“Segac” is a name for Sega of America coined by North American Phantasy Star Universe players when they felt that they were not receiving the same treatment as their Japanese counterparts. While Sega has been pretty good throughout their history about localizing (or at least allowing other publishers to localize) their games, there are some titles that never make it across the sea. So for the well-I-think-it’s-cleverly-titled “Segac Orner” series of features, I’m going to bust out the Segac moniker (lovingly) and talk about the Japanese Sega games I really want to see released here in English. In this era of HD remasters and digital download services, it’s never too late or impossible for a game to be brought over!
Rieko Kodama (aka “Phoenix Rie”) is sometimes referred to as “The first lady of RPGs,” and for good reason. She wrote, designed, directed, or produced some of Sega’s greatest RPG titles, including Phantasy Star I, II, and IV, Magic Knight Rayearth, and Skies of Arcadia. She is also credited in classic Sega titles such as Sonic 1 and 2, Altered Beast, Fantasy Zone II, Shadow Dancer, Quartet, the Alex Kidd series and more; truly one of Sega’s greatest visionaries. Up until the late 90s, American players were given the opportunity to experience nearly all of the fantastic games she worked on, but since then, U.S. releases of her titles have been much more sporadic. Here are some of the titles Kodama was involved with that we’ve missed out on here in North America:
Deep Fear (1998)
What is it? Deep Fear is a Saturn survival horror title that takes place on a submarine. Like many other horror games of the late 90s, it follows the formula popularized by Resident Evil. You’ve got tank controls, static camera angles, pre-rendered backgrounds, and hilariously bad writing and voice acting.
Why do I want it? Despite the faults of this era’s survival horror games, I still love them. The sometimes obtuse design, stiff controls, and overall campiness are much more charming to me than the po-faced 3rd person shooter horror games of today. The import was reviewed favorably by Gamespot (they gave it a 7.8) and the game seems to have its fans. What’s even worse about the game not getting a North American release is that it was actually localized for Europe!
Altered Beast (2005)
What is it? Altered Beast (Juuoki: Project Altered Beast in Japan) is a modern-day 3D action/adventure reboot of the Altered Beast series for the Playstation 2.
Why do I want it? Another game to see Japanese and European release, Altered Beast is supposedly quite awful. With a frustrating camera, imprecise combat, and ugly, gory, visuals, many (such as Hardcore Gaming 101) feel that the the game was better left overseas. But as someone who can get some degree of enjoyment out of sub-par 3D action games if the premise is interesting (e.g., Bullet Witch, Onechanbara), I would still like to play it someday. Sadly, the game was actually once planned for North American release, but was cancelled.
Phantasy Star Generation I and II (2003, 2005)
What are they? The Phantasy Star Generation games were part of the Sega Ages 2500 series, which were budget-priced collections, ports, and/or remakes of Sega titles. Phantasy Star Generation 1 was a remake of the original Phantasy Star and Generation 2 was a remake of II.
Why do I want them? These are two of my favorite RPGs of all time, and the remakes contain excellent new visuals, music, retooled scripts, and numerous gameplay improvements. Also, if you loaded a completed Generation 1 saved game in 2, there was quite an interesting bonus, which I’m not going to spoil here. There was once a plan to bring these games to the U.S., but it never panned out. This is definitely a shame, because a better translation of these two classic titles would be very welcome to North American fans, as there are many oddities and inconsistencies in the scripts for the originals.
7th Dragon (2009)
What is it? A DS RPG described by Hardcore Gaming 101 as a mixture of Etrian Odyssey and Dragon Quest III. It was created by Imageepoch (Luminous Arc series, Sands of Destruction, Arc Rise Fantasia, Criminal Girls) and the superteam of Kodama, director Kazuya Niinou (Trauma Center, Etrian Odyssey, Last Ranker), and legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro (if you’re reading this blog, you don’t need me to list games he worked on).
What do I want this? See the section above. There is a futuristic sequel, 7th Dragon 2020, by pretty much the same team coming out for the PSP in Japan this fall. Hopefully it won’t suffer the same Japan-only fate as its predecessor!