Monday, 24 March 2008

Oh, what a world!

http://www.sega-saturn.us/beta/news.php

If you're hunting for Saturn games but don't need official releases, Sega Saturn World has your hook-up. There are over one hundred games available on this site, including American, European, and Japanese releases. There is a catch, however... downloading games over 200MB in size requires you to pay ten dollars for a 45 day membership in the site's "Titan Club." If you can't cough up the cash, you'll still be able to get your hands on Saturn classics like X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, and the previously mentioned Nazomakaimura: Incredible Toons.

There's also a lot of handy information about the Sega Saturn for those gamers who aren't comfortable sailing the pira-seas. The editors of Sega Saturn World cover the history of our favorite 32-bit game system, along with brief write-ups of unusual peripherals like the browser mouse (compatible with fifty games, none of which seem to be Nazo Incredible Toons...) and an inkjet printer (say what?!). Regardless of your motivation for doing so, this is a site you're going to want to add to your bookmark list ASAP.

It's travel time!


Or at least it looks like it. If everything went well, by now Father Krishna is taking sunbaths in the beautiful (or so I hear, never been there myself) beaches of Cyprus. Being the best man at a friends wedding sure as its advantages, like spending a week in a lovely Mediterranean island. Hope that you have a great time and try to pass by gnome's place when you come back, it's relatively close xD


On the other hand our dear contributor elend should be already in Japan! That's right folks, most Saturn fans (or gamers in general) dream about going to that hallowed land but few of us actually go ahead and do it (I plan on going there, someday...). Elend is one of those rare cases, taking his Saturn passion to a whole new level by visiting the country where it was made and, hopefully, bringing a lot of Saturn stuff back! Elend, may you have a great time there and don't forget those photos! I wanna see what it's like over there :)

As for me, well, I'm not going anywhere... I rarely do, actually, only left the country once and I didn't go far, just "next door", to the lovely city of Salamanca, Spain (here I am with my buddies, I'm the guy in the middle). But no problem, right now I'm happy to be at home with my Saturn, and hopefully soon I will have a new toy to play with, for I just scored a Sega Saturn Arcade Stick! Yeah!


Been looking for one of those for quite some time, but the fuckers, like everything else that is game-related, always reach outrageous prices in the Portuguese 2nd hand market, so I was more than happy when I finally scored one for 15€, postage included. That might look average, or even pricey for our American or English friends, but trust me, over here they easily reach 30€, so this deal was gold. Hope that it works well. By the way, anyone have a suggestion for the first game I should try the arcade stick with?

Saturday, 22 March 2008

That's Incredible! (Toons)

First, let me apologize for being derelict in my duties. I hope I can make it up to you all with a brief review of a Saturn game few know exist, and even fewer have tried. It's Nazomakaimura Incredible Toons, a peculiar hybrid that brings together the creepy characters of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series with the Rube Goldberg-inspired gameplay of Dynamic Software's Incredible Toons computer game.

This time, you're not playing as the brave knight Arthur, his hated foe Lucifer, or even those annoying little red demons who somehow got their own game. This time, you've got a behind the scenes role, strategically setting objects on the playfield that cause comical chain reactions. The only games that even come close to playing like this one are Lemmings and the Japanese Super NES release Mario and Wario... and unlike either of those titles, Nazoma Incredible Toons doesn't have a set objective.

If you're Japanese, this means you'll need to carefully read the instructions at the beginning of each round before you can proceed. However, if you're reading this without the aid of Babelfish, you won't have that luxury, and will have to feel around a bit to reveal the goal of each stage. Sometimes you'll want to do what comes naturally to the seasoned Ghouls 'n Ghosts player and humiliate Lucifer with whatever you can find. However, it's not always that simple. In some stages, you'll want both Lucifer AND Arthur to meet a comical end. In others, you won't see either of them, and will have to randomly drop objects on the playfield in the hopes of stumbling upon the solution.



Here's a video of the game in action, supplied by YouTube user OpticalHaze. Even he was stumped by the tenth stage, which requires the player to hit two coffins with a handful of bouncing balls. I had a little more luck, but hit a brick wall after reaching a stage which required the player to hit a trigger multiple times with a single catapult. So the game is tough... not in the the traditional "pull your hair out because the damned Red Arremer shoved you into the river AGAIN" Ghouls 'n Ghosts kind of way, but in a way that taxes your brain rather than your reflexes.

