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Games NeoGAF Official SEGA SATURN Community

cireza

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I have received my Saturn ALL-IN-ONE cartridge and it works perfectly well. This is a Pseudo Saturn with a switch, allowing to choose between 4 Meg RAM, 1 Meg RAM or Memory Cartridge, as well as all the current functions of the Pseudo Saturn (playing burnt game).

This is a must have, as I can finally do everything with a single cartridge. No need to change anything, which is a good point as the cartridge port is quite fragile on Saturn, so you should not swap too often.

I have tried Symphony of the Night in English. That's awesome ! The game runs in very well, and finally being able to play in English is awesome.

There have been some great efforts lately, so it is a great moment to enjoy some Saturn gaming ! Vandal Hearts is also available in English.
 
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InfiniteCombo

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Jan 26, 2014
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I have received my Saturn ALL-IN-ONE cartridge and it works perfectly well. This is a Pseudo Saturn with a switch, allowing to choose between 4 Meg RAM, 1 Meg RAM or Memory Cartridge, as well as all the current functions of the Pseudo Saturn (playing burnt game).

This is a must have, as I can finally do everything with a single cartridge. No need to change anything, which is a good point as the cartridge port is quite fragile on Saturn, so you should not swap too often.

I have tried Symphony of the Night in English. That's awesome ! The game runs in very well, and finally being able to play in English is awesome.

There have been some great efforts lately, so it is a great moment to enjoy some Saturn gaming ! Vandal Hearts is also available in English.

Huh, I didn't know this "ALL-IN-ONE" cart was a thing. I should look into it. I have some pretty expensive games (looking at you, Radiant Silvergun!) that I actually play, and may want to create backups of those games so that I don't have to use the actual discs.

Glad you're enjoying SotN, fantastic game. I know the Saturn version gets some crap for supposedly being inferior to the PlayStation version (which is the one I own), but how bad are those issues, really?
 

cireza

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Huh, I didn't know this "ALL-IN-ONE" cart was a thing. I should look into it. I have some pretty expensive games (looking at you, Radiant Silvergun!) that I actually play, and may want to create backups of those games so that I don't have to use the actual discs.

Glad you're enjoying SotN, fantastic game. I know the Saturn version gets some crap for supposedly being inferior to the PlayStation version (which is the one I own), but how bad are those issues, really?
SOTN on Saturn has the following problems :
- Biggest one : 256x224 graphic assets were stretched to 320x224 which results in some ugly stuff on screen (columns that are doubled), also applies to sprites. Not great really. I think that some work could mitigate these problems.
- Minor : some transparencies are missing, some slowdown
- Bonus : two areas, Maria, a couple familiars I think, boots to run faster if I am correct

That's pretty much all I have to say. I don't care about the minor one honestly. However the visuals being stretched really distract me. I can't help but notice that every single diagonal is not diagonal anymore, as well as these "doubled columns" on Alucard's sprite, making him quite ugly.

Otherwise, game plays perfectly well really. The novelty here being the English version of course. I have been playing Saturn for more than 20 years so I know this console by heart... Always to rediscover some stuff.

For now, I would not recommend this patch, there are still improvements to be made (game crashes when you reach a blue door for example). But it is very promising.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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DT MEDIA DT MEDIA - Your passion for, and knowledge of, the Sega Saturn is truly impressive. Subbed to this thread.

If Saturn games weren't ridiculously expensive, I'd certainly own more games for it. Right now my collection (practically all imports from Japan, played on a US system) is fairly small/modest, but I love all of the games I own. X-Men vs Street Fighter and Vampire Savior are highlights for me.

Like, for example, if it wasn't going for $500+ (at least last time I checked), I would get Super Tempo -- It's without a question one of the most beautiful pixel art games I've ever seen in my life. And the gameplay, centered around a musical motif, is just icing on the cake:


One final note on the Saturn -- Not only do I own and actively play one now, but I have fond memories of it. I remember going to a cousin's house, and he had a Saturn with King of Fighters '95 on it. To this day, that experience blows my mind. 3 on 3, with great characters and great art, all with minimal loading? What is this sorcery? My cousin explained that it's why it needed the cart on the back. The experience was so formative that years later I ended up hunting for a copy of KoF '95 just to have it, and that's where my Saturn collection started...


Thanks for the kind words. I've worked hard to make the Sega Saturn Community forum the definitive blog for Sega's Gen-5 console. As always, I would recommend reading through the pages for detailed reviews, screenshots, videos and screenshots of many beloved Saturn classics. I did write about Super Tempo a couple years ago and greatly enjoyed it. It's easily one of the standout 2D videogames for the system, and it's unfortunate that physical copies are so rare and expensive. You'll have to use alternative means (cough, ahem) if you want to play. And it goes without saying that I highly encourage Red Entertainment (or whoever owns their catalog) to reissue this game for modern platforms.

Don't forget the "Essentials" posts on pages 1 and 9. I will write an "Essentials 3" at some point, but these two are an excellent introduction to what makes Sega Saturn so special.
 

DT MEDIA

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Yesterday, I received my latest Saturn game: Konami's J. League Jikkyou Honoo no Striker, released in February 1998 in Japan. It was created by the company's Sapporo studio, who were also responsible for the Saturn translation of Genso Suikoden and the Tokimeki Memorial puzzle game. They were a relatively obscure team that produced solid work.

Here are photos of the front and back covers, as well as several pages from the manual describing the gameplay and controls. This game is based on Konami's International Superstar Soccer franchise, and follows one year after J. League Perfect Striker arrived on Nintendo 64, which was released in the West as International Superstar Soccer 64. Perfect Striker 3, 4 and 5 arrived on Playstation 2, while the Playstation 1's games were based on the Winning Eleven series. There is also Jikkyou World Soccer series, which began on the 16-bit systems and continued through N64, PSX and PS2.

Whew! This is a confusing franchise.

Where does this Sega Saturn edition fit into all of this? I find its gameplay is closer to the arcade style of the 16-bit International Superstar Soccer titles, not as much the simulation bent of ISS Pro/Winning Eleven, which is where the genre was headed by 1998. It reminds me a lot of Sega's Worldwide Soccer/Victory Goal series and in a very good way. The visual design is very similar with bold, bright colors and a supremely confident 3D graphics engine, player models are very solid and sport some nice animations, and the action is very brisk and nimble on its feet.

As this is a Japanese soccer game, it features the J. League instead of international teams. There are 17 teams in total and each team has their own stadium (including an 18 Konami Stadium), which was a real surprise for me, as well as their own fan chants. Audio commentary is very impressive and I often find that this sort of thing works better in Japanese than English, thanks to their shorter sentences.

I haven't yet played enough to really say where this one sits among Saturn's large library of soccer games, but it's definitely among the top tier. Once again, we see that Japanese programmers are achieving far better results than their Western counterparts. Graphics are smooth and crisp with a solid 30 fps, and I can't help but wonder why American and UK coders couldn't pull this off. I strongly suspect it all comes down to Assembly versus C, where Saturn is far more adept at the former than the latter.

I bought my copy for five bucks, essentially paying only for shipping. I have picked up a number of Saturn games this way, and it's often a matter of good timing. Once again, I strongly advise purchasing sports titles, as these are among the most affordable in the system's library and are perfect for social gatherings. It's wild that I could have Striker and World Cup France 98 for the price of a burger and fries.

