Despite the accusations of creative bankruptcy it elicits towards those who work in the media in question (“Hollywood doesn’t have any new ideas! WAAAAAHHHHH!”), remakes (or reboots or whatever) aren’t always a bad thing. In the world of videos games, there’s a number of good reasons to return to a property. A game on a previous console may have been too ambitious for the time – the technology of a newer console could allow the original idea to be fleshed out more efficiently. It could be that a game could have been well received and, yet, maybe didn’t sell well enough to warrant a sequel at the time. Or, maybe it did and, for one reason or another, a sequel just never got made. Or, maybe, it just sounds like fun.
Back in September, we took a look at some NES games that we’d love to see either remade or get a sequel to and Cincinnati Todd also shared a list of games he wanted to see redone. Keeping with the theme, we decided to go system specific once again, this time jumping over to Sega’s side of the 16-Bit Wars. The Sega Genesis (or Megadrive for our readers in Europe and the rest of the world) had a number of cool, exclusive games that either haven’t had a second look on newer consoles or they have and they just sucked.
So, here’s 5 Genesis games that we’d like to see someone give a second chance to.
5. Ecco The Dolphin – Originally Released July 29, 1993
Having the title of “Gaming’s Most Famous Dolphin” may be akin to being Somalia’s Best Ice Hockey Player, but that’s not to say that Ecco didn’t have an influence on the world of games. With smooth controls, an interesting back story and content appropriate for players of all ages, Ecco The Dolphin proved to be a hit all over the world. Three follow-up games were made, the last being Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future for the Dreamcast (and eventually the Playstation 2) as well as re-release of the original game via Xbox Live, Wii’s Virtual Console and Steam.
So, with such a simple concept and (like Castlevania before it) game play that works better in 2D than 3D, how could a series like Ecco benefit from the latest generation of consoles? Simple: networking. Imagine an entire world, undersea, populated by hundreds of players, all taking the role of dolphins, sharks, whales, squids and other oceanic denizens? An Ecco MMORPG with console controls. Rather than “clans” you have “schools” or “pods”. Not only could you create a whole different type of online world, but you could also take the opportunity to educated gamers of all types about undersea biology.
4. Beyond Oasis – Originally Released March 15, 1995
As true back in the mid-90s as it is now, if you’re going to emulate (or, if you prefer, rip-off) any game, it may as well be The Legend of Zelda. Beyond Oasis was one of those titles but, thankfully, it did it well. The game followed Prince Ali who, when not doing whatever it is a prince does, travels the world looking for treasure. During one of these many quests, he discovered a golden armlet that allows him to control spirits related to the elements of water, fire, plants and shadow (the last two I suppose are elements? Whatever. It’s a game). As you would expect, he needs to go on a quest and use said armlet to fight evil.
A prequel, The Legend of Oasis (speaking of derivative), was released for the Sega Saturn the following year, but it wasn’t very good and no one liked it and, since then, that’s the last we’ve seen of the franchise. Using the capabilities of the current (or even upcoming) generation of consoles, the foundation is there for a really cool 3D action/RPG hybrid. Players could travel the land, collecting elements – upgrading them, combining them and creating their own spells. Players could create these spells using what they’ve found in the campaign mode and then carry them over to an online multiplayer mode.
I know that doesn’t sound like anything revolutionary – because it’s really not – but I felt, even at the time, that Beyond Oasis was merely scratching the surface of what it was capable of, both in terms of storytelling and game play, and I’d love to see it get another look.
3. Eternal Champions – Originally Released August 14, 1993
One of the highlights of the “16-bit Wars” between Nintendo and Sega was seeing all the hubbub regarding each console’s version of both Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Since each company had a version of each game for their respective system, they both decided they needed an original fighting game IP to draw fighting games to their system. Nintendo teamed up with Rare to create Killer Instinct, which was both a hit at home as well as the arcades. Sega, on the other hand, went in-house and created their own title, Eternal Champions.
The plot revolved around a celestial being who has discovered that, due to certain individuals being killed before their time, humanity would soon be erased from existence. In a plan that makes perfect sense and isn’t ridiculous at all, this being has taken these individuals and has placed them in a fighting tournament, allowing the winner to prevent their death and change the course of history. The characters in the game were all decided upon using focus groups. None of the characters are actually “evil” and killing your opponent (known as “Overkills”, similar to Mortal Kombat’s “Fatalities”) is simply an added feature to the game and not a part of the game’s story.
