• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

Games NeoGAF Official SEGA SATURN Community

Al3x1s

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Nov 24, 2018
4,681
4,220
645
New SSF version. SamSho4 that I test with every version still gets missing sprites. Everything else seems spot-on as usual. No issues encountered yet.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
More from this Saturn homebrew:



I haven't made updates for a while as I was very busy with work, but there are several new things I've been working on : -I am now using the SCU DSP for the entities (enemys, weapons, etc.). It doesn't lead to any noticable increased performances as, quite honestly, the SH2 cpus are quite good for 3d maths (built-in math units) while the SCU DSP is just poorly designed. -My model converter (enemys and more) allows support for texture coordinates, generating Saturn-friendly predistorted textures. You can see it on the enemy models from Quake! -I added support for doors, switches, locked doors, switches to turn on lights, elevators (not seen here) and more. -And yeah, the dog model isn't animated at the moment! -More stuff not seen here (new weapons and all) I will probably not make other updates for the next couple of weeks, but the engine is getting near to a point where I can now consider creating interesting levels and focus more on the gameplay.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com


Since Saturn Doom was mentioned, I thought this would be the perfect time to look at the magnificent Powerslave, a vastly superior First-Person Shooter that shows off Saturn's powers to their fullest. Hardly anybody even noticed that this videogame ever existed, and aside from Sega Saturn Magazine UK, nearly all review critics dismissed it as a Doom clone, which is a bit like saying Citizen Kane was a Wizard of Oz clone because they were both movies.

Powerslave's design follows the classic Nintendo approach to world-building, featuring multiple pathways and hidden areas that are only accessible once essential upgrades are acquired. There's a sense of mystery to each river or platform that remains just out of reach, enticing players to explore and poke around every corner. Every inch of real estate serves a purpose and invites you to return again and again.

From a technical standpoint, this videogame looks fantastic for its era. There are a wide variety of environments and worlds to discover, stylized lighting and coloring effects add to the moody atmosphere, the 3D polygons are solid and avoid much of the distortion and warping that plagued the 5th Generation, controls are extremely swift and fluid, enemies are suitably dangerous and ready to pounce from all directions. The frame rate is consistently smooth, only occasionally dropping below 30 fps when things get hectic. Compare this to anything on Nintendo 64, where FPS titles routinely struggled to escape single digits.

Powerslave can be tough at times, but never overwhelming. You usually have a clear sense which locations to visit next, and as long as you keep a mental checklist of all those unreachable doors, platforms and waterways, you'll know where to return when new power-ups and relics are obtained. The 3D controller is an absolute must, thanks to its analog control for thumb stick and shoulder triggers, enabling you to sneak around more smoothly and not just barrel into everything at full speed.

For the real diehards, there are secret items scattered throughout the world: radio transmitter pieces, which allow you to view the "good" ending, and small Pharaoh statues called "team dolls" that show the digitized faces of the Lobotomy team. The team dolls are especially tricky to find, requiring you to almost bomb and blast every square inch of real estate in the game world. It's just like the old days of finding all those hidden blocks in Super Mario Bros.

Saturn Doom was an absolute wreck of a conversion that did almost as much damage to Saturn's reputation as Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA. Hardly any gamers were aware that Carmack had deliberately kneecapped the production for no other reason that, hey, I'm Carmack and I like to put my thumbs on the scales. Likewise, most gamers had ignored the Saturn almost entirely, only bothering to check in on a few rare occasions. The appearance of Doom was, unfortunately, one of those occasions, and Powerslave was not. Cue up the official Sega Saturn mantra: "Can't Doo Three Dee, Can't Doo Three Dee," and ignore all evidence that say otherwise.

Whatever. The kids had become incredibly impatient in Generation 5, demanding immediate perfection now now NOW. A generation of videogame players had turned into Veruca Salt, and you sometimes wish that Willy Wonka would just put the zap on 'em.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com



I wanted to find a really good video of Dodonpachi on Sega Saturn, and here's one that's playing in TATE (vertical) mode on a CRT display. Everything looks fantastic, colorful and crisp and packed with endless explosions. 2D arcade videogames don't get any better than this. I absolutely love this one, even though I'm pretty terrible at it and feel amazed if I can last more than ten seconds with getting blown to bits.

The second video shows a high score run on the arcade version. Dodonpachi uses a scoring chain-combo system that is necessary to master if you want to beat the game. The trick to mastery requires knowing strategic attacks, not just mashing buttons and shooting everything that moves. You have to know who to strike, and when, and with which weapons. It is this level of depth that defines Dodonpachi and its peers Battle Garegga, Soukyugurentai and Batsugun.

Dodonpachi was released on Saturn and Playstation in Japan and they're both nearly identical. The Saturn version has slightly pixelated explosions, drawn as smaller sprites and then scaled up to save memory (Capcom did the same trick with Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 on Dreamcast). The PSX version has smoother explosions, but you cannot change spaceships when continuing, unlike the Saturn port. The author of 1CC Log for Shmups also reports some issues with the chaining system and overscan in TATE mode in the PSX port that frustrated him. As always, your mileage may vary.
 
Last edited:

Darkmakaimura

Gold Member
Dec 12, 2008
14,126
4,371
1,430
I never had a Saturn but always wanted one. I loved Genesis and Dreamcast.

Saturn games I'd like to play are Lunar 2 Complete which is also a PS1 game.

I also want Legend of Oasis. That game looks dope.

Super Hydlide because as crappy as I heard it is, I loved Super Hydlide.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

Dane

Member
Jul 16, 2019
1,037
964
470
Heya folks, recently I've recapped my Sega Saturn on the CE20 to 22, but in fact I just needed the CE20 and 21, the console went years unused and couldn't get an image.

I've noticed that on my TVs it had some sort of side ghosting on few textures and objects, this led me to recap the CE22, but still had the same results, I wondered what could be. I wasn't the only one as someone in another forum noticed that and the reply was to use older TVs, which I did to success. What could be the cause of this issue?
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

SpiceRacz

Gold Member
Feb 27, 2017
1,342
2,240
530
Hazuki Dojo



Virtua Fighter Remix was, and remains, a great videogame for Saturn. It cleans the clock off of Battle Arena Toshinden (honestly, the most overrated fighting game ever made) and Tekken 1. As to why it wasn't released as the US Saturn's pack-in title instead of the original VF1, nobody knows. It's a mystery that has baffled fans for years, and like many I have wondered what would have happened if Sega released the improved version at launch. Mind you, this alternate reality also involves Saturn launching in September instead of May, which we all agree was a terrible move.

It's interesting to see the different receptions VF1 received in the West versus Japan. Even today, Japanese Saturn fans praise VF1 as one of the console's greatest classics, and it was an enormous success for Sega back in 1994-95. The series alone sustained the system and kept them either even or slightly ahead of Sony, at least until Square & Enix were stolen away. In the West, all anybody cared about were the glitchy graphics of Virtua Fighter, the flat polygons, the weird pop-outs from the ring. Japan, meanwhile, never seemed to mind very much. They were just happy to have a high quality arcade translation in their home.

We should also remember that Virtua Fighter was a blockbuster hit in Japan, becoming Sega's greatest franchise for the next decade. In the USA, however, it was never more than a curiosity, a minor blip on the scene. American kids never wanted fighting games to be anything more than button-mashing contests, bam-bam-bam-bam knock out, here's your sugar pellet and dopamine rush. VF proved to be far too technical, complex and obsessively precise, far closer to a martial arts simulation than anything seen at the time. It certainly didn't help matters that Sega of America never bothered to explain how the game actually played, or demonstrate the depths of the VF fighting system. Japan, once again, supported the fans with videotapes, strategy guides and professional tournaments. Some of those "tatsujin" players became videogame legends.

So we can see key differences between Sega Japan versus Sega America, which also illustrates the fatal differences that doomed the console on our shores. It probably just couldn't be helped.

From a technical standpoint, VF Remix looks superb, running at a solid 30 fps (Sega's obsession with high frame rates put them above Sony and Nintendo), offering smooth, fluid animation and wonderfully colorful texture mapped graphics. Everything looks supremely polished, and, not to sound like a broken record, smashes the overrated Toshinden to bits. However, and here's where SoA gets slapped upside the head once again, most videogame fans never saw this version. Remix was given out for free to registered Saturn owners, but a longbox retail release was limited, it seems, to Minnesota and Canada. That release has now become one of the system's most expensive games on the collectors' market.

Toshinden, meanwhile, was available everywhere and every kid on the continent was wowed. They never cared that the gameplay was shit, the controls were sluggish, the moves were uninspired Street Fighter ripoffs, or that the frame rate was sluggish. The damned thing had a girl with a transparent skirt and some lightey glowey effects, and that visual style would define the Sony Playstation brand until the end of time. And may God have mercy on our souls for consuming such tacky sludge.

Whatever. It's all a moot point by now. If you're playing any fighting game on PSX, it's going to be Tekken 3, and you're going to be playing as Eddy Gordo because he has a wicked, kick-ass breakdancing combo that you can unleash by mashing the kick buttons and doing nothing else. Anyone else who really cares about fighting games will migrate over to Saturn, which became the greatest console the genre has ever seen.
So, out of curiosity, I replayed a bunch of the 3D fighting games on PS1 a few nights ago and thought of this post. No surprise, Toshinden has aged the worst, by far. At least among the more well-known fighting games of that generation. Tekken, Bloody Roar, and especially Soul Edge hold up well. Looking back, I can't understand the praise Toshinden received at the time. I think it plays like shit in any era.
I'd rather play Masters of Teras Kasi than that game tbh.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com


Happy Easter, everyone! Let's celebrate by shooting down lots of scary monsters in medieval castles. Yay!