Here's a gameplay video to keep you entertained. Enjoy!


 
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DT MEDIA

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J. League Jikkyou Honoo no Striker Screenshot Extravanza

As promised, here is a large collection of in-game screenshots from Konami's excellent 1998 soccer game (courtesy of my too-sharp-for-its-own-good iPhone Xr). If you're a fan of International Superstar Soccer on the Super NES and Genesis, you'll absolutely love this game. It's a pure arcade fun with 32-bit flair and 16-bit action and I couldn't ask for anything more.

Flaming Striker (to translate into English) is surprisingly robust with gameplay features, including exhibition, season, tournament and all-star modes. 17 J. League teams are present, as well as an original Konami team. You will also notice six mystery spaces on the club select screen, suggesting these are unlockable teams. One to four players are supported, and you can all play as a team against the computer. A cpu-vs-cpu watch mode is also available, which is how I took some of these photos.

One very nice feature is Training Mode. This is a collection of mini-game drills that cover dribbling, passing, shooting, free kicks, corner kicks and defense. You have to score a set number of points in order to pass to the next level, and there are at least three skill levels for each section. It's a terrific way to hone your skills and come to grips with the controls, and it all has a nice Nintendo Wii vibe.

Controls are standard for soccer games, with running, sprinting, passing, shooting, tackling and sliding. Another notable feature in this game is the "Action" button which allows for context-sensitive special moves. This includes evasive dribbling, defensive tackles, head shots and bicycle kicks.

The tone in Flaming Striker is to keep everything simple and easy to play, perfectly suited for fans of classic arcade soccer titles. Again, it feels so much like an evolution of the early 16-bit ISS games and it's an interesting choice when the genre was shifting decisively towards simulations. EA and Konami would battle for supremacy on the Playstation, and they would become the main soccer rivals through the PS2 era with FIFA and Pro Evolution/Winning Eleven. Diehard sports fans greatly preferred the more serious approach, becoming increasingly hostile towards "arcade" soccer games. You can see this in the surprisingly harsh reviews from European gaming magazines (which you can read at Sega Retro). In Japan, Sega Saturn Magazine was far more supportive, with its three-party reviewers scoring it 8-8-5. Again, you can see the mixed reception.

Personally, at this stage in my life, I prefer arcade games over hardcore sims, especially on Sega Saturn. I have FIFA 11 and PES 2013 on Nintendo Wii, and to be honest, I've hardly ever touched them. Too complicated, too much work, probably worth the investment if I put in the time, but life is short and I don't seem to have the patience. I think the key is that I've always played soccer videogames like they're hockey, and I'm not too keen on the subtle nuances of the sport, the ballet of players dancing around one another. I just want to run up and down the field, knock opposing defenders unconscious with soccer balls to the head and scoring lots of goals. I am not in the mood for fast action, low scoring and ties.

Finally, we will once again note how skillfully Japanese software teams could handle Saturn's complex hardware (you just want to hit EA's coders over the head with a rolled up newspaper). This game runs at a smooth 30 fps with detailed polygon players and arenas. The color commentary is very good, if repetitive, the many features are very welcome and the whole presentation is highly polished. I'm honestly surprised that Konami put in the effort for a 1998 Saturn videogame. One would expect either a lazy port or a slapdash effort to kick out the door for a quick buck, but they honestly put in their best effort, and it shows. This may be Konami's best Saturn title, although Policenauts quietly beckons from my closet shelf. If anything, this game is going to make you even angrier at Konami Nagoya for their lazy bones Castlevania port.

I picked up this game for 99 cents plus four bucks shipping. That is an absolute steal. Is this on the same level as ISS Pro Evolution 98 on Playstation? Eh, I wouldn't quite go that far. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. But for sheer bubblegum pop, this Saturn effort can't be beat.
 
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There's always time for a quick round of golf, and Pebble Beach Golf Links remains the best outing on Sega Saturn. I really do miss T & E Soft and their golf sims. The always managed to capture the realism of the sport while keeping everything highly colorful and cheerful. It's such a welcome alternative to the grim and monochrome PGA/Tiger Woods franchise. They really hit their stride during Generation 5, and if you're a fan of the Links series on PC, or Golden Tee in the arcades, this is right up your alley.

I love this game for two reasons: Craig Stadler and Elevator Music. Stadler's presence goes beyond the then-standard practice of appearing on the title screen and cashing a royalty check. He provides video commentary on all 18 holes of Pebble Beach, and it has a great off-the-cuff feel that doesn't sound at all scripted. He also appears as an in-game character who plays alongside you, making endless quips, bits of advice and irritating nudges that reminds you of hitting the links with a friend who's just a little bit better than you and will never, ever let you forget that. It's enough to make you want to run him over with the golf cart.

And then there's the music. I absolutely love the elevator music in this game, which sounds just like the smooth jazz that was so common in the 1970s. This was the sort of music you'd hear at family restaurants or doctors' waiting rooms. You probably have to be a certain age to feel nostalgic about that sound, which was remembered about as fondly as Velvet Elvis and Big Eyes. Whatever. The songs are catchy and melodic and will always put a happy grin on your face. It's the perfect antidote for the most frustrating sport ever created, and is probably the only thing keeping you from hurling your game controller out the window.
 

Phobos Base

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Being a complete moron, I recently bought a copy of Doom, and it sure is an experience. In static screenshots it looks ok, if not as detailed as the PS1 version, there's a good selection of levels and the pad feels ideal for it. But the framerate is beyond atrocious, rendering it completely unplayable. They tried to compensate by making the weapons fire faster, but all that does is make you waste more ammo and makes any sort of strategy pointless. It is the first non-vr game I've ever played that gave me motion sickness though, so I guess that's an achievement. Can't begin to image what the people who bought it new must have felt.
 
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DT MEDIA

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Since I brought up Pebble Beach Golf Links, I wanted to take a look at the three T&E Soft golf sims that were released exclusively in Japan. It's unfortunate that none of these were given a Western release, but it's understandable as Pebble Beach and Valora Valley Golf--the company's fantasy golf game--were probably not commercial successes. In addition, the market was already swamped with golf games that, in the style of the time, "looked better." Translation: they all used 3D polygon graphics and no digitized characters or colorful elevator music. Oh, well, some of them are pretty good, and at least we can all agree that EA's PGA Tour 97 is terrible and depressing.




First, we have Masters: Harukanaru Augusta 3, released in September 1995. It is essentially identical to Pebble Beach except that it takes place at Augusta. The in-game visuals are slightly more refined, particularly in the trees. Sadly, Craig Stadler does not appear, and his absence is sorely missed, but your caddies will make appearances to offer kind words of encouragement from time to time. This game received a warm reception from Sega Saturn Magazine JP, scoring 9-8-7 in the review.




Next up, we have Waialae no Kiseki: Extra 36 Holes, released in February 1997 and features the Waialae Country Club in Hawaii. It was founded in 1927 and has been the home of the PGA Hawaiian Open since 1965. This game features this course, plus two additional original courses, hence the title. The same graphics engine is used once again, although there are one or two new golfers added to the mix. I would also like to point out that the Waialae Club logo looks exactly like the emblem on Luke Skywalker's X-Wing helmet. Am I the only one who's noticed this? Sega Saturn Magazine gave this title a 7-8-8.




