Tag Archives: 2017

What old SEGA games should be brought back from the dead?

There certainly seems to be a lot of intrigue about what SEGA are up to lately — there’s talk of them bringing back some of their old IP’s, for a start, which has certainly got some tongues wagging. Not to mention all the talk about something called SEGA Forever that could be (although we obviously don’t know) a subscription-based sort of Games on Demand service for mobiles, which if true could perhaps cover the “bringing old games back” deal, depending on just how old SEGA are talking — you can find some of the workings of the rumour mill on videos such as this one by Youtuber RGT 85 right here.  As far as anything concrete goes though, nothing is confirmed whatsoever, and chances are nothing will be until E3 at the earliest — and as a highly distinguished retrogaming website it is quite frankly not cricket, or even baseball, for us to write an article all about this speculation that may well end up being untrue. I, for one, would never allow such things to appear on your computer screen.

With that said, the thought of SEGA digging up some of their old games from the dead is certainly worth having fun with, if only for the purposes of humour and light entertainment. So the question of today is; what old IP’s could SEGA bring back? And what, exactly, could they do with them? It’s all very well bringing a series back and doing the exact same thing that it originally became famous for — that would be the sensible thing to do, perhaps — but some IP’s might need a bit of a twist. Let’s review a selection from the archives and see how we can, for lack of a better expression, sex them up a bit.

Alex Kidd

SEGA’s pre-Sonic mascot has always had a bit of a raw deal — we’ve actually got a fair bit of time for him in Europe due to the Master System’s popularity here compared to the rest of the world, but even we just about managed to forget his existence once a certain spiky blue hedgehog came rolling in. It perhaps doesn’t help his cause that Alex was pinged around genres a lot in his time — there’s a couple of Mario-esque platform games, a trial biking game, a crossover with Shinobi, a terrible adventure-action hybrid…he struggled to find a consistent identity, which was a bit of a bummer for him really — however, that’s something we can use to our advantage nowadays. SEGA have explored the depressive side of Alex Kidd before, using him as a lowly clerk in their self-referential Dreamcast game Segagaga, and perhaps this can be delved into further with a depressive, noir-esque action sandbox title where an older Alex with a drinking problem finds himself having to combat villains on the crime-infested streets of the Miracle World. Think Max Payne, only with more Janken — it’s a guaranteed hit. There could even be a role for Sonic too as Alex’s unwilling, straighter-laced partner.

The Ooze

There’s a fair few games that folks remember from the days of the SEGA Technical Institute — those were the people who brought us the likes of Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon and Die Hard Arcade, games that people certainly remember well, and might even want to see make a return…however, everybody forgets about The Ooze.  There are a few reasons for that — the first being that the game was, put bluntly, not very good. Secondly, it did come out pretty close to the end of the Mega Drive’s life and so there weren’t a whole lot of eyes on it. The premise was certainly weird enough — you played as a scientist who had been turned into a giant blob of green goo, and was then tasked with getting revenge on the scum who’d put him in this situation…perhaps more could be done with this title? The roles could be reversed — you play as one of the human scientists in a survival horror game. It’s Alien: Isolation, only instead of a xenomorph you’re hiding from a giant cartoony puddle of luminous snot…it might sound somewhat incongruous for a horror title, but people said that about IT back in the day too, and look what happened to them! It’s worth looking at.

Streets of Rage

This should be the biggest lay-up of them all really — as soon as speculation started about Sega reviving old IP’s, Streets of Rage was undoubtedly one of the first names on people’s lips. SOR used to be one of Sega’s biggest franchises, but then it rather inexplicably disappeared, never coming out of the 16-bit era despite numerous failed attempts at a sequel and a bunch of dismissed plans. So just go ahead and make another beat-’em-up, right? Well…let’s think outside the box a little. Streets of Rage is a very open title that can be interpreted in a variety of ways — sure, it can describe a group of friends punching the teeth out of thugs in a battle against a crime syndicate, but what if a string of reality was brought in? Perhaps those streets could represent a city in crisis, possibly because it was invaded by a military force that needs to be repelled by another stronger military force that people like more. With that in mind, the best direction for Streets of Rage is surely an Army-based first-person shooter based in a foreign city, with questionable political content. Besides, everybody knows that beat-’em-ups don’t sell anymore.