Quake is the third title in the celebrated "Lobotomy Trilogy," following after Powerslave and Duke Nukem 3D. It features a number of impressive lighting effects that were actually superior to the PC version of the time, and pushes the Saturn's hardware powers to the limit. Compared to its peers on Playstation and Nintendo 64, this videogame holds up very well.

As always, the 3D controller is an absolute must, and I can't imagine playing with the standard digital controls. The analog triggers are especially helpful in tilting around corners or strafing sideways to avoid the more dangerous monsters. Danger lurks behind every corner and stairway, the future is uncertain and the end is always near. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

The pacing in Saturn Quake is slower than Powerslave or Duke, requiring more stealth and strategy than most FPS titles of Generation 5. Add in the dark gothic design, the gruesome polygon monsters (here, the low polygon count works in its favor) and the thundering weapons add to a sense of horror and dread. And doesn't it sound like faint ghostly whispering in the background? A nice touch. Play in the dark with headphones just like Baroque and you'll have a great time.

Lobotomy did a fantastic job with Quake, capturing the experience and essence of the PC original while making only minimal changes to level designs where necessary. I think the added walls and barriers (needed to maintain a decent frame rate) add to the stealth gameplay, which fits into the gothic horror theme. Amazing how this and Duke were both created within the same calendar year, and Sega missed a golden opportunity to buy the studio outright as they did with Visual Concepts. This version of the original Quake is better than the Dreamcast port of Quake 3: Arena.

In addition to the four episodes, there are several difficulty levels, including a nightmare mode that is shown on the above video. There are also four bonus stages created exclusively for the Saturn version, as well as a funny comic called "Dank & Scuz."
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com




Anarchy in the Nippon has always been one of my favorite 3D polygon fighters on Sega Saturn, and it deserves to be one of yours as well. If you're a fan of the Virtua Fighter series, then you'll absolutely love this videogame, which is a true hardcore gamer's tribute to AM2's classic series. No surprise there, as it was created by four of the legendary "tetsujin" professional VF players of the day.

This gameplay video does a terrific job showing off the high-resolution visuals which just pop off your television, especially on CRT. It's always a thrill to see 480/60 graphics on Saturn. Gameplay is swift and responsive, precisely what you'd expect from the Virtua Fighter masters. You can appreciate all their obsessions, such as eliminating floaty jumps, attack reversals or ring outs, severely punishing backwards dashing or missed post-knockdown stomps. The emphasis is always on fast movements and attacking at close range, which is how VF tournaments play.

My one major gripe with Anarchy remains the Chinese kanji instead of Japanese text. Fortunately, translations of all the menu items are available here on the Sega Saturn Community thread. I still haven't really come to grips with the "player creation" mode, where you select your own fighter, customize their attacks and then train them to fight opponents autonomously. I'd much rather handle the fighting myself, thank you very much.

I do wish the fighting game community would embrace Anarchy. The next time you're hearing about a fighting game tournament in your area, bring along a Saturn, two joysticks and this game, and see if you can't get them interested.

Update: I added a second video because it looks cool, and one cannot get enough Anarchy in the Nippon in their lives. And then I remembered this third video that features the VF masters fighting each other, which is a real hoot to watch.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com










UPDATE v3.0 (4/27): Rewrote the entire post for an article on DT Media, making it much longer and long-winded. Hope ya likes it!

Welcome to the first episode of a new series that chronicles a complete record of Sega Saturn reviews that appeared in Next Generation Magazine. In this first installment, we will cover the April, June and July 1995 issues. Videogames featured include: Clockwork Knight, Tama, Virtua Fighter, Panzer Dragoon, Deadalus (Robotica), Gotha and Daytona USA.

Next Generation was the American counterpart to UK’s Edge, a videogame magazine in the style of professional news magazines. Its editorial tone was formal, educated and emotionally dry, revealing subtle with but rarely indulging in fanboy hype usually found in enthusiast gaming magazines, which catered to a younger audiences and usually read like the back of a cereal box. Not that this is a bad thing, if all you want is a sugar-fueled breakfast.

Next Gen and Edge sold themselves as harsh but fair, willing to dish out harsh reviews and critical essays when needed. If they held a bias, it was towards innovation and novelty above all else. The new frontier of 3D polygon videogames were nearly always embraced over the older 2D genres. Many genres of previous eras, platformers and beat-em-ups especially, were treated with open derision and contempt. And they gushed over hardware power above everything else, like an insecure teenage boy who refuses to date anyone but the prettiest girl in school. As soon as a new, prettier face is found, the one is cast aside and dismissed. Welcome to dumpsville, baby. Population: you.

Their relationship with Sega Saturn was often troubled. They were unforgiving of the hardware design, citing and repeating key phrases again and again until it became official canon: too hard to program, too many processors, not powerful enough to compete, not really “true 3D.” By early 1996, they openly advocated for Sega to exit the console market entirely, pushed rumors that the machine would soon be replaced by a “Saturn 2” and even suggested they would soon publish their software hits on Sony Playstation. It is true that the magazine reflected the gossip and mood of the time, but they seemed to have an axe to grind against any perceived “weaker” console that wasn’t worth their time.

Conversely, Next Gen often championed key software titles, and over the life of the Saturn, they would praise and cheer games oven overlooked by rival magazines. They published a five-star review of Tomb Raider on Saturn, but did not write a review for the PSX version. NHL Powerplay ’96, Worldwide Soccer ’97, the World Series Baseball trilogy, Nights and AM2’s arcade fighters are notable examples. Most 2D games were dismissed out of hand, relegated to second-class status with passive-aggressive three-star reviews.

A few quick notes about the games features in these first reviews:

Daytona USA was given a generous four stars, making a very persuasive case for its gameplay strengths which were often overshadowed by its rough visuals. Among friends and housemates in my orbit, this was the most popular Saturn game in my collection, easily the first pick for everyone to play. Daytona was immensely popular in the arcades, possibly the greatest arcade racer ever made, and Saturn captured that feel perfectly. Yes, it looked ragged and nobody will ever shut up about it. Them’s the brakes.

Panzer Dragoon was the game that compelled me to buy a Saturn in the summer of 1995 and became my favorite of the launch library. Its wonderfully conceived world of lush forests, vast forests, sunken cities and winding caves captured my imagination. The opening CGI movie was the most impressive use of computer-animated art outside of Pixar’s then-new Toy Story astonished all who watched, and remains highly impressive today. Gameplay consists of on-rail shooting in full 360 degrees, remains highly challenging yet not frustrating, striking a perfect balance that inspires one more run. And the orchestral musical score swells in your ears and heart. What a fascinating, inspiring work of art!

Virtua Fighter was a blockbuster hit in Japan, becoming Sega’s most important franchise for the next decade, but in the United States was little more than a curiosity, impressive in its polygon display but far too demanding and precise in its execution. Most casual gamers play fighting games by mashing buttons as fast as possible, hoping for some flashy moves that lead to quick and easy knockouts. Pow-pow-pow-pow-KO. This game was the opposite of that.

Since this was the Saturn’s pack-in game, I put time and patience into learning how to play, and it steadily grew on me. I discovered its rock-paper-scissors structure and focus on balancing offense and defense. Once you acquired a sense of its rhythms and pacing, it became endlessly addicting, and two-player matches became a favorite pasttime pursuit at my college house.

The graphics once again are a little rough around the edges, with chunks of the arenas and even fighters popping in and out. Compared to Playstation’s prettier-yet-brain-dead-stupid Battle Arena Toshinden, Virtua Fighter was already looking worn and outdated, and it’s this along with Daytona that cemented Saturn’s toxic reputation as the computer that “Can’t Doo Three Dee.” It’s an absurd, unfair and stupid thing to say, but once a meme takes hold in the public mind, nothing in Heaven or on Earth will dislodge it. Even the quick arrival of Virtua Fighter Remix and Virtua Fighter 2 couldn’t change hearts and minds. We hadn’t even reached the end of summer and the “next generation” console war was already finished. Tempus fugit.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com



Time for a few rounds of Asuka 120% Burning Festival LTD, one of my all-time favorite fighting game for Sega Saturn. Indeed, I often find myself reaching for this one instead of the many outstanding Capcom and SNK brawlers. The fighting system is suitably fast and strikes a balance between button-mashing friendliness and strategic depth. Matches can become ferocious with massive 20-hit combos trading back and forth.

In addition to the 1997 release, Fill-In-Cafe released a special upgrade called Limit Over that adds numerous gameplay changes, including new moves, balance tweaks, a "death match" mode and the removal of the story move with cut-scenes. This version was released online as a free download around the time the studio went bankrupt, and can be easily burned to CD-R and played on any Saturn.

The first video shows the 1997 Asuka, and the second shows the 1998 Limit Over edition. It's great to watch two-player fights and see how the game looks in a true competitive environment, especially when played by true fans who understand the game mechanics.