Finally, we close out with Junclassic C.C. & Rope Club. This was released in December 1997 and features two Japanese country clubs. The game features video tours of both locations, which is a nice little touch and was probably used as a promotional tool. Thankfully, the graphics engine has finally been given an upgrade, and it's a very welcome sight. Everything has been given an overhaul, from the menus to the in-game visuals, and the addition of rolling clouds is a particularly nice touch. In addition, each course features three different routes for a total of 108 holes. Sega Saturn Magazine was less generous this time, giving review scores of 7-6-6.

T&E Soft were skilled veterans in video golf, and so there's a solid consistency across all of their Saturn titles. Controls and gameplay options are identical throughout the series, so anyone familiar with Pebble Beach will hit the ground running. Prices for used copies range from $15-$40, with Junclassic being the most expensive.
 
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Komatsu

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I have received my Saturn ALL-IN-ONE cartridge and it works perfectly well. This is a Pseudo Saturn with a switch, allowing to choose between 4 Meg RAM, 1 Meg RAM or Memory Cartridge, as well as all the current functions of the Pseudo Saturn (playing burnt game).

This is a must have, as I can finally do everything with a single cartridge. No need to change anything, which is a good point as the cartridge port is quite fragile on Saturn, so you should not swap too often.

I have tried Symphony of the Night in English. That's awesome ! The game runs in very well, and finally being able to play in English is awesome.

There have been some great efforts lately, so it is a great moment to enjoy some Saturn gaming ! Vandal Hearts is also available in English.

I use one of those All-in-1 carts with my modded Saturn - the one in which I installed the TERRAONION MODE - and they're great.

With Lunar and VH out, it's the best it's been for us Saturn owners in years.
 
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DT MEDIA

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Here is a true hidden gem on Sega Saturn that most of you have likely never discovered. It's a shoot-em-up called Psyth, and it appears as a bonus mini-game in Konami's dating sim Tokimeki Memorial: Forever With You. As far as arcade shooters go, this isn't anything special, very much in the 16-bit style, but it's always great to see Konami doing what they did best, and what's here looks great, with lots of bold colors and VDP2 transparency effects.

The only downside, of course, is that only a single stage exists. I really wish Konami had commissioned a full-length version of this and released it to arcades and home formats.
 

DT MEDIA

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Grandia Digital Museum is a terrific fan-service tribute by Game Arts that followed the release of Grandia in Japan. It features a database of characters and monsters, a collection of production art assets, and best of all, a short extension of the main game where the main characters must retrieve missing objects from a museum.

I don't yet know if TrekkiesUnite has any plans to translate Digital Museum, and it would terrific if that happened, but I think you'll be fine without English text after playing the main game.

I grabbed these screenshots and animated clips from Resetera, which had a very nice thread on Sega Saturn games. I'm sure they won't mind. Note the first clip with those spectacular water effects, only seen on Sega Saturn. Even the new remaster on Nintendo Switch fails to recreate this effect (as they essentially upgraded the inferior Playstation version). This videogame is such a painstaking labor of love, and you can see how much work Game Arts put into its creation.

Don't forget that the Grandia english translation is almost fully complete. Be sure to download the patch and play, because you're missing out on one of Saturn's all-time greatest videogames--ranked second in the 2000 Sega Saturn Magazine poll.
 

DT MEDIA

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Here are some excellent screenshots of the gloriously stylish Terra Phantastica in action. This is a late 1996 Strategy-RPG published by Sega and developed by a studio named Chime, who were later assigned the honor of Dragon Force 2 in 1998. If you're a fan of any of the major genre titles on the system, you are absolutely going to love this one. Sega Saturn Magazine JP scored it 9-8-7 in their review, and the title was later reissued under the Satakore (SegaSaturn Collection).

I borrowed this photos from Resetera forum, "The Greatest SRPG You've Never Played." Here, member "Encephelon" describes the storyline and gameplay mechanics. I will quote some excerpts below:


I'm convinced that Terra Phantastica on the Saturn is an unappreciated classic. This isn't a game that has a following in Japan, but failed to catch on in the west. You'll find maybe one or two playthroughs on Nico Nico Douga. But I think it's great, and I'd like to make the argument for it.

Presentation wise, Terra Phantastica isn't a show stopper, but there's a lot to love about the game's visuals. It's a rich, colorful game, with a wide variety of large, detailed sprites, each with a series of animations. There are loading screens every time you engage in battle, but they're so stylishly designed, they manage to be one of the more charming, memorable elements of the game.

[The story] features Kingdom of Mais, which is part of a larger empire, and the numerous conflicts it gets itself mixed into throughout the game. In the beginning of the game, the young prince Alexis comes across a nameless statue in a nearby temple. Not long after he decides to name her "Diine" (I don't know how to transliterate this name. Looking it up in Japanese supposedly brings up the Farsi word for "Zoroastrianism," but I'm unable to check, and am not sure that's where they got it from). demons come to attack the kingdom, the statue comes to life, and serves as the main character throughout the game.The two can be seen riding horseback on the brilliant illustration on the cover. Each chapter, Alexis comes to Diine for her insight regarding a topic that concerns the kingdom, and depending on the advice you give him, Alexis grows differently as a ruler (one or two hidden stats - compassion, bravery, and knowledge will increase). Depending these attributes, the ending you get will differ. The story is full of mystery and coded statements, but I don't recall it going anywhere. But that might just be because I didn't get one of the better endings.

Terra Phantastica is a bit like Langrisser, in that you're not just a single character on the battle field - one character commands a number of units. But unlike Langrisser, the units are effectively a replacement for your commander's "health." You can't see your troops on the battlefield, but when you engage in battle, your "SP" (soldier points) are represented by the number of units on the screen. Choose to attack the enemy, and the troops that that character is commanding will attack the enemy character's troops. Logically, each unit lost means less damage output.

Then there's positioning. Positioning matters a great deal more than your average SRPG. It's more than "attack from behind for more damage," though that's also at play here. If you attack from head on, you'll be able to attack 3 times, but so will the enemy. Attack from the side, and they lose one of those turns. From behind, and they get 1 move. But also important is being able to retreat, which any character can do if nothing is behind them. That means always making sure you have room to escape archers arrows (you'll almost always take the first hit, regardless), as well as making sure your ranged units don't attack enemies that can escape if they can't fire back. Then there's the fact that you can't just slip past an enemy; it's not impossible, but it'll take more turns. This means both you and the enemy can effectively block (or more accurately, slow down) units, protecting others. All of this forces you to think more strategically than the average SRPG. As you progress in the game, the AI will make more use of positioning, attempting to trap you, and the like.


There are surprisingly few gameplay videos online, and nothing that takes you completely through the game. The language barrier and lack of name recognition keeps Terra Phantastica squarely in the shadows. That situation is bound to change sooner or later, especially if this game is ever given a fan translation. Fortunately, I found one video that show the early scenes and first battles, and a second that explains the gameplay features (and even translates the main menu items) into English.



