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Face Off: Should SEGA make its own Smash Bros. style brawler?

[Editor’s note: In the Face Off, the gloves come off, and we battle it out over controversial or long-debated SEGA topics. A word of caution, things may get testy, and some feelings will probably be hurt along the way. Once it’s done, voice your opinion in the comments and tell us who you think won the debate!]

Round 1: FIGHT

Who wouldn't want to see SEGA's classic characters battling it out once again?  (Credit/Xamoel)
Who wouldn’t want to see SEGA’s classic characters battling it out once again? (Credit/Xamoel)

Chris: Hey, The Requiem, can you believe it’s been nearly 20 years since Fighters Megamix, the 3D fighting game that brought characters from across the SEGA universe to battle, was released on the SEGA Saturn? It’s a shame that SEGA didn’t stick with the franchise because after Nintendo copied their idea a couple years later with Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, they were able to create a franchise that continues to sell consoles today, whereas SEGA … well, they continue to be SEGA.

Despite SEGA continually ignoring the pleas for a new entry in the series (Surely they haven’t done that before, right? lol), that hasn’t stopped fans from theorizing what the game would be like or what characters should be included.

Perhaps more so than ever, it seems the time is ripe for SEGA to actually develop a rebranded Fighters Megamix (the name sounds too generic in today’s market). All you have to do is look at your recent feature on the top 10 SEGA characters fans want in Super Smash Bros. to see the company has plenty of compelling characters they could include in a new fighting game. I’m sure you’ll agree, right, The Requiem?

Any SEGA fighting game would have to include Ryo Hazuki, right?
Any SEGA fighting game would have to include Ryo Hazuki, right?

The Requiem: Chris… You blabbering idiot. You fanboy moron… Oh, it’s nice to be here, by the way. Anyway, you blabbering idiot. Let’s first give credit where credit is due, and say that SNK really invented the crossover fighting game when they created King of Fighters. Moving on…

Of course you and I would like to see a Smash Bros.-inspired revamp of Fighters Megamix, but the demand outside of a very select core of SEGA fans is extremely low.

Nintendo fans are a… special breed. I don’t think you have to look any further than PlayStation All-Stars to see that the general gaming market isn’t likely to support a competitor to Smash Bros. PlayStation All-Stars was a solid game, and Sony itself had a large set of characters from which to draw, but it just wasn’t supported with the same fervor.

One of the biggest challenges SEGA will face in this kind of a game is that their attitude towards their characters and IPs has always been different than Nintendo’s. Nintendo has nurtured and re-invented their characters for 30 years, often times to a fault, but what has SEGA done? You bring up Fighters Megamix, but how many general gamers out there remember that game at all, or can even name five of the characters in the actual game? Nearly half of the roster of Fighters Megamix came from Fighting Vipers, most of whom haven’t been seen or heard from (other than Bahn) in 20 years.

Round 2


Chris: Oh, The Requiem, you pretentious bastard. Sure, you’re right that Sony swung and missed with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, so bad, in fact, its developer SuperBot Entertainment was shuttered following the release and piss poor sales of the game. And you’re also correct that SEGA hasn’t nurtured its characters the same degree that Nintendo has the past three or four decades.

But while Fighters Megamix doesn’t have the name recognition it once did, the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars series does, having had several tennis and racing games in the past several years. What’s more, Sumo Digital has proven to be more than capable at giving Nintendo a run for its money in the cart racing department with Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Transformed. Furthermore, I believe you, yourself, penned a column making a point that very same point.

The blame for PlayStation All-Stars’ failure might have been due to Sony keeping the game onto the PlayStation 3 and the Vita, which hasn’t had many commercial successes. SEGA wouldn’t have this problem and could conceivably develop the game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, perhaps even supporting cross-play across those platforms.

Truth be told, SEGA has all the ingredients to create a successful fighting game: an incredibly talented development studio with past success; one of the few respectable, current-day SEGA franchises; tons of popular, recognizable characters to choose from and a large fanbase that’s been clamoring for the game for years.

