Thursday, 26 April 2007

Athlete Kings Review


Now despite my love for the Saturn, I’ll freely admit that a lot of the games that bulk out my collection are not great. Virtual Hydlide and Blam! Machine Head are two new additions to the Saturn Junkyard Virtual Museum, that fall very distinctly into the “not great” category, (although to be fair Blam! Machine Head has a great opening sequence with some brilliant ‘ham’ acting.)


However, there are some Saturn games which stand up to comparison with some of their current peers. Sega Rally, (soon to appear in its third incarnation on PS3) is one of the finest driving games created. Daytona USA is not far behind. NiGHTs is such a good game that the announcement of its imminent rebirth on the Wii set the internet alight.


Side scrolling 2D Beat ‘em ups like the Street Fighter Alpha series or X Men – Children Of The Atom seem as fresh today as the day they were created.

House Of The Dead, Virtua Fighter and Dead Or Alive are all franchises that are still going strong, and Saturn games which are still great fun to play, despite their aging pixellated appearance.


Some of the most fun I’ve had in competitive play recently, came from playing Sega World Wide Soccer ’97 against my best friend (and beating him hands down to add to the fun…)

In short, these games stand the test of time, and are illustrations of the buzz one can get from Retro gaming.

But yesterday, I discovered a new giant in the world of the Saturn. Athlete Kings! This arcade port is a particularly relevant title at the moment as it is somewhat Wii like in its appeal. Whilst the remote is not swung about in motion sensor fashion, there is a degree of physicality to the game, that goes beyond the normal exertion employed in button mashing.



You see to power your athlete through his various decathlon disciplines, requires thumbs of fury. Huge, muscular thumbs. Steroid pumped, hulkish thumbs that can
hit the ‘A’ button at lightning speeds.

The game has four playing modes; Arcade, Decathlon, Practise and Two Player (or versus) Mode.


The events your athlete will have to compete in are as follows: Hundred metre dash, (hit the A button repeatedly as fast as you can to beat the qualifying time). You can also hit the “action button” (B) at the finish line, to throw that all important pose for your photo finish…



The long jump requires the same physical rigour as the 100 metre dash. This time however, hold the action button to jump. The longer you hold the button affects the angle of your jump, and therefore the distance. Step over the line before the sandpit and you’ve fouled so your timing is crucial!

The shot put, discus, javelin, pole vault and the high jump require basically the same controls, but with the shot put and the javelin, there is a pulse on the force meter that you have to catch at its highest level for maximum distance.



The 110m hurdles are hilarious, as the timing of pressing the action button is crucial and any mistake sees you colliding into them , time after time! The 400m and 1500m requires the player to run, but at the same time check progress against a stamina bar.

There is a brilliant element of pick up and play to the game, and non-gamers can enjoy it without any previous gaming experience. In this respect, it encompasses the spirit of the Wii and Nintendo’s desire to create ‘family oriented’ or party games. But this is Sega people, 100% Sega!



The graphics are luscious in Saturn terms, with smooth frame rates and animated cut scenes. I’d go as far to say they look almost Dreamcast like in their splendour. (The game was later reincarnated as a slightly more serious Dreamcast sports sim, Virtua Athlete 2K ) Presumably as the game play was so simple, it allowed the developers to go all out as far as the Saturn’s graphical abilities were able to go. Slightly comic in appearance, your athletes will flex if they win and throw a bitch fit if they lose…

Athletes include USA’s Rick Blade, Germany’s Karl Vain, Great Britain’s hugely Afro-ed Jef Jansens, Russia’s pervy looking Aleksei Rigel, Jamaica’s Femi Kadiena, Japan’s Joe Kudou, France’s Ellen Regiani and Li Huang … All suitably stereotypical game types!



All in all a genuine Saturn legend and a great game for a party! Athlete King, Father Krishna salutes you! Overall score 9/10! Superb!




Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Father Krishna's Wii On The Way...


With only 22 days till "Wii Day", Father Krishna's almost top secret 40th birthday (May 16th 2007 - No, please, I don't want a fuss...) it was with some surprise and a great deal of disappointment, that I discovered Wii's were still widely unavailable in the UK! Look here...

The whole Krishna clan, myself, Mrs. K and the Three Gingers all trooped down to Gamestation, with our pre-order deposit money and eyes full of hope and excitement (all except Mrs. K who was scowling at the thought of another console coming into the house...).

Yet the staff were grimly pessimistic about the chance of getting one in for "Wii day". They explained the frankly bizarre situation that they never knew when Nintendo were going to send them new stock.

On returning home with crushed souls, and then checking out the internet, it seemed like most high street retailers were in the same boat, and there were no Wii packages available for purchase under £300!

