The concept of a fanservice game has been done quite a bit since the first games of the “genre,” such as Fighters Megamix and Super Smash Brothers (I’m talking about company fanservice here, not breasts and puns!) and while it has not been perfected, we have gotten some great games recently. Also recently, we have seen Sony release a brawler, to join Nintendo, who has set the precedent with their aforementioned Smash series. Though Sega is not one of the bigger players anymore in the console world, could they still release a fanservice brawler? With the success of the All-Stars Racing games, I would think that it would indeed be lucrative if they released a fanservice brawler, but which characters would they pick? Which locations and items too? I will answer those questions with a series of top 10s, that will tell you just who I think would be perfect to fill these roles. I will be excluding anything, anyone or anyplace from the Sonic the Hedgehog Universe, as its obvious and easy to just choose what you would want from that series; and anyways, you and I both know that if Sega were to do a fanservice brawler, it would be almost half Sonic anyways!

Brawlers, since the first Super Smash brothers, have had quite iconic and awesome locations, especially in terms of fanservice. The Sonic and Sega All-Stars games have done a great job in creating tracks that resemble the locations in-game of all the representative games, however not all of the ones chosen would suit a brawler. Essentially, levels that have background animations (Fantasy Zone), that are associated with certain items (the Harbour) or that have "things going on," in the surrounding environment, helped with choosing this list (and if the level looks nice too, that doesn't hurt!), as those factors, I envision, could affect gameplay by throwing the player an attack or item that could change the fight. The ten levels chosen represent a bit that you have already seen so far, however there are some new titles being represented, including a couple of (awesome) surprises. So sit back, enjoy the scenery and get ready to list!

It was a tough choice between Kazarne and Picknica for this last spot, however in contrast with the lovely, cutesy, pastel Picknica, Kazarne is perfect to change the perception of Fantasy Zone. Kazarne is a fiery, volcanic world, where everything appears bleak (and the volcanoes truly look industrial, more than anything) and the boss is a giant Menon Guardian that shoots from all around its spherical body, trying to knock Opa-Opa down. The enemies are the same as the other levels and it really is devoid of anything happy and positive, unlike Picknica that is a sea of joy.

Characters could fight on the volcanoes of course, as well as having the "bases," float around, in order for the characters to have a platform of sorts. For visual purposes only, the Menon Guardian could hide around in the background and shoot just for the hell of it. Conversely, the Menon Guardian could shoot every 30 seconds or so, which the characters must avoid. The volcanoes could also be used as a weapon to knock enemies into; there are quite a few possibilities that exist in Kazarne!

Other choices from Super Fantasy Zone:
Picknica (the light, cutesy level that Fantasy Zone is famed for)
Niagoro (the level of waterfalls; nice pun on the name)

He's no Yuzo Koshiro, but...: Naoki Kodaka composed the soundtrack for Super Fantasy Zone and did an excellent job filling the levels with tunes that fit. For more listening pleasure, look up his brilliant Albert Odyssey soundtrack for the Saturn.

The many levels of Jet Set Radio (well, there are actually four locations with three that have an additional three sections, but who's counting?) are all interesting and fun to traverse, however none are as interesting and fun in my opinion, as Kogane-cho. The level is in twilight, just before the sun sets and the colours present make the scenery beautiful to look at. What intrigues me most is that there are a bunch of out-of-place objects in the level, such as garbage-infested sewers, a car dump (it looks like) and the rooftops; those glorious rooftops.

The rooftops and the ground below would be my choice for the "district," of Kogane-cho in a mascot brawler, as it appears to be the more practical and more fun of all the different areas of the level, especially since the rooftops and the ground below make for some great slope/strategic points of fighting, considerably more so with weapons. More so than these points however, is simply the great aesthetic that the level has, its a damn right great place to be seen in.

Other choices from the Jet Set Radio series:
Benten-cho (the daytime portion of the game, with a lot of levels and interesting districts)
Shibuya-cho (the nighttime portion. My second choice, personally)

A different breed of enemy: Throughout the game, you are pursued by Captain Onishima, a crazed cop, swat teams and apache helicopters, but nothing beats the Kogane-cho special; guys with jetpacks and lightning guns/sniper rifles!

