Sega was the bad boy of the gaming industry in the ’90s and was more willing to take risks than they currently do. Compared to Nintendo, Sega games had more attitude and were more experimental. Nintendo would censor Mortal Kombat, but Sega would show all of its blood and gore. Sega even had one of the first instances of moral panic in the video game industry with Night Trap on Sega CD.
Over time, Sega lost its ability to make its console and has been stuck as a publisher for the past few decades. Sega’s long history means that there are a plethora of franchises that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Today I want to dig up some of Sega’s long-dormant franchises and explain why Sega needs to bring them back in 2023. So, grab your favorite pair of 90’s sunglasses and find out which Sega franchises need to come back in 2023.
Sega Games: Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio was one of the best titles on the Sega Dreamcast and has had a cult following since its release. Taking place in the cell-shaded streets of Tokyo-to, Jet Set Radio is a game about radical teens as they rage against the machine. The core gameplay revolves around you exploring the streets, picking from a huge cast of characters. You can grind rails, spray graffiti, and explore a variety of locals. Jet Set Radio is a cult classic and has a very dedicated fan community.
Jet Set Radio Future was a fun sequel that elevated the series’ gameplay, but there hasn’t been a new game since. There have been reports that along with Crazy Taxi, there will be a possible reboot of Jet Set Radio or continuation. Unfortunately, we know very little about if the game is going to be faithful to its roots or will just be some live service guff. I would love to see another Jet Set Radio, as graphics and technology have improved so much over the years. A new game would be really cool to see, especially with how Sega would implement these new technologies within a sequel. At the very least, the fan community is thriving with enough fan art and mods to tide me over.
Sonic wasn’t Sega’s only flagship mascot, as Shinobi was released before Sonic ever hit the video game scene. The series follows serious ninja Joe Musashi as he defeats the evil ninja crime syndicate Zeed. Shinobi is a hack-and-slash platformer that lets you platform through levels as only a ninja would. The most identifying features of the games were the brutal difficulty and the way the game really made you feel like a pro ninja.
The series transitioned to 3D in 2002 and become a cult classic PS2 action title. The last Shinobi title was released on the 3DS to very average reviews. The poor sales and reception of Shinobi 3D are considered the reasons why Shinobi hasn’t seen a title since. It’s the perfect time for Shinobi to come back. My hope is that we get news of a new title or a remaster of some of the old games. Don’t hang your kunai quite yet Joe-san!
Sakura Wars is an old and venerable franchise that has a very loyal fanbase. It’s a steampunk strategy RPG that follows a group of girls stopping the forces of evil. It’s described by Sega as a “dramatic Adventure”, mixing Tactical Role-playing, dating sim, and light novel elements all into one gaming stew. It was a huge hit in Japan that spawned numerous sequels and spin-offs. The series didn’t hit America until 2010, with Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love which is a fan-favorite entry.
The only other title America has been graced with is Sakura Wars (2019), a soft reboot for the series, and there has been silence from the series since. Some fans speculate the lukewarm reception and sales from the most recent game caused Sega to not think the series is viable in America. We want Sakura Wars so much that fans are translating the Japan-only titles for you, Sega.
House of the Dead
Sega’s premier horror-themed light gun shooter has seen its fair share of releases over the years. House of the Dead is classic Japanese horror. Over-the-top gore, cheesy dialogue, and unhealthy obsessions with men in business suits. House of the Dead started in the arcades but was ported to consoles. As a result of this, we obtained access to the first three House of the Dead games and some of the spin-offs like Typing of the Dead.
Currently, we haven’t seen a home console release since House of the Dead 2 and 3 on the Wii. We really need a port of the most recent House of the Dead games. Those games are stuck in the arcade and good luck trying to beat them without taking out a loan. Takashi Oda, the director of House of the Dead, has shown interest in producing at least three more titles in the series. My only hope is that we can get another taste of the series that doesn’t require me to spend my college fund in quarters.
Phantasy Star was Sega’s flagship JRPG series that mixed traditional fantasy elements with technology. The games were pretty standard JRPGs but had interesting stories to tell and even introduced innovative gameplay ideas. For Example, Phantasy Star III had a generation system where the game allowed you to marry a party member. This allowed for a campaign that spanned generations.
The current state of the franchise is pretty bleak if you wanted to play a traditional JRPG. Phantasy Star turned into an online MMO series that has been going strong since 2000 with no end in sight. I don’t like MMOs, so I don’t really like Phantasy Star Online. I think it’s disappointing that Sega basically gave up on one of their biggest series ever having a traditional JRPG release. Now is the perfect time is bring back Phantasy Star as an epic, JRPG adventure. I believe that Phantasy Star deserves better than a grindy MMO.