Saturday, June 04, 2016

In honor of the company's 56th anniversary, here are five of my favorite Sega games

Although the company that eventually became Sega first opened its doors 76 years ago (as Standard Games), it didn't change its moniker to the one millions of people around the world know and love until 20 years later--as of yesterday, in fact.

Which means, of course, the renowned game developer and publisher--not to mention former console maker--just celebrated the 56th anniversary of its existence.

To honor that fact, I thought I'd whip up a blog post about some of my all-time favorite Sega titles. Strangely, perhaps, a couple of them weren't actually made by any of the brilliant people employed by the Tokyo-based firm. They were playable on a wide range of its hardware, though, and that's enough for me.

Final Bubble Bobble (Master System)--How could I include a simple home port of Taito's classic, dino-starring quarter-muncher on a list such as this? Well, for starters, this is no simple port. Consider that the Famicom (or NES, if you wish) port of Bubble Bobble, as grand as it is, is a pale imitation of the original in the audio and visual departments. This Sega-published iteration is far truer to the arcade version in both areas. Plus, its box sports an absolutely top-shelf cover illustration. Add to that the fact that Final Bubble Bobble's controls are just as butter-smooth as those found in its counterparts and you've got a cartridge that more than deserves this celebratory nod.

Shining Force (Genesis)--I know many will say this strategy RPG's sequels are better in almost every imaginable way, but the original is the only one that's earned a piece of precious real estate within my heart. As for why that is, one reason is it served as my introduction to the genre. Another is that, even today, its focused, streamlined nature feels like a breath of fresh air when compared to the bulk of the more convoluted SRPGs that came before it and, especially, followed in its footsteps. Finally, there's Yoshitaka Tamaki's gorgeous character and enemy designs and illustrations. I mean it when I say they defined Japanese gaming for me as a youngster.

Madou Monogatari I (Game Gear)--Sega may not have developed this adorable dungeon-crawler (the folks at Compile took care of that task), but the company most certainly published it. Even if that weren't the case, though, I'd include the initial Madou Monogatari game in this write-up simply because it's so damn cute. And fun. And a welcome reprieve for someone--like me--who usually finds this sort of thing mind-numbingly boring. (I prefer the first Madou Monogatari to the other three that were ported to the Game Gear, by the way, due to the fact that--no joke--the sprite of its protagonist, Arle, looks less wonky here than it does in the series' later titles.)

Saturn Bomberman (Saturn)--Singling out one Bomberman title as being better than the others isn't a simple task, as nearly all of the games published between, say, the first PC Engine offering and this 1996 release are well worth playing, in my opinion. Still, there's no question in my mind Saturn Bomberman is the best of the bunch. Its graphics are the most colorful and detailed of all the series' sprite-based entries, and its stages sprawl in a surprisingly satisfying manner. Admittedly, its soundtrack is a bit of a head-scratcher, but I'd hardly describe it as bad. At any rate, this is one of those titles that can suck up a big chunk of your free time without you realizing it--a sure sign of a great game, wouldn't you agree?

Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast)--I've played and loved a lot of Sega-made Dreamcast games over the years, but I come back to this one more than any other. Which is understandable, as its star, the candy-coifed Ulala, is quite a charmer, and its soundtrack is stuffed with tunes that basically force you to tap your foot (if not wiggle your tush). I guess some might say its Simon-esque gameplay is on the simplistic side, but you won't hear me complaining about that aspect of Space Channel 5. After all, I'd rather play a straightforward music game (Nintendo's Rhythm Tengoku is another perfect example) than an overly complicated one any day.

Now that I've had my say on this matter, what are your favorite games that were made by Sega, published by Sega or simply created for Sega hardware?

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