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SEGA - How did you make it this far?

There is a lot of love for Sega. The company has had a very scattered history in the video game market. So the other day I started thinking about what I would do if I were in complete control at Sega to bring the company back to it's former glory. I thought about how epic it would be if Sega got back into the console market. Right around now would be the time. Historically now would be the time we would be seeing a new generation of all the consoles. However the market has changed, the power required to give new features is driving the price of consoles and hardware through the roof. Most companies will be stretching this life cycle out as long as possible before trying to convince consumers to buy another new system. How great would it be if Sega came from out of no where with a new system, matched with an amazing launch line up. Sonic 5 a top quality 2D platformer packed with every system on the hard drive. Phantasy Star 5, a massive RPG tying in with the characters of Phantasy Star 1 and 2. Shinobi, a new 3D stealth action game based on the gameplay of Tenchu and Metal Gear. Alex Kidd, a 3D Platformer with puzzle elements borrowing heavily from Mario gameplay. Space Harrier, a new FPS with some unexpected twists. Shenmu 3, Fantasy Zone a space shooter. As this dream got bigger and bigger I realized how many fantastic franchises Sega owns. So what would it really take to make Sega one of the big dogs again? Then it hit me. They need to make good games. I owned a Master System and a Nes back in the 80s. I also owned a Genesis and a Super Nintendo. Even though both systems had way more style than Nintendo's offerings, the games were never as good. In my mind I wanted them to be. I gave them more than a fair shot. But looking back now I must confess the gameplay of most the Sega games barely compared to the big hits on the NES and SNES. I just recently purchased Sega Genesis compilation for my PSP. There are a few games on there I really love. As I play through the rest and even some I loved as a child (this means you Altered Beast) I realized Sega releases some really crappy games. Even most the games I have played recently on the Wii have all been sub par. So that's what it will take to get Sega back at the table. A really good team of programmers and developers making the franchises everyone loves, worth playing.

The Threat of the Casual Gamer

The power of Nintendo. First they get thousands of grown adults to feel comfortable talking about playing with their Wii's together. Then they invent an entire new subgendre of a stereo type, the casual gamer. As this term became more and more popular there seemed to be an almost territorial anger amongst other gamers. For some reason the idea of their moms, and grandpa's, and sisters, and aunts playing games didn't seem to great to them. Then in what I considered to be the greatest injustice of all I found more and more journalists labeling games that didn't follow the normal protocol as games for "casual gamers." Their implication was that these games wouldn't be interesting to other gamers. Games like Endless Ocean would be swept under the rug because it wasn't normal. In a market flooded with clones, sequels, and FPS's, something new and different should be a breath of fresh air. This whole idea of casual gaming posing some great threat to gaming just seemed very odd to me. However, after playing Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Kart Wii, I have now found the true threat to gaming that the casual gaming market poses. It seems as though Nintendo feels some deep need to tone the difficulty of their games way down, so everyone can play them. What ever happened to the idea that a game should be easy to play, but hard to beat? While both Mario Galaxy and Mario Kart have stellar gameplay, the decrease in difficulty left me feeling way less satisfied when the experience was over. Sure its a real challenge to get every star in Galaxy. Yes, on-line play is as hard as you would expect it to be in Mario Kart. Beating a game used to feel like an accomplishment. Now with these latest Nintendo titles, it just feels like your walking through the motions.