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The Top 7... Sega series we want back

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

  • NESticles - May 9, 2011 9:07 p.m.

    never plated toejam and earl. just didnt seem me. otherwise great article
  • Sy87 - May 9, 2011 9:10 p.m.

    A new revemp of the Panzer Dragoon series would be awesome. I still play Orta and the Original on my 360.
  • Redeater - May 9, 2011 9:10 p.m.

    I agree with ALL of these! It is a real shame SEGA has moved on to shitting out terrible movie games. God if you would have told me that when I was 12 I would have thought it was the opening to a joke.
  • Tenfey - May 9, 2011 9:13 p.m.

    Sega Sega burning bright in the forests of the night
  • Ampatent - May 9, 2011 9:14 p.m.

    JET SET RADIOOOOOOO! I want another video top 7. =/
  • JSayonara - May 9, 2011 9:15 p.m.

    Toejam & Earl! Make it more like the first and less like #2 (although some platforming bits would be okay). At least a Live/PSN game would be nice if it wouldn't support a full retail game. Also, Space Channel 5 needs to return.
  • FantasticMrStarFox - May 9, 2011 9:20 p.m.

    I want to see Road Rash come back. I love Road Rash 3 on the Genesis.
  • Mooshon - May 9, 2011 9:26 p.m.

    Spent far too many hours grinding the relentlessly repeating levels for pointless loot in Phantasy Star on Dreamcast ha. As said above, much more patience in them days - though still not for trying to text type with a controller. Anyone bother with that? Jet Set Radio must have a HD remake!
  • SpikroddNG - May 9, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    Toy Commander was a huge part of my Dreamcast days, as was Darkstalkers and Pen Pen TriIcelon (the other two almost entirely unheard of; nevermind them), and Virtual On was an arcade staple. I played that game for hours in the local arcade when i was 8-11 and it was magical each time. I think there was a japanese release of it recently on the X360. They'd both be incredibly strong titles if released at the right times and were done right; they're not too strong of titles on their own old engines and would need to be altered greatly to survive or be competitive period (which is the key reason why Road Rash hasn't been resurrected yet).
  • deadpool125 - May 9, 2011 9:39 p.m.

    I've always loved Billy Hatcher. I feel like it's one of the better games to come from Sonic Team in ages. It's still far too under-rated even though it's, in my opinion, one of the best Gamecube games.
  • StrayGator - May 9, 2011 9:40 p.m.

    This article was not written by Justin Towell. Thus, it is wrong in every conceivable level. Also, Golden Axe. Captcha: convicted rlybus. Yeah, it gets my drift.
  • Eskya - May 9, 2011 9:42 p.m.

    No Shenmue? Huh, usually on list like this it's number one (and should be). I'd also love to see a xbl/psn release of Shining Force 3
  • BeerBaron - May 9, 2011 9:44 p.m.

    Good list. Phantasy Star on the Master System was the first JRPG I had ever tried. It's the only one I really liked as well. I thought Phantasy Star 2 while prettier looking was a very flat experience and dull experience.
  • crumbdunky - May 9, 2011 9:48 p.m.

    TJ&E was a hell of a great time back in the day and a return could be amazing if done well. I seem to remember a levelling system of a kind where you went from being a "dufus" to being a "poindexter" and so on-I wish I could recall if they meant anything beyond being a name.
  • buro13 - May 9, 2011 9:51 p.m.

    Uhhhh Skies of Arcadia anybody?! I been waiting 10 years damnit!
  • bobob101 - May 9, 2011 9:52 p.m.

    Jet Set Radio would be an amazing title for the 3DS! just saying, i think that would be its best option.
  • batmanboy11 - May 9, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    Man, Jet Set Radio needs to be brought back!
  • Turbobison - May 9, 2011 9:54 p.m.

    We need another Powerstone. However, more like 1. I didn't care for the Smash Brother esqe syle.
  • PanzerDSS - May 9, 2011 9:55 p.m.

    As someone whose screen name means "Panzer Dragoon Sega Saturn", I approve of this article.
  • SparkMandrilSP - May 9, 2011 10:01 p.m.

    I would love to see a new Jet Set Radio, even if it was only a remake with better graphics. PD: The Burning Rangers theme is officially stuck in my head.

Showing 1-20 of 104 comments

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