ESWAT

As far as old IP’s go, any decision to revive ESWAT would come from right out of leftfield. The series only had 2 games, both of which had the same title, and it was never the most popular of SEGA’s ’80s arcade side-scrollers — it was quite a lot like a game version of Robocop, but that itself already had a successful arcade game thanks to Data East…however, there could be something in that Robocop influence. It’s something of a shame that there’s no such thing as a proper Robocop simulator — a big open-world city where you preserve the public trust, uphold the law and all that, solving crimes, chasing bad guys…it seems unlikely that we’ll get anything like that out of Robocop itself, or a similar franchise like Judge Dredd, but you know what? Maybe ESWAT could be the way to do it. “Robocop simulator” is basically my dream game, so this is a suggestion that I’m actually half-serious about.

Phantasy Star

There’s no need to be half-serious about this one, or even to make an attempt at being funny. For heaven’s sake, folks — give us another Phantasy Star. As in, a single-player RPG Phantasy Star. Even if it has to be crowdfunded. Please.

This could obviously continue on by looking at all of SEGA’s old and discontinued IP’s and thinking about ways in which they can be twisted and distorted to meet the demands of the modern gaming world, but it’s probably wise to draw the line at five. While nothing here should be taken seriously as such, it is certainly an exciting time to be a SEGA fan — there’s definitely something brewing, and the possibility of games being revived has certainly excited people to a degree that may well end up being too much, but in the meantime is still a positive for a brand that, not too long ago, was often thought to be a bit of a zombie. Whatever happens, whether it’s something beyond our wildest expectations or just another way to play those old games that lots of people love, it’s good to see people being interested again.

 

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Artdink celebrate 30+ years of A-Train with a game that goes back to the past

While a lot of long-running video game series tend to be fairly high profile for most of their existence, some of them can creep up on you. In the case of A-Train (A Ressha de Ikou), Japanese company Artdink’s railway simulation game, you might be shocked to find that the series has been going since 1985 — 32 years of building a city off the back of the rails. While immensely popular in Japan, the series has rarely risen above cult status in the West — its highest profile outing was back in 1992 when the third game in the series was published in America by Maxis (and Ocean in Europe) as, simply, A-Train. A lot of its other outings in the West have weirdly been on consoles — the PlayStation got the fourth game, AIV: Evolution, as a launch title, there was a very poorly received version of A-Train HX for the Xbox 360, and there’s been a couple of handheld releases in recent times. However, the series has returned once again with Artdink announcing A-Train PC Classic for release on the Steam platform in roughly two weeks’ time.

The new A-Train is notable for having considerably older aesthetics than more recent installments such as A-Train HX that have usually gone with full 3D (often resulting in them being panned for substandard 3D graphics).. Instead, railway building in the new game is done in the classic isometric style, with a look that’s reminiscent of the earlier games in the series as well as the likes of SimCity 2000. You can choose to view your city in 3D by taking a tour of your rail track, but most of the game will be played in good ol’ 2D — this is a decision that may well help the series as it takes it away from competing with the successful and graphically intensive likes of Cities: Skylines.

The look of the new A-Train is closer to the modern handheld installments — probably wiser than trying to imitate ol’ Skylines.

Of course, A-Train isn’t just your average city building sim — it is very much based around mass transit, particularly the rail. As you build an ever more complex and efficient railway system and develop the land around your stations, your city will gradually grow with the help of the computer as important resources such as coal, iron and people are funneled in — slowly turning your area from a wet patch of grass with a railway line through it into a sprawling modern cityscape. The game can be tricky to get at first, and the actual aim of the game hasn’t always been communicated too well by Artdink — which in many ways has contributed to A-Train games often getting rather poor receptions in the West. If the game is approached as a more traditional city building sim, people are likelier to be confused and annoyed by the game — instead, the focus is on combining rails, roads and trams in a way that makes sense and helps your city to grow in terms of size and population.

