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So way back when, about halfway through the base game, I submitted someone who I thought could be pretty cool. But I never really got around to putting them forward again for future jobs. They became kind of a one-and-done pick. That changes now, because I feel like they could have a legitimate shot in DLC. So here they are, the one, the only, finally being submitted again.....
Job #221: Cenes Crawford from Thunder Force V
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Thunder Force is a series of shmups created by the now-defunct developer Technosoft. The series originally started as an obscure multi-directional overhead shooter, before transitioning into a horizontal shooter with its third installment. The series never exactly set the world on fire, but it has a significant following among retro gamers and is often held up as one of the finest shmup franchises of its kind. Unfortunately, as mentioned, Technosoft eventually went defunct. However, as of September 2016, SEGA now own the rights to all their properties. So we can add Technosoft stuff to our project now!
I think adding a Thunder Force rep makes sense, as ever since they acquired Technosoft, SEGA have been making pretty good use of the series when it comes to legacy stuff, particularly in joints involving developer M2. Thunder Force IV and AC both got SEGA AGES Switch ports, while the third game got on the Mega Drive Mini and the aforementioned fourth one is coming to the MD Mini 2. Not to mention how they've also been using other Technosoft IP like Herzog and Elemental Master. But TF is the biggest one, so it makes the most sense. It feels like they're keen on establishing the series as a part of the retro SEGA library, which makes sense! Thunder Force has always had a strong SEGA association, the third and fourth ones are very well-regarded big titles for the Mega Drive, and the fifth one was notably on the Saturn as well. In a way, it's always been somewhat part of the SEGA family - it just went from honorary member to actual member.
Cenes herself is the main protagonist of the fifth game. Born in Berlin, Germany, Cenes is the head of the combat unit 222 and pilot of the RVR-01 "Gauntlet". While the previous Thunder Force games mainly focused on the ever-present conflict between the Galaxy Federation and the ORN Empire, the fifth game shifts the focus to Earth. On there, the wreckage of the Rynex ship from Thunder Force IV is discovered and renamed "Vasteel", with its technology reverse-engineered to better mankind. However, **** hits the fan when the Guardian, an advanced AI made for the aforementioned purpose, goes haywire and uses the tech it created from Rynex to wipe out the human race - but not before humanity manages to fight back with their own "Vasteel".
So why Cenes? Well the situation with playable Thunder Force representation is interesting. The other idea I've seen thrown around is just adding Rynex as a playable fighter, and suffice to say I'm not really fond of that idea. Like, at all. I'd personally just rather have something with a bit more character, and my personal choice for an Actual Character would be Cenes because while there are canon pilots for other ships in the series, including Rynex, I'd go with Cenes cause A. she's by far the coolest of all of them, and B. TFV is noticeably more story-heavy than the previous games, and as such Cenes is much more involved in the actual game, which makes her more visible of a protagonist, and thus, more well-known - rather than the other canon pilots who aren't that prominent on their own and kinda just exist to be the pilots of their respective ships besides some lore tidbits in the later games, meanwhile Cenes is more of her own defined character. She might be the series' most iconic Actual Character, so she's a good choice if we're to take that angle.
So how could she fight? After all, she's a shmup character, she spends the game in a ship so she never really shows off much of her own combat chops. I still think you could easily spin something out of her, though. See, I was looking into how the Star Fox characters were implemented in Smash, and inspiration struck me when I saw the theories on how some of their moves seemed to be based on things the ships could do in Star Fox. And....that'd actually be a pretty dope way of implementing Cenes. Make her basically fight like a human RVR ship, give her a bunch of weapons that do the same stuff as all the different abilities you can get in the game, just make her this balls-to-the-walls bat** crazy projectile character. This way, you can incorporate all the crazy shmup bull** that comes with the territory while still adding someone with a bit more character than just A Ship. To me, she's sort of a Captain Falcon type, where she has a cool enough design that you can get away with kinda making things up and basing her more on the general series gameplay and it still feels natural.
Did I mention that the Thunder Force games have some kickass music? Because they totally do.
Cue the theme song sang by Mitsuyoshi-san himself right below (which Masahiro Sakurai once searched up in Wii U's Karaoke Joysound), Sonic's motivational dress-up and a Dreamcast factory tour since having been friends as of 1991, the anime legend Hironobu Kageyama (Dragon Ball fans may recognize a voice) joining Mitsuyoshi-san in a live duet, and HENSHIN!
