Monday, August 11, 2008

Examining Sega - another viewpoint

Recently at Gamasutra, an interview with Simon Jeffrey was posted. Noting various topics on how the company has changed throughout the years, what's been let go, and how they want to evolve. SEGA's main obstacle is keeping things together, when the Dreamcast was having a fallout over the defense from Sony's PS2; it came to a point Sega could not make it anymore. Fast forward to this year, and the interview, it opens up a window of what they've accomplished, and failed.

- Arcades
SEGA's marketing with the arcades then & now has significantly changed. Along with the market, its become a more expensive listing on how to keep up with consumers. Just few days ago, there was a report of a major loss in playtime with certain titles that received more usage. In the past, they had a nice hold on the market being a publisher, and various titles. But as recent gaming production costs (+ cabinet prices) increase, its getting tougher to stay strong within the arcade business.

- Consoles
When Sega went 3rd party after the Dreamcast's stance faded away, it changed many consumers outlook towards gaming. Since then, some of their titles have varied to positive, and negative reviews. Mostly on the negative level, due to limits, budget, and obstacles with sales. In the past, their titles were pretty clever, creative, colorful and imaginative. Perhaps this is a "fallout" generation, along with Sega; on a rollercoaster to test its limits.

- Sonic
Blue hedgehog, shoes, speed, rings.. and fun gameplay. What happened? "Blast processing" "Sega does what Nintendon't". Many remember the early days, the teasing, and the advertising to test a competitors patience. Which is why Sonic easily resembled Sega's 90's "attitude", since then the mascot has gone down a slope a lot like the user base in gaming.

Sonic the Hedgehog -
The first forerunner in bringing a speedy character, never before seen in videogames.

Sonic the Hedgehog 06 -
Sega's 21 card play, but it didn't quite make the mark they wanted. Publicisized as a title that would revolutionize the series, and give it a fresh start. But upon its release it received heavy criticism for being a complete "hit & miss".

Shenmue -
A first for creating a real-time world that flows with its characters. From Ryo's search for his father's murderer, to putting pieces of his father's heritage together, and future.

Shenmue II -
Taking place a short while after the first entry, Ryo's journey to find more answers continues. Although it tried to push the in-game engine, and take players further. It felt as if it tried to push too hard, repeating itself and making it a trudge instead of an experience many enjoyed with the first game.

Jet Set Radio & Future -
Setting the city ablaze in colors, take part on a mission to spread the word of life in the city. Definitely a pivotal moment for music & graffiti lovers abound. And the music & art design were unforgettable, even though who didn't play the game just knew who the characters were. Both JSR & Future are insane experiences that couldn't have been made by anyone else.

Shifting from Japanese - to Worldwide ideas -
Sega's goal is to reach a bigger audience, and they have over the years. Countless titles sold out huge numbers, or changed everyone's look at game design.
Here are some key examples:
1) Sonic - Never before seen speed in videogames
2) Mortal Kombat's "bloodbath", when Nintendo bowed out to censors, Sega wanted to give its audience the title it was meant to be.
3) Condemend - Takign the step with a new project, and delivering a new type of fear & suspense. Something Eno & his team WARP did years ago, re-envisioned for a new generation.
4) Sonic Unleashed & Chronicles
One is headed by worldwide teams, and the second title is being lead by BioWare (known for its production and creative directing).
5) And much more surprises to come

Sega evolution? We will have to wait and see.

Friday, August 8, 2008

SF IV is on its way! Spreading the word

Here's the deal gang..
(from Masterman Vending)
**SF IV will be @ Narrows Plaza's Bowling (in Tacoma, WA) venue very soon!

- The Cabinet + display should be in within the next week)
- $1.00 for entry
- They won't be able to use the IC cards due to limitations
(note Tekken 6 also would face the same pitfall if it were brought over)
- This will be the international version of the game
- They're planning to use LCD HD monitors to grab everyone's attention
- SF IV may not hit other venues, but a few chosen 4 locations stateside
(*SF IV will be playable @ Kumoricon!)
(*the distributor notes that there could be a location in Edmonton, Canada TBA)
(*It will also be at the Tokyo Game Show - Final Edition?)
(another distributor - Dandy won't comment on plans to even release their items till 6 months)

So spread the word friends SFIV is coming =D

- Plus exclusive info on a special cabinet of SF3 Third Strike is up for sale on Ebay soon
(exclusively from the distributor itself)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bridging the gap - so are we really nextgen? (A look at E308)

"Only the power of the PS3 can deliver nextgen graphics!"
" The 360 pushes games to the next level!"
" Nintendo Wii is fun for the entire family!"

Sure we've read, seen, or heard some advertisement like these. In the past, publishers with public relations on watch, conjured up some clever ideas to promote their company for the public eye. Most will remember "Sega does what Nintendo don't", quoted from a magazine ad back in the 90's. That ad alone grabbed so much attention, even most of us as kids questioned what is with the bully like teasing.

Fast forward to some years later, the PS2 & Sega Dreamcast danced with one another. Of course many know of the Dreamcast's fall, but yet it still continues to thrive; thanks to indie developers. But then on the rebound, the PS2 is still churning out sales. Maybe there's something Sega & Sony haven't told us. Can their consumer market ever let go on their past consoles, and actually buy a PS3?

When the PS3 hit the market, many questioned if there were actual games on the way. Sure there was a mix set of titles; but they didn't deliver something original. Fast forward to this year, Metal Gear Solid 4 took up the mantle and made people notice, yes the PS3 does have games. But E3 showed Sony's shady side, there will be games; yet many will have to wait months to actually play those titles.

Looking at the coming months for the 360, there are some promising titles on the way. Sadly, majority of the said titles are bound to be.. FPS, and a promised RPG no one thought they'd ever see on another system (its bound for multiplatform next year). (you may ask, "Why am I not bringing up the XBL update?) Is it a game, or just a platform? That's a tough one, since Microsoft presented it as a variety of genres. (but will it be a money junkie?)

And for the Wii, we did see ideas, but games? "We're going casual, because they are the audience we want". Hmm, I remember a Nintendo that actually made games for everyone.

Regarding the topic in question, we are in the current gen, just with growing pains. But why the promises, yet no optional gain? Although we're nearly done with this year, there is still games to look forward to, depending with consumer market you may be a part of. However, there is that one obstacle of getting over the rewards, and the letdowns. So far this year has been a mix of both, but who knows maybe it might change.