Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Sega. Digital distribution. Any life-long fan of the company knows how much potential there is in the company's growing relationship with downloadable content.

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And this year looks little different, as new and classic titles arrive across XBLA, PS3, iOS and PC. Here's what you should be readying for.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Hell Yeah: The Wrath of dead Karnickels
System: PC, PSN, XBLA
Date: Summer

In the role of deceased rabbit Ash, we ride a jet-pack through the bowels of hell in a story of revenge - all because compromising photos of the bunny have leaked all over the internet. What results is over thirty mini-games worth of justice.

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While we work to get rid of all evidence, diamonds are collected which can be exchanged for ludicrous costumes and weapons. Chef's hat to the bazookas might be mainstream enough. But exchanging saws for a donut with a rotating line of lightsabers? The developers at French Arkedo Studios must have been licking some psychoactive frogs to come up with such a bizarre looking title.

After relatively brief demo is still not really clear what the actual gameplay at all: Platform, Pokémon version of Boulder Dash or Hack'n'Slash yet? One thing for certain: it's definitely a brightly-coloured and funky therapy that reduces aggression.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Jet Set Radio
System: PC, PSN, XBLA
Date: Summer

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One of the absolute classics of the Dreamcast era returns in sleek HD and lacking any tell-tale signs its carrying the weight of a dozen years on it's frame.

In 2000, Jet Set Radio was one of the first pioneers of the still very popular cel-shaded look, and its idiosyncratic-style graphics and innovative gameplay have really aged with dignity. Sega has learned from its previous Dreamcast port mistakes because Jet Set Radio comes with the original soundtrack and in glorious full-screen mode.

To the beats of the legendary radio DJ Professor K, we roll on inline skates in a futuristic comic-Tokyo and defend the territory of our GG's against enemy gangs by spray-painting graffiti. As we roll through the city, we are pursued by police officers marching in lockstep, a slightly mad chief of police and even missile-firing helicopters. We grind and skate, pulling tricks, collecting cans and spraying and tackle rivals trying to out-spray us on graffiti.

The graffiti can be customised through an editor - and even the default pieces should be noted as the work of Inkie, who was then head of design department at Sega and a buddy of street artist Banksy. Over time, you'll gain fifteen gang members who not only have their own look, but also differ in their capabilities in terms of endurance, speed, and graffiti.

The HD version of Jet Set Radio combines all the features of the then slightly different European, American and Japanese versions and has a diverse mix of J-pop, hip hop, electronic and rock as its soundtrack.

Fans will be picking this up immediately: those of you newcomers, get ready to be acquainted with a classic.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
System: PS3, XBLA
Date: Summer

Final Showdown is the refined version of Virtua Fighter 5. The combat system has been carefully revised. A slight simplification of the control, enhanced visual cues in the battle phase and an improved system for countering are all in place, without altering the balanced and accurate combat system from Virtua Fighter.

The fights are staged in large arenas with different dynamic and interactive objects and destructible walls. In the new room-match mode, there are now small tournaments for eight players available. The nineteen very different fighters make for exciting and varied and duels, and its brilliant to see one of the fighting genre's all-time greats reappear in digital form.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
System: PC, PSN, XBLA, iOS
Date: Spring

Four months after the events of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I Little Planet appears, the scene of the Metal Sonic battle from Sonic CD. Metal Sonic is revived by Dr. Eggman and Sonic tries to stop both of them with the help of Tails.

While Tails can fly Sonic around, he can also help Sonic take on stronger opponents or can climb to higher levels by leaping off Sonic's hands.

Given the sensitivity of the fan-base, Episode II sees new animation and a revised control scheme - the hedgehog races smoothy through the levels now, and leaping across small precipices no longer requires the analog stick to be held to determine the rolling direction. Thus the sense of momentum is now much closer to that found in the original Mega Drive series.

There'll be four areas to travel through, of which we saw two: White Castle and Sylvania. In the demo we were allowed to go to the White Park area, a snow theme park, on the hunt for the rings and dig our way through the snow, while Sonic and Tails are chased by an avalanche. The game offers local and online co-op playable.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

Total War Battles: Shogun
System: iOS
Date: 2012

The download version of the successful on the PC strategy game series Total War appears in an optimized version for touch screens. In the construction and real-time strategy title, we are fighting for supremacy in medieval Japan.

Even when Total War Battles: Shogun fights are fought in real time, the pace is more leisurely. In a tube-like map with hex fields we construct buildings and advance toward the base. Our units are subject to the Bushido code, and may move forward only on the map. The fighting genre, however, is subject to the typical rock-paper-scissors principle.

The touch controls are intuitive and provide an amazing amount of depth. Accumulating experience on the battlefield will allow us to train our soldiers, or increase the production rate of our buildings and thus be better prepared for future battles. The more buildings we make in the limited space, the more resources we have for the production of units available and the maximum number of available units increased in this way.

Especially nice: Two players can fight simultaneously on a single device. The game will be released as a universal app across iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch with each scaled to the right size to provide maximum fun for all devices. We're surprised at how much has been packed in here - definitely one to look out for for those strategy enthusiasts amongst you.

Sega goes Digital: Hands-On

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