Tagged "Columns"

Jan 22
By Matt Gander In Features 5 Comments

Released on PlayStation 2 back in 2005, SEGA Classics Collection is a small part of gaming history. Not so much in terms of the collection’s content, but rather a display of Sony’s seldom seen authority.

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Over in Japan the games in the eight-strong compilation were released individually as part of the SEGA Ages 2500 series. That ‘2500’ related to their price in Yen – around £15 ($22) or so.

Rather than being simple re-releases of SEGA’s arcade and console classics, each title received a major 3D revamp along with additional modes and in most cases remixed soundtracks. Development was handheld by studios close to SEGA including SIMS and M2, with budget specialist D3 co-publishing.

Following strong sales in Japan, now defunct US publisher Conspiracy Entertainment picked up the rights for a handful of titles in 2003.

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) however disapproved of the decision to release them individually outside of Japan.

To quote SPOnG from a news article back in October 2004, “Sony argued that offering a massive range of cut-price reworked games would impact on full price sales and that comparisons with Japanese successes with such products were not valid, given the massive difference in buying habits in the two countries”.

Conspiracy wasn’t the only publisher to have budget re-releases rejected by Sony – reportedly SNK had also seen titles denied on the grounds that not enough value was being offered to the consumer per release.

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Conspiracy went back to the drawing board and proposed the release of two separate compilations – SEGA Ages: Classics Collection (containing Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe, Monaco GP, and Space Harrier) and SEGA Ages: Phantasy Star Trilogy, which would have comprised of Phantasy Star: Generation 1, Phantasy Star II, and Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium.

Much to the frustration of Phantasy Star fans in particular, SCEA again refused their release, presumably for the same reasons as before.

With Conspiracy’s plans put on hold, SEGA eventually took back the licenses and bundled eight of the first SEGA Ages titles together to form SEGA Classics Collection.

Retailing for around £20, this move actually benefited gamers as had the eight titles been released on their lonesome as planned a complete set would have cost over £100. So although Sony seemed harsh at the time, some good eventually came of their decision.

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When the first reviews of SEGA Classics Collection begin to surface, it quickly became clear that Sony believed quality was an issue as well. These were budget games in every sense of the word with the majority of titles suffering from fuzzy textures, low polygon count models and basic, disjointed, animation.

Quality varied so wildly from title to title in fact that even with eight of them bundled together for £20, most critics found that the package was still distinctly lacking in content and value. So not only had Sony saved SEGA fans money, but also potential disappointment.

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Apr 05
By Matt Gander In Blog 7 Comments

Sega recently announced the first batch of GameGear games that’ll be appearing on the 3DS’s Virtual Console. If you missed the announcement, the line-up comprises Sonic & Tails 2, Sonic Drift 2, The GG Shinobi, Dragon Crystal: Shirai’s Maze and Columns.

Why they chose to use the Japanese names of each is beyond me – Sonic & Tails 2 was known as Sonic Triple Trouble outside of Japan, while Sonic Drift 2 became Sonic Drift Racing. Still, it’s not a bad little line-up.

Sonic Triple Trouble is one of the best 2D Sonic games; not just on the GameGear, but in general. Dragon Crystal is very Rouge-like with a nice soundtrack. It’s bound to be panned by the press for being basic by today’s standards, but back in 1990 it was ace. Don’t be fooled by Sonic Drift 2 – Mario Kart it isn’t. The GG Shinobi has stood the test of time, and if Columns only costs a couple of quid – which is likely – then it should be an essential download if you’re looking for something to play during lunch breaks.

It’s hard to see anybody but Sega re-releasing GameGear games on Virtual Console. Nonetheless, I’ve knocked up a list of ten titles I’d like to see.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
A straight conversion of the Sega Master System version, but no less brilliant with some memorable bosses – including a giant chocolate bar – and the chance to go swimming in a giant cup of tea. The sequel – Land of Illusion – makes my head hurt due to the way the screen scrolls, but thankfully the rare and largely unknown Legend of Illusion corrected this. Legend of Illusion would be more than welcome on VC too.

Coca-Cola Kid
A Japanese-only platformer from Aspect – the developers behind most of the 8-bit Sonic games. It bears great resemblance to Sonic Chaos, in fact, with similar presentation and some recycled sound effects. The titular kid is rather acrobatic in nature and can also jump onto a skateboard to zoom through the levels quicker. A nice little game.

Tails Adventure
Miles better (pun intended) than Tails’ Sky Patrol – in which you can lose a life by crashing into trees, walls and other obstacles – this platformer is slower paced than the Sonic games and rather lovingly made. Visually it showed what the GameGear could do when tickled in the right places. Once Sega gets the Sonic games onto VC then chances are this’ll appear at some stage.

Gunstar Heroes
One of the most impressive GameGear games to be released; only the 3D FPS Faceball 2000 looks more impressive. It’s missing a few levels from the Mega Drive version and the sprites flicker badly but the charm still remains. As with Coca-Cola Kid, this was also a Japan-only release.

Mortal Kombat II
Potentially this could make it out if Warner Bros. could ever be arsed to do a deal with Sega. There are only two backdrops but it plays smoothly and it’s better than Rage’s GameGear version of Mortal Kombat 3, which is so bad it’s almost unplayable.

Pac Attack
Combine Tetris with Pac-Man and you get Pac Attack. As well as forming lines you also have to line up ghosts for Pac-Man to eat whenever he appears. Even though it was available as part of a Pac-Man compilation on Game Boy Advance it’s something of a forgotten gem.

Marko’s Magic Football
If you ever saw this in action you’d think that it’s a Mega Drive game. The sprites are large and well animated and Marko has dozens of football-related tricks up his sleeves. And Marko is way cooler than Soccer Kid – who had a face only a mother could love.

Power Strike II (aka GG Aleste 2)
An awesome and impressive 2D shooter that’s uncommon on eBay and moves like greased lightening. With no R-Type games on GameGear this is the best example of the genre, with busy backgrounds, varied levels and a bonus stage viewed from a third person perspective.

Prince of Persia
Much like Mortal Kombat, this could appear too if Ubisoft had a chat with Sega. They’re probably too busy kissing Nintendo though. Prince of Persia, much like the early Sonic and Mario games, plays just as well now as it did when it was first released. The animation was jaw-dropping back in the day.

Ristar
An underrated platformer which plays a lot like the original Rayman. The Japanese version has an extra level which was removed from the US and European versions on the grounds that it was deemed too tough. It’s still present on these versions but you have to play it on a Japanese system to get it to appear.

I’ve left Wonderboy off the list as I’m willing to bet my last Wagon Wheel that it’ll be included in the second batch of games. Other likely candidates? Streets of Rage, Virtua Fighter Animation, Ax Battler and no doubt Sonic 2, a game which I can’t really stand. At all.

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