Ideally, both versions of this game should be reissued on the modern platforms. Goodness knows the Nintendo Switch needs more fighting games, and Asuka would make a perfect fit. I have no idea who owns the rights to this series, however.
 

Al3x1s

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Nov 24, 2018
4,681
4,220
645
This japanese page has various goodies for Limit Over, manuals as pdf and disc/box art etc. (as well as the patch itself). Shame it got rid of the story mode stuff, it would have been nice to have it all in one version. There's an English patch but it's just menus/names so not really needed.

http://www.wainet.ne.jp/~reonome/lodown.html

I would have also liked a button configuration menu.

There seems to be another patch for the first PlayStation game (Special, not Excellent or Final) bringing that to version 2.1 but I can't find any information, other than the download on that same Japanese page, to know if it makes it a worthy competitor (probably not).

I can't say I share the adoration for Anarchy in the Nippon. It's a great effort but I wouldn't say it tops SEGA's/is the best fighter on Saturn/is among the best looking games etc., it's clearly low-budget though it's no slouch. There's a PS1 sequel that takes cues from Tekken "flashy" visuals.

It apparently reintroduces 3D elements like ring outs and stuff (not for every stage). Also the final boss is Dural (on a silly stage that's super easy to get ring outs on), lol. There's also a combo counter. Somehow the first game appears nicer visually, more consistent perhaps.
 
Last edited:

Al3x1s

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Nov 24, 2018
4,681
4,220
645
Here's one I had not seen before, Rabbit. It has some kind of zoom camera by default (which makes the sprites worse as they scale up and down but that's similar to fan favorite Waku Waku 7 anyway)) which you can disable after beating the game once.

The art at least seems pretty good most of the time, some animal stand sprites can look a bit simplistic or off but the fighters look great to me.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com



Here are a couple gameplay videos for Advanced World War: Last of the Millennium, Sega's direct sequel to what was known as Iron Storm in the West and part of their long-running series of World War II simulations. This title appeared later in the console's lifespan and remains all but unknown in the West. It's a crying shame for strategy buffs, because this really looks terrific and would have made for a brilliant addition to our Saturn library.

Compared to Iron Storm, Last of the Millennium uses square-based maps instead of hexagons, and there is an additional second level for airplanes and bombers. This is very similar to Advance Wars DS, which was one of my favorite games on Nintendo DS (I played it during breaks while working at a TCF Bank branch). In addition, the battle sequences are more involving, featuring more detailed landscapes, more dramatic camera angles and more involving animation. It's quite an impressive achievement and really shows the Saturn firing on all engines.

I wonder if this videogame could have been released in the USA had Working Designs continued to support Saturn. We do know that they were planning to release Lunar, Thunder Force 5 and the Thunder Force Gold Packs. Their infamous breakup with Sega of America on the floor of the E3 1997 show scuttled all those plans. Bernie Stolar and Victor Ireland continue to blame one another for the breakup to this very day, and the entire saga has an air of Rashomon to it.

A damned terrible shame. I haven't played this game, so I cannot comment on the gameplay beyond what is shown in these videos. Sega Saturn Magazine JP gave it very favorable coverage, and even though there is a considerable language barrier, knowledge of playing Iron Storm might prove very helpful.

An English translation of this game would be fan-freaking-tastic. Heck, Sega could do one better and reissue this game on modern platforms. If the new Panzer Dragoon remake is any indication, there is a real pent-up demand for the Sega classics, and there are so many riches lying in the company's vaults, just waiting to be discovered and loved.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com


Zero Divide: The Final Conflict is a supremely refined and polished 3D polygon fighter, another standout showpiece for Sega Saturn that deserved to be seen in the West. It features a cast of ten robot fighters, three bonus characters, non-symmetrical walled arenas, armor that can be smashed away, non-linear level progression, and some truly amazing visuals including 480/60 high-resolution graphics, fluid animation, Gouraud shading and particle effects. The futuristic music just kicks, combining elements of New Wave, Techno, Funk and Rock. The controls are tight and responsive. You're basically playing Virtua Fighter with robots, and what could be cooler than that?

Note how solid the stages and walls appear, with none of the glitching or clipping seen in Fighting Vipers, Megamix or Last Bronx. Zoom's programmers knew their way around RISC Assembly, and you wish they had the time to create more Saturn games. This console could really blossom in the hands of skilled Assembly coders.

This is the third and final entry in the Zero Divide series. The first title was released on Sony Playstation in 1995 and given a US release via Time Warner Interactive (aka Atari Games). The second title was released in 1997 as a Japanese PSX exclusive.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com













Next Generation Saturn Reviews: Part II

Update (4/28):
Rewrote this essay for DT Media. This took the whole day to write, so you better enjoy it.)

We continue our series of Sega Saturn videogame reviews from the pages of Next Generation Magazine. In this episode, we will cover the August – October 1995 issues. Games featured include: Worldwide Soccer, Myst, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Tama, Astal, Battle Monsters, Bug, Greatest Nine (World Series Baseball), Gran Chaser, Shin Shinobi Den (Shinobi Legions), Virtual Hydlide and Virtua Fighter Remix.

Worldwide Soccer: International Victory Goal is an arcade-style sports game with brilliant, flashy 3D graphics drawn at 60 fps, pre-rendered players on the field, catchy guitar rock tracks and remarkably tight controls. It made for a great spectacle to impress family and friends, and among my college housemates, this became a popular pastime for many months. Even today, I find myself reaching for the disc when I want to enjoy a quick match, and even though the Worldwide Soccer 97 & 98 editions are vastly superior in every way, there’s no denying the simple charm of the original installment. I find myself in the minority on this opinion, for which I can only reply that all the critics are wrong.

Pebble Beach Golf Links was developed by T&E Soft in Japan, a studio best known for the Hydlide RPG series and countless number of golf titles. This sports sim features the endorsement of professional golfer Craig “The Walrus” Stadler, who also appears in the game to offer advice on each hole and compete in tournaments. His endless quips and wisecracks add a much-needed shot of humor into the proceedings, and if he comes across as a bit of a jerk, well, he won the 1982 Masters and you’re just some shmuck off the street.

Certainly not the flashiest Saturn game, and the pixelated trees always looked ugly, but the gameplay is solid and shots go where you want them to go. The music is a wonderful suite of snappy elevator music that bounces in your head for hours, and Pebble Beach is rendered in lush color tones of green and blue. There is only one golf course to play, but it happens to be one of the greatest courses in the world, and you can always count on those ocean winds to keep things interesting.

Virtua Fighter Remix was Sega’s official apology for screwing up the original Virtua Fighter Saturn disc, although they would never admit as such. Their arcade hit made for a solid translation, but the polygon graphics were marred by excessive clipping and glitching. It made for a poor first impression for a system burdened from the start with a reputation for poor 3D powers and an overcooked hardware design. And so Remix was quickly assembled to silence the critics and appease the fans.

The new texture-mapped polygons of Remix are a major improvement, maintaining the brilliant character animation but adding desperately needed gloss. The arena floors are actually drawn by Saturn’s VDP2 sprite planes, a clever idea that was also used to great effect in Worldwide Soccer, and became the standard for all 3D Saturn games to follow. The precise and highly competitive gameplay is still fully intact, but it all feels slightly tweaked, looser, more responsive. The end result is the best-looking and playing 3D fighting game of the season, surpassing Namco’s Tekken (good), Zero Divide (decent) and Battle Arena Toshinden (terrible) on Playstation.

Astal is Saturn’s 2D showcase title, a spirited defense of hand-drawn pixel art at a time when 3D polygons were conquering hearts and minds. It demonstrates that Sega could conjure vivid fantasy worlds as memorable as Nintendo, and in an alternate universe, we would be seeing at least a dozen sequels and spinoffs by now. Certainly, there’s a great charm to be found in this game’s cast of characters.

This videogame is like a triumphant silent movie that was made after the arrival of talkies. Diehard genre lovers will be enthralled but the casual audience will likely not even know it exists, being distracted by the likes of Bug, Clockwork Knight or Jumping Flash, with the likes of Crash, Nights and Mario only a year away. There was little demand for a simple side-scroller, despite all its beautiful fantasy landscapes, and so it quickly faded into obscurity.

Fortunately, the pixel art renaissance offers a new life for Astal, and today’s audiences can appreciate its qualities and marvel at its promises of a bright future for 2D videogames that were never realized. Yes, it’s far too short and easy for its own good, but that never held back Sonic the Hedgehog or Castle of Illusion from greatness. This is triumphant bubblegum pop in the purest sense.

I was dazzled by the 3D platforming worlds of Bug, and still vividly remember seeing it in action at the Richfield Funcoland. It felt like the first real attempt to bring the classic genre into the third dimension–while Clockwork Knight featured polygon worlds, it was a strictly left-to-right affair–and as such garnered quite the attention from the public. Here, your cartoon character moves along pathways in all directions, in and out, up and down, looping around and back again. It was quite a sight in the Summer of ’95 and proved successful enough to generate a sequel the following year.

Bug follows the trappings of the era, with a wisecracking mascot who bonks onto pre-rendered CG monsters, grabs gems, hops over moving blocks and dodges deadly spikes. Its aim is somewhere between Sonic and Donkey Kong Country, never quite reaching those peaks but fairly impressive nonetheless. “Impressive for ’95, that is,” I say to myself while reaching to the bookshelf to play another round of Super Mario 64 and Nights.

