When I was a kid I used to lie around in the grass and ask myself questions like "What makes a Sega game special?"Of course, the answer to that question depends on what era of Sega you're talking about. When they started in with home consoles, Sega touted themselves as the company that would do things that Nintendo wouldn't. They'd allow Mortal Kombat to be bloody on their console. They gave Sonic the angry eyebrows to contrast against Mario's baby-faced naivete. They embraced adolescent angst and mischief in ways that their rivals steered away from.
That changed in the Saturn and Dreamcast eras, when the publisher started looking to films like Monty Python's Meaning of Life and events like Burning Man for inspiration. Recreating reality with dream-like charms became their calling card. They swung for the fences with games like Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Rez,and NiGHTs just as their life in the home console production world was about to end.
Sayonara Wild Hearts shares a little bit with each of those games in ways that never felt like direct homages; more like it was a secret, unreleased game that fit in right alongside them. Like Shenmue, it's about a love sick young adult who's having trouble figuring out where they fit in the world. Like NiGHTS, Jet Set Radio, and Rez, it's about racing against yourself, combining flight sim and rhythm game mechanics to bring sight, sound and feel into a cohesive whole.