Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Halloween On The Saturn 2021 - Frankenstein: Through The Eyes Of The Monster


Introduction - 


The game will cost you between £100 - £300!

I'm not sure why I associate Halloween with the Saturn. It could be that it's because we relaunched the Saturn Junkyard about this time in 2017... I remember writing the "Halloween Saturn Games List 2017" and posting lots of photographs of people involved in less than impressive Saturn themed cos-play, the Junkyard littered with lots of pumpkins (carved with a Sega related themes)  and actually getting my Saturn light-gun out to play House Of The Dead for the first time in years...  Great times!

Halloween Pumpkin carved in honour of our leader Segata Sanshiro

Whatever the reason, Halloween always inspires me to put pen to paper, and churn out a horror game-themed article, to celebrate the season! The one issue I've found challenging in the past, when writing subsequent Halloween articles, is finding Saturn games that have been seldom reviewed or written about. My one rule when writing about games, is that I must have played them, usually on the original hardware, and I must have drawn my conclusions, from my own experience with the title. in 2021, I think I've found a perfect game for the time of year, that has been largely overlooked by the Saturn community (as far as I know...) 

 Welcome to "Frankenstein: Through The Eyes Of The Monster."


How most of us think of Frankenstein's monster...

Frankenstein In Our Modern Consciousness -

 Okay, so when we think of Frankenstein, we usually think of the monster - as played by Boris Karloff in the 1931 movie version - flat head, sunken eyes, bolts in neck, built up shoes - Herman Munster type vibes. But Mary Shelley, the author of the book back in 18-- had a very different (opium induced) dream of  the monster, less of a hideous creature and more as a "reanimated man". One with a brain, a consciousness and a soul. For Shelley the monstrosity was in man's desire to play God and flout the laws of nature in the process. The game draws far more on the original gothic novel for it's source material rather than any particular Hollywood re-telling. Central to the story, of course, is Doctor Frankenstein - played by the legendary British actor, Tim Curry (more on him later). We don't get to see the monster, apart from "his" arms and hands, so we don't have to critique his visual appearance.

 

The Frankenstein's Monster we love the most... 


Boring Game History - 

The game was developed by Amazing Media and published by Interplay Entertainment Corps for PC, in 1995. The game was ported to the Saturn in 1997, towards the end of the Saturn's life-span. The game is a 'point and click adventure', made using CGI backgrounds and full motion video clips, which are triggered, as the player clicks on various items. As such, the game is a slow burner, requiring patience and detailed exploration of the environments, in order to progress steadily through the narrative. This type of game was extremely popular in the mid 90's and for many game developers, the quest was to make an "interactive movie". Frankenstein TTEOTM, is very much trying to be this form of entertainment. As well as the scene stealing performances of Tim Curry, we have the monster played by Robert Rothrock, Rebecca Wink as villager Sara and Amanda Fuller as Gabrielle, the monster's daughter. 

The Story - 

The story begins to unfold, as soon as the title screen commences. As the opening credits roll, we hear the dialogue of an arrest and subsequent judgements of a murder trial. It seems a man has murdered his daughter, but the details are unclear, as we do not know the story's protagonist yet. As the opening titles fade, we see the view seen by the monster. You are lying on a platform suspended by four chains. The doctor is standing over you peering down. He immediately proclaims "LIFE! I have created life!" he gloats and crows, then seems to remember his 'patient'. "Here, this'll make you feel better..." He injects you using a syringe, which he then proceeds to stab into his own neck, with a celebratory: "A toast!"  YIKES! This doctor is clearly deep into some serious mal-practise! 


It doesn't take long for the horror to unfold... As you look at your arms (one familiar, one not so much...) you exclaim "Good god my hand! ...Its the hand of a woman! What has this vile bastard done to me?!" Dr. Frankenstein begins to cackle evilly and gloats - he get's stuck in there straight away, cracking sick jokes, indicative of his sick nature... "What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" (sniggers) "You have no idea how close to the truth that statement really is..." Clearly this man is no family practitioner. He is the true monster in the original story and the game... But in the game they've ramped (camped?) his diabolical nature to 11.