Again, this is something that gamers in the Year of Our Lord 2020 will overlook, as they have learned to live in a world where 2D and 3D videogames live together in harmony. They will, however, have issues with the extreme sense of repetition in Bug’s six sprawling worlds, to say nothing about the lack of any save feature or ability to warp ahead. Realtime Associates, the software developers, apparently wanted us to sit in front of the television set for two to four hours, which is how long it takes to complete the game. No amount of wisecracks or cartoon gags will fix that. A tall pitcher of pina colada with rum, however, will work wonders and get you through anything.

Myst was the monumentally successful computer game that conquered the world and spawned a universe of sequels, copycats, parodies and books. Its world is a compelling mix of sci-fi retro futurism and surrealism fused with literature and complex puzzles. This is one of those games where a dairy is absolutely needed, and those willing to invest the time will become engrossed and absorbed.

World Series Baseball is the first Saturn installment of Sega’s successful sports series, it’s a good start and looks great, offers official MLB and Players’ license but only four stadiums, and arcade-style play that is good but slightly slow. Its direct sequel, WSB 2, improves on all fronts and the masterful WSB 98 rests on another plane of existence.

Shinobi Legions was not created by the Sega studio responsible for Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master, and it shows. There are interesting bits and moments here and there, and it’s not a bad videogame, just not up to the series’ standard. Think of this as a mediocre album by a band you love. You’ll find the good parts and slog your way through the bad, and once it’s finished you’ll never touch it again.

Pauline Kael praised the virtues of embracing movie trash, and if there is a videogame equivalent, it would be Battle Monsters. This 2D fighting game shamelessly rides the Mortal Kombat bandwagon, yet it’s just more fun than many of its wannabe peers like Kasumi Ninja. This sub-genre only works as self-parody, a fact Naxat, the software team, understood all too well. This is trash in the good sense.

Cyber Speedway (Gran Chaser), Virtual Hydlide and Tama, however, are trash in the bad sense: good ideas that were poorly executed, riddled with choppy frame rates, ugly pixels and warping polygons. These were bottom-of-the-barrel D-list material when new and they’ve only become uglier over time, and there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to salvage things.
 
Last edited:

diffusionx

Member
Feb 25, 2006
11,920
7,609
1,610
So, out of curiosity, I replayed a bunch of the 3D fighting games on PS1 a few nights ago and thought of this post. No surprise, Toshinden has aged the worst, by far. At least among the more well-known fighting games of that generation. Tekken, Bloody Roar, and especially Soul Edge hold up well. Looking back, I can't understand the praise Toshinden received at the time. I think it plays like shit in any era.
I'd rather play Masters of Teras Kasi than that game tbh.
BAT got really bad reviews. It was thought of as all style no substance even back then. But it looked great, and that’s what was used to sell it.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

diffusionx

Member
Feb 25, 2006
11,920
7,609
1,610













Next Generation Saturn Reviews: Part II

Continuing our comprehensive look at Next Generation Magazine's collection of Sega Saturn reviews, we continue with the early launch titles which appeared in the August-October 1995 issues.

The games reviewed include the following: Worldwide Soccer, Myst, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Tama, Astal, Battle Monsters, Bug, Greatest Nine (World Series Baseball), Gran Chaser, Shin Shinobi Den (Shinobi Legions), Virtual Hydlide and Virtua Fighter Remix. Most were given respectable 3/5 scores, with only World Series Baseball and VF Remix scoring higher. On one hand, it does feel a touch frustrating for any Saturn fan, but it's nice to have a videogame magazine that actually wrote critical reviews, instead of being industry bootlicks who praise everything with smiley faces and 95% scores.

Taken in the context of the era, these tougher scores reflect a desire for games that reinvent the wheel, push the technical envelope and introduce new ideas. Today, we really just want to relax and have a good time, and these software titles succeed admirably. I'd personally rate Worldwide Soccer and Myst a 4/5, but that's just me.

No real surprises so far, but no shocking disappointments or "what were they thinking" moments yet. Key word on "yet." Bonus points for this comical phrase: "With an increased polygon count and sophisticated shading techniques, Virtua Fighter can now trade blows with the likes of Tekken and, yes, Battle Arena Toshinden, although the fighting styles are still vastly different." I swear I have no idea why anybody ever liked Toshinden. These guys were tripping on banana peels.
I loved NG back then. It was my favorite magazine and also wanted games that moved past the 16-bit 2D style. In hindsight, I think of course that was a bit of an overreaction, as the Saturn was an incredible 2D machine and the Neo Geo was putting out solid games at the time (that got panned in NG) but sign of the times.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com


Since I mentioned Worldwide Soccer: International Victory Goal in the previous post, I just had to post a gameplay video from YouTube. I bought this game back in the summer of '95, shortly after buying my Saturn, and absolutely loved it to death. It was probably my favorite game for the system after Panzer Dragoon and got a lot of play with housemates that year. Even though WWS 97/98 was a quantum leap forward in every way, there's something to be said for the direct arcade simplicity of the original.

I was always surprised that this game wasn't praised for its graphics, which did an excellent job showing off Saturn's powers. It was also the first real demo of the system's unique 2D/3D design, with polygon stands, VDP2 ground and pre-rendered players. The stadium scoreboard displays a number of flashy animations when goals are scored. Players crash face-first when tackled from behind. Referees hand out yellow and red cards in pre-rendered CG clips. And everything blazes by at a crisp 60 fps, with an assortment of 90210-inspired Sega Rock tracks blaring in the background.

It's cheerful, sunny, good fun, pure arcade action. It's not trying to be FIFA and I was perfectly happy with that. And even though WWS 97/98 raised the bar on all counts, there's still room for the original on my shelf.
 

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680













Next Generation Saturn Reviews: Part II

Continuing our comprehensive look at Next Generation Magazine's collection of Sega Saturn reviews, we continue with the early launch titles which appeared in the August-October 1995 issues.

The games reviewed include the following: Worldwide Soccer, Myst, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Tama, Astal, Battle Monsters, Bug, Greatest Nine (World Series Baseball), Gran Chaser, Shin Shinobi Den (Shinobi Legions), Virtual Hydlide and Virtua Fighter Remix. Most were given respectable 3/5 scores, with only World Series Baseball and VF Remix scoring higher. On one hand, it does feel a touch frustrating for any Saturn fan, but it's nice to have a videogame magazine that actually wrote critical reviews, instead of being industry bootlicks who praise everything with smiley faces and 95% scores.

Taken in the context of the era, these tougher scores reflect a desire for games that reinvent the wheel, push the technical envelope and introduce new ideas. Today, we really just want to relax and have a good time, and these software titles succeed admirably. I'd personally rate Worldwide Soccer and Myst a 4/5, but that's just me.

No real surprises so far, but no shocking disappointments or "what were they thinking" moments yet. Key word on "yet." Bonus points for this comical phrase: "With an increased polygon count and sophisticated shading techniques, Virtua Fighter can now trade blows with the likes of Tekken and, yes, Battle Arena Toshinden, although the fighting styles are still vastly different." I swear I have no idea why anybody ever liked Toshinden. These guys were tripping on banana peels.
Thanks for posting these, they are an interesting read. This in particular jumped out to me:



So, what is a 32-bit RPG like?
I tend to keep away from the next gen threads here because I would be such a party pooper. It just can't compare to the 16 to 32-bit jump in terms of excitement. No one is asking "So, what is a PS5/Series X RPG like?", and for a good reason too, namely we already know what a next gen RPG (or open world, or fighting game, or.....) will be like - exactly the same as current gen, just at a higher resolution (4K). Waiting to see what a 3D Mario, Sonic, FIFA, Road Rash etc was going to be like was very exciting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
with an assortment of 90210-inspired Sega Rock tracks blaring in the background.
Haha, music was a big no-no in football/soccer games in the UK at the time, as was simple arcadey action. The game received a pretty bad press in the UK magazines at the time, which lead to me avoiding the game (although I did buy the later sequels, which were very well reviewed). You're right about it looking great, and even the more negative reviews of the time mention the graphics.

Here is an Edge review (6/10, which isn't too bad given their strict standards):


 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com
Haha, music was a big no-no in football/soccer games in the UK at the time, as was simple arcadey action. The game received a pretty bad press in the UK magazines at the time, which lead to me avoiding the game (although I did buy the later sequels, which were very well reviewed). You're right about it looking great, and even the more negative reviews of the time mention the graphics.

Here is an Edge review (6/10, which isn't too bad given their strict standards):



Yeah, the writers from Edge & Next Generation really hated arcade videogames, which they considered beneath them. But that was the consensus of computer gamers in those days, back when "video" and "computer" games were two entirely different things.

The review for Arc the Lad also highlights another important point about Edge/NG: they were in the tank for Sony. Everything on Saturn is dismissed for being "more of the same" and failing to evolve past the 16-bit generation. Yet here is a PSX title that does the very same thing...and it gets four stars and heaping praise. "Is it worthwhile to make traditional...games on the new 32-bit systems" is a question that only gets aimed at one console, while the other gets a free pass. Because, of course. Consistency was never their strong suit.*

And let's not get into the times Next Generation openly advocated for Sega to exit the hardware market, pushed rumors that Sega would dump Saturn in favor of a new console in 1996, and boasted that Sega would publish Saturn games on the Playstation via the SegaSoft label. Those guys had an axe to grind. You'd think Tom Kalinske or Hayao Nakayama ran over somebody's dog.

