After teasing something called "Sega Forever" this entire month, today Sega finally unveiled what the heck this thing is: Sega Forever is a new initiative to bring classic Sega titles to mobile devices, and the first batch of 5 games has just launched in the App Store today. On the surface, Sega Forever sounds great. The selection of games can come from any of Sega's game consoles from the past, meaning everything from the Sega Master System right up through the Sega Dreamcast. The games are released for free and supported with ads, but a one-time IAP may be purchased to disable those ads as well as provide offline saving. Finally, and perhaps best of all, is that all Sega Forever games will support MFi controllers, so those that own a physical controller can play these games the way they were originally designed, with physical buttons.

In practice, however, Sega Forever is pretty underwhelming, at least to start. Of the 5 games released today, 3 of them have already been available on the App Store from as far back as 2009. Altered Beast [Free], Phantasy Star II [Free], and Sonic The Hedgehog [Free] have all been previously released on iOS, and what's nice is that if you owned those older versions the new Sega Forever versions are updates to the originals so you can actually hit the Restore Purchases option to unlock the ad-free versions of the game. At least, that's how it's supposed to work, and does work in both Altered Beast and Phantasy Star II.

Sonic The Hedgehog seems to be having issues, though. Trying to restore purchases results in the game just hanging until the attempt finally times out. Luckily (for Sega, at least) you can still purchase a brand new ad-removal IAP if you're really jonesing for removing ads, but those who purchased Sonic before will need to wait for Sega to hopefully fix this issue in an update. There's precedence for this, as the exact same thing happened when Sonic CD [Free] went free with ads, and Sega released an update within a day that fixed the issue. Let's hope for the same with the original Sonic The Hedgehog.

As for the 2 new-to-mobile games released through Sega Forever? Well, they're both games that are fondly remembered for various reasons but neither has aged too well since their original releases. First is Kid Chameleon [Free], a pretty good platformer where the main gimmick was the ability to wear different masks in order to transform into different characters. Then there's Comix Zone [Free], a side-scrolling beat 'em up that is remembered for its colorful visuals and its unique gimmick of having the game's levels actually take place through comic book panels. This mobile version of Comix Zone was actually soft-launched about a month ago, and my verdict back then was that it was… just ok. It's a bit finicky trying to control the game with virtual buttons, and there was a severe lack of bells and whistles to go along with the port.

In fact, that's kind of my main complaint with all the Sega Forever releases so far: These are about as barebones as they come. Sonic The Hedgehog is an exception as it was already the fantastic Christian Whitehead remastered version, but the rest of the titles don't feel all too different than they did when they released on iOS 7 or 8 years ago. MFi support is nice and cloud saving is cool, but even basic options for moving around virtual controls or adjusting screen size and resolution would be really appreciated. And those types of options are pretty expected nowadays when older games are re-released. Even worse is that it doesn't seem like it would take much effort to add things like that into these games.

Now that Sega Forever has officially kicked off, I feel like the glass is exactly half full and half empty. I love the idea of it, and I fully support the pricing model of free with ads and the option to disable them for a one-time IAP. I'm also very excited to see games from systems other than the Genesis get released. But this first selection of games is pretty underwhelming, and while these versions certainly play better than those terrible ROMs wrapped in emulators versions from way back when, they're still disappointingly barebones compared to most classic game re-releases. That could change by way of updates, and hopefully it does, but right now these games are about as basic as they come. We'll continue to see how the Sega Forever intitiative evolves now that it has launched, and at the very least all of these games are free to download and check out, so if you've got a hankering for some classic game nostalgia give 'em a spin for yourself.

  • Dailon Huskey

    A lot like the capcom games
    I would rate these a little better overall and I am thankful they allowed those of us that bought to restore

  • Mariko

    I made sure to grab Phantasy Star II when it first hit th AppStore. Unfortunately though, since it was designed for iPhones, trying to play on an iPad can get frustrating. Especially on a 12.9" Pro, where it ends up being very small, even on the largest size it can be set at. I would LOVE to have all 4 PS games on my iPad.

  • pelagrin

    "The selection of games can come from any of Sega's game consoles from the past...right up through the Sega Dreamcast."