Job #265: New Series Fighter - Taro Yamada
Taro Yamada is the main protagonist of a 1991 Japanese-exclusive action RPG game named Rent-A-Hero, which was released on SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive and used the same graphic engine as Sword of Vermillion (which got a fan translation in 2015). The game follows Taro moving to the town of Corja in Japan alongside his family (mother has a nice Opa-Opa apron) and younger sister Alisa (somehow related to Phantasy Star's protagonist by name), after his eccentric father changed jobs. During their house-warming party, he ordered pizza from 'Sensational Cafeteria' (or SECA in short) and instead received the Super Energy Combat Armor (as part of the "Rent-A-Hero" program) by accident, which gave him superhuman strength (after accidentally knocking out his father in a "Dadzilla" suit) and other gadgets. After realizing that he is required to pay a fee to rent the armor, Taro decided to become a titular part-time hero for hire (who looks like Captain Commando), performing various odd-jobs for the townspeople of Corja such as delivering food or finding missing children, before ending up in more intensive missions involving corporate theft, counterfeit money and mafia, even an ancient undead pharaoh (King Glutenramen) and ESP telekinetics, all while going against a fellow part-time hero and rival, Ultra Salaryman (or in full title, as lengthy as it sounds, "Ultra Great Super Hyper Miracle Strong Dash Top Fighting Salaryman").
Instead of traditional turn-based battles, Taro faces against criminals in a similar format to 2D fighting games, which was an unusual innovation for the RPG genre at a time. The 1991 game was a self-parody of SEGA, with multiple games from their history at the time getting shout-outs (even arcade ones like OutRun, Power Drift, After Burner, G-LOC: Air Battle and Space Harrier play their memorable tunes from 08:26 to 10:41 in a description), a decade before SEGAGAGA was released (with a same-named protagonist by coincidence), alongside cultural references of Sentai, American superheroes and Japan's culture/society between the 80's and 90's (like a man injuring his leg for trying the moonwalk of Michael "Yakson").
Despite being lesser-known compared to other Genesis games, Rent-A-Hero has proven to be popular thanks to it's comical tone and self-aware humor (SEGA's known for not being afraid of poking fun at stuff as shown in titles like SEGAGAGA), having gained a modern reputation as one of SEGA's fondly-remembered cult classics. The game is one of the 42 pre-installed games on SEGA Genesis Mini's Japanese release, the Dreamcast/Xbox remake (Rent-A-Hero No. 1, which had a cancelled English localization - even with a promo video) with Segata Sanshiro himself as a dojo teacher (which also has beat 'em up sections akin to SpikeOut), a live stage show in Japan and a theatrical movie/film in works (though there's been no news since it was announced a few years ago). A idea of people renting hero suits was later revived by SEGA in a Nintendo 3DS game called Hero Bank.
Rent-A-Hero was referenced and the eponymous hero himself even made appearances throughout numerous SEGA games, like Shenmue as a capsule toy (given that Yu Suzuki's AM2 team worked on both games and a Rent-A-Hero No. 1 remake being close in gameplay), a cameo in SEGAGAGA's final cutscene, a SEGA 60th anniversary icon in Sonic Colors Ultimate, a collectable in Earth UFO Catcher, a "rental hero" system in Sonic Forces, a selectable song in Samba de Amigo, a poster on Sarah & Jacky's stage in Virtua Fighter 2, container trucks with "Nomoruwa" written on them in SpikeOut Final Edition (based on Corja's president who Taro saves from assassination; the original arcade game's project codename was "Rent a Hero Returns" - at 1997), a "OKA" name entry song in Daytona USA, a puzzle in Picross S: Mega Drive/Genesis & Mark III/Master System Edition, Akira & Kage's pre-battle dialogue with Captain Commando in Project X Zone 2 and even a Egg Monster in Square Enix's Hanjuku Hero: Aa, Sekaiyo Hanjukunare...! alongside Dr. Eggman and Carbuncle. And finally, Fighters Megamix with his own vocal theme from Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, where he fought various SEGA characters such as Virtua Fighters, Fighting Vipers and Hornet itself. Perhaps this was where the Part-Time Hero job from Yakuza: Like a Dragon got inspiration from?
For Battle of AGES, Taro would be a super fun character, who's not only a relatively deeper cut and legacy character pick, but also bring really cool moveset possibilities and tons of personality, given some tokusatsu-based and comical moments (given him being cheerful and curious, who always has interest in new things and sometimes gets himself into trouble because of this, talk about being a easygoing everyman-turned-hero) in his series, being able to perform various martial arts moves such as punches and kicks for primary attacks, but he also has projectile attacks (a slashing projectile's named Sonic Cutter and used at 1:42 in this tweet's video) with Super Energy Combat Armor's weaponry, even being able to charge up for powerful special moves with electric/energy properties in Rent-A-Hero No. 1 (techniques like Rent-A-Somersault, Energy Sword, Dragon Thunder, Self Recover for healing, Space Barrier, Galacti-Cannon, etc. - above a linked section), which also apply for smash/strong attacks.
Borrowed from both the original game and Fighters Megamix (with his command/move list below), Taro's armor has a gimmick/mechanic, the battery meter which depletes over time and lowers much faster when using special moves or fully-charged smash attacks consecutively. Once it drops to zero, his armor wil shut down and disappear into a civilian form (front/back; with a different SEGA shirt depending on palette), making him weaker in stats and unable to use special moves in their full potential, unless he's either KO'd or charged up it's batteries with a special move (likely the downwards input), which fully refills his suit meter and allows him to use the Super Energy Combat Armor again. His All-Star Move may involve Rent-A-Hiroko (debuted in a remake and appeared on promotional materials, instruction books, plush dolls and an afore-mentioned live stage show) joining him in a tag-team beatdown with powerful martial art/energy attacks.
