Another year is about to close for SEGAbits. Many anniversaries for SEGA franchises happened this year, with SEGA themselves capitalizing on certain ones like Sonic the Hedgehog and Puyo Puyo. On top of this, naturally there were several announcements and game releases from both SEGA and Atlus. Some of which were what we expected, and then there was some that caught people off guard, like the return of the fan favorite Daytona USA. But are you curious as to what some of the writer’s own favorite titles are for 2016? Here at SEGAbits we decided to ask this question to the writers for a year-end round table!
It would be easy for me to declare the Nintendo 3DS Sega 3D Classics Collection as my favored Sega game for the year, but I almost think that’s cheating. It’s definitely a quality compilation, with the various additions to each game adding some fresh replay value. M2 has done some great work the 3D Classics series and it’s a complete bummer this will likely be the sole physical release in the West. With more than a handful of great Sega classics in one package, it’s a must-buy for Sega fans who own a 3DS. A complete no-brainer, for sure.
However, I think this year the one Sega release in the US that I got the most enjoyment out of was Valkyria Chronicles Remastered for the PS4. Yes, I had already bought it on PS3. Yes, I had already picked up essentially the same package on Steam. Still, sitting down to play it on PS4 was a good time. The first Valkyria is such an enjoyable Action/Strategy hybrid and having another excuse to run through it again was very welcome. I can only hope that strong sales on Steam encourages Sega to port the two PSP games to the PC and we see more of the traditional Valkyria gameplay in the future. I would love to finally play Valkyria Chronicles III in English and I know I’m not alone.
I’d say a special note is required here, as the late 2015 release of Yakuza 5 for the PS3 here in the West saw me playing it for weeks into January of this year. It was such a high quality experience and I’m so grateful of Sega and Atlus working together to bring it to us, even though it took quite a bit of time to get here. I can’t wait for more Yakuza 0 games in 2017 and 2018!
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse for the Nintendo 3DS was easily my favorite Atlus release this year. That’s not to say that the PS4 port of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir wasn’t also loved, though. Apocalypse, as I wrote in my review for SEGAbits, is the result of continued refinement of the mainline games. Apocalypse features the most streamlined battle and demon management systems in the series to date. The somewhat shallow script and some uninspired characters detracted a little bit, but not enough to dampen my enjoyment of this great RPG.
So first off, when it comes to general release and announcements regarding to SEGA or Atlus, 2016 had a lot more going on compared to last year. The announcement of two new Sonic titles and a lot of Sonic merchandise to complement the 25th anniversary, a new Puyo Puyo game and of course merchandise to compliment the 25th anniversary, Yakuza 6 releasing in Japan and Yakuze 0 in western territories soon after, SEGA 3D Classics Collection getting a western release and the announcement of the third volume in the SEGA 3D Archives series with the surprise Technosoft IP buy out, a new Daytona USA game announced, too many Miku games to count, Persona 5 getting released in Japan, Dragon 7th III getting a western release, the list goes on.
When it comes to releases however, that’s where things get tricky. Due to budget and the timing of this writing, I have not got to experience everything that was released this year. I have bought Puyo Puyo Chronicles and the special SEGA 3D Archives Triple Pack 123, and while I can easily say either of those are my SEGA game of the year, I haven’t actually played them yet as of this writing. However, I have played SEGA 3D Classic Collection. It’s technically the 2nd volume in the 3D archives series, and I have enjoyed games like Fantasy Zone II W, Power Drift, and Puyo Puyo Tsu in the collection. M2 puts a lot of love into these SEGA 3D titles, and I hope people can appreciate it too. However the weird part is that I essentially got the collection 4 times. Two physical copies that I eventually gave away, the review copy I unexpectedly got, and the collection as part of the Triple Pack.
However, I will probably pick 7th Dragon III as my SEGA game of the year, if SEGA 3D Classic Collection or the Triple Pack is “cheating” and Puyo Puyo Chronicles doesn’t count since I haven’t actually played it yet as of this writing. Which I don’t mind, 7th Dragon III is a pretty solid RPG for the 3DS, my personal favorite aspects of the game is that it gives you the freedom to customize your party to however you want with different class options, and the many weird designs for the dragons. There were also some surprises that threw me off, like the character Nagamimi having a surprisingly filthy mouth. I also didn’t have to worry about missing out on lore since contrary to the title, it is it’s own contained story that anyone can easily jump into. I guess the main problem I have is that the game can be taxing on the 3DS at times (some areas really plummet in frame rates).
