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Games NeoGAF Official SEGA SATURN Community

DT MEDIA

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I got two questions.

What's the best Gundam game on the Saturn and is Groove on Fight worth buying?

I haven't played all of the Gundam games for Saturn, but I would highly recommend the Gundam Side Story trilogy. You can either buy each title separately or in a box set called Blue Destiny. Checking Ebay, I found that you can get the separate discs for $30 total, while the box set is well over $100.

Groove on Fight is really terrific, another quality 2D fighting game for Saturn. It features excellent character designs with a strong anime style and some terrific tag-team action. The game uses the 1MB RAM cart, and my Action Replay cart works perfectly fine. Highly recommended.

I wrote essays on both of these in this Saturn thread a few pages back. Feel free to scan through this thread if you have any Saturn-related questions.
 
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Kazza

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I'm finally sitting down and playing through Tomb Raider and loving every moment of it. It's easy to forget just how groundbreaking this videogame was in 1996, and how brilliantly designed and executed it remains. Here are some screenshots from my 13" Sony Trinitron w/composite.

Back in the day, the Playstation version got all of the attention and accolades, while the Saturn version was either dismissed or derided as second-rate. In fact, I find that this version holds up extremely well and is far closer to its rival than anybody remembers. Visually, the only knock against this TR is the frame rate, which drops from 30fps to 20fps in large open areas or during animal attacks. Beyond that, the graphics feel more "solid" (none of that crazy glitching and warping you see on PSX) and even have a few cool touches like the water distortion effects.

Like everybody else, I love TR for its wonderful sense of mystery, exploration and isolation. It reminds me a lot of Minecraft but with a far stronger Indiana Jones vibe. The controls will probably put off a lot of modern gamers who would expect Super Mario 64 controls, but the tank controls work perfectly for this world and after a little practice becomes second nature.

Has anybody played Saturn Tomb Raider lately? Any fans out there? I would definitely put this on the Saturn Top 20, or even Top 10. It's crazy how I have more fun with this system today than I did 20+ years ago. I don't know why we were all so harsh on Sega back then.
For me, and I trust many other Saturn owners, Tomb Raider was my "Mario 64" experience. Although I had played other 3D games already, TR was my first large, "open world" 3D platforming/adventure experience. I was blown away by that tutorial level in Lara's mansion. It felt like a real, solid 3D world, not just a level in a game.

I remember being at an outdoor market with my mum and unexpectedly coming across a games stall with a copy (most of the stalls were clothes and bric brac, plus I didn't expect TR to have been released already). Because I didn't expect to buy any games that day, I didn't bring much money with me, so had to ask my mum for £10. Once I went back to the stall I realised I had miscalculated and had to go back to my mum and ask for more money! (probably a lucky mistake in retrospect, as she might not have given me all the money if I hadn't asked for it in two separate instalments).

Sega Saturn Magazine seem to have been impressed too, having a 6 page feature plus a 2 page review in a single episode:






I haven't played it since the 90s, and am I little put off due to the flak the "tank controls" get. However, as you said, the controls work perfectly for what the developers want you to do in the environment. Event the delayed jumping (which gets a little criticism in the magazine review above) is perfectly suited to the game, allowing you to live up jumps very precisely.

While I'm not inclined to replay the first game, I would be interested in giving the sequel a try. Along with RE2, TR2 was the missed port which hurt the most in those mid to late Saturn days. It's on Steam, but many people seem to have problems running it. How does TR2 compare to TR1?
 

Kazza

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Although I preferred Exhumed, Duke Nukem 3D was a lot of fun too (although I missed the more metroidvania aspects of the former game). I've never heard of Goiken Muyou: Anarchy in the Nippon. With so many great fighting games on the Saturn, I guess it got overlooked a bit.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
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This would be a good time for Sega America to apologize for that terrible US Saturn controller and the stupid balloon font, and for Sega Japan to apologize for the May 1995 surprise launch that all but killed the console out of the gate.

Saturn is a great system, but Sega made a ton of stupid unforced errors and did almost everything possible to sabotage themselves.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
485
597
455
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com








Played through "The Lost Valley" stage in Tomb Raider today and shot some photos with the iPhone. This was a terrific stage to play through, although that big dinosaur really gave me problems until I found a small cave to hide inside. Also, finding those missing gears was a pain, but in a good way.

Visually, this level is a bit dark and the textures appear a bit blocky, but I find the lighting to be very effective. The underwater segments just look gorgeous to my eyes. I actually prefer the natural lighting and heavy contrast of this Saturn Tomb Raider versus the PSX and PC versions, where everything is more balanced and smoothed out.

IMO, these screenshots don't really do the game justice. The iPhone tends to sharpen the image, and you can see composite dot-crawl where it's virtually undetectable with human eyes. But that's the eternal challenge of shooting pictures against a CRT display. For professional-quality photos, I would probably use the Bravia HDTV instead, which does an excellent job upscaling and smoothing the images.

I don't think anybody actually played Saturn Tomb Raider. The PSX version just stomped it at retail, and I still can't find any professional reviews from the era aside from dedicated Sega magazines. It really deserved a much larger audience.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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Here are a few new Asuka 120% photos I snapped today, playing on the 13" Trinitron w/composite.

When I think of great Japanese Sega Saturn games, Asuka 120% Burning Fest Limited is always near the top of my list. It may be my favorite 2D fighter on the system, although that probably says more about Street Fighter fatigue more than anything. It's probably just because this one feels more fresh, while I've already played all the marquee franchise brawlers a gazillion times.

There is a comprehensive player guide on GameFAQs, and I highly recommend that everyone download and study it. All of the gameplay elements are covered in great detail, and the author does a terrific job detailing all the mechanics of the fighting system. You can do pretty well just by mashing buttons or using quarter-circle turns for special attacks, but knowledge will raise your game to tournament-level.

The Asuka series has always had a bit of a cult following, and I do think fighting game fans should embrace it. If you're going to attend any fighting tournaments in the future, bring your Saturn along and get everyone hooked on this game. They'll thank you for it.
 

Kazza

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This would be a good time for Sega America to apologize for that terrible US Saturn controller and the stupid balloon font, and for Sega Japan to apologize for the May 1995 surprise launch that all but killed the console out of the gate.

Saturn is a great system, but Sega made a ton of stupid unforced errors and did almost everything possible to sabotage themselves.
I'm quite impressed with how many likes and comments that twitter thread got. It shows there are still many in NA who like the system. It'll be interesting to see the reactions in Japan for the 25th anniversary later this year.
 
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cireza

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Good CRT you got there. I have pretty much the exact same thing at home, except bigger in size.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
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Some Trinitron shots of Virtua Fighter Remix in action. If you purchased and registered a Sega Saturn during its early 1995 launch, Sega of America would send you a free copy by mail, which was a wonderfully generous move. I'm not sure if Remix actually replaced the original VF as the pack-in title, but it certainly should have. I also remember seeing this game released as a stand-alone title, but it appears that only happened in Minnesota and Canada, and that long-box edition has become extremely rare. The smaller CD cardboard cover and Japanese jewel case versions are more common.