Even if that kind of gameplay doesn't appeal to you, you've got to admit that Nazo Incredible Machines has its charm. The graphics are pleasant enough, with squishy super deformed characters set against gorgeous still artwork depicting scenes from the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series. However, it's the music that really puts this game over the top. In addition to the haunting refrains you've come to expect from the series, you're offered pepped up jazz and new age remixes that you wouldn't expect at all, but work pretty well with the game's lighthearted theme. The control is probably the game's weak point... it's clear that Nazo Incredible Toons was designed to be played with a mouse, and there's no indication if it's actually compatible with one. However, since the pace is so laid back and there's no action to speak of, the stiff, awkward control can be tolerated. Just expect to hit the pause button by mistake a lot when you goof up and need to reset the playfield objects.

Nazoma Incredible Toons has got to be one of the most bizarre gaming hybrids ever, ranking right up there with Battletoads vs. Double Dragon and that time Squaresoft put Mario characters in a turn-based RPG. However, it's worth a shot if you'd like to give your noggin a workout and don't mind scaling the game's ten foot high language barrier. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a puzzle to solve!

Sega Saturn Coding Contest 2007

Youtube was recently filled with videos showing just how passionate some Saturn fans are, struggling to program for a console usually ignored by the rest of the homebrew community. The Sega Saturn Coding Contest certainly helps motivating these devoted fans, rewarding the more talented with some sweet prizes. The 2007 edition is about to come to an end, with the judges having an hard-time choosing the best entries, and what awesome entries we got this time!

Just to show you what these brilliant minds are capable of, take a look at the following videos. Now, remember that the Saturn homebrew scene is not exactly as prolific as the Dreamcast's, so don't expect full-blown games. This is not to say that they don't exist, but Saturn coders usually invest more time in technology demos and the like. Still, there are some "real" games out there, just take a look:

SEGA Blur



A Techology demo that shows a nice blur effect (I doubt its usefulness, but it's still nice).

Libyaul Demo



According to the creators of this little piece of software "It shows a linescroll effect and a color calculation effect at startup.". Now, I have absolutely no idea what they're talking about, it's probably coders talk, I presume, but maybe some of you will understand.

Dezaemon 2 Save Game Manager



Remember Dezaemon 2? That nice "game" that let's you create the shmup of your dreams? If you're a fan of that rather interesting title, I'm sure that this program here will be relevant to your interests. I don't exactly know all of its features, but judging from the title it at least should help you manage Dezarmon's save games.

Now, on to actual games:

Destiny's Kingdom



A rather interesting tactical RPG. I'm not exactly a fan of the genre, but it looks good anyway and apparently it's pretty complete for a homebrew.

Police Officer Smith



Now this one looks really good. According to its creators "
The game is entirely in the highest possible resolution (704x512), features over 30 different image blending methods, has got animations, supports all types of RAM carts (optionally) and a lot more. All written text is available in english and german. All voice samples are currently spoken in german."

Wow... I'm really interested in this one and I'm sure to follow its development from now on. One of the contest's strongest candidates, in my opinion.

Gaganoid



The last game may at first seem like just another clone of Arkanoid...and to be honest it is, but nevertheless it's pretty complete for a Saturn homebrew and its one game that I wouldn't mind playing. Another strong candidate, me thinks.

And that's all for now, folks! Expect me to post the results of the contest once they're announced and may the best coders win!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Formula Karts Special Edition Video

Sava...what?

Savaki, that's the name of this little hidden gem, and I have absolutely no idea about its meaning. Anyway, this is a fighting game released by Cynus (it's the first time I hear about these guys) near the end of the Saturn's life in Japan (here it sadly died a lot sooner...), more precisely in April, 1998 (the Dreamcast was released there in November of the same year). Being a late game produced by an obscure company certainly didn't help its popularity, so it's no surprise that this is a pretty well hidden gem (I could barely find anything about it on google). Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to be too pricey, as you can find it on ebay as cheap as $17.00.

anyway, it's too bad that this game received so little attention, because this is a pretty good fighter with a lot of unique features to it. For a start you can forget 50-hit combos or huge explosions of light whenever you hit your opponent. This is a realistic game, with realistic characters and attacks, and more than once it reminded me of the cult classic Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Dreamcast. The major difference is that here you don't fight in a professional ring but in a cage in some sort of underground fighting club.


