Face-Off: Are the SEGA 3D Classics just a giant ruse?
[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
Chris: Well, ol’ buddy, it seems like it’s been so long since we’ve done one of these that I almost *aaaaaaalmost* missed ya. We really shouldn’t wait so long next time because I live on making you look like the buffoon you are in front of all our dear readers.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s get on to the issue at hand, and that’s that I posit the idea that the 3D Classics are simply a shiny object meant to take our attention away from the fact that SEGA has been just a tad more active in the West than Hudson, Atari or Acclaim, all mashed together into a giant amalgamation of lost hope and glory.
Now, don’t take this as a knock on M2 or the 3D Classics; I think they’re superb, but take away those old arcade and Genesis ports on the Nintendo 3DS and what has SEGA really done the past year or so?
Off the top of my head, there’s a bunch of mobile stuff (many with suspect quality), a couple a Miku games (each of which do a wonderful job of making me feel like a pervert) and there was that attempt by a Western developer at making a Sonic the Hedgehog game. My mind has tried to block out that abomination, but it might be forever etched in my brain for good.
Anyway, my point is, just what the hell is SEGA of Japan even doing anymore? I mean it’s like they take some sick pleasure in announcing some badass new game only to cap it off with the fact “they have no plans to release it outside of Japan.” Our SEGA Nerds in Japan are seemingly drowning in SEGA games while we’re left to pick up the scraps. What the fuck, SEGA?
The Requiem: It has been a while, Chris, but as your wild speculation proves, idiocy has no expiration date. I love the 3D Classics games as much as you do, but suggesting that they exist on this side of the Pacific solely as a means to pacify western audiences is exactly that: speculation.
If Japanese developers have proven anything over the past several years, it’s that they don’t give a crap about western audiences. Part of the reason is that so many of them, SEGA included, just don’t have the spare cash to be purely altruistic. If they are releasing the 3DS 3D Classics here, it’s because there is either a high enough return or a low enough barrier to do so.
As much as I would like to see more games released here, I feel pretty certain that the same risk/return equation is being calculated for every title. More often than not, I expect that the cost of risk is just too high for a struggling third party like SEGA. It’s math, bitch.
Chris: Look, I’ll readily admit that I love a good conspiracy theory, and there’s no way you can convince me that SEGA of Japan doesn’t hate each and every one of us Western SEGA Nerds. Who knows, maybe it’s left over resentment from when our lord and savior Thomas Kalinske nearly toppled Nintendo, filling his SEGA counterparts in Japan with intense loathing and jealousy.
I mean how else can you explain the fact that Phantasy Star Online 2 is still “delayed” in the West? At this point, it’s become a huge joke online, and for some reason SEGA of America’s community team won’t (or can’t) just admit the obvious and say it’s never coming. Meanwhile, the game has been translated into English and released in English-speaking Asian countries for quite some time now. Why couldn’t SEGA make a few servers available to us Western fans to play the English version? It’s simple – they hate us.
Instead, they keep their fingers plugged tightly in their ears, blocking out the cries from fans for games like PSO 2, Phantasy Star Nova, Shining Resonance and Puyo Puyo Tetris, and keep releasing a new 3D Classic every couple months.
At this point, it’s like us Western SEGA Nerds are a sick, starving dog sitting hungrily next to the dinner table hoping our obese, hairy owner will throw a chicken leg our way but would happily settle for a few miserable scraps.
Games like PSO 2 are the chicken we’re hoping for as our owner leans over and smiles, revealing a crooked row of yellow teeth, while we’re groveling and licking our chops at the tantalizing idea of tasting the hot, greasy meat. Instead, he takes the chicken and swallows it whole, all the while staring straight into our now watery eyes. He lazily flicks a couple small pieces of gristle (i.e. 3D Classics) off the table, while we eagerly swallow them in a single bite, full of appreciation.
I don’t know about you, but I’m fucking tired of eating gristle.
The Requiem: I like the idea of finally getting PSO 2 as much as anyone, but more than any other title, PSO 2 requires a significant investment on SEGA’s part to establish and maintain those extra servers. What if the game flops and SEGA has put all of that extra effort into establishing and maintaining servers that now nobody is using, and it’s a near total loss? This is the company that couldn’t even afford to take a risk on Bayonetta 2, after all.