It's a little hard to go back to the first Virtua Fighter after playing its sequels and spin-offs. The timing is much more strict and precise, no doubt owing to its 30fps frame rate. Once you get the timing down, it's just as exciting and addictive as ever. It's really a shame that this videogame couldn't have become more popular in the States, but most gamers wanted button-mashing fighters, not a strategic chess match that required weeks of study to master.

I often wonder how things would have been different had Sega released Saturn in September instead of May, and if Virtua Fighter Remix replaced the original, glitchier version entirely. It certainly would have made for a much stronger impression on the public, certainly when compared against the massively overrated Battle Arena Toshinden. And, of course, AM2 would have had another four months to work on Daytona USA to improve it further, which might have made a difference.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
485
597
455
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com








Here are some Trinitron screenshots of Fighting Vipers, the JP version with Pepsiman as a bonus player. It's worth picking up the import just for this.

This is such a fast and fun fighting game, and it should be more popular to casual players thanks to its emphasis on fast attacks, breakable armor and finishing moves that send opponents smashing through walls. Sega's use of gouraud shading and realtime light sourcing is highly impressive, especially in Jane's stage where different colored lights shine from the corners. You can also knock the other fighter on top of the fence, which is especially cool.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
485
597
455
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com
I've been playing Quake this week and having a great time. The more time I spend with this game, the more I respect and appreciate what Lobotomy achieved. It's a spectacular translation that competes strongly against any FPS at the time. Heck, this game plays better than Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament on Sega Dreamcast, which leaves me wondering what happened there.

I wanted to compare Saturn Quake against the PC version of 1997, not our modern computers that can play 1080p and 60fps, but an actual 486 PC. So I found a couple YouTube videos that do just that. Finally, for the sake of completion, I found a video of Turok 2 playing on Nintendo 64 hardware with the RAM expansion cart.

Seriously, Saturn Quake rocks and Dreisbach is a friggin' genius.




 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
485
597
455
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com






Here is a news article from Next Generation Magazine showing the redesigned motherboard for Saturn. They show the original 1994 console, which featured three separate boards, including one underneath the disc drive. When the white Saturn arrived, everything had been scaled down to a single board. By the end of the system's lifespan, further consolidations were made, including combining the twin CPUs into a single chip (or so I've read).

From my experience, I've found the later Saturn model to be much friendlier to playing burned discs. I owned a 1995 model and the disc drive eventually died from overuse. Thankfully, that hasn't happened to my white Saturn yet.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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Here are some photos of Virtua Fighter Kids I snapped this afternoon, While I always preferred VF2 or Megamix, I do enjoy the design of this game, and it's always great to see 480/60 games on Saturn.

This leads me to a broader question: why wasn't 480i and 60fps a bigger deal for Saturn? Reading through gaming magazines of the era, I struggle to find any acknowledgement of the console's high-resolution mode at all, and only a passing mention of 60 fps in games that used it. What's the deal with that?

Each of the major 5th Gen consoles (Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 64) had distinct strengths and weaknesses, yet Saturn's strengths were rarely mentioned, if ever. Some prozines were better than others. Read through Next Generation issues from 1995-1996 for some of the worst examples.

To be fair, I think the prozines' attitudes towards PSX (love it), Saturn (hate it) and N64 (snooze) reflected the mood of the time. So aside from rooting for underdogs, I'm out of working theories. Any takers?
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
485
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Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com








Some new screenshots of Zero Divide: The Final Conflict. This 3D fighter remains pretty obscure among Saturn fans and continues to fly under the radar. However, I still insist this is one of the top import titles for the system, as strong a fighter as Dead or Alive, Anarchy in the Nippon and Sega's arcade hits.

It's unfortunate that the ZD series has fallen by the wayside. I thought the Playstation original was very good, and I'd personally rate it higher than Tekken 1 and (ugh) Toshinden. But much of that is because of Zoom's Virtua Fighter-derived fighting system. Perhaps the robot designs are too abstract and cold to attract fans, but Virtual On has robots and always maintained a cult following.

One interesting thing about this game: it appears to be running in 480i resolution and using gouraud shading. This was something previously believed impossible on Saturn. Yet, this game clearly shows polygon shading, especially as the robot armor is smashed away. There are also walls around many of the arenas that are more "solid" and free of glitches than seen in Sega's Fighting Vipers, Megamix or Last Bronx. Perhaps Zoom's programmers were just that good (they did use both CPUs as well as the seldom-used SCU DSP), or perhaps that's because Sega's bosses were notorious for rushing games out before they were properly finished (a problem that continued with Dreamcast).

The training mode includes full move list for all the fighters, which is always helpful, and there's a replay function where fights can be saved to memory. There are also three bonus fighters in addition to the original ten: two boss characters and Zoom's cat mascot, who becomes available after 12 hours of game time.

It's all part of the legend that Sega Saturn was difficult to program, yet we keep finding all these smaller Japanese studios who could produce great results. If the system only had another 2-3 years on the market, we would probably see more stellar results. We'd certainly get Virtua Fighter 3 and Shenmue, that's for sure.
 

Toe-Knee

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Here are some photos of Virtua Fighter Kids I snapped this afternoon, While I always preferred VF2 or Megamix, I do enjoy the design of this game, and it's always great to see 480/60 games on Saturn.

This leads me to a broader question: why wasn't 480i and 60fps a bigger deal for Saturn? Reading through gaming magazines of the era, I struggle to find any acknowledgement of the console's high-resolution mode at all, and only a passing mention of 60 fps in games that used it. What's the deal with that?

Each of the major 5th Gen consoles (Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 64) had distinct strengths and weaknesses, yet Saturn's strengths were rarely mentioned, if ever. Some prozines were better than others. Read through Next Generation issues from 1995-1996 for some of the worst examples.

To be fair, I think the prozines' attitudes towards PSX (love it), Saturn (hate it) and N64 (snooze) reflected the mood of the time. So aside from rooting for underdogs, I'm out of working theories. Any takers?
I was playing this last night and was surprised at how clean it was.

It was the first time playing it last night but I'm sure I remember the UK saturn magazine complaining that it looked terrible on comparison to vf2
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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Here's EGM's review of Powerslave. It receives fairly good scores but is roundly criticized for being "another Doom clone." Did these guys actually play it for more than five minutes? Given the routinely over-inflated scores of the Ziff-Davis-era EGM, a 29 score (8-6-8-7) seems criminally low. We really did have to wait for Metroid Prime to arrive before we could appreciate how far ahead of the curve this game was. SSM UK, meanwhile, scored it a 92%, declaring "This is the game to set the standard for the first-person shoot 'em up genre. If you thought that Doom was the game for you, Exhumed will make you think again."

Also, note the high scores for Mr. Bones. I don't know if I'd rate it that highly, but whatever. It's certainly not better than Powerslave. But I think review critics were putting a premium on innovation and novelty at that time.

As for VF Kids, I just checked via Sega Retro, and SSM UK's Rich Ledbetter gave the game a 93%, with only good things to say. The capsule review: "Whether Kids is better than the established VF2 is debatable, but the brilliant new visuals, super-fast speed and gameplay tweaks should bring VF to an all-new audience. The fact it's only L30 doesn't hurt either."
 
