Yesterday, SEGA announced the SEGA Forever program. That program is currently available on iOS and Android app stores.
Basically, SEGA Forever lets people download classic SEGA games for free and play them on their Android and iOS devices. Yes, I said for free. The games come with ads, but for $2, people can get rid of them. Only five games are currently available: Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II (no, not Phantasy Star Online 2), Comix Zone, and Kid Chameleon. However, SEGA will add new games every month.
While the trailer promises modern features, including cloud saves, leaderboards, and bluetooth controller support, the video makes SEGA Forever seem like an app that lets players download SEGA games, similar to the SEGA Mega Drive Genesis Classics game on Steam. However, each game is its own app and has to be downloaded separately. Furthermore, the games are limited to cloud saves unless gamers pay money. While this does not stop people from actually playing and enjoying the games while offline, it means longer games such as Phantasy Star II can’t be enjoyed properly without phone reception or Wi-Fi.
Some of you probably are wondering how the games fare on Android and iOS. I tried out each game and was not too impressed with most of them. I found the default control scheme finicky, but that’s probably due to my lack of experience with Android games. However, the bigger problem is Comix Zone and Altered Beast have slowdown/framerate issues. According to Eurogamer, the source of the problem is these games are emulated with the Unity engine. With luck, these problems will be fixed in future patches.
SEGA Forever holds a lot of promise, but the optimization issues are a potentially huge problem. If 16-bit games such as Altered Beast and Comix Zone have problems running on mobile games, imagine what will happen when SEGA ports 32-bit games or SEGA Dreamcast games? If SEGA doesn’t fix these performance issues, people are quickly going to be turned off from SEGA Forever, well, forever. Of course, not everyone will run into these issues, but with luck, future SEGA Forever games will run smoothly on all smartphone devices.