The characters don't have names, they're known by their fighting styles, which is what appears above their life bar. From karate, to taekwondo, boxing or the less technical free style, there's something here for everyone, and each fighting style has its own perks, so don't expect to master them all in just a couple of fights. Talking about master, this really is a game where you have to know what you're doing and basic button-mashing won't take you anywhere. There's a button for punching and another for kicking, which in addition to the d-pad allow for a handful of different moves, but then there's the Savaki button.

This is the only hint I have about the meaning of that word, and I can only assume that it has something to do with counter-attacks, since that's basically what that button does. If you time it correctly, a simple press of this button allows you to deflect an attack from your opponent and leave it open for a counter-attack, unable to block or fight back, causing some serious damage.


But wait, for the combat system as more to it. Is your opponent always blocking your every move? If he is, there's another solution besides letting him attack first. Simply fake an attack, whether a punch or a kick, wait for him to lower his guard, and then attack for real! This is done with the two corresponding buttons, once again providing a simple, intuitive combat system that requires timing and brains instead of button-mashing or 10-button combos.

Graphically this game is nothing short of stunning. Being developed late in the Saturn's lifespan, when talented programmers already knew how to take advantage of the system's unique architecture, certainly helped this, and the result is a really good-looking game. The character's models have an high number of polygons to them (nothing like the square characters of the first Virtua Fighter), there are some impressive light effects and, to make it all better, it all runs at some rock-solid 60FPS.


(I recommend everyone to check this guy's other videos, there's a lot of great Saturn stuff there)

Unfortunately there is only one stage. I know this is somewhat understandable due to the game's concept, but come on, they could've at least made different types of "cages" or even some street fights, now that would be awesome! There aren't many game modes, also, with just the basic trio arcade, vs. and practice. All of this is somewhat forgiveable if we take in account that this game is, above all else, all about the gameplay, and the true fans of this title will surely have a blast playing the same modes over and over again, while mastering all the characters.

So, to wrap it all up, this is a pretty unique and interesting game, and I think that it's a worthy addition to the collection of every fighting game's fan with a Saturn, as long as you keep in mind that, unless you're really hardcore, it won't last long once the novelty passes.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Father K Returns...


Well first of all let me apologise for my lack of posts recently, both the Teutonic Wunderkind Of The Saturn and The Portugese God Of Gaming (that's elend and Nebacha to you and I) have put me to shame!

But there has been some Saturn related activity in Krishnaland and I'll report on it right now...

Firstly, for the princely sum of £1 brand new, I managed to grab Virtua Fighter PC. This in fact a PC port of Virtua Fighter Remix, and is pretty much what you get on the Saturn, but you have to play it with a keyboard (I don't have any kind of joystick for my PC as I don't game on it.) Playing on a keyboard is crap! Unlike the PC port of House Of The Dead 2 (which I got for a quid) and even Sega Rally (which I got for a quid) this doesn't translate very well to the PC.

Still I've sneaked it into the I school work in, so I can slip in a bit of Virtua Fighter on the quiet when I'm bored of educating young minds... I've also got Sonic R (which I got for... you guessed it, a quid!) and they're all part of the "Grab It!" series of PC releases which can be found in the bargain bins of Supermarkets in the UK... Go Sega! They really know how to whore out their back catalogue... Sorry, I meant to say bring their finer videogames to a wider audience. Ahem!

Secondly, I've been playing Umbrella Chronicles on the Wii. Of course this gives a (light gun on the rails revisit) to the original Spencer Mansion we first saw on our lovely Saturns! To see that spooky abode rendered in 21st Century graphical splendour, and to get a lot of revelations about the backstory surrounding it's characters and the Umbrella Corporation has been fantastic. I've all but finished the game unlocking every secret and collectable, but I can't beat the damn final boss! GRRR!!!


During my 'downtime' between levels on Umbrella Chronicles, I've re-played the Saturn original, cleverly squeezed into a tiny DS cartridge, as Resident Evil DS. Using the original graphics, opening and closing video sequences and cheesey dialogue, this is a much more accesable way of playing the first RE incarnation. Plus there's a lot of nice DS features in Rebirth Mode. Using the stylus to hack and slash zombies solve puzzles, rub Jill's chest and even throw darts is a pleasure to treasure! Blowing into the mic to snuff out candles, give CPR to an injured colleague and even blow back vomit into zombies faces is rather gratifying!