All SEGA has to do is open up its wallet and give the fans what they want. They love to give the fans what they want, right?

SEGA would have to get Greg Johnson and Mark Voorsanger's approval to include our favorite duo, but we're sure they'd be up for it!
SEGA would have to get Greg Johnson and Mark Voorsanger’s approval to include our favorite duo, but we’re sure they’d be up for it!

The Requiem: Chris. You unfathomable imbecile. You seem so certain that SEGA fans will open up their collective wallets and pour out millions for this game, yet even the original Bayonetta, an amazing, cross-platform game filled with tons of SEGA references and in-jokes, didn’t sell well enough for SEGA to feel comfortable publishing the sequel. It’s all about dollars and cents.

I’m completely confident that Sumo Digital has what it takes to craft a stellar SEGA-only, Smash-style brawler, but keep this in mind. Even on Nintendo platforms, Mario Kart consistently outsells the Smash Bros. games. Furthermore, Sumo Digital isn’t an in-house SEGA studio and their skills are in high demand these days as the developers of the Forza Horizon titles. Do you really think SEGA is going to call up Sumo Digital to take this sort of risk in the face of PlayStation All-Stars’ failure? Or do you think it more likely, rather, that they will ask for another installment of the All-Stars Racing series? It has been three years since the last one, after all.

I think if you’re getting your hopes up for Sumo Digital being the driving force behind your dream Fighters Megamix revival, you’re in for a disappointment. That means some other nameless developer would be at the helm, and who knows how that would turn out, especially if SEGA insists on an unrealistic development cycle.

I also think you’re overestimating the size of SEGA’s fanbase and the number of their “popular, recognizable characters” outside of the Sonic franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I love old SEGA franchises and I especially love the SEGA fanbase (Hello, readers! I love you guys!), but how many among the general gaming population, especially those in Smash Bros.’ target demographic, truly know who Alex Kidd, Ulala, Beat, Vyse, Ristar or Joe Musashi are? I’d guess maybe 10 to 15 percent. But how many of them know Yoshi, Samus, Kirby, StarFox, Captain Falcon or even Jigglypuff? It may not be a huge percentage, but it’s bound to be leaps and bounds beyond the recognizability of the SEGA characters. In a way, SEGA is paying the price for its past tendency to try new things, which meant many franchises and characters were left behind to exist only as relics of their time.

Round 3

Hero Bank's Kaito would make for an awesome character in a SEGA fighting game! (Credit/Calvet)
Hero Bank’s Kaito would make for an awesome character in a SEGA fighting game! (Credit/Calvet)

Chris: The Requiem, you ignorant slut. Sumo Digital has already shipped Forza Horizon 2’s Xbox 360 version in October last year, and LittleBigPlanet 3 the following month. Truth be told, we don’t really know what Sumo is working on at the moment, but they’ve shown with both games that they can handle developing multiple games at once.

Sumo Digital could and should be the team that develops this game. They have a long and storied history with SEGA dating back all the way one of their first games they worked on when they ported OutRun 2 to the Xbox. Plus, they have a great relationship with SEGA Japan that can be matched by few other Western developers.

When looking at target demographics, a SEGA fighting game wouldn’t necessarily have to appeal to many of the younger generation, like Smash Bros. does, to be successful. Even still, just by throwing in the usual cast of Sonic characters, you’re guaranteed to bring in some of the younger folk. Like the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars games before it, this game should appeal to the hardcore SEGA fan, who knows the backstory to each of those characters you mentioned.

In the end, you just have to ask yourself, “What else is SEGA doing these days?” Unless they plan to completely wow us with unexpected announcements at E3, the answer is “not that much,” aside from localizing a few, but not all, sought after Japanese-exclusive games. A SEGA brawler is just what SEGA needs to infuse excitement and enthusiasm in its tired, downtrodden fanbase. In fact, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if something is teased during this year’s E3. You heard it here first, folks!

