcaster for the Sega Master System.

  7. eXtaticus says:

    So… mostly remakes and re-releases and Sonic?

    Yup, sounds like Sega to me.

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