(*To be fair, Next Gen's bias was really towards the "most powerful" console at any given time, and when Dreamcast, PS2 and Xbox launched, they piled on the hype as thick as anybody from Diehard Gamefan. They were like the hardcore PC gamers who wouldn't touch anything unless it was running on a $3K machine with T-1 connection and hated all console FPS games.)
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com




The Grandia English translation Project is continuing at a rapid pace. TrekkiesUnite has posted several Youtube videos in recent days. In addition to patching the translated text, he is also directly accessing the program code in Assembly to make modifications where necessary. Beta testers are also assisting in finding bugs and sharing their findings on the Sega Xtreme forums.

Grandia is one of Sega Saturn's finest hours and a standout RPG that shows off the system's powers to their fullest. The long-awaited arrival of a completed translation is one of the biggest retro gaming events of the year, equally as important as the Sakura Wars translation.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com


FunCom's Impact Racing offers cheap thrills, blistering speed and endless opportunities for dumb violence. If you were a fan of the arcade classic Spy Hunter, then you'll love this 3D reimagining. You have an assortment of muscle cars armed with machine guns, missiles and land mines and must finish races while also destroying as many rivals as possible. The action is fast and furious and the challenge begins to seriously spike after a couple races. Earning power-ups in bonus races is an absolute must for survival.

This game would look good on Nintendo 64 with its smooth visuals, flashy transparencies and varied environments. The number of courses is limited but extended by reversed and mirrored versions. In any case, it doesn't really matter as you're always racing down the same long tubes interrupted by hairpin turns. The balance in this combat racer leans towards combat, which is something that I wholeheartedly embrace. If anything, it makes me wish this gameplay engine was used in a proper Spy Hunter sequel.

Impact Racing was also released on Playstation and both versions are pretty much identical. Once again, you can see how well Saturn performs when programmers actually bothered to put in the work. I don't think this game received any attention from either consumers or the critics, which is a crying shame. Fortunately for today's collectors, copies are available anywhere from $15 for just a disc to $40 for complete-in-box. Definitely one to pick up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Laconian Sword
Dec 25, 2018
3,811
3,680
750
Manchester, England
There is something I was curious about and wonder if Homebrewers would be up to the Challenge.

I wonder if the Saturn could run a "demake" of the games Super Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5 and Jet Set Radio under the strict polygonal count?

Another question that's been burning inside me since Sonic Mania was released would be COULD the game (under compression) run on the Saturn?

What are your thoughts?
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com
There is something I was curious about and wonder if Homebrewers would be up to the Challenge.

I wonder if the Saturn could run a "demake" of the games Super Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5 and Jet Set Radio under the strict polygonal count?

Another question that's been burning inside me since Sonic Mania was released would be COULD the game (under compression) run on the Saturn?

What are your thoughts?

There's no reason why Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5 or even Jet Set Radio couldn't be made on a Gen-5 console. Given enough time and resources, programmers can do anything. That goes double for Sonic Mania, which is really just a glorified fan hack of the Genesis Sonic games. Saturn could handle those 2D visuals with ease.

As an illustration, here's a tech demo of Axelay running on a NES:


 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com













Next Generation Saturn Reviews, Part III

(Update 5/1: Rewrote the entire article for DT Media, and so I'm sharing it here as well.)

Welcome to episode three of our ongoing series of Sega Saturn videogame reviews from the pages of Next Generation Magazine. This installment covers the November-December 1995 issues. Games featured include the following: Clockwork Knight 2, Dark Legends, Riglord Saga (Mystaria/Blazing Heroes), Street Fighter: The Movie, Digital Pinball: Last Gladiators, Virtual Volleyball, Mansion of Hidden Souls, Blackfire, NHL All-Star Hockey, Off-World Interceptor Extreme, SimCity 2000 and Virtua Racing.

The games featured in this collection were released in the fall months of 1995, halfway between Saturn’s surprise May launch and the Holiday rush. Most gamers at this point have played through Panzer Dragoon and Daytona USA, batted heads with friends over Virtua Fighter and Worldwide Soccer and are simply waiting for Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally and Virtua Cop to show up. There isn’t much interest in the fall lineup, which serves as the television equivalent of mid-season replacement shows.

Clockwork Knight 1 and 2 are highly polished action-platforming games, very much part of the hallowed tradition of Sega Master System and Genesis classics, only now rendered with a mixture of 3D polygons and pre-rendered 2D sprites, greatly inspired by Pixar’s animated short films like Tin Toy. Years later, its visual style would be classified as “2.5D” and properly respected as bringing the classic genre into the modern era. But moods were far more fickle in ’95, and patience for platformers in two dimensions waning thin. As I often say about these things, whatever, it’s their loss.

Clockwork Knight 2 is the better half, the one with the more interesting ideas such as multiple pathways in the background, a chase over Hot Wheels racetracks, a chase around an overflowing bathtub that was completely stolen by Donkey Kong Country Returns, and a run through a series of library bookshelves that reminds me of Castle of Illusion, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if that videogame was a reference point for the design team.

Like Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the original idea of a single game was broken into two in order to meet the important 1994 Japanese launch window. I think that hurt the Clockwork Knight series in the West, who saw these as two separate titles instead of two parts of a whole, fun and clever but over far too soon. Taken together, it all blends together just right.

Virtua Racing thrilled and amazed audiences when it was released to arcades in 1992, where its flashy 3D polygon graphics were leagues ahead of anything seen in the home, but three years later was already being dismissed as outdated and overran by the new wave of arcade driving hits like Ridge Racer and Daytona USA. The Saturn translation wasn’t even handled by Sega but given to Time Warner Interactive, the company formerly known as Atari Games.

I have great affection for Saturn Virtua Racing, which offers a new tournament mode, five classes of vehicles and ten race tracks. The development team included people who would later work on the San Francisco Rush series, and this skill at crafting brilliant racing courses shines through here. They easily best Sega’s original three tracks, which are honestly not among their best (Daytona’s and Sega Rally’s are much better). There are a number of mid-nineties artifacts, such as animated FMV clips of each race track with a breezy female voiceover and a collection of rock and pop riffs that play quickly and then fade out when your driver passes checkpoints. Steering with the digital joypad is perfectly fine and controls are suitably swift at the wheel, but you’ll really want to use the steering wheel.

Yes, this game looks dated with its flat-shaded polygons, and it’s still a step below the arcade while still being perfectly serviceable. Modern gamers would point to Sega’s recent HD remaster of the arcade Virtua Racing and, while there’s a lot of fun to be had, it doesn’t come with go-karts or grand prix mode.

Digital Pinball: Last Gladiators is the work of Kaze, a Japanese studio responsible for the finest pinball simulations ever seen. They did marvelous work on the Super Nintendo and they created two brilliant gems on Saturn, this one and Necronomicom. Four fictional tables are available, all perfectly believable with modern touches as a video display that was a staple of ’90s pinball tables like Addams Family and Terminator 2. Ball physics are realistically heavy, capturing a natural sense of weight and momentum. Everything is presented in Saturn’s high resolution 480/60 mode and it’s glorious.

In the USA, Riglord Saga was named Mystaria: The Realms of Lore and later Blazing Heroes. It’s an early example of the Tactical-RPG genre, where battles play out like chess matches throughout fantasy realms. You characters have different abilities that must be used wisely, like archers and healers who must be kept at a distance while warriors command the front line. Its mix of polygon landscapes and pre-rendered sprites impressed in ’95 but became dated very quickly. But Western fans of the genre will have a great time, and since so few of these titles were imported from Japan (where the genre thrived), this becomes like a cherished friend.

SimCity on Super NES is an all-time favorite of mine, but its sequel SimCity 2000 is far too complex and complicated for its own good. Fans of the PC/Mac version will be happy to micro-manage endless details of city building and management. If you have a Saturn mouse, you’ll have a much better time, but I must admit that I prefer the simple balance and charm of Nintendo’s version.

Off-World Interceptor Extreme features two guys who make MST3K wisecracks at the movie clips, and that’s really the only good thing about it. The actual game is a combat racer where you drive an armored vehicle and collect a lot of coins and icons and occasionally shoot something that gets in your way. Levels are extremely repetitious and you’re reminded of all those iOS games that revolve around endless grinding for money.

Dark Legends, Street Fighter: The Movie, Virtual Volleyball, Mansion of Hidden Souls and Black Fire all belong to the “rental” bin, not worth more than a few dollars and a weekend of your time before returning to the shop. They’re not necessarily bad videogames, just uninspired copies of far better games you’d rather be playing, and they only really exist for a quick cash-and-grab. In the ’90s, we had this word for Seattle copycat bands: “Nirvanawannabes.” I can’t think of a better description for this pack of misfits.

Finally, we come to the bottom of the barrel, the flaming bag of dog poop on your front porch, NHL All-Star Hockey. Sega of America had only two jobs with Saturn: Sonic and Sports. They failed on both counts and paid the price.