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Toe-Knee

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Here's EGM's review of Powerslave. It receives fairly good scores but is roundly criticized for being "another Doom clone." Did these guys actually play it for more than five minutes? Given the routinely over-inflated scores of the Ziff-Davis-era EGM, a 29 score (8-6-8-7) seems criminally low. We really did have to wait for Metroid Prime to arrive before we could appreciate how far ahead of the curve this game was. SSM UK, meanwhile, scored it a 92%, declaring "This is the game to set the standard for the first-person shoot 'em up genre. If you thought that Doom was the game for you, Exhumed will make you think again."

Also, note the high scores for Mr. Bones. I don't know if I'd rate it that highly, but whatever. It's certainly not better than Powerslave. But I think review critics were putting a premium on innovation and novelty at that time.

As for VF Kids, I just checked via Sega Retro, and SSM UK's Rich Ledbetter gave the game a 93%, with only good things to say. The capsule review: "Whether Kids is better than the established VF2 is debatable, but the brilliant new visuals, super-fast speed and gameplay tweaks should bring VF to an all-new audience. The fact it's only L30 doesn't hurt either."
I must be misremembering. This was half of my life ago! Forgive me.
 
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DT MEDIA

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You have likely seen Traveller's Tales programmer Jon Burton's videos on YouTube that explain the making of Sonic R, showing many secrets such as the "12 layer transparency" and chrome reflection effects, the early PC builds and a detailed look at how the Saturn's processors were used. It's a great resource that, for many gamers, will be a first true glimpse into the complex hardware of Sega's 32-bit console. I always come away with a renewed appreciation for the skill of the coders who had to think outside the box and work around the system's problems.

I decided to post direct links to nearly all of the Sonic R videos here for reference. If you have never seen these videos before, get ready to be amazed. Enjoy!

Coding for the World's Trickiest Chip: Sega Saturn DSP

Sonic Torn Apart: Exposing Sega's Insanity with Hardware

Sonic R: Early Character Prototypes vs Final Characters

Sonic R's Development Secrets

Sonic R's "Impossible" Fading

Sonic R: All Prototypes Compared

Amazing Sonic R Course Maps Rediscovered

Sonic R's Impossible Polygons (Environment Mapping)

Sonic R's F1 Roots Revealed

Sonic R: Earliest Prototype
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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F1 Challenge (1995, Sega)

I was playing through F1 Challenge a little today, and despite my apprehension I found myself enjoying it a lot. I rented it back in 1995 and thought it was, well, okay. Nothing sensational and still rough around the edges just like Daytona USA and Virtua Racing and most of the early Saturn games.

Today, I was lucky enough to play with the 3D Controller, which operates in "racing wheel" mode, and this makes a great improvement in steering and control. Your cars are much more responsive and faster on turns. The steering is far too stiff with digital controls, and this is a problem with many racing games of the '90s for reasons I've never understood. It's like the wheels are locked or something. Clearly, this game was created with the steering wheel in mind.

This is a pure arcade racer, despite an official license from FIA and several manufacturers and drivers. There are three real-life courses, all of which follow the Sega tradition of easy-medium-hard, as well as three original courses, all of which are variations on one another. So you get six tracks, which is nice, but I still wish there were more, and I definitely wish I could race an entire season instead of just one race at a time. Again, arcade, not sim.

The graphics look very good for an early Saturn title, and I compared it to Andretti Racing, only to be quickly shocked at just how shoddy EA was with their racing game (another lazy PSX port with no sense of color nor fun). The frame rate is a bit low, hovering around 15-20 fps. I found that if I turned off the rear view display, that speeds up the game considerably, and so I found myself playing with the cockpit view and without the pop-up window. Much of the graphics appear rough, as though the game was rushed to market too early. It certainly could have used another three months to iron out the kinks, but that's Sega for you.

The cars are suitably large and detailed, and there are sparks and trails of transparent smoke (mesh transparencies, no doubt, but still looks nice on composite). The handling is very tight and you can make adjustments to your vehicle that will affect the handling. Your tires will also wear down with use (and too many crashes), causing you to powerslide at every turn. I know this means I should go into the pit stop (something which is actually necessary in each race, despite having only 8 laps), but I kinda like how it handles. Despite Saturn's early hardware problems, there's no denying that Sega always knew how to make a great playing racer.

The Japanese version of this game features a three-man color commentary in the audio track, and it's quite detailed and enjoyable, even if you don't know the language. The Western release replaces that with standard Sega music that I enjoy very much. Both versions are available for little money these days, so collectors should just grab both.

I must be honest, part of me wishes I was playing Ferrari F355 Challenge on Dreamcast instead of this game, which features the same real-life tracks, but with sensational VGA-quality graphics running at 60 fps. It's a bit rough to play at 20 frames or less here, and I find it more difficult at times to see where I'm going. Again, turning off the rear-view screen helps a lot,

I would like to see Sega bring this game back with a full racing season and more courses. The opportunity was there to create the next-generation answer to Super Monaco GP on Genesis, but Sega missed that chance to create a quick arcade racer instead. Fortunately, what's here is entertaining and it definitely grows on you. If you have the arcade racing wheel, then add this game to your library. Otherwise, try with the 3D Controller and see what it does for you.
 
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DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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Here's a photo of the Next Generation review of Panzer Dragoon Saga. I found this online archive of the magazine's entire US run, and it's quite an illuminating nostalgia trip. It also confirms something that I had suspected for many years: these guys seriously had an axe to grind against the Sega Saturn.

In defense of Next Gen, they did get on the bandwagon for Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally, and they also championed other key titles like the World Series Baseball series, Worldwide Soccer 97 and Nights. I was very happy to find a 5-star review for Saturn Tomb Raider, and one that doesn't endlessly complain about how it's not the Playstation version.

But, overall, Next Gen never seemed to like Saturn and never passed a chance to get their digs in. Maybe that reflected the attitude of the times, where everyone in the West fell in love with Sony Playstation and really just wanted Sega to go away. Even Nintendo faced head winds with N64 at times, while their golden boy got a pass on literally everything.

Not that I'm grumbly. This is like arguing Beatles vs Rolling Stones at this point. But, c'mon, only 4/5 for Panzer Dragoon Saga? And check out what other Saturn games couldn't get 5/5: X-Men vs Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, Last Bronx, Grandia, Shining Force 3, Dragon Force, Enemy Zero, Quake, Worldwide Soccer 98, Steep Slope Sliders, Virtual On, Virtua Cop 2, Saturn Bomberman. Surely, one or two of these titles deserves a perfect score...right? Bueller?

And for the record, they never reviewed Powerslave. Or Radiant Silvergun. Or Duke Nukem.
 
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Kazza

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It also confirms something that I had suspected for many years: these guys seriously had an axe to grind against the Sega Saturn.
I think you've been a little bit harsh on Next Generation here. In the first two paragraphs they pretty much say how much better various aspects of the game are than FF7. The third paragraph lavishes praise on the game's design and presentation, while the forth explains how amazing and deep the combat system is (again, comparing it favourably to FF7). It's only in the final paragraph that the game comes into some criticism, and that's only because they think the game is too short. Even then, the are at pains to state that the game is "unique , trailblazing and wonderful".