So a rapid excursion onto ebay saw me scoring the following package for slightly over the odds, but not rediculously. I'm not the most patient man in the world, some might say an impulsive, nay, compulsive purchaser.



"Wii ConsoleWii Console StandWii Remote & Wrist StrapNunchuckSensor BarWii Power Supply LeadsWii av CableAlso Included is Wii Sports - 5 sport GameBaseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf & Tennis"



But the Wii should be in my house by Thursday, with a further 20 days till I can play the hallowed console...

But did this mean I've abandoned the lovely Saturn?

Hell no! With two new purchases this very evening, my love for the Saturn burns strong.

First of all there's BLAM! Machinehead - "an insane combination of shoot 'em up, action, strategic objectives and B-Movie melodrama" (?)


Next there's the more straight forward Athlete Kings a nice sports sim from Sega Sports.



So the countdown continues and the excitement rises! And remember folks:

May 16th 2007 - "Wii Day." (Father Krishna's almost top secret 40th birthday - No, please, I don't want a fuss....)

Monday, 23 April 2007

The House of the Dead JPN Sega Saturn - Stage 1

Well, despite it looking a bit pixellated, this is still a stunning game. In fact its so good that Sega didn't really bother to do much with the game other than polish the graphics for its later releases, HOTD 2 for Dreamcast and HOTD3 for XBox.

You want to buy it? It's gonna cost you £25, a lot to pay for a Saturn game these days. But its rarity and cult status mean its a pricey item. You can actually buy a Saturn for the same price (or about 16 other Saturn games...)

Still its a jewel that shines out in my Saturn collection and I don't regret forking out for it!

Now if it wasn't for the terrible voice acting... But that's another story!

Friday, 20 April 2007

Is the PS3 the new Saturn?

I was reading this article over at defunct games when that question hit me...

http://www.defunctgames.com/shows.php?id=feuds-125

This is of course not the first time this has come up. Many people are actually making this connection.

http://valve.1up.com/flat/Themeweek/Valve/video5.html

So basically they are comparing the marketing and such. But as much as people have ragged on the Saturn, it still has a pretty wide retro fanbase. Will the PS3, with it's dwindling supple of exclusive games, have such a fanbase in a few years? Considering the fact that I can't play RE Outbreak online anymore I wonder how those cool little PS3 features and games will age? When it comes down to it I think that the Saturn is a much better retro gaming system than the PS3 will ever be.

I would have to say that if someone offered me a Saturn in box or a new PS3 in box right now (And I couldn't sell the PS3 right away for cash) I might actually pick the Saturn (If it were a Dreamcast there would be no question, Dreamcast). PS3 games and accessories are obscenely priced (as is all current generation stuff) it might acutally be cheaper to get NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon and Shining Force games then to pay for new unproven PS3 ones. Plus the PS3 has a bunch of options I can't use since I can't get a decent ISP where I live currently.

In conclusion I would have to say that comparing the PS3 to the Saturn at this point is an insult to the Saturn. The PS3 might very well pick up and "win" the current console wars. It might have some cool games that could turn into classics. But, will it be as cool as the Saturn in it's retro years? I really don't think can be. Real lovers of retro video games have loved the Saturn because it spawned some the best classic video games ever made. To automatically assume that some PS3 games will become as coveted is stretching the lines of reality a bit.

Oh and don't think that I like any of the other current consoles just because I picked up on this thread. I don't have any of them and I won't consider buying any of them until the price goes under $100.


And don't compare the PS3 to the Dreamcast. The undead king of consoles kicks the PS3's ass... That's a proven FACT in my mind.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

The Saturn finally gets Return Fire


Return Fire (MobyGames entry), was a pretty fine Playstation/3DO/PC shmup that sadly never made it to the Sega Saturn. Well, not until now, that is, for the brilliant people over at sega-saturn.net got their hands on a lovely unreleased, slightly problematic, but definitely finished version of the game (with the help of developer Prolific, no less), patched it to perfection and released it for free. Yes, 100% free. Simply follow the link, scroll down to the downloading bit and get yourselves a professionally produced Saturn game.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Reverend Early's weekly Sermons New Content!


It's a little known and under-visited blog, but there's four new posts on it encompassing such hallowed and diverse topics as The Illuminati (or to be more precise the novel Illuminatus!), Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Crass (the ultimate punk band) and the continuing influence of eighties synth pop on today's dance music.

Plus videos from Clockwork Orange, The KLF, Orbital, Dr. Who and Eat Static!

Come on peeps! Drop by, drop a comment, drop a message in the cbox and boost that web counter all the way up to the magical 100! :)

You can find all this meaty goodness here

Virtual Hydlide Review And Screenshots!