 
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cireza

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Here are some excellent screenshots of the gloriously stylish Terra Phantastica in action.
This is my most wanted translation on the console. A close second is Wachenroder (this game has an incredible atmosphere).
I have played this game a lot, even bought the Japanese Guide Book. Never made it to the end though, I feel like I am missing some important things sadly...

There are many choices, I believe they change how the young princess evolves. There are also some things hidden in battlefields that only some characters can see. And there are many different troops, and it gets a bit complicated without understanding all the stuff...

Absolutely gorgeous pixel-art. And the maps have different colors depending on which you visit first, and the time of the day. Wonderful !

Thanks for having talked about this game.
 
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Kazza

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More Sonic Z-Treme. The developer previously seemed to be done with the project, but has been putting in some work recently:



Again, I got audio delay with my capture equipment. While playing there is no delay, only in the output file for some reasons... It also interlaces the signal for no reasons... Download the game here : https://sonicfangameshq.com/forums/sh... Running on a real Saturn. The actual track included is Lost Boss from Sonic X-Treme, but as I run the game using my USB dev cart it's reading the disc in my Saturn (Hellslave), so the music here is Flesh Field.

He said it was being developed using the basic SGL rather than his own dev tools, hence the lack of transparency.
 
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DT MEDIA

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First Saturn community post of 2021!

Looks like the Grandia translation patch is now complete:



This is magnificent news. Grandia on Sega Saturn is a true labor of love that shines in every moment. If you're a fan of Hayao Miyazaki's adventures like Castle in the Sky, this will be your all-time favorite adventure-RPG. I really can't say enough great things about it.
 

InfiniteCombo

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Apologies if this has already been posted, but I like this video:


It's simply showing the animation differences between 3 versions of X-Men vs Street Fighter: the original CPS2 version, the Saturn version, and the PS1 version. And this being a Saturn thread, I can't emphasize the miracles that the 4MB cart allowed. This was the first instance that made that clear, and set up a string of amazing Capcom ports on Saturn (Vampire Savior, Street Fighter Zero 3, etc). (I say the first instance because the port of Marvel Super Heroes to the Saturn did use a "3MB" capability. But as much as I love the game itself, the Saturn port is terrible.)

Obviously the PS1 version is an embarrassment and shouldn't even factor into any equation. Even with removing the tag team aspect (a giant -- perhaps the major -- point of the game), you can see in the video the major frames of animation missing. It's choppy as hell.

The only somewhat major noticeable thing about the Saturn version is something that a lot of Capcom fighters/ports suffered from, a phenomenon I can only call "wide characters" (for lack of a better term). For most of the Capcom fighters, the Saturn versions had characters that seemed "wider" than their CPS1/CPS2 counterparts. Not sure what led to that, but honestly to me it's not that much of a distraction.
 
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Kazza

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I feel that someone is going to fix Doom one of these days, and it will be glorious. Probably a difficult job.

I would really like to the the beta version of the engine that was tailored to the Saturn hardware (before the dev was told by Cormack to stick closer to the PC version). That Hellslave FPS is looking really good, and may even surpass the likes of Quake and Exhumed in terms of technical achievement. If the level design holds up, then it could turn out to be a good game too.

Sega Saturn Shiro did a stream discussing these games (including some chats with the devs themselves). I'll take a listen tomorrow, if I get the time:

 

Kazza

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This is magnificent news. Grandia on Sega Saturn is a true labor of love that shines in every moment. If you're a fan of Hayao Miyazaki's adventures like Castle in the Sky, this will be your all-time favorite adventure-RPG. I really can't say enough great things about it.

I just started watching those classic animes on Netflix (never watched them as a kid). I'm finding them all really charming so far (watched the one about the pig pilot and the one with the big fluffy animal spirit who lives in a big tree).

From screenshots and clips, the whole aesthetic of Grandia looks like it holds up very well. It certainly looks better than Mystaria/Riglord (although that was a really fun game).
 
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Well I do. Because I love all these games and Hexen even more.

At this point, it would be far easier for a programmer in the homebrew community to create a new translation of Doom for Saturn from scratch. Obviously, I would love to discover that "lost" version that was unceremoniously scuttled by Carmark back in the day, but today's indie coders could do a perfect job. What we really ought to do is ask the guy behind Hellslave to consider the idea after his fantastic project is finally completed and released.

For other first-person games on Sega Saturn, Hexen is pretty good. It's a touch on the choppy side, but still very playable and looks nice. It has a grittiness that looks better than the Nintendo 64 version, which is over-filtered and blurry. I'm also going to strongly recommend Magic Carpet because I think it's absolutely terrific, especially once you've cleared the first few stages and have to start dealing with rival genies. I really wish that game was given a reissue or remake on modern platforms. Finally, of course, I have to give a shout-out to the fantastic and masterfully creepy Baroque. Play in the dark with headphones and prepare to be scared out of your skin.
 
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I was thinking the other day about how SEGA rushed to get the 3D Chips in the Saturn and wondered whether if they stuck with their 2D idea that they would have sold a little bit better in spite of the fad being 3D? Looking at that website with Saturn Sales in Japan...nothing sold over 700,000 copies, never mind 1 million.

If Nakayama stood by Kalinske and kept the Mega Drive in Stores for a few more years whilst readying the Saturn launch in its original form, then maybe they could have stuck it out a little longer. (due to sales of the Mega Drive still being strong due to being a budget console by that point) I know for sure that Kalinske himself said he wanted to bring over Lunar to the West if we were still in charge.

Nintendo is still here for sticking to its original vision, even when the N64 had problems of its own, but it is still around as a Hardware manufacturer as it adapted a different approach.

I guess I am one of the few who think SEGA could have done what it did best (at the timre) and stuck with a 2D Saturn (I love the 3D games btw), and moved onto the Dreamcast by late 1998 with those Saturn titles they created in 3D moved over, along with what they did throughout the DC era.

It is no shock to me that their Japanese 2D games so for mega money now, as the quality was there.

A shame that the Saturn is relegated to forgotten status all because the Japanese side wanted to do things their way and floundered trying to catch up to Sony. Their delusion of keeping pace with the PS1 purely on Virtua Fighter shadowed their vision on trying to make the Saturn relevant in the West. (this reminds me of the Vita's scenario with Sony, but it seems the best consoles and library are usually the forgotten losers).
 
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PhaseJump

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I was thinking the other day about how SEGA rushed to get the 3D Chips in the Saturn and wondered whether if they stuck with their 2D idea that they would have sold a little bit better in spite of the fad being 3D? Looking at that website with Saturn Sales in Japan...nothing sold over 700,000 copies, never mind 1 million.

If Nakayama stood by Kalinske and kept the Mega Drive in Stores for a few more years whilst readying the Saturn launch in its original form, then maybe they could have stuck it out a little longer. (due to sales of the Mega Drive still being strong due to being a budget console by that point) I know for sure that Kalinske himself said he wanted to bring over Lunar to the West if we were still in charge.

Nintendo is still here for sticking to its original vision, even when the N64 had problems of its own, but it is still around as a Hardware manufacturer as it adapted a different approach.

