Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nobody Loves Sega

I feel dejected right now.  One of my good friends who runs the Shenmue Stare site called it quits.  Seems like Sega fans are just losing it as am I.  So here comes the rant.

One thing we can all agree on right now is that Sega has some problems of certain levels of severity.  I mock Sega.  I pick at them a lot because I love their racing games and they haven't returned to their prime.  But at someone who has some knowledge of Sega (i.e. the immense amount of money they lost) it's somewhat understandable.  Yet to others, picking on Sega is usually for s***s and giggles by the media.  Here's a choice quote from the infamous Shenmue Dojo  post pertaining to Sega & Hajime Satomi of the Yakuza:

SEGA is also the victim of general bias and hate from both the gaming 'media' and 'gamers' in general; both of whom are indoctrinated to believe Nintendo is the be-all and end-all of gaming creativity when in truth Mityamoto's creative output is dwarfed by one SEGA development studio and slaughtered by Yu Suzuki alone. When companies such as RARE and UbiSoft are sold or sell-out, these typical sheep are up in arms. When SEGA was literally raped, butchered and murdered slowly by Sammy, nary a word from the press or the 'gaming' community.....

Exactly my point.  The thing is I'm afraid that lots of people are just ignorant of Sega as a whole.  Sega was this "great empire," now they are to be mocked and ridiculed on seldom occasions when someone on sites like Kotaku, Joystiq, or Reddit references Sega in some way.  But let's be clear, no matter how pessimistic I seem, Sega isn't doing TOO bad.  Here's a list of things they're doing well.    They're making money again.  They aren't abusing Sonic as much.  They released ports of Daytona USA, OutRun 2, Sega Rally, other Dreamcast games so I can't totally hate on the guy.  Seriously, read the LEAVE SEGA ALONE! post from last year.  But others who have no emotional investment in Sega, they couldn't care less.

Quick--here's a pop quiz.  Answer these questions in a minute and don't look up the answers:

1. Name four Sega consoles.
2. Name two important Sega people.
3. Name five franchises originated by Sega.

They couldn't do it.  They'd spit out the usual talking points, "Sega, hmm....they made the Genesis but the SNES was better, they made the Dreamcast which failed, they made Sonic the Hedgehog which they ruined....and oh, they made BAYONETTA! (not made by Sega, made by Platinum Games with some involvement on Sega's part) Other than that, I know nothing."  And these are the same people who gush all over Nintendo, all over Blizzard, all over Bethesda, all over Rockstar, all over Valve, all over other "visionaries" like Cliff Bleszinski and Notch but when it comes to Yu Suzuki or Yuji Naka, they draw a blank.  Can't stand it.

Okay, disclaimer time: I'm not saying EVERY GAMER thinks this way.  But I have a hunch that too many DO think that way since whenever I seldom hear about Sega, it's always in a negative light.  You don't necessarily have to be a "Sega fan" to criticize them too.  Take Electronic Arts--we all beat up on them but they're front & center on the stage all the time so there's no excuse not to know about their antics.  But here's some anti-Sega media:

Speaking of Sega's age, they're practically on par with Nintendo.  FIRST RECOGNIZABLE GAMES: Nintendo's Donkey Kong = 1981.  Sega's Monaco GP = 1980.  CONSOLES: Sega Master System = 1985.  Nintendo Entertainment System = 1985.  Though technically, there's the Famicom which came out in 1983.  But anyway, I'm just trying to get this whole "Nintendo came first" baloney out of the way now.  Also, Sega was kicking ass in arcades during the 80's/90's yet Nintendo wasn't.  But since consoles are the only thing that mattered, Nintendo gets praised while Sega gets dumped on.  Arcade success means nothing to these people.

I realize Sega got what's coming to them when they trampled the Sonic series, but it's turned around and, all petty complaints aside, isn't as terrible as it once was.  So if the media could stop running with the mantra "I can't play Sanic gaemz cause they r so bad and made for furries and kids with autism" then maybe I won't get so irate whenever I read a Sonic story on these "neutral" game sites.