And so the story begins to unravel, as you point and click away. The dialogue is camp, over the top and very theatrical. The conversations between the characters, flesh out the story and background in a wholly unrealistic way, speaking line after line of a narrative, that would only be necessary if trying to squeeze a long and drawn out Victorian novel's plot, into the two hour time frame, of a point and click computer game.



You are scientist Phillip Wren and you've been framed for the murder of your daughter Gabrielle. You've been tried, found guilty and hanged by the neck until dead (by the mysterious  Judge Rothenbush). As if that wasn't enough, you've been brought back to life with a hodge-podge of other people's bits, and are now trapped in the laboratory of the evil genius who has reanimated your ravaged corpse. Not a great predicament to begin your quest, but the one you are faced with, nevertheless. 

Your mind in turmoil -  "I'm an experiment!" -  you begin to explore, further and further into Frankenstein's castle. This is how the game starts and represents the stage of the game, where I became unable to play without the help of a Youtube playthrough guide.

The views from the castle are to die for...

Without wanting to spoil the whole plot, you make some gruesome discoveries as you explore the fortress and suffer further persecution for your trouble. The game involves you stealing your way through the castle, solving puzzles, collecting notes and moving both physically and temporally through the mystery of your current circumstance.

The Gameplay - 

The style of game is exactly what western game developers thought would be the future of gaming. The "interactive movie". There were thousands of dollars and pounds invested in these FMV games. The irony is that these titles, at the cutting edge of technology back in 1995, as games passed from cartridge to compact disc. The best Saturn games used FMV for cutscenes and intros only. Very few of these video based titles, have stood the test of time. In fact they seem to be amongst the most dated and least enjoyable titles available for Saturn gamers and retro gaming in general.

The Good - 


We'll start with some of the supporting features, before we get to the main draw. First of all, the acting. As well as the talents of the start of the show, the supporting cast of actors do a pretty good job of guiding you through the castle and reacting to the spooky sights and shocking surprises you uncover as you make your way though the castle. If we are kind enough to suggest that the title fits the interactive movie slot, in the way it was intended, then the acting has to be pretty good. When we think of titles such as Deep Fear, Resident Evil, House Of The Dead or Corpse Killer, we are not looking for Oscar winning thespians doing Royal Shakespeare quality performances, we are looking for campy, over the top, slightly "hammy" acting. If that is the case, then Robert Rothrock, Rebecca Wink and Amanda Fuller do a more than adequate job as a supporting cast. The CGI "scenery" and "sets" provide the right atmosphere and background for the action, and the letters, diagrams, notes and plans you discover on your journey are well made and convincing. The music by David Dvorin,  is atmospheric and fitting. However, it can become rather grating, as it loops around again and again whilst you struggle to find the way out of your current setting. And, that's about all that can be said about the game other than... 



TIM CURRY!!! TIM "FRANKENFURTER" CURRY!!! TIM "SCARY MOVIE" CURRY!!! TIM MOTHER-FREAKING CURRY!!! He is literally the main draw for this slow moving, rather turgid game. You're not going to be enthralled by the action, you're not going to be absorbed by the plot or transfixed by the atmosphere. But you can drink in, devour and satiate yourself on every over-pronounced syllable, every rich, chocolatey vowel, every twisted muttering and snarkily delivered snigger, from one of the finest actors the world has ever seen! Curry burst onto the British acting scene in Richard O'Brien's cult, musical homage to 1950's suspense and science fiction B Movies, The Rocky Horror Picture Show as the "sweet transvestite, from trans-sexual, Transylvania" Dr. Frankenfurter. This was a fabulous role, that allowed Curry to preen, pout and generally flounce about as he sang, stomped and smashed his way into our consciousness. Twenty years later, Curry was either at the cutting edge of video entertainment, or making a fast buck by selling his acting prowess, standing in front of a green screen and rasping out hammy dialogue for a fairly uninspiring video game. If I was hooked in by one thing, it was the appearance of this legend on the box. Not the only time that a video game has been sold on the inclusion of a Hollywood star. The latest Far Cry release has been sold on the inclusion of current Hollywood favourite, Giancarlo Esposito. But once the lure of Tim Curry has begun to be eclipsed by the lame gameplay, the game has very little to redeem it. As with many point and click adventure games, the ending you see, depends on the route you take through the game and the actions you perform and the choices you make. This allows for a degree of re-playability, that wouldn't exist without it.


