Sega at The Game Awards last week made a splash in its announcement that it was rebooting five classic Sega games: Jet Set Radio, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Shinobi, and Crazy Taxi.
“In recent years, Sonic the Hedgehog has forged new paths for SEGA, bringing the franchise to life and reaching new audiences in ways we had only dreamed of in the past,” said SEGA Corporation co-chief operating officer and SEGA of America CEO Shuji Utsumi.
Utsumi is likely referencing Sonic’s undying success as a bankable Toy, TV, Box Office, and Gaming Star. Sonic, is bigger today than it ever was at any point during Sega’s golden days in the 1990s (I have a six year old, I know this first hand).
“Today’s announcement is just the start of our initiative. First and foremost, our ambition will be to create great games with memorable characters and worlds. We hope fans of all ages will look towards our future with anticipation as we release these projects in the coming years.”
In a post game show interview, Utsumi would tell the Washington Post , “We really want to show edginess and a rebellious mindset. The concept of games like Jet Set Radio is advanced. The original creators are involved again, and its time is now. It’s a good time where people can appreciate all kinds of concepts.”
Utsumi would go on to explain that Persona, Sonic, and Yakuza franchises have been boosting Sega up in recent years and the success of these IPs has placed the company in a position to work on the reboots of older popular IPs. He would even make a notation that there was interest in making another Virtua Fighter.
This is all well and good….
But No Skies of Arcadia? No Panzer Dragoon Saga? What is Going On?
Well, of the Dreamcast franchises that were announced, Crazy Taxi was a big seller. The game sold 1.8 million copies which was only second to Sonic Adventure (2.4 Million), but Sonic cheated a bit in order to reach those numbers, as it was a ‘packed in’ game with the console. Jet Set Radio wasn’t a great seller (likely didn’t reach 300,000 copies), but it probably did better than Skies of Arcadia‘s 90,000 units sold.
Given the current state of …I guess…popular culture? I guess Jet Set Radio could make a splash. Still, for us JRPG fans, Sega’s continued indifference towards Skies of Arcadia, and Panzer Dragoon Saga – though at this stage a Panzer Dragoon Orta follow up would suffice – is strange.
I, for one, would pay for a Remaster of Skies of Arcadia, and would GREATLY pay for a remaster of Panzer Dragoon Saga (I know the source code was lost, but there are ways to do this). In short, given that other titles like Grandia 1 and 2 have received Switch remasters, I think Sega continues to miss an opportunity by not giving a Skies of Arcadia a proper – no, I don’t count its GC port as a viable shot at success for the title when the PS2 far, and away, offered a larger user base of JRPG gamers – second chance at life.
All in All, I am Glad Sega is Doing Well
As I stated before, I have a six-year old who loves Sonic. My wife, and I, have spent thousands of dollars in Sonic merchandise for a few years now, and this Christmas will be no different (A few new Sonic Toy sets, plus Sonic Colors for his Switch). Sonic the Hedgehog is a golden mine, beyond video games, and while Sega “the hardware company” died at the turn of the millennium, Sonic as the “Mario killer” that Sega once in the early 1990s envisioned him to be, remains a massively successful character. No, he didn’t kill Mario – no one really can – but he has matched (and in certain arenas surpassed) him in popularity, even if Sonic games have consistently lagged behind in sales, and quality to Nintendo’s Mario offerings for decades.
Sega has a winner in Sonic the Hedgehog, and it boggles the mind the amount of possibilities that could have been realized for Sega the hardware maker, had it been more conservative with its hardware ideas after its initial Sega Genesis success in the early part of the 1990s.
Hopefully, Sonic’s continued success, and growth can eventually fuel a comeback for some of Sega’s forgotten franchises…after all, the trailer did say that “more” Sega franchises would be revived at some point.
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