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The Top 7... Sega series we want back

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5 – Shinobi

Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, ninjas were huge – and for Sega fans, there was no ninja more badass than Joe Musashi. Wielding a seemingly endless supply of shuriken and powerful ninja magic, he started out freeing hostages from a supernatural ninja criminal syndicate, but it wasn’t long before he was fighting the likes of Spider-Man, Batman and (a dead ringer for) Godzilla, seemingly just for the hell of it. Decades ago, his badassery made him one of Sega’s flagship characters, but now he’s slowly becoming a dim memory kept alive only by downloadable ports of his old games.

It’s true that Shinobi (like a couple of other franchises on this list) has already had at least one comeback, in the form of the ultra-hardcore, faintly creepy 2002 reboot. While we could argue that its red-scarfed new protagonist and extreme, wall-running hack-and-slash didn’t really resemble previous Shinobi games at all, our real beef is that it came out almost 10 years ago. Its only sequel, Nightshade (which starred a female ninja and wasn’t quite as good), hit the following year and got middling reviews, and the series has barely been heard from since.

Did the games really sell so poorly that Sega decided to abandon one of its key franchises? Will insane ninja action continue to be defined solely by Ryu Hayabusa, Naruto and the increasingly dull Tenchu cast? We’re not sure, but we do know that a big Shinobi comeback – maybe with a smart developer like Platinum or, say, NINJA THEORY at the helm – would be especially welcome in an era when ninjas are increasingly becoming a sad companion joke to pirates.


4 – Shining Force

Okay, first things first – when we say Shining Force, we’re talking about the old school strategy RPGs, which were like Final Fantasy Tactics but far more accessible. As far as we’re concerned, none of those garbage Action RPGs that mucked up the PlayStation 2 – Shining Tears, Shining Force Neo, Shining Force EXA – ever happened. Those can stay lodged in the bowels of history. We just want the good stuff, which ended in 1998 with the US release of Saturn classic Shining Force III Scenario One .

Yes, the battles were turn-based and took place on a checkerboard grid, but the action was still remarkably easy to hook into and surprisingly tense. The stories were epic-scale sagas in which likable, noble characters were caught up in world-shattering wars.

Speaking of scale, the series went BIG. Shining Force III Scenario One had 27 playable characters, including ninjas, centaurs, mages and a penguin, and you fought using 12 of them at a time. Not four, not six or eight … 12. And the last battle took place in two locations at once, so your army split in two and nearly every single character got to participate at once. And this was just the first in a three-game series, (tragically, Scenarios Two and Three were only released in Japan) whose events, stories and even characters intertwined. Most importantly, Shining Force games had a soul. They were endearing, creative, vibrant, and colossal, and we want them back.


3 – Phantasy Star

In the Master System/Genesis days, Phantasy Star was one of the biggest RPG series out there. Instead of mythical dragons and enchanted swords, this space-faring series focused on a set of planets in the Algol system and, along with Final Fantasy, helped make console RPGs a sustainable genre outside of Japan. Its successful stretch was lost during the Saturn era (1995-1998), but was later revived as Phantasy Star Online, a beloved, mission-based multiplayer excursion that was truly ahead of its time.


Above: Phantasy Star IV is possibly the best in the entire series… but launched at $100 in 1995. That’s about $150-$200 in today’s market

Since then, online multiplayer has become standard and the MMORPG field is crowded with series attempting to either unseat World of Warcraft or merely survive off the free-to-play crumbs that fall from Blizzard’s gaping maw. You have to be extremely bold to think you can out-MMO WoW, and we don’t think the upcoming, PC-only PSO2 will be the magic game to break the streak. Instead, take this series back to its roots (no Online, no Universe) and craft a character-driven story that ditches missions, character creation and all the other elements that have slowly sucked the humanity out of the series. For eff’s sake, Phantasy Star II is known for a famous character death years before Sephiroth killed Aerith – can we get back to that?


Above: We had the patience for this in 2001. Not so much in 2011

Aesthetically, Final Fantasy XIII actually looks a bit like Phantasy Star – there’s definitely more sci-fi than fantasy there, for sure. A new solo-only PS game could ideally swoop in and gather up those who wanted to like XIII but were turned away by its tortuously slow lead-up to the actual story. In other words, it’s still possible for Sega to reaffirm this series’ position as a major RPG… or it can piss away another quest based, create-a-character mini-MMO and be crushed under WoW’s heel.

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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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