Tuesday, June 12, 2012
After just finishing a rather good Screenshot Let's Play of Skies of Arcadia (The GameCube Port, since it simply had more things) I can't help but remember why Sega was always my favorite company, and why it's just so painful that they've collapsed in on themselves as they did. Sega just had a -knack- for making these really fantastic games (or at least publishing them through developers that -got it-) and that's....well, that's a rarity nowadays. It wasn't even that they're fantastic in all regards, as many of them simply weren't, but they were fantastic because they were so focused on one aspect and made sure that shone like....something really shiny. My analogy machine is broken tonight, sue me. My point is fairly obvious if you have even a cursory knowledge of a good amount of Sega games out there, but even if you haven't and are confused, you know I'll be able to straighten it out.
Taking Skies of Arcadia as an example, it's obvious that the game was meant to be a light-hearted tale about pirates. It does this. It does it well, and it does it reliably throughout the entire game that I can't help but see it as perfect for just that. Of course, it does well with the other facets of the game that -involve- the pirate part, such as the Ships (and the battling thereof which was absolutely -wonderful-) and the Crew (it might not be the most involved method, but it's certainly not overly simple) which is what really makes it shine since, at the end of the day, you play a game for many reasons, but good gameplay is definitely a plus, if not mandatory. (As I've said before, I will tolerate poor gameplay for a fantastic story.) Reading through that LP made me yearn, as I haven't done so in a long while, for an HD version of Skies of Arcadia and/or a friggin' -sequel-. The latter might be rather impossible now given Sega's poor state, but the former is not only incredibly possible, but is rumored to be a thing following at least Shenmue I HD's release on the normal rounds, which will hopefully include Vita. Sega is getting my money for Jet Set Radio Vita, so that's hopefully going to send a message.
Speaking of Shenmue, there is certainly a -reason- why a third installment of the game is so heavily clamored for; the game, despite it's flaws which are more or less negligible depending on your perspective, manages to blend story and action in a rather compelling way. In a sense, I think that's why Yakuza as a whole has always been considered a spiritual successor to Shenmue (I'm sure you know I love the Yakuza series, so I don't even feel the need to throw that one down), since it does that very well too, despite going a little more over-the-top than Shenmue at times. Though....Shenmue did get a little crazy itself sometimes as well, but for the most part, it at least tried to steep itself in reality and/or present the facade of something rather low-key, so that when it ramped up, it ramped way up. The same game that features forklift operation and purchasing little toys from gachapon machines also features a 100-man battle royale and a motorcycle chase. And it manages to do this in a way that doesn't seem from one extreme to the other, but rather that it simply makes sense in the moment.
Of course, their fantastic series isn't all a thing of the past, as they've managed to keep the old thunder crashing and the lightning striking even in this current generation. Not only with the continued success of the Yakuza series, but with a little cult classic known as Valkyria Chronicles. It was anime as all get-out (the sequel even moreso), but it wasn't actually bad and was, in fact, compelling for the most part. Of course, what the game focused on was the semi-turn-based warfare which worked in a way that it honestly probably shouldn't have. It manages to be tactical despite being rather simplistic, since that simplicity is in itself a double-edged sword, since while it's simple for you, so is it simply to make the Computer follow. Rushing in your best troops might just backfire because your troops have to stand there and use interception fire where the enemy could come up and, as you had last turn, unload rapid-fire head-on. Of course, it goes deeper than that, but the point of these little descriptions is to make you go check out the games yourself and/or reminisce properly. So, seriously, go buy everything Valkyria Chronicles please if you haven't done so because Sega really needs the money.
Of course, these are just a few of the old and new Sega classics that have made them a company worth liking, if not more, despite the constant, never-ending, ever-present, seemingly-endless amount of poor choices they make as a company that ends up getting them in places they don't rightly deserve to be in. Crazy Taxi, Seaman, Phantasy Star (both numbers and Online), I guess Sonic the Hedgehog, Toejam and Earl (Remember those guys? Those guys -ruled-), Streets of Rage, Shinobi, I'm sure you're already listing off series in your head as well, because it was just like that. I always hope, as a 'Sega kid' I suppose, that they'll manage to get themselves out of this new fine mess they've made, and I'll be doing what I can do to help out, certainly. With any luck, enough people will -also- do that so that they won't sink completely, though if they do, there is a chance that their delicious, wonderful IPs will go to homes that can treat them a little better under a more stable roof. Regardless, it's always worth a minute to think of how it used to be, if nothing else.