"Killer trees, deadly dragons and blood thirsty zombiesare rife in this magical slash and hack adventure. To the haunting strains of the atmospheric soundtrack, explore the super-realistic 3D fantasy world, warping to the different dimensions, collecting weapons and mysterious objects and tackling weird and wonderful foes. The amazing landscape generator creates a completely new adventure every time you play, providing a whole new dimension in RPG gaming."


Or at least that's what it says on the back of the box! Yes folks, Virtual Hydlide is the newest addition to Father Krishna's ever growing Saturn collection. Another bargain from the hallowed Gamestation, this little baby came free with a purchase of arcade style shooter Charge 'n' Blast, for Dreamcast.



Even though the attached review says it can be completed in a few hours, its unlikely that I'll play it for a while, so rather than just let it pass, I thought I'd attach a few screenshots and a very comprehensive review.





Virtual Hydlide

On the plus side it's got a nice musical score and a random "landscape generator". On the downside it's got an attrocious camera perspective and is apparently a bit repetetive.
Still it's free and the box hasn't fallen apart. I might give it a whirl this evening, but then again I might just stick to playing the frankly awesome Crisis Evil (Homebrew Resident Evil/Streets Of Rage hybrid for Dreamcast.)


Crisi Evil!

I'm off to the Light House this weekend with all of my new homebrew goodies to give them a good old road test, which I will flag up on the Dreamcast Junkyard some time in the future!

Aurevoir mes enfants! ;)

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

All Hail The Mighty Caleb!



You know I've been corresponding with Caleb since the mighty Hunyak was a mere acorn. We've chatted about life the universe and everything over the last six months, building up a good friendship, despite the inconvenience of being separated by a vast trans-atlantic gulf! (him residing in 'the land of the free' and me residing in the 'home of the cack' LOL!)


Today, he confirmed what a diamond geezer I always knew he was, when out of the blue a large padded envelope, stuffed with Dreamcast Homebrew games, plopped through my letterbox!


I can't stop for long to tell you about it 'cos I'm off to play with it all! But for now I'd just like to say "Caleb! You Rock!"

Monday, 16 April 2007

Mario On The Saturn?


Cripes! This rather grotesque representation of Mario is apparently, the work of Japanese Saturn homebrew/mod techno nerds! If your Japanese is any good you can find out more about it here.


If your Japanese is a little bit rusty (like mine) then you can gaze open mouthed in horror at how awful the screen shots of this game really are! "Thanks" to the good folks at Kotaku for finding this!

A christmas memory.

I have been dealing with snow and work stuff AND I am preparing for the Dreamcast Summer games.

So I have not had alot of time to post on the Saturn junkyard.

So Here is a picture of Christmas Nights from 2d forever.

It was recently featured in the dreamcast junkyard and it has a TON of cool pictures to browse through.

I am hopeful that I will get some new reviews up soon.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

The Discovery Of More Poor Saturn Advertising...



Those very funny boy's over at UK Resistance have found some more poor Saturn Advertising, this time going for the 'saucy' angle. They're also doing a very good job of ripping the piss out of the sluggish launch of the PS3... Find out more here...
.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A Gnome's NiGHTS into Dreams


Ah, well, here I am, a lowly gnome that's never even touched a Saturn, posting on the Saturn Junkyard, obviously trying to be as relevant as possible. That's why I followed the easy route. I googled and YouTubed NiGHTS into Dreams, the Saturn's best known game and one that will sort of reappear on the Wii. Anyway, what I found is the gameplay video you can see above, a fine Wikipedia entry and a lovely unofficial fansite. Uhm...that's it. Enjoy if you can.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Racketboy: The Interview!



"The Saturn Junkyard, like The Dreamcast Junkyard before it, is a labour of love. It's aim is to celebrate and keep alive a console that has passed over into the annals of gaming history. In this respect it deals with a piece of the past. However, it is run by, and contributed to, by gamers who use this hallowed console in the present. I'm as happy playing my Saturn in 2007 as I am playing my Dreamcast, my PS2, my DS or (on my 40th birthday, May 16th... Diarise people)... my Wii!

You see classic consoles are like classic movies, classic tunes or classic literature.
They live on in their own right, as technology/art moves forward...
Shakespeare didn't stop being worthwhile 'cos Dickens jotted down a few lines. The Doors still rock the joint even though The Sex Pistols kicked up a bit of a noise.
Star Trek still does the business in the wake of Heroes.
And for you youngsters out there, Missy Elliot aint washed up just because Timbaland is putting out tracks for Justin and Nelly. But I digress...