The Bad - 

This is a very dated game. A very slow moving, plodding title. The one trick pony of  FMV video games IS the reactive FMV scenes triggered by your actions. These can be so finickity to find and trigger, that you can easily become bored or frustrated very quickly. In order to progress I had to watch a video on Youtube, showing an entire playthrough of the game. I then had to keep pausing the game, trying out what I had seen in the video and this made the playing of the game even MORE slow moving and plodding -  as if the title wasn't already tortuous enough to play through in 2021... . And as usual, certain actions which worked in the video DID NOT work on my Saturn - this is a phenomenon I've noticed more and more. The execution of  certain actions within games seem to not work form machine to machine, from disc to disc. Recently I've had to source new copies of Casper and Exhumed, in order to get them to work on my machines. and I couldn't get the game Tunnel B1 to work on any of my Saturns, despite trying three different discs of the game...Very frustrating.

In the end I just gave up and watched the game unfold for the person creating the Youtube video. The experience was basically the same as if I was triggering the cutscenes. It just involved far less faffing around and frustration. Although there are a couple of alternative outcomes, I defy anyone to enjoy the game enough to give it a second spin...

Spoiler alert!


Conclusion - 

If you're looking for some Halloween fun on the Saturn this year, you could do a lot better with some of the console's other offerings. There are a plethora of horror, monster and sci-fi themed games on the Saturn that will scratch your itch... Deep Fear, Vampire Savior, Resident Evil, House Of The Dead, Exhumed and of course, the big daddy of them all, Casper. Unless you want to be bored rigid in some kind of masochistic indulgence of tortuous, snail-paced shite, avoid this game like the plague. As if God is taking a hand in saving us from this nightmare, the price of this turd of a game has sky-rocketed in recent years. A copy of Frankenstein TTEOTM will set you back between £100 and £300, depending on where you source it. Only the most ardent of Saturn completist, should fork out silly money for this game. I got a pristine "repro" of the game from the excellent Nightwing Productions (shout going out to my man Marvin Macias!) which enabled me to experience it without losing the shirt off my back, I'd have been pretty sorely pissed, if I'd splurged out top dollar for this dollop of doo doo. 


My advice? Avoid this game at all costs... if you really want to experience this game for yourself, emulate, burn a disc, buy a repro or simply watch the Youtube video below... the one thing that did give me a laugh, was Victor Frankenstein's OTHER creation, but you have to get pretty far into the game to see it! Other than that leave it alone, Games which are comparably bad? Corpse Killer, The Crow and Alone In The Dark, If the comparison to those three nightmares doesn't give you a scare this Halloween, nothing will!  




Wednesday, 1 September 2021

The Mortal Kombat Series - The Spine of Saturn

 


Mortal Kombat, the game that, along with Doom, introduced video games to extreme blood and gore. It is a game so violent that it seemingly created the ESRB singlehandedly. This is the fighting game that captivated the gaming industry with its interesting characters, gripping lore and stylistic graphics back in 1992 and started a franchise that is still thriving today. Now, we'll be looking at the titles that were released on the Sega Saturn.

Now, let's not kid each other, not every title in a franchise this large is going to live up to the quality we all expect. Despite this, Mortal Kombat did very well as it reached over 20 titles with more still to come. Sega Saturn had some of its best ports. 


