Even with the ridiculous and almost unprecedented hype that surrounded the release of SEGA’s mega-budget Dreamcast title Shenmue, it’s tough to imagine that gamers first diving into the series back then would have any idea how legendary (or infamous) Ryo’s adventure would become. Who could have guessed that even nearly 15 years later, fans would be still be begging for more?
Love it or hate it, the still-unfinished saga that is Shenmue has become a legend in its own right: a mystery etched into the fabric of gaming that may never be solved. But it’s a game very much worthy of that legendary status. It may not have been for everyone, but for those who “got” Shenmue, there was simply nothing else like it.
Anyone who thinks the 32X was nothing more than a steaming pile of shit has never played Shadow Squadron. If they had, they’d not only know that the 32X had its share of great titles, they’d know it played host to what was quite easily the best space sim available for fourth generation consoles. It may have paled in comparison to PC sims like Wing Commander and the X-Wing series, but it beat the shit out of anything on the 16-bit consoles.
I think there’s no better way to end 32X month then with a look back at one of the platform’s best titles. Known as Stellar Assault in Europe and Japan, Shadow Squadron was one of the closest things the 32X had to a true killer app during its brief lifespan. Check below the fold as we explore what makes this hidden, forgotten gem so special.
Free-to-play games can be hard to get right. They can either block customers from playing until they pay up or give them too much, making the grinding easy and fun which kills any reason to buy anything. The free to play approach on Sonic Jump Fever and Crazy Taxi: City Rush couldn’t be more different. Sonic Jump Fever is all about the high score by having you follow your Facebook friends and compete with them on the leaderboards. Sadly, the only way to get the best scores is to have that one rare chao that kills all of your enemies, Use your hard-earned in-game currency on items like power ups and more powerful characters, and have an energy bar that depletes super fast.
All of this forces you to pay-to-win, requiring you to pony out dough just to compete with your friends. This may be a free to play game, but I’ve spent $14 on Sonic Jump Fever. Curse you Sonic Stadium’s Adam Tuff and your super-high scores! In Crazy Taxi: City Rush, the “fare” is much more fair and just a better game all around. Read on for why this is one of the better ways to make a free to play game.
Although Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is not a SEGA related movie, there is no doubt that James Rolfe’s creation has made an impact on retro SEGA gaming, bringing obscure video game classics and atrocities to the forefront of people’s minds by highlighting the aggravations and rewards of classic games and hardware. While I sit firmly in the pro-Nerd camp, I’ll admit that as a SEGA fan I’m a little annoyed by how James’s over-the-top Nerd persona has affected how modern gamers view some of SEGA’s more controversial add-ons like the SEGA CD and 32X. I don’t blame James however, as I think viewers of his videos simply need to realize that his videos are part parody and the ideal way to form an opinion is to try the games and hardware out for yourself.
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, which is releasing in theaters throughout the US and Canada as I write this, had its East Coast premiere last night in Phoenixville, PA. I was able to snag tickets before the show sold out, and after standing in line outside the historic Colonial Theater (home of The Blob), I and over six hundred other fans packed the house and James kicked off the movie that he described as eight years of his life in two hours. So did James’s efforts pay off?
If you’re familiar with ACE Team, they’re responsible for some of the most off the wall games including Zeno Clash, Rock of Ages and before they became a commercial developer, they were a pretty interesting mod developer. Their continued partnership with Atlus has brought another release that is less absurd thematically, but brings us a rogue-like title that wraps mechanics similar to the Super Smash Bros. series with Abyss Odyssey. It’s not a carbon copy of the Subspace Emissary from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, nor is it a cumbersome slog akin to Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. The game centers itself around its fighting game mechanic and drives you to advance onto closed off fighting arenas, hunting for loot and building your character to become stronger as you find better weapons and techniques.