Now I know what you're thinking, and yes, I have once played this before, but that was on a secret 'easy mode'. This time I played it on 'normal mode' as Jill and managed to complete the game in an unimpressive nine hours fifty one minutes. This allowed me to unlock the secret 'Masters Of Knifing' mimigame and Jill's skimpy outfit! Hurrah!



Finally, for a mere £3 sterling, I've managed to secure the rather lovely "Formula Karts Special Edition" for the Saturn. A Sega produced game, this takes the magic of hurtling around a race track on a turbo charged go-kart and manages to recreate the feeling rather well!
Very arcadey and an absolute joy to play, I'm waiting for a willing opponent to test out the 2 player option, and I need to try it out with my Saturn steering wheel!



I'll let the good folks at Sega tell you all about it...

"High speed go-karting comes to the Saturn with 8 tracks from around the world. Formula Karts features arcade, championship and time attack modes as well as great driver AI, realistic animation and fast, furious karting action!"
Sounds good? More on this later...


So there you go, that's yer lot! I'm off to sunny Cyprus for a week! Take care my Saturn chums, I'll see you soon!

Monday, 17 March 2008

A Japanese Oddity

I'm taking a little break from shmups since after a while it gets somewhat repetitive. Don't worry, though, I'll come back to that in a second, but for now I'm here to talk about a little hidden gem that few Saturn fans have played, not only because it is a rather obscure title, but also because it's one of the rarest, if not THE rarest, Saturn game. Forget Radiant Silvergun, that's cheap compared to this one. In fact, lucky for us, there's one on ebay right now (the auction ends in 16 hours, so it will probably be over by the time you read this), with a starting bid of $399,95!

So, is this game made of WIN and GOD to deserve such an high price? Well, as usual, the only thing the price tells you is the rarity of the game, not it's quality, and this game is no different. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty good game, but definitely not worth selling a kidney for. Anyway, let's start to talk about the game itself. This is an action game that plays somewhat like Castlevania or Sega's own Shinobi, in the way that you go from point A to point B killing everything in your way and occasionally have to jump through a lot of platforms, but unlike in other games, here point A is the beginning and point B is the end of the game. This is a continuous adventure with not stages and no pauses for loading times. Just beat a boss? Then move on, because the next level is already in front of you.

Talking about bosses, this game is full of them. There's not only the usual end-stage bosses, but also a shit-load of "mini-bosses" that appear throughout the whole game, each of them more weird and freaky than the previous. There's giant skeletons, demonic spiders, angry trees, giant "ogres" (or whatever the big red guy in the boat was), giant toads , some kind of hindu priest, a guy that cuts off the head of a kid and then a giant snake comes off from his beheaded body,....well... I think that's enough for now...


Those guys must've been high when they came up with ideas for the bosses... About the gameplay, you can attack, jump, defend, and there's also a special attack that let's you turn a lesser enemy into your personal bodyguard (the guy is mostly useless, but it's always nice to have company). Your main attack consists in some kind of lightning bolt that you can also charge to deal more damage, but you can't just go out shooting everything. Before your character is some kind of symbol that, when an enemy approaches, acts as some kind of lock-on. This obviously fails at times, when you want to shoot some guy and it locks onto another, but most of the time it gets the job done. Another problem with the attacks is that you have to be constantly hammering the B button, since the bosses in particular have a really long life bar. I hear that this can be solved with a turbo pad, but I haven't tried it myself. I just know that some times I feared for the safety of my beloved pad...

Now, about the graphics, this is where this game really shines. At first it seems like any other 2D scrolling game, with really nice backgrounds nonetheless, but then, wait...what was that? Did the screen just moved?? Oh yeah! 3D backgrounds, baby! That's right, the "2.5D" graphics as they're known nowadays were already kicking ass in the Saturn a long time ago! Unfortunately the selection of videos on youtube is rather limited, because you really have to see this game in motion to admire it in all it's glory, but have a taste here:



Overall this was a game I liked. A lot, in fact. But is it worth it's hefty price tag? Definitely no (unless you're a millionaire, of course). But I really recommend everyone to try and find a way to play a backup, whether through an emulator, a modded Saturn or using the swap-trick, because in my opinion this game truly deserves to be played by every Saturn fan out there.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Level up!


Now this is a game I really liked (despite being impossibly hard at times), mainly because it's so similar to one of my favourite shmups ever, DoDonpachi (which I'm also going to talk about in a future post), both in the way that your weapons get ridiculously powerful and the way that sometimes you can see more enemies an bullets in the sky than clear background, which is never a good sign...

