Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sega Was Quite The Prolific Contributor!

Sup super brothers, this wasn't meant to showcase new material/opinions but I've got stuff to share anyway.  So here's a new IGN article that has sprung up lately which is surprisingly flattering towards Sega!  Sega: A Soothsayer of the Games Industry.  What a lot of you noobs didn't know about Sega so I'm gonna recap any achievements thus far whether it was a hit or miss.  I'm going to do this in timeline format and add a few things of my own so here goes:

1976: Let's go ride some bikes!  Fonz was not the first racing game Sega released (that would be Moto-Cross, a game relatively identical to this) but it was the first game to feature force feedback controls and also the first to be based off a TV character.

1985: Let's go ride some bikes...again!  Hang-On was a motorcycle game that boasted the world's first full-body experience gameplay (steer by leaning left & right on the special bike cabinet).

1986: Embark on a beautiful journey!  OutRun was the first racing game to combine multiple soundtracks and non-linear routes.  Most of the landscapes were derived by memories accrued by the eclectic Yu Suzuki during his European tour.

1987: Early attempts at lousy 3D gaming!  Sega revealed an add-on for the Mega Drive...a pair of black 3D glasses with LCD shutters that would project 3D full-color images from the screen.  It was a flop, of course.

1989: HOOOOOOO!!!  Sega released the arcade version of Moonwalker, an isometric beat-em-up featuring none other than music legend Michael Jackson.  A 1990 version was released for Genesis that featured drastically different gameplay (2D action sidescroller).

1990: Go buy some DLC!  Sega released a network system exclusive to Japan dubbed the Sega Net Work System.  Download games using a modem attached to the MegaDrive for a sizeable monthy fee (unfortunately, you had to redownload the games after you shut the console off).

Also that year, you could now watch TV on your handheld system!  The Sega Game Gear came with a backlit color screen and a TV tuner.

1991: Save your files on internal console memory!  The Sega CD (of all consoles, geez) was the first to include this feature.  The Saturn in 1994 also did the same thing as well.

Also this year, Sega released the very first Sonic the Hedgehog game which would later become Sega's official mascot and spawn one of the most largest game franchises in history.

1992: Play racing games in 3D!  While Virtua Racing wasn't the first 3D racing game (predated by Namco's Winning Run and Atari's Hard Drivin' by '88 and '89 respectively), it was the first of the Model 1 arcade series and the beginning of Sega's 3D arcade dominance.  It was also the first racing game to feature multiple view points--cockpit, bumper, chase, and far chase views.

1993: Play fighting games in 3D!  Virtua Fighter was the first 3D fighting arcade game.

Also that year, we said screw the Kinect--let's play hands-free gaming Sega-style!  The Sega Activator was an octagon-shaped Genesis controller that was placed on the floor and read player inputs as they waved around like idiots.  It was a piece of crap but kudos for trying.  Over a decade later, the Kinect has no excuse to suck.

And yet again for that year, Night Trap was released for Sega CD, an abysmal game that was presented during US Senate hearings which eventually ushered in the ratings system.

1994: Highest grossing arcade game of all time!  Well, at least the highest-grossing arcade racing game of all time.  Daytona USA, ladies and gentlemen.  It requires no introduction.

Also, Sega would continue their online exploits by releasing a similar online service for the Genesis known as the Sega Channel.  This time, it was available in North America.  Pay the subscription to download games, cheats, manuals, unreleased content, and demos off the server hosted by Time Warner Cable.

1995: Play Mega Drive & Genesis games outdoors!  The Sega Nomad was a portable Genesis/Mega Drive system with a 3.25 inch color LCD screen and an A/V out plug for connecting to another TV (you could watch a video game on two screens).  Also came with AC adapters and battery packs (with abysmal life, of course). Was supposed to have a touch screen but Sega ditched that feature due to a high price tag (over $250).

1997: Play more games online!  Sega released the 28K NetLink attachment for the Sega Saturn, complete with keyboard and mouse compatibility.  Unfortunately, only five games were playable online, one of which was a special version of Daytona USA: Championship Edition.

