It’s really sad to see that Sega today (while still good) isn’t as great as they were back in the 1990s. I admit that I grew up with the Nintendo consoles, but I never hated Sega for being a competition for Nintendo. In fact, Sega and Nintendo were like Pepsi and Coke; they needed each other. Now that I’m reminiscing about how much I really love the history of Sega, I think it’s best if I make a countdown of my favorite franchises/series made by them. A lot of newer generation Sega fans, who didn’t grew up with the Sega Master System all the way through the Sega Dreamcast, are most likely familiar with only Sonic the Hedgehog. But this countdown is for a reminder of Sega’s franchises that brought greatness to the Nintendo-alternative and to get more people into getting their hands on these copies and experience some of the most wonderful gems that Sega has made. Now remember, this is a list of series that had more than 1 game with the same title, not necessarily the best games Sega has made.
Number 10. – ToeJam and Earl
No doubt that mixing space aliens and hip-hop is a bizarre concept, but that’s what made this series so fun! The series started out as the creator’s tribute to his favorite game Rogue. This is a cartoony game that defied traditional video games and added so much personality aspect to it. It promoted a decently paced cooperative 2-Player gameplay that focused on dungeon-crawling experience in outer-space. The sequel, Panic in Funkotron went in a different direction with cooperative 2D side-scrolling platforming. We all thought that the series ended in Panic on Funkotron because the ToeJam & Earl didn’t have their own game on the Sega Saturn or Sega Dreamcast. The series struggled with all of their games not selling as well as Sega hoped for. Luckily the series made one last game ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth for the Xbox. It went back to the Rogue gameplay in full 3D, but with the horrible rapping, bad voice-acting, and terrible sexual innuendoes became a disappointment for all of us ToeJam & Earl fans. For its long appcense and a disappointing long-awaited sequel it had to be at the bottom of the list .
- My Favorite Game of the series: ToeJam & Earl (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)
- My Least Favorable Game: ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth
Number 9. – Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio)
Now here’s a game series that has more style. Back in the late-1990s and early 2000s, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series was a huge boom for the extreme sport game genre and Sega wanted to make their own take on it with the roller-skate punk culture. You can decide if it’s either an extreme sport game or a 3D Platformer, but Jet Set Radio (or Jet Grind Radio) series had magical with cel-shaded graphics, tag spraying missions that are all so fun, and the many cool tricks you can do with low gravity. Sadly, Jet Set Radio only had two games released for the series and there should have been more! Jet Set Radio Future was an outstanding achievement for the Xbox, but sadly Future had horrible sales which is the reason why the series never had a new game since, but since the extreme sports games genre faded in popularity I doubt the the series could make a welcoming return with a 3rd game.
- My Favorite Game of the series: Jet Set Radio
- My Least Favorable Game: Jet Set Radio Future
Number 8. – Streets of Rage
Definitely, the games in this series are some of my all time favorite beat ’em up side-scrollers. Don’t ever get mixed up with Sega’s Streets of Rage and Capcom’s Final Fight. Sega basically took the Golden Axe formula and changed the whole look to gang-fight theme for a video game. It’s pretty cool to see three ex-cops abandoning the force and decide to go fight dirty with the gangs of the city. I spent so many hours playing with my friends together fighting against wave after wave of over-the-top enemy variety. Street of Rage did phenomenally well out side of the game series by making comic books, CD soundtracks, and other merchandising. This could have been Sega’s biggest franchise since Sonic the Hedgehog, but sadly this is another one of Sega’s series that had a horrible third installment to its series. It’s really sad to see that such a big time franchise all of the sudden was wiped-out of the face of the Earth for just one mediocre sequel. I’ll still give the series a chance for another installment in 3D if Sega gives it another-go-round.
- My Favorite Game of the series: Streets of Rage II
- My Least Favorable Game: Streets of Rage III
Number 7. – Shinobi
Shinobi series has gone way back to the Sega Master System and I had fond memories with the series because it was the most action packed game series during the 8-bit and 16-bit era. The first Shinobi game came out in 1987 for the arcade then everything else that had Shinobi on it was made for the Sega consoles. Story-wise, there is little continuity between games, and it is debatable as to what has to be interpreted as canon to the series. It is more traditional for Shinobi games to start the plot-line from scratch and introduce new characters in the ninja role. I think for that reason alone, is the reason why the series doesn’t really have an impact to video game history as it may have. The Shinobi series had a lot of games in its series that didn’t have Shinobi on the title, like Shadow Dancer, Revenge of Shinobi, Nightshade and a few more, but it was an expansion of this ninja-action experience in fighting a lot of ninjas, robots, and so many imaginative creatures. Shinobi was a big franchise for Sega and they used to have one installment of the series each year (from 1987 – 1995) which is a great track record to keep Sega fans from forgetting about the series. And yet, Sega still makes Shinobi games today!
- My Favorite Game of the Series: Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
- My Least Favorable Game: Shinobi (for Playstation 2)
Number 6. – Shining series
I’m actually one of the couple Sega fans who actually thought that the Shining series was one of the best Sega franchises ever. The Shining series begun on the Sega genesis with Shining in the Darkness that had the same RPG dungeon crawling experience like the very first Phantasy Star but with a lot more imaginative enemies. The series made its own identity when they made Shining Force (awesome title) by becoming a strategy RPG. Everything that was titled Shining Force was such a massive experience where you’re able to select some of the coolest looking RPG characters and strategically set them wherever you want them to be placed or do battle. Everything else that didn’t have “Force” in the title was your traditional RPG that still given an awesome experience. The series still continues today, but unfortunately since Shining Force III the series has been exclusive only to Japan. It’s one of the most questionable decisions made by Sega, but I can understand that they no longer have a market for the series in NA & PAL regions. I can’t blame them because strategy RPG’s had a hard run in popularity, but the Shining Force series was the best strategy RPG series ever; itt tried to show what else you can do in playing video games.
- My Favorite Game of the series: Shining Force 2
- My Least Favorable Game: Shining Force Gaiden
Number 5. – Virtua Fighter
Sega wouldn’t be anything without the Virtua Fighter series. Yes, Sonic the Hedgehog is what makes Sega so successful, but the Virtua series were a HUGE leap in gaming because it’s all about 3D graphics and it made the Sega Saturn possible. I remember seeing the Virtua Fighter series and Virtua Cop for the first time, I thought it was so realistic that it was scary to actually play the game and hurt someone (I was a scare kid). The Virtua series started with Virtua Racing and they kept enhancing the engine from that game into new grounds. Virtua Fighter, aka the first 3D fighting game, showed that fighting games came be taken realistically despite is moon gravity physics. On their way to Sega Saturn, they introduced Virtua Cop which was a great shooting simulator, but since the Genesis versions of Virtua Fighter never was a good port, we all got Sega Saturn to experience 3D graphics right in our living rooms. Even today, AM2 is still making Virtua Fighter games and it’s always a nostalgic feeling for me to play this classic fighter that’s the last of its kind in comparison to all the other fighter series.
- My Favorite Game of the series: Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution
- My Least Favorable Game: Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Genesis/MegaDrive)
Number 4. – Phantasy Star
The Phantasy Star series has always been Sega’s touch of magic for me. For its time, this was all revolutionary take on video games, especially the fact that role-playing video games weren’t even that popular when the series first started in 1987. It’s really cool to see that this game series mixed your traditional fantasy RPG mixed with science fiction space opera. The three sequels were later released for the Sega Genesis giving a more complex storyline, bitter sweet combat, and so many surprises that no ordinary gamer could predict. All of the sudden, Sega stopped many any more Phantasy Star sequels after IV and decided to do a lot of spin-offs and experiments by using the Phantasy Star title. Like suckers, we Sega fans bought it out of greater nostalgic reasons and in hopes for Sega to give us a Phantasy Star V. Better yet, the series given us the very first MMO on a console and that’s Phantasy Star Online that’s still running since 2000. Though it’s probably going to discontinue after Phantasy Star Online 2 is released worldwide coming next year, that shows Phantasy Star’s greatness & relevancy as a video game series!
- My Favorite Game of the series: Phantasy Star IV/Phantasy Star Online
- My Least Favorable Game: Phantasy Star III
Number 3. – Shenmue
It really breaks my heart to see that such a promising video game series could only have only two installments. Shenmue is a heavily story driven-based game that introduced high revolutionary graphics, non-lenear gameplay (pre-dating GTA), and quick time events. This is a game that was so good that it’s its own genre; “F.R.E.E.”. The Shenmue series is a huge reshape of the adventure game genre that mixed with Virtua Fighter gameplay that I thought was really fascinating. It’s really a game that you either really love or really hate and that all depends on your taste in the adventure game genre.
In fact, it’s one of the only games in existence that actually reminds me of the old Japanese/Chinese kung-fu dramas that are no longer around anymore. I admit that I favor for the sequel more than I do for the original because the original Shenmue didn’t accomplish anything but figuring out how to get to China and finally chase down Ryo Hazuki’s father’s killer. However, North American audiences didn’t get a chance to play the sequel because Shenmue II was released for only Japan and PAL regions with only Japanese dub and English subtitles. Sega gave this promising series just one more chance by releasing it on the Xbox with full English Dub, but you couldn’t input your first game to the second game’s move list because Dreamcast memory cards is incompatible with the Xbox. This is a game series that has a fascinating build-up and yet the story is incomplete. I’m one of the millions of fans out there that still await for a Shenmue III just so we can see this saga fulfilled!
- My Favorite Game of the series: Shenmue II (Dreamcast)
- My Least Favorable Game: Shenmue
Number 2. – Sonic The Hedgehog
You all knew it was going to be on the list, and you don’t even need to ask. Without Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega would never made that impact on video games. The Sonic series is most famous for making video game mascots hip for all cater audiences and giving us fast frame-rates to make fast pacing possible. I have the ever most nostalgic memories with Sonic the Hedgehog because each time there was a new game to the series, there’s always a couple of new characters introduced that are forever memorable like Tails, Knuckles (my favorite), Amy, Metal Sonic, Shadow, and about a hundred more. To say that Sonic is huge is an understatement; it’s a colossal franchise that is always successful, financially, no matter how good or bad the idea is. Even despite the fact that Sega no longer manufacture consoles, they’re still making millions with Sonic the Hedgehog with everything that he does!
The franchise still makes a lot of money from the cartoons, comic series (my favorite), merchandising, and anything else that has Sonic on it. In a matter of fact, since Sonic’s boom from the 1990s, nearly everything Sega does it all reflects back to Sonic the Hedgehog. His face was on everything that had Sega on it (like Mickey Mouse and Disney) and it’s impossible to separate the two. Sonic’s appeal of a rodent with spiky hair that can run probably faster than the Flash has always been loved by many. I know what you’re thinking, why can’t this be number 1? Well, if this was a list of the most successful Sega series, then this is an obvious number 1 choice, but I have to be really honest here on what I think had the best quality of games ever! As for the Sonic series as of late, they keep bouncing back and forth for so long as to being great to mediocre. Nevertheless, whether if the game is good or not, Sonic will always be an undying series in gaming!
- My Favorite Game of the series: Sonic & Knuckles/Sonic Adventure
- My Least Favorable Game: Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Number 1. – Panzer Dragoon
If there’s one reason why the Sega Saturn was an awesome console, it would had to be because of this exclusive series that had its run during the system’s lifespan! Though the Saturn was lacking any great Sonic titles in its library, Panzer Dragoon kept all of its owners happy and satisfied for owning the console. I admit that this series was inspired by the likes of Star Fox, but I can argue that it’s probably better than any Star Fox game by every means of the definition. The Panzer Dragoon series is some of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had in gaming; being able to fly any where and blast off any target in sight was all incredible to play. The series offered crazy variety of enemies to keep players intact and some of the best boss fights that Sega has ever created. Backed that up with an epic soundtrack that Sega has ever offered, no doubt that each and every one of their games had high replay value! I would like to say that this series is the best 3D Flight Shooter ever, but there’s one game of the series that took a risky (yet wise move) of having one installment to be a turn-based RPG, Panzer Dragoon Saga! Who knew that the last game on the system turned out to be the best of the series and for the Sega Saturn. It was ready for another sequel to be released on the Dreamcast, but since Sega disbanded the console we had to get Panzer Dragoon Orta for the Xbox and surprisingly it was incredibly faithful to the original two games. This has been Sega’s most forgotten series and I really wish that there was more cult following for the series because it deserve another sequel. It’s really dissapointing to see that Sega has been successful in re-releasing Sega Genesis and Dreamcast classics but they’ve abandoned many gems from the Sega Saturn making it the most unappreciative console of all time. There should be more demand for all the games of Panzer Dragoon to be re-released because it’s one classic that should not be ignored. I refuse to have all the accomplishments that the series made for gaming in general to disappear like tears in a rain…
- My Favorite Game of the series: Panzer Dragoon Saga
- My Least Favorable Game: Panzer Dragoon Mini