Longtime Sega fans have a lot of cause to rejoice this week. The game company has launched its Sega Forever initiative, which promises to bring first party titles from the Master System all the way up to the Dreamcast to mobile platforms — for free.
Sega is starting off light with five classics — Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II, Kid Chameleon, Comix Zone, and you just realized how awesome old-school Sega was. New school Sega isn’t bad either after this week — all five of those titles will now be free for iOS and Android, although they will have ads unless you pay up in-app.
All five games, and eventually all Sega Forever games, will include modern conveniences like save states and leaderboards, along with purist requirements like offline play and support for gamepads — as nice as it is to have Sonic on a mobile phone, using touch controls for that game doesn’t sound pleasant.
This is meant to be just the beginning. Sega plans to add new games to the roster every month, and once they’re released, they’ll be free to download and play — there’s no rotation system planned.
In fact, there couldn’t be — instead of releasing one master Sega Forever app and having the games download or launch from there, each Sega Forever game will need to be downloaded independently. Since those will all live on storage instead of being streamed from the cloud, all we’ll say is that we sure hope your phone has a microSD card slot.
More recent (relatively speaking) consoles like the Dreamcast should be included eventually, which gets us all excited about the prospect of Crazy Taxi on the go. But, rollout will be slow — emulation is a tricky business, and making touch controls that still manage to preserve fun gameplay is even harder.
As the roster grows, we’ll also have to see if Sega tries to turn this into a subscription service — it makes sense to make the games free when you only have five games to choose from, but once that stable of games grows, it’s going to become harder and harder to resist making a paid service out of it.