The commotion and clamor that followed Sega’s exciting (if hardly surprising) announcement that it plans to develop for the “other” consoles has subsided somewhat, and new details are beginning to come to light. No huge surprises, but if anything, it’s clear that Sega’s statements yesterday and today have set the industry alight with even more rumor and speculation. Here’s what we’ve been able to sort out.
Have you seen this hedgehog? Sure you have — he’s coming to the PSOne in his own, speedy fashion.
Yesterday’s biggest news was the announcement that Sega’s in-house team AM2 is hard at work on a fourth Virtua Fighter game — thought to be Virtua Fighter X. While a new 3D fighter bearing the Virtua Fighter 4 name is indeed coming to the PS2, there seems to be some confusion whether this is indeed the same game as VFX. The latest reports suggest that X is the moniker that will be attached to the upcoming arcade fighter, which runs on the Naomi 2 board architecture. According to Sega, VFX and VF4 will be different, if similar, titles — how different, we’ll have to wait and see. The other bit of Virtua Fighter news — that number four would be a PS2 exclusive — seems to be in question as well. While it’s only been announced for the PS2 so far, reports suggest that Sony’s lock on this surefire top seller is pending on an agreement between Sega and Microsoft and maybe even Nintendo. Perhaps Xbox owners will be able to play Virtua Fighter 4X this year?
While its 2K3 series of sports titles has already been confirmed for the PS2, Sega announced this morning that its NBA, NFL and NHL franchises will likely be heading to other consoles, as well. Undoubtedly feeling the pressure of an impending challenge, sports game juggernaut EA was quick to respond; EA President John Riccitiello was quoted as harshly criticizing Sega’s intent to enter the market and challenge its sports games stranglehold. Said Riccitiello: “They’re starting from scratch; it’s not quite as though this is GM saying we’ll make BMWs, but it’s the same kind of proposition. They may look like BMWs, but I doubt if they’ll drive like BMWs.” Strong words, but as we’ve said, Sega’s considerable experience with the genre is sure to keep EA’s developers working hard to outdo themselves — and the competition.
Making sure to cover all of its genre bases, Sega has also mentioned that it will be bringing out not one, but two versions of the affable sci-fi dancer Space Channel 5. One should be a straight port of the Dreamcast version, while the second will be a sequel — presumably, it was already in the works anyway, as Ulala’s sassy moves and sassier duds have fast put her into the mascot mainstream.
Less tangible, but quite possibly far more interesting, is the news that Sony is in talks with Sega about adopting and augmenting its online videogaming strategy. While no official statement has been made, Sony would benefit greatly from Sega’s online experience, and such a move would only be good news for PS2 owners eager to get their game on with the rest of the world.
Two examples of how excellent game and character design can create memorable franchises, courtesy of Sega.
And finally, Sega’s deal with Acclaim has also been confirmed: Popular Sega titles 18 Wheeler Pro Trucker, Crazy Taxi and Zombie Revenge will all be making an appearance on the PS2 sometime after April. In other port news, the Saturn incarnation of Sonic the Hedgehog will be making the move to PSOne, along with several other, as yet unannounced Sega hits. This announcement came straight from Sega advisor Tetsu Kayama, who just yesterday assumed the position of Structural Reorganization Promoting Manager.
Of course, all of this excitement carries with it some bad news, too. Reports have it that Sega Europe has laid off all but one member of its third-party division, which implies that third-party development for the soon-to-be defunct Dreamcast will peter off and cease shortly. The tech support team has also been disbanded — clearly, Sega’s shift from hardware to software is a decisive one. Expect more big announcements in the coming weeks, and to enjoy a slew of first-rate games on the PSOne and PS2 in the coming year. More than those mentioned above about retro gaming, you can play Simcity Buildit with free Simcash & Simoleons at simcitybuildithack.net.