For over 60 years, SEGA has been pumping out entertainment, whether coin-operated arcade machines or home consoles, and to notable success. While the company has held strong for the past few decades, there was a time when SEGA was just as popular as Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, SEGA simply couldn’t be stopped, with amazing consoles like the Sega Genesis and award-winning series as far as the eye could see. Now, after nearly 30 years of slumber, SEGA is bringing some of its best franchises back for a retro revival that no one saw coming.
SEGA is Set for a Comeback With a Flurry of Retro Revivals
At the 2023 Game Awards, SEGA blew our minds with their “Power Surge” trailer, showcasing five new reboots while also teasing more to come. It seems like SEGA is looking to recapture its distinct “attitude era” of the Dreamcast days, with in-your-face advertising that promises exhilarating gameplay coupled with quality themes. To recap, let’s run down the list of planned reboots, discuss their history, and try to determine if SEGA’s big revival will be worth the wait.
5. Jet Set Radio
The original Jet Set Radio stunned Dreamcast players when it launched in 2000, featuring a rollerblading protagonist with a punk-rock attitude and an inkling for vandalism. The fandom only grew when the sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, landed on the Xbox in 2002, pushing the game forward with faster action, brighter colors, and groovier tunes.
Apart from a few ports and remasters, Jet Set has been radio-silent for nearly two decades, but this new iteration looks to combine the classic gameplay formula with a sharp graphical style, as well as new traversal mechanics, and more. At the minimum, it looks like the new Jet Set Radio will still have us blasting through the streets on our skates, causing mayhem and laying down graffiti tags wherever possible.
Shinobi started off as an arcade game in 1987 and featured notably tough sidescrolling action, putting the player in control of Joe Musashi, a powerful ninja who must overthrow the invasive crime syndicate, Zeed. The series was popular enough to spawn several sequels, spilling over onto the Sega Genesis and beyond.
Shinobi games have continued to crop up occasionally, including the 2002 Shinobi for PlayStation 2 or the most recent 2011 release, Shinobi 3D on Nintendo 3DS. However, this new Shinobi seems to take inspiration from games like Dead Cells and Ori and the Blind Forest, promising a mix of fluid yet powerful combat and movement. As fans of arcade action, we’re more than excited to see this latest iteration of the ninja classic.
3. Golden Axe
In the beat ’em up genre, few franchises are as influential as Golden Axe. Whether we’re talking about the 1989 arcade original, or the two sequels on Sega Genesis, this cooperative fantasy action series has always been a cathartic treat. The latest attempt at a Golden Axe reboot was in 2008, with the poorly received Golden Axe: Beast Rider, which effectively killed the franchise for the moment.
It seems like the new Golden Axe is bucking its old-school style in favor of a new third-person hack ‘n slash gameplay formula, similar to that of the classic God of War games. The trailer footage showed gameplay of two different character classes, and in truth, it looks a bit weird, but we’re still interested to see how things pan out.
2. Streets of Rage
Out of all of the games on this list, Streets of Rage is the franchise that has remained the most relevant. Although the beat ’em up series hit its peak on the Genesis with the first three games, gamers were still treated to an excellent sequel in the form of Streets of Rage 4, which was released in 2020. Like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage has always been a side-scrolling beat ’em up, but this new reboot looks to change things yet again.
Based on the very short footage featured in the Power Surge trailer, we get to see our main hero, Axel Stone, beating the snot out of some random goons. However, the game seems more like a 3D brawler, akin to something like Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks or The Warriors (of the PS2 era). Only time will tell if Streets of Rage can successfully make the transition from 2D to 3D, but we have high hopes for this one.
1. Crazy Taxi
I love Crazy Taxi, because it’s one of those games that delivers on the promise of its title in spades. Whether in the 1999 arcade original or one of the many home console ports, you play as an appropriately zany taxi driver, speeding through the city and picking up fares as quickly as possible. With little regard for safety laws, you blast past pedestrians and drift through red lights, all in an effort to deliver your passenger as speedily as possible.
Crazy Taxi is one of those games that never gets old. It’s just as fun to play today as it was back in 1999, and especially when you turn up the music and get into the groove, it can produce some of the best gaming vibes of all time. This new Crazy Taxi reboot looks to be sticking very closely to the original formula, but a few seconds of gameplay suggest that players might be able to control the police as well, hunting down speedsters and issuing tickets. As long as it has fast cars, fast-paced music, and a wild attitude, we can’t wait!