Although there's no official port of the original Mortal Kombat, its wondrous sequel was perfectly ported to the system, aside from suffering the Sega Saturn's true flaw. It does have some problems with loading times. It also had some critics saying that it was already outdated before it was even made. Still, there was no denying that this was a perfect rendition of the arcade otherwise. 

Where Mortal Kombat was controversial for its violence, this game ramped it up to 11 and doubled the blood. More human bean juice can be seen when you punch your enemy's face and the fatalities brought about more and more gore as the fans wanted. Now, you didn't need a code to unlock it, nor was the SNES port wasn't censored as the first game's port to the system was highly criticized for. Sega Saturn let you see the gore as it was intended, with full arcade graphics still in tact. 


Strangely enough, though, Sega Saturn Magazine panned the port as it didn't live up to the prerelease copy that they received months earlier. Obviously, they don't need to hold all Saturn games to a higher light, but they were needlessly critical of the load times. Of course, that also means it has the MK2 flaws about it as well. As great as the game's graphics were and as awesome the gore was at the time, there was still the ridiculous difficulty. The AI was programmed to react to your button presses automatically, much faster than they should be able to. Yes, there are ways around this, but it mostly involves spamming attacks in a certain order. A good game, but with some fairly heavy flaws that keep it from being truly great.


So, what do we do now? The last game was so hard, let's take it easy on the players now. Let's add in every single character we possibly can, even the bosses! So, now you can play as both Goro and Kentaro and you win! That's right! A game with such horrific balance issues that now you can play as both characters with monstrous strength and reach that just a few punches and special moves and your opponent is slain in a matter of seconds. 


Balance problems aside, they cheaped out on the fatalities. Some of them were taken out to save on time of its conversion to the Saturn, and yet it came out an entire year after the PSX and N64 versions. There are plenty of reasons why this game is overlooked by the fandom as, aside from the playable bosses, there's really nothing to write home about. The game itself is unremarkable otherwise and you're far better off getting the real Mortal Kombat game the Sega Saturn is known for. 


When you think of Mortal Kombat on the Saturn, most turn to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. This game was created when fans voiced their disdain for the original Mortal Kombat 3. Once again, it is the most faithful port from arcade to console and has the loading problems much like the others. However, it is a fair challenge and all of your favorite characters are there to see. Once you put in the CRAZY CYRAX code, you can unlock all of the characters. There are hours of fun once you beat the tower mode as you can gain access to all of the fatalities, random Mortal Kombat videos and a game of Pong (don't ask). 




The controls are stellar, the game modes are plentiful and the cheat codes are ten times easier to input. With new and old characters and amazing backgrounds, you really couldn't ask for much more. It's just hours of fun with friends or solo play. Better than that, though, it's even got Scorpion this time around! Imagine that! 

Whatever your thoughts on the Mortal Kombat franchise, you can't deny its impact on not only the fighting game genre but also video games in general. There have been so many games that tried to duplicate its success, but very few had any success. Everyone thought that if you just slapped some live action people on a game with some blood and gore that you could make the next fighting game phenomenon. MK, however, boasted superior control and gameplay along with a lore that was both interesting and quite captivating. 

What really sold Mortal Kombat was its characters along with its truckloads of internal organs and severed limbs. They were memorable and diverse while also boasting diverse themes and backgrounds that made them quite unique. It may have had a questionable period after UMK3, as Mortal Kombat 4 brought about a 3D era that made interesting characters and lore take a backseat to bigger and better graphics. It took a while to recover from, but until 2011 finally rolled around, we at least had a nice collection to fall back on. Just remember to drink bloo---water... I meant water.




Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Guardian Heroes - Keep Slicing!

 


When does a mixture of great things turn out great itself? How often does a stew of hip game ideas mold together so well and manifest into such an amazing product? Well, it doesn't happen all that often, I can tell you that for free. This game takes JRPG elements, mixes it with Beat'em Up mechanics, anime 2D sprites, with a story mode that is very up-front and in your face. This game had some very nice, pretty graphics with 2D displays mixed with open multi-layered areas. 