I guess I am one of the few who think SEGA could have done what it did best (at the timre) and stuck with a 2D Saturn (I love the 3D games btw), and moved onto the Dreamcast by late 1998 with those Saturn titles they created in 3D moved over, along with what they did throughout the DC era.

It is no shock to me that their Japanese 2D games so for mega money now, as the quality was there.

A shame that the Saturn is relegated to forgotten status all because the Japanese side wanted to do things their way and floundered trying to catch up to Sony. Their delusion of keeping pace with the PS1 purely on Virtua Fighter shadowed their vision on trying to make the Saturn relevant in the West. (this reminds me of the Vita's scenario with Sony, but it seems the best consoles and library are usually the forgotten losers).

Sega was funding Shenmue and sidelining their biggest in house developer while bleeding money, they were outsourcing Sonic Xtreme, blowing away partnerships at retail and in development. They released 32X with no support, they dumped Saturn early, they killed 3dfx with their redundant Dreamcast R&D, and they sold everything at a loss.

2D Saturn would have been a joke at the time. 3D was the trend people wanted. Doom was setting the world on fire.

Nintendo is still around because they are conservative with spending. That is the "original vision" any company should stick to. Sega killed itself.
 
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Sega was funding Shenmue and sidelining their biggest in house developer while bleeding money, they were outsourcing Sonic Xtreme, blowing away partnerships at retail and in development. They released 32X with no support, they dumped Saturn early, they killed 3dfx with their redundant Dreamcast R&D, and they sold everything at a loss.

2D Saturn would have been a joke at the time. 3D was the trend people wanted. Doom was setting the world on fire.

Nintendo is still around because they are conservative with spending. That is the "original vision" any company should stick to. Sega killed itself.

I do agree with all your points on a fundamental level because SEGA did do all those idiotic mistakes, but Sony spent money like SEGA did (basically getting themselves into Debt) and survived simply because of having a larger sphere of influence. Although the PS3 gave them a scare with the losses that occurred there.

Shenmue is certainly a weird choice by SEGA, betting on one game to try and make the Dreamcast relevant, but others would say that nothing would have replicated what made that game special. It's one of those scenarios where we wouldn't have gotten Shenmue if SEGA were wiser with Development.

The 32x and CD up to a point were a mistake, but I don't think a 2D Saturn would have been a bad thing just like the Wii at the time didn't do HD.

Doom was a very influential game at the time but Sony decided to make the Playstation a 3D Console after seeing what was possible due to Virtua Fighter, a SEGA game (ironic in itself).

Regarding the R&D of the Dreamcast, I honestly don't know why they did that given they would favour the Japanese team over the American one, but it seems that people loved what the Dreamcast was capable of because of it.

Nintendo's Conservative spending is a Plus as well as a Minus because being a Conservative Company doesn't always mean survival if they don't try and get with the times. They had ideas and stuck to them til the very end. The N64 and Wii U had terrible Libraries and Third Party support, but I think their branding was strong enough to survive it as well as a great Profit Margin.

Nintendo is a great example of how you should run a business day to day, but it is at the cost of not improving and being happy at the level of growth you set yourself to. As sad as it sounds, SEGA tried to grow too quickly and ended up losing itself in the process of trying to outdo everyone else when it was still a small (still is) company.
 
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PhaseJump

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I do agree with all your points on a fundamental level because SEGA did do all those idiotic mistakes, but Sony spent money like SEGA did (basically getting themselves into Debt) and survived simply because of having a larger sphere of influence. Although the PS3 gave them a scare with the losses that occurred there.

Shenmue is certainly a weird choice by SEGA, betting on one game to try and make the Dreamcast relevant, but others would say that nothing would have replicated what made that game special. It's one of those scenarios where we wouldn't have gotten Shenmue if SEGA were wiser with Development.

The 32x and CD up to a point were a mistake, but I don't think a 2D Saturn would have been a bad thing just like the Wii at the time didn't do HD.

Doom was a very influential game at the time but Sony did the Playstation after seeing what was possible due to Virtua Fighter, a SEGA game (ironic in itself).

Regarding the R&D, I honestly don't know why they did that given they would favour the Japanese team over the American one, but it seems that people loved what the Dreamcast was capable of because of it.

Nintendo's Conservative spending is a Plus as well as a Minus because being a Conservative Company doesn't always mean survival if they don't try and get with the times. They had ideas and stuck to them til the very end. The N64 and Wii U had terrible Libraries and Third Party support, but I think their branding was strong enough to survive it as well as a great Profit Margin.

Nintendo is a great example of how you should run a business day to day, but it is at the cost of not improving and being happy at the level of growth you set yourself to. As sad as it sounds, SEGA tried to grow too quickly and ended up losing itself in the process of trying to outdo everyone else when it was still a small (still is) company.

Sega would have been killed in the arcade decline just the same, even if the Saturn was launched as a Neptune+CD 2D powerhouse like the NeoGeo AES. 3D was what everyone wanted then. Sonic never made the transition to it properly. Sonic is their only brand that makes money or overlaps with the big players in the industry.
 

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This unofficial Burning Rangers game is looking pretty good. I like the low-poly look. Almost Dreamcast-like.

 
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I was thinking the other day about how SEGA rushed to get the 3D Chips in the Saturn and wondered whether if they stuck with their 2D idea that they would have sold a little bit better in spite of the fad being 3D? Looking at that website with Saturn Sales in Japan...nothing sold over 700,000 copies, never mind 1 million.

If Nakayama stood by Kalinske and kept the Mega Drive in Stores for a few more years whilst readying the Saturn launch in its original form, then maybe they could have stuck it out a little longer. (due to sales of the Mega Drive still being strong due to being a budget console by that point) I know for sure that Kalinske himself said he wanted to bring over Lunar to the West if we were still in charge.

Nintendo is still here for sticking to its original vision, even when the N64 had problems of its own, but it is still around as a Hardware manufacturer as it adapted a different approach.

I guess I am one of the few who think SEGA could have done what it did best (at the timre) and stuck with a 2D Saturn (I love the 3D games btw), and moved onto the Dreamcast by late 1998 with those Saturn titles they created in 3D moved over, along with what they did throughout the DC era.

It is no shock to me that their Japanese 2D games so for mega money now, as the quality was there.

A shame that the Saturn is relegated to forgotten status all because the Japanese side wanted to do things their way and floundered trying to catch up to Sony. Their delusion of keeping pace with the PS1 purely on Virtua Fighter shadowed their vision on trying to make the Saturn relevant in the West. (this reminds me of the Vita's scenario with Sony, but it seems the best consoles and library are usually the forgotten losers).


Interesting observations, and you're not the only one who now wishes that Sega's 5th-Gen console had stuck mainly to 2D graphics. However, it must be noted that in 1995, 2D videogames were dead. Stone. Cold. Dead. The kids wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. And there wasn't anything that could be done at the time to turn that around. The industry had always been fueled by "the next big thing," and the writing was on the wall as soon as Sega unleashed Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA (to say nothing about Namco and Ridge Racer, Cyber Sled and Tekken).

The technology in the industry exploded in the mid-1990s, racing furiously from 2D pixel art to digitized characters (Mortal Kombat), pre-rendered graphics (DKC, Myst), 3D first-person shooters (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake) and fast 3D polygons. Videogames were always driven by "the next big thing" and if you were caught falling behind, you became yesterday's news. Sticking to 2D hardware at that time would have been suicide.