When putting together articles and games reviews for the SJY, when thinking of anything Saturn related, there is one reference point that needs to be cross checked. An encyclopaedic odyssey of all things Saturn related. An oracle of epic proportions. The Alpha and Omega of Saturn knowledge. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Racketboy...

The excellent www.racketboy.com provides the springboard for this particular site. Any game I buy/play/stumble across for my beloved Saturn, has been reviewed, dissected and analyzed by the legendary Racketboy. Such is my respect for the man, that in the early stages of the Saturn Junkyard, on discovering that he had commented on one of my posts, I let out an audible gasp. My wife and kids on hearing this, questioned the cause of my outburst. "I've got a comment off Racketboy" I gushed..."He's a bit of a blogging legend..."

Recently I contacted Racketboy (real name Nick) and he kindly agreed to answering a few questions for the Saturn Junkyard's readers. So here goes...


First of all should I address you as Nick or Racketboy?

Either is fine. Most of the people online call me "racket", I don't really care.
I don't usually go by my "normal" name because I enjoy being a bit anonymous and nobody would know how to pronounce my last name ("racket" is close enough)

BTW, before I go any farther, I have to say a special thanks for asking me to participate and I am very flattered by your complements. While I definitely do not consider myself to be a "legend" or even an expert, I'm glad that so many people have learned a thing or two from my writing.

How did you get into videogames? What are your early gaming experiences?

I grew up as an arcade kid with the rise of Pac-Man and Frogger so I was mesmerized by animated pixels at an early age. My older cousin also had an Atari 2600 and I use to get a real kick out of Space Invaders and Pole Position.

Once I got to elementary school, a lot of my friends had an NES, but my parents had a rule that if I was going to have a video game system, I would have to pay for it myself. Their reasoning was that if I was going to spend all my time playing games (instead of school work), then it wasn't going to be because they paid for it. Anyway, I used to play the NES at various friends' houses whenever I had the chance. My favorites at the time were Mike Tyson's Punch Out and Duck Hunt (I thought Super Mario Bros. was cool, but I sucked at it).

Some of my favorite gaming experiences remained in the arcades. My local Little Caesars pizza place had a great arcade collection with classics like Double Dragon, Dig Dug and eventually games like Street Fighter 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Man, I loved that stuff. Later on, I eventually bought a Gameboy and a Sega Genesis as the first systems of my very own.

I actually got out of console gaming for quite a while during my last few years of high school and my freshman year of college. I got back into classic gaming the summer of my Freshman year when I bought a Saturn off of eBay and started collecting games for that and my Genesis/Sega CD/32X combo.



Your blog is somewhat inspirational to us at the Saturn and Dreamcast Junkyards. When did you start it and how much time do you put into it?

Well, when I was really getting into the retro scene back in the early 2000's, I was a very active member at SegaXtreme. I used to spend a lot of time on there when I was living out in California and was bored at work. I organized a project to compile a list of all the top games for all of Sega's consoles among other things. I was also an active news poster for the site's front page. With the rise of gaming blogs and my fascination with RSS, I was hoping to see SegaXtreme grow and set up an RSS feed for news and such. The developers there didn't think it was worth the effort, so I started posting my news stories on a Blogger blog in 2004 so I could have an RSS feed for retro news (there weren't any retro gaming RSS feeds at the time). For a while I posted some of them on SX as well, but the site was slowly dying off and I was getting a better response from my site, so I silently left SX to focus on my own project.

Initially, I didn't put a lot of time into it. I just posted some interesting links and wrote a paragraph to accompany it or something. I didn't have a ton of original content for a while. But once I started getting noticed for some of my longer articles, I made the transition from just reporting news to writing my own original content.

Now, on average, I probably spend two to three hours a day on the site. I don't have a dedicated time to work on it and its kinda spread out throughout the day. My USB flash drive is my best friend as I have a bunch of text, html, and excel files with a bunch of articles that are half-way in development. I have a normal day job in an office, so I will jot some things down during my breaks or when I'm waiting to hear back from somebody. Then I flesh things out after hours or on weekends when I'm at home. Some of my longer articles are actually in development for a month or more, while sometimes I will knock a decent post out in an evening.



I'm aware the site is a team effort. How did you recruit your team members?

While, I do have some contributers, the site isn't as much of a team project as some other blogs. I still do the majority of the writing, but I have a couple people who do some articles here and there. On a couple of occasions, I have asked around my forums if there are people willing to help out and each time I have had somebody that was willing to write something.

I have also run a couple of contests where readers can write up game reviews or summaries for a chance to win some prizes. I then either publish those reviews or incorporate them into some of my game lists.

On some subjects I'm not as educated in as I would like, I post some topics in my forum and get some input from the forum members. I have a lot of smart people in there, so I've gained a lot from them.



