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The Top 7... Sega series we want back

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Sega has led one of the most tumultuous lives of any game company to date. It rose to prominence throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s thanks to creative arcade games and popular consoles like the Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive, but then slowly lost that lead to Nintendo and Sony as the decade wore on. After a series of unrecoverable missteps, Sega was out of the hardware business altogether by 2001, forced to create software for its former competitors.


Above: Launching five distinct consoles (plus handhelds) within 10 years is a great way to scatter and confuse your audience 

Since then, Sega’s annual lineups have been hit or miss. Sonic the Hedgehog lurches right along, Total War has made some nice cash over the years and Platinum Games is kicking all kinds of ass, but other than that it seems like most of Sega’s efforts are spent re-releasing compilations of its ‘90s hits instead of finding ways to re-invent them for today’s appetites. Those original titles were successful for a reason, and we think there’s still something to cull from their neglected corpses – so here we’d like to dredge up some of Sega’s brightest stars that skipped the supernova and went straight to inert ashy matter.


7 – Burning Rangers

If Jerry Bruckheimer and Cirque Du Soleil teamed up to make a movie called “Backdraft 2051 AD,” it would probably come out a lot like Burning Rangers. You played a firefighter. This could normally be mundane, but because this was the future, you extinguished flames, blew up mechs and saved innocents by using a jet pack and a ray gun and dash somersaulting a lot.

Fire had evolved and gone disco. No longer were you fighting plain yellow flames – now, fire came in green globes, orange plumes, blue bursts and more, as if the Lucky Charms leprechaun got his hands on an inferno-creation machine. The flames were a worthy enemy too, often blazing into existence with only a moment’s notice or chucking smaller fireballs right at you. Plus, once you beat the game, you unlocked more playable characters (one with a ray bazooka) and a random level generator.

Sadly, Burning Rangers looked like crap on the Saturn, but on today’s consoles and with a Tron 2.0-style makeover, this could be so fashionably pyrotechnic that Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi himself would beg for retina-saving sunglasses. It would be worth it, too – although a few of its ideas were revisited in the cripplingly tough GunValkyrie, no other game to date has matched Burning Rangers’ unique mix of acrobatic aerial platforming, bombastic shooting, and sci-fi visual design. Plus the theme song rocked in the cheesiest way possible.


6 – Toejam & Earl

Look at this. Really look at it. It’s a game starring two hip hop-obsessed aliens who’ve been stranded on an exaggerated version of Earth. They then roam this fragmented planet in search of broken spaceship parts while avoiding dentists, mailboxes and the friggin’ bogeyman. This idea is so insane it would never, ever be green lit today, and that’s precisely why it must return; why publish another third-person cover-based shooter when you could offer a colorful, funny and entirely unique experience that also happens to prey upon Sega fanatics’ nostalgia?

But how do you bring this back? Ignore the misguided and outdated humor of the 2002 Xbox sequel; TJ&E don’t need to lace their dialog with dick jokes, nor do they need to hopelessly cling to the early ‘90s view of hip hop. Either bring their tastes and fashion into the modern hip hop scene, or re-invent the duo as aliens infatuated with another burgeoning music style – maybe they’re freakishly into dub step, for instance.


Above: We’d want a soundtrack that’s as awesome as the era-appropriate funky fresh original

I’d also do away with one of the series’ most notable features – randomly generated levels. It was a great idea for the 16-bit days, but today we want elaborate goals to achieve, so randomly piecing levels together doesn’t sound like the best way to reintroduce this franchise. Create fixed levels, load them with eccentric humans and polish the dialog until it’s genuinely clever and not a series of lewd jokes that even the hackiest SNL writer would pass up. We know creative games often get the shaft (Psychonauts, Beyond Good & Evil etc) but that shouldn’t prevent others from trying to do something outside the industry’s FPS comfort zone.

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104 comments

  • TehKnuck - July 31, 2011 1 a.m.

    Seeing Dark Wizard at least mentioned in this article via box art at the end makes my heart happy. I spent HOURS playing that game in middle school.
  • thochaos - May 21, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    Shining and Force and Shenmue are what I want back!
  • Gob - May 14, 2011 9:34 p.m.