The feeling of being a powerful hero taking down armies of henchmen and bosses is extremely gratifying. The real draw here is the ongoing stories and characters, aside from the dissatisfaction of the absence of your side ones. You choose from a selection of other players that have their own strengths both in melee and ranged attacks. Whichever character you choose is the one you see for the rest of the game.  

These characters are very diverse with unique gameplay and personalities. Not only do they help customize gameplay to your liking, but they also give the game even more replay value as they affect the story and the endings you receive. The dialogue is skippable but also worth reading if that's your thing. The English translation is well written and the characters can be quite humorous. 


While the graphics and the "hack'n slash" gameplay are both beautiful and cathartic, this game is not perfect. While I do love being able to die and come back immediately, this is a very limited continue system. Die enough times, and it's straight back to the beginning. This flaw is accentuated as some of the bosses you fight can get a little ridiculous in difficulty. It is especially bad when they start spamming their strong attacks, despite being able to do the same yourself. As with all side-scrolling beat'em ups, there is also that pinching flaw of being rather repetitive. However, it more than makes up for it in brilliantly differing story endings depending on what paths you take during the gameplay. 


Not only is this game one of my favorite Sega Saturn games that I have recently played, but is is also considered one of the cornerstones of side-scrolling beat'em ups. If this is your type of game or you are wanting to break into the genre, do not pass this game up if you ever get a chance to play it. It is a rare title in the Saturn's library but it is not unobtainable. Just remember not to support video game price scalpers and drink water.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Quake - The 3D Reckoning

ID software is known for their legendary titles, and Quake is one of them. Not only was this another landmark for first person shooters, but it was a gigantic jump in gaming graphics as a whole. The three dimensional graphics paved the way for so many gaming companies and showed what a powerful gaming engine was capable of. This brought deathmatching to a whole new level and gibbed its enemies with the utmost amazing details that could be seen in '96. Then it was ported to the Sega Saturn. How did it make the transition? Pretty damn well!

Is it perfect and better than the PC? No, definitely not. Is it better than the Playstation port? Of course it is. There was no PSX port. It was ported to N64 and Saturn within its first release. The Saturn port was well received, despite its graphical downfalls. The controls and the killing still work just fine and the ogres are still total jerks and the super shotgun is still awesome! Quake didn't make such a huge splash as Doom, but it still has a thriving fanbase to this day, especially with such a legendary soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails. That's right, we're bringing that up!

Now, the controls work fine, but it still has its faults when it comes to gameplay. Sometimes, the auto-aim doesn't work quite so well and there are times when you can unload an entire clip into someone and hit air because the game didn't feel like your angle could shoot the wings off a fly. Jumping and platforming are hindered by using the Saturn controls, but it just takes some adjusting. It is functional, but it's not a keyboard and mouse. 

The monsters have a bit of a graphical downgrade, but they're still recognizable and I don't think I've mentioned this, but the ogres are still jerks! Lobotomy Software seems to love the Sega Saturn more than any other console. Not only did they bring Duke Nukem to the system, but they also slammed Quake into a homerun with this port. This is still Quake and its still awesome. The real downfall of this port is that it has no multiplayer functions, and thus, no arena maps. The internet was sketchy to downright non-existent until Seganet came to the Dreamcast, so Deathmatching on the Saturn was a no-go. 

After such a dismal port of Doom, it's wonderful to see the Saturn turn around and do justice to a far graphically superior game. Lobotomy Software's contribution to the Saturn library can never be overstated. This is legendary. Not only does it prove the Saturn's capabilities were very real but it also captured Quake in such a great way. The beautifully brown and gritty setting and the gothic tone were implemented with style and grace, although that also means the fiends are jumping at you in full force. Remember to aim both barrels at those faceless beasts!