The entire Golden Axe series has super memorable locations, like the snail-like race at the beginning of the third title, the market level in Revenge of Death Adder, the great locations all throughout the Duel, but none are quite as iconic as Turtle Village. Named for the fact that the characters travel on a Turtle's back throughout the second (and a small part of the third) level, it is instantly memorable for two big reasons; the first is because you learn about the cliffs that are abundant in the game, the second is that it is the only time in the entire main game you get to ride the game-breaking reddish-purple dragon that is mad fun to use!

While of course, there could be these bizzarians in a console brawler, I don't forsee it, though I do forsee the cliffs to be more than abundant, as it would make for some tricky jumping around... and some easy kills! The landscape would make for some nice scenery, as well as a great visual experience, with the various browns, yellows and sandy colours that there are throughout the level. Another iconic location from another iconic and awesome game.

Other choices from Golden Axe:
The back of the giant eagle.
The dungeon
The gate to the castle.

Darkness, abounds: Each level in Golden Axe gets darker once the boss is faced, save for the castle levels, supposedly making it more climactic.

Any level in the whole game of Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (or Miracle World, for the matter) could be a part of a mascot brawler, however there is nothing quite as memorable as the first level, RookieTown (and its sister level, TropicsTown). Blue skies, pink and brown buildings and let's not forget the awesome underground, home to extra lives and hopping, Chinese-looking mice. Not to mention you have to avoid big cars, planes smaller than said cars and you also have a chance to win some items via paper, rock, scissors.

The level would be a bit different compared to the likes of Turtle Village or Kogane-Cho, merely for the fact that the platforms can be breakable, in the form of the blue balls or the money sacks, both of which could be great platforms to jump across. While the underground of the level is indeed welcome, I'm not so sure it would be good for a console brawler, as it would pose the same issues as Kogane-cho would. Alex hopping around in his stomping grounds seems like it would be perfect for a console brawler though!

Other choices from Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle:
Hiho Forest

Soundtracks yet again: The Alex Kidd in Miracle World theme, known generally as the Alex Kidd theme, has a remixed version in both Rookie and Tropics Towns. Sega legend Takenobu Mitsuyoshi also sings an awesome rendition, complete with electric guitars and wicked drumming, found on the Alex Kidd soundtrack,.

Now, we get into the big time. Kabukicho is the biggest and most famous red-light district in Tokyo and for good reason; it spans multiple blocks, has hundreds (maybe thousands?) of businesses and it is known that there is a strong Yakuza presence within the city blocks. It only seemed natural then, that when the Yakuza games were first created, they would take place in this rough-neck location, known in the games as Kamurocho. Truth be told, of the over 200 hours I have spent playing the Yakuza series (excluding the historic spinoffs), I would have to say at least a good 175 of them have been spent in Kamurocho and I have gotten to know the place quite well.

Surely, you may be asking, with all of this going on, what spot in Kamurocho would be best for a console brawler? I would reply with, "all of it," for you see, despite all of the buildings, businesses, parks and alleyways, there are even more streets that bend, lead to other streets or to other buildings. For this reason, Kamurocho as a whole would be best for a console brawler, as you could jump on buildings, cars, pick up a bike and whack your opponent or just run around and use the buildings to aid in your skull-bashing. It would be interesting to try and implement Kamurocho into a game such as a console brawler, however I have a feeling it would work wonderfully.

Other choices from the Yakuza/Ryu ga Gotoku series:
Okinawa (fighting on the beach and around Kiryu's house or the Kariyushi Arcade? Awesomesauce)
Tojo HQ (the massive mansion would be a great fit as well, with its multiple floors and large grounds, there is a lot to choose from)
Sotenbori (named after the real-life Dotonbori in Osaka, this brightly coloured street would be perfect as well)

Home is where the heart is: Despite the fact that Kiryu is retired from the Yakuza, wishes to carry on his life with his kids and doesn't like to fight much anymore, he cannot stay away from Kamurocho. Maybe he misses collecting money like he used to?