What is it about The Saturn that keeps you loyal? It wasn't a phenomenal success...

There are a number of things that keep me loyal to the Saturn.

First of all, until NiGHTS into Dreams, Guardian Heroes, the Panzer Dragoon series, Shining Force III, and Radiant Silvergun get accurately ported (or better) to a modern console, I won't be forgetting about the Saturn.

I am also a big fan of fighting games, and to a lesser extent 2D shooters. If you enjoy these types of games, a Saturn and a Dreamcast are must-own consoles. Having a six-button controller like the Saturn's gamepad is a definite plus for these as well. I think Sega needs to re-issue a Saturn controller for every console (and the PC again), preferably wireless, to give all of us retro fans something to cheer about.

And finally, the Saturn is just a great piece of hardware. I still think it is one of my favorite console designs and it runs super quiet. That was one of my biggest disappointments about the Dreamcast. It lost a lot of the elegance that the Saturn established.

If you had to narrow down your top 5 Saturn games what would they be and why?

NiGHTS into Dreams - Even after all these years, the gameplay is fresh and the level designs are out of this world. If only we could get it re-issued with smoothed graphics and HD support.

Panzer Dragoon Saga - Take the engaging world that the original Panzer Dragoons set up and mix in some interesting RPG gameplay. It's unlike any other in the genre.



Guardian Heroes - I love beatemups and adding RPG elements make the genre so much better. It also has some cool 2D graphical effects and a branching storyline. Some of Treasure's finest.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 - My favorite fighting game of all time. Sure SFA3 had more characters, but I thought everything else was better about the second installment. The controls seemed tighter and the fighters were more balanced. I even liked the backgrounds better in 2. It seemed like with Alpha 3, Capcom just crammed as much stuff in there as they could and didn't take the same amount of time to polish it up as much as they could.
X-Men vs Street Fighter - The reason to own a 4MB RAM cart for the Saturn. The original "Vs." fighter is still my favorite. Like SFA2, it had fewer characters than its sequels, but it was more polished. Plus it had some characters in it that I enjoyed, but were later pulled in installments that followed.

For more on the topic, I would recommend checking out my post, The Best Sega Saturn Games for Today



Sega is a shadow of it's former self. From being a big player in the console market, its now a third party developer... Why is Sega special?

To add to your statement, I would say that Sega as a software developer is a shadow of its former software self as well. Sega was special because they weren't afraid to take risks in developing innovative games and characters. Sega left the hardware business because they wanted to focus on the most profitable business -- making the games. And once they focused on increasing their profits, they quit making games that were riskier and less profitable. This kinda explains why they have been rushing so many Sonic games out the door. They know people will buy them -- even if they don't live up to their potential in terms of gameplay.

Adding to Sega's downturn is the departure of some of Sega's key developers. Sonic Team had the most obvious departures with Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima leaving to start their own ventures.

Fortunately, Sega just recently admitted that they have not been living up to their reputation and may be working a bit harder to rival Nintendo's software in the near future. I'm hoping that the new NiGHTS into Dreams game for the Wii will be evidence of this initiative.



You have love for the Dreamcast, Sega's last attempt to compete in the console market.
Why is it worth playing and sticking with?

Besides nostalgia, I personally stick with the Dreamcast because it has a number of unique games (plus lots of fighters and shmups) that haven't been ported elsewhere and games are quite affordable for the most part. Even though some of the Dreamcast's best games have been ported to newer systems, it's nice having them all on one platform. It also keeps me from feeling the need for an XBox/360 or Playstation 2/3 for now.

The Dreamcast is also a very affordable platform to get into and find a number of rather modern games in addition to one of the best homebrew and emulation scenes out there.

On a side note, I would probably stick with the Dreamcast significantly longer if there was a solid wireless controller solution for the Dreamcast. I love my Wavebirds on the Gamecube since my wife and I can play in the living room without having wires all over the place.




What consoles do you currently own AND still play?

I used to have a lot more, but I sold many of them off when I moved from Michigan to California to Florida and then back to Michigan with only two small cars to cram everything into. Here's what I still have and play at the moment.

Sega Saturn
Nintendo Gamecube
Nintendo DS
Sega Genesis
Sega Dreamcast
I hope to gradually accumulate some more consoles as the years go by.

What games/consoles have you played in 2007?

