With Sega’s talk of its Road to 2020 involving awakening dormant IPs, the obvious question to ask is, what IPs does Sega have? And from those which qualify as "major IPs" that would be good to resurrect in this day and age?
In this article, we are going to take a trip through six different IPs that Sega should be looking at bringing back from their long list of dormant or abandoned IPs. Before we do so, let’s set a few ground rules about what qualifies for a game to be on this list:
- It must be a Major IP, and in this case, we’re identifying that as something with multiple games, ruling out some brilliant titles like Skies of Arcadia
- The IP or section of the IP being discussed must be dormant, so things like Crazy Taxi that have a new mobile version don’t count.
- It should be an IP that can fit modern trends in some ways and resonate with audiences, as well as being among the best Sega has to offer
6) Golden Axe
What is it?Golden Axe is a series that began in the arcades as a showy beat-em up and achieved perhaps its highest fame with the port of the first game to the Sega Genesis/Megadrive. Sequels for it would be divided on platforms and quality, with Golden Axe 2 being only on Genesis/Megadrive, Revenge of Death Adder not getting a home port, Golden Axe 3 only being on the Sega Channel in North America, and various other difficulties since.
Why should it come back?Golden Axe was always visually and technically impressive with a grand sense of spectacle and solid play that has generally held up well. It’s openness to a meta-plot back in the early 90s with the original arcade release combined with the flexible mechanics means it can be interpreted in a variety of ways but still have a classic fantasy feel to it.
How should it come back?Unlike another beat-em up series that is on this list, Golden Axe is less tied to the side scrolling action in many ways, and I think the best way to bring it back would be as a full fledged action game, with one of the masters of action at the helm: Platinum Games. Let them be crazy with the story if they want, mix weapons and magic, and create a thrilling action game.
5) Panzer Dragoon
What is it?Panzer Dragoon was one of the headline Sega series during the Saturn and Dreamcast era, where it received three mainline railshooter entries and an RPG spinoff. The first title was a Saturn launch title and demonstrated some of the system’s prowess and 3D capabilities, while the series as a whole is well-regarded for the flying your dragon around action and a rich setting. That was further explored in the RPG spinoff Panzer Dragoon Saga, which is believed to be the highest scoring release on the Saturn and very well-regarded indeed.
Why should it come back?Dragons are cool, as are people riding them! Beyond that, the series did a lot of things well, and it has a cult following that would provide it with a ready group of evangelists to sell the games—one of the main advantages of resurrecting a dead IP. These were titles that were high-quality action or in the case of Panzer Dragoon Saga a high quality RPG. Things like the reaction to the canceled Scalebound and the recent surge in railshooters show that in 2017 there’s definitely a spot for Panzer Dragoon.
How should it come back?There are, appropriately, two main ways that Panzer Dragoon could make a comeback on the scene of gaming, excluding mobile titles. The first is to look at a rail shooter and take that idea to the modern VR market with polish and money we’ve rarely seen so far. If it’s VR only, it would likely end up being more dialed back, so it’s possible it might be a VR-first but with non-VR play possible as well.
The other way to go with it is to look at that RPG and look at Scalebound potentially. Taking an open world approach would take advantage of the dragon and mix between on foot and in air sections at will, which would create something that isn’t done that often and could stand out. It could also go with a more traditional RPG approach as well, but that doesn’t appear to be terribly in vogue right now for bigger games sadly. Personally, an RPG, either open world or not, would be my preference here.
4) Jet Set Radio
What is it?The Jet Set Radio series was Sega’s different take on the skating genre; instead of having a famous skater on the name, you are part of a gang rollerblading around doing tricks and spray painting graffiti around the city, using a series of commands that respond to prompts. An early adopter of cell-shaded graphics, it is a visually striking series that looks brilliant to this day, and the music is quite memorable as well. Originally a Dreamcast release, it found a home on Xbox and in 2012 got an HD re-release on PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, and mobile devices.
Why should it come back?Jet Set Radio is just plain cool and fun, and in a genre that has had few releases (and one might argue given Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 it’d have been better with at least one less). However, it’s also not a pure skateboarding game, and its story and style help give it more substance. And it’s something that with its fun anti-authoritarian streak would likely resonate greatly with folks. A point that may resonate with business folks is how much fun people are having with Splatoon’s paint feel, which Jet Set Radio could ride the coat tails of a bit.