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Space Jam - Mike Deserved Better

 If you are a product of the 90's, you more than likely know Space Jam. This movie was marketed harder than hot cakes. Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan were plastered all over everything under the sun. It was hyped to the point where the movie fell to the wayside of toys and merchandise in terms of how expensive it was. Even though they are scarce today, this movie bared a tie-in game on the Sega Saturn along with other consoles of the time. This game hit the nostalgia bones, but it really didn't hit much else. 

I honestly came into this game expecting to hate its ever loving guts. Very few movie tie-in games have ever been successful, even fewer have made it to the legendary status. The vast majority of them have been garbage rushed out to meet a deadline of some sort. Whether this is one of those, I don't know, it's Space Jam, what you see is what you get. Instead of hating the game, I found myself not having much of any reaction at all.



The first game you have to play is to get Michael Jordan's clothes so he can play. At first, I wondered why this game would have this sort of weird mini-game on it, and it should just be a basketball game. Then I played the basketball, and I understood why they wanted to add some variety to Space Jam. The game isn't terrible, it isn't great, it isn't noteworthy. This is an annoyance with some decent mechanics here and there. It's sort of fun at first, but as you keep playing, it just fails to keep attention. This is just one of those bland games that isn't worth getting worked up over and is more easily quit than really hard games or games you enjoy, you're just not good at. Space Jam features all of the characters you love with none of the charm they represent. 

I have heard of this game in the past, though I never played it then. Now, after having played it, I understand why I even forgot about it. No one cares about it in the slightest. If it were horrifically terrible like Superman 64 or The Crow City of Angels, then maybe it would have something of a reputation. The problem is that you forget about it as soon as you stop playing it because it's the same rubbish all throughout with slightly sluggish controls and unremarkable graphics. The characters look good, kinda. Michael looks questionable. Either way, this game pretty much fell away from the public eye because it basically has no content of any substance. You shoot the ball, it may go in. If you love the movie, give it a try, just try to remember you played it.

Monday, 26 July 2021

X-men vs Street Fighter - Awesome + Awesome!

 



The arcades had a lot to offer back in the golden days of the Saturn. Three of those golden offerings was Virtua Fighter 2, Virtual On and X-men vs Street Fighter. There have been some monumental crossovers in the past but fans never knew how awesome it could truly get. After the stifling success of Street Fighter 2 and the wide acclaim of the X-men TV series, kids were ripe with excitement for the idea of a game that brought them both together. The fans were pleased with the results. While it is not perfect in its mechanics, it brought about an awesome experience for all to see. There were not enough quarters in the world to satiate the onlooking public.

A console port was a natural response to its success and as Sega Saturn fans, we got to have our cake and eat it too. Not only was it an amazing port that stayed incredibly close to the arcade, but it was also the best console port of the game overall. Capcom had done it again. 

The graphics are glorious and beautiful. The character options were beyond expectations, harboring such favorites as Wolverine, Akuma and Magneto! All of the Street Fighter cast is on display with this game, while the Marvel hero cast is amazingly full as well. Beyond anything, it was a fan-pleasing roster. With a flashy collection of backgrounds and some eye candy ultimate moves, you are hard pressed to find any real fault in its aesthetics.

The real flaws in this game come with its balance issues. Storm is amazingly over powered and a bit of button mashing pretty much gets you through the game with very little difficulty. Juggernaut's reach makes him ridiculous in terms of an offensive. The best thing you can do is try not to be too cheap with these super powerful moves. This game has literally ended friendships as a result. 