My wife and I both have a DS, so 2007 has seen us play a lot on the dual-screened wonder:

New Super Mario Bros. - the multiplayer games are surprisingly good in addition to the main game
Meteos - One of my favorite puzzlers ever -- and that is saying a lot
Clubhouse Games - TONS of games that are perfect for a lazy evening
Metroid Prime Pinball - Excellent pinball simulator -- especially with the rumble pack
On the Saturn, I've been playing on my LCD (which has S-Video input)

NiGHTS into Dreams
Street Fighter Alpha 2


With the Dreamcast, I've been enjoying the beauty with my VGA adapter. The games I've been playing lately are

Rez
Metropolis Street Racer
Propeller Arena
Trigger Heart Exelcia
Genesis

Vectorman
Sonic 2
Phantom 2049




The 'next gen' console wars are happening around us... 360, PS3, Wii. What is your take on these systems. Do you think there will be an outright winner?

I think Sony was getting overly arrogant after the PS2's success and now they are going to have a big stumble. Nintendo realized they needed to shake things up after the mediocre success of the N64 and Gamecube and it is definitely working. Microsoft learned from most of their mistakes with the original XBox and is still plugging away and is looking to be a major player despite some people writing them off right away.

The XBox 360 seems to be doing much better than the original XBox in many ways, but I still think the price point is keeping it from getting bigger (I can't afford one right now). The hardware seems to be very solid (but I'm holding for a more silent version) and the software support is getting better all the time (stealing PS3 exclusives left and right). XBox Live Arcade is also getting a lot of excellent games that I think are more attractive than nearly all the Wii Virtual Console games so far.

The Wii is off to an excellent start due to its attractiveness to non-gamers. I work in an office with lots of 40-50-year olds -- many of which are women. I'm blown away by how many of them talk about how great the Wii is and how much fun they have playing it with their families. And like Nintendo's DS, it just has a great gimmick that gives developers the ability to make innovative games that they would not have otherwise been able to do. As I touched on before, I'm a bit disappointed so far with the Virtual Console after all its initial hype.

Because it is so different, I don't see the Wii taking over the "Console War", but I am a firm believer in the whole "Wii 360" thing. The Wii is perfect for casual gamers and will sell a lot that way. In fact, in the long term, it will probably end up being the biggest seller of the bunch. The 360 will be the most popular with the hardcore gamers and will have a respectable library of its own. Most dedicated gamers will probably own both a 360 and a Wii.

As for the Playstation 3, it's not looking good. The Playstation 2 got off to a slow start as well, but I don't see the PS3 recovering quite as well. The price point is just too high, and developers are getting discouraged by the slow sales and are lured in by the established 360 audience and the hot demand for the Wii. It really all comes down to developer support and Sony is losing it fast.

Do you ever play handheld consoles? If so which ones and which games?

Lately, I have actually been doing most of my gaming on handhelds. I like being able to take my games to work and other trips I am on to pass time. It's also nice to play them out in my Sun Room at home when the weather is nice.

As I mentioned above, my wife and I are big DS fans. I got a white DS Lite for my birthday last summer and my wife ended up playing it more than I did (she loved Brain Age and Clubhouse Games). To get mine back and allow us to play wireless multiplayer, I got her a Pink DS Lite for Valentines. Lately we have been duking it out at Meteos and New Super Mario Bros.

I've also played through most of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. It's a great game, but I have been getting a bit tired of it, to be honest. I get frustrated when I can't find the stuff that I'm looking for and end up using GameFAQs. Takes some of the fun out of it. Metroid Prime Pinball is also a bunch of fun, as I mentioned in a question above.

In addition to my DS, I have a GP2X that I use for emulation, homebrew, and playing videos. I still haven't gotten around to getting some of the other emulators up and working, so I mostly play Genesis games on it -- primarily Vectorman and Sonic 2.

Finally, your site is not blogger, it's dot.com. Is that testimony to it's growth and development?

I originally started the site on Blogger since I mainly just wanted a way to post retro news and have an RSS feed to complement my posts at SegaXtreme (where I was one of the more active posters and moderators). Looking back, my writing was pretty sparse and pretty lackluster. But somehow, some people were actually reading it and it slowly grew in readership.

As a side project, I was selling some accessories and parts for the Saturn and Dreamcast and I thought that I should get a domain and hosting account so I could have a more professional storefront. Having the blog on the domain and hosting was just a side-benefit at the time. Soon after the move, I was making a few dollars a month in ads, so it was enough to pay for the hosting bill.

Once I got featured on Digg, Joystiq, and Kotaku a few times, RSS subscriptions and traffic really started to gain steam. Since then it has been a very gradual progression. Since I'm cover a relatively nich audience, I don't nearly have the audience of your mainstream gaming sites, but for the topics I cover, I've been pretty happy with the results.

With the growth of my ad revenue, I've been able to outsource some of my web development so I can focus on my writing. This past month I've moved my site over to the Wordpress platform so I can have more flexibility and organization of the content. I also have some other interesting things in the works, that should make the site more enjoyable.