Wait, what--there's Harrison Ford with a Master System.  And nobody wants to play with him.  Speaking of which, I wonder where this NES bias came from.  I don't think I was ever shown a Master System.  Not that the NES is bad (it has uh...Mario and Zelda!) but come on--it can't be as bad as gamers portray it (by completely ignoring it altogether)?

The "news" sites like Kotaku are just bad.  Whenever you do hear something about Sega, it's a gag story.  Like "Sega's brown man (Nagoshi) interviews porn stars (for Yakuza)" or "Here's a screencap of old Sonic telling young Sonic 'Your future's gonna be great!' " or "WTF is wrong with Sega making a Mario & Sonic Olympics Game?"  I only glaze over that site's stories just to check in on what's the news with gaming in general but other than that, this site sucks.  Speaking of sucking, I've noticed Kotaku has the tendency to post news/videos/pictures seen off of Reddit Gaming a day later.  Lazy reporters have nothing good to say.

Speaking of Reddit Gaming.  I've browsed that website for a good three months thus far and I'm tired of it.  Most of the posts are innocuous (funny screenshots & other stuff) but Good Lord, I'd be lying if I didn't say it was the Valve Show over there.  Don't get me wrong--Valve is a great company, all their games are top-notch, they give you the tools & source code to make your own mods (look at my CS 1.6 maps), Gabe Newell is a pretty good billionaire who doesn't afraid of anything, but is this company the ONLY game dev they focus on?  Same group think--WHERE'S HALF LIFE 3???  GABEN, PORTAL, CAVE JOHNSON, WILL HALF-LIFE 3 EVER BE RELEASED???  EDIT: This is the top Reddit Gaming post of 9/3/12:

As an aside, I'll go ahead and say this now.  Disregarding the fact I think Half-Life 2 is good but overrated (another linear single-player FPS but your character can't talk, how clever), Half-Life 3 is inevitable.  Valve is a very successful company.  Gabe Newell is a billionaire who is always in touch with fans.  There's at least 100 million Half-Life fans out there.  There WILL BE A Half-Life 3.  On the other hand, try saying that about Shenmue 3.  Or Daytona USA 3.  Or even Sonic Adventure 3.  NO SHOT.  Sega is nowhere near as good as Valve is and all of their talent has basically packed their bags & left.  EDIT: And any "diehard" Sega fans are so far & few between that you seldom hear them among the vast "ocean" of the Internet.

Speaking of Sega, Reddit Gaming couldn't give two s***s about Sega.  No surprise.  The only Sega-related story that makes the front page of Reddit Gaming is another repost of the "Genesis Tower."

And one more thing--this is about GameFAQs.  I still do my damnest to stay off that lousy-ass website.  But you remember a while back how GameFAQs would run all those Top 10 lists and Contests to decide what the best games ever made are?  I'm dead serious--if I go to this website and am told ONE MORE TIME about how great Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Halo, Starcraft, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Portal are and how they're so much better than all other games, I'm going to punch a baby.  The same people who circlejerk their mainstream games on these websites, such as GameFAQs or Reddit, who try to lecture me on the same groupthink crap are going to make me snap.

It's just sad because the only truly apparent group of Sega fans are...Sonic fans.  And they're the ones who get raked over coals--for bickering amongst each over about what Sonic games are good or not (Sonic 3, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic CD, etc.), for being "furries," for spamming the message boards asking whether or not miscellaneous characters will be in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (omg, can we get Blaze the Cat DLC????), thereby obfuscating the point of the game which is to be about GOOD, SOLID RACING as opposed to a bunch of Sonic characters.  Really now, I like Sonic but seeing as the company now lives or dies by it gives the haters a bunch of ammo. 

