As the Sega obsessive among the Mages, I offered to look at three franchises that never made it to 3D on the Sega side of the fence…continuing the countdown that The Well-Red Mage began….
#3 – Alex Kidd
Has there ever been a video game mascot as badly treated as Alex Kidd? Truthfully, Alex was lucky to get to the 16-Bit era, never mind the 3D era. Seen as Sega’s answer to Mario in the mid eighties, Alex started well with Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Miracle World was clearly influenced by Mario, but was a challenging game with enough of it’s own personality to strike a chord with Master System owners. Unfortunately, Sega did a terrible job of following up on the success of Miracle World. We got the childish looking arcade game Alex Kidd and The Lost Stars, the irritating cut and paste job that is Alex Kidd in Hi-Tech World and the awful Mega Drive bastardization of Miracle World, Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle.
Enchanted Castle was the end of Alex Kidd. Sega gave up on Alex soon after and moved on to creating a new mascot, eventually coming up with Sonic. I’m not saying this was the wrong decision (Alex would never have led the Mega Drive to the success of the early 90’s), but Alex Kidd could have still been a decent franchise for Sega. Bar a few cameos, Alex has been persona non grata since 1990’s fun Master System title Alex Kidd in Shinobi World.
Why couldn’t Alex had a 3D game? Much worse franchises (looking at you, Bubsy) jumped on the 3D bandwagon and all sorts of odd new characters were born out of the need to start 3D franchises. Surely the established Alex Kidd had more chance of success in a 3D game than Croc or Gex? A new version of Miracle World in 3D could have been a fantastic game, Sega’s equivalent to Mario 64. Plus, Sega always needed quality IPs, and one that was popular in it’s strongholds (UK, Brazil, Europe, Australia) would surely have helped the Saturn early doors, right?
#2 – Wonder Boy
Where to start with Wonder Boy? I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of really playing the Wonder Boy series – I’ve merely dabbled with the original and Monster Land. However, I know from reputation that it’s a classic franchise and was mystified as to it’s absence from gaming, until last year’s remake of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Surely, a 3D Wonder Boy could have really helped Sega in the Saturn days?
I believe the reason Sega never looked to release a 3D Wonder Boy is the series complex ownership. Sega own the ‘Wonder Boy’ and ‘Monster World’ trademarks, but developer Westone owns the copyrights for each ‘Wonder Boy’ game and can therefore port/license it to anyone they want, providing the Sega trademarks are removed. For example, if a great 3D ‘Wonder Boy’ game was released for the Saturn and Sony wanted a Playstation version, Westone could simply license the game to Sony, who could then release it under a different name. I think Sega, in the mid 90’s anyway, would have preferred to focus on their own homegrown games and not have to deal with licensing agreements. This situation had already happened before in the 80’s with Sega releasing Wonder Boy on the Master System and Hudson Soft releasing the modified Adventure Island on the NES. I’d say the lack of a 3D Wonder Boy isn’t down to a lack of appeal or developer ability, it’s simply due to company politics. I can see Sega’s side of the argument here though – you want to focus on your own games and franchises, not a game that will potentially be on rival platforms too.
#1- Streets of Rage
If you ask most Sega fans which game they would want to see a 3D version of, I reckon 90% of them would say ‘Streets of Rage.’ You don’t need me to explain the history of this franchise. Everyone loves Streets of Rage 2, likes the (underrated, in my opinion) original Streets of Rage and is in awe of the difficult Streets of Rage 3. I’d go as far as to argue Streets of Rage is just behind Sonic as Sega’s most popular franchise.
So, how come Streets of Rage never made it to 3D? Well, it’s reported that Sega did try to make a 3D Streets of Rage game, firstly for the Saturn then for the Dreamcast. The Saturn version was developed by Core, however Sega pulled the Streets of Rage name over Core’s desire to port the game to other formats. Core pressed on with their development however and would eventually release the renamed Fighting Force on the Playstation and PC. I’ve played Fighting Force 64, the enhanced Nintendo 64 port, and I think Sega made the right decision…it’s a bland, sluggish game that lacks the spark of Sega’s franchise.
Ancient (Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshino’s company) had produced a Streets of Rage 4 demo early in the Dreamcast’s lifespan. I reckon that could have been interesting, given Ancient’s pedigree, and would at least have guaranteed some good tunes. My personal theory is that Sega aren’t happy with the proposals for a 3D Streets of Rage and would make a 3D version if it was up to the quality of the franchise. That’s the only explanation I have for there being no new official Streets of Rage game since 1994.
That’s my three picks for games that never made it to 3D on the Sega side – did I miss any games out? If so, please let me know in the comments!