    It likely will never happen, and would basically be unplayable without a controller, but if Phantasy Star Online ever came to my iPhone, iPad, and/or AppleTV, I would be SO happy!

    ...but I seriously doubt that will ever happen.

    • BulkSlash

      I suspect when they say Dreamcast they mean Crazy Taxi and a fixed version of Jet Set Radio. There's a chance that the other games like Bass Fishing and Space Channel 5 will get ports from the Dreamcast collection a few years back.

      That said, the Sega Forever website has what looks like a Virtua Tennis icon in the coming soon section....

      • pelagrin

        Yep. That's what I figured too. Crazy Taxi is already on the app store, they'll likely fix and re-list Jet Set Radio. There's also a version of Virtual Tennis already on the app store for $5. They'll probably convert it to free with ads with optional purchase. Bass Fishing or Space Channel 5 could be cool. I also wouldn't complain if we got Samba de Amigo and Shenmue someday. Those all would be more likely than PSO.

        ...but I'd still be absolutely pleased if I got to play PSO on my iOS devices. It won't happen, but I can dream.

      • http://wizodd.tumblr.com Wizard of Odyssey

        Wasn't there an iOS Virtua Tennis game, too?

    • Dragontears969

      PSO would be awesome though starting over would be a bit tedious again. I'm really sad that the newest PSO never came out here. The shining force games would be really cool to play though, as would Power Stone. I loved that game.

  • BulkSlash

    Never underestimate Sega's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory... or their ability to hype something big as coming and then for it just to be a bunch of Megadrive roms again.

  • Cleafus

    It appears that my previous game save is gone since I updated. Bummer. ☹️

  • Martin Cook

    Would have thought the first thing u would mention how bad the emulation is. In fact I was getting better performance out of the older ports on my iPhone 4 then I am with these in a 6. Terrible.

  • boydstr

    I hope that they succeed Sega made some real good games in the past I really like too see the fantastic sandbox game "Shenmue"on iOS I still have the Dreamcast the controller was so great so far as I can remember it was the first console controller with real triggers.btw it should be great that they made an Sega Games app where you can put all the Sega games in.

  • macatron

    If I could have my picks, I'd LOVE to see them port Skies of Arcadia and Shining the Holy Ark! That would be EPIC!!

  • macatron

    I've gotta admit that I love their launch video too. Sure, it's uber cheesy, but it's JUST like the actual SEGA commercials I remember as a kid. I'm going to try and remain positive on this new direction. Hopefully SEGA gets it tuned just right, and we can all enjoy some quality classics on the go. 🙂

  • Brice.J

    Does this mean a potential Sonic 3 & Knuckles (complete w Christian Whitehead remastering, of course)?

  • JosephWelke

    Virtual On Oratorio Tangram? Record of Lodoss War? Typing of the Dead? (j/k)

  • Craig Grannell

    I reported that it didn't work on my Shield, noting that the app assumes a controller's plugged in and so won't function. After several back-and-forth emails (asking for screen grabs and the like), the thread ended. I hope it gets fixed, but, well, whatever. At least on iOS Crazy Taxi still seems to work well. (And I'm glad it didn't just vanish in appocalypse, which was what I was fearing.)

  • curtisrshideler

    Another frustration. Hope this turns out positive eventually. But I'm not going to bother with Sega if we keep losing progress or ability to restore in Sonic games after updates. Emulation is much easier and doesn't fail as much as Sega themselves. And Capcom. And Nintendo. Maybe one of these companies will eventually learn how to make money off of emulation.

  • Desertking24

    Don't mind it but the whole ad thing bothers me so much, I was just hoping an ad up in the top screen but not every level of sonic...it disrupts my flow. However I tried to play it on my iPad....but my hands are still too small.

  • eufeion

    Anyone else had extreme lag with these? I'm on an iPad mini 2

  • Luuthian

    So far pretty unimpressed. The worst of it is that the controls cover critical parts of Phantasy Star's interface and there's no way to lower transparency. They're missing tons of emulator options, the resolution is fuzzy, the ads are beyond intrusive etc...

    There's got to be a better way.

  • Shiro

    Fortunately my Vita has the Genesis Collection lol