Instead of chicken and gristle, think of the PSO 2 situation like a long-term relationship, and the 3D Classics are like one-night stands with your ex. Yes, SEGA can just get their fan base good and drunk with the 3D Classics, which are sexy, nostalgia-tapping returns to form, then throw us all to the curb after having their way with us, blowing their six-dollar load into our stereoscopic eyes. We may do the walk of shame the next day, and our gait may look a little funny, but you know what? I for one don’t regret it. As a matter of fact, I kind of hope that I’m pregnant with 3D Opa-Opa’s love child, which would then mean that SEGA could never leave me, right?
Anyway, now think about the other scenario: the long-term relationship of PSO 2. SEGA would have to coyly attract a massive amount of western gamers to a series which hasn’t had a US release in several years, wine and dine them to get them online, keep the relationship exciting yet respectful by teasing out extra content over several months/years instead of trampishly bending over and giving us the full bacon, eggs and sausage spread, and still somehow keep the whole process profitable.
Now reality should set in. You’re a western gamer looking to get into a long-term relationship with an MMO, and set up a page on a mythical MMO dating site. SEGA has put up a page, as well, and you check it out to see if you’re a match. SEGA is nearly broke. They don’t have a good reputation. Their hardware history tells you that they have commitment issues. Would you date SEGA?
That’s why we’re getting smaller, downloadable games like the 3D Classics. Not because they’re trying to pacify us, but because it’s just where they are right now. They’re not looking for a serious relationship and they know that they’re not dating material, but some quick and easy one night stands will stave off the blue balls just fine. There’s no malice behind it. No scheme. Just a nostalgic hook-up for old times’ sake.
And let’s stop kidding ourselves. Virtually nobody in the west (outside of our own beloved readership) would buy Shining Resonance either, and you know it.
Chris: I think I can probably speak for most our readers and say that got pretty damn weird. How about we shift gears from that uncomfortable yet oddly seductive analogy and get down to brass tacks.
This week’s release of 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has heralded the end to the latest wave of 3D Classics. Despite some hints here and there, SEGA has to yet officially announce if they’ll continue the series. Have they been worth SEGA’s investment? We really don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the series going forward and if their partnership with M2 continues beyond the 3D Classics.
Whether you believe my conspiracy theory or not, SEGA won’t have the 3D Classics to fall back on as a means to distract us from their lack of productivity or as a continued revenue stream. Have you bothered to take a look at SEGA’s list for the rest of the year? Yeah, it’s pretty much Yakuza 5. Beyond that the only other new games we know about on the horizon are Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice and Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and I don’t think anyone is wetting themselves over either of them.
These next few months are going to be pretty painful for us SEGA Nerds, outside the releases of Sonic: Lost World on PC and Yakuza 5 on PlayStation 3. Hopefully, they have something exciting up their sleeve for us later this year or early next year, but hasn’t that been something we’ve been wishing for quite sometime now? I don’t know about you, but I could certainly go for a few more distractions to get me through these dark times.
The Requiem: I don’t think anyone is arguing against getting more o’ ‘dem sweet, 3D Classics. I for one would love M2 to tackle Phantasy Star, Comix Zone, and Alex Kidd in Miracle World, but your original question was whether they are specifically released to distract from SEGA’s lackluster western release schedule. So to stay more on point this time, let’s look at recent history to prove your thesis as wrong as a pornographic Jack Thompson fan-fiction.
For Nintendo’s Wii Virtual Console service, SEGA published 56 Genesis games (that’s more than the Nintendo-published SNES and NES VC releases combined), 15 Master System games and seven arcade games. SEGA also released 16 Game Gear games on the 3DS Virtual Console, and let’s not even start with their re-releases on other services like Steam, Xbox Live, PSN or mobile.
Re-releasing their classic titles in downloadable form, for better or worse, has been a staple of SEGA’s strategy for nearly a decade now. Many of these releases accompanied a much more robust retail game release schedule in the west; they were certainly not meant to be a distraction for western fans. There’s really no evidence to suggest that SEGA isn’t simply still pursuing the same path regardless of what is happening with the localization issues plaguing their full retail releases.
If anything, the 3D Classics line is a distraction from SEGA not releasing any more Virtual Console games, whether they be Game Gear games on 3DS or anything on Wii U. I’m just happy that their partnership with M2 has produced such great results, and very often the definitive home versions of some of SEGA’s greatest games.
So there it is, SEGA Nerds! We want to know your thoughts on who you agree with. Do you agree with toolbag Chris with The chump muffin Requiem? Let us know in the comments!