Inside Pulse 12

Neo Kobe Pizza – On Sega’s History of Missteps with JRPGs (w/Robert Hubbs)

Welcome back for another episode of Neo Kobe Pizza, Diehard GameFAN’s weekly topical podcast! This week, we talk about the history of Sega JRPGs, from Phantasy Star to Valkyria Chronicles and most everything in between, as well as Sega’s failings to convince the Western marketplace to invest in their games to the extent of Square or Enix’s endeavors. We also go through events during the various console generations, corporate issues behind the scenes, and rival games on rival consoles that drew more attention. Hosted by Mark B Writing, featuring Robert Hubbs.

Episode 07: On Sega’s History of Missteps with JRPGs (Originally recorded 08/08/16)

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WARNING: We curse.

  • Christopher Hopkinson

    Hey, all. Been enjoying Neo Kobe Pizza. Have a few thoughts on this one. As someone who’s been a long time Sega aficionado (Had both a Master System and a Genesis before getting a NES), and as one who loves RPGs, it was always frustrating trying to get friends to even look at the Genesis. Yes, in general, the SNES had more RPGs, but its not like there weren’t a fair number of options (mostly from Sega, but still…). Also, while Fire Emblem has its fan base in NA now, back in the 16-bit days for the North American audience you pretty much only had Shining Force (and to a lesser extent Warsong/Langrisser, and to an even lesser extent, Traysia, which is a pile…but I have a soft spot for it).

    Saturn also had Mystara/Blazing Heroes/Riglord Saga which, as a product of its time, was fun when I played it in 1996, but does NOT hold up (my God, the load times).

    I guess I agree with the ultimate assessment you guys came up with: There always seemed to be some other story undermining what could have been for Sega. Phantasy Star (in particular PS IV) should have been bigger (though it did originally retail for $99.99, in the US, so it did have that working against it). Shining Force did well, but like Tales of Vesperia on the 360, the Japanese bought Mega Drives for that game, and got rid of them after they were done. (I seem to recall the Shining series being the number 3 series at the time…I don’t have any proof at the moment to back up this statement). Bernie Stolar was a one man wrecking crew…Saturn could have done better. After all, the Saturn was marketed in Japan at points as “The RPG system”. I’d guess that was one of the reasons why it out-sold the N64 in Japan (It’s just that the n64 more than made up those numbers in NA and EU). The Dreamcast was doomed by the PS2 hype (and to a lesser extent piracy).

    At least as far as the retro market goes, I think people interested in older games are starting to take an interest in the Genesis library…partially because the prices of SNES games started to push people towards collecting for the rather less expensive Genesis…though the rarer games are definitely increasing in price there as well (I’ve been clearing out my 16/32-bit library due to various levels of necessity).

    I actually hope Sega’s newly rekindled interest in looking at the jRPG makes them do something…I’d love a Phantasy Star V, or Skies of Arcadia 2 (wishful thinking, I know).

  • Mark B.

    Glad you’re enjoying the podcast! I try to record well in advance to make sure there’s always one ready every week, so rest assured we’ve got a bunch more coming down the pipe in the future.

    I feel like part of the problem with the Genesis, honestly, was a perception issue, but it didn’t help that some of the very best JRPGs (from Sega and otherwise) were on the Sega CD, so you had to pay out a bunch of money to experience everything available. That said, I feel like both consoles had some really strong winners, as even outside of Sega you had games like (as you mentioned) Warsong, both Lunars, Vay, Shadowrun and others that were honestly quite good. It’s just that Sega was basically THE JRPG creator for the Genesis, while Nintendo mostly left that work to Square and Enix save for basically Earthbound (and Fire Emblem in Japan).

    Oh man Blazing Heroes, there’s one I’m not surprised I forgot. It’s cute for what it is, but man oh man, it… wasn’t my favorite, shall we say.

    Honestly, I feel like even if they weren’t the most financially viable or popular games Sega made, the company DOES love its JRPGs, and it’s not hard to see evidence of this, because they keep re-releasing the games in various capacities whenever they’re given the chance to do so. Most of their JRPGs are available on digital download services, after all, and they constantly cram the games into compilations, to the point that the Sega Genesis Collection has all all the Genesis Phantasy Star games on it (and seems to have Alys on the cover for some reason?), while Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection features all of the Phantasy Star games and the first three Shining titles. I think they WANT retro gamers to love the games, because I think THEY love the games; if they didn’t, they’d take the Toejam and Earl route and just ignore them until someone forced their hand. If nothing else, that says to me that they’ll keep pushing to get the games out into the market as long as there’s a market that might be interested.

    That said, yeah, I’d definitely be all for a sequel to Phantasy Star or Skies of Arcadia, though it’d also be nice to see one large compilation of all the Shining titles on one Blu-Ray (even the untranslated Shining Force 3 titles), or perhaps a Sakura Taisen compilation someday…