From the Xbox 360 to the Sony PSP, news about remakes, sequels, and compilations has been pouring forth from Sega and its former third party publishers. In truth, there hasn’t been as great a time to be a Genesis fan since before the console was discontinued. With so much great new information coming forth, there’s plenty to talk about.
In response to all the great Genesis-related news that’s surfaced in the past few months, Sega-16 will henceforth dedicate a monthly column to its discussion. While our forums are a great place for initiating and developing such topics, we feel that our readers won’t necessarily want to wade through pages of topics to find them (you should check out the forums though. There are plenty of great people there!). Yes, it might sound kind of bloggish (is that even a word?) in nature, but there’s definitely material worth touching.
With that in mind, we begin this new series with some questions about two titles whose remakes are M.I.A., the return (sort of) of a beloved franchise, some translations that every Genesis fan should check out, and a must-have collection for the import PS2.
Where or Where Can They Be?
At last year’s E3, Sega announced that Golden Axe would be making a comeback. Two images were released to the public, and nothing has been heard since. Long and hard I’ve scoured Sega’s PR info, as well as all the major news outlets, in search of some iota of new data regarding this highly anticipated release. Despite my best efforts to do Inspector Gadget proud, I came up empty. Developer Secret Level and Sega tempted us with a 2007 release, but with more than half the year gone and the all-important fourth quarter looming, their silence is now deafening. In fact, the latest headline on Secret Level’s website is exactly one year-old today.
I’m hoping for great things with this new Golden Axe. Thing is, it’s hard to get excited over a title about which I know nothing. Perhaps some little tidbit of news will be thrown our way over the summer, but I’d wager that Sega is much too busy with the sequel to NIGHTS for the Wii and Sonic Rush Adventure on the DS to get to it. I pray I’m wrong though. It’s been a whole year that Sega whet our appetites, and it’s about time we got something on the subject.
Speaking of a game lacking news….
Where the hell is the Landstalker remake for the PSP? Even more of a ghost than Golden Axe, this title has all but vanished from the face of the earth, and nothing has been shown of it since IGN released a video of an early build… over a year ago. Has it been moved to another platform? Delayed? Outright cancelled? No one knows, and developer Climax isn’t talking. The official website still gives a spring 2006 release date. That obviously didn’t happen, and my feeling is that the game has been quietly put down.
Ladystalker, which came out in Japan for the Super Famicom (and is getting a fan translation courtesy of the fine folks over at Aeon Genesis) is supposedly coming to the Japanese Virtual Console service for the Wii, but where is Landstalker? As more and more time passes and Climax’s silence continues, things don’t bode well for Nigel’s return.
The Lights Are On at Junker HQ?
My gut recently went on a roller coaster ride this month. I stumbled upon some news that got me desperately excited and then somewhat disappointed, all in the space of a few paragraphs. The source of my indigestion was an IGN article last month that reported that Snatcher was back! Yes, Hideo Kojima has finally gotten sick of Metal Gear Solid (lord knows I have) and has finally decided to revisit one of his most famous games. According to the article, Kojima is teaming up with Suma 51 of Killer 7 fame to work on the mysterious Project S. Great news for Sega CD fans!
Not yet, at least. The downside of that roller coaster ride is that the Snatcher brand is coming back… as a radio drama in Japan. No details have been given on what the story will be about except that it might actually be a prequel to the game, and that the protagonist is Jean Jack Gibson (the guy who Gillian found decapitated in Snatcher). The podcast on Kojima’s website (session thirty-seven) confirms this. Where Gillian himself fits into this is unknown, but you can be sure that he’ll turn up!
It’s still unknown if the Project S releases will even bear the franchise name (Snatchers sounds good to me. Hey, it worked for Aliens), but do you really think it won’t? Radio dramas are still quite popular in Japan, and many animes get one to compliment their stories, so it’s not necessarily odd to see that this would be the first step before developing a whole new game. The brand needs to be refreshed in the minds of modern gamers who may have forgotten it and introduced to the generation that came afterward and might not have experienced it. The podcast leads one to believe that Project S is made up of a few smaller projects, but no game itself has yet been announced. It does mention that an English translation of the radio drama might be forthcoming if there’s enough of a demand for it.