The first A-Train game in the West, with glorious high-rise buildings all over. Often misunderstood then, but hopefully not now.

The new A-Train promises to do what the series has largely always been known for: There will be multiple scenarios introducing competitors who will build their own networks, the chance to develop both an overground and an underground transport system, the ability to play through various different ages from the modern era to the days of steam locomotion, the sort of intensive tutorial that hasn’t always featured in these games, integrated Steam Workshop support so you can share your creations with others, and of course — lots and lots of trains. More trains than Sabin can physically suplex, in fact. If you fancy yourself as a capable Fat Controller then barring the presence of any leaves on the line, A-Train PC Classic will hit the virtual shelves on June 8th — and who knows? Maybe people will actually get the game this time and not immediately dismiss it as just another city builder.

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Amiga classic “It Came From The Desert” comes full circle as trailer released for film version

Back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Cinemaware were one of the more visible game developers out there, and often one of the first ports of call for anyone who wanted to show off just what you could do on the Amiga. They made games that wore a heavy cinematic influence on their sleeve and were usually pretty high on plot and cutscenes. The games didn’t always work out — the less said about their attempt at making a cinematic basketball game, the better — but games such as The Three Stooges, The King of Chicago, Defender of the Crown and their final WWI-based title Wings all certainly have their place and are loved by many. Perhaps no Cinemaware game is as loved as It Came From The Desert is, mind you — and thanks to the efforts of Finnish director Marko Mäkilaakso, a film adaptation of the game is going to be coming out soon, with a trailer released a couple of days back.

The original game sure loved to put you in a tight spot. Both ants and shadows are confirmed to be in the film.

The original It Came From The Desert is loved for being a heartfelt tribute to classic ’50s/’60s B-movies where you play as Dr. Greg Bradley and attempt to contain an infestation of giant ants — in particular, it takes a big dollop of inspiration from the 1954 film Them. All the while, you try and find evidence for the sudden appearance of these monstrous insects by way of scanning the town for evidence and conversing with the local yokels — some of whom aren’t exactly kindly predisposed towards your investigation. There’s certainly plenty of material there for a good film, although you’d expect that from Cinemaware.

Work started on the film adaptation of the game in 2015 courtesy of Finnish studio Roger! Pictures and producer Teemu Virta, with principal photography taking place in Almeria, Spain around the Autumn of 2016. It has been clear from the outset that the film takes a rather loose approach to the source material — if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of the game’s plot and setting, forget it. This has been pitched more as a horror comedy based around hordes of ants attacking groups of younger people that presumably will have more than the odd callback to the source, but is quite in line with modern B-movies — the likes of Sharknado, Sharktopus, Dino Shark and about 1,000 other movies that also involve sharks. This movie is different from those ones because it doesn’t feature sharks, it features ants.

While it’s not fair to judge the piece from a minute-long trailer, it doesn’t look particularly hot – and if you’re looking for a film that’s faithful to the game, you’re probably not going to find it here. It appears to be rather action-oriented and set in the present day, with motocross bikers running from ants that, considering the quality of the CGI on display, should probably not have been shown in the trailer. The acting is in keeping with typical B-movie standards in that it’s stilted, wooden and generally very bad indeed, and I don’t know about you but I had a really strong urge to buy Nissan after the trailer was done. Fans of the original game, needless to say, are not best pleased by what they’ve seen in this trailer.

It is worth keeping in mind though that this film is in itself a B-movie. It Came From the Desert is unlikely to see the inside of a theatre — that sort of quality just isn’t there, and it’s more likely going to be found on an on-demand service near you sometime later this year, or perhaps even on the SyFy channel at some point. If cheesily acted, comedy tinged modern horror B-movies are your bag, then perhaps this will be suited for you — especially if you don’t have any ties to the original game, as this film appears to be connected to that by virtue of name and setting only. Of course, the worst case scenario is that we end up with an Uwe Boll-style disasterpiece on our hands, in which case those who are tasked with covering the thing will probably be hoping that the director of this film doesn’t share Uwe’s penchant for punching up critics in the ring.

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