The Eternal War: A Look at the Repeating Console Cycle

Sega Logo

I’ve been reading Console Wars, a new book by Blake J. Harris that chronicles the rise of Sega during the 90’s. It’s a delightful book, full of endlessly fascinating details, such as how Target’s lenient return policy allowed customers to return years-old NES’s in order to get credit towards a SNES. Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with Nintendo and it led to Target pulling Nintendo products from the stores for a time. I lived through this era and reading the behind the scenes drama that went on has been very enjoyable. My nostalgia bones are all tingling right now. Continue reading The Eternal War: A Look at the Repeating Console Cycle

Gearbox and Sega Sued Because Aliens: Colonial Marines Was Terrible

Look at that silly alien

In a perhaps unsurprising move for our litigation-happy society, a disgruntled owner of Aliens: Colonial Marines has joined forces with a lawyer to start a class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega. According to the article over at Polygon, his argument is that “Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 which didn’t end up being accurate representations of the final product”. Combine that with a review embargo that didn’t lift until the game was released, and anyone who preordered the game or purchased it before reviews were released got burned by what was universally rated a hugely inferior game.

Now, a $60 game purchase hardly seems worth clogging up our legal system with yet another lawsuit, but I do see the logic behind the complaint. Extensive game previews far in advance of the release are standard practice in the industry, as are pre-rendered cinematic trailers that avoid showing any gameplay. Even though the film industry has a reputation for spoiling nearly everything in its trailers, I’d argue that the games industry goes much further and tends to release an even bigger barrage of promotional materials far in advance of game releases. However, what does it mean if we can’t even trust their spoilers? I have a feeling that this isn’t the first time the industry has pulled a bait-and-switch on consumers with faked game footage or exciting cinematic trailers that fail to capture the actual game. Dead Island’s buzz-worthy cinematic trailer comes to mind.

Can you think of any other examples of a major bait-and-switch where a game was hugely different from its previews? Have you ever been burned by a demo or trailer that made a game seem more exciting than the reality? I’m wondering how long it’ll take before we hear about a SimCity class-action lawsuit…

SEGA Admits to Making Terrible Sonic Games, Removes Them From the Shelves

Sonic Colors

If you were thinking of wandering in to your local video game store and picking up a new copy of Sonic Vs. The Black Knight anytime soon, you might be out of luck. With the upcoming release of Sonic Colors, Sonic Free Riders and Sonic the Hedgehog 4, SEGA is doing a little house cleaning, de-listing Sonic titles that have a poor or average Metacritic standing.

SEGA’s Senior Vice President of EMEA Jurgen Post explained that this was done to help “strengthen the brand” going forward, stating that having a large number of Sonic titles on the shelves will lead to a “cannibalization” of sorts. While it isn’t unusual for a company to phase out older games in a franchise to make way for newer titles, Sonic is sort of a special case considering how many mediocre games we’ve been plagued with since this generation started.

Fortunately both Sonic Colors and Sonic 4 are looking pretty good, so maybe it’s better to sweep those old ones under the rug. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forget Sonic 2006, but what about you guys? Are the memories of old Sonic games still plaguing your thoughts?

Source – MCV

PlayStation Celebrates 15th Anniversary and Dreamcast Its 11th

On this day, 15 years ago, the gaming world was forever changed when a company best known for their stereos stepped into the wild fray that is the video game console business. On 9/9/95. Sony released the PlayStation, or PS1, as we all know it now. Many people, myself included, didn’t give it much of a chance, but eventually, with a ton of stellar titles, namely Final Fantasy VII, they managed to overtake Nintendo and change the course of gaming history. They also killed Sega, but that was going to happen anyway.

Personally, the Final Fantasy games, namely Tactics and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night were my highlights. I missed out on a lot of other big games, but I have since corrected that oversight.

Also, speaking of Sega, today is the 11th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega’s swan song. This console was pretty much the harbinger of things to come, but it harbinged (New word, tell your friends) far too early and gamers weren’t ready for its particular brand of goodness until Microsoft refined it with the Xbox 360.

So what are your fondest memories of the PS1 or Dreamcast? Any games you still want to play or wish you had played?

Why Can’t This Sonic and Knuckles 3D Level Be Real?

Oh Sonic. Your franchise, along with Sega, have become quite the punching bags in the gaming industry of late. You used to be so spinny, so fast, so fresh (and bright + vivid), but now you’re just a retro-gen has been. As much as it pains me to say it, it’s true. It’s so true in fact, that every time we get a glimpse of how good you could be, we get a little weepy, and mourn for the Sonic that we knew and loved.

Take this video mock-up of Sonic and Knuckles 3D. It’s a re-creation of the Mushroom Hill Zone level from that game, done in widescreen and updated graphics. Sadly, it’s not playable, but gives a great sense of that old school Sonic flavor. Sega, I have to ask you an honest question: why have you been unable to pull this off? This game should have come out years ago.

Who else wishes they could play this?

Sega Announces Sonic Colors

So, full disclosure here: I originally had a very snarky post written out, lambasting SEGA for their strange choices regarding Sonic. Honestly, for every step forward they take, it seems that they are determined to take two steps back. For example, take a gander at the trailer for Sonic Colors, the newly announced Wii and DS title. It’s bright, it’s colorful, and it’s definitely targeted towards casual gamers. On the other hand, it does look like everything we want from a Sonic game: daytime levels and blistering speed. Apparently, Sonic can use the help of his alien buddies from the trailer to take new paths through the levels, like using the yellow guy to drill through the ground, and darn if that doesn’t sound cool.

Sounds neat, but I might pass depending on how Sonic 4 turns out. What do you guys think? Good or bad on SEGA’s part? Is this of any interest to you?

SEGA West Restructures, Focuses on Downloadable Titles

segaTimes are still tough, and the pinch of the economy has been especially hard on the video game industry. Unless a studio’s game has broken sales records world-wide, chances are they’ve had to let at least some part of their work force go (well, except for Infinity Ward, but that’s another story).

SEGA West is the latest company to feel the squeeze, and as such, they’ve chosen to reformat to focus on smaller-scale downloadable titles. Unfortunately, downsizing also means redundancy, so 73 people from SEGA have lost their jobs. Although SEGA West President Mike Hayes is adamant that this move is solely an initiative taken by the high-ups in the Western branches, SEGA’s parent company recently went on record with their concerns over lack-luster North American sales.

At any rate, Hayes’ section of SEGA is now focusing on the downloadable market place. Mr. Hayes mentioned that, with the performance of Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone and the upcoming release of Sonic 4, they’ve seen great feed back with regards to the re-inventing of existing intellectual properties. He goes on to say that, with the resurgence of popular SEGA IPs, the challenge is to do more than just reinvent familiar brands. He does mention that the company expects to make some new IP announcements in the coming months.

With the iPad seeing a global launch in the next few weeks, this is also a brand new market for game companies to spread into, and SEGA West is excited about the opportunities offered by the device. What do you guys think of this new move by SEGA? It sucks that people had to lose their jobs, but SEGA is a business, and they have to stay afloat. With Sonic 4 still in production, do you think they’re putting all their eggs in one basket?

Source: Industry Gamers