Panzer Dragoon Saga (the whole Panzer Dragoon universe, actually) has some beautiful and exotic locations, locations that are very different than almost any game out there, as the world was conceptualised from the ground up, with no archetype or cliché for any of the levels that were created. From living in a massive hotel-esque building carved into a mountain, to a desert that holds an extensive underground network of tunnels and corridors beneath it, Panzer Dragoon Saga is a truly unique game. While it does not have one major or many minor cities however, it does have one very important and awesome village; the Village of Zoah.

Zoah is where the majority of people in Panzer Dragoon live, as the town is split into two areas; one where people can partake in their love/lust for anything (the liberal side of town) and the other area that holds a church and that disallows certain people from entering (the Holy side of town). This makes for an interesting level for a console brawler, as there could be variations of the level that could be chosen by the player, as well various items to pick up and smash against your opponent (the broken plane, bottles from the bar, etc.) The village is also surrounded by large stone walls, thus not enabling anyone to enter or exit; that would make for some interesting and potentially epic battles.

More choices from Panzer Dragoon Saga:
Ruins of Uru (this beautiful water world would be either awesome to fight on or highly impractical)
Mel-Kava (the massive ship with many rooms would be an superb choice to battle)
Camp (who doesn't love a wide, flat, open field?)

The Will of the Ancients: The world, continent and country that the entire Panzer Dragoon series takes place in, are never mentioned by name; it is referred to simply as, "the Continent."

When one location is the backdrop for a trilogy, it makes for a great time for the fans of a series, as they traverse familiar places over and over and certain areas become instantly memorable: the City is one such backdrop. Though each Streets of Rage title indeed has different locations on the whole, there are some recurring levels, such as the City streets and of course, the Syndicate Headquarters. While not every location in Streets of Rage would be suitable for a major brawler, it's safe to say that one of the two aforementioned locations would fit very well.

The City streets in Streets of Rage are rather unique for a beat-'em-up, especially when stacked against other, similar beat-'em-ups of the time, such as Final Fight; the multiple neon signs and bright lights throughout make for a different street setting that is most welcome. The iconic weapons from the game could be strewn about the level as well, which include the pipe, katana, knives and of course, the chicken to heal a bit! With all of this going for it, how can one leave out the City?

Other choices from the Streets of Rage series:
The Disco (from Streets of Rage 3. Lots going on and great lighting again make for a confined, but fun experience)
Construction sites (from each game, it seems! Lots to do at a site, including bashing your opponent with a 2x4)
Stadium (from Streets of Rage 2. Fighting in a Saturn is boss)

Star Wars...ish: Streets of Rage 3 has a diverse amount of levels, starting you in the city and ending off in a lush jungle, with a ton of different locations in between.

Nightopia is a wonderfully lush and happy place, especially when looking at it through the hearts of Claris and Elliot, who have "created," these worlds in their dreams. Both first levels of the game, Spring Valley and Splash Garden, are wonderfully done levels that instill nostalgic feelings to those who played Sonics 1 and 2 a handful of years prior. Yup, that means a lot of lush forest, water and greenery that will remind anyone of the Green Hill.

Splash Garden not only provides some beautiful scenery and a bunch of eye candy, it also provides many tactical and fun vantage points to fight. Take the waterfalls and trees for example; now you have places to hide behind and places to shoot weapons from, if you have one, as well the rings could be present in order to attack or use as springboards to jump higher/farther. Splash Garden just is perfect though, merely because everything flows so well and fits so well within NiGHTS Into Dreams..., Sega could easily do it again in the form of a mascot brawler stage.

Other choices from NiGHTS Into Dreams...:
Spring Valley (a lot of the same with Splash Garden)
Puffy's Level (interesting setup with all the rooms)

Sega's progressive! Or just weird: All of the residents of Nightopia are known as Nightmaren, they are all evil (with exception to NiGHTS) and they are all genderless

Yokosuka, Japan is a very famous and prominent harbour town on the south eastern border of Kanagawa Prefecture. It use in popular culture has been somewhat noteworthy, including being the setting for a few films and the video game Front Mission 3: Yokosuka's biggest role in popular culture however, is the setting and backdrop for the first Shenmue title on the Dreamcast. Never before had a real-life city been created in a video game like it was in Shenmue.