Yeaaaaaah, why not Ecco the Dolphin?!
Yeaaaaaah, why not Ecco the Dolphin?!

The Requiem: Chris, Chris, Chris, you epic f-cktard for the ages, you’re missing the point. I’m certain that a Sumo-led, SEGA Smash-like would be great, but should SEGA take the risk right now? I don’t think so. Smash Bros. just released late last year, and SEGA stands to make more money employing Sumo in another cross-platform racing title.

There’s something else to consider though, and that’s how petty Nintendo can be regarding its third-party relationships. Ever since the NES days when Nintendo put a knife to the corporate throat of its third-party developers, Nintendo still shows some signs of disgruntlement when they feel slighted. Remember Bionic Commando: Rearmed on Xbox Live and PSN just last generation? Nintendo got so butt-hurt with Capcom over the fact that they didn’t also develop Rearmed for WiiWare that they didn’t even allow Capcom to release the original NES Bionic Commando on the Virtual Console.

Fast forward to the newest Smash Bros. Let me ask you, Chris, where is Solid Snake? Why was such a popular third-party character dropped this time around? It may be speculation, but if I were a gambling man, I’d say it’s because Nintendo was yet again butt-hurt over PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. No, Solid Snake didn’t appear in the game, but the bizarre addition of Raiden in PlayStation All-Stars begs the question, why Raiden and not Solid Snake? I’d be willing to bet, as I was when PS All-Stars was released, that Snake was originally set to be in PS All-Stars until Nintendo got word, resulting in a lot of hurt feelings between Nintendo and Konami and this very strange turn of events. Again, I admit, that’s speculation.

Smash_Bros_Ballot_SEGA_battle_2Fast-forward to 2015. Sonic the Hedgehog appeared in a few console games last year, though Smash Bros. was the only one that was any good. Should SEGA run the risk of not just including Sonic, but headlining him in a product designed to directly compete with Smash Bros? He gets some good exposure the way things are, and if SEGA’s Smash-like outing is a flop (as PS All-Stars was), SEGA may have thrown away Sonic’s chances of returning in whatever Smash Bros. follow-up may be. Sure, SEGA competes directly with Mario Kart with the All-Stars Racing series, but it’s not like Sonic is a racer in any Mario Kart games. The closest we’ve got is the upcoming Mii costume via an Amiibo unlock.

A SEGA Smash Bros. type game sounds incredible. I’d pee my pants a little bit if one was announced, I’d buy it, and if Sumo Digital was indeed at the helm, I’d bet it would be a very solid game. Based on all of the responses to the Smash Bros. fan poll, there is a lot of support out there from the community to include a wide array of characters outside of Nintendo IPs including some really awesome third-party and indie characters.

That does indicate that there may yet be support for a competitor to Super Smash Bros., but I don’t think it’s wise for SEGA to helm it at the moment. If they want to do a project for the fan base, I’d suggest that they repair their brand image, maybe increase brand awareness of forgotten games via smaller projects, and if SEGA eventually wants to do a mash-up brawler, call Capcom to do a SEGA-themed Power Stone successor so nobody is butt-hurt over it being too Smash-esque.

Tell me I’m right, readers!

So there we have it, dear readers! Another Face Off is in the books, but we want to know who you think won this battle of the wits!

Do you agree with Chris that SEGA should, in fact, release its own Smash Bros.-style fighter, or do you agree with The Requiem that doing so doesn’t make sense for the company?

The Requiem

Having grown up with a SEGA Master System, The Requiem has been a lifelong SEGA fan. Favorite SEGA games include: Gunstar Heroes, Shinobi III, the House of the Dead: Overkill, Jet Set Radio, & Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Other game favorites include: Super Metroid (SNES), Tempest 2000 (Atari Jaguar), Mortal Kombat (Arcade) and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery (iOS). The Requiem exists digitally as @UnboundRequiem on Twitter.

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