Sega: Nintendo's Unsung Hero
Review by: BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)

Editorial Posted: September 22, 2001

The question that boils down in people’s minds over the next few months will not concern what the best game is, or who is publishing the best stuff, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Will Sega be the unsung hero of the GameCube?”

There is no doubt that millions of gamers, myself included, signed with disbelief when Sega announced that they had canceled the Dreamcast line, and would be moving into a software only multi-platform developer. In all respect, only Sega’s catalog of games could rival that of Nintendo’s, and only Sega’s characters were just as recognizable as Nintendo’s, so the thought of Sega games on a Nintendo system was enough to get any hardcore gamer’s blood pumping.

Sega was a hardcore developer. Creating niche titles that didn’t fit into any genre, and couldn’t be categorized or compared to other games on the market. This could be part of the reason for the failure of the Dreamcast, it was almost too hardcore for it’s own good. Those who had stood by Sega since the beginning, I lost faith after Genesis, later to come back after the Dreamcast launch, were the fans who know of their games, and know what they did. Gamers, who were just being introduced to games, or the new system, couldn’t just walk into the local Wal-Mart and pick up a copy of Jet Grind Radio or Shenmue. They recognized games like Super Mario Brothers, Crash Bandicoot, and Super Smash Brothers as games their friends had, and they couldn’t wait to go there after school for some Nintendo 64 goodness.

In comparison Nintendo was the mainstream, family friendly developer, Sony was the huge conglomerate looking for nothing but market share and money, and Sega was the third place hardcore gaming platform. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there is no room for a small third place finisher, and Sega quickly became one of the greatest software developers on the market, but unrecognized by those who didn’t own their systems. Thus, the decision to move into a multi-platform system, while still supporting the loyal fans of the Dreamcast till the end off the year.

Now Sega has announced development for all of the other systems. Signed on to the Playstation2 through Acclaim to release ports of it’s most well known Dreamcast and Arcade games, brought in by Microsoft for an eleven game deal that gives them ports and new games, and joined with Nintendo to extend it’s characters and best known games into the world of the mass market where Sega has been unable to penetrate since the early 90’s with the Genesis.

So will Sega be the unsung hero the GameCube? At this point things are looking that way. With Sonic only confirmed for a release on Nintendo Systems (Sonic Advance for Game Boy Advance, and the port of Sonic Adventure 2 for GameCube), and many other Sega games, like the only RPG Phantasy Star Online ver.2 helping to add some validity to Nintendo’s Network plans, Sega seems to be giving Nintendo the boost where they need it most.

Nintendo has always had trouble with the older audience. They won a lot of gamers back with GoldenEye, and the semi-sequel, Perfect Dark, but with three Mario Party games, Paper Mario (albeit one of the best RPG’s released last year), and the newly redefined Zelda for GameCube, Nintendo’s image is still one of a company aiming for the kids. Which isn’t a bad thing that is where the money comes from. Sure older games do have more money, but they are more choosy on what they want to spend the little money they have left after bill and taxes. Younger games see something they like, and will proceed to but their parents until that fresh new toy is in their arms. Sega would bring a whole new audience to the Nintendo platforms. A place were not only the causal gamer can find a place to play, but the hardcore gamer can continue on the trend that Sega started with the Genesis, Saturn, and Dreamcast.

Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation2 are systems for the older gamers, and will have a huge install base because of the types and quantity of games they offer. With Nintendo and Sega on the same system (even though Sega develops for the other two systems as well), Nintendo has a huge advantage of having even more well known games and recognizable characters, and a friendly environment in which have their system housed.

Sega will prove to be a valuable ally in the upcoming console war, that was too big for four systems, and with three remaining, it’s every man, women, and gamer for his or herself.

-- BeckerManEX (beckermanex@sm128c.com)