My 2018 SEGA Arcade Wishlist

July 4, 2018

So…funny story about this one.

            As you may or may not remember, I wrote an article back in January entitled “My 2018 Raw Thrills Wishlist”. The content of the article was fairly easy to infer: I just talked about a few games I wanted to see from Raw Thrills this year. After posting that article, I fully intended to do one for the other major arcade manufacturers, as well. It turns out I never ended up doing that.

            Still, I’ve wanted so badly to write a SEGA wishlist for the past six months. Their Western arcade releases (i.e. everything outside of Asia) have been pretty lackluster lately. This is…well, this is deeply upsetting, considering how perfect SEGA’s arcade games used to be. Nowadays, everything outside of Asia is handled by the Europe-based SEGA Amusements, and they make a real mockery of SEGA’s great name. Sad? Yes. But also true.

            Of course, I might be just a little melodramatic. Not everything from SEGA Amusements is complete garbage. Transformers: Human Alliance is actually pretty good, so I assume it’s upcoming sequel will be just as good, if not better. Some of their other games, like Rambo and Target Bravo: Operation G.H.O.S.T., are also quite fun. Plus, Storm Racer G (which SEGA Amusements published) is a fantastic driving simulator. 

            But the rest of SEGA Amusements output is so abysmal that I almost can’t associate it with the SEGA name. Cheap redemption pieces like Wheel of Fortune and Bean Bag Toss and Prize Arrow and Maze Escape and Pirate Falls and so many other games no one cares about. That’s not even mentioning how SEGA Amusements loves to release Let’s Go Island and Let’s Go Jungle—games that weren’t even that special to begin with—over and over again. And Daytona Championship USA? Don’t even get me started. The dead zone on that steering wheel was horrific. Sometimes, I’m just like, “SEGA Amusements, just stop. You’re tarnishing SEGA’s good name.”

            However, as much as I’d like to, I’m not here to bash SEGA’s modern arcade output. I’m here to look toward the future and hope for some good games. The Japanese portion of SEGA, at the very least, can still make a good game. And seeing as how House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn really is coming to the West, maybe we can expect a little more in the future.

            As unlikely as some of the items on my 2018 SEGA wishlist may be, I’m still gonna write ‘em. Why don’t we have some fun—and maybe put some ideas in SEGA’s collective group of heads while we’re at it?

            Without further ado, let’s look at some baseless fantasies.

A new Crazy Taxi game

The original Crazy Taxi has been one of my favorite arcade games for quite a while now. Just as the title would lead you to believe, it’s crazy. You pick one of four characters, and from there, SEGA plops you in a busy open-world where you take customers to their desired destinations to the tune of The Offspring and Bad Religion songs. Crazy Taxi is another one of those loud, pulse-pounding, hilarious 90’s arcade games—and I want it back so badly.

            It doesn’t take a super-Mega-Mind-brain-blast-genius to see what makes Crazy Taxi so unique. Open-world, sandbox-style arcade games are very rare. It’s just not a genre that is always easily translatable to the arcade environment. But Crazy Taxi did it. Not only did it “do” it—Crazy Taxi absolutely killed it on its first try. It’s a fantastic, fun game where every second matters. Plus, it has one of the busiest open-worlds I’ve ever seen. (Take that, modern console gaming!)

            However, even though Crazy Taxi successfully brought the open-world concept the arcade realm, we haven’t seen much more of this in recent years. Despite the popularity of driving games in general, most modern drivers are “point-A to point-B” affairs. We had Jambo! Safari (which was kind of open-world, if you want to call it that) a year later in 1999 and Batman in 2015. As far as I know, those are the only other open-world arcade driving games out there. Isn’t time for the original and most extra-specialest open-world driving game to return to arcades?

            In my woefully uninformed opinion, 2018 seems like a great year for Crazy Taxi to return. Like I said, 2015 was the last year we saw an open-world driver, and it’s was a fairly successful (and awesome) game. While Batman took a vehicular combat approach to the open-world concept, it still proved once again that these types of games could flourish in arcades. Specular Interactive’s Batman is a cool flippin’ game where you shoot dudes throughout 10 square miles of Gotham. Maybe it’s time for SEGA to say, “Hey, we saw you back there, Specular. Here’s our open-world driver.” Besides, any game with a steering wheel does at least moderately well in the modern arcade industry.

            Maybe it’s high time for a Crazy Taxi 3 (if you count the Dreamcast-only sequel, that is). We could see an exciting new city with plenty of new Levi’s Stores, KFCs, and Pizza Huts rendered in glorious HD. Perhaps SEGA would add some new licensed songs, as well. Heck, there could even be some new characters. The possibilities are endless. All I know is that I’d love to see a new Crazy Taxi in the future. It’s a great game!

 

A new Space Harrier/Planet Harriers

This item is a lot less likely to happen than, say, just another driving game. Though the Space Harrier games are fondly remembered, they aren’t exactly a match made in heaven for the modern arcade industry. Even though we just recently saw the release of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat-em-up from Raw Thrills back in May, joystick-based games haven’t had a very strong foothold in arcades as of late. Games with specialized, simulator-style controls—such as racing and light gun games—are typically the most popular. Still, I yearn ever-so-hard for a new Space Harrier or Planet Harriers game.

            It’s not like these are complex games. Like After Burner (or, for a more mainstream example, Star Fox), Space Harrier is a 1985 third-person aerial rail shooter in which players must shoot dudes and avoid oncoming obstacles. Planet Harriers took that same basic gameplay and injected some depth for the year 2000. Now, players could choose their character and upgrade his or her stats and purchase bonuses at the Star Shop. This included upgrading one’s lock-on ability and health containers, and purchasing health, big bombs, and barriers. And to make things even better, Planet Harriers allowed for two-player, simultaneous network play. In my opinion, Planet Harriers took and already fantastic formula and exponentially increased its awesomeness.

            Even though I’ve already admitted the futility of my wish, I really do hope we see the Space Harrier series return to arcades. Heck, I genuinely think now is the time. Joystick-based games are slowly but surely seeing a comeback. First, Namco penetrated the market with Pac-Man Battle Royale. Then, Raw Thrills tested the waters themselves with TMNT and ended up making a huge splash. Perhaps it’s SEGA’s turn to throw their proverbial hat into the ring with a legacy IP. Perhaps it’s time they take some risks.

            Besides, now’s the time for SEGA to compete head-to-head with the upcoming indie arcade game Strike Harbinger (or Flight Armor Project; whatever they’re calling it these days). Inspired by the great Space Harrier series we’ve been talking about this whole time, Hitsparks Games intends to inject the genre with RPG elements, high-end graphics, and in-depth lore. I obviously don’t want to cripple the humble indie developer, but I’d sure love to have two Space Harrier-esque games. They are, after all, awesome.

            If we were to see the return of the Space Harrier series, I’d like SEGA to take a Planet Harriers approach to it. Sure, we all love nostalgia, but why not update the gameplay in meaningful ways? Having more characters to choose from is fun; improving oneself with stat upgrades is impactful. I’d love to see something that not only reinvigorates the classic Space Harrier formula of run and shoot, but also expands upon everything that made the series so great.

            But like I said, I don’t think a Space Harrier sequel/reboot is too likely. Despite its simplicity, it’s still not a style of gameplay we’re used to seeing in modern arcades. Of course, this is my personal blog. If I want to drone on and on about one of my gaming fantasies, I think I have to right to do so. (Keeping in mind that I’m not entitled to anything, naturally.) So yeah, I guess we’ll cross our fingers on that one.

 

Virtua Fighter 6

My relationship with fighting games is kind of silly. I like them—they’re fun to play—but I’m by no means good at them. (I do like Super Smash Bros. a lot, though.) Over the years, there are a few fighting game series I’ve come to appreciate. Not for any particular reason, usually. I just happen to like them. These series include Marvel Vs. Capcom, Tekken, and, of course, Virtua Fighter. I picked up Virtua Fighter 4 for the PS2 at GameXChange one day, and I ended up really enjoying it. Unfortunately, I’ve never played Virtua Fighter 5, but I’m convinced the series should return for another (possibly final) hurrah.

            As we all know, fighting games have had a lot of trouble getting traction in the modern arcade industry. They just aren’t popular like they used to be. Even when games like Tekken 7 and Pokken Tournament were location-tested at Dave and Buster’s, the earnings were reportedly “confusing.” Still, I think things may be looking up in the future. Dark Presence, one of the most technologically ambitious fighting games we’ve seen in a long time, is currently in development, and The Kung Fu Vs. Karate Champ will soon be releasing on the Exa-Arcadia hardware. We are still seeing fighting games in American arcades, even if we don’t see them with as much regularity as we used to. (Which may be a good thing, if you were a bit fatigued by the fighting game craze of the 90’s.)

            What I see here for SEGA is a golden opportunity to not only reinvigorate a legacy IP, but also help bring fighting games back worldwide. Sure, we see fighting games all the time in Japan, but what about in Western countries? Are we a bit underserved in this regard? Virtua Fighter, though not as mainstream as series like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, has always been regarded with high critical acclaim. Players like it, too. I think a series as good as VF deserves a solid comeback. It has, after all, been over a decade since Virtua Figher 5 hit arcades. Why not bring it back?

            Of course, if Virtua Fighter does make a valiant return to arcades, I’d like to see two things. First and foremost, I’d like to see a Western release. I’m not fond of every major SEGA arcade release remaining firmly planted in Japan. Secondly, I’d quite enjoy it if the arcade and console releases were given the right amount time to thrive independently of each other (because we know there would be a console release guaranteed). I liked how Namco handled the arcade and console releases of Tekken 7. While the arcade release of T7 may have been somewhat limited, it was given a solid two years to just “exist” before the console versions came along. If SEGA were to bless us with Virtua Fighter 6, I’d really appreciate them doing something like that.

            I must admit, though, that Virtua Fighter 6 is a bit of a wild fantasy. Fighting games don’t draw people into arcades the way they used to. But hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

 

Zombie Revenge 2

So…I’ve pretty much accepted that Zombie Revenge 2 is never, ever going to happen. But oh boy, do I want it so badly.

            For those of you who may not remember it (because I’ve never even seen the arcade version in public), Zombie Revenge is a 1999 arcade and Dreacast beat-em-up set in the House of the Dead universe. Set in a 3D environment, it took a few queues from Die Hard Arcade, while also including gunplay and plenty of hidden secrets. I suppose Zombie Revenge isn’t the most spectacular game in the entire world, but it is pretty cool. (Well, if you can accept the cheesiness that comes along with any game set in the House of the Dead universe, that is.)

            I’ve wanted to play this game for so long, because I really do love the HOTD series—even side-games like this. Zombie Revenge is even more enticing to me due to its beat-em-up nature. What can I say? I love the genre. And considering that Raw Thrills has thrusted beat-em-ups back into modern arcades with the release of TMNT 2018, I see no reason why SEGA couldn’t also, once again, throw their proverbial hat into the ring.

            Of course, most people would probably prefer it if SEGA made a new Streets of Rage. Zombie Revenge, as cool as I may think it is, is a little obscure. But with the House of the Dead series receiving a fifth installment after 12 long years, who’s to say Zombie Revenge can’t make a valiant return for its 20thanniversary? I’ve read some reviews, and Zombie Revenge doesn’t sound like a perfect game in every way. I think that’s okay, though. House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn is coming this year to breath new life into the long-running rail shooter series. Maybe Zombie Revenge can come back, too, to tie in with Scarlet Dawn and serve as SEGA’s shot at a beat-em-up revival.

            Just a thought I had. Obviously, Zombie Revenge 2 will probably never happen. Ever.

So yeah, I guess that’s it. This is longest article I’ve written in a while, so it was kind of taxing, but I’m glad I finally have it finished. Even if we’re halfway through the year, there’s no reason we can’t fantasize about a few wild SEGA games. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with gamers voicing their opinions. We’re never entitled to anything, but it’s good to let companies know what we want. The player’s voice has never been too strong in the arcade sector of gaming. Maybe we can change that.

            I may have been a little extreme with my SEGA bashing in the introduction, but it’s because I care so deeply about their legacy. SEGA has so many, many great arcade titles under their huge, decades-old belt. It makes me wonder why their games have been so…lackluster as of late. I care; I really do. And I’m sure a lot of other people care, too! Because of this, we have to make our voices heard. If we don’t like SEGA’s current output of cruddy redemption games and okay-to-good video games, we’ve gotta make it known! We have to ask—politely—for higher quality games.

            Plus, it’s just plain fun to fantasize like this. To think, “Man, I’d really like a new Crazy Taxi, or Space Harrier, or Virtua Fighter, or Zombie Revenge, or anything like that.” It’s enjoyable, despite all the false hope it gives us. So I will keep writing these articles every year for the rest of my life…unless I’m too lazy one year.

            With all that in mind, I want y’all sweaty nerds to keep it real. I’ve got to schedule a ton of articles before I leave for the five-week Governor’s Scholar program. I wouldn’t want to leave y’all without any reading material now, would I?

            Now scat. I’ve got work to do.

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