    I play Orta on my 360 on occasion, and was extremely taken with it when I first got it for Xbox original. It, and Jet-Set need to return, badly.
  • bast902 - May 14, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    I'd kill for a new panzer dragoon, or at the very least, a release of Orta on xbox live originals, as i can not for the life of me come across a disc copy for sale anywhere.
  • rxb - May 13, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    I would do a hate crime for a new Jet Set Radio
  • darksongbird - May 12, 2011 5:15 p.m.

    The majority of these games I've never played. I have experienced Toe Jam & Earl (which isn't that great) and Streets of Rage (fun beat em up) but just about all the others I've never had a chance to even get into. I bet most of them are fun though! And the music to Panzer Dragoon was kick ass!!
  • Tomsta666 - May 12, 2011 8:11 a.m.

    What? NO ALEX KIDD??? Absolutely unforgivable
  • MtnMax99 - May 12, 2011 12:48 a.m.

    Toy Commander is overall my favorite game of all time
  • 80sMullet - May 11, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    As always - great podcast but I have to raise an issue - I'll post this here because someone might read it - make your website easier to navigate. It's like someone handed it over to the programmers with no real people filter.
  • Jayseph - May 11, 2011 9:51 p.m.

    The original Toejam and Earl is one of my most favouritist games of all time. I'd love to see them back in a new adventure. Hate the idea about making them more 'relevant' though. That would be just plain embarrassing, like your dad trying to be cool, talking about "hippety-hop" I loved Shining Force and it's proper sequels and I've been pining for that franchise ever since my Saturn. I was heartbroken when SF3 Parts 2 and 3 didn't get a Western release. Valkyria Chronicles is a worthy spiritual successor but it's just not the same without Slade and Gerhalt tearing the place up.
  • Wolfman3000 - May 11, 2011 7:08 p.m.

    #6 should be #1 and #2-7 should be streets of rage.
  • LBD_Nytetrayn - May 11, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    What? No Alex Kidd? And to everyone who keeps saying Power Stone (or Breath of Fire), the list is for SEGA's franchises, not everyone else.
  • JBizFoShiz - May 11, 2011 6:37 a.m.

    The reason Sega makes movie games is because they're guaranteed money-makers (to be fair, they're not USUALLY outright terrible - just not good games) Did you read the article? I love JSR and JSRF as much as the next guy, but they flopped HARD. I bought Jet Grind on day one. My friend waited until it was $10... The fact is, other than Sonic, Sega has nothing going for it in the 2011 mainstream. Also, unsure if an earlier comment took care of this, but the Power Stone series belongs to Capcom, not Sega. Skies of Arcadia is a game I'd like to revisit or have a sequel made of...but that too flopped big time. Or imagine a revamped Jet Set Radio with online gameplay. So. Much. Drool.
  • DeathbyFira - May 11, 2011 2:27 a.m.

    Dude JetSetRadio is sooooo awesome one of my favorite games of all time and alot of people missd out on this and i wish i could go on a Jay and Slient bob bender and punch them in the nuts for that this game so needs to come back i love it if they made a new one of crap a ds or psp remake
  • jasonn1231 - May 11, 2011 1:02 a.m.

    um SHENMUE ANYONE????
  • Modroneman - May 10, 2011 9:24 p.m.

    I used to own a copy of Shining Force for the Sega Saturn. Bought it for $80, but I sold it a couple of years ago for $120.
  • DizzyDial - May 10, 2011 9:19 p.m.

    Shenmue, Power Stone, and above all else, Skies of Arcadia.
  • CoryM1134 - May 10, 2011 7:48 p.m.

    Supah Blothas! I had my Dreamcast out a few weeks ago and played through JGR again. The controls and camera show their age, and the game is really short (if you don't spend a lot of time with time trials, etc.). Given a good team, though, a brand new one could be amazing. There is just something about playing JGR that you can't get from any other game, ever.
  • Zanthis - May 10, 2011 5:37 p.m.

    Yes, we need more Jet Grind Radio
  • bulletswine - May 10, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    I'd give up my left nut for a new Jet Set Radio game!

Showing 1-20 of 104 comments

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