Shenmue broke many boundaries for reality in video games; the extensively accurate weather patterns in Yokosuka of 1986/87 were only part of it. The other boundaries were the sheer amount of detail and effort that the real-life locations received, such as Dobuita Street, the primary hub (of sorts) of the game. The most interesting location however, is not Dobuita, but rather the other grand and large scale location in the game and that is Yokosuka Harbour.

The harbour fits in too well with a mascot brawler, as there are, as usual, a ton of buildings, crates, vehicles and other objects to jump around on and smash your opponent into. It's also possible that forklifts could be randomly generated (ala the flying vehicles in Power Stone 2's boat level), which the characters could then ride on and attack their opponents, either by running them over or flinging them with the fork (almost like Ryo's All-Star move in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing). There's a ton to do and a ton to see in Yokosuka Harbour and while it may not be #1 on the list, it sure as hell is deserving.

Other choices from Shenmue:
Dobuita Street (lots to see and do as well, possibly a bit too open for a brawler)
Sakuragaoka Park (a bit small, but could do for some interesting fights)
Hazuki Residence (maybe a bit small too, but also; lots to see, do and absorb)

The home of the brave: Despite all of the harbour and coastline that Yokosuka has, the primary use of it is for an American naval base, where the USS George Washington is currently stationed.

When it comes to brawling fighters, there never seems to be a whole lot of thinking outside the box; sure Power Stone 2 has a ton of weapons, but few show up. Saffron City in Super Smash Brothers has a brilliant tune and a great design, but everything is cramped for the most part and things become impractical. For the case of Comix Zone however, Sega would have to ensure that they think outside of the box, as they could create the level of all levels, by having the characters switch from page to page, depending on how many characters there are: this seems like win-win to me.

But enough about the level for a while, Comix Zone is a special game, basically the only game of its kind, as you traverse page after page of a comic book, to transport Sketch back out of his book and into the real world again. It's a fascinating storyline and the executions is done brilliantly. With Sketch's trusty pal Roadkill in tow, he becomes the hero and it is he who must stop the evil Mortus from causing any more trouble. The story is done to near perfection, with the backdrop of a comic book fitting perfectly.

In terms of using it for a console brawler, the screen could turn pages with every subsequent character's elimination thus the final battle between two men (or women!) would be decided on an empty space of sorts. It is also unique due to the fact that many of the already existing comics take place in sequence to what is going on, thus there a lot of sewers when Sketch is infiltrating at first, changing to above ground later in the game. The different possibilities are a fantastic thing to think about and the entire book makes for a fantastic location in a Sega mascot brawler.

Other choices from Comix Zone:
New York City? (it is where the game takes place, after all...)

Music is my antidrug: 2 albums were released after the release of Comix Zone; the first was an enhanced music disc, featuring the sound team playing the music. The second is an album that included performances by Danzig and Lords of Acid.

Location, location, location; one of the most import (and telling) statements you will ever here. When creating a video game, the same statement applied, especially in a console brawler, where poor levels may hurt sales and ultimately cause the game to fall by the wayside... In addition to the 10 above, here are some honourable mentions:

Freon and Sonata- Ristar (Gen): Freon is your typical ice level, where the characters could throw snowballs, as Ristar and the Freon Kid do. Sonata would just be great, with all of the musical-themed elements that could be put in.

Dis- Altered Beast (Multi): What better place to fight than in a city in Hell? Complete with all of the beasts that want your head along with your opponents (and their heads too), this would be another welcome addition.

Ibaraki Province- Revenge of Shinobi (Multi): This memorable level would be a great place to battle, with bamboo hazards everywhere, along with ladders aplenty.

While locations can also hurt a title, as written above, they can also save a title, as Super Smash Brothers for example, can arguably be remembered more for its iconic levels, as opposed to everything else. As always, if you want to talk more on the subject, let's take it to the Top 10 board, where everyone is always willing to have a chat and resolve a conflict; see you there!

List by Truck_1_0_1_ (08/22/2014)

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