Everything on display here is top notch. Despite its small wrinkles, it is beautiful. X-men vs Streetfighter would go on to bring Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs Capcom, Capcom vs SNK, and so many more. Marvel vs Capcom 2 on the Dreamcast is a beautiful successor of this game and we are more fortunate to have this among our libraries in the 32-bit era. Play responsibly, and Hadouken with care.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Sonic Jam - The Saturn Masterpiece Collection

 


There is no denying that Sonic's golden age was his first three games. When he exploded on the scene in June of 1991, he came on strong. However, this was nothing compared to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which took the world by storm. This was followed up by a true successor in Sonic and Knuckles 3. Back in the day, you use to need an extra cartridge to get the Knuckles content for 2 and 3 while having some limited content on the first Sonic game. Now, we have Sonic Jam, which has all of the above. 

The Sega Saturn is proud to be home to this marvel of a collection. While there have been some amazing collections like it since on multiple consoles, Sonic Jam still remains quite iconic among the bunch. Along with the Gamecube's two collections, Sonic has had some amazing representation of gaming history being preserved. The blue blur will not be forgotten anytime soon and it's these ports that we have to thank for it. 


The anime style introduction is some of the most beautiful artwork and animation! Its soundtrack is awesome and it's a refreshing look to see such smooth video on the Sega Saturn's engine. You could watch it over and over again!



Sonic Jam, however, has some outstanding features that sets it apart from the others. For one thing, there is an easier, kid friendlier difficulty on this version of the game. This makes it to where the younger generation can still play it as one of their earlier games. Conquering this is one step closer to beating the same level on normal mode. Before long, they'll be conquering the whole game! 

As said before, you can play the knuckles version of all the games. It is clear that this whole thing is a port, as its controls are smooth and perfectly executed as opposed to an emulation. All of the versions are bonafide and capture the original games to a T. As if that weren't enough of a reason to play it, there is also a 3D mode that acts as something of a hub world. It's called Sonic World and it's beautiful. Not only does it show off some awesome Saturn graphics while giving us a peek at the 3D 32-bit game we never got, it also predicted the Sonic Movie in a theater!


This collection has a barrage of amazing features that you need to see for yourself. It is worth finding for a decent price, but make sure not to give into scalpers of this game. It is definitely worth showing to your kids as some of their best means of practice. Sonic Jam is one of the best ports of these masterpieces and I can sing its praise to the high mountain tops for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 alone. You can Knuckle it up on any version and have yourself a ball. Pick this up and be way past cool! 

That's right, I ended this on a Jaleel White quote! What about it?!

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Sega Rally Championship - Ride like the 32-bit Wind!

 


From the beginning, this game had a disadvantage of being late to the party. The first day I got a Sega Saturn was the first day I got Daytona USA as well. It was a fantastic racing game as far as I was concerned and today, I still own a Sega 3Pak collection. Sega Rally fell by the wayside in comparison, and didn't interest me. However, throughout my journey with the Saturn, it is a name that constantly comes up when sports games are mentioned. The first time I ever played this was on a demo disc. It had one race and nothing else, so it didn't get played much. 

That begs the question, how does it hold up today? Well, playing it for the first time, the first thing that comes up is the controls. They are janky here and there, but it's more of how you use your speed and are able to drift. It's a bit of a harsh learning curve, and many practice rounds were in store for me. Quite honestly, I never was very good at it. I was amateur at best in Daytona USA, more or less because racing games are not a forte. 



However, the more I did it, the more I began to get better and enjoy my time with this game. It has some great backgrounds and very smooth rides with a nice little background music. If we're really going to play comparisons to Daytona USA, that is one place where this game falls a bit short. The soundtrack for Sega Rally is good, it's catchy and it's a smooth ride, but it is in no way even close. 

This is a great racing game. It just takes some getting used to and you may even get really good at its mechanics. Sega Rally is more just a great bit of old school gaming that brings back that old time country flavor of 32-bit goodness that came out of the mid 90's. It ranks far higher in my books for its time capsule qualities. The Sega Saturn stays such a fine machine because it captures gems like this and holds them in stasis for newcomers and oldcomers alike. 




Sega Rally does well to represent what the Sega Saturn is capable of. Even when the 2-player mode doesn't hold together very well all the time, it is still a marvel of its time with the ability to do that. It holds up in high esteem for many reasons. If you love old school racing games, this is definitely one that should be on the top of your list. It's easy to learn, hard to master and reminds us of a time when games were made right. 