And then there's other gamers.  We're at school and we're talking about what game companies we want to work.  Here's what happens:

Other Guy: "Where do you want to work?"
Me: "I want to work for Sega."
Other Guy: "Sega is a s***hole." (he's probably right)

Later that day, the same conversation occurs with another guy:

Another Guy: "Where do you want to go?"
Me: "I want to work for Sega."
Another Guy: "Wait, Sega is still around?????"

Case in point, no one knows s*** about Sega.  The hard work done by Yuji Naka, Yu Suzuki, and others will be washed away by a clusterf*** of Zelda, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Halo, Need for Speed, and Grand Theft Auto games.  Because we all know that those were the truly "innovative" games of our time while Sega.....pssh, they sucked, no one cares.

One more thing, there's this which was great because it paints Sega in a positive light and it actually made the non-Sega blogs like Kotaku: 

And there's always some smart-aleck who chimes in, "A Shenmue 3 wouldn't work in today's age."  Which is probably true.  I mean, the expectation people have for free-roam story-based games like these is too much.  Where are the weapons, why can't I blow up hookers, why can't you run over people in the forklift, why does this game have QTE's (Shenmue invented them but now every other game has incorporated them, running this type of gameplay into the ground).  Yet at the same time, these people don't want their Zelda/WoW/Half-Life/etc games to change--it's Shenmue that has to.  Zelda never ages, Mario never ages, Final Fantasy never ages, Street Fighter never ages, but Shenmue does therefore it's overrated.  Makes a whole lotta sense.

Seriously, I did not intend for this to be a "fanboy" post but for God's sake, if you're going to launch salvos again at Sega (like every other gamer has, regardless of whether they care about Sega's well being) then cut us some damn slack since dealing with this company is a roller-coaster ride and there's been some effort recently for Sega to make a comeback.  I felt this post needed to be made cause I'm getting pissed off about this every day.  Until then, here's hopes for blue skies...someday.

Adorable picture.  The irony is the PS3's older brother (the PS2) killed the Dreamcast.  How does it feel to be related to a killer?


  1. As long as I can remember Sega's always been seen as the black sheep of games with the people I knew. Back in the Genesis days, a lot of my friends thought the system was only about Sonic and nothing else. With the Saturn, and I still don't know anyone else with one, it was worse, since the Playstation dominated the market. And after the PS2 was announced, I actually had people ridicule me for still preferring the Dreamcast instead. So with that said, as someone who was a social introvert, it just made me that much more of a loner, although I didn't let loneliness bother me as it would with extroverts. (No offense to anyone reading, but I've always viewed the fear of loneliness, or the need to always be in the presence of others as weakness)

    Even after I got the PS2 years later, my small collection consists solely of collecting older Sega exclusives and SNK compilations. MGS3 and Castlevania: LOI are the standing exceptions. Mostly so I could see what the Yakuza and Virtua Fighter 4 games were like, and I wanted to really support SNK. I imagine there are still a few well-known titles worth playing, just not to my tastes or ones I knew I'd play it once and sell it.

    So as far as I'm concerned, I imagine most people who are dogging on Sega, even acknowledging them as a powerhouse then, probably never really liked them to begin with, always seeing them as the black sheep since the Saturn days. Sure, Sega fans will say the same thing, but it's to highlight their desire to see the Sega of old that revolutionized gaming and always brought something different to the table, not to laugh at them. Some exceptions, of course. In the conversations I have with others, they love games made by the big names, but Sega appears to be nonexistent. One guy loves Silent Hill, one loves Valve, and I'm the only one who likes SNK and Sega arcade games. What separates me from them is that I have very little love for modern gaming. The only others who are on the same boat as I are JRPG fans, and I'd say they're more stuck in the past than I am. But none of them mention Sega unless it's Sonic. And with Sonic games of varying quality and arcades dying, no one seems to notice them. Of course, it's different in Japan, but my game collection always puts people off because I don't have titles they're familiar with, save for my Wii.

    But truthfully, I think Nintendo may be in some danger as well. Most people I know personally still associate them as a kiddie company, and claim the Wii was a terrible system because it was a family system, and I personally find nothing wrong with that. And I tend to enjoy those more than "mature" games with such a shoehorned feel that either bores me, makes me feel I'm being taken for a shallow idiot, or can't really be played more than once.