Are there any blogs out there that you regularly dip into or check out? What blogs would you recommend?

I assume you are referring to gaming blogs, so I'll keep it to those. With a lot of gaming blogs, I'll subscribe to them, but then unsubscribe because they post too much or they just post news that the major gaming blogs already covered.

I'll skim through Joystiq and Kotaku just to make sure I don't miss out on anything major. But the only ones I read completely are smaller, usually independent blogs. Other than the Junkyards (obviously), I read GameSetWatch, PressTheButtons, Error Macro, Siliconera and insertcredit. Other favorites (when they post something) are Special Attack and ShootTheCore.

Today, I learned about a new game review site that seems up my alley: Actionbutton
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that doesn't find some of these over-hyped modern games to be less than fun.

Hey! This is purely for me, Father Krishna. There's no point having a hero here and not asking a bit more personal stuff...

Top 5 Movies ?
Back to the Future trilogy
The Original Star Wars Trilogy
Serenity
Monsters Inc.
13 Going on 30

Top 5 TV Shows?
Heroes
Scrubs
Arrested Development
Lost (except this season has been slow)
The Office
ok, #6 is Firefly

Top 5 Musicians/Bands?
Mae
Skillet
White Stripes
Jars of Clay
Norah Jones

Top 5 Books?
Purple Cow
Being Digital
The Second Coming of Steve Jobs
Free Prize Inside
The Tipping Point
(I never really got into reading fiction much)

I'd like to say a massive thankyou to Racketboy for giving his time and energy to contribute this interview and for his continuing support and guidance for Saturn fans everywhere!
So there you have it! Racketboy(!) on the Saturn Junkyard! Now back to more mundane matters...."

Saturday, 7 April 2007

'Die Hard Arcade' Review!


Hello old friends! I’ve been away for a week at my Lighthouse off the coast of Birkenhead, where I go to fast, meditate and reflect on the meaning of life. Now replenished, I return to regale you with tales of my newest Saturn purchase.

The cheapest ever game I got for the Saturn was the excellent Sega World Wide Soccer ’97, which I picked up for the ludicrous price of 20p. The most expensive was the ultra rare House Of The Dead, for which I forked out £25! But since then, Saturn games on this side of the pond generally tend to average out at about £2-3 each.



Whilst on my way home from the Lighthouse, I stopped in at a favourite Gamestation in Bangor, North Wales. When you tend to populate one particular Gamestation (for me it’s Fallowfield, Manchester), you can find that it’s stock can become stagnant. You find yourself thumbing through the same tired old selection of games, vainly hoping that you missed something on your last ten visits.

Having checked out the Dreamcast titles on offer, I moved onto the Saturn section. There, lying amidst the dusty copies of Sega Rally and International Victory Goal, was a battered and neglected title. Not only did Sega shaft it’s UK customers with shit Dreamcast game boxes which shatter and break, it had previously shafted it’s Saturn owners by giving them shitty cardboard and plastic boxes which literally fall apart unless kept in a vacuum away from human contamination… (see here)



But I digress. What was the hallowed disc contained within this crumbling packaging? (See how I’m building this up?) Why it was none other than Die Hard Arcade!

I’d never heard of it! But from it’s £20 price tag I knew it had to be either very rare or brilliant (perhaps both!) I made sure I got the most expensive Dreamcast game I could get as part of the BOGOF offer (Crazy Taxi 2 -£9.99) that I could use as a trade in at a later date.





I played it tonight and its just fabulous. The ‘Die Hard’ element of the game is somewhat tenuous. Our hero is most definitely NOT Bruce Willis. He doesn’t even look a bit like him. However, he is incredulously hard and can kick terrorist ass! George W. take note...

Both the plot and gameplay were very familiar. If you’ve ever played Dynamite Cop for the Dreamcast, you’ve played Die Hard Arcade. Basically the President’s daughter has been kidnapped and its your job to get her back.




The graphics are reminiscent of the wonderful Virtua Cop, although you play from a third person perspective, not a first person. When playing or reviewing Retro titles, I feel there is no point stating that the graphics look a bit blocky or pixellated. Transport yourself to 1996 and gaze in awe at what they could do at the time!

As you work your way through the levels of this 3D beat ‘em up, you’ll encounter a variety of villains. Your job is to kick, punch and generally rough them up until their health bar is depleted and they disappear. Your own health bar can be replenished by various ‘life ups’ that your enemies give up on defeat.




But kicking and punching have their limitations. So you’ll be pleased to know that you can also pick up and utilise a variety of furniture, objects and weapons, with which to smite your foes! Chairs, fuel barrels and televisions can be hurled, guns, baseball bats, rocket launchers and flamethrowers can be fired at them. It’s all glorious, mindless arcade flavoured fun!