Job #186: Love and Berry
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Love and Berry are the two protagonists of Love and Berry: Dress Up and Dance, an arcade game that utilizes the same card-reading technology as Mushiking and Dinosaur King. Love and Berry is definitely the odd one out amongst the Sega Arcade Card trilogy. For starters, instead of being aimed at a demographic of young boys who wanna see things fight each other, Love and Berry is squarely aimed at young girls who are into fashion. As the title suggests, the main objective of the game is to dress up the titular protagonists and then put on a show for an audience. The better dressed your girl is and the better you perform at the rhythm game section, the higher you’ll score. Think a mix of Style Savvy and contests in the Gen 4 Pokemon games.
Although the game was relatively unknown outside of Japan, Love and Berry was actually a pretty decent success for Sega. The arcade game itself brought in money and regularly got updates until 2008, it got a DS game which came with an accessory that allowed you to scan in cards from the arcade game, and it even got an anime film. Pretty good for a relatively niche Sega property. It’s not completely unreasonable for Sega to wanna reference these two if they wanted to go for a wahoo wacky pick. Also I just find it to be a fun little curiosity in Sega’s arcade history, being one of the few games they made that were directly aimed at a female audience.
Anywho, how would Love and Berry fight? Well, they’re witches whose main power is something called “fashion magic,” which allows them to change outfits on the fly. If you really wanted to take some creative liberties, you could lean heavily into that and make them into something of a mage-type character. Maybe do something wacky like give them an attack that changes their alts or the alts of the other characters? Incorporate the tambourine into their moveset somehow? You’d have to get really creative with their moveset, but I think they could be insanely fun if done right. Also I just think the idea is really funny. If Sakurai isn’t gonna give us Style Savvy in Smash, it’s time to take matters into our own hands.
ADDENDUM: In my quest to become a Love and Berry Lore Expert™️, I have discovered that the original arcade game actually was released in English sometime in 2006. It must not have been that much of a hit over here because I can’t find much info about it other than the fact that an English localization and dub does exist. It’s also in this search that I discovered that A, the game received regular Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer updates each season to correlate with those seasons’ fashion trends, and B, the game’s soundtrack is also on Spotify with no region lock whatsoever if that tickles your fancy. I also stumbled across this neat little 2005 article from Web Japan that provides a glimpse of just how big Love and Berry was at the time. It’s not super in depth, but the fact that this game covered by an official Japanese tourism site should speak to its popularity.
it's voting time, big fellas
Here are our picks:
Derek Stiles ( Flyboy )
Cenes Crawford (ya boy)
Taro Yamada ( tonygameman )
A character from Etrian Odyssey ( Captain Shwampy )
Casey ( nirvanafan )
A character from Power Instinct ( KneeOfJustice99 )
Sketch Turner ( ninjahmos )
Love and Berry ( OrpheusTelos )
Hihin-maru ( YoshiandToad )
Yuuri ( osby )
Vote for your top 3 picks - you can self-vote, but only in third place.
1. This might come as a surprise.....but I'm full-on pushing for Love and Berry this time. I think people tend to not realize how massively important and popular SEGA's card arcade lineup was. Games like this and Mushiking were huuuuuuuge. If we're talking important corners of SEGA's history that we haven't touched upon yet, I think this crop of games has to be up there, they're legitimately some of SEGA's most successful endeavors ever. And when you have a super interesting unconventional fighter to go along with it, and an opportunity to represent games that appealed to a different demographic than usual, and the fact that they've been put forward multiple times before.....**** it. I'm pulling for them.
2. Taro Yamada. I like him
3. Etrian Odyssey is a cool pick, it's not as high on my priorities rn cause we did just add both 7th Dragon and another Atlus character, but it's definitely super deserving.
Tbf, Mushiking already got an assist so we'd be working with a more limited selection but this is a good point.I'm not 100% sure if this would necessarily work, but there's also always the option of including stuff from other card-based arcade games that SEGA's released if we were to shift our focus from purely Love & Berry to a bit of a wider scope. Whilst it'd probably seem kind of weird for the uninitiated to see something like a beetle or a dinosaur joining these "girl game" characters, it seems to me at least like it could be a decent possibility to widen the net a little whilst still making sure it all makes sense.
.....not only is this already a stage, House of the Dead is already repped in our roster. Which is to say this is definitely not eligibleJob #269:
Curien Mansion (The House of the Dead)
The setting of the first game in the House of the Dead, which is an iconic part of SEGA's legacy, along with Virtua Cop. Curien Mansion could have zombies in the background.
Unless this has already been submitted by someone else...