While not every single gamer is sold on Virtual Reality just yet, mostly due to the fact that it is rather expensive to even get a headset and compatible computer, the people that have experienced it all think its the future of gaming. While this is still open to debate, what I do know is that Virtual Reality has opened the door for older types of genres that SEGA pioneered in their long history to thrive. So today on The SEGA Five we will be discussing five genres that SEGA can revive with the help of Virtual Reality.
Before we get started I just want to say that these ideas are to make the games Virtual Reality compatible and not exclusive. I think this would mean that more gamers will be able to enjoy the games, VR headset or not. The number of gamers with Virtual Reality headsets is too low to spend money on exclusives right now. So let’s get to it.
This will be first on the list since SEGA doesn’t have a obscene amount of horror games, but they do have a few that I think will work great with a VR upgrade. Maybe re-brand the game with ‘Now with VR support’. One of the easiest ones on the list is obviously Alien: Isolation. The game is just a low hanging fruit for Virtual Reality and even had a VR beta shown off at E3. Of course fans have figured out how to unlock VR support, but SEGA never really went in and gave it the official support they should have. This is one issue I have with SEGA as a company, they don’t put long-term support for their titles (on console). I guess this is a topic for another article, so let’s talk more about more SEGA horror games that should be on VR.
The Kinect exclusive Rise of Nightmares seems like another obvious choice for a Virtual Reality revival. The game slipped under the radar and was actually developed by the legendary SEGA-AM1 studio who were responsible for The House of the Dead series. If you look into the game, it reminds you a lot of The House of the Dead and that is of course a good thing. Sadly the Kinect never got the support of hardcore gamers, the way that VR seems to be getting and the title never really had a chance to sell. While the game required motion tracking on a camera and some VR headsets don’t do this (namely Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR), HTC’s Vive does and would be perfect for this game. Not to mention that the Vive really needs higher quality games right now.
SEGA is also sitting on Condemned: Criminal Origins and Condemned 2, two titles that have grown to cult status since their initial release. While we now know that SEGA technically doesn’t own the copyrights to the Condemned name and they co-published it with Warner Brothers Interactive, that means that SEGA will have to go through some hoops to bring the franchise back. But I think it will be worth it, if done right. I really liked the first title, even if it got a bit weird and if they ever work out on how to make a new entry they would be smart to stick with the horror elements instead of the strangeness.
I think a remake of D (not SEGA published) or Enemy Zero would also be fantastic for Virtual Reality headsets. But now we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. The facts are that the more immersed you are in a horror game the more scary the game seems. The horror genre will thrive on Virtual Reality headsets, companies are already catching on to this, for example Capcom has announced Resident Evil 7 will have Virtual Reality support. While I prefer to have new titles to take advantage of new hardware, SEGA does have a few games that they can test the market with and see if building a new game from scratch is worth it.
Can I call SEGA the the king of rail shooters? I mean they had some of the finest rail shooters in the 80s and 90s with titles like Space Harrier, After Burner, and the legendary Panzer Dragoon series. While SEGA has mostly abandoned this genre, their last rail shooter release was a After Burner Climax port on consoles back in 2010. It’s easy to see why rail shooters have been lacking recently, triple A games these days offer bigger experiences than being hindered on rails; gamers like the idea of controlling their characters and exploring these new virtual game worlds. But I think virtual reality can make Rail Shooters more immersive and shooting much more realistic in a satisfying way.
One of the biggest issues for a company like SEGA to re-release these rail shooters with virtual reality support would be the graphics. I personally think there are a lot of gamers that appreciate the aesthetics of 2D games like After Burner and Space Harrier, but they will take some work to get the virtual reality aspect to work. One of the issues is that in VR you should be able to glance around meaning that reworking the game to have a viewable game world when players turn their head left to right. This is easier for early 3D games like Panzer Dragoon because the game already has 3D textures.
I do think SEGA should try it by making a re-worked Panzer Dragoon Orta port for PlayStation 4 and PC, if that sells well maybe they should look into making a whole new rail gun shooter from the ground up with virtual reality in mind. An old SEGA rail shooter is already doing this! Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Rez (being retitled Rez Infinite) will be a launch title for the PlayStation VR, if he can do it then SEGA can bring others as well.
