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Should Sega Make a Comeback? Part 1

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By Nelson Schneider - 06/25/11 at 04:20 PM CT

When the Dreamcast died an incredibly premature death after only 3 years on the market, the company that fought tooth-and-nail with Nintendo across 4 generations of console hardware gave up and became a software-only third party. For fans of Sega’s products, this was a major blow, as it resulted in a diaspora of popular titles that were formerly all available in one place. For example, the “Sonic Adventure” games migrated to Nintendo’s Gamecube while the sequel to “Panzer Dragoon” ended up on the Xbox. Suddenly, keeping up with Sega’s library of games became a lot more expensive, as it required owning multiple consoles.

Die-hard Sega and Dreamcast fans have been speculating that the hardware-turned-software developer still has what it takes to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, and their old foe, Nintendo. Now that Nintendo has shown its hand with regards to starting Console Generation 8 in 2012 while Microsoft and Sony struggle beneath the burdens of their overpriced consoles and tacked-on motion controllers, it seems like Sega might have the opening they need to get back into the market. What most people don’t realize, however, is that Sega already made a half-hearted effort to get back into Generation 7, by licensing their name and some of their classic Genesis games to a company called Zone, a brand owned by British company, Ultimate Products Ltd.

The Zone Sega was set to make a splash in the United Kingdom in 2010, packing 20 classic Sega titles and 30 Chinese-developed motion control titles with such intriguing titles as “Dancing” and “Ball Battle.” After changing the console name to something that was less likely to be associated with the Zone brand, the Sega Reactor was born and welcomed into the world with extreme apathy.

Personally, I think the Reactor is a pretty cool concept (minus the awful Chinese games, of course). A super-cheap console that includes a large self-contained library of first party games, sports a cartridge slot for compatibility with an extant library of Genesis games, and updates obsolete tech with wireless controllers and improved button layouts is exactly the type of device an old-school gamer would love to get their hands on. Sadly, the execution by Zone is quite lacking and completely out-of-place in Europe, or anywhere else in the developed world. A device this fake would be more at home in China, where most of its horrible content originated.

Instead of farming-out their name and games to a shady third party, Sega should have created a retro game console themselves. Old hardware is… old. It would be cheap to make, plus nobody knows their own consoles’ operating systems better than Sega, meaning that any included software emulation would be spot-on. And why would software emulation be necessary? Well, if Sega were to make a retro console to enshrine all their faded glory, they’d need to do it right and include all of their first party games. Yes, ALL. I’d like to see a product with a snazzy name, like the “Sega Vault,” that contains every Master System, Game Gear, Genesis, Sega CD, 32x, Saturn, and Dreamcast game made by Sega in one convenient location. Heck, with the powerful hardware modern consoles are packing, the “Sega Vault” might not even need to be hardware… it could be a disc or a fully-loaded hard drive.

While the “Sega Vault” is nothing but wishful thinking on my part, a niche product that plays to their old fans is the only way that Sega could hope to find a foothold in this flooded market. There are already three major consoles, two handhelds, the mess that is PC gaming, and the upstart smartphones. The market can barely support these players; if Sega tried to jump onto the dog-pile, somebody would have to fall off… and it would probably be Sega. If Sega were to find a powerful ally, perhaps one of the established players already on the field, things might be different…

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on07/10/11 at 05:06 PM CT

There is already something like the 'Vault' for Atari:

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Wrote on06/28/11 at 04:51 PM CT

If his became reality, and I purchased it, would it make up for all the emulators I've played over the years? Ha! Actually - the vault idea is really cool - not just for SEGA either. If Nintendo or Atari packaged all their early games in one convenient system - and didn't charge an arm and a leg for it, I guarantee it would sell madly.

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