SEGA: The nightmare continues
You have to hand it to SEGA. I have never seen a company as good as SEGA when it comes to getting a product out, promoting the hell out of it, creating a huge buzz, and then doing the STUPIDEST THING to totally throw everything away. A good case in point would be the Genesis. Here was a unit that was:
So what did we end up getting?
Actually, I should clarify that, as it turned out that the Two Toy companies were actually a real good thing compared to the job SEGA did when they took over the North American market. (In case you were wondering, the 2 companies were Tonka in the US, Irwin in Canada)
Of course, there's the Saturn, now referred too as the only known doorstop that cost 300 dollars to buy.
So guess what? They did it again. The Dreamcast has been riddled with small, extremely stupid little mistakes, that could end up relegating the Dreamcast to the history bin along side the Vectrex, Turbographix, and Master System. Units with good potential, it's just such a shame they had morons running the company.
Viewers from Australia should know what I'm talking about. I'm pretty sure they remember the Dreamcast release over there. SEGA managed to:
But this isn't the thing I want to talk about, it's this... We have a unit that is really good, plays decent games, is built real solid, and is a really well researched product for the marketplace. SEGA did a fantastic job on the console, marketed it just right, did everything as "anti-Saturn" as they could, but its just one small thing. The controllers suck.
How possibly can a company, who spent as much money as they did, do as much research as they did, and did everything to promote their product (Like crash the Sony developers picnic last year) could produce the most horrible, and painful controllers in existence. Well, it is SEGA, after all.
I rented a unit, to do reviews for this site. I couldn't do one review, because the controllers were so bad, the games were virtually unplayable. Some of the games were just plain bad, like Expendable, but every time, it was those damn controllers that did it. SEGA should be reminded that North Americans in general don't speak Japanese, we don't write Japanese, and we are most certainly not built like most Japanese.
The controllers are to uncomfortable to play. Because they are square in shape, you have to hold the controllers in a way that forces your elbows into the sides of your body. It puts more stress on your hands, so extended playing causes your hands to get tired faster than if you use a normal controller. Add the small and awkward button placement, and a really sloppy and unresponsive analog controller (which sort of defeats the entire purpose) and you have a problem. The idea is to make people buy the games, which is hard to do if they can't play them properly because of the controller.
As I have stated before, it absolutely amazes me that SEGA has this ability to do just about everything right, only to shoot themselves in the foot at the exact worst possible moment. It's a bad controller. Pure and simple. They knew the Japanese design wasn't right for the US market, so instead of actually taking a bit of time, and researching what controllers that the market would be happy with, they just made the controller a little bigger.
Sorry to say, but there is likely more bullets in the gun for SEGA to shoot themselves with. When I was wholesaling games during the time of the Genesis, I would spend time with other gamers and industry people. Every time we mentioned the name SEGA, it would be accompanied by the mandatory disappointing shaking of the head, as if we were talking about the death of a person we all knew barely. "Such a shame, he was so young as well."
Sony: The screaming begins
The only saving grace to SEGA is the Japanese release of the PS/2 by Sony wasn't without it's little problems. It has taken this long, but at least Sony is finally admitting that there might be a problem with their memory card system, and a small overheating problem as well. After all, RPG guys do like to keep their games going for a few hours at a time, or it could take a year to play each of them.
Of course, it won't help poor SEGA. The PlayStation 2 will destroy them in the Japanese market. Even the hefty price tag won't do much to slow down sales. The Dreamcast is an excellent unit, but the PlayStation just looks better to the consumer. The added DVD alone to the unit is worth the extra price, but the PlayStation backwards compatibility plus other features will see a very short, quick death to the Dreamcast in Japan very soon.
But you can't help but wonder here about Sony. It seems that Sony is heading slowly down the path that has caused the other big game companies to stumble. SEGA had the Saturn, and the 32X. Nintendo was very lucky that the SNES became as successful as it was, considering all the false starts, false specs and broken promises they made. Then they followed the SNES with the Virtual Boy, and the N64, which when you really look at it, makes you wonder why it isn't better than it actually is.
The PlayStation 2 didn't have that perfect start. There are some problems here. They are small, but they should have caught them during testing, and why they didn't remains the mystery. Maybe they just didn't test the unit enough, or maybe there just wasn't enough time. They announced the release date, and were hell bent to make that date. They made it, but maybe just by the skin of their teeth. And I think that more of these problems could crop up as well.
The shine is starting to come off the metal of the logo. You have your "homers", people that will praise Sony no matter what, and you have the people who will hate the PS/2 no matter what. The interesting thing though, are the people who try and stay neutral, and give an honest opinion in their reviews. They are just not as impressed as what Sony was aiming for. It seems like a good unit, and we all know that SEGA is certainly no competition, and no one believes anything that Nintendo says anymore, let alone the release date of the Dolphin, but maybe Sony built up our hopes to high.
Time will tell. It's certainly on the side of Sony at least. There's no real competition for the PlayStation 2, at least for a while. Sony knows that SEGA will eventually blunder around some more, then end up getting out of the hardware business completely, and Nintendo is just a shade of it's former self. They still produce great games, but Nintendo's history with game developers is finally starting to catch up to them, and just how many GameBoys and Pokemon games can they sell before the entire thing finally gives away? The X-Box will be a case of being too little, too late, and also, it will have to compete on Sony's "home" turf. Despite what Bill Gates may or may not believe, he doesn't rule the world, he won't become the emperor, and the chance that the X-Box will be a major presence in the Japanese marketplace is going to be pretty slim. The Japanese market rules the games world, and they want to keep it that way.