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SEGA Ages has been the longest running retro line in SEGA’s history starting up all the way back on the Sega Saturn in 1996, the series would evolve itself into the Sega Ages 2500 series on PlayStation 2, then become Sega Ages Online in early 2012 on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360. SEGA would later rebrand the series as ‘SEGA 3D Classics’ for the Nintendo 3DS but switched it back to SEGA Ages when they launched the series on Nintendo Switch back in 2018. Since then SEGA has announced and released 19 retro titles on exclusively to Switch with its latest one being Herzog Zwei, a real-time strategy game for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive.
During the announcement of Herzog Zwei the team mentioned that this could be the last release for SEGA AGES as they don’t have any plans for future releases. So I went ahead and asked you guys on the SEGAbits Twitter what SEGA Ages could change to make the titles more appealing and I feel like we are on the same track on changes we would love to see if SEGA continues moving forward with even more releases into 2021 and some issues with the brand that they could fix.
One of the cool things about these SEGA Ages re-releases is that they’re mostly the definitive versions of these retro titles even going as far as adding more content, but I’ve noticed that the SEGA Ages brand usually only seems to focus on one platform and lately it’s been the Nintendo Switch. While the Nintendo Switch is great, it’s a shame that other consoles miss out on Sega Ages releases. SEGA as a whole have been getting better at releasing multiplatform games with stuff like Yakuza now heading to Xbox and PC, but for some reason these SEGA Ages titles don’t get the same chance?
While I’m enjoying the Nintendo Switch, I really dislike how Nintendo handles its online store purchases as it has a history of separating stores and purchases for each console and handheld they release. Did you invest a ton of money on retro titles for the Wii U? Those titles won’t transfer over to Switch. That means that if they ever make a successor to the Nintendo Switch in a few years, these purchased games might not transfer over, so if SEGA AGES releases got PS4, Xbox One, and PC releases they would work with future hardware as both Sony and Microsoft have promised that online purchases will carry over to next generation consoles. That means that doing the work right now on porting them to these platforms will make them future proof for at least another decade. Just porting them to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam would put the releases on the radar of 250+ million gamers that frequent these platforms. To me the more the better. Who knows, if these titles do well it would be interesting to see SEGA enable cross play between all versions and actually allow a online community to grow on some of these games like Virtua Racing.
Introduce Price Tiers
Right now SEGA Ages doesn’t have tiered pricing, meaning that each and every title comes out is priced at $7.99. While this isn’t an obscene amount of cash to charge for SEGA Ages titles, since it’s what every company including SNK is charging for their more inferior releases; it also isn’t working as not all titles seem worth the full price. I think SEGA knows that some brands are more premium and have shown it when they do discounts as titles like Alex Kidd in Miracle World get deeper discounts than something like Out Run or Virtua Racing. It’s also true that these titles are on sale often, but I think if SEGA did a tiered pricing where the premium titles stayed at $7.99 and smaller, niche titles dropped to $4.99 permanently, they could actually get more people to try some of these more niche titles.
Here is how I think the tiers should be:
My thinking is that there are different reasons for why a game should be priced at a higher level, for example some titles just have bigger brand awareness like Shinobi, Out Run, and Space Harrier have remained cult classics while other games made it due to their length like Phantasy Star while other titles like Virtua Racing is the only 3D title offered here. While Sonic the Hedgehog brand is huge, I thought that the first should be priced lower in hopes that Sonic fans will also be more incline to pick up other titles, since having the ability to get 4 games for $20 bucks seems like a more resolvable deal than only getting two titles for $16! I think some of you guys might disagree with some of the franchises I added in the budget side, so I’d love to hear your tiered list in the comments below.