NHL All-Star offers many gameplay options and detailed menu screens, and it becomes apparent that this is where the development team spent all their energy. The actual sport–if one can call it that–is presented with a darkened, wobbly polygon arena and digitized bitmap players that are horrendously, cartoonishly flat. They actually appear as paper cutouts pasted onto the screen, with no sense of movement, momentum or action. Passing and shooting is nonexistent. Camera angles are unwatchable. Slap shots float in the air like frisbees.

The only entertaining part of this game are the intermission video clips featuring “Coach Labou,” an angry French Canadian who throws chairs and shouts advice that you can never use in the videogame, such as using your skate to control the puck. It’s all so absurd that I can never decide if he’s meant to be taken as tragedy or farce. Probably both.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza and SpiceRacz

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com





Here's a real novelty for the Sega Saturn community: a software tool for homebrew coders called Game Basic For Sega Saturn. Similar to Sony's Net Yaroze for Playstation, this program allows users to create Saturn software in the BASIC language, via connection to a Windows 95 PC. The retail package includes two discs, a connection cable and two extensive manuals, and a number of demo games are included that demonstrate what you can create.

Modern Vintage Gamer has just posted this informative video on Game Basic, as well as offering a short overview of BASIC during the home computer era. For many of us, this was our introduction to computer programming and continues to serve as an easy way to learn coding.

Retro Core also posted a Game Basic video to Youtube in 2011, featuring a comprehensive look at the packaging and software and the included demos.

Finally, we have two videos from 2007 of a racing game by someone named Kuribayashi. We know nothing more about the programmer or what happened to this project, if it was ever completed or if anything further came of it. Most likely, this was a hobby project made for fun and no greater aspirations were intended. That said, it's a very solid demo and appears to be very playable. It looks better than some retail Saturn games, to be brutally honest, and makes me wonder why retail racing titles didn't use VDP2 planes for the ground.

More Game Basic demos are available on MadRoms' Youtube channel.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com




Sega Touring Car Championship (1997, Sega AM3 and CRI)

One of Saturn's most controversial titles, Touring Car Championship was created for arcades by the Tetsuya Mizaguchi-led AM3, the same crew behind Sega Rally Championship and Manx TT Superbike. The game was a serious attempt to simulate the German Touring Car circuits and features extremely demanding handling and suspension.

The Saturn translation has many glaring and, frankly, inexcusable problems, notably the low frame rate and polygon graphics that glitch, bend and warp. Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64 fans would have a field day laughing at this game, which seems almost tailor-made for Saturn's critics. "See how ugly it looks? We toooold youuu!! Can't Doo Three Dee! Can't Doo Three Dee!"

Worst of all, the steering with the digital joypad is absolutely useless, resulting in massive oversteer and immediate braking on turns. The experience is less like driving a race car and more like being strapped to a rocket and blasted out into space. The damned thing is nearly unplayable and useless, and even the diehard defenders at Sega Saturn Magazine UK were reluctant to offer any praise. Coming two years after the masterful Sega Rally, this was an absolute mess. Seriously, didn't anybody at Sega share programming notes? It's games like this that make you want to box up your Saturn and wait for Dreamcast to show up.

However, this is not the complete story. Swap out the standard joypad for the 3D Controller, or better yet, the racing wheel, and Touring Car Championship becomes an entirely different beast. The trick is to play with 1) analog steering and 2) manual transmission. Under these settings, the cars become very playable and far easier to control. You still feel like you're riding a rocket, but now you actually will have a say in where you're going.

It's here that you realize one of this game's strengths: it's absolutely terrifying sense of speed. This is the fastest racing videogame, bar none. Indeed, after playing or watching Touring Car for an extended period, all other driving titles feel like a casual walk through the park. I suspect the frame rate plays a part in this. Japanese animation specializes in frame rate modulation as a way to manipulate time, to speed up or slow down events, and I think that's what is happening here. Once your car is no longer bouncing wildly from one barrier to the next, you begin to appreciate its sense of momentum and speed and the vehicles that can barely keep the chaos under control. These cars feel dangerous, as though you were always two seconds away from a brutal, fiery death.

That said, I do wish Sega had put a little more polish into these graphics, cleaned up the warping of the road (Saturn's equivalent to Playstation's texture zig-zags and just as annoyingly stupid) and added another coat of paint on the cars and surroundings. Once again, they rush software out the door too early, a problem that plagued the company even through the Dreamcast years.

Touring Car offers a wealth of gameplay options, including five racetracks, multiple bonus cars including the Toyota Celica and Lancia Delta from Sega Rally, multiple gameplay modes and several "time release" track variations such as racing in winter weather, knocking down red cones or driving against the traffic (this would have worked better if the game featured crashes).

Finally, we really must credit the terrific European techno soundtrack, whose thumping beats and driving rhythms add much-needed spice to the action. I'm reminded of the notorious--I'm not sure if that's meant in a good or bad way--musical score for Sonic R, and fans will be equally divided. But look on the bright side: at least we weren't subjected to that damned Blur song yet again. Because you know somebody at Sega of America would have forced that down our throats if given half a chance.

In the end, is Touring Car Championship a rushed-to-market mess, an underserved whipping boy or an overlooked classic? As with everything involved with this videogame, it all depends on your mood and how patient or punitive you're feeling at the moment. But be honest with yourself. There's always a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Sega Saturn, like one of those poisonous relationships that crashed and burned, taking years off our lives in the process, but almost certainly worth the ride.

Update: Added a third video tutorial that shows how to play the game properly.
 
Last edited:

Al3x1s

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Nov 24, 2018
4,681
4,220
645
I liked STCC's play feel well enough even on a d-pad, at least compared to any console racing games. The 30 lap (iirc) setting made it feel like some kind of Le Mans 24h endurance race.

The polygon warping isn't really a problem when I play, I only notice it when it does the rotating views of stills at the end or start of a race and such, or replays.

The sense of speed is indeed great, the camera fov and the road textures which look like you're blurring past even when still all help. It's especially crazy with the bumper camera (which adds a nice mirror).

But yeah I wish I had a good wheel, that's the only thing that stops me from playing such titles at home, Sega Rally and Daytona USA included. It's not as bad as playing lightgun games without a lightgun but yeah.

I was eyeing a T150 Pro or whatever for use with PC and emulation too (I guess I'd try to emulate the model 2 versions of much of this if possible but Saturn would do too) waiting for some special sale but there are so many other things to spend on and then covid happened so, who knows.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com



Sonic R receives equal amount of love and hate from Saturn fans, mostly owing to its controls, which are sublime in the right hands but slippery as hell for everyone else. Like everything else about this videogame, patience and practice is required to appreciate its unique subtleties.

This game is neither a racer nor platformer, yet combines elements of both into a very strange and fascinating brew. I must credit Traveller's Tales and Sonic Team for their courage in sticking to their guns. It would be far easier to create a standard Sonic racing game in the predictable Mario Kart mold, with standard course designs and level progressions, and that would prove far more popular with consumers. But it wouldn't be half as interesting, and I don't think anybody would be talking about or playing twenty years later.

I think a lot of the frustration leveled at Sonic R is the frustration at never having a true Saturn Sonic. Just like the Sonic World stage in Sonic Jam, it all feels like such a cruel tease. Sega knew their star mascot was the number one reason Saturn would stand or fall, and yet they sat by and did nothing while STI fell in the deep end, over their heads and out of their league, doomed to drown with Sonic Xtreme tied to their ankles. Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima bet everything on their new mascot Nights, but that game was never going to become the blockbuster hit Saturn desperately needed.

Instead of the "real" Sonic the Hedgehog, we were given cameos in Bug and Christmas Nights, warmed-over leftovers in Sonic 3D Blast, an incomplete nostalgia fest in Sonic Jam. Sonic World was equally inspiring and frustrating in that it portrayed a fully three-dimensional garden for the hedgehog to play in at last, showing off Sonic Team's mastery of the Saturn hardware with a number of programming tricks exploited by anyone else, but ultimately never leading anywhere except to, perhaps, Sonic Adventure, which would finally arrive on Dreamcast two years later.

In the end, Saturn would become little more than an afterthought in the West barely two years after it launched, and the missing mascot carried much of the blame. Because of this, one can almost admire Sonic R for daring to show up at all. The game and its designers were going to get roasted no matter what they did.

I do love this game for its creativity and inventiveness, and especially for the programmers' ability to pull out every so-called "impossible" effect out of the Saturn at once. I love the genre fusion, mashing together platforming, racing and pop so perfectly, requiring you to not only run to the finish line first, but do it while also exploring a large nonlinear environment, open locked doors, uncover a series of gold coins and capture chaos emeralds. It's not about "winning," but winning with style. When you've pulled off that feat, then you've really accomplished something special.

I do have two major complaints that will probably never be resolved. The first are the controls, which take a great amount of time and patience to overcome, and often includes switching back and forth between digital and analog, thumb pad and shoulder triggers. The second are the lack of zones. Five is clearly not enough and there should have been at least seven, one for each chaos emerald. The size of the existing zones is very impressive and we can appreciate the time and effort made to construct their many pathways and quirks. The whole experience feels strangely incomplete, like an amusement park that is missing a roller coaster.