This dovetails into the long-running discussions about Sega's very long and complicated journey to its 5th-Gen system. The popular consensus, even by 1995, was that Saturn was supposed to be a "2D" machine ala Genesis, but then they discovered Sony's plans for Playstation, suffered a series of panic attacks, and then rushed to the nearest computer store to throw together a "3D chip" to compete. Because of this, the Saturn hardware was an enormous mess and nobody could get it to work, causing Sega to almost completely collapse under pressure from Sony and Nintendo.

The actual history, of course, is very different, and even contemporary magazine articles would confuse dates and events from Saturn's development. Sega was subjected to enormous amounts of negative buzz all throughout 1994, which was compounded by equally enormously positive buzz for Playstation. And like in high school, once you get hit with a "bad reputation," you're stuck with it to the end.

It's worth noting that Sega Saturn had a number of key software titles in 1995 that were 2D, and none of them sold worth a damn. Today, it seems almost incredulous that nothing could become a hit: Clockwork Knight 1/2, Astal, Shinobi Legions/X, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Galactic Attack, Darius Gaiden, NBA Jam TE, Rayman. What else is there to say?
 
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Sega would have been killed in the arcade decline just the same, even if the Saturn was launched as a Neptune+CD 2D powerhouse like the NeoGeo AES. 3D was what everyone wanted then. Sonic never made the transition to it properly. Sonic is their only brand that makes money or overlaps with the big players in the industry.

That's true. The Arcade segment was dying everywhere except Japan, which is such a shame really as it is an amazing Niche that I still believe can make money if budgeted correctly.

Sonic as a brand is such a weird scenario, as it could potentially do a lot better than what it does but mostly relies on Merch these days.

Interesting observations, and you're not the only one who now wishes that Sega's 5th-Gen console had stuck mainly to 2D graphics. However, it must be noted that in 1995, 2D videogames were dead. Stone. Cold. Dead. The kids wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. And there wasn't anything that could be done at the time to turn that around. The industry had always been fueled by "the next big thing," and the writing was on the wall as soon as Sega unleashed Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA (to say nothing about Namco and Ridge Racer, Cyber Sled and Tekken).

The technology in the industry exploded in the mid-1990s, racing furiously from 2D pixel art to digitized characters (Mortal Kombat), pre-rendered graphics (DKC, Myst), 3D first-person shooters (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake) and fast 3D polygons. Videogames were always driven by "the next big thing" and if you were caught falling behind, you became yesterday's news. Sticking to 2D hardware at that time would have been suicide.

This dovetails into the long-running discussions about Sega's very long and complicated journey to its 5th-Gen system. The popular consensus, even by 1995, was that Saturn was supposed to be a "2D" machine ala Genesis, but then they discovered Sony's plans for Playstation, suffered a series of panic attacks, and then rushed to the nearest computer store to throw together a "3D chip" to compete. Because of this, the Saturn hardware was an enormous mess and nobody could get it to work, causing Sega to almost completely collapse under pressure from Sony and Nintendo.

The actual history, of course, is very different, and even contemporary magazine articles would confuse dates and events from Saturn's development. Sega was subjected to enormous amounts of negative buzz all throughout 1994, which was compounded by equally enormously positive buzz for Playstation. And like in high school, once you get hit with a "bad reputation," you're stuck with it to the end.

It's worth noting that Sega Saturn had a number of key software titles in 1995 that were 2D, and none of them sold worth a damn. Today, it seems almost incredulous that nothing could become a hit: Clockwork Knight 1/2, Astal, Shinobi Legions/X, X-Men: Children of the Atom, Galactic Attack, Darius Gaiden, NBA Jam TE, Rayman. What else is there to say?

I wouldn't say it was completely dead by 1995 as I had to make do with the Mega Drive and didn't know the Playstation existed til 1998. I think it was a good money maker for those who were poorer and younger kids never care for the next big thing. It's funny how SEGA set the trend of 3D and failed at leading it on the Console space though.

I mean the 2D space was certainly becoming more unappealing by the mid to late 90s, although I also think about the Japanese Economy Bubble bursting and thinking whether that also contributed to taking on larger debt but at the same time not being able to catch up to the likes of Sony who were very global by that point. Sticking to 2D could have delayed SEGA's demise of course, and we will sadly never know if it would have pushed them into Third Party status quicker unless someone went back in time! XD (Not arguing the point, but I like to think of the Economy at the time in Japan having a large influence into taking on larger debts as Interest Rates went down to almost Zero....that is a good time to invest into 3D more for SEGA/Sony/Nintendo)

Definitely an interesting History lesson as to how SEGA messed it up that much. I think not getting the Third Parties they wanted also messed them up badly going into the 6th Gen with the Dreamcast. Capcom mostly supported SEGA during the Saturn and Dreamcast era despite having lacklustre support on the Mega Drive. What I do find so interesting about the Saturn is that they got so many underrated gems from Third Parties that are either no longer around or really small to be known that people are discovering how many risky genres were created on the Saturn. Certainly an exciting time if you were a Japanese Saturn owner....and sadly Bernie Stolar missed that opportunity to show the strength of SEGA's weirdness at the time.

It's very unfortunate, and I actually never knew it was that early! By 1994 I was playing Sonic 3, Knuckles and they had Streets of Rage 3 out by then! To me SEGA was still the best Developer at that time. I missed that type for the Playstation but interesting that you mentioned this.

The only 2D game that was successful in the UK by that time was Rayman, and I couldn't tell you why as the game is hard and....not that good in my eyes. Sony certainly pushed the envelope to state that 2D was bad and evil and no one should buy it....and you get games like Rapid Reload going for Hundreds of Pounds because of it.
 
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InfiniteCombo

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I recently got the Retrobit 2.4GHz Saturn controller.

Works pretty well for what it is. Obviously I'd prefer to use my wired controller but my current space layout makes that a bit tricky.

No intrusive lag as far as I can tell. (I'm just learning about these wireless technologies, but supposedly 2.4Ghz stuff is better than Bluetooth as far as lag goes). I tested it out with some Saturn fighters, including Street Fighter Zero 2', and I was able to pull stuff off as well as I do on the wired controller.

Controller feels pretty good and almost like the original wired Saturn controller, although it "feels" (?) a bit lighter.
 
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InfiniteCombo

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On another note, I've started playing Rockman X3 on the Saturn here and there. I... don't know how I feel about it. Aspect ratio looks a bit weird (I think it looks "squished" compared to the Super Famicom version?). Also it's got loading, and some corny anime intros both at the beginning of the game, and prior to each stage.

Once I'll give it a full playthrough I'll post some thoughts. Might be a while though.
 
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Kazza

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Ah, Toshinden. I have a lot of nostalgia for this game, despite never having actually played it. As a Saturn owner of the time, I was acutely aware of it's existence, as it was one of the "secret weapons" of the other side of the console wars. Sega Lord X gives a good breakdown here, of how the eventual Saturn port was very mediocre, and how it came too late in any case to make much of a difference. If only Sega was just as keen to get something like FFVII ported as they were this game.

