Last week Sega launched Sega Forever, a novel concept aimed at making games from the iconic Sega console range available to play on iOS and Samsung devices. The news overjoyed many 30 year old men who grew up smashing NPC's in the face with tyre irons on Road Rage or brutally decapitating pit fighters on Mortal Kombat.
Dubbed as the "Netflix of Retro Gaming" the experience isn't quite what Netflix offers, with each game existing as a standalone app within the app stores. Searching Sega Forever does bring up the games which is kind of helpful as it lets you know which games are currently available.
The planned rollout will eventually see every Sega console game available on the iOS and Android. Games from the Master System, Mega Drive (Genesis), Saturn and Dreamcast are all planned to be ported to mobile through Sega's Unity based emulator.
The current games are available with a premium ad free mode, as well as a free to play ad supported mode, common to most smartphone users with display ads dispersed throughout as well as experience interrupting ads advertising other mobile gaming apps like Clash of Clans and Mobile Strike.
The experience of playing 16 bit games on phone has been underwhelming to many, with some pundits going as far as saying that Sega botched the launch. Drawing parallels to the issues that plagued the Pokemon Go launch last year, the Sega Forever games are said to be largely affected by glitches, choppy frame rates and out of sync audio. Sega have defended the launch, citing positive feedback and the commonality of hiccups at launch. Having briefly played Sonic the Hedgehog on my Galaxy S7 I had no issues. The gameplay experience is on par with what I remember of the original game and it's a wonderful trip down memory lane. Some reviewers complained about the experience on that very device so either Sega have moved quickly to improve the experience, or the issues are device specific, perhaps related to the internet quality of the user, as the ad free version requires a constant network connection to support the embedded advertising features.
Play store reviewer Douglas Blackie said "Playing on Galaxy S7, the game has ridiculous slowdown issues. The frame rate drops to less than half of what it should be, making the entire experience unenjoyable," while another user Keanen Collins has a different opinion. "Games companies need to look towards Sega and this business model as the correct way to make a mobile game. A good, classic game running well, no adverts during gameplay, and a single video (in) between levels if you win." So perhaps it's best you see for yourself.
Given the games all have an above 4/5 rating in the Play Store and similar ratings on the App Store, and with already hundreds of thousands of downloads acros the range of games, Sega Forever is positioned to be a huge win for the sleeping giant of the gaming industry and could very well be the "Netflix of Retro Gaming" that it aims to be.