Light Gun Shooters
SEGA literally brought light gun shooters back in the mid-90s with massively popular 3D titles like The House of the Dead series and the Virtua Cop series. The genre got so popular that other companies came back and copied what SEGA was accomplishing, thus leading to a lot of 90s light gun games we all know and love. Light gun games got a small resurgence during the Wii era of gaming leading SEGA to re-released House of the Dead 2&3, Ghost Squad and Gunblade NY and LA Machineguns Arcade Hits Pack on the console. They even made a brand new Wii exclusive (at the time) prequel to The House of the Dead titled ‘Overkill’. Sadly once the Wii stopped selling software and Sony’s PlayStation Move controller didn’t take off as expected, SEGA stopped releasing more light gun shooters on consoles.
But I do think that virtual reality is a big market for these types of games, most of the beta demos released right now are basically bad light gun inspired shooters that aren’t finished and worse of all they cost between $15 to $30 dollars. SEGA can literally just re-release games with some tweaks to make them virtual reality capable and probably outsell most of these homebrew demos if they wanted. Even crazier, they can even re-release arcade light gun games they never released outside of arcades. Games like 2Spicy, Virtua Cop 3 and more. I think virtual reality is great for the light gun genre and could mean a big comeback for it, the same way the Wii did (but hopefully a bit longer this time).
Who knows, if the ports work out SEGA can go crazy and make new prequels or entries to classic light gun shooters like they did with The House of the Dead: Overkill. Hey, a SEGA fan can dream.
Arcade Racing Games
Arcade racing games have really been lacking these past couple of generations, seems that people are more into either realistic racing games or a mix of both arcade and realism. The idea of having a lean packaged, super fun arcade racer isn’t something that most gamers want (or so it seems). Of course there are always exceptions to the rules and I’m sure we will hear about some in the comments below. I think SEGA is partly at fault for not giving the genre more chances even though lots of indie developers are creating SEGA 90s arcade inspired games as we speak.
SEGA has some of the most iconic franchises in arcade racing history at their finger tips with games like OutRun, Hang-On, Virtua Racing, Daytona USA, and even SEGA Rally. These games might have outdated graphics but their aesthetics are beautiful and low polygon models are making a comeback in a big way. All these games tried to capture a sense of speed and ports could work fine with virtual reality capabilities. I would be all over SEGA re-releasing OutRun 2 with some extra content and virtual reality support. Actually, I would be ecstatic. Please make it happen SEGA, don’t you see that OutRun 2 is one of the best arcade games of all time?
As these games will be re-releases, if they do well they could lead to new investments into sequels that fans have been clamoring for. Of course this rests on the shoulders that virtual reality gamers will be into nostalgic games, but seeing as they are always looking for new experiences for their ultra expensive googles, they might be. If SEGA prices their titles right, that is.
Whatever genre Shenmue is
Not going to debate if Shenmue is an action role playing game or its own genre like Yu Suzki wanted it to be. But what I will say is that Shenmue was practically built for the virtual reality experience. It was something that Yu Suzuki tried very hard to accomplish with the game, making the world around the main protagonist Ryo Hazuki feel real. Him and the wizard developers at SEGA spent a lot of money, time and effort getting things like real time weather, in-house items and other 80s cultural things right for the game. He accomplished just that, seeing as Shenmue is one of SEGA’s biggest talked about titles even 15 years after its initial release. The game is so fondly remembered that when Yu Suzuki announced the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter on Sony’s E3 stage in 2015 it turned out to be the fastest funded video game in Kickstarter history.
Now SEGA is sitting on two classic games that they can re-release and they just haven’t done anything with them. While I think the re-releases will sell just fine without virtual reality support, I feel that the games can be even better with it. Imagine playing Shenmue and just exploring city streets like you are there in real life? Just a port of Shenmue 1 and 2 could be the best thing that virtual reality has going for it at the moment! Well, maybe not but to a SEGA fanboy like myself it would be. Most of the Virtual Reality games available right now are incomplete messes while Shenmue might be dated but it already has a ton of content to explore and its world is interesting enough to have a big cult following.
Its hard to know if Virtual Reality is the future, especially right now with the price not being consumer friendly. I think the best approach right now, like stated before, is to play it safe and only make Virtual Reality compatible games. These are just some of the genres I think will work with virtual reality.