WHILE most gamers assume the name Sega has some deep Japanese meaning, it’s in fact a portmanteau of Service Games – a coin-op company formed in the shadow of the Second World War by an American businessman keen to lighten the wallets of troops fighting overseas.
By the start of the 1990s, Sega bestrode the gaming world like a colossus, taking the fight to Nintendo by selling over 30 million Mega Drives. By the decade’s end, though, the company was staring down bankruptcy after its final console, the Dreamcast, shifted a mere three million units.
Yet Sega’s back catalogue of brilliance still holds a place in the greasy hearts of older gamers, who yearn for a return to the glory days. This year’s reboot of Sonic was a start, but after living high off the hog for many a year, Sega is finally planning to dust off the classics for a new generation.
At the company’s end-of-year management meeting, Sega revealed plans to develop big-budget reboots of long-dormant bangers Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Golden Axe, Shinobi and Streets of Rage.
Already a year into development, Crazy Taxi will offer “innovative and fresh style driving action” mixed with the “fusion of nature and city”.
A coin-chomping classic, Crazy Taxi cast players as a cabbie taking to the mean streets in the name of customer service, chasing as many fares as possible by laughing in the face of oncoming traffic, careering down one-way streets and carving up a virtual city with neither thought nor care for safety.
And, while Sega’s yellow cab is beginning to show some MoT-worrying mileage these days, fans of the original are likely to rack up plenty of time on the meter in the reboot.
“A muscular man, a woman and a dwarf” may sound like the start of a smutty joke (or something deleted from my search history), but this trio starred in 1989′s classic fantasy brawler - a time when the best arcade games saw players teaming up with their mates and knocking seven shades out of everyone who looked at you cock-eyed.
But, unlike Double Dragon and Final Fight, Golden Axe swapped stonewashed denim for loincloths in a medieval beatdown. Hell, you could even ride around on dragons.
Here’s hoping for a God of War-style reboot that offers more than simple clobbering violence.
Jet Set Radio
Released on the Dreamcast in 2000, JSR’s dystopian punk antics had players roaming a gorgeous cel-shaded Tokyo, rail-grinding, dodging cops and tagging the environment.
For the reboot, Sega says you’ll “make friends, increase your fans, and create a movement” – and I’ve created plenty of those since Christmas dinner.
Back in the heyday of chop-sockery, Shinobi was the only game in town. With its onslaught of shuriken-wielding ninjas and incredible (for the time) visuals, 1987′s arcade behemoth featured Joe Musashi rescuing his students from a crime syndicate.
Brought kicking and punching into the modern age, here’s hoping its reboot captures the vicious spirit of 80s coin-guzzlers.
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage: Revolution is the new title for Sega’s beloved side-scrolling beat ‘em up where butt-kicking dudes and dudettes take on society’s ills, conveniently finding roast chickens behind bins before boss fights.
Sega had better not tinker with that legendary soundtrack.
While Sega’s glory days feel like an age ago, this quintet of classics is huge news for gamers who survived the 90s, and though release dates are still up in the air, expect a drip-feed over the next two years.