The 100 Club - Uncovering Some of SEGA’s Arcade Classics
With achievements and trophies, modern gaming expanded the leaderboard into a whole metagame unto itself. Some of us take that more seriously than others. And whilst I can’t boast 1000 platinum trophies or a ridiculous gamerscore, I often play games to service an inexplicable lust for in-game accomplishments to boost my virtual ego. Welcome to The 100 Club.
The fate of arcade culture in the West is epitomised (here in the UK at least) with the spectacular failure, and eventual closure of the infamous SEGA World in London. A hub of tech and late 90s / early 00s ‘futuristic’ chrome decor located inside the city’s famous Trocadero (check out this awesome design thread), it housed games like Daytona 500, Virtua Fighter 2, Super Hang-On, and Sonic: The Fighters, as well as a few massive Sonic the Hedgehog statues.
In this edition of The 100 Club, I’ll be revisiting these classic SEGA arcade games via the power of the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Now to snag some easily attainable trophies, all the while considering the irony of revisiting these games on the 4th generation of a console that drove the nail into the 90s arcade scene and eventually SEGA itself.
Virtua Fighter 2
Released: November 1994 / November 2012 | Trophies: 1 Gold | 4 Silver | 7 Bronze | Percentage complete: 100%
Kicking off this nostalgia trip was a bonafide arcade classic. Virtua Fighter was always the fighting game for genre connoisseurs and that hasn’t changed some twenty-five years later. Despite its now dated visuals, the game controls perfectly well. Sure, it felt a little stiff and archaic but that precision the series is known for was still apparent. There’s a skill required to master this game, a strong amount of technical and tactical ability. As a total novice all of that is beyond my remit, however. Thankfully, very little skill was required to attain that 100% I was looking for.
Merely clearing Arcade Mode would get me where I needed to go. With just a few additional extras to tackle, like playing the 2.0 version of the game as opposed to 2.1 (not a clue!), beating a round without taking a hit (PERFECT!) or winning in Sudden Death, I was quickly on the home stretch and enjoying the feeling of playing this game without worrying about continues. And then frustration hit.
Win a round by ring out? Seems fairly straightforward. Maybe it is, but it proved to be the bane of my hunt for a good half of the time it took to actually grab that complete clear (one hour, thirty-two minutes). The aged controls and my sausage fingers worked against me in tandem as I tried in vain to nudge my opponent off the edge of a stage. The tension in the room as that silver trophy popped could have been cut with a knife. I might have been taking this a bit too seriously.
Released: April 1994 / October 2011 | Trophies: 1 Gold | 4 Silver | 7 Bronze | Percentage complete: 100%
I was always rubbish at Daytona USA in the arcades as a kid, but the allure of those hulking machines with the bucket seats and racing wheels never failed to have me bugging my dad for change to play. It’s nice to know that twenty-odd years later very little has changed. Older for sure, but you could argue none the wiser, I continued my weekend of trophy hunting with this classic.
Turns out that an eight-year-old PlayStation 3 port of a racing game from 1994 doesn’t exactly hold up. The controls were nowhere near as responsive as you’d hope, with the smooth drifting around corners I expected as lost as my youth. I still wasn’t good at it either, scraping along the sidings and skidding into the gravel wherever possible. Through rose-tinted specs it was still quite fun, but even with nostalgia surging through me as I raced through checkpoints across all three stages (earning two silvers and a gold within an hour), I would find it hard to recommend a revisit. Unless you like it when things get weird.
Trophies for finding secret areas and triggering specific actions on the track (like rotating a statue of Virtua Fighter icon Jeffry) followed the usual time trial and challenge mode fare, which I bashed through in minutes to earn myself a bevvy of bronzes. Then we got to Karaoke Mode.
Karaoke Mode is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a karaoke machine inside Daytona USA. Got those compressed-yet-catchy tunes from each track stuck in your head? Belt them out as the game plays itself and words appear on screen! Why is this is in here? I’ve no idea, but the fact that it was made my ninety-minute return to Daytona USA so worth it. Well, that and my increased trophy count of course.
Released: June 1989 / May 2012 | Trophies: 1 Gold | 4 Silver | 7 Bronze | Percentage complete: 100%
Following my pursuits in Daytona USA, Super Hang-On was the obvious next choice (plus, I was trying to avoid the final game on this list). Another game that I had struggled with in arcades, I now found myself genuinely enjoying burning around the tracks and leaving my 2D rivals in the dust.
The environments are varied enough, the challenge is good and the soundtrack is catchy (no karaoke mode though!). The trophy list however, proved to be super finicky. For one: trying to get through a checkpoint with one second to spare in a game all about speed is way more difficult than it sounds. Although it was the ‘Thank You! Thank You!’ trophy for crashing through a checkpoint that caused the most trouble. In any other racing game I’d have done this within minutes, but here the concept of being a bit crap evaded me until I almost gave up my pursuit. The allure of a bronze trophy was just too much though.
Of the four games in this list, Super Hang-On was probably my favourite. It’s proof that simple, solid concept and execution is all that is required to make a fun, evergreen videogame. A new spin on this from one of the incredible indie devs working with pixel art would be more than welcome.
Sonic The Fighters
Released: June 1996 / November 2012 | Trophies: 1 Gold | 4 Silver | 7 Bronze | Percentage complete: 100%
As if SEGA World wasn’t hubris enough for the blue bomber, Sonic the Fighters is a testament to SEGA truly believing their edgy hedgehog and his friends could do (and sell) anything. What does Sonic have to do with fighting? Why is he smacking his friends in the face? I could understand him throwing down with Robotnik, but why is he knocking lumps out ot Tails?
A wonderful oddity and weird piece of SEGA history, Sonic the Fighters is a mess of a simple button-mashing fighter. It’s the only one of the four that I don’t remember from my childhood and I can’t decide if that’s simply because I never played it or that I repressed the memory of it.
Thankfully, this 100% was as simple as they come. In and out in twenty minutes, which was more than enough time to decide that this game should have stayed in the nineties and that I don’t always make the correct life choices. This game is abysmal.
An afternoon of exploring SEGA arcade classics — all of which have some involvement from Yu Suzuki by coincidence — was a trip down memory lane. Playing (most of) these games for the first time in at least twenty years, even in the name of almost cynical metagaming, gave me an appreciation for (most of) them that I hadn’t been able to put together as a kid in the arcades.
The ability to replay games like the ones above is vital. It’s the history of the medium we love so much, accessible at the touch of a button. It just so happens that they also have a raft of easy achievements or trophies.