SEGA Channel Retro: Sakura Taisen 1-4 streaming marathon

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Kori-Maru here to bring our readers a live stream today featuring Sakura Taisen 1-4 during Sakura Taisen week running on a SEGA Dreamcast system. The stream will begin at 7:15 AM 9:30 AM Eastern Time. I will be showing off the each game in the main series for fans and newcomers of the series and it’s gameplay features. Be sure to stop by our SEGA Channel Retro Stream Channel and ask us questions during the stream.

SEGA Retrospective: Sakura Taisen Week – Imperial Assault Force, Move Out!


Konnichiwa! Kori-Maru here to welcome our readers to Sakura Taisen week.

In commemoration of Valentine’s Day we’ll be providing you with a full week of coverage for SEGA’s popular dating/strategy game. Since its release in Japan on the SEGA Saturn back in 1996, the franchise expanded with sequels, spinoffs, stage shows, animation, and even a motion picture. While Sakura Taisen was a smash hit in Japan, the franchise was never given much exposure in the west due to SEGA’s western branches not believing the series would find an audience.

Luckily, other companies disagreed, and Sakura Taisen’s anime and manga would reach western shores in the early 2000s thanks to companies like ADV films and Tokyopop. Thanks to NIS America, even Sakura Taisen’s latest game, Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, was able to make reach western markets. Most recently, last year’s Project X Zone for the Nintendo 3DS saw a Western release and featured Sakura Taisen characters and locations.

To get you guys prepped for a week of Sakura Taisen, check below for an overview of the series!

Round Table: How we would like to see Ristar brought into the modern era

Ristar week has been a blast, but it ain’t over until we throw a round table! This week, our writers answer the question: “How would you like to see Ristar brought into the modern era?” Despite Ristar’s short lifespan in the 90’s, the character’s popularity has endured, as evidenced by our full week of Ristar coverage and Ristar’s inclusion as a cameo in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing and his second cameo as the flagman for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. But cameos are not enough for SEGA’s star headed platformer, we think he deserves more.

Read on to see how we would like to see Ristar brought into the modern era!

The SEGA Five: Ristar’s Coolest Bosses

Ristar has some of the most spectacular and varied bosses I’ve ever experienced in a sidescrolling platformer. Though they aren’t all hits (such as Scorch’s somewhat irritating Simon Say’s sub boss) the five bosses below will remain some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had on the Genesis (and Game Gear), Ristar’s rogues gallery has some star players that are worth highlighting. I’d like to note that I purposefully left out the final bosses of the games, partially to avoid spoiling people who haven’t beaten these cult classics, and to highlight some more varied experiences from the games.

Some of these bosses never received official names. This article will be referencing the names used in Ristar Star Cluster for this article.

Art of SEGA: Ristar the Shooting Star

All Sonic fans are familiar with the work of Yuji Uekawa. He has been the franchise’s primary character designer for nearly two decades now, taking the reigns in 1996 with Sonic 3D Blast. He’s most notable for completely redesigning Sonic and his friends for the new millennium in Sonic Adventure, and has played a pivotal role in the character design of most Sonic and Sonic Team titles since then.

Before Sonic though, Uekawa had Ristar. He was Ristar’s lead character designer, designing all of the characters in the game including Ristar himself. Unfortunately, there is no art book for Ristar, so we had to rip the designs straight from the Japanese version of the manual, which is filled with beautiful illustrations of Ristar and other characters, as well as a few nice instructional comics and backgrounds. We’ll also be including the sprite artwork from the credits.

The character artwork was taken from SEGA Retro’s Ristar manual scans. The sprite artwork was ripped by Dr. Schnaps. The various bits of trivia and character information can be sourced to Ristar Cluster. Enjoy!

SEGA Tunes: Ristar’s Du-Di-Da!!

Planet Sonata is probably my favorite stage in Ristar. The first stage has you carrying metronomes to song birds and gradually activating the instruments for the stage’s background music. It all culminates in the stage’s boss fight, which attacks you to the rhythm of this theme! Planet Sonata is a perfect example of what makes Ristar special: it’s creative, unique, and introduces gimmicks and elements that are then discarded for the rest of the game in favor of other gimmicks.

If the early stages of Ristar don’t grab you, I would encourage you to at least try to stick around until Planet Sonata

SEGA Retrospective: It’s Ristar Week, c’mon!


I’d like to welcome you to Ristar Week! This week we’ll be focusing on Ristar’s depressingly short run as a video game star, looking back on the character’s two games. Sonic Team’s star-faced hero never got his due back when he first came around. Debuting just a few months after the release of the 32X and just a few months before the US debut of the Saturn, Ristar came out at a time when the Genesis was no longer a console SEGA was interested in selling. As a result, Ristar was ignored and became a cult classic. This week, SEGAbits will be giving Ristar his long overdue respect.

  First, though, a little history lesson.

Round Table: What’s next for the Fantasy Zone franchise?

