I loved the heady, Shenmue-enriched days of the Dreamcast. So much so that if Sega were to announce a successor to its outcast little console, I’d hardly be able to contain my excitement – I’d probably have to go outside and kick a pigeon or something just to calm myself down.
So, you can understand my initial glee when I stumbled across some info outlining a motion-controlled, Sega-branded console: the “Zone Sega”, slated for release this summer! In 2001, Sega announced that it would be discontinuing support for the Dreamcast, and the hostile world of hardware altogether, focusing its vastly experienced hands on software alone. Has there been a change of heart?
Well, not exactly. Before you Sega fanboys out there start ritually burning your PlayStations, I should point out that the Zone Sega will, in fact, not be produced by Sega. Although the console is a sequel, it won’t be replacing the Dreamcast but will rather be the latest, revamped incarnation of the Zone 40, a relatively popular $39.99 Wii clone.
With 50 built-in titles (20 Genesis classics, including Alex Kidd, Sonic and Knuckles, and Ecco the Dolphin, 14 “new” arcade titles, and 16 motion-controlled sports games), the Zone Sega boasts 32-bit graphics and will come with two Wiimot- sorry, controllers. Contrary to speculation, there is no cartridge slot, so you will have to make do with the embedded library.
Although the Zone 40 is usually praised in reviews, you can’t help but feel you will really be paying for an inferior Wii rip-off and some old Sega games you’ve bought on half a dozen systems over the years. Also, the Genesis classics sadly do not incorporate motion control, so you will have to play them with your boring old thumbs.
The Sega branding will likely double the price tag since the system’s predecessor, so expect to pay around $80 (£50) when the console is released in the second or third quarter of 2010. I’d like to remain hoping that Sega would only lend its name to products of a certain quality, so perhaps the Zone Sega will be a fun and cheap alternative to the Wii. Plus, it should keep the nippers happy for a few hours (or until it breaks – whichever comes first).
To all the grandkids out there: try to feign gratitude when you receive one of these from your bewildered grandmother who thinks she’s given you the latest popular piece of Nintendo hardware.
(No pigeons were harmed during the writing of this article.)