However, as mentioned, I am looking forward to playing the SEGA 3D Archives Triple Pack and Puyo Puyo Chronicles releasing this month, and later down the road next year I might pick up Yakuza 0 and Sonic Mania once my budget is more stable. Overall, it’s pretty great to be a fan of SEGA at the moment and I hope it continues into 2017.
I’m going to be honest, Its pretty hard to choose the SEGA game of the year. Not because their games were terribly bad this year, but because they really did lack releases. You might ask, why this is and it’s simple; they are barely finishing up their restructuring. Which is probably why you noticed that they finally started to announce the release of all those Yakuza titles. I wish that I could have nominated Yakuza 5, but that title released December of last year. I really want to nominate SEGA 3D Classics Collection, considering it’s a physical release of fantastic SEGA classics. But deep down inside, I feel like I would be copping myself out by doing that. So I had to think hard on SEGA’s line-up. I can tell you one thing, they didn’t’ release one bad game this year and that is saying a lot about them as a publisher because they used to publish a lot of ill recieved games.
I decided to give 7th Dragon III: Code VFD my game of the year. I wrote up a review on the game and gave it a B. Some of you might say that isn’t Game of the Year type score, but I think 7th Dragon III: Code VFD really cemented my belief that something changed within SEGA as a publisher. The first 7th Dragon debuted all the way back in 2009 and was the return of Rieko Kodama (Phantasy Star and Skies of Arcadia) to the world of JRPGs. To me Rieko Kodama is one of the most underrated game developers in the Japanese gaming scene. She’s hardly ever given credit and has quite the history in game development. The franchise also had Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage) returning to compose for a SEGA published game since he contributed music for Shenmue II. it seemed to me, way back in 2009, that this is the sort of game that SEGA should release in the west. But of course, this didn’t happen till this year with the Western release of 7th Dragon III Code VFD. Honestly a very shocking moment, considering I thought these games would remain Japanese exclusive forever.
While the game didn’t have an impressive story, it did try to be unique with its setting, character classes and featured some really fantastic musical tracks. I mostly picked 7th Dragon III Code: VFD because it shows that no franchise is off the table for SEGA to localize. Now we just wait for SEGA to announce the localization of Puyo Puyo Chronicle.
Barry the Nomad says:
While 2016 was nowhere near the drought that was 2015 when it comes to SEGA games, this year still felt rather light. We didn’t see any major console titles, and all the main series Sonic games that got us all excited won’t be out until 2017. Yakuza fans were treated to reveals of Yakuza 0, Kiwami and 6, but all three games are hitting in the next year or two. A majority of the games that I enjoyed this year were on the Nintendo 3DS, which is probably fitting as Nintendo is set to debut the Switch next year. In that sense, 2016 was perhaps SEGA’s last hurrah on the 3DS. The SEGA 3D Classics Collection was a surprise, seeing as it was a physical release and a localization of the second Japanese compilation. Finally seeing both Puyo Puyo 2 and Power Drift in the west was a real treat. The long delayed Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, which saw little promotion from SEGA and was ridiculed by fans before they even got their hands on it, was actually quite a fun game. Much better than the previous Shattered Crystal.
But when it comes down to it, my favorite SEGA game of 2016 has to be 7th Dragon III: Code VFD. I’m not an RPG guy, mainly because I never have the time to play games of the genre at home. If I am going to get into an RPG and play to the end credits, it has to be on a handheld system. As such, you can imagine my delight when 7th Dragon III: Code VFD was revealed to be heading west, and upon diving into the game I was delighted by the fact that you really didn’t need knowledge of the previous games to play. It also helped that the game looks and feels a bit like a Phantasy Star game, with the mixture of fantasy and technology, and that one of the characters wears a JSRF logo on his shirt.
I have never been a huge fan of turn based RPGs, but 7th Dragon III: Code VFD has so many character classes that each play a little differently (reminding me of Phantasy Star Online) that a well balanced team can make for a fun and varied battle system. I also really like the dragons in this game, it is almost like sub-bosses and bosses are around every turn, which makes battles with smaller enemies exciting as there is always the danger that a dragon could drop into a battle. As for the auditory department, Yuzo Koshiro’s music is excellent. The music sort of feels like a mix between his heavier Streets of Rage stuff and something you might hear in Phantasy Star Online.
If you are a SEGA fan who has been missing the days of RPGs from the company, I suggest picking up 7th Dragon III Code: VFD.