The SEGA Forever service launched a fortnight ago, although to be brutally honest it isn’t much of a “service” at present.
The concept is sound enough. Play classic SEGA games on your mobile device, either for free with adverts between stages, or with adverts removed for a £1.99 fee. The execution is sloppy however, with poor emulation – even on high-end mobiles, such as the iPhone 7 – and irksome virtual joypad controls. Although Bluetooth controllers can be used, this isn’t 100% practical for on-the-go gaming.
Of the five launch titles, only Christian Whitehead’s Sonic the Hedgehog remake is worth downloading. The single button set-up works incredibly well in the game’s favour, and it runs smoothly due to a custom engine. Sadly, the remaining launch titles – Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, Phantasy Star 2 and Comix Zone – border on the unplayable. They’re far removed from the standard we’d expect.
SEGA plans to bring Saturn and Dreamcast classics to the service in the future. If they can’t even nail Mega Drive emulation – the format that’s likely to dominate SEGA Forever – then we must admit to being a tad concerned.
Plenty of gamers have voiced complaints, and SEGA is listening to feedback. We may as well throw a few game requests into the mix too, so here are five titles we’d like to see:
Alex Kidd in Miracle World – Master System
This pre-Sonic platformer was easily the pinnacle of Alex Kidd’s career. Although it may resemble a generic 8-bit platformer in screenshots alone, it was anything but. A game well ahead of its time, featuring shops that sold power-ups, sections with boats, helicopters and motorbikes, underwater and vertically scrolling stages, and both typical and non-typical boss battles.
Rather than a duel to the death, most bosses demanded a match of ‘rock, paper, scissors’. As each foe would pick the same hand shape every time, these battles were nothing more than memory tests. This wasn’t the problem it may seem, however, as it managed to prevent boss battles from being too random for their own good.
While very well known in Europe, thanks to being the Master System II’s built-in game, Alex Kidd in Miracle World passed a lot of American gamers by. All the more of a reason to give it a re-release.
Baku Baku Animal – Arcade/Saturn/Game Gear
SEGA didn’t turn their hand to new puzzle games often, focusing on Columns and Puyo Puyo sequels and spin-offs instead, but when they did create something new the results were pretty good. Case point: Baku Baku Animal.
An early release for the Saturn, and a late (1996!) release for the Game Gear, Baku Baku is a simple falling block puzzler. It’s because of this simplicity that it’s so effortlessly playable – a (relatively) straightforward case of matching animal tiles up with their favourite foodstuffs, requiring you to plan chains in advance by stacking food tiles in the longest formations possible. Vibrant presentation topped the package off, complete with hypnotic chomping sounds when animals devoured food.
Baku Baku did make it to mobiles, but this was way back in 2002; such a long time ago that we struggle to even find a single screenshot. With match-three puzzlers more popular than ever, Baku Baku is long overdue a comeback.
Bug! – Saturn
This early Saturn platformer was panned upon release for being too simplistic. Reviewers had to cast aside all expectations of a free-roaming 3D platformer – Bug’s worlds were constructed of linear floating platforms, while the green fellow himself was a 2D sprite.
It wasn’t a bad game however; just a bit simple and generally unimpressive. It didn’t show off the Saturn’s to any significant degree, and Bug himself was rather uncharismatic.
Heck, it was rumoured to make it to the SEGA 32X at one point. That’s how rudimentary the 3D visuals were.
Still, it’s easy to imagine Bug! faring well on mobiles. The simple control system would translate well to virtual joypad controls and the basic 3D graphics haven’t aged as badly as some Saturn games. It almost has a ‘Minecraft-esque’ look to it. Some twenty years on, Bug! could easily find a new audience.
Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder – Arcade
Poor old Death Adder’s Revenge. Too technically advanced for the Mega Drive, this often-forgotten scrolling brawler from 1992 was left in arcades. The Saturn could have done it justice, but by 1995 – when the Saturn launched – The Revenge of Death Adder was likely considered too old to receive a conversion. Instead, the Saturn gained the mediocre one-on-one beat’em up Golden Axe: The Duel.
Now here’s the thing – Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder is the best entry in the series. Yes, even better than the original – the one everybody remembers. Running on SEGA’s System 32 hardware – which also powered SEGA’s Jurassic Park and Alien 3 light-gun shooters – Death Adder’s Revenge featured large sprites, fluid animation and more characters than before. Most importantly though, the hit detection was improved – the major weakness in Golden Axe games prior.
The new mounts were more creative, too, including a giant mantis, a scorpion, and an undead dragon, each of which had finishing moves.
Still not sold? Gilius Thunderhead – once the smallest character in the series – now battles enemies while riding a giant. Gilius smash!
Dynamite Headdy – Mega Drive
Ristar almost took Dynamite Headdy’s place on this list, but Headdy pipped it to the post. Treasure knew the Mega Drive inside out and this is the game that shows it the most, with pseudo-3D tilting platforms and other ‘Mode 7-esque’ effects. It really pushed the humble Mega Drive hard.
If Dynamite Headdy made to the SNES it would no doubt be classed as one of the system’s finest, but unfortunately, it made it to the Mega Drive at a time when the system was swamped with platformers. It ended up becoming shoved to the wayside, overshadowed by a certain hedgehog. A huge shame, as this was easily the Mega Drive’s most innovate platformer, complete the the ability to swap noggins to gain new power-ups.
While it has achieved ‘cult classic’ status over the years, it remains a game more people should experience, full to the brim with Japanese daftness. Curious? We took a more in-depth look back in 2013.