‘Sega Forever’ free mobile games program gets a lukewarm response

Last week, Sega announced a new program for mobile phones that it calls “Sega Forever,” offering several of its classic games completely free of charge, with support for leaderboards and even wireless controllers. Unfortunately, some players aren’t happy with the quality of the ports.

In a review for one of the first free Sega Forever games, Genesis launch title Altered Beast, one user noted that the game suffers from numerous technical issues that simply shouldn’t exist on a game released over two decades ago.

“The game emulation stutters and lags in terms of performance. Ads will freeze or crash the app at random. Sounds and music play even when the mute switch is enabled,” the user continued.

While each game in Sega Forever can be purchased outright for $2, the free versions are supported by advertisements that are pretty invasive — before you’re even able to start up Altered Beast and beat up a single baddie, you’re going to have to watch a video for another game — you’re not even allowed to load an older save file without watching a video for something like Game of War: Fire Age.

Libretro, the creators of a program called RetroArch that runs classic game emulators, blamed Sega Forever’s poor performance on the Unity engine, and said that Sega had made unfair demands when negotiating for the use of RetroArch.

“They could have been using RetroArch right now if they hadn’t been so stubbornly insistent on demanding we relicense our entire program to something that would strip us of all our rights, on top of some other unreasonable things like not showing any branding,” the developer said in a TwitLonger post.

“We’ve actively been going back to individual consumers one-on-one to address [game issues],” Sega Networks’ chief marketing officer Mike Evans said in an interview with Eurogamer.

Evans also gave a slightly worrying response regarding the games’ overall quality on mobile devices, suggesting that iOS and Android players have lower standards.

“I think that while 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.”

Only time will tell if those fans stay delighted. You can download Altered Beast, Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone, and Kid Chameleon right now. Sega promises games for its other systems, including the Dreamcast, will also be released for free.

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