One thing is for sure. Between Kojima and Suma 51, the story is going to be weird, to say the least. I’m still trying to unravel the nearly incoherent mess that was Metal Gear Solid 2, and Killer 7 was definitely mushroom and vodka material. Still, it’s great to see that Snatcher isn’t dead, and I do hope that this is indeed the first step and not just the only one. Hey Konami! Why not give us a little taste by releasing an uncensored version of the original game for any of the current consoles? I’d pay good money for it on Xbox Live Arcade, and I’m sure that Playstation 3 owners would definitely grab it if it showed up at the Playstation Store. C’mon, throw us a bone!
If You Want Something Done Right…
Genesis fans are quite happy with their fan translations of Monster World IV and King Colossus Tougi Ou. Being able to finally enjoy these great games in English is a wonderful thing, but it’s gotten even better. Some time ago, the great guys over at MIJET began working on a slew of Mega Drive translations. They’re all finished now, and you can download the patches for Battle Mania Daignou, Pulseman, and Twinkle Tale. While none of these games are really text-heavy, it’s still nice to be able to understand what the heck’s going on.
My hope is that MIJET will decide to tackle something with a bit more meat on it. I’ve had my fingers crossed for a fan-translated Surging Aura for some time, and they need to make it happen! The current project is in limbo, and it doesn’t look it’s going to find its way back to our dimension any time soon. As one of the major Japanese RPGs that never got localized, Surging Aura is a prime candidate for the MIJET team.
Should MIJET not want to pick up on the stalled project, there’s a metric ton of worthy games waiting for its talents. All one need do is check out our feature on all the great RPGs that got left behind in Japan, and you can see just how much material there is to work with. MIJET’s work so far has been spot-on and very professional, and I’m sure the guys there are more than capable of taking on any one of them.
It’s A Wonder Boy Life
Anyone with a modded PS2 should… no, scratch that… needs to snag themselves a copy of the incredible Monster World Complete Collection from Sega’s wonderful Sega Ages line in Japan. The completeness of this set is worth the cheap asking price, and the fact that all the games that made it stateside include their respective English versions just makes it that much sweeter. You get: Wonder Boy, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap, Wonder Boy in Monster World, Monster Lair, and the lovely Monster World IV. That’s a pretty complete package for a franchise that hasn’t been touched in almost a decade.
The the games that were released in arcades have those versions, as well as their console variants. The original Wonder Boy, for example, has the arcade game and four home variants! To sweeten the deal even further, Sega’s added functionality for the PS2 Saturn pad,
a replay recording feature that comes with pre-recorded super plays of two of the included games, a full-length instruction manual to compliment the full scans of every game’s original manual (both Japanese and English), sheet music (!), and lots and lots of art from different games in the series. That’s an incredible value, and the extras alone make this something worth looking into. Sure, you can probably find each of these games on the Internet for free, but taking into account that places like Play-Asia are selling this set for $30, there’s no reason on God’s green Earth not to jump all over it. Monster World Complete Collection is another example of a compilation done right, and there are probably more than a few fans who are glancing over at their copy as they read this. Good for you!
A domestic release would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath. Sony’s got its hands full with straightening out the Playstation 3, so it’s highly doubtful that this collection will ever make it over the Pacific. It seems to meet all of Sony’s requirements too. All of the games have been packaged together, the price isn’t steep, and all but Monster World IV are in English (Sega could always use the PAL translation of Monster Lair and the excellent fan translation for Monster World IV if it doesn’t want to do its own). The PS2 still has some life in it in the U.S., so it may not be too late.
Eh, who am I kidding? I might as well keep asking for Sega to release the Phantasy Star Generation set for PS2 here as well. Now that’s a compilation that simply has no excuse. All those games were done in English almost twenty years ago, and the hard part of remaking them was done for the Japanese PS2 release. Sega could have cashed in on the Phantasy Star brand and maybe even have given the less-than-stellar Phantasy Star Universe a boost by offering that set to fans. But if it didn’t give us that, why would it go and translate Monster World IV for us? Ah, even after all this time, the specter of region-specific releases continues to haunt us.
Whew! So much Genesis stuff to talk about! Not bad for a console that was officially discontinued almost a decade ago. There’s still much to say, but we have to give you a reason to come back next month, don’t we? Until then, keep that game pad close. You never know when something new to play will pop up.