Between levels there is the opportunity to defeat an enemy with a QTE (quick time event) which flashes up the instruction to hit a particular button - jump, punch or kick - get it right and you'll be shown a cut scene where you kick ass. Get it wrong and your mistake will be re-shown to you time and time again (twice!)

The game does not have much longevity and can be completed in a single session. But that suits me just fine, as I have far too many games that need playing and completing on a variety of consoles.




A lovely feature of the package is the inclusion of a very Retro flavoured depth charge/U-Boat game called ‘Deep Scan’. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the main game, but when played, accrues credits for Die Hard Arcade! Sweet! Here's a nice video of the game in action!

My only gripe is, prior to writing this very article I was playing the game and enjoying it immensely, when for no reason at all it stopped playing and the Saturn reset itself… Time will tell whether this glitch reoccurs… until then I’m very happy with my purchase. And hey! Two reviews in the month of April! Things might be looking up at the Saturn Junkyard!!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The Legend of Oasis - Review


Ah! April showers bring May flowers...

Or in my case April snowfall reminds me that I live in an area that has crappy weather.

On to the review!



This is a repost of my review of Legend of Oasis, or LoO as I like to call it.

If you liked games like Zelda and Secret of Mana you will like this game.

In fact the weapon and spell systems of this game are very similar to the system used in Sword of Mana, a game for the Gameboy Advance. A quick button press brings up a ring of icons and you pick whatever weapon you want to use.

The spin on this game is the combat system. Super cool moves are not dependent on pickups or learning skills but rather Street Fighter style button mashing. For example you can do cool little slicing tricks with the beginning sword or fire 3 arrows at once with the bow. Little signs throughout the game world show you how to do more combos with your various weapons but if you are replaying the game you can do them as soon as you get your hands on the weapons. You can also do some cool jumping attacks which let you change up the battle for weaker enemies.

The spirits you collect also let you do cool little moves with different button toggling and also let you do spells and help solve puzzles (Just like in Secret of Mana).

Speaking of puzzles, some of them are annoying as hell and involve your character jumping around like an idiot. However, most of the jumping from platform to platform puzzles are satisfying when you finish them.

Other puzzles involve shooting arrows at targets and can also be a pain. In one instance I was trying to shoot arrows though a fire to trigger a switch and I could not do it. After stumbling around the level I came back to the same area and tried again. By shooting the arrows into the flames in what seemed to be the incorrect way I triggered the switch and continued on...This brings me to the weird angle this game is viewed from...

LoO has a 3/4 view rather than the traditional "top down view" and the characters are pretty large. This messes up with the way I like to fight in game (Run and Retreat) and sometimes messes with your perception when you are trying to make jumps to platforms and ledges.

This game is just barely an Action RPG. No real inventory so you can't collect the cheeses and meats in the game that restore your health. Accidentally run over a meat item when you only have a small bit of damage? Tough you just wasted it. You can only collect one potion at a time as well.

The save system is platformed based, meaning you have to stand on certain platforms to save the game. It's very easy to miss the first one and the helpful NPC who tells you what the unassuming platform is. So look for it in the first town so you know what the damn things look like.

There are some classic video game moments like meeting one of the first NPCs who teaches you how to run in the game. "I used to run alot when I was younger" press so and so buttons to run...classic.

Enemy design, especially the bosses, is pretty good. Graphics overall are OK but nothing special. Other Saturn games look much better. Framerate is ok. Nice colors in this game.

Yuzo Koshiro did some of the music for this so it's pretty good. The sound effects are pretty nice for the weapons too.

Load time is ok.

This game is fun for a change up and fighting the bosses is pretty cool. The combo button pressing is somewhat unique for the genre and adds the the replay value. (or having to restart the game if the Saturn gets unplugged and you do not have a memory card)

If you love this sort of Action RPG or played the original you may want to try this out.

6.5/10

Final: I would pay $8 USD for a MINT used copy of this game. I would pay $4 for a beater copy.





Here is a short video of some of the gameplay I found on Youtube.











A general note:

I hate blogger. I really mean that. It's not that blogger ALWAYS destroys my posts, it's that it destroys my posts SOMETIMES. So it's stable enough that I start to feel that it's not necessary to write up the posts in Word before I put them in blogger. So when I worked on my review of Legend of Oasis I did not think that blogger would destroy that post...but it did. I am reposting this review but the original was much better. Trust me. It was. And I will never get that review back.

If blogger was a person I would kill him/her in such a way that I would be guaranteed an insanity plea. Because a sane person would never do the things I am prepared to do to blogger...