Monday, 12 July 2021

Hexen: Beyond Heretic - I Cast "Bugger Off!"

There are some among us who can remember those good old days of video gaming when all you had were the video game cartridges and/or CD's you could hold in your hands. These were the days when first person shooters were in beautiful bloom and experimentation was bringing about new and exciting discoveries in graphics and video gaming technology. One of these experiments led John Romero into assisting a team with the Doom Engine. Raven Software used this engine to create a fantasy game that had all of the bells and whistles one could ever ask for to quench their thirst for swords and sorcery. 

When we were kids and didn't care all that much about beating games as fast as possible, this game gave us what we wanted. We could use our axes and staffs to drive the evil forces to an early grave. Now that we are adults and the kids are far more focused on getting through levels and killing monsters at a fast pace and with furious efficiency. If you are looking for a game that will challenge you, Hexen with either be your dream come true, or the greatest nightmare you ever had. 

At first glance, the graphics look stellar on the Sega Saturn. The frame rate isn't great and the pixelation on the monsters is noticeable, but overall it is a fantastic port. The controls take two seconds to get use to before you are ripping two-headed beasts apart in a gothic medieval setting. this game is gorgeous when it comes to its monster designs and atmosphere. The setting is pristine in its depiction of a medieval world that you can get lost in.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say lost? Yes, yes, I did. If you have never played this game before and you are not watching a walkthrough, you will get lost. It's not so much a problem as finding a path, but it is a matter of finding a path, finding the switch and then finding the new path that switch opens up. Sometimes this path can be in a whole other planar dimension. So you need to hit a switch, go through a portal and try and find where a door opened. This is probably one of the most maddening parts of the game. 

Despite how they feel at the beginning, the weapons are utterly shite! This is a subjective view but it is also very valid when you are shooting monsters five or six times each while eight other monsters are chasing you around an entire map. Some people like these weapons, but some of them are slow while others are inaccurate. The real problem with the majority of these weapons is that they do not do near enough damage to get the proper job done. 

So, with the extremely confusing level design and the weapons that barely scratch, you may be thinking this is the challenge for you. Yes, if you are willing to take down flying monsters that sometimes you can't even shoot properly, then you are barking up the proper tree. Just be sure you have a ranged weapon and ammo, those fiery little bastards are a pain.

One very interesting aspect of this game is that you are able to choose between a Fighter, Cleric or a Mage. Each of them is different, and they all have their gimmicks and faults. I don't want to set any of them apart from the others, but do not play the Mage. His weapons are ineffectual and playing this class is just an all around abysmal experience. The fighter has the strongest weapons but he also doesn't have ranged attacks at first. It takes a lot of trial and error to find the class that is right for you. 

This game is the text book example of a mixed bag. It is fun and satisfying to play, but too much of this game at one time can be a convoluted and confusing experience. The real problem with saving and coming back to the game, and you run the risk of forgetting what was going on and what switches or pushed to get to what door and sometimes it's not really worth dwelling over. It's a terrible feeling when you're in the dead center of a game you decide to start all over. It is a cross this video game needs to bear. 

Imagine playing this game without a walkthrough of any kind. You could buy the game but you couldn't afford the game guide until next paycheck. Either that or your parents say it's either for Christmas or Birthday respectively. Pouring endless hours of bloodshed and madness into this game sounds like it would be fun, but it is rather bewildering. Do not start this game lightly if you intend to beat it. Just remember to drink those little vials of blue liquid. I think they're water.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Listen to the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast Podcast!


Need a Sega-stuffed podcast in your life? Join us for the latest episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast! Listen to it wherever you get your podcasts!

Find us on all the major podcast sites:

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Player FM
Play on iTunes
Play on Google Play
Listen on Buzzsprout
(Host site)