On January 4th 2006, I submitted to Gamefaqs a review for Shadow the Hedgehog , a game which at the time I boldly declared “the worst SEGA game I’ve ever played.” To date, the 2/10 score I gave it is the lowest I’ve scored a game in any context, on any site I’ve reviewed for, and nothing I’ve played either before or since has inspired a similar score. My outlook on SEGA at the time was incredibly bleak; it was a game that really tore down my confidence in the company and where it was headed, and for those reasons I’ve left this review, for the most part, as is, as a piece of history for how I viewed SEGA at the time, and where I feared the company was headed. Though I’ve edited it a little for form and trimmed it down, the message remains intact. Read on for my thoughts on Shadow the Hedgehog, directly from 2006, as I sat down to review what was (and still is) the worst game I had ever played.
In the mid-nineties the rise of 3D gaming left many of SEGA’s older franchises behind. While most were either abandoned or received largely forgotten two dimensional entries, some were completely reinvented for the third dimension. Though it doesn’t bear the After Burner name, Sky Target was in fact the first 3D entry in SEGA’s After Burner franchise. Released in 1995, the arcade version of Sky Target never achieved its predecessor’s success, failing to even leave Japan. Western gamers wouldn’t get to play Sky Target until SEGA ported the game to the Saturn in 1997, where it would be quickly forgotten.
At first glance, After Burner looks like the perfect candidate for a transition to the third dimension. After all, the game is already trying to simulate 3D play. In reality, Sky Target’s design decisions actually perfectly illustrate why so many SEGA franchises struggled (or failed) to make the 3D jump to begin with. Sky Target would introduce many drastic changes to the After Burner formula, many of which would find their way into 2006’s After Burner Climax. Do these design decisions work, though? Does Sky Target live up to the reputation built by its predecessor?
When After Burner blasted into arcades in 1987 it quickly became a smashing success, emerging as one of SEGA’s top franchises. Naturally, SEGA endeavored to port the game to every single piece of home gaming hardware under the sun. Famicom, Master System, Commodore 64, DOS, you name a gaming platform that was still relevant in the late 1980s, and chances are that platform got a port (or two) of After Burner.
Unfortunately, none of these systems were capable of doing After Burner’s explosive graphics and frenetic game play the justice they deserved, and so these ports fell short. It would take eight years for home consoles to catch up to SEGA’s arcade technology. Once they did SEGA wasted no time in finally bringing After Burner home in the form of After Burner Complete, an exclusive to SEGA’s brand new, ill-fated add-on, the 32X.
It Was A Battle More Deadly Than Any Videogame Could Ever Be…A Real-Life Mortal Kombat Between Sega And Nintendo
The above sentence is found on the official website for the book “Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation” by Blake J. Harris, and having read through the book myself, it’s an accurate description. Upon reading “Console Wars”, I couldn’t help but feeling a bit bloodied and bruised, but proud to have chosen the side that I’m on as a fan. “Console Wars” is not a detached history lesson of the SEGA vs. Nintendo rivalry of the 90’s, it does not read as several wikipedia articles.
Instead, “Console Wars” is a very real and personal story largely told from the perspective of SEGA of America President and CEO Tom Kalinske during the first 6 years of the 90’s. Taking the journey along with Tom, readers also occasionally go behind-the-scenes with Nintendo and Sony, and receive a few extended history lessons on the histories of companies like SEGA, Nintendo, Sony, and others. This mix provides the reader with both factual and emotional reasons for why SEGA and Nintendo did what they did, and as such is the most honest and truest account I have ever read of this period of video game history.
From their garage hidden amidst the alleyways of Shibuya, to the neon-drenched streets of Benten-Cho, they ride high on the funky rhythms being streamed directly into their brains. They are the GGs, and when their story was first told on the Dreamcast, it brought the world the beautiful synergy of cel-shaded graphics played to Hideki Naganuma’s incredible soundtrack. It was a game that further cemented the Dreamcast’s place as the platform for artsy and innovative adventures, and while some aspects of its gameplay still frustrate slightly, Jet Set Radio is every bit as fun as it was back in the day.