Still, even at the time of the Saturn release a year later it still had enough hype to warrant this 6 page feature in the UK Saturn magazine. Their little header to the article sums up the feeling of the time quite well:



Despite some misgivings, they gave the game a good review score in the review in next month's magazine:



For me at the time, it was an important title, as it showed that the most hyped Playstation "exclusive" games were all getting ported to the Saturn (this, Wipeout, Destruction Derby, Crazy Ivan etc). With the likes of Sega Rally, VF2, Virtua Cop etc also releasing around that time, the future looked bright for the Saturn. Remember, this was before the likes of Metal Gear Solid, FFVII etc hit the platform.
 

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Ah, Toshinden. I have a lot of nostalgia for this game, despite never having actually played it. As a Saturn owner of the time, I was acutely aware of it's existence, as it was one of the "secret weapons" of the other side of the console wars. Sega Lord X gives a good breakdown here, of how the eventual Saturn port was very mediocre, and how it came too late in any case to make much of a difference. If only Sega was just as keen to get something like FFVII ported as they were this game.

Still, even at the time of the Saturn release a year later it still had enough hype to warrant this 6 page feature in the UK Saturn magazine. Their little header to the article sums up the feeling of the time quite well:



Despite some misgivings, they gave the game a good review score in the review in next month's magazine:



For me at the time, it was an important title, as it showed that the most hyped Playstation "exclusive" games were all getting ported to the Saturn (this, Wipeout, Destruction Derby, Crazy Ivan etc). With the likes of Sega Rally, VF2, Virtua Cop etc also releasing around that time, the future looked bright for the Saturn. Remember, this was before the likes of Metal Gear Solid, FFVII etc hit the platform.


Well, I've never been a fan of Toshinden and have voiced that opinion multiple times in this forum. No need to rehash things once again, or point out that this was a massively overrated videogame that really didn't deserve half the attention it received. Tekken and Zero Divide were both superior brawlers on Playstation, while Saturn had Virtua Fighter Remix and especially Virtua Fighter 2 (as well as X-Men COTA and Vampire Hunters..

The decision by Sega of America to publish Toshinden Remix in the States was one of those 16-bit era tropes where they hoped to prove their console was "better" at playing the same videogames. Unfortunately, it should have been plainly obvious that the Saturn version was notably inferior in the visuals and would have impressed no one. Indeed, when it arrived, it had the effect of cementing the console's toxic reputation among hardcore gamers. "See? Saturn can't doo three dee!"

The wildest thing was that this happened after VF2 appeared, which was a quantum leap above anything seen on PSX at that point. Sega already had their fighting ace in the hole to prove they had the "better" system. So what was the point? After the hard-fought victory with VF2, Virtua Cop and Sega Rally to turn around Saturn's rotten reputation, here comes along Toshinden Remix to bury it in mud all over again.

And while it's true that Saturn received a lot of PSX ports in 95-96, they were nearly always inferior and a solid step behind in visuals. Wipeout was the best of the bunch, but it still suffered from a reduced frame rate, lower resolution textures, a lack of transparency effects on weapons and a notable lack of Sony-licensed music. Destruction Derby was lame. Assault Rigs was lame. Lemmings 3D was lame (but at least it was also lame on PSX). Krazy Ivan was lame. Loaded was...wait, how was that one? I really ought to play it sometime. It might be one of the good ports.

The bottom line is that none of these ports helped to change the public's cementing perception of Sega Saturn as the "Can't Doo Three Dee" machine. Unfair? Yes. And Sega of America was doing almost nothing to turn that perception around. And Toshinden made a bad situation worse, just when attention was beginning to turn to Nintendo, which is who most kids were waiting for. Tick-tock, tick-tock, Clarisse.
 

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More Saturn DSP goodness from the creator of Sonic R:



It never ceases to amaze me how difficult the old developers had it, with badly translated, and often inaccurate, manuals to work with.
 

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Was it really that expensive publishing games in the US and Europe? While I could understand wanted to cut their losses and save everything for the Dreamcast launch, surely they could have kept up a better release schedule than this. While there still were some great releases in 98 (Fighters Megamix, HotD, Deep Fear, Burning Rangers, Panzer Dragoon Saga etc), it could have been so much better. Although it didn't do great outside Japan, it still had a fanbase of a few million in the rest of the world, not a small number, certainly worth supporting. I think I fell of the Saturn train around 1998. I was into PC strategy gaming from then on.
 
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Kazza

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This looks pretty good, but just like PC parts, not currently available :messenger_loudly_crying: . The current situation reminds me of stories about the Soviet Union - people often had the money to buy stuff in theory, but the store shelves were empty.



I would need to buy another Saturn (gave my old one away to younger family members around 98/99). I'm leaning towards a white Japanese one (like the aesthetic), but the grey is nice too.
 
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Well, I finally picked up FIFA 98: Road to the World Cup for Sega Saturn. This game is most famously remembered as a Sony Playstation classic, and also appeared on Nintendo 64 to a warm reception. The Saturn version, however, was savagely beaten by reviewers, especially Sega Saturn Magazine UK, who were championing Silicon Dreams' World League Soccer 98 as the console's best soccer title.

I was always curious to see this videogame in action, despite its harsh reputation. Electronic Arts was very hit-or-miss with the Saturn. They could produce excellent titles that showcase the hardware and compete evenly with the Playstation, like Madden, Need For Speed, Magic Carpet and Darklight Conflict, but then they could be lazy as sin, dumping out second-rate shovelware like NBA Live, Hi Octane, Shockwave Assault and Battle Stations. The popular consensus in the '90s, as with everything else at the time, was that Saturn got the weaker version of every multi-platform title EA published. This isn't really the case, but it happened often enough to make gamers highly suspicious.

So how is Saturn FIFA 98? Not bad. In fact, it's actually quite good.

I've only played a single friendly match, so more time is needed to get into depth with this game, but I greatly enjoyed playing and can't wait to get back for more. This is always a good sign. All of the content from the Playstation version are present, including a massive World Cup mode and the inclusion of nearly every soccer team in existence. Controls have an immediacy and flow like water. You can tackle, block, pass and shoot easily, the players go where you want them to go, and there are an impressive amount of animations to be seen. One nice touch is how players' heads will turn to follow the ball. You can see that in one of the screenshots I quickly snapped on my far-too-sharp iPhone Xr.

There is a slight choppiness to the movements of the players and scrolling of the field. It's not as bad as most FIFA 98 Youtube videos make it out to be, but it's not as smooth as Sega's Worldwide Soccer series (or any Japanese soccer title, for that matter). It wasn't something that impacted gameplay, and a quick look at the FIFA titles on Nintendo 64 (courtesy of OpenEmu on my Mac) reveal the same or worse choppiness. You can detect a slight lack of polish here and there, as though the production was rushed and simply lacked time or resources. There are little touches on the PSX version that aren't present here, such as lens flares, camera flashes in the crowds or color gradiations on the field. The player models are thick and blocky in that Sega Saturn way, and I do prefer that look to the wispy-thin players on PSX and N64, but there are some awkward movements here and there, and the players' faces don't quite fit.