Given their praise of the game, it's fair to say that it deserves the full 5 stars, but it seems the relative shortness of the experience (for an RPG anyway) knocked off one star. That said, it's unforgivable that they didn't bother to review Powerslave, Radiant Silvergun, or Duke Nukem.

The official UK Sega Saturn Magazine gave it a very impressive 96% (reviewed by Digital Foundry's Rich Leadbetter no less.

 
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DT MEDIA

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Final Fight Revenge (2000, Capcom)

I've had a "copy" of Final Fight Revenge in my Saturn collection for well over a decade, but I never actually sat down to play it. I just wanted to have the disc for its own sake. It's best known as the final Saturn game released in Japan, March of 2000, which is somewhat amazing considering that the Dreamcast was already in its second year and gamers were being overwhelmed with Playstation 2 hype. I love Capcom for their crazy devotion to Sega.

I popped the disc in today to play a couple rounds. This game has a mediocre-to-poor reputation among gamers, and the arcade version was not a hit (it's interesting that it never spawned the usual half-dozen sequels and spin-offs typical of Capcom). Instead, to my great surprise, I found myself really enjoying it. I don't know if that feeling will be sustained over a longer period of time, as perhaps the gameplay's flaws will reveal themselves. But for now, I'm thinking this is a really good brawler, a hidden gem of sorts and a suitable farewell for the Saturn.

Final Fight Revenge plays fast and loose, following most of the usual Street Fighter conventions with a faster sense of flow. It's much friendlier to novice or casual players who only mash buttons when playing fighting games. The designers did a good job bringing the martial arts moves from the beat-em-up series to this 3D tournament fighter, with the addition of some new moves in classic Capcom style. One new addition are the many weapons that lie about the playing area, where you can pick up and use against opponents. You can also knock weapons out of the other fighter's hands or even steal them (in the case of Guy).

The best new addition are the super combos, in which you get a super-flashy attack, often by mashing the buttons. There's a great sense of humor here, such as the cop who runs you over with his squad car. The game doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and loosens up a bit, which is nice as most fighting games at that time were dominated by hardcore players.

The graphics look really good, running in 480/60 resolution. The larger polygon fighters can look a little blocky, but in that origami style we see in the early Tekken games, and the animation is very fluid. I really like the character designs, especially the final boss who, I dunno, is a zombie of sorts? He stretches his arms out like Dhalsim and dances all the Thriller moves during the credits. The stages feature VDP2 planes for the ground and backgrounds, ala Tekken, in addition to the many weapons and barrels lying about.

I think I'm enjoying this game because I'm not taking it too seriously. It feels more like a casual player's game and that's very welcome. Saturn already has the world's best collection of hardcore fighting games, 2D and 3D alike. Not everything has to be a college-level martial arts study like Virtua Fighter 2, Dead or Alive or Anarchy in the Nippon. Sometimes you just want to chew bubblegum and kick butts. This is a fighting game made specifically for everyone who played Fighters Megamix just for the Daytona car.

The gameplay modes are extremely basic, only arcade and 2-player. This is a straight translation of the ST-V arcade game, one that requires the 4MB RAM cart to function. This is the only 3D polygon game to use the expansion cart, and I really do wish Sega had used it more. I certainly would have loved to play Die Hard Arcade without any of those annoying load times. But that's Sega for you.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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I think you've been a little bit harsh on Next Generation here. In the first two paragraphs they pretty much say how much better various aspects of the game are than FF7. The third paragraph lavishes praise on the game's design and presentation, while the forth explains how amazing and deep the combat system is (again, comparing it favourably to FF7). It's only in the final paragraph that the game comes into some criticism, and that's only because they think the game is too short. Even then, the are at pains to state that the game is "unique , trailblazing and wonderful".

Given their praise of the game, it's fair to say that it deserves the full 5 stars, but it seems the relative shortness of the experience (for an RPG anyway) knocked off one star. That said, it's unforgivable that they didn't bother to review Powerslave, Radiant Silvergun, or Duke Nukem.

The official UK Sega Saturn Magazine gave it a very impressive 96% (reviewed by Digital Foundry's Rich Leadbetter no less.


I always enjoyed Next Gen and respected the hell out of them. They were the only serious videogame writers outside of the zine scene. But they seriously hated the Saturn. They ripped on that machine every chance they could. But I take it all with a grin and chuckle, and also note that they bent over backwards to become the world's biggest Dreamcast fanboys. Besides, it was fashionable to rip on Saturn 20 years ago. Its reputation didn't turn around until many years later.
 

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Final Fight Revenge (2000, Capcom)

I've had a "copy" of Final Fight Revenge in my Saturn collection for well over a decade, but I never actually sat down to play it. I just wanted to have the disc for its own sake. It's best known as the final Saturn game released in Japan, March of 2000, which is somewhat amazing considering that the Dreamcast was already in its second year and gamers were being overwhelmed with Playstation 2 hype. I love Capcom for their crazy devotion to Sega.

I popped the disc in today to play a couple rounds. This game has a mediocre-to-poor reputation among gamers, and the arcade version was not a hit (it's interesting that it never spawned the usual half-dozen sequels and spin-offs typical of Capcom). Instead, to my great surprise, I found myself really enjoying it. I don't know if that feeling will be sustained over a longer period of time, as perhaps the gameplay's flaws will reveal themselves. But for now, I'm thinking this is a really good brawler, a hidden gem of sorts and a suitable farewell for the Saturn.

Final Fight Revenge plays fast and loose, following most of the usual Street Fighter conventions with a faster sense of flow. It's much friendlier to novice or casual players who only mash buttons when playing fighting games. The designers did a good job bringing the martial arts moves from the beat-em-up series to this 3D tournament fighter, with the addition of some new moves in classic Capcom style. One new addition are the many weapons that lie about the playing area, where you can pick up and use against opponents. You can also knock weapons out of the other fighter's hands or even steal them (in the case of Guy).

The best new addition are the super combos, in which you get a super-flashy attack, often by mashing the buttons. There's a great sense of humor here, such as the cop who runs you over with his squad car. The game doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and loosens up a bit, which is nice as most fighting games at that time were dominated by hardcore players.

The graphics look really good, running in 480/60 resolution. The larger polygon fighters can look a little blocky, but in that origami style we see in the early Tekken games, and the animation is very fluid. I really like the character designs, especially the final boss who, I dunno, is a zombie of sorts? He stretches his arms out like Dhalsim and dances all the Thriller moves during the credits. The stages feature VDP2 planes for the ground and backgrounds, ala Tekken, in addition to the many weapons and barrels lying about.

I think I'm enjoying this game because I'm not taking it too seriously. It feels more like a casual player's game and that's very welcome. Saturn already has the world's best collection of hardcore fighting games, 2D and 3D alike. Not everything has to be a college-level martial arts study like Virtua Fighter 2, Dead or Alive or Anarchy in the Nippon. Sometimes you just want to chew bubblegum and kick butts. This is a fighting game made specifically for everyone who played Fighters Megamix just for the Daytona car.

