Thursday, April 3, 2008

SE-GA! Where did you SE-GO!?

Finally, Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out, and the hype has finally started to die down. The game is selling record numbers for Nintendo currently, and its no doubt that the title will become a must have for years to come. Much hype was pumped up into this game, anticipated for more than 3 years and delayed more than once. Amongst the buzz, rumors of certain characters swirled dominantly as names such as Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog were thrown around. When it finally was confirmed that Sonic was a secret character, the internet literally imploded. Super Smash Bros. Brawl easily became a must have classic. That's when it got me to think.

Since when can Sega's former rival Nintendo, get more hype and anticipation out of Sonic than Sega can?

Since I came up with that revelation, I pondered effortlessly everyday to come down to a conclusion. I simply couldn't. I've been trying to answer the question that Sega fans have had for years. What went wrong Sega!? Where have you gone?!

Before I continue on, I want to make this clear that growing I up I always had a spot for Nintendo. I've always been a Nintendo guy. Everybody on my block thought Sega was the coolest system to play, while me and my brother's friend were the only cats who were hooked on the Super Nintendo. Don't get me wrong, I loved Sega Genesis too, but I was always a Nintendo guy and still am till this day.

That being said, I think I can ask the question, what happened Sega!? What happened to the company that came up with the cooler alternative to Mario's hop and bop adventures? What happened to all of those gutsy commercials that claimed that Sega does what Nintendon't? (What happened to all of the cool commercials in general for that matter? That's a different blog for a different day.)

Coming from a Ninty guy, I remember that Sega was able to counter almost everything Nintendo threw at them, sometimes it would just take a little longer. The SNES had Squaresoft (at the time) and their marvelous RPGs they would so often crank out. Sega would pump out their own RPGs in the vein of Phantasy Star and would go on to make four of them.

They even countered Super Mario Kart with some FX Chip style game whose name escapes me at this moment.

For their Donkey Kong Country, Sega had Vectorman. Their version of Mortal Kombat had blood while Nintendo did not. Madden was always popular on the Genesis, and even some say the superior version of Street Fighter II.

So I guess the big (rhetorical) question here is what did Sega do to screw up their half of the video game market? I bet all of you younger gamers out there always assumed that Sega was always a typically mediocre third party developer. And its not your fault for assuming that. With the upcoming release of two new Sonic games that yield a nasty trend of being less than mediocre and the already sub-par Sega Superstar Tennis, its hard for one to think otherwise.

I think its widely known that Sega practically jumped the shark with their excess of ad on attachments for the Sega Genesis (known as the Mega Drive outside the United States). I mean, its quite outlandish to release the 32X within such close range of the Sega Saturn.

But the surprise release of the Sega Saturn during E3?! Really, Sega? Why release a system where NO ONE is prepared to purchase it and no developers have games available for it? That's pretty much the poison tipped nail in the coffin. Except replace the word "coffin" with "heart" and you'll see what I mean. Read on.

Okay, so the Saturn didn't get the success they hoped for. Its alright because Sega had their ace in the hole. They had a second a chance. The Sega Dreamcast was to arrive! The world's first commercial 128-Bit system was to hit shores. Sega would claim their spot as the King of Kings!

At least, that's what they thought, and every diehard fanatic. (Myself included.) For some bizarre reason, the Dreamcast failed to live up to its own hype. Not because of it being inferior. Not because it was a disappointment of colossal proportions. It was a darn good system and it was well ahead of its time. Maybe it was because of all the negative vibe it contracted from the Saturn that floated over. Or perhaps it was the imminent release of the PS2 that changed the mind of the gamer. We've already seen what happens when a system's reputation carries over to the next generation. And the PS1 proved to be a juggernaut. There was no calculating how much damage the PS2 would do to Sega.

The rest is history.

And I also think the theme of this post is quite obvious. Sega had an ego. A gigantic ego. You could see it in their commercials and even the way they did business. Its not a bad thing to flaunt a little pride. Going toe to toe with your greatest rival has got to make your head swell with pride at some point after all, and I think they deserve that acclaim. Little did they know it would cause them to make some of the biggest blunders in gaming history. Those blunders being the reasons I mentioned earlier.

So to answer my own question, where did Sega go? Half of the kind folks who worked for Sega now work elsewhere, and the other half has been merged with Sammy, another company. Sega is practically a shell of its former self. You see them trying to hype a game up, but many remain skeptic. Somewhere, deep in their heart they ask the same question even though they know the answer to it.

Sega? Where did you go? This isn't the same company I remember.

Sadly, they're 50% right.


Anonymous said...

This is the truth. Sega just could not handle the flood of competitors entering the gaming market. To me it just exists as a brand. pour some out for jet grind radio.