    But aside from people who have stuck with Nintendo over the years or parents who played the original Mario, no one I know seems to really care about the 3DS or the Wii U, and because Nintendo seems to come off as more "traditional" than the others, they're the ones being seen as old men going out of style. Of course, kind of like how Sega's internal practices have cost them, we've seen the same from Nintendo lately with lackluster support for the Wii after Holiday 2010, the early 3DS sales, and rumors that the Wii U is not as powerful as most had hoped. Nintendo is respected, but no one seems to be really on board, especially the casual gamers I've met. It's more about XBox and Playstation, but all is quiet with Nintendo, who seems to be falling behind when it comes to modern staples like online gaming, DLC, large hard drives and so on. Personally I think to ridicule the Wii because it's "for kids" or it's not HD is ridiculous. I want to be optimistic for Nintendo since I feel they're the last remaining true game development company that does both hardware and software, whatever they are is something Sony and Microsoft can never truly be.

  2. Woooo, boy. You made some good points. Anyway, I noticed that among these Sega fans I've seen on the internet, a lot of them are just...old. No offense. We're talking 30+ years. No surprise since in that vacuum that was the last 8-9 years, Sega hasn't done jack to make new fans. And considering the "what have you done for me" mentality of the game industry/consumers, no one is persuaded by Sega and everyone has such a short-term memory, it seems.

    When it comes to Sega vs. Nintendo, I have to respect what Nintendo has done. However, if you put aside the console wars, Nintendo will always be praised yet given grief by Sega fans because they've generally done the same thing that Sega did--a Japanese company publishes a line of game consoles with clean, happy franchises. Some of the diehard Nintendo fans I've met in real life (which is a small number in comparison with all the typical American gamers who get into Halo/Starcraft/Mass Effect/that same crap, no offense), they have the best things to say about Sega since this respect works both ways.

    So for that alone, I want Nintendo to win, yet because of that, Nintendo often steals Sega's credit and you have a lot of morons running around with the same garbage--"Mario is the best platformer. Zelda is the best adventure game. Pokemon is the best turn-based strategy game. Mario Kart is the best racing game. Smash Bros. is the best fighting game." Because Sega has gone AWOL in the last 8-9 years doesn't mean they contributed NOTHING at all.

    And then there's that old saying "The friend of my friend is my enemy." Frankly, I'm not the biggest Nintendo fan but hell, I would much prefer them over these crap companies we have today like Electronic Arts, Zynga, Activision, Microsoft, Sony & Capcom (to a certain extent). But yes, I see some "unraveling" going on with Nintendo--the Wii is dead, the Wii U is just a big ? block, the 3DS ain't that great, I'm tired of all the Wii Fit/Sports/motion control crap. I was all over that about a year ago--Wii is overrated, the 3DS lost a lot of money.

    But now I am worried too since I also said a long time ago that if (God forbid) the entire Japanese game industry were to disappear, the entire gaming culture would go to hell. Imagine the world being run by Electronic Arts, Activision, and others. It sort of already has--Sega is gone, Sony & Capcom suck and are getting more hated by the day, and Nintendo is weakening. Which is why I suppose we're trying to bring back some Sega culture to "enlighten" people, but it just sucks for some reason or another. Anyway, great post.

  3. Thanks, good points on your end as well. You're right, in the last decade Sega hasn't really brought in new fans with their games. Sure, we've seen arcade sequels, IPs outsourced, too many Sonic games, and digital re-releases of classics. But when you think about it, who exactly is going to pay attention to the news of NiGHTS or Jet Set Radio in HD? Kids of the newer generation, or older players who had already played these games to death when they were released (and those who missed out on them)? But I could also be very mistaken.

