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

SEGA Admits Mistake in Putting MadWorld on the Wii

madworldAh, the Wii. No other console in the history of gaming has done more to both bring together and tear apart the masses. While it is introducing a whole new generation of people to the joys of our hobby, the reception to Nintendo’s little white juggernaut by the enthusiast gamers has been nothing short of underwhelming.

Last year’s MadWorld, a black-and-white blood bath death match by Bayonetta creators Platinum Games, is a great example of the divide between the game’s target audience and the people who actually own a Wii. No one knows this better than Mike Hayes, President and COO of SEGA Europe, who recently commented that putting MadWorld on the Wii was a bit of a “mismatch”. He went on to elaborate why he thought that, in hindsight, MadWorld should have been a 360, PC or PS3 title.

“Clearly that was a mismatch with the Wii audience — particularly in terms of the amount of cross-ownership between Wii and the other home platforms. If you’re going to play a mature-rated game, you’re going to get your 360, PC or PS3 out to do so. But you can’t knock us for having a go.”

Continue reading SEGA Admits Mistake in Putting MadWorld on the Wii

Sonic Fanboys Convene for Massive Fail

sonic 4
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is coming out this year and, for all intents and purposes, it looks pretty good; almost a return to form for a has-been mascot that’s tried everything from swordplay to lyncanthropy to win back his fan-base. Some people are just impossible to please, though, so even a side-scrolling HD throwback game isn’t going to win over some die-hards. Take this online petition for example. These stodgy supporters of Sonic circa 1992 aren’t just going to acquiesce and buy Sonic 4, oh no. They’re planning on buying Sonic 1 when the new game gets released. Wait, what?

Now, we all know that internet boycotts are destined to bomb, but this one strikes me as possibly the least effective form of consumer backlash I’ve ever seen. All well and good if you don’t like the new Sonic, fellas, but buying Sega’s products is hardly going to get them to change their minds. Check out my favorite part of the rant:

“Either way, We will decide to finally show sega what the fans truly want. A real sonic 4, as long as sonic 4 stays the way it is, we will not buy it, we will in fact buy sonic 1 on release in protest of sonic 4”

I know we’ve highlighted some silly boycotts in the past, but I’m sure this one takes the cake. What do you guys think about this? Is there any hope for these petitioners, or will they go down as the laughing stock of the internet? My guess is on the latter.

Source: Destructoid

After Burner Climax Video Shoots a Lot of Missiles

I don’t know how I missed this trailer, but apparently Sega is bringing After Burner Climax to XBLA and the PSN later this year. The trailer for this game looks freaking sweet, and I can’t wait to play it then promptly give up in frustration.

Fix up the music and you’ve got yourself a sale, Sega. Between this and Sonic the Hedgehog 4 coming to consoles later this year, it looks like Sega is back on the path to winning gamer’s hearts once again. Who’s going to pick this up, and for what system? Do any of you remember playing the old version of this in that massive arcade cabinet?

Leaked Off-Screen Footage of Sonic 4 Revels in Nostalgia

Man, people holding preview events behind closed doors need to implement tighter security, because the guy with the camera built into his hat keeps getting through. In the grand tradition of alpha gameplay getting leaked, I now present some off-screen footage of the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.

So, despite the shakiness, I think it gives us a good indication of where Sonic 4 is headed and that is the series’ salad days of 1994, specifically. I’m still not a fan of his running animation, but if things keep moving in this direction, I’ll pick it up for sure. How about you guys?

Aliens Vs. Predator Retrospective Is Chest-Bursting Good Time

To celebrate the upcoming release of Aliens vs. Predator, on the Sega America Blog,  there is a snazzy little look back at the history of both the Aliens franchise and how it intersects with the Predator franchise. It details, in a summarized manner, the movies, games and comic books, some of which you may have forgotten.

For me, seeing the Alien vs. Predator beat-em-up by Capcom was a blast from the past. I played the hell out of that on the SNES. Ever since I was a kid, I have had a deep fascination with the Alien and it’s sequels. Something about it is just so visceral and scary. The Predator movies are good, too, but nowhere near as awesome to me, personally.