How should it come back?Well, the obvious answer would be as something targeting the mid-range region in the $20-40 range on PC, Switch, and other consoles with a similar styling and set up to the first entries in the series. This would be the safer way to play it, but it doesn’t seem to quite fit how Sega is wanting to go with major IPs. The riskier, and bigger, way to go would be to transform it into an open-world type adventure; there’s a lot of possibilities here with things to do like trick challenges you can set up and just plain moving around is fun, which helps with some of the open world issues. This would build on some of the ideas in the second game, Jet Set Radio Future, which had interconnected levels. It could take a mixture of ideas from Jet Set Radio Future and look at games like Burnout Paradise, Grand Theft Auto, and others to come up with its own tricks, area "control," and graffiti mayhem.
3) Streets of Rage
What is it?Only arguably the definitive beat’em up series. Streets of Rage was a big force in the 16bit era and ranks with series like Double Dragon and Final Fight as the top in the genre, outshining the older Golden Axe series that had once carried Sega in this genre. Known as Bare Knuckle in Japan, the series had 3 entries that managed to create a lasting impression. There have been several attempts since to create sequels by Sega and by other companies for various systems, as Core Design, GriN, and others started work on them but didn’t finish or were changed away from the series part way through.
Why should it come back?There are relatively few Sega IPs as iconic as Streets of Rage, and when you speak about bringing back Major IPs, this is one of the first names that come to mind. The fact that there have been several attempts to resurrect it since shows Sega understands that, but it also shows that there have been problems over a period of time doing so. The name would be instantly recognized and show a commitment to leveraging Sega’s old and beloved IPs.
How should it come back?There are a couple ways to take Streets of Rage. The most obvious one is to do something like Double Dragon got either with Double Dragon Neon or Double Dragon 4—essentially a budget download-only title. Going big here could go several ways, but combat could look at the Arkham style of combat that has become more popular with a more open approach dealing with various issues Mister X has created.
2) Ecco the Dolphin
What is it?Ecco the Dolphin is an odd series, wherein you control the titular dolphin in the sea as he travels to save the sea life of Earth. The game’s feature a lot of exploration and beautiful scenery and the feel can in some ways be compared to the Metroid series of games. The story for the 16-bit era games was also darker than most, which along with the visuals and audio gave it some extra gravitas.
Why should it come back?Of all the games on the list, this is perhaps the one mired in the most bureaucracy, as last year series creator Ed Annunziata and Sega settled a lawsuit over ownership that had been ongoing for several years. We don’t know how that resolved, but however it was, this is an IP that deserves to really come back. There is nothing really like Ecco in the mixture of exploration, story tones, and gameplay where just moving about is so different than it is in most games. It also has a large following, and the series has traditionally appealed to those outside the core "gaming" demographic as well, broadening its potential appeal.
How should it come back?In a big way with a full-fledged multi-console adventure. Annuziata had been pitching at Sega before the lawsuit began, but as many people can tell you from their actions, the Sega of 2012 is not the Sega of 2017 in many ways, so it may be possible to repair this relationship. I don’t think that Ecco needs to go 3D like it did in its Dreamcast release, which had a very different story, but it does have that as an option, as well as being a beautiful 2D game. Games like Abzu show there is interest in exploring underwater areas and combining that with high-quality gameplay would only further boost that appeal.
1) Shining Force
What is it?Merely one of the best Strategy RPGs of all time, the Shining Force series was a real winner for Sega. A subset of the Shining franchise—that series, in general, has fallen on hard times with it being used for various weird things as Sega can’t figure out what to do with it—the Shining Force name has been pointlessly attached to a few things like Action RPGs, which make no sense. It is also the series on the list that I have the most connection to and would love to see a return to form. Shining Force 1 and 2 are among all-time greats, and it’s a tragedy that Shining Force 3 never got a completed release in the West.
Why should it come back?Well beyond being brilliant and a personal favorite of mine, there’s also the fact that tactical games have made a comeback of late, especially those with a character focus like Fire Emblem. The return of X-Com can also be factored in, although compared to both Shining Force tended to a bit friendlier and more on the RPG side in many ways, things that those franchises have done in their returns. Shining Force also has an active fan base that has translated the Japanese-only releases of Shining Force 3 Scenario 2 and Scenario 3, as well as modifications of the earlier games. There is clearly interest in a Shining Force return, and the time has never been better.
How should it come back?Perhaps a reboot would be the best place to start, taking the mechanics but rebooting the story because of the situation with Shining Force 3 not being fully localized. What should be avoided here are attempts to make it more action oriented; for a strategy RPG Shining Force already tends towards the lower barrier of entry and quicker pace. There’s no reason a release for it couldn’t be a full AA or AAA game in that area that Sega mentions of mid-sized hits going big.
And that's them all! There are definitely some honorable mentions that didn't make the list despite being brilliant games like Skies of Arcadia, Comix Zone, Shinobi, and Phantasy Star, which could be argued for it in general. With all that I'd like to ask you: Do you agree with this list? What IPs would you like to see Sega revive?