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Sega’s free, classic mobile games slammed as poor ports

“It’s a big ambitious vision, and with that there’ll always be challenges”

Altered Beast artwork
Artwork for Altered Beast, one of the first games in the Sega Forever collection.

Sega Forever is one of those exciting ideas in theory — a new program from the publisher where classics from its entire library are made into free-to-play mobile games. But players have found that, in practice, Sega Forever is a bit of a bust. Reviews criticize the ports for being poorly emulated, with Sega Networks’ chief marketing officer Mike Evans calling the launch not “as strong as it could have been” in an interview with Eurogamer.

Reviews on iTunes for much of Sega Forever’s first wave of free, classic games, including Phantasy Star 2 and Altered Beast, say the games need work.

“I love Sega’s attempt to entice customers by providing a promising vision of classic games on mobile platforms,” wrote user Jeratain in the most helpful review on the App Store. “Unfortunately, the execution leaves something to be desired.”

Among the issues the user encountered were great deals of lag, freezing or crashing and volume errors. They weren’t alone; several other reviews call the game “jittery” and a “glitchfest.”

John Linneman of Digital Foundry, Eurogamer’s gaming tech-focused section, took to Twitter to warn users against the Sega Forever games as well.

“DO NOT TOUCH those Sega Forever games,” he tweeted just after launch. “Lousy emulation in a Unity wrapper. Not good at all.”

Yet Evans, who works at Sega’s mobile division, said the negative reaction comes mostly from a small number of users.

“For the vast majority of our fans it's solid, but the specialist guys who are looking for the absolute epitome of quality, we're going to keep improving for those guys,” Evans told Eurogamer when asked about the launch’s mixed reception.

As for choosing Unity, Evans explained that it helped the company reach as many mobile users as possible. That’s the primary goal with Sega Forever, he said — although the various operating systems on mobile means there’s always some issue that the publisher can’t anticipate.

“I think that whilst we're continually working to improve on quality — we have to understand the context of mobile in that sense — if you look at the vast majority there's a lot of very delighted fans out there,” Evans said. “We're going to continue to improve, the core is very important to us as well, and make those changes so we're happy and they're happy.”