The gameplay modes are extremely basic, only arcade and 2-player. This is a straight translation of the ST-V arcade game, one that requires the 4MB RAM cart to function. This is the only 3D polygon game to use the expansion cart, and I really do wish Sega had used it more. I certainly would have loved to play Die Hard Arcade without any of those annoying load times. But that's Sega for you.
Coincidentally, Sega Lord X just did a video on "bad" Saturn games, and he gave some praise to Final Fight too:

 
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Here's a fresh batch of Burning Rangers screenshots on the Sony Trinitron w/composite. This game looks gorgeous and is highly photogenic. It's also quite challenging, partly because you're always racing to put out fires before everything explodes in a million pieces, and partly because the Saturn is being pushed to its absolute limits (well, aside from Shenmue and presumably VF3, of course).

I honestly can't think of a 5th Gen videogame that pushes the graphics as hard as this one. Yes, we could all name Playstation and N64 games whose 3D worlds were more "solid" and smooth, but not with an endless array of light sourcing and a dozen fiery explosions going off at all times. It almost reminds me of a 3D version of Dodonpachi. Maybe that's just me. I keep getting lost and wind up with a dangerously high stress limit, to say nothing of those trap rooms that are primed to detonate the second you step inside.

It's a bit messy at times, and I always feel like this should have been on Dreamcast instead of Saturn. But I truly admire Sonic Team's reckless ambition. They could have easily dialed back the level designs, simplify the geometry or tone down the effects. Instead, they just jack everything to maximum and blow out the fuses. What a rush.
 

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Daytona USA Circuit Edition is one of those love/hate videogames for me, as I completely adore its excellent presentation and silky smooth graphics, but feel frustrated by its vehicle handling and computer AI that just don't match the quality of the Saturn original. But I think it was Rich Ledbetter who wrote that if you just accept this as a racing game, and don't expect the arcade Daytona, you'll have a great time. I think he was right about that.

Of course, I have the JP edition which is more refined than the Western releases, including the restoration of the original Daytona music, link-up mode and multiple day/night settings. It plays very well with the analog controller but is probably designed for the racing wheel. I've seen some Youtube videos of the wheel in use with this game and it looks glorious. Thankfully, I was able to score a copy of this disc for $10, which makes it a must-have for Saturn owners.

Yes, the original 1995 Daytona USA is the preferred version where the gameplay counts, especially when you're running those 80-lap endurance races with the 20-car crashes. But this has its charms, and I'd rather play this videogame than all but a handful of racers on PSX and N64.
 

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But I think it was Rich Ledbetter who wrote that if you just accept this as a racing game, and don't expect the arcade Daytona, you'll have a great time. I think he was right about that.
Daytona CCE was the first time I ever played any Daytona game, so I wen in with zero expectations regarding the car handling. I just thought it was a very polished and well-playing game. Whereas many Saturn fans seem to hold something of a grudge against CCE, I kind of feel the same about the original port. It, along with Virtua Fighter, do a lot of early reputation damage to the Saturn and looked bad next the Ridge Racer/Tekken/Toshinden. If CCE and Remix had been launch titles instead, then the system's trajectory in the West could have turned out very different.
 
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While we're on the topic of the Saturn, I really enjoyed this video:



It's a topic that has already been done to death, and I almost skipped it because of that, but it's a very logical and well produced video. Highly recommended.

It's already been over 30 years, but revisiting those times still makes me feel a little sad. Even at the end of 1995, Sega was doing really well. These two charts from the video tell their own story:






The Saturn was off to such a good start in Japan in that first 12+ months. In the US, the Genesis was also still going very strong. Adding up the total for the 3 Sega consoles (crazy that Sega let that situation develop, and that's not even counting the Sega CD), Sega was the winner of NA console sales in 1995. What happened after that is so sad :(
 
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The game is actually very impressive for the console and uses quite a lot of its features. For example you have a lot of transparency that is actually full transparency, applied to both the 3D backgrounds and 2D sprites at the same time. This is not something you see often on Saturn, because of how transparency is handled separately by each VDP.
I think it's more that doing BG transparency using VDP2 is easy and works well, but the VDP1 transparency on polys is a lot more tricky - it can work well if you can be sure that each pixel is only written once, but given the way the texture fill works that's often not the case, and the same pixel gets written multiple times. Most of the time this doesn't matter - at worst it causes the sort of Moire effects you sometimes see on textured polys in Saturn games, but with transparency on it can end up looking pretty horrible because the blending may be applied multiple times on the same pixel and as it is the background becomes increasingly attenuated. The normal upside to this is that every pixel will be written at least once and hence the Saturn doesn't suffer from the texture tears that affected so many PSX games, but the downside is that every time you use VDP1 transparency you have to consider what the worst-case effect might be.

I think this is why so many developers sidestepped the issue by using screen-door transparency - that always works, is faster (since it doesn't involve doing read-modify-write on the framebuffer) and since back in the day most people were connected via composite to a CRT TV the resulting image was effectively being low-pass filtered and looked OK anyway.
 
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While we're on the topic of the Saturn, I really enjoyed this video:



It's a topic that has already been done to death, and I almost skipped it because of that, but it's a very logical and well produced video. Highly recommended.

It's already been over 30 years, but revisiting those times still makes me feel a little sad. Even at the end of 1995, Sega was doing really well. These two charts from the video tell their own story:






The Saturn was off to such a good start in Japan in that first 12+ months. In the US, the Genesis was also still going very strong. Adding up the total for the 3 Sega consoles (crazy that Sega let that situation develop, and that's not even counting the Sega CD), Sega was the winner of NA console sales in 1995. What happened after that is so sad :(

One thing that gets forgotten is that Generation 5 was very slow moving. Console sales didn't really take off until 1997. Partly this was because many kids were holding out for Nintendo's system to arrive, which was the subject of enormous hype for several years running, and was finally unveiled with the sensational Super Mario 64. What held N64 back in its first year was a severe lack of software. Meanwhile, the 16-bit market was still viable and profitable, especially for Nintendo. Sega's decision to kill the Genesis and focus exclusively on Saturn.

While reading through the Next Generation issues, I found an early 1996 article on Saturn/PSX console sales during the previous year, and there were several disputing sets of numbers. The early sales numbers suggested that Sony took a commanding lead at launch, while later assessments suggested a far closer race. And the sales for the first half of '96 was dead even, with Sony maintaining a short lead. I'd very much like to see graphs for sales on 1996-2001.
 
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Daytona USA is the perfect "quickie" videogame, the one you play when you want cheap and easy thrills for five minutes. Even all these years later, even though I have Daytona Circuit Edition within easy reach, and all those great Sega Dreamcast racers sitting in the bedroom closet, I reach for this.

In the eyes of the videogame industry, magazines and hardcore gamers, Daytona was little more than a whipping boy gone wrong, the embodiment for Everything Sega Did Wrong, the justification for writing off Saturn as obsolete less than ten minutes after its launch. But that was life within the bubble. Meantime, life outside enthusiastically played and cheered along to their hearts' content. The great Daytona in our living rooms, a little dinged up and rough looking, but glorious nonetheless. As for its looks, well, all college students know that two pints of beer will solve that problem.