    Years ago, maybe 2005, I attended an art show held at a local school showing off student artwork throughout the whole school district. When I got to the elementary school section, I found myself extremely surprised to find a portion of the wall covered in NiGHTS artwork. We're talking at least ten pictures, maybe 15, for a game that was nearly a decade old. This wasn't the Dreamcast era, I think the X360 was just on the horizon. I was certain no one remembered what a Sega Saturn was and that kids only cared about new games. Maybe one of their parents had a Saturn and everyone played, maybe a teacher brought one in one day, I'll never know.

    Sonic still continues to draw in new fans, but as we all know, fans young and old are very divided on what makes a good Sonic game. But I imagine trying to gear titles toward the young while keeping the older audience is incredibly difficult, if the discussion on S0L's thread for Transformed is anything to go by. People want childhood favorites that might not appeal to today's audience. My nephew wasn't familiar with non-Sonic characters in the last game, save for the Bonanza Bros. which I exposed him to. I show him older games so he can see what I grew up with, and he finds them more fun than modern titles.

    I didn't find myself a huge Nintendo guy again until the Wii came along, but going back and playing Nintendo's library, I don't think it's unfair to say that what Sega did for arcades, Nintendo did with home consoles. And people won't give them proper credit, either. Despite criticisms for the Wii systems, I have to give the big N credit for attempting new ways in which people play games. Making games simple and nostalgic was a winner for Nintendo, a formula that appealed to young and old, but the old formula is starting to grow stale as well.

  4. Good points from both of you, and a spot on article, Eric. You're right, most Sega fans are thirty somethings, and it's mainly because the youngins don't have much of a frame of reference, ya know, the good ol' days are gone. I think that for Sega to come back to prominence, they have to basically get lucky with their releases. Things like Sega Alliance and supporting indie devs in general is the best way to accomplish that. It's cheaper than them trying to make some 80 million dollar GTA clone to get noticed by the kiddies. The games tend to be offbeat in true SEGA fashion, and there's always the chance it'll strike a nerve with people. That last bit is how every game company rose to prominence in the first place. There is no accounting for taste, really. You just gotta get lucky by making something that taps into everyone's psychological needs. Here's to hoping you make your dream racing game that gets picked up by SEGA and sells 10 million copies. Fuckinay right!

  5. Thanks for the input though I don't have much more to say about Sega right now. Sega just needs a little help from their friends and as long as we're there, good things will happen. "GOOD EFFORT, GOOD JOB!!"

  6. Good comments on sega current situation on the gaming world. As an arcade collector my reach on the sega legacy was largely increased as I begin the hobby. They migth not win the console war but handed his ass to nintendo in the arcade market, but no one remenbers that (I am proud owner of an astro city).

    Also , good point on the "classic" franchises and this could be taken to any non mainstream series. For example , although half life 2 is a great game, in today standards is clearly outdated but many refuse to see it and argue that "has aged well" .

    I will subscribe to your blog, pretty interesting stuff here.

  7. Thanks for posting! And I want to see that arcade cabinet.

    Somehow, when people talk about Half-Life 2, I think of Duke Nukem Forever and how people complained about how the jumping/platforming portions of that game were unnecessary. I talked about this over a year ago. Basically, platforming in FPSes like Duke Nukem are "outdated" but when it comes to Half-Life 2, with its numerous platforming/puzzle sections, it's "ageless?" Not defending Duke Nukem Forever since it sucks but you get the point.

    That's just the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, "massive, immersive, emotionally epic" games like Ico, Shadows of the Colossus, Heavy Rain, Mirror's Edge, Halo (sort of, it's very story driven), etc. are timeless but Shenmue sucks. I think it's part of Sega's "guinea pig experiments" how they always do something first like Shenmue (first massive adventure story game or something), it sucks, but then everyone else that follows does it "just right" and deserves all the praise while Sega gets pissed on. Once again, thanks for replying.

    Also, because I like to complain about everything--whenever game media mourns the loss of arcades, they never talk about Sega games, do they? Like it's all Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, good sob story material. Everything but Sega but whatever, that's conspiracy theory crap. Ok, I am done.