Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Arc the Lad: Sing Me a Song of a Lad That's Wanted by the World!

While I wouldn't consider myself to be a truly identifiable "anime fan" until 2004, when I started following the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime via fansubs, I had already been a fan to some minor extent before then. I'd say that I first started knowing what "anime" was back when Digimon Adventure, Ultimate Muscle, & Escaflowne were airing on FoxKids & Kids WB, and I became more of a fan when I found Toonami via G Gundam in 2002. But it wasn't until 2003 that I decided that I really wanted to own an anime on home video, and much like how I originally got into JoJo's Bizarre Adventure back in 1999 because of the Dreamcast port of Capcom's 2D fighting game, my first anime DVD purchase was because of a video game.

When Sony debuted the PlayStation in Japan in late 1994, one thing the system needed in its home country was a killer RPG. That would come in June of 1995, when Arc the Lad saw release; it'd become the best-selling Japanese PS1 game that year, at ~1.11 million copies sold. What's most surprising is that it wasn't really a complete game, as developer G-Craft (Front Mission), later Arc Entertainment, had loftier plans, but knew that it wouldn't get the game out in time, so it was decided to split the game into two, with the first title really being more of a prologue to the REAL plot. Arc the Lad II came out in Japan November of 1996, also selling over a million copies, & told a truly epic (& tragic) tale that, sadly, didn't see international release at the time... Though not for a lack of trying. You see, as soon as the first game was announced, Victor Ireland wanted his company Working Designs to bring it over into English, but Sony Computer Entertainment of America played hardball, denying the idea because of how it was a strictly 2D game, which SCEA wanted to downplay in light of the PS1's polygon-pushing capabilities. In the end, it wouldn't be until April of 2002 that Working Designs finally released the game, but only as part of a giant Arc the Lad Collection that contained Arc I, Arc II, spin-off monster battling game Arc Arena: Monster Tournament, & 1999's Arc the Lad III.

At that time, the release was very hyped, & I made sure I got that collection as soon as it came out. I wound up loving the hell out of the release, though I never did finish Arc II (got to the final dungeon, though) or even play Arc III. Then, one day at my local Best Buy, I came across the anime section & saw a DVD boxset for an Arc the Lad anime; to say that I got excited about it would be an understatement. Anyway, this was a 26-episode TV adaptation of Arc II that originally aired in Japan throughout 1999 via satellite network WOWOW, and ADV would release the anime across six dub-only VHS tapes & six dual-audio DVDs throughout 2001, & the collection I saw came out in mid-2003; the Arc the Lad Collection was originally announced in 2000, so ADV likely tried to take advantage of that. As soon as I could save up the money, I bought that boxset & watched every episode, first via the dub & then about a year or so later via the original Japanese audio (with English subtitles, of course).

So now, roughly 15 years later, how will I feel about my first anime purchase? I still own that boxset, so it's finally time to take it off the shelf & pop those discs back in... They should still work just fine, right?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Obscusion B-Side: Hypothesizing a Sega Master System Mini

So Sega has now finally revealed all 40 (+2) games that will be included in its Sega Genesis Mini (Sega Mega Drive Mini, outside of North America) that will see release later this September, and it's seriously an outstanding roster of games for each variant (America/Europe, Japan, Asia). Sadly, it's next to impossible for Sega to really continue this line, hypothetically, by moving forward, as doing a Saturn or Dreamcast Mini would be much tougher (especially for the former), and would likely become much too expensive to really be worth releasing. However, a tweet from Sega City made me think of another possibility... Going backwards one generation.

At least a Pause button would get added to the controller now... Right?

Admittedly, if Sega was to actually go & make a Master System Mini, based on the company's competitor to the NES, it would be primarily aimed at two markets: Europe & Brazil. The console just wasn't able to really find footing in North America due to the NES' sheer dominance, & Nintendo's possibly illegal exclusivity agreement it forced upon third-party publishers, & Sega's only true success story in its home county of Japan was with the Saturn. Still, Europeans downright fell in love with the Master System (& later the Mega Drive), as Nintendo didn't really manage to take that market over due to the strong computer scene, & in Brazil the Master System is literally the best-selling video game console ever, due to Tectoy's marketing, exclusive releases, & continual re-releases of the hardware (among other reasons). If nothing else, make a hypothetical American release more of a limited product, though sharing Europe's roster, give Japan a Mark III Mini with its own roster that could even include some SG-1000 games (&, likewise, make it a limited release product), & let Tectoy go crazy with a Brazilian version that's filled with a bunch of its own exclusives (& winds up being the most coveted, in general).

Beyond all of that, though, is the major question: What games would even be included in a hypothetical Sega Master System Mini? Well, after looking over the list of games for the console, I came up with what I feel is a relatively realistic (if still semi-wish-list-y) roster, at least for a shared North America/Europe variant.