Welcome to this week’s, “Sequel, Spin Off, Start Over or Stay Dead?”Â Each week we’re going to look at a dormant franchise that was once pretty popular, but for some reason has disappeared into the sands of time. Diehard GameFAN staffers will have four options for what they want to have happen to the series and you can see them in the title of this piece. For a little more detailed description see below:
Sequel – A direct sequel to the franchise. This means if it used sprites and was in 2-D, that’s how you want the next game to be as well. This might involve putting the game on a handheld system instead of a console, but it keeps the nostalgia and classic feel alive.
Spin Off – This is where you take the characters or a specific character is a totally different direction from the established franchise. Examples include Luigi’s Mansion, Hey You, Pikachu!, Shadow Hearts (From Koudelka), and so on.
Start Over – This is a reimagining of the series from the ground up. Perhaps it’s time to bring the series into 3-D. Perhaps you want a totally different control scheme or to throw away the old continuity. In a nutshell, this is taking the brand name from the old series and that’s about it. Everything else is new and re-envisioned.
Stay Dead – This is pretty obvious. This is a toxic franchise that you don’t want to see return in any way shape or form. Let the dead rest.
This week we’re looking at a game that dominated video game awards in North America at the end of 1996. It made almost a clean sweep of “Saturn Game of the Year” and won the majority of “1996 Game of the Year” awards. Yet somehow neither the sequel NOR the Sega Ages remake were ever released stateside. It sounds like a totally insane business decision until you realize that Sega was the publisher and that Sega had probably made the largest collection of mistakes out of any publisher/developer in the industry. Hell, the original game only made it to the US because Working Designs snapped up the rights to it and localized it. The first game consistently makes “Top Whatever” lists, and even made it as #8 of our own “Top 30 RPG Countdown” back in 2004. So yes, even though Sega has squeezed every drop of blood from their Shining Force and Phantasy Star stones until nothing remains of the original classic games but the names themselves, Dragon Force has remained relatively untouched and also out of reach of most gamers. See what several of our staff here at Diehard GameFAN thinks should happen to the series.
Sean Madson – Sequel
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of growing up with this game. The only reason I knew about it is because I did some research on Sega Saturn games and Dragon Force came up on seemingly everyone’s top ten list. So after finding an Ebay listing for it and saw the Working Designs logo on it, I figured it was worth taking a gamble on. It was.
This is a game I played more than a decade after its original release and the gameplay still holds up today. I can’t even think of anything else that I’ve played to compare it to. Think of it as a strategy RPG where battles pit hundreds of soldiers on both sides against each other. You also have leaders that you can command in each battle to initiate special moves that will assist in mowing down your adversaries. Once the enemy commander falls, you win.
You do this many times throughout the game and although the fighting itself is done by the CPU, much of the strategy goes into pre-planning as well as issuing formations during combat. There are so many variables happening at once that is quite daunting for a new player (I know I was very confused starting out) and there aren’t any tutorials in the game. But put in the time, and you will be uniting all eight kingdoms in no time.
It’s a shame that all of the Sega consoles’ old games seem to be finding a new home on current gen systems except for the Saturn, as this would be a great candidate for a rerelease. A sequel would be awesome, but I would even settle for a re-release of either Dragon Force or Dragon Force 2.
Mark B. – Sequel
Well, I’m going to say that I would like to see the original re-released (Sega even re-released the damn game in Japan on the PS2 as part of the Sega Ages collection but never bothered to port it here), but I’d also like to see a sequel come out in some form or fashion, even knowing what that entails. We know that the combat models will be rendered in 3-D, that there will be more cut scenes and talking than the original game included, and that the game will probably be dumbed down in some respects to appeal to a wider market. This isn’t a guarantee, of course, after the success of Valkyria Chronicles, but for the purposes of not being disappointed let us assume this is a possibility and move onward.
Regardless, Valkyria Chronicles is precisely WHY I want to see a sequel to Dragon Force. Valkyria Chronicles showed that, even after all of the crap-ass Shining games they’ve released in the past few years, even after they’ve beaten the Phantasy Star name to death with a million Phantasy Star Online releases long after people stopped caring, and even after they otherwise essentially ignored the RPG market, Sega still has the ability to release an awesome RPG when they want to. Dragon Force was an awesome strategy RPG for its time, and Sega could easily make another one that is just as awesome as its predecessors and well worth every penny once Valkyria Chronicles winds down, and it’d easily be worth it.
And if they could re-release the first game and maybe translate the second one, hey, that’d be awesome too.
Alex Lucard – Sequel
I was so on the border between sequel and stay dead. After all, 95% of what Sega publishes these days is downright crap. However as Mark said, Valkyria Chronicles, was not only awesome, but it was our 2008 Game of the Year. My vote for sequel would be if AND ONLY IF Sega Wow/Overworks made the game. These guys gave us Streets of Rage, Skies of Arcadia, The House of the Dead, and helped make Sakura Taisen with Red Company. These guys still have it (as long as you ignore their Altered Beast remake.
I too want to voice a re-release of the original, its sequel and the Sega Ages remake. Hell, I’d pay fifty bucks for a Dragon Force collection. Will we get one? Of course not. Sega is too busy published horrible festering dog filth rather than doing something that makes actual sense. God I hate Sammy Sega. I hate them so much.
I have so many great memories of this game. I remember a twenty hour session of this with my best friend and girlfriend in college. The three of us just kept playing and the next thing we knew it was tomorrow already. Junon remains one of my favorite characters in all of gaming and I think I beat the game with everyone except Teiris and her crappy, crappy archers. Man, Dragon Force is simply one of the greatest games ever created and Sega is doing a massive service to gamers everywhere by not re-release this franchise.
Chris Bowen -Re-Release the Goddamned Original Already
Sorry, I don’t have anything to contribute to Dragon Force. Why? Because I haven’t played the original. It’s 2010, and I haven’t played the original because I’m unwilling to spend $60+ on the game plus what it would cost to bring in another Saturn after the Funcoland Debacle of ’97 (I traded my system in. Dumbest. Move. Ever.). I just looked on eBay, the freaking INSTRUCTION MANUAL is going for $50! Therefore, despite it being a Working Designs game, I haven’t played it yet.
I’d love to have the chance, at least. I can’t say whether or not there should be a new Dragon Force because I need to play the first one, and all the people that said there needed to be a new Guardian Heroes, played the GBA game and vomited afterwards. So we need to be careful what we wish for.
I loved Working Designs, but the one thing I have to say negative about them was that they intentionally shorted stock to make their games more valuable. Looking at eBay, it worked. Hopefully, it will see a release that won’t either cost me an arm and a leg, or force me to the gray side of legality via emulation.
Start Over: 0
Stay Dead: 0
Angry Rant About Sega: 3
Well four things seem to be for certain: we all love Dragon Force, we all want a sequel in spite of Sega’s track record, we all want the originals to be re-released, and we’re all pretty pissed at Sega. Join us next week as we discuss a 3-D fighting game series that was jointly published by Sony and Squaresoft. See you then!