Sega AGES Interview: Behind The Scenes Of Bringing Classic Sega Games To Nintendo Switch

Sega AGES series is a set of classic Sega games ported to the Nintendo Switch. They are not just simple ports but offer many extra bonus features making them great for those who want to experience these again.

Most of the work done behind these Sega AGES ports is by M2. They are a talented bunch of developers who have a great deal of experience in releasing these ports. They don’t just work with the source code, but they also go one step further and try to make them as authentic as possible to the original hardware while adding any other features.

Nintendo Switch is slowly getting new Sega AGES releases that started first with Sonic the Hedgehog and Thunder Force IV. There have been two more games released since then including Outrun, which just launched last month. More Sega AGES classics are in development and planned for later this year.

The best thing about Sega AGES is their price, which is really low for a port which might seem simple at first glance, but behind the scenes, there is a lot of love and care put in making sure this port is in the best shape possible.

We were fortunate to get the chance to have an interview with the development team behind Sega AGES, and Yosuke Okunari, one of the development staff, answered most of our questions. We are sharing the full interview below, so please give it a read. It is fascinating to hear what goes behind the scenes for these Sega AGES ports.

GN: How is a title picked from the library of games for Sega AGES release? Is there any criteria or particular selection that goes behind the scenes for each title.

Yosuke Okunari: This project was basically started as an extension of SEGA 3D Classics, which was on the 3DS.  We selected titles that we weren’t able to release for the 3D Classics along with popular games from that series. This is why there are many titles from the 80’s. If the series can continue on longer, I hope we can take on more games from different eras.

GN: How is the experience of developing these games for the Nintendo Switch. Is the hardware user-friendly and offers some advantage that helps in the porting process?

Yosuke Okunari: As mentioned above, since we have developed this for the Nintendo 3DS up until now, it has made developing for the Switch easier. The graphic resolution has been significantly upgraded from the 3DS, so we are able to port games with high resolution (at the time of original release) like Gain Ground.

GN: What type of extras take priority when developing these games. Are the various rendering and audio options necessary part of these ports?

Yosuke Okunari: We are only adding features that won’t detract from what makes these games fun or interesting. For example, we look to add in options to slightly lower the difficulty or content that will allow people who aren’t used to older games—or people who lost interest in action games—to more easily enjoy them.

However, just lowering the difficulty might make the game less entertaining, so we make sure to respect the original game too. We are planning to stay faithful to the original by keeping the sound and resolution as close to the original as possible.

GN: What are the plans for the future after releasing the first batch of games for Sega AGES? Is there anything in particular or things to tease?

Yosuke Okunari: When we were selling these titles on the 3DS, they came out every three months, so this time we are looking to release one title per month in Japan.

We’re still finalizing timing for the rest of the world, but will try to keep the release dates for other countries as close to Japan’s as possible.

GN: What was the most difficult Sega AGES release that you have worked on in the past?

Yosuke Okunari: The upcoming release, Gain Ground, was ported from SYSTEM 24 which is a system board that had no prior porting history, so the analysis of the system board took some time.

SYSTEM 24 required a 3.5-inch floppy disk to run a game, so we had to figure out how we can start the game without the floppy disk.

However, the title that will take the most time is the title we are currently developing, Virtua Racing. This game, which is from the system board MODEL 1, was developed when there was no 3D rendering on the PC, so the architecture is incredibly ingenious. If we include the time, we spent working on this title for the 3DS, it would add up to a few years.

GN: How is localization handled in such ports? Are the translations kept intact or is there any improvement or changes made to the game?

Yosuke Okunari: Regarding the titles we are currently porting, the only thing that will be localized in the games will be the menu, and the rest of the game will be left as is. The English in Phantasy Star can be very awkward, but because we want people to feel the nostalgia, we decided to leave it as is.

When we released the Genesis/MegaDrive title Monster World IV  for the SEGA Vintage Collection 3, it had never been released outside of Japan, so we had our current localization team translate this title. This title ended up with translation quality which wouldn’t have been possible to have back in 1994 when this game first released.

In the future, we may try localizing titles which have never been translated if we can draw a reaction.

GN: Nintendo Switch is a new way to play games with both portable and TV mode supported. How does this factor in when porting each game, and does this make it a more challenging platform?

Yosuke Okunari: With games for the 3DS, multiplayer battles were not a priority. However, the Switch is easy to carry around and play with other players, so we are considering content where people can battle anyone, anywhere on the Switch.

Gain Ground is a game where three people can play at once (NA version), and with the Switch, people will be able to do this as well.

GN: Are there any plans to use the unique control scheme of Nintendo Switch with Joy-Con in any Sega AGES release?

Yosuke Okunari: Like Out Run, where we had gyro-sensor gameplay, we are considering incorporating special controls into other titles too when possible.

This concludes our interview with the Sega AGES development staff. Hope you guys enjoyed it, and make sure to leave some feedback in the comments below.

If you want to give Sega AGES a chance, there are four of these port available on the Nintendo eShop. They are Sonic the Hedgehog, Outrun, and Phantasy Star, available for $7.99 each.

Danial Arshad Khan

Founder of GearNuke.
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