Stand Out From Competition
The other big issue with SEGA Ages titles is that they are getting lost competing against SEGA’s other retro releases. While SEGA AGES covers more arcade releases with some console games sprinkled in, most mainstream gamers would glance at the collection and could easily assume it’s just another SEGA Genesis series re-releases. Let’s have a glance at the 19 released games so far:
I crossed out games that never appeared on the SEGA Genesis, while yes, games like Virtua Racing, Out Run and others are based on the superior arcade version; it’s hard for an audience to know that by just glancing at these thumbnails in the Nintendo shop. Plus those crossed out are mostly older games that might not have had these exact titles appear on SEGA’s 16-bit console but had other entries from the same IP have sequels on the SEGA GENESIS like Phantasy Star, Shinobi and so on. At the same time SEGA is selling a physical SEGA Genesis collection on all current consoles that feature over 50 emulated games that retails for under $30, then we have the SEGA Genesis Mini console and even SEGA Forever on mobile which gives out retro SEGA games for free. It might not seem like it, but SEGA AGES is competing against all these re-releases. I’d argue that these SEGA AGES releases are superior but it doesn’t seem marketing has made this point a big enough point or sold gamers on the premium price. I think one of the issues with the line-up was adding console games, it should have been marketed as definitive arcade ports, which would have separated it from other SEGA retro releases they’ve been doing. Which brings me to the next point:
Release More Arcade Exclusives
SEGA has a long history of being an arcade first company. There are plenty of arcade titles that had world wide success but never got definitive home releases, having SEGA focus on bringing previously arcade exclusive titles to console for the first time would have gotten the fan base more excited than releasing a port of Alex Kidd in Miracle World. I feel like in the past, these collections had something that made them stand out, last generation it was the 3DS’ 3D effects and before that was adding online component to games for the first time. but these latest Nintendo Switch re-releases have been all over the place but it seems mostly to cover late 80s/early 90s arcade and Genesis titles.
While its true SEGA is doing more of these unreleased arcade games their SEGA Astro Arcade Mini being release in Japan, having Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder, Arabian Fight and Stack Columns being released on it, but I think its a lot more accessible world wide if we got them through SEGA AGES and the ability to finally add online play to some of these never released at home arcade games would be very welcoming. But there is also something else SEGA and developer M2 could have done to stand out from the pack…
Focus on 3D Games
One of the biggest requests for SEGA AGES is to move onto 3D games, one of the reasons that they focused on SEGA’s 2D output on the 3DS was because the hardware was too weak for more advanced titles. People were amazed that they got 3D to work on Genesis titles like Streets of Rage while Nintendo couldn’t achieve that for their Super Nintendo releases, but now we are moving on to Nintendo Switch and out of the 19 released titles only Virtua Racing is a 3D game. Back in 2018 when the SEGA AGES series launched on Nintendo Switch the team even teased that they weren’t ruling out bringing SEGA Saturn and Dreamcast games to the SEGA AGES brand, but it seems that won’t become a reality.
It’s funny that the developer M2 just had a Famitsu interview where they said the release with the greatest response was Virtua Racing because it showed that the developer could port 3D games to SEGA AGES, why not continue releasing at least SEGA Model 1 games like Virtua Fighter or even Wing War? Why make a brand new emulator for Model 1 games and only release one title, especially if feedback was so positive? This could have really established developer M2’s move to releasing at least early 3D SEGA arcade titles and eventually move to Model 2 ports which gets into, in my opinion, some of the greatest SEGA arcade games ever released including Daytona USA, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, Dynamite Cop, Virtual-ON and so on. If SEGA was looking for a Nintendo Switch only gimmick they could even port over The House of the Dead and Virtua Cop games with motion controls. It seems that developer M2 really left a huge chunk of great games on the table that may never get a chance to shine.
Physical Game Bundle
Back when SEGA released the SEGA 3D Classics, they produced three Japanese physical versions collecting most of the games. Sadly in America we only got one of these releases and quite frankly a bit disappointed that SEGA didn’t do physical releases for the Nintendo Switch. Like I stated before, I don’t really trust Nintendo and how they handle digital purchases, so being a hardcore SEGA fan I’d be more than up to double dip for a physical version and think a lot of you watching this would too.
If SEGA really does respect its retro franchises and considers these the definitive releases of these games, I feel like having a physical version including all 19 released titles would be great for fans and a way for SEGA to squeeze more money out of the already released games. If SEGA really is going to end the SEGA AGES releases going forward, the least we can get is a physical version or maybe even think about doing digital bundles where you can buy most titles in discounted bundles. The pricing on something like this? Well, what are you guys willing to pay? Considering if you bought every SEGA AGES title at full price, it would run you over $150 dollars, finding a good pricing might be hard. I think this is why SEGA needs to work on permanent price drops, digital bundles and of course a physical version. If SEGA really is ending the series, might as well make as much money off of these titles by making them more appealing to consumers .
I’ll end the video by saying that I have enjoyed the Sega Ages releases these past few years and some of the additions to games like OutRun and Fantasy Zone II have been some of my all time favorite releases because it really changed the way the games are played and made them feel refreshing. I’ve probably logged more hours into these two re-releases than I have put into most recently released games this generation. I’m sad to see SEGA put the brand to rest for now, but I think we will be seeing a resurrection some time in the future. Its also nice to see developer M2 say that they are still working with Sega in the future and they’ve even expressed desire on doing a SEGA Genesis Mini 2 in the latest interview, so who knows what the future holds for M2 and SEGA.Ad: