The Console That Came Back
I want to take you on a trip of the imagination, we don’t really need anything special to go on this trip, just an open mind and the ability to imagine.
The Sega Dreamcast. The last charge of a once-great gaming company.
It’s March 31, 2001, and shockwaves have been sent through the gaming industry; Sega, the once-mighty company that dared to challenge Nintendo, was hanging up its hardware hat and retiring to become a third party publisher. For those interested in learning about the Dreamcast, you can find a great documentary here from the Gaming Historian, tell him you came via the Game Dump. But, we’re off topic and I often digress, so Sega had pulled out of the hardware business, and with it went all of their classic IPs that had entertained us over the years and on many consoles. Altered Beast, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Ecco the Dolphin, Sonic, and many more, all went the way of the console. Sure, Sonic carried on, making appearances on rival consoles, but something didn’t sit right about them. The games that followed, apart from the inspired Sonic Mania, had lost the charm the hog used to bring.
Let’s pretend it’s E3 2019 and Sega step on stage to make an announcement: Sega is throwing its hat back into the hardware arena, but not how you think. Not at all. Their console, which they reveal to be codenamed the ‘Phoenix’, will be a PC-based light console, but, and here’s the but, Sega has all of their old IPs as exclusives on their new console.
The above is a design by Elie Ahovi, who’s taken the design of a modern console and given it a nice little dash of Sega magic. This will do as our vehicle of the imagination for a return to form by Sega. The same Sega who left the hardware business over twenty years ago. Whilst the Phoenix will he competitively priced, I would say sub £200, it will be entirely digital, connected to the Sega Network, a new network launched by Sega that has all of their classic titles available for play. That’s right, not only does this console play new games, it plays all of Sega’s past library in emulated form. The fee for the network would be a yearly low cost, but each of their old games has been modified to allow online multiplayer.
Need a buddy to work with on Streets of Rage? No problem. Want an opponent to play Virtua Tennis with? The Sega Network has you covered. Not only this, but with the usual network it allows you to add friends, take screenshots, etc.
Let’s talk specs before we go into details with what’s inside. No disc drive is built in, but since this is Sega’s first foray back into the console market we’re not going to go crazy with hardware, so one of the ARM processors will do the grunt work for us. After all, we’re going to keep the concept as half retro half future console. It will pack with it 4GB RAM and an internal 128GB SSD hard drive for fast load. Think of this as a nice little sports car rather than a Ferrari. The graphics card inside will be something mid-range amongst the Nvidia faithful, enough to pack a punch but not take you to other worlds, just fuel your imagination to do so.
What about the controller? Well, a modern take on the Genesis/Megadrive controller,
now complete with sticks, something similar to what 8bitdo did with the SNES pad. This sucker will be Bluetooth so no need to plug these in. Although the console will have USB-C technology built into it.
Then there’s the games selection that comes with it. This will be the only console where you can play titles like Streets of Rage 5, Golden Axe IV, Sonic the Hedgehog 5, Curse of Altered Beast, The Rise of Shinobi, and many, many more of their legacy titles Sega chooses to give a refresh or sequel to. The properties are there, they’re popular, and they just need that modern touch.
But who would play on a console like this when there’s more powerful consoles out there? Who? The same people who grew up with Sega. The same people who are crying our for sequels to Sega’s old properties. The same players who play the Switch as their main console, a console bandied around as being portable and home but is a rough 50/50 split over people who play docked and undocked.
Before, it used to be graphics that would define greatness in a game, but not anymore. The Renaissance period of 3D graphics is coming to an end and people want playability more. A game doesn’t require 3D models to be extremely playable any more than a talented musician needs an expensive instrument to play well. The point is, there’s a space below the TV for Sega, it’s just whether Sega wants to take it.
Up with the Sega Phoenix!