Have you guys played any of these games? Do you prefer Aliens or Predator? What’s your favorite movie of the bunch? GO!

Source: Sega Blog

Signs of the Apocalypse : Sega Making More Marvel Games

I never played the Iron Man game that corresponded with the movie from a year ago, but apparently it was so awful that every game journalist that had to review it quit the industry to become a hermit because their faith in mankind had been sundered.

Just to prove that the video game gods have a twisted sense of humor, Sega has again purchased the rights to two more Marvel properties: Captain America and Thor, the Norse god of Thunder. These games are set to tie in with the two movies starring these characters which will hit in 2011.

I really hate to speak ill of games right after they’ve been announced, but these two do seem destined for failure. Obviously, adopting a wait-and-see attitude is the best course of action, but the only thing Sega proved with Iron Man is that they really know how to bungle a movie tie-in.

Of course, not all Marvel movie games have been terrible (Spider-Man 2 and Wolverine come to mind) but I don’t know what kind of game you could do with the star-spangled Avenger or Thor. My guess would be a pair of pallet-swapped brawlers, but maybe I’m just being pessimistic.

My vote is that Rocksteady, developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum, should handle all super hero games forever. Alas, it’s no fun just reading my own thoughts on games that haven’t even come out yet; I want to know what you guys think! Should we condemn these games immediately to the nine hells of gaming, or do we give them a chance?

Source: 1up

A Little Reason Goes A Long Way

sinkingTake a look at any video game news site and you will be sure to find a story about how the PS3 is in third place in the Console Wars and how Sony should just give up and go the way of Sega and make games and not consoles. Yeah, cause that worked out so well for Sega. But I digress. The Playstation brand has seen rough days but it would foolish to count Sony out just yet.

Now, I understand that costs are very high to make video games and that making games on the PS3 is very complex and probably more expensive. I also understand that 360 has a higher install base, but I have news for you: it’s not that much higher. The 360 has sold about 30 million worldwide compared to the 22 million sold for the PS3. Consider the fact that the PS3 launched a year later and around the same time as the Wii. Factor in the admittely high cost of the PS3 and an 8 million unit lead is nice, but not nearly as big as everyone makes it out to be. From the way people fanboys talk, you would think the 360 has a 112 million unit lead or something. Oh wait…112 million units is the amount that the PS2 outsold the original Xbox by. But you didn’t hear this kind of doomsday talk for the Xbox then, did you? I know I didn’t. And the PS3 has already sold as many units as the original Xbox, which is not a mark of success by any means, but it sure does make you stop and wonder where all this negativity is coming from.

Let’s face it: the PS3 has had a rough launch. The high price and lack of killer games really hurt for a long time. But that time is over. With LittleBigPlanet, Killzone 2, Infamous and God of War III all out or soon to be out, the future for the PS3 is looking very bright. This article is not meant to prop up the PS3 or bring down the Wii or 360. I am merely trying to point out some facts that seem to fall by the wayside in these debates. Sony is not going anywhere and neither is Microsoft or Nintendo. Sony thumped everyone in the last round of consoles, so losing this one isn’t going to be end of the world for them.

Besides, these consoles are just getting going. Nintendo has jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable lead, but Wii sales have already slowed down and while mining the casual market seems to have done them a great service, the loss of the hardcore market might mean that the Wii’s days of ruling the sales charts are over. The 360 and PS3 will only get stronger, so we have a long way to go before this battle in the Console War is over.

Just relax and enjoy the games and try to let the guys who get paid tons of money worry about the business side of things. You want to support your console? Buy new, not used games. Other than that, it’s out of our hands. Except for the controller, of course. Until the Natal comes out.

End of Eternity Trailer Has Bullets and Style

End of Eternity, a game I’ve never heard of but am now insanely interested in, is a new RPG that is in development from Tri-Ace and Sega, set to release on the XBox360 and PS3. The new trailer shows off some stunning cinematics, complete with high-flying dudes with guns blazing, and a really incredible art style to the whole thing.

Is anyone else interested in this game after the trailer?