1998: Carry your saved games around with style!  For the Dreamcast, Sega ditched internal memory in favor of those "evil memory cards" that Sony profited from.  But the Dreamcast memory cards (Visual Memory Unit or VMU) also functioned as a second screen during gameplay AND as a mini handheld gaming device elsewhere.  Everyone knows this but it's a neat idea that's so clever it's worth mentioning multiple times.

1999: Show the Wii who's boss!  Sega released the Dreamcast Fishing Controller which was quite versatile for a mere fishing game peripheral.  It could be used to play other games...such as Virtua Tennis or Soul Calibur!

Also that year, Yu Suzuki released the most expensive game ever produced for its time, Shenmue, at $47 million (in 1999 money).  This and its 2001 sequel Shenmue 2 both cost $70 million (in 2001 money) to make.  It was also the first game to use Quick Time Events and also spawned one of the most delayed yet anticipated threequels in history (Shenmue 3).

2000: Play with even more fun Dreamcast toys!  Shake the maraca controllers to Samba de Amigo.  Also talk to Seaman the fish with your microphone.

Also this year, SegaNet (or Dreamarena in Europe) was released for Dreamcast consoles.  The Dreamcast was the first online-ready console which ran over a 56K dialup connection.  It also had its own built-in web browser with keyboard & mouse support.

2002: The legend will never die!  First game company ever (to my knowledge) to survive a total loss of over $1.5 billion (from 1998 to 2002) and still survive.  Partially due to one of the greatest altrustic moves in gaming history--former Sega Chairman Isao Okawa donated $695 million that same year just before his death.

2003: Listen to video game music LIVE!  The infamous Takenobu Mitsuyoshi performed the Shenmue soundtrack at the first Symphonic Game Music Concert in Leipzig, Germany--the first video game music concert held outside of Japan.

2004 onward: Sega did nothing worth noting (except a few racing games).  Cause they suck and are an embarrassment to us all.  I give them props for staying alive this whole time but that's it.

2012: The Dreamcast homebrew scene still forges ahead.  Sturmwind was the most recent Dreamcast game released this very year, thus proving the Dreamcast is still "alive."

What a damn shame.  To see all these achievements go to waste after the post-Dreamcast era.  Seriously, listen to the New Sega Theme Song--it sums up everything perfectly.  This post has gone on way much longer than it should've so I'll end with a few choice quotes from the IGN article that sums up Sega all too well:

Unfortunately for SEGA, offering future tech in the present is expensive, and I would chalk up a majority of Sega’s commercial failures to prohibitive price tags with minimal returns. This is in stark contrast to the company’s ancient rival, Nintendo, which is historically quite content to sit on emerging technologies until they become affordable, and by extension, profitable.

It is little wonder SEGA was the prime mover for video games for so long: with teams AM1 through to AM7 during the 1990s, surely SEGA burned through an insane amount of money in research and development alone. Like a dog digging holes in the backyard, SEGA leapt from the Mega CD to the 32X to the Saturn within the span of three years. This did nothing to build up consumer confidence in the SEGA brand, but in retrospect, it’s hard not to admire the excitement for the medium that SEGA so clearly shared with its fans, and demonstrated with its business decisions. Its devil-may-care attitude towards game development in the Saturn and Dreamcast eras is something that we simply do not see outside of the indie scene today. The Dreamcast read like a love letter to gaming itself.

Even stranger for Sega, a retired prize fighter sitting on the sidelines. Watching Nintendo grapple with the internet; watching Sony outfit handhelds like Swiss Army knives; watching Microsoft struggle to make full body control viable; and being able to say, “been there, done that.”

Yeah, that's right.  Sega kicks ass and now you know why.  Yes, they were a very foolish company but when they did something right, it was awesome.  The end.

If you have any Sega "firsts" that I forgot to mention, please let me know cause I want to learn more too.

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