The game doesn't start like this, though. At first there's only 2 or 3 enemies at a time on the screen and few more bullets (or "glowing shit that kills ya", as I like to call them), fair enough since you start with what looks like a pea-shooter, but fear not, for soon enough things will heat up, too much in my humble opinion. See, after Psikyo's shooter, I started to get used to beating these kind of games, and then comes Battle Garegga and Batsugun to crush my dreams into the ground...

Yup, I couldn't finish the god-damn game. The first time I played it I died as early as stage 3, I think, but during my 2nd try I was really motivated, since I was able to reach the stage 5 boss without using even one credit! Then the guy took away my last life and made me use one... "No big deal", I though, "I still have 6 credits, it should be enough to end this game". Oh, how I was wrong... I was able to reach stage 7 and that was it... But I'd seen this coming, since in the options menu there's only 4 difficulty levels. Anyway, here I am rambling about it's difficulty without even talking of other important things, like the level ups, for example!



You see, in this game you don't just pick up power-ups to upgrade your weapon, you also level up by destroying enemies, and you level up to the point of, whenever you fire your weapon, half of the screen gets filled with your shots! It looks like the end of the world as come and you're one of the 4 horsemen! But don't get too confident, for these level-ups don't make your ship more resistant to enemy fire, and although you're able to finish them off more quickly, they usually still have time to shoot all kinds of "bright balls of death" towards you.

On the extras department, there's not much here. You can choose between the arcade version of the game or a "special version" (can't remember what it was called exactly), but the only difference I noted was some minor graphical changes on the backgrounds. I can be wrong, though, so maybe there's more to it than that. Talking about the backgrounds, most people complain about the game's graphics, but I got to be honest, they look really good to me, not so much from a technical point of view, but more from an artistic one. There are beautiful and pretty original stages, like the first one, set underwater, or the (if I remember correctly), 2nd one, set on a beach. Also, the enemy ships explode kind of nice, and the boats even slowly sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Overall this was a pretty good experience that I would recommend to anyone, so don't get turned off by the high difficulty level or the, as other people say, "average graphics". Try it out if you're a fan of the Donpachi series.

Elend, I know that you have this one, so share your thoughts about it with us :)

Friday, 14 March 2008

Love it or hate it


The next shmup I'm going to talk about is the rather controversial Battle Garegga. Why is that so, you may ask? Well, I actually didn't know anything about it but after a quick search through the internets I've found out that apparently this game is the centre of much controversy due to it's rather unique adjustable difficulty system. I'll let Wikipedia explain:

"The game features an adjustable difficulty system that will increase difficulty based on the actions of the player(s). Firing and powering up the main weapon, as well as destroying combustible bullets, will increase the difficulty of the game. Losing a life will decrease the difficulty (rank) of the game. The less lives a player has when he or she dies, the more rank is decreased, thus, the game rewards a player who doesn't stock up many lives at a time. Players thus were forced to keep themselves powered down, conserve shots, and lose lives on purpose in order to keep the last few stages of the game playable. However, in spite of the common opinion that suiciding to decrease rank is needed in order to make the last several stages possible, the game was recently completed using only one life, disproving this theory. However, the game is much more easy to finish using only one credit if one takes time to master the strategy of suiciding to decrease rank."

Don't feel like reading all that text? Then I'll sum it up for you. Basically, as you get more powerful due to power-ups (or accumulated lives), the game gets harder and harder, ultimately becoming almost impossible (trust me, the last levels are HELL). Now, I don't know about you, but for me this is fucking stupid! Come on! These type of games are fun because of 3 things: destroying enemies, dodging incoming bullets and slowly becoming more and more powerful until we have a ship/plane/something that when it shoots it looks like all hell is breaking loose, and they just took that last part away! What were they thinking?!



Anyway, who knows, maybe some of you will find it fun... Also, don't get turned off by the difficulty. In the options menu you can select infinite credits, so no matter how often you'll die, you'll be able to finish it as long as you're patient enough. Talking about the options menu, at first everything's in Japanese, which can be very confusing/intimidating, but fortunately there's an option to set it to English. Oddly enough, in order to activate it you'll have to make your way through kanji-filled menus, which leaves me thinking. If we want to set the menus to English is because we can't read Japanese. Well, in that case, how the fuck are we supposed to activate that option? By guessing??? I had absolutely no idea that such option existed until I stumbled upon a website explaining exactly how to activate it. Also, not only the language changes, but also the very layout of the menus, which left me with the impression that one or two options were missing from the English menus...

