Finally! A Great Fan-Based Remake…

…that Sega had to squash!

To think, since their betrayal of Dreamcast owners back in 2001, Sega cannot do anything right. It isn’t bad enough that they are ruining the Sonic franchise to the ground with their horrible 3D games (and Sonic 4 isn’t enough to make up for it) but they are also finding new ways to ruin some of their most beloved classic franchises. Look at what they did with Golden Axe, and the less I say about Altered Beast, the better. Maybe it’s better that the latter was not even released in the US.

But the action that Sega has done in the last week has taken any positive feelings I had for them away.

When I first purchased my Genesis back in 1992, one of the first games I rented was a simple beat-em up called Streets of Rage. I heard positive things about it, and when the poster that came with my Genesis said "street fighting in the tradition on Shinobi," I was interested, and in the end, not disappointed at all. The game was very smooth, full of action, and it introduced me to the soundtrack excellence that was YuzoKoshiro. I was even surprised to find out that there was even a soundtrack CD for this game, and when I got the game packed in with my Sega CD, I noticed they kept the original game soundtrack instead of remastering it for the CD hardware. I was impressed.

Then I purchased my first 16-meg cart, Streets of Rage 2, which took everything that made the first game great, and made it even better. The graphics, gameplay, and the Koshiro tunes all made the purchase well worth it, and I thought the series could go no wrong.

And then came Streets of Rage 3…

Where do I even begin with that game? No, it’s not a horrible fighter at all, but some of the game’s elements just ticked me off, mostly the soundtrack. What was Koshiro smoking when he composed it? Some of it just sounds like random, glitch noise, and none of it reached the level of even the first game. Then I found out much later, after seeing videos on Youtube, that the game was heavily censored from the Japanese version (Bare Knuckle 3.) There are those who hold SOR3 at a very high regard, but I’m not one of them.

And that was the last we heard of the series. There were rumors of a Streets of Rage 4 for the Saturn, but it eventually became Fighting Force…for the PlayStation, and did not feel at all like the Sega series we knew and loved. I thought we’d never get another SOR game again.

But over time I kept hearing reports of this "Streets of Rage Remake" that had been in the works since 2003. I hadn’t really given much thought to it until a Joystiq report saying that independent developer Border Games released the final version, eight years after starting the project. I would have thought that Sega would have got their hands on it sometime in development and stopped them, but Border Games even said they contacted Sega for permission to create Remake, which was odd when you consider that the 80,000 lines of game code was completely written from scratch. There was NO reverse engineering involved; nothing was taken from the original three Genesis games, nor the one Game Gear release.

So after being convinced to give the game a try, I downloaded it on my PC, hooked it up to the big screen, configured my PC arcade stick to play it and…I was in heaven.

ALL the playable characters from the three Genesis games were there, over 100 stages to fight through, customization galore, smooth control, two player gameplay (even with a surprisingly good AI partner) and a remade soundtrack that would even blow away Koshiro-san’s original tunes. I always thought the first stage theme in the original Rage sounded a bit too much like Pump Up The Jam by Technotronic, but what Border Games did here just sealed my theory, it has the same sampling from it! Amazing!

And even when finishing the game I knew there was much more to do, considering the multiple paths the game takes, being able to edit enemy names and play several different minigames. THIS was a full retail package being downloaded online…FOR FREE! It showed that Border Games wanted to make this game as an homage not just to the Streets of Rage series, but also its fans. In doing so, I was ready to write up a review on it and give it a perfect 5 Gems for all their hard work.

But that all came to a head last Monday, when Sega got in the way and insisted that Border Games not allow the game to be downloaded on their site anymore.

Their response? Courtesy of Kotaku: "SEGA is committed to supporting any fans that take an interest in our games, and where possible we do so by involving them in Beta tests and other development, marketing or research opportunities. However we need to protect our intellectual property rights and this may result in us requesting that our fans remove online imagery, videos or games in some instances."

Now what gets me is why did Sega wait all these years, when they could have had it pulled anytime? But the game has come out, proven that an independent studio can make a remake of a series that actually exceeds expectations, especially when compared to Sega’s terrible missteps in this area, and now they place the banhammer on it?

Pretty sleazy move from Sega in my opinion.

Let me guess, you had a boring 3D based remake in the works that you were going to show off at E3 that no one would care about, and this would have made your game as bad looking as that awful Altered Beast port?

Here’s an idea Sega. If you really do want to show your fans that you care for what they want, make a deal with Border Games. Try to make it available as a downloadable game on all three consoles (XBLA, PSN, and WiiWare.) Fans will buy it en masse, and you will take all the cash for it, but at least be generous and give a huge helping to those at Border Games. After all they spent eight years of their lives working on such a masterpiece, whereas your cash-ins take no time to create.

After all, isn’t money all you care about these days? You did "sell out" ten years ago after all.

Currently Playing: NASCAR 2011 (360, even with all its bugs,) Crysis 2 (360,) MLB 11 (PS3)

Waiting For: Mortal Kombat 2011 (360)

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