Again, the gameplay is extremely fluid and that's what really matters. Add in the numerous control options and heavier emphasis on simulation play over pure arcade thrills (although you can easily score over the hapless goalies), and you have a soccer videogame with a lot of depth. I really want to get back and play a few more rounds, try to learn the controls and test out the gameplay modes. If FIFA 98 on Playstation is a "Perfect 10," the Saturn version is at least a solid 7, maybe an 8.
 

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Here is a look at another Sega Saturn Japan-exclusive soccer title, World Evolution Soccer, created by Asmik and Jackpot in 1997. This is a very arcade-oriented game, with flashy menus and pre-rendered player models that could have been ripped straight out of a Neo-Geo machine. The presentation looks great, another showpiece for VDP2 and high frame rates, and the "surfer dude" audio commentary is unintentionally hilarious. It's not quite as comically over-the-top as Taito's Hat Trick Hero S (a great arcade soccer game for Saturn), but it works.

The one fatal flaw, as you will no doubt see: the players are moving far too slowly, at less than half-speed. They're also painfully short in the animation department, although the models themselves look very colorful and detailed without heavy pixelation. It all has the feel of an arcade game from the early 1990s, and if you go in with that mindset, you'll have a good time. I think? I dunno, I'm just guessing based on this video, so I really know as much as you do.

This appears to be one of the more rare Saturn sports titles, as there are only a few copies available on Ebay at the moment. Probably one for the collectors and the diehards.

One final thing I have to note: have you noticed that all the Japanese Saturn soccer games are significantly more polished than their Western counterparts? Every one of these titles offer blazing frame rates and solid polygon visuals, while soccer games from the West often struggle to even breathe. I strongly suspect this is a question of programming languages: Assembly (JP) versus C (US/PAL).
 

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This would be a perfect time to show off Tecmo's spectacular soccer game, J-League Go Go Goal! on Sega Saturn. Every time I see this videogame in action, I cannot believe it. How is this even possible? What's the trick? What sort of alchemy did Tecmo pull off? 480/60 high resolution visuals, fully polygon players and stadiums with VDP2 floors, bright and crisp graphics that blaze by without a hiccup.

Have you ever noticed the enormous gulf in soccer games created in the West versus Japan? American and PAL developers often struggled to hit 20 fps and their games were often sluggish and murky, the polygon visuals slightly shaky. Meanwhile, Japanese coders routinely hit 30 or even 60 fps, with polygons that were supremely solid and confident.

I've thought about this a lot, and I really do believe it comes down to programming languages. Western programmers were almost universally coding in C, which was the dominant language of the day (it was the only computer language being taught when I started college in 1991). Japanese programmers, meanwhile, are primarily writing in Assembly, or "machine language." And it's a well known fact that Sega Saturn performs far better in Assembly, with an 8x speed advantage over C, according to Next Generation magazine. This must explain the difference.

Yes, we all know that Saturn was "hard to program," but we can see superior performance across the board from Japanese coders, even from small teams or single programmers. We see this not only with Sega's software titles, but from the likes of Go Go Goal, J-League Striker, Dead or Alive, Anarchy in the Nippon, Zero Divide: The Final Conflict, Savaki, Fighting Illusion K-1, Gungriffon 1 & 2, Gundam Side Story Trilogy, Thunder Force 5, Radiant Silvergun, Grandia, Baroque...am I missing a few more examples? Almost certainly.

At some point, the myths about Saturn have to be torn down. Too difficult to program? Hardly. Nobody but Sega could make the machine work? Puh-leeze. Can't doo three dee? Are you kidding me? Read that previous paragraph and watch the video. Then get back to us and tell us what Sega Saturn could and couldn't do.
 
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thiagosimoes

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Hello. I've been obsessed with Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together for over 20 years now. Do you guys know about any reviews from official publications back then for the Saturn version of the game? Except for the Famitsu score and the Japanese SS Magazine review, I couldn't find anything else. Everything I found about this game I've added to the Wikipedia article about LUCT.

Oh, and kind of not Saturn related, but TO:LUCT related: if any of you guys own EGM issue #246, could you please check the score that was given to the PSP version of the game? I can't find it anywhere. Thanks.


EDIT: Found it!
 
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DT MEDIA

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Here are some new screenshots of FIFA 98: Road to the World Cup on Sega Saturn. I've played a few matches whenever I could catch some spare time (highly challenging when you're raising a six-month-old baby). I find that my first impressions still hold: this is a very solid sports title with some highly impressive features, yet a number of rough edges that reflect the game's second-tier status compared to Sony Playstation. This is perfectly understandable, considering that the PSX version of FIFA would sell a million copies, while the Saturn version would struggle to break 100,000. It's unfortunate and a bit unfair, but them's the brakes.

All things considered, I am very impressed by this videogame. The number of gameplay modes, teams and clubs is staggering. You can play practically any football club in the world, compete in a full season on any number of specialized leagues, compete in a run to the FIFA cup that includes qualifying runs, and a comprehensive management mode that allows you to create your own custom teams and players. There is even a practice drill mode that reminds me a lot of Konami's J-League Striker on the Saturn (another excellent soccer game I featured recently).

Everything has that level of obsession over detail that made EA so famous during the Sega Genesis era. The amount of player animations is unequaled on the console, making the likes of Sega's Worldwide Soccer franchise feel a bit tame. In addition, there is a great amount of flexibility in your player's movements and controls, far more than the usual sprint-tackle-pass-shoot. Shots can be varied by how you tap or hold the buttons, a number of stylish special moves are enabled with the shoulder buttons (again, slightly similar to Konami's Striker). There's even a button--and I am not making this up--where you can deliberately take a dive in order to trick the refs into handing out yellow cards.

The gameplay features are all there, the controls are spot on and matches aim for a perfect balance between simulation and arcade. The goalies are complete pushovers and within a few minutes, you'll be scoring goals left and right. I especially enjoy the flow of the matches, how your players can weave and dodge around defenders, make quick passes and fire the ball into the corner of the net.

There are a few rough edges, as mentioned before. Nothing major or game-breaking, but you can tell that the software team was working with a tighter schedule and budget for Saturn FIFA. Missing elements include camera flashes in the stands, lens flares on sunny days and lights in the stadiums. The textures also appear slightly rougher and dirtier than PSX FIFA, as well as Sega's soccer titles (World Cup France 98 looks especially nice), but like the blockier quad-rendered players, I find that it carries a certain charm. Heaven knows I can't stand the thin, wispy players on the PSX and N64 versions of FIFA 98. For low-poly rendering, quads simply look better--it's a stone cold fact, and I honestly never understood why every videogame critic in the world wasn't bellowing this truth to the rafters.

So, heck with it. I'm raising my FIFA 98 review score to a 9/10. It grows on me. It's like the girl in your school who you've known and chatted with for months and then, suddenly, you wake up one morning and realize you're madly in love with her, and whenever she walks into the room, she just glows and your heart skips a beat. That sort of thing.

As for why Sega Saturn Magazine UK gave this game such harsh reviews, well, have you seen World League Soccer 98 in action? Holy flaming buckets. That videogame looks fantastic. Gameplay is a bit more debatable, but purely in terms of visuals, it stomps all over FIFA and every other Saturn soccer title save Go Go Goal. But that's a topic for a future post.