The video game world isn’t, by any means, experience a lack of fighting games. However, while Eternal Champions wasn’t exactly stellar, it had a cool concept behind it, with its historical elements and unique character design. Considering what Sega has been throwing what money they have left towards these days, perhaps a next-gen version of Eternal Champions could be considered as well.
2. Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude – Originally Released in 1992
In the late 80s/early 90s, it wasn’t enough for game companies to make fun, easily accessible games on a console that was reasonably priced. No, sir. They also had to have a mascot. Nintendo already had that covered in Mario, who I’m sure I don’t need to introduce you to.
Sega, on the other hand, tried their damnedest to come up with their own signature character, as I’m sure they deduced that not having one was the one and only reason the NES was outselling their Master System (“Come on! It even has MASTER in its name! Surely it should be selling way more than this!”). However, attempts such as Alex Kidd and Kid Chameleon (I’m sure over “kid” names were tossed around, as well) failed to catch on and eventually, the 8-bit era came and went with no established “Face of Sega”.
Before Sega finally hit the nail on the head with Sonic the Hedgehog, they have Greendog a try. As the title suggests, Greendog was a laid back surfer who found himself stranded on a deserted island. Not just any deserted island, though – this one is in an alternate dimension! Because of course it is. Unfortunately, Sega spent more time in creating the character than they did an interesting game to put him in and, as you can probably guess based on the lack of Greendog related merchandise at Hot Topic, he never caught on.
Since then, there have been a number of well-made games set in both jungle/island settings as well as alternate universes. Why not bring the character back in a third-person adventure title and, while we’re at it, let’s throw in some surfing and tongue-in-cheek early 90s Sega references? I can’t really think of any reason not to. Well, OK, maybe I can think of a few, but still…
1. TIE – The Revenge of Shinobi – Released December 2, 1989 and Toejam & Earl – Released 1991
I simply couldn’t think of a Number One With a Bullet (or, in this case, tomato or ninja star) when it came to choosing between either of these franchises. Both were awesome, both spawned sequels and both were uniquely Sega.
The Revenge of Shinobi may not have been the first game in the series (That distinction goes to Shinobi, which hit arcades in 1987 a full year before it came to households that owned a Master System), but it was the first on the Genesis and that’s what matters here. Ninjas (whether they were the mutated amphibian sort or not) were all the rage in the 80s and 90s and you didn’t get much more “ninja” than Shinobi. Whether he was cutting up assailants in a bamboo forest or siccing his loyal dog on them to going toe-to-toe against Spider-Man and Batman (not officially but, yeah), few other ninjas – including Ninja Gaiden‘s Ryu Hayabusa - could out-ninja Joe Musashi.
A reboot was attempted in 2002 on the Playstation 2, once again under the name Shinobi. It was modestly successful enough to warrant a sort-of sequel (2003’s Nightshade) but didn’t even come anywhere near as close to the success that the Ninja Gaiden relaunch in the Xbox had two years later. Still, there’s always room for another well-made, action packed ninja game and the name Shinobi still carries a lot of weight with gamers. I’d personally love to see the folks at Rockstar behind Max Payne 3 get their hands on this license and awesome it up the way only they know how.
Toejam & Earl, on the other hand, was successful at the time almost in spite of itself. Two aliens from the planet Funkatron (yep. Funkatron) have crashed landed on Earth (which is, for some reason, a series of islands floating in space, for some reason) and need to find the scattered pieces of their spacecraft in order to go home. Not only was this game loaded with weird, it was loaded with early 90s slang and culture, with a funk influenced soundtrack to our heroes spouting 90s hip-hop slang everywhere they went.
Our funky alien pals came back in a sequel, 1993’s Panic on Funkatron, which kept the weirdness but switched to 2D side-scrolling, and a level in the Genesis light gun title Menacer (entitled Ready, Aim, Tomatoes!). Sega gave them one more shot with Toejam & Earl III: Mission to Earth in 2002 (oddly enough, the same year as the Shinobi reboot). It was originally developed for the Dreamcast and then the Nintendo 64 before it ended up on the original Xbox. It didn’t meet a particularly stellar reception either critically or commercially and there hasn’t been an original TJ&E game since.
It’s possible that Toejam & Earl were a product of their (albeit limited) time, but with the success of Braid, Limbo and other less conventional (i.e. weird) games through the independent marketplace and advances in technology, it’s possible an indy-style TJ&E game could, once again, make an impact.
What about you? What Genesis games that have been lost to the mists of time would you like to see reemerge? Comments. Below.