We wrap up Fantasy Zone week with a special SEGAbits Round Table in which we look to the future of the Fantasy Zone franchise. As this week has taught us, Fantasy Zone is a small, but highly imaginative franchise with fantastic music, difficult yet addicting gameplay, and an enduring protagonist. But what about the future of the franchise? Does Fantasy Zone‘s simplistic arcade-style gameplay have a place in 2013 and beyond?

SEGA in the Media: Opa-Opa & Zillion


Before Sonic, before ToeJam & Earl , before Joe Musashi and even a few months before Alex Kidd, SEGA’s mascot was a sentient little spaceship called Opa-Opa, hero of the Fantasy Zone. Though there’s some debate regarding who was the “true” mascot before Sonic came around, I personally put myself in Opa-Opa’s camp. Why? Well, aside from cameoing in a bunch of SEGA games from the ‘80s, a few of which you can read about here, Opa-Opa was also a supporting character in an anime SEGA partially funded, Zillion.

Zillion is a 1987 sci-fi anime from Tatsunoku Productions. It centers around White Knight J.J. and his fellow White Knights Apple and Champ as they defend the earth colony Maris from the evil Nozas, an alien race intent on wiping humans off the face of the planet. The White Knights battle the forces of evil with their signature weapon, the Zillion Weapon System, a Master System light gun (literally, complete with the cord) capable of destroying the Nozas, who are otherwise invulnerable to human weaponry.

The SEGA Five: Opa-Opa’s greatest cameo appearances


Before Sonic came along in 1991, SEGA had its fair share of mascots. Ask a SEGA fan in the 1980’s who SEGA’s current mascot was, and you’d likely receive a variety of answers. Some may point to the Shinobi arcade game star Joe Musashi, while others may point to the Mario-like Master System star Alex Kidd. Opa-Opa of Fantasy Zone was another of these mascots vying for the SEGA throne, and if you ask me he was the most worthy of the crown. While Opa-Opa lacked an expressive face, a drawback that some say was the reason Alex Kidd came out ahead of the sentient spaceship, I say he made up for it with a simple yet memorable design that evoked SEGA’s quirky nature at the time. Opa-Opa is both cute with his bright colors and white wings, and hardcore with his jet propulsion and firepower. He also fits in perfectly with the “blue skies” aesthetic SEGA is well known for thanks to the fact that the skies are where Opa-Opa spends a majority of his time.

Since his debut in 1986, Opa-Opa has made cameo appearances in several SEGA games, a testament to Opa-Opa’s original design. In fact, Opa-Opa’s cameo career began the very year he debuted and his cameo appearances continue through to today. In this week’s Weekly Five we’ll be highlighting some of Opa-Opa’s greatest appearances, from playable to non-playable and from obscure to blatantly obvious. Yes, Shenmue made the list, you can stop holding your breath Ryo Hazuki fans.

My Life with SEGA tackles the ultimate cute ’em up: Fantasy Zone

This week on My Life with SEGA, we’ll be exploring Opa-Opa’s very first adventure in the Fantasy Zone.

Fantasy Zone is one of many titles brother insisted on buying for the Master System. It was so strange and other-worldly. Fantasy Zone was unlike any other he shooter he had seen before. While the gameplay is similar to something like Defender, that game was nowhere near as colorful and cheerful. I can’t remember ever seeing this fucker in the arcades, so I thought this was a Master System original for many years….

Playing it again after two decades, let’s see if it’s just as good – and frustrating – as I remember it being. Like this video? Subscribe to the SEGAbits YouTube channel!

SEGA Tunes: Super Fantasy Zone’s Water Melody

Praising SEGA arcade games for their spectacular music is kind of like applauding a cat for being furry: it’s just something you come to expect. So really, the superb quality of Fantasy Zone’s soundtrack should not shock anybody. It’s happy, laid back and a joy to listen to.

The definitive Fantasy Zone soundtrack is probably the music from Super Fantasy Zone, the obscure Genesis-only sequel to the series. A lot of people tend to insult the Mega Drive’s sound capabilities, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the machine was capable of some sick tunes, SFZ being a prime example. Though not technically an arcade game, SFZ’s soundtrack has all the trappings of a classic SEGA arcade OST, making it worth a listen to any SEGA music connoisseur.

SEGA Retrospective: Welcome to Fantasy Zone Week, get ready!


Welcome to Fantasy Zone Week, a week in which all our features and original content will be dedicated to SEGA’s side-scrolling shoot-’em-up franchise Fantasy Zone! It’s no surprise that the franchise is near and dear to our hearts, as Opa-Opa himself is our official site mascot, always seen flying over the SEGAbits logo. Between 1986 and 2008, the original game has been released to a multitude of platforms, from the arcade and SEGA Master System to mobile phones and the Wii virtual console. This week we’ll be celebrating the music, the gameplay, the rich and diverse history of the franchise, and even look ahead to the future. But before we look ahead, let’s look back. After the jump, we shine the SEGA Retro spotlight on the many games from the Fantasy Zone franchise.