If Sega wants to reclaim its former glory, it’ll need more than Sonic and Atlus.
The publisher and developer revealed in a recent presentation to investors that it plans to revive some of its intellectual properties (IPs) as part of a growth plan called “Road to 2020.” Well, hey, that’s great news for an old Sega fan like me. But I can’t help but wonder which neglected franchises Sega plans to bring back from the dead.
So, I went ahead and picked five myself. These are the five series that Sega would be smart to revive in the modern gaming landscape.
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage was a series of 2-player beat-em-ups for the Genesis, back in a time when these kinds of games were all over the place. Konami had its arcade hits like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, X-Men, and The Simpsons Arcade, while Capcom spun its Street Fighter fighting game series off into the Final Fight franchise.
And, yeah, gameplay wise, these were all pretty similar. You walked around and punched people silly. But it was simple and fun, and Streets of Rage had a great city-punk look with an electronic dance music-inspired soundtrack.
Despite its popularity, the last Streets of Rage — Streets of Rage 3 for the Genesis — came out in 1994. Well, it’s time to bring this series back. And I know exactly who should develop it. It’s a company that Sega has worked with plenty before. It’s a company known for its great action games. It’s Platinum. Get them to make a new Streets of Rage, and it could easily be a big hit.
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco was like Sega’s answer to Metroid. It also had players exploring an non-linear 2D world, and it succeeded in distilling an odd sense of isolation and eeriness in players. Except you played as a dolphin. It was as fantastic as it sounds.
It would be easy for a game that has you playing as a big fish (shut up, I know dolphins are mammals) to constantly make fun of itself, but Ecco the Dolphin took its story dead seriously. Ecco’s missions always felt urgent and important, and having to explore deep parts of the ocean while worrying about your next breath of air made for a constant source of tension.
The last game in the series, Defender of the Future, came out for the Dreamcast back in 2000. It received great reviews, but it feels like people don’t talk about this 3D reboot much anymore. However, it proved that Ecco can exist in the modern gaming landscape. Imagine how good this underwater series could look with modern graphics.
Phantasy Star was like Sega’s Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. It was a series of role-playing games that featured traditional turn-based battles. However, Phantasy Star used a more unique, sci-fi-inspired setting.
After the acclaimed Phantasy Star IV came out in 1993, the series became dormant until Phantasy Star Online released for the Dreamcast in 2001. It started a new direction for the franchise, one that focused on online mutliplayer and action-based combat. Well, after all this time, I’d love to see a new, single-player take on Phantasy Star.
Sega also happens to own one of the best RPG companies around these days: Atlus. Now, sure, they might be busy with their own stuff, like Shin Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey. But I bet they could make a hell of Phantasy Star game.
Ah, Panzer Dragoon. This Saturn series was something magical. Most of its games are on-rails shooters, kind of like Star Fox. But you’re flying and shooting on the back of a dragon through a world that looks like something out of earlier Miyazaki films like Nausicaa or Castle in the Sky.
It also had its own RPG, Panzer Dragoon Saga, which came out for the Saturn in 1998. It’s one of the most praised RPGs ever … and one of the hardest to find, since it came out when the Saturn was all but dead.
The last game in the series, Panzer Dragoon Orta, released for the Xbox in 2002. This beautiful franchise deserves a second life.
Jet Set Radio
These games were like the anti-Tony Hawk. Instead of focusing on doing tricks, you grinded around cities on your skates while spraying graffiti and rocking out to dope (that’s a cool word that cool kids use) tunes. It was also one of the first series to use cel-shaded graphics, which still help the games look great with their cartoon-like dark lines and bright colors.
The last original Jet Set Radio game actually came out for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. The last one you probably remember was 2002’s Jet Set Radio Future for the Xbox, although the original recently got an HD remake in 2012.
These games were a showcase of everything that Sega should be when it’s at its best. They’re fun, creative, and just a little bit weird.