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'Sega Forever' brings classics like Sonic, Phantasy Star to iOS free with controller support, iMessage stickers

Publisher Sega is reviving its console glory days with free, ad-supported re-releases of some of its most popular and iconic titles on Apple's iOS, complete with online leaderboards and wireless Made for iPhone controller support.

New titles in the "Sega Forever" initiative will be released every two weeks, starting this week with the launch of ad-supported versions of "Sonic the Hedgehog," and "Altered Beast,", "Phantasy Star II," "Comix Zone," and "Kid Chameleon." As of publication, titles were not yet available to download in the U.S., but should arrive on Apple's App Store within the next 24 hours.

Future titles will span every console era from the Japanese gamemaker, including the Genesis, Dreamcast, Master System and more.

The official "Sega Forever" website teases that "Virtua Tennis," originally released on Dreamcast, will be coming to iOS soon. Other titles spotted in advertising materials include "Shinobi," "Vectorman," "Crazy Taxi," "Super Hang-On," and "Ecco the Dolphin."

In addition to support for dedicated physical game controllers on iOS, the titles will also be accompanied by iMessage sticker packs, accessible through the app drawer in Messages on iOS 10 and later.

Gamers who want to play ad-free can purchase the titles for $1.99. Sega says future releases will be adapted specifically for mobile devices while also remaining faithful to the original console titles.

To celebrate the launch, Sega published a retro-themed commercial, harkening back to the company's memorable, somewhat-chaotic advertising of the early '90s. At that time, the company's Genesis console was locked in heated battle with the rival Super Nintendo Entertainment System hardware.

Wednesday's announcement made no mention of tvOS support. But Sega does have a history of porting titles to Apple TV, including the release of classic "Sonic" titles last March.