Tagged: SEGA

Weekend Writing: About Sega’s 60th, Free Games and Game Preservation.

Rarely do I ever write about things as they’re happening. Often times I’m behind the curve and write about things after the fact. But this particular post felt so time-sensitive that I needed to push back another post that was gonna be hitting this week to write about this. I’m gonna talk about freebie games and the importance of game preservation.

Sega is doing a special event to celebrate their 60th anniversary as a company. Called “GO SEGA,” it’s a Steam sale that discounts many of the publisher’s games. From their PC breakouts like the Total War, Company of Heroes and Football Manager franchises, to established classics like Sonic the Hedgehog and Yakuza. Hell, you can even get NiGHTS into Dreams… for free. (I heard this version is not as good as the Saturn original, but Good Enough for most people.)

This may look like a dinky mobile game, but I appreciate anyone remaking Combat even in 2020.

In addition to this sale, they’re releasing some free games. A top-down tank battle game based on Company of Heroes called Armor of Heroes. A mashup of Fantasy Zone and Endless Space called Endless Zone. A mashup of Streets of Rage 2 and Yakuza called Streets of Kamurocho. And finally, a polished prototype for a Golden Axe reboot called Golden Axed that ended up getting a bit of notoriety since some of the developers on that project, Tim Dawson and Sanatana Mishra, were surprised their unfinished hard work was being given away for free. (You can read both Dawson’s and Mishra’s Twitter threads about their involvement in the game. It highlights how even on unfinished work like this, that crunch culture is prevalent.)

Fun fact: I’ve never played Fantasy Zone. If this crossover is any indication, I’d have a real hard time enjoying it.

Those all sound neat, right? Free games inspired by Sega’s established franchises are always a neat little thing. Well, here’s the catch: They’re all only available for a few days, with them releasing a new game each day. (As of this writing, Streets of Kamurocho has just been released.) After October 19th, they’re gone for good, making them unable to be downloaded once the sale’s over.

So you’re probably asking: why are you so concerned? It’s free stuff for a promotional sale, it’s stuff that isn’t gonna blow people’s minds or anything. “You should be grateful they’re even giving out free stuff!” you might say. That’s a terrible line of thinking, and let me explain why.

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Sega Swirl: The puzzle game time forgot.

Sega in the late 1990s to early 2000s was a weird time, at least here in the United States. After bungling the Sega Saturn, there seemed to be some hope for the company with the blue hedgehog as they released the Sega Dreamcast in 1999, being a modestly successful system. But then Sony’s PlayStation 2 came out the following years and steamrolled over all competition, forcing Sega to abandon games console production and go into full-time game publishing instead. As time rolls on, the Dreamcast era seems to be more fondly remembered, alongside many of the games that came with it. But there’s one game Sega heavily pushed during this era, one that has been slowly forgotten to time.

While Sega was mostly known in the console space, they did have a middling PC division during those years. Most of them ports of legacy games like Sonic & Knuckles Collection, but there was one game they released around 2000 that was a unique, interesting idea. It was a game that would absolutely dominate my middle school years in terms of its simplicity and fun factor.

What the heck kind of company is

What the heck kind of company is “Sega of America Dreamcast” anyway?

Introducing Sega Swirl, a fairly simple puzzle game released by Sega, loosely inspired by the Dreamcast logo swirl. This came out as a freeware game from around 1999-2000, and while the title screen is incredibly basic, there’s a lot more to it than you think.

The swirls almost look like colored cinnamon rolls. Damn, now I’m hungry.

The gameplay is fairly simple: You’re given a grid of swirl colors, and your goal is to find groups of colored swirls for points. Removing them shrinks the playfield down, making it easy to build up combos. However, removing a single swirl will result in you losing points. In the standard “Level mode,” you must complete five goals to finish the stage, thus chaining swirls together for massive points is the end goal. It’s a fairly simple game, but still fun even in spite of its basic looks.

A shame this came out in 2000, before esports were a thing. I would totally watch a Sega Swirl tournament.

There’s also a Versus mode, where up to four competitors start taking enemy swirls for massive points. The goal is to knock your opponents out by eliminating that player’s swirls from the field. Like before, clicking a single swirl makes you lose points, but since your goal is to eliminate your opponent, it’s a good strategy to grab one swirl just to knock them out of the game faster. It’s a fun, competitive mode.

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2003’s Sega Hot Wheels, featuring your favorite Sega properties.

Back in late 2012, I wrote about Hot Wheels cars featuring iconic Atari brands. The cars featured were based on the 3-4 existing brands Atari already have milked dry but on rather dubious car brands. At the end of that post, I had mentioned that I also had some other Hot Wheels based on a video game brand, and that I’d get around to writing about them someday once I completed the set. Well, that time is now because I finally completed the whole set.

Hot Wheels cars were quite a fascination to me when I was younger. I grew up in the age of the wacky race tracks and those automated machines that moved the cars at high speeds. It was quite an entertaining toy, and naturally I ended up grabbing a bunch of them over the years.

When I bought the Atari Hot Wheels back in 2012, I wasn’t really expecting to have another set to complete. Since I had three out of the five, I thought it was a fairly easy goal to attain. After all, unless it’s from the 80s or earlier, the more recent cars don’t really have high demand, and thus are easy to snatch up for a few bucks each. After all, the Atari Hot Wheels only cost me $12.

But enough rambling, let’s take a look at the cars themselves:

So many interesting games to make as cars…

Much like the previous set I covered, these are all cars based on various Hot Wheels car lines or real cars. These cars give a perfect snapshot of Sega from this period. By this time Sega had already abandoned their console heritage after the Dreamcast floundered, beginning to publish games for their previous rivals the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox.  This was back when they were experimenting with old series frequently and making sequels to Dreamcast titles most people didn’t play originally. Here are the cars in question:

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