In the days when I first owned a Sega Saturn in the middle '90s, Daytona USA was the most popular game in my library. All the other kids wanted to play that above all other contenders. More than Sega Rally, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop, Bug, Nights Into Dreams, Decathlete, Worldwide Soccer 97, Fighters Megamix, World Series Baseball 98. The casual players couldn't get enough Daytona. They wanted it hooked straight into their veins.

Ridge Racer was the girl who was gorgeous but slightly ditzy and shallow. She was worth chasing at the house party when you were slightly buzzed and looking for some action, but when she sat you down at the coffee shop two days later to share her life story, every fiber in your bones just wanted to bolt for the exit. Daytona USA was a little rounder around the hips, a little less symmetrical, a little less popular. Yet this gal was whip smart, sarcastic as hell, could always make you laugh and rock your world.
 

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A rare piece of Saturn coverage from Cinemassacre:



It can sometimes be difficult watching these guys play anything which isn't NES/SNES, but this wasn't so bad. "It's actually not terrible" says James at one point in a surprised manner (no shit, you're playing Daytona with a wheel). Mike still felt the need to get the obligatory "Nintendo is best" opinion when he brought up Mario Kart at the end. Oh well, at least it wasn't Zelda this time :messenger_tears_of_joy:
 
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A local shop is selling a model 2 for 45 bucks. I kinda want to get it because I don't have one, but they don't have any games that I want. I guess I could just mod it.
 

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This video gives some valuable perspective about the Saturn at the time of release. Yeah, the surprise launch wasn't a great idea in hindsight, but, as you can see from the VHS footage, it was pretty exciting at the time.
 

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Some screenshots of Guardian Force, the sensational omni-directional shoot-em-up created by Success in 1998. It was also released on the arcade ST-V Titan board.

The look and feel of this game is decidedly 16-bit, with smaller objects and simplified backgrounds richly drawn in warm color tones. The massive number of moving objects, countless explosions, enormous bosses and occasional scaling effects take advantage of Saturn's 2D powers, and the action is always fast and furious. It's a great thrill to fight enemies that attack from all sides, and your tank often changes direction, too, from vertical to horizontal scrolling and even diagonal movements.

As Guardian Force was one of the latter Saturn games, it likely becomes lost in the shuffle of so many fantastic arcade shooters. It certainly lacks the wild, over-the-top chaos or astonishing visuals seen in Radiant Silvergun, Soukyugurentai, Battle Garegga or Dodonpachi. But don't let that restraint fool you. You're in for one hell of a thrill ride.

It's absolutely scandalous how '90s gamers allowed 3D polygon hype to completely shut everything else out of the room. When I was taking these shots a few nights ago, I was also playing Elevator Action Returns and Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter. 20 years ago, none of those games would be given a second glance. No polygons, no lightey-glowey effects! Not interested, next! What the hell were we drinking back then, turpentine?

Thank goodness 2D videogames have returned to fashion. They should never have been ostracized in the first place.
 
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Kazza

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This video is in Chinese, so probably not useful to most folks here, but it does give an interesting perspective on the Saturn from a Chinese point of view (plus I'm studying Chinese, so it's useful learning material for me)



It sounds like they closely followed Japan in terms of PS1/Saturn split, with the Chinese magazines at the time mostly keeping a neutral position between the two, at least in the early years. I think buying a next-gen console (or being gifted one by family) was a big decision for most of us back in the day, and that holds doubly true for Chinese gamers of the time given how much poorer China was back in the 90s. He went for a Saturn, and says he didn't regret the decision at all. It seems like most, if not all, games had to be imported from Japan anyway, so he would have had access to a big library (although he says he had to play many RPGs with a Japanese dictionary in hand). He said everyone was a bit shocked when the Dreamcast was announced just a few years into the system's life, as it seemed to be going pretty well (although it started to lose competitiveness from FF7 onwards)

Here's a sweet picture of the youtuber playing on his original Saturn with his daughter:

 
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Some photos of Batsugun in action. One of the great joys in using a 13" color television is that it's easy to turn on its side when playing arcade shoot-em-ups in "tate" mode. I don't mind laying on the couch sideways to play, or even using the "sideways" control scheme that lets you play as a side-scroller, but nothing beats the actual arcade experience of a vertical-oriented screen.

Batsugun is, of course, a masterful videogame and easily one of my all-time Saturn favorites. The disc includes a perfect copy of the 1993 Toaplan arcade classic as well as the never-released 1994 "special edition" that offers numerous tweaks and additions to the gameplay, including remixed visuals and a significantly smaller "hit box" on your spaceship. A remixed soundtrack is also included, as well as four display options for "yoko" and "tate" viewing. Overall, the programmers at Gazelle (one of the four studios founded by former Toaplan staffers) is magnificent and delivers a sensational thrill ride for all Saturn owners.

Once again, I am astonished that this game was ignored by Western gamers and clueless business executives, all of whom decided in 1995 that all 2D videogames were suddenly "obsolete." While I have no doubt that sales figures played in role in these decisions (both Darius Gaiden and Galactic Attack were published to a cool reception), I also strongly suspect that our old foe, Puritanical Guilt, is to blame, that ridiculous notion that videogames would finally be "respected" as "legitimate" only if they shed their kiddie cartoon look and pushed towards "gritty realism," which meant muddy color palettes, digitized sprites, 3D polygons, cinematic cut-scenes and a focus on adult gamers. Arcades were out. Color was out. Computer programmers were to reinvent themselves as 21st Century digital movie directors...or live out their lives as lonely virgins always pitied by their parents.

Whatever. Thank God that Japan wasn't struck dumb by this idiot notion, at least not until the new century. The '90s still had room for bright colors, loud explosions and cheap roller coaster thrills. There was still room for fun. I really don't care that computer programming skills were a social death sentence 25 years ago. I just want my quick sugar rush, and that's all I ever wanted.
 

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Who doesn't love Metal Slug? This Saturn translation is taken directly from the Neo-Geo CD, offering an impressive art gallery in addition to the arcade and time attack modes. The astonishingly fluid animation stands as a milestone for 2D pixel graphics and Saturn fans will be happy to show this game off to family and friends.

Action is fast and always challenging and there's never a dull moment across six stages. The pacing is slightly slower than NES Contra and Genesis Gunstar Heroes, but this adds to the game's charm and atmosphere. It's always fun to smash buildings with your tank shells or cut down rows of hapless cartoon soldiers.

The one downside to this game, as everyone knows, is the extensive slowdown that rears its head during boss fights and fierce firefights. Checking the Neo-Geo original shows the same slowdown at the exact same points, which suggests that this is simply an issue with the original program code. Also, it must be noted that Metal Slug is moving a tremendous amount of sprites.

Metal Slug was also ported to Playstation, and that version retains full speed with virtually no slowdown. However, this is achieved by cutting down the animation frames to the bare bones. Many characters or effects are drawn with only 2-3 frames, giving the look and feel of a Super NES cartridge. Personally, I'll take the Saturn and Neo-Geo versions.

There have also been rumors that Metal Slug plays more smoothly when using the 1MB RAM cartridge instead of the Pro Action Replay, However, judging the YouTube videos reveals virtually no difference between any of the carts. For now, color me unimpressed. Just leave the PAR in your Saturn cartridge slot and you'll be fine.
 

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Sega Lord X has just posted his newest video, "Easily Overlooked Games on the Saturn, Part 2." It's another terrific compilation of classics for the system. As always, he does an excellent job explaining the games and his honest opinions of them, dishing out praise or criticism in equal measure. He has created many Saturn videos that are well worth watching. Be sure to subscribe to his channel if you haven't yet done so.

A few notes on the videogames in this video:

Mass Destruction is great fun if you're looking for arcade shoot-em-up action with lots of explosions. It has a strong Amiga vibe to its style, which is probably why I love it. The Saturn version runs in 480/60 high resolution and looks terrific, much better than the PSX version, and demonstrates the system's powers when in the hands of programmers who actually bother to put in the effort.

Return Fire would have made for a nice commercial release had it been finished. The late beta copy put online by the developers is nice, but you can clearly see how they still needed to optimize the program code and tighten up the frame rate. You can also see the difference between this game and Mass Destruction, and I suspect the software team basically dumped the 3DO code onto Saturn without really using the hardware wisely (the ground is probably drawn with polygons instead of 2D VDP2 planes). Still, it's good fun and an original concept.

Scorcher is a hard videogame to love. Its graphics engine is excellent, as one expects from the skilled demoscene coders at Zyrinx. I could never warm up to the controls or the odd viewing angle that puts the vehicle too deep into the screen, or the high difficulty. I probably just need more practice, so maybe it's just me.

Savaki is another excellent 3D showpiece for Saturn, offering 60 fps frame rate, gouraud shading and light sourcing. We also have a caged arena that never clips or flickers out, unlike Sega's efforts in Last Bronx, Fighting Vipers and Megamix. The entire game was programmed by a single individual (the same coder behind the fascinating Robo Pit) and it shows in a few places, notably the looping crowd noises and the single battle arena. Whatever. Everything looks great and plays brilliantly, like a hyper-realistic Virtua Fighter. The name "savaki" revers to the parry move where you can deflect an incoming attack. Sega toyed with this technique a little in Virtua Fighter 3.

I burned a copy of Noon many years ago but couldn't quite get into it, so I tossed my disc out. I'd definitely like to find an import copy today, however. Sega Lord X does a good job of explaining what you're supposed to do and how the game mechanics (RIP Bill Kunkel) work. It received very mixed reviews in Sega Saturn JP magazine, which qualifies this title for true "hidden gem" status.

Solar Eclipse/Titan Wars is another quality game from the early Saturn days that holds up pretty nicely. It's basically a poor man's Star Fox that offers some intense action and interesting outer space environments. I would agree about the repetition and length of stages, but considering this was the work of a Western software studio working in a Japanese genre, they did pretty well. The FMV clips certainly give it a retro-cheese quality that MST3K fans will enjoy, and, hey, it's that gal from Babylon 5. That was a good show. Pity it's become all but forgotten.

Night Warriors/Vampire Hunter is 2D arcade bliss, just wonderful and gorgeous and endlessly playable. This is where we start to point the (middle) finger at the real culprit behind Sega's decline: the spoiled, lazy gamers who couldn't recognize greatness if it smacked them clear on the face. I swear that Toshinden absolutely ruined everything. All anybody wanted to look at was the PSX "lightey glowey" effects. Everything else, including everything 2D, was waved away without so much as a passing glance. Whatever. Between this game, SF Alpha, Darius Gaiden and Galactic Attack, Saturn was rocking the classic arcade scene.

Winter Heat is one of many examples of a brilliant 3D Saturn videogame that was completely ignored because the gamers and the prozines had already moved on. Had anybody bothered to even look, they would find a wickedly fun and addictive arcade sports title that equals, if not surpasses, the great Decathlete. Every system needs a good Track 'N Field game and Sega delivers the goods. I don't know why Sega didn't continue this series on Dreamcast, or why Virtua Athlete was so poor by comparison. I liked the gameplay and the colorful cast of characters. The JP release includes an extra athlete that was cut from the Western release, just like Decathlete. This might be a Saturn Top 10 title for me.

Wing Arms, however, felt like a frustrating mess. The combat is fairly satisfying, if overly simple, and the early stages offer some fun action as you shoot down planes and battleships. The canyon stages, however...whoof, what a mess! Daytona USA caught an eternity of grief for its background "pop up," but this game is massively worse. It's a terrible embarrassment, another casualty of the early Saturn days. I do wish Sega had revisited this game a few years later once they mastered the hardware. A sequel with improved graphics, more varied gameplay and multiplayer would be awesome. Come to think of it, that's exactly what Propeller Arena of Dreamcast does.

Finally, Asuka 120% Burning Festival LTD is absolutely fantastic, silky smooth brilliance from the fighting-game heavens. There are many days when I consider it to be my favorite 2D fighter on the Saturn. The fighting system is deep and complex, yet extremely simple enough that casual players (you know, the ones who just mash buttons until they get bored) can jump right in, while the more seasoned experts can mop the floor with massive 20-hit combos. The "Limit Over" disc that was released online by the programmers makes many changes and is probably the definitive version, but I have no idea where you could find that now that ISO Hunt is gone.

Bottom Line: once again, we see that Sega Saturn succeed when developers were willing to put in the actual work and learn the hardware, as well as code in Assembly. Lazy programmers who just dumped C code from another source or switched off the servant CPU got nowhere fast. And these games are far too good to be relegated to "overlooked" status. Saturn was the victim of the worst avalanche of bad hype in the industry's history. It was the "But Her Emails" of its day.
 
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Kazza

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Scorcher is a hard videogame to love. Its graphics engine is excellent, as one expects from the skilled demoscene coders at Zyrinx. I could never warm up to the controls or the odd viewing angle that puts the vehicle too deep into the screen, or the high difficulty. I probably just need more practice, so maybe it's just me.
I remember there being a lot of hype for this game, and graphically at least it lived up to it, but the end product didn't end up playing so well. Zyrinx were certainly a talented team, as shown by Red Zone on the Megadrive the previous gen.




I always wanted Wing Arms back then, but never ended up buying it. Sounds like I didn't miss too much.
 

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Interview time!

Here is an excellent in-depth discussion with the creators of Chaos Seed, a cult Simulation-Strategy-RPG hybrid released on the Super Famicom in 1996 and Sega Saturn in 1998. An English translation patch exists for the former, and one for the latter would be marvelous.




Here is an in-depth interview with the core members of Sonic Team in 1996, discussing Nights: Into Dreams. They discuss the game's development from a purely 2D project into one that combined 2D gameplay with 3D worlds, the creation of the characters, and the desire of the team to appeal to children around the world. A second interview discusses the A-Life system that adds so much charm to the Nights experience.




Here are a trio of interviews with Game Arts and their outstanding 1997 RPG Grandia. As we are currently awaiting the arrival of the long-awaited Saturn translation and HD remake, now would be the perfect time to read about this modern classic. The first interview takes place in 1997 during and after production. The second series of interviews occur in 1998. The third interview features the founders of Game Arts and Chunsoft (the creators of the highly acclaimed visual novel Machi).




Here is a 1998 interview with members of Team Andromeda where they discussed the newly-released Panzer Dragoon Saga. It originally appeared in the official strategy book in that was released in Japan (there are many Sega Saturn books in Japan worth collecting).




Finally, we have a pair of interviews from 1997-98 with Treasure where they discuss their spectacular action-shooter Silhouette Mirage. This game is one of Saturn's most sensational 2D videogames that pushes pixel art graphics to its limits. It was ported to the Playstation but notably cut down in visual content. The US release was published by Working Designs with a number of very controversial changes to the gameplay.

All of these translations were provided by the excellent website Shmuplations. The site owner has posted dozens of interviews from countless Japanese sources, and has provided an invaluable service to the classic gaming community. Be sure to bookmark the website and support his work on Patreon.
 
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1CC Log For Shmups - Sega Saturn Reviews

I wanted to pass along another must-visit website for Sega Saturn fans. 1CC Log For Shmups is a site dedicated exclusively to arcade shoot-em-ups, or STG games. The site has been active for a decade and essay reviews continue to be posted. Most of the Saturn shooters are featured on the site with in-depth reviews that critique each title from a hardcore STG fan's perspective.

Saturn is known for its immense library of classic arcade shooters, which makes this website an essential resource for players and fans alike. Enjoy!
 
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We have updates on several ongoing and completed Sega Saturn translation projects!




1) Langrisser III is a Strategy-RPG released in 1996 NCS/Masaya. The series began on Genesis/Mega Drive and continued with the Saturn, Playstation and Dreamcast. According to ROMhacking.net, an individual named "Cyber Warrior X" has been involved in a fan translation project for a number of years. The English script has been fully completed and some elements of the game's menus have been successfully adapted. The project went quiet since 2017 and was feared lost until this May, when the individual posted that "work on the project is still progressing."

You can continue to follow progress on this project by clicking the link above. This Youtube video appears to show an early beta patch, with garbage text in place of English in most places.




2) Princess Crown has been subject to a fansub project since 2012, with Cyber Warrior X checking in annually to promise that he and his collaborator "SamIAm" are still on the job. His most recent comments in February promise a release date in "the latter half of 2019." A few screenshots have been shown so far, but no beta patches have yet to be released. Keep your eyes open for this one.




3) Ninpen Manmaru is a cutesy 3D platformer that may remind you of Super Mario 64, Croc of Jumping Flash. You control a cartoon penguin who must run and jump across 3D polygon landscapes, avoiding enemies and obstacles, collecting coins and racing to the exit. There are also boss battles where you must collect the most coins in a set time limit.

An English translation patch has been completed and is now available. The main menus are still in Japanese, but the animated clips are all subtitled, enabling you to understand the game's story and objectives. Read the description on the above YouTube video to track it down. A reproduction disc containing the English patch is also available online.




4) Revolutionary Girl Utena (Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Itsuka Kakumei Sareru Monogatari) is an adventure/visual novel based on a popular anime series and created by Sega CS1 in 1998. The story plays out like a "choose your own adventure" with illustrated still shots and animated clips, all with extensive voice-overs. An English fan translation patch is fully complete and available for download online. I found a YouTube video that shows some footage.

This game certainly won't appeal to most Western gamers, but it was highly rated by Sega Saturn JP magazine, which scored Utena 8-10-8.




5) Grandia is the most hotly anticipated Saturn translation project. According to project leader "TrekkiesUnite118," new beta patches have just been released for disc 1 (v. 0.61) and disc 2 (v. 0.51). He states that ongoing goals for the project include the following: "all voices are synchronized, compressed graphics are translated, FMVs have subtitles, etc."

You can download the betas for both discs at the official forum. Bear in mind that bugs are still being ironed out, so please help out if you can if you discover any glitches or crashes.

As always, be mindful of the fact that these fan translation projects are provided by unpaid hobbyists who are only inspired by their love of videogames. They will have real-life commitments to careers and families that may result in long delays or even cancelation. Be sure to thank them for all their hard work and dedication to the Saturn community.




6) Lunar Silver Star Story has also been the subject of a fan translation project for many years, and the person behind the project has recently stated on the SegaXtreme forums that work is continuing on translating the Japanese text, but also importing English audio sourced from the 2012 iPhone port (which was largely based on the Saturn version), which syncs up nicely. The translated script is based on the PSP release, which is closer to the original language than the Working Designs adaptation.

Because of the large amount of voice acting in this game, this presents a greater challenge for fan translators. Personally, I would greatly prefer inserting English subtitles over the audio, as was done with Ninpen Manmaru. This project will take more time, almost certainly after Grandia, but keep your eyes open for any updates.

You can follow updates on Saturn Lunar here, here and here.




7) Sakura Wars is one of Saturn's most beloved games in Japan, spawning a highly successful series of videogames, anime series, radio and stage programs, and endless amounts of merchandising. The game is a mashup of a Strategy-RPG with a cartoon soap opera, and was developed jointly by Sega and Red Entertainment (Bonk's Adventure, Super Tempo).

The English translation is being handled by the same geniuses behind the recent Dragon Force 2 project, and they're making excellent progress. As of now, the entire script has been translated, English text fonts have been finalized and the programmers are busy implementing the text while ironing out the bugs.

We are hopeful to see Sakura Wars released later this year. You can see updates on the project (playing on actual hardware) here.


(Updated 8/18: Added Lunar to the list. 8/19: Added Sakura Taisen to the list.)
 
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GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
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Galaxy Force 2 (1998, Sega and Appoloosa) is an absolutely sensational thrill ride, probably the greatest of all 1980s Sega arcade games for sheer spectacle. The coin-op machine used a giant seat mechanism that spun and rolled around, and resembled a lunar lander. It's a short ride, only five shoot-em-up stages, but enormously exciting as you fly a spaceship across alien worlds, all drawn with an impossible number of 3D scaling sprites.

I'm greatly impressed with the Saturn version, released in 1998 as part of the Sega Ages series. Appoloosa, the creators of Ecco the Dolphin and Three Dirty Dwarves, handled the translation and did a brilliant job. The only concessions from the arcade is the drop in frame rate from 60fps to 30fps, as well as occasional slowdown when the action really gets crazy. Given the sheer power of Sega's Y board (three 68000 boards running in triple-parallel), it's highly impressive feat and more than a little surprising that even the mighty Saturn struggled to match. For its time, this was the best home version of GF2 by a thousand miles and still holds up nicely.

Galaxy Force 2 was later released on Playstation 2 and Nintendo 3DS. Both versions are absolutely spectacular and even improve upon the arcade. Saturn still holds up nicely against them, and is still miles ahead of all other 8/16-bit translations.

Two myths about Saturn persist to this day: Too Difficult To Program and Can't Do 3D. Both of these claims are false and almost entirely based on passing impressions of the original Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA, especially when compared to Playstation's Ridge Racer and Battle Arena Toshinden. It's a crank notion that even Sega fans buy into and parrot endlessly. Well, here is yet one more piece of evidence for the defense against both accusations.
 
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