But I digress. To conclude my little rambling, this is one of those games that you'll either love or hate, due to it's unique gameplay mechanics. I, for instance, hate the idea of having to keep our ship powered down in order to prevent the game from becoming impossibly hard, so for me this game was not that much fun. Still, it has its qualities, and I'm pretty sure that someone out there will find it appealing, not to mention that there's a lot of people on the web telling great things about it.

On a side note, I want to gather some feedback about my last posts. What do you think of this "posting spree"? Should I calm down or keep them coming? I'm just asking this because I don't want to flood the Saturn Junkyard with possibly irrelevant content. After all everything I write is for you, not for me, so hit me back with your thoughts. I have a couple more games on the way, so tell me if you're interested in reading about them of if you're already full of shmups.

PS - If I keep on going like this, maybe soon we'll have enough material to make a "Saturn Junkyard Shmup Reference Guide" or something.

The shmup party continues


After the pleasant experience I had with Strikers 1945, I couldn't help but play its sequel, appropriately called Strikers 1945 II, and it basically turned out to deliver everything I expected from it. Heck, what can you ask of a shmup sequel? New levels, ships (or planes, in this case), enemies and maybe a couple of graphical improvements. Strikers 1945 II has it all. And that's about it... Unfortunately it still has a blatant lack of game modes or other extras to keep you entertained, but at least this time around the bonus art gallery is extended to not only our planes but the enemy ships too. To make things simple, if you liked the first one, you got to play the sequel.



Now, moving away from the 2nd World War, there's another Psikyo game for the Saturn that I was curious to try out, specially after playing its rather great sequel on the Dreamcast, thanks to Uncle Tom's recommendation. I'm talking about Gunbird, this rather eccentric shooter where you control a cast of very odd characters in a struggle to fight...uhh...an evil corporation? Space pirates? I don't know...who cares about the story in a shooter, anyway?

To make a long story short, it's a Psikyo shooter. I'm quickly learning that these guys rarely reinvent the wheel, and if you've played one of their games, you've basically played them all. This is not bad, though, since the change in theme is enough to make Gunbird a whole different experience from Strikers 1945, for example. Like in it's sequel, the little cut-scenes are always full of humour (or so I suppose, everything's in Japanese) and the scenarios are pretty detailed, with little people down there who're either running for their lives or completely oblivious to all the shit blowing up in the skies.



Like every other shooter I've played recently, this one also ends pretty quickly, but unlike most of them it has a lot of extras, like videos about the characters, videos about other things (don't know what exactly, it's just a character speaking in Japanese, Segata knows about what...) and a pretty extensive artwork gallery featuring more than 400(!) drawings.

Once again, if for a chance you've played Gunbird 2 on the Dreamcast (or any other platform, for that matter) and liked it, this is basically more of the same, hence being a worthy addiction to the Saturn's prolific shooter library.

Right now I'm about to try yet another shooter, so expect another post soon, maybe even later today (I have to make the most out of my temporary "Saturn fever").

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Shmups galore!

Finally! I was starting to get worried about my recent lack of posting. "Recent" is probably not the right word, it's been a long time since I was posting here regularly. You see, my problem is that, with so many systems, I can't dedicate myself to all of them at the same time. Instead I usually focus on just one for a couple of weeks or so and then move on, eventually repeating the cycle. Now, the time of the Saturn has come again.

Having sort of a renovated interest in shoot 'em ups, or shmups to facilitate, as you can see in my blog, I decided to try out what the Saturn has to offer. And apparently it has a lot! After the good experiences I had with Psikyo's games, I decided to start with the games they released for the Saturn, and so far I'm not disappointed.

This sort of spiritual sequel to Capcom's classic 1942 (which is about to get a really good-looking remake on Xbox Live Arcade) let's you control a plane in some pretty crazy aerial dog-fights set in an alternate WWII theme, complete with trips into the outer space later on (I shit you not, the last bosses are...oh, I don't want to spoil it for you). It basically plays like any other shooter, and unlike Zero Gunner for example, it has no special gimmicks. You shoot, dodge glowing shit that kills ya, and pick up power-ups that strangely have