Why Sonic Team and Traveller's Tales never returned at a later date to add more courses, I'll never know. This would have been perfect for Dreamcast and they would have been praised to the mountains. Alas, there was no more time, not for Saturn, Dreamcast or the design teams.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

Rightisright

Banned
Sep 18, 2007
1,169
1,779
1,325
I loved my Saturn.
My favourite games were
VF 2
Daytona
Sega Rally
Virtua Cop 2
Loaded
Fighters Mega Mix
Powerslave
Nights
Panzer Dragoon
Fighting Vipers
Darkstalkers
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA and Kazza

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
I never played SimCity 2000, even though the original is my all-time favorite game for the Super Nintendo. I find this sequel to be far too complicated and complex, and the speed appears to be painfully slow. It might be good, and one of these days, I'll force myself to put some real time into it. But I'd rather play the SNES SimCity in a heartbeat.
Sim City 2000 was probably my most played game on the console. It's the kind of game that has pretty much unlimited replayability. I seem to remember the save file pretty much taking up my entire internal save space, so I always had to delete all other game files before saving. It was my first foray into the franchise, so can't say how it compares to the SNES version, but I never felt that it was in any way too complicated at the time (but then again I'm a big strategy game fan, so maybe I'm just used to it). That and another PC port, Command & Conquer, provided a great foil to the more arcadey Saturn experiences, such as Virtua Cop, Sega Rally etc.

I think Sonic R has gotten more appreciation as time has gone by. I was disappointed that the recent Sonic Racers wasn't a Sonic R sequel, especially after the first teaser reveal that really emphasised the "R".

My 13 year old self would have agreed 100% with that Destruction Derby review. I remember playing the demo at a Toys R Us kiosk and the arena section really blew me away. As the magazine mentions, it was an experience which simply wasn't possible on previous gen consoles. I was so happy when it was announced for the Saturn, but strangely I never ended up buying it. I guess the novelty had already worn off by then. I later bought it on PS3, but didn't enjoy it so such.

From the praise they gave Riglord Saga, I'm surprised they didn't give it 4 stars rather than 3. Anyway, the magazine reviews are interesting reading, please keep them coming.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
There is something I was curious about and wonder if Homebrewers would be up to the Challenge.

I wonder if the Saturn could run a "demake" of the games Super Monkey Ball, Space Channel 5 and Jet Set Radio under the strict polygonal count?

Another question that's been burning inside me since Sonic Mania was released would be COULD the game (under compression) run on the Saturn?

What are your thoughts?
There was an interesting thread on the topic of Sonic Mania on the Saturn over on Sega-16:


JSR was already only 30 fps on Dreamcast, I think it would have really struggle on Saturn. The others would probably have been possible though. I think up-ports of later Saturn games to the Dreamcast would have been interesting (the likes of Deep Fear, HotD, Burning Rangers, Panzer Saga). Not many western people had Saturns, so it would have given those games a second chance.
 

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
Did anybody see this announcement?



200 euros for a Saturn and Dreamcast "flashcard" sounds like a pretty good deal, and the company's other products have all been very well received.
 
Last edited:

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680





Here's a real novelty for the Sega Saturn community: a software tool for homebrew coders called Game Basic For Sega Saturn. Similar to Sony's Net Yaroze for Playstation, this program allows users to create Saturn software in the BASIC language, via connection to a Windows 95 PC. The retail package includes two discs, a connection cable and two extensive manuals, and a number of demo games are included that demonstrate what you can create.

Modern Vintage Gamer has just posted this informative video on Game Basic, as well as offering a short overview of BASIC during the home computer era. For many of us, this was our introduction to computer programming and continues to serve as an easy way to learn coding.

Retro Core also posted a Game Basic video to Youtube in 2011, featuring a comprehensive look at the packaging and software and the included demos.

Finally, we have two videos from 2007 of a racing game by someone named Kuribayashi. We know nothing more about the programmer or what happened to this project, if it was ever completed or if anything further came of it. Most likely, this was a hobby project made for fun and no greater aspirations were intended. That said, it's a very solid demo and appears to be very playable. It looks better than some retail Saturn games, to be brutally honest, and makes me wonder why retail racing titles didn't use VDP2 planes for the ground.

More Game Basic demos are available on MadRoms' Youtube channel.
According to that Modern Vintage Gamer video, the Sega Basic software only takes up half the RAM and no processor speed (if I heard him correctly). While the Saturn didn't have too much RAM to lose in the first place, that isn't too bad considering. Could C be used to programme Saturn games, or did it have to be assembly only?
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
Just discovered this thread, Some interesting insights on the development of the Saturn version of Sonic 3D Blast:

I wrote Sonic 3D Blast on the Saturn, and used C++ which was generated from the 68k Asm source for the Genesis version. We used the same code on the PC, although I had to make some changes due to the fact the endian is the other way around on the PC. The biggest problem was that the Saturn only had 2MB of RAM and the game I was porting had 4MB of ROM, so I had to mark each sprite as to the level it was available on, to reduce memory (the problem was harder as well, since the Genesis sprites were 16 colors and the Saturn ones were 256 colors, and the background increased from 256 characters to 4096 characters). I wrote the ASM to C++ converter and we had game in 3 months, which was identical to Genesis version, then I spent a month adding overlay sprites, environment effects that did not change the game play but improved the look (the overlay sprites could interact with Sonic, so you might go past a tree and it would drop a bunch of snow, or a tile could alter it's angle depending on where you stood on it). My brother wrote the hardware mapping (so that the memory mapped code for updating sprite positions worked on Saturn memory layout instead of Genesis).

I wonder if the 4 meg RAM cart would have made things easier?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA
Dec 25, 2018
3,811
3,680
750
Manchester, England
There was an interesting thread on the topic of Sonic Mania on the Saturn over on Sega-16:


JSR was already only 30 fps on Dreamcast, I think it would have really struggle on Saturn. The others would probably have been possible though. I think up-ports of later Saturn games to the Dreamcast would have been interesting (the likes of Deep Fear, HotD, Burning Rangers, Panzer Saga). Not many western people had Saturns, so it would have given those games a second chance.
I will read that when I get the chance!

JSR with N64 Frames Per Second? Maybe the older Nintendo fans would like that. :LOL:

Didn't HotD 2 release on the Dreamcast? 1 and 2 pretty much look similar as they were made on the same Engine.

Regarding Panzer Dragoon, the team were already making Skies of Arcadia after Saga was finished, so we technically got the game, only in a different layout!

Would have loved a Burning Rangers 2 on the Dreamcast though. :LOL:

Is Sonic 3D Blast actually better on the Saturn than the Mega Drive? I honestly never saw the appeal of the game as it felt like an experiment for Adventure and it didn't really flow that well I felt. The Music is great though.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA and Kazza

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
I will read that when I get the chance!

JSR with N64 Frames Per Second? Maybe the older Nintendo fans would like that. :LOL:

Didn't HotD 2 release on the Dreamcast? 1 and 2 pretty much look similar as they were made on the same Engine.

Regarding Panzer Dragoon, the team were already making Skies of Arcadia after Saga was finished, so we technically got the game, only in a different layout!

Would have loved a Burning Rangers 2 on the Dreamcast though. :LOL:

Is Sonic 3D Blast actually better on the Saturn than the Mega Drive? I honestly never saw the appeal of the game as it felt like an experiment for Adventure and it didn't really flow that well I felt. The Music is great though.
I didn't realise HotD 1 & 2 both ran on the same engine. That should have made porting HotD 1 even easier then! It's a shame it didn't happen. I'm looking forward to what they do with the remake.

I have to admit that I've never played either MD or Saturn versions of Sonic 3D Blast. The Saturn one certainly looks and sounds better. I know the dev released a patch for the MD version which improves lots of small things. Since the Saturn version came later, maybe it was more polished anyway.

A new Burning Rangers on modern systems would be even better :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA
Dec 25, 2018
3,811
3,680
750
Manchester, England
I didn't realise HotD 1 & 2 both ran on the same engine. That should have made porting HotD 1 even easier then! It's a shame it didn't happen. I'm looking forward to what they do with the remake.

I have to admit that I've never played either MD or Saturn versions of Sonic 3D Blast. The Saturn one certainly looks and sounds better. I know the dev released a patch for the MD version which improves lots of small things. Since the Saturn version came later, maybe it was more polished anyway.

A new Burning Rangers on modern systems would be even better :)
I think the Saturn version was done by a different team though, and people tend to crap all over it sadly despite the hard work the Developers did with it (SEGA rushed them I believe), which may explain why the Dreamcast never got 1.

Maybe, I heard they added a different Special Stage as well for the Saturn.

It would be and given it only has 4 levels in the original, it'd be a good budget game to make!
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA and Kazza

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com
According to that Modern Vintage Gamer video, the Sega Basic software only takes up half the RAM and no processor speed (if I heard him correctly). While the Saturn didn't have too much RAM to lose in the first place, that isn't too bad considering. Could C be used to programme Saturn games, or did it have to be assembly only?

Saturn could be coded with C language and often was, even by the top developers like Sega's internal studios, but for most of the heavy lifting, Assembly was the smarter choice. I read in a Next Generation article that Assembly ran 8x faster on Saturn than C, and you can see that in a lot of the software.

The Sega Graphics Library is a C language function library to assist software developers, especially those in the West for whom C was their primary language (I remember it being the only computer language being taught at The College of St. Scholastica in the early '90s). Assembly or "machine language" involves directly hacking into the hardware itself, which is why it's so much faster (8x faster than C on Saturn) but also why it's much more complicated. Video and computer games used to be coded in Assembly almost exclusively, only moving up to the "higher" languages in Gen-5.

Assembly was the choice of hardcore programmers, hackers and demoscene coders, and that's how you got the best results out of Saturn. But skilled C programmers could achieve very good results, especially with the SGL.

Sony, of course, was way ahead of the pack when it came to developer support and software libraries. That's one of the key reasons why Playstation won over Western software teams and became so successful. Sega, meanwhile, stuck to the older paradigm of just dumping a box of manuals on your desk and saying, "Good luck, don't call."

Use of "lower" languages faded out in Gen-6 and today pretty much everything is done in the "higher" languages.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680
Use of "lower" languages faded out in Gen-6 and today pretty much everything is done in the "higher" languages.
As I understand it, the main reason is that computers now have plenty of RAM and CPU power, so don't need to code to the metal quite do much. A coder friend of mine says that coders of the past wrote much more efficient code, whereas modern coders can afford to be more sloppy, as the modern hardware gives them a lot of slack.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com



Sega Saturn Documentation

Here is the master list of technical manuals, development tools and compilers for Sega Saturn. Everything you want to know about how to program the machine is listed here. There are even issues of an internal developers newsletter which provide many interesting insights and tidbits from the era.

Of course, you're not getting all the secrets. Yu Suzuki doesn't explain how his team pulled off Virtua Fighter 2 or provide the source code to any of their best games. That's one area where Sega truly failed and could have helped third party developers greatly, as well as preserving their history. I imagine a month doesn't go by where Sega's bosses don't regret losing the Panzer Dragoon Saga source code. Somebody should have printed that out and stored it away.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com
As I understand it, the main reason is that computers now have plenty of RAM and CPU power, so don't need to code to the metal quite do much. A coder friend of mine says that coders of the past wrote much more efficient code, whereas modern coders can afford to be more sloppy, as the modern hardware gives them a lot of slack.

Oh, yes, absolutely. Look at what programmers could achieve on the 8-bit micro computers with 48K or 64K of memory, or what was done on 16-bit cartridges for 1MB or less. You had to fight for every single bit of space and write extremely simple, lean code. Today's computers and gaming systems have God-like superpowers and can do practically anything, and so designers don't even have to touch code. It's like writing blogs or websites via WordPress instead of hacking directly into HTML or CSS.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Jan 7, 2018
720
1,024
515
Chicago, IL
www.dtm-arts.com













Next Generation Saturn Reviews, Part IV

Our series on Sega Saturn reviews from the pages of Next Generation Magazine continues into the January-March 1996 issues. Software titles shown include: Double Switch, Quarterback Attack, Steamgear Mash, Theme Park, Wicked 18 (Valora Valley Golf), F-1 Live Information (F1 Challenge), Hang On GP '95, Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally Championship, Virtua Cop, High Velocity, Thunderstrike 2, Galactic Attack, Battle Arena Toshinden Remix, Johnny Bazookatone, Wing Arms and X-Men: Children of the Atom. These include the final releases for the 1995 holiday season and the long-awaited appearance of NG's first five-star Saturn reviews.

It's interesting to see Tom Zito and Digital Pictures taking one last stab with their FMV titles from the Sega CD era. That genre was an interesting idea from the 1980s that never quite clicked with audiences, although Sewer Shark was pretty popular. On Saturn, they exist largely to pad out the software lineup during the lean post-launch months. I'm sure these games have their fans out there somewhere, but it's a pretty small audience.

Sega's triple punch of Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally and Virtua Cop saved the Saturn in the States and astonished all the critics who were convinced the console was a second-rate mess unworthy of competing against Sony and Nintendo (or even 3DO and Atari, for that matter). If it weren't for these games, the system would have died around the same time as the 32X, and it did appear that Sega was at least considering scrapping the machine entirely in favor of a newer, more powerful model for a 1996 launch. I still say Tom Kalinske was rooting for that outcome. In any case, the issue was now moot and Saturn was firmly established and in for the long haul.

Cave's High Velocity (Touge: King of Spirits in Japan) was a favorite of mine and it still holds up very nicely. The mountain track designs are some of the most inventive of the era, full of dips and turns and steep climbs. I was often reminded of the hillside roads along Duluth's great hills, with nothing more than large rocks along the side to keep your car from falling over the edge.

Toshinden had no business existing on Saturn, or anywhere else, for that matter. But Sega of America thought they could win a direct competition against the Playstation even though this game played directly to Sony's strengths and Saturn's weaknesses. Besides, there was already a far superior fighting game in VF2, so what's the point? Any nimrod could tell this translation was terrible and blocked its release. Instead, casual and hardcore gamers alike tuned in to see Sega's console struggle yet again with their "inferior" machine, and much of their newly acquired goodwill was evaporated.

It is at this time that Saturn's 2D muscles are beginning to flex, and the arrival of Galactic Attack, Darius Gaiden and X-Men gave the system a true edge over its rivals and marked the next generation of classic arcade videogames. Unfortunately, the gamers and press wanted nothing to do with 2D pixel art anymore. It's "obsolete," after all, and who wants to shoot alien spaceships, battle mutant fish or fight Wolverine when you could gawk at that kewpie doll with the see-through skirt in Toshinden?

Everybody was out of their damned minds. But at least Saturn had its second wind, and for a short time, was running even against Sony in US sales. It was as close as Sega would ever get to retaking the lead, and within a few months, Nintendo 64 mania would begin and zap all the oxygen out of the room. Super Mario can do that. If only Sega had a mascot of their own? Oh, well, whatever, nevermind.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kazza and SpiceRacz

Kazza

Member
Oct 6, 2018
3,383
7,776
680













Next Generation Saturn Reviews, Part IV

Our series on Sega Saturn reviews from the pages of Next Generation Magazine continues into the January-March 1996 issues. Software titles shown include: Double Switch, Quarterback Attack, Steamgear Mash, Theme Park, Wicked 18 (Valora Valley Golf), F-1 Live Information (F1 Challenge), Hang On GP '95, Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally Championship, Virtua Cop, High Velocity, Thunderstrike 2, Galactic Attack, Battle Arena Toshinden Remix, Johnny Bazookatone, Wing Arms and X-Men: Children of the Atom. These include the final releases for the 1995 holiday season and the long-awaited appearance of NG's first five-star Saturn reviews.

It's interesting to see Tom Zito and Digital Pictures taking one last stab with their FMV titles from the Sega CD era. That genre was an interesting idea from the 1980s that never quite clicked with audiences, although Sewer Shark was pretty popular. On Saturn, they exist largely to pad out the software lineup during the lean post-launch months. I'm sure these games have their fans out there somewhere, but it's a pretty small audience.

Sega's triple punch of Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally and Virtua Cop saved the Saturn in the States and astonished all the critics who were convinced the console was a second-rate mess unworthy of competing against Sony and Nintendo (or even 3DO and Atari, for that matter). If it weren't for these games, the system would have died around the same time as the 32X, and it did appear that Sega was at least considering scrapping the machine entirely in favor of a newer, more powerful model for a 1996 launch. I still say Tom Kalinske was rooting for that outcome. In any case, the issue was now moot and Saturn was firmly established and in for the long haul.

Cave's High Velocity (Touge: King of Spirits in Japan) was a favorite of mine and it still holds up very nicely. The mountain track designs are some of the most inventive of the era, full of dips and turns and steep climbs. I was often reminded of the hillside roads along Duluth's great hills, with nothing more than large rocks along the side to keep your car from falling over the edge.

Toshinden had no business existing on Saturn, or anywhere else, for that matter. But Sega of America thought they could win a direct competition against the Playstation even though this game played directly to Sony's strengths and Saturn's weaknesses. Besides, there was already a far superior fighting game in VF2, so what's the point? Any nimrod could tell this translation was terrible and blocked its release. Instead, casual and hardcore gamers alike tuned in to see Sega's console struggle yet again with their "inferior" machine, and much of their newly acquired goodwill was evaporated.

It is at this time that Saturn's 2D muscles are beginning to flex, and the arrival of Galactic Attack, Darius Gaiden and X-Men gave the system a true edge over its rivals and marked the next generation of classic arcade videogames. Unfortunately, the gamers and press wanted nothing to do with 2D pixel art anymore. It's "obsolete," after all, and who wants to shoot alien spaceships, battle mutant fish or fight Wolverine when you could gawk at that kewpie doll with the see-through skirt in Toshinden?

Everybody was out of their damned minds. But at least Saturn had its second wind, and for a short time, was running even against Sony in US sales. It was as close as Sega would ever get to retaking the lead, and within a few months, Nintendo 64 mania would begin and zap all the oxygen out of the room. Super Mario can do that. If only Sega had a mascot of their own? Oh, well, whatever, nevermind.
Glad to see Thunderstrike 2 (Thunderhawk 2 in the UK) get a good review. Core Design were so good on the Mega CD, it was great to see them continuing their great work on the Saturn. It's not surprising that they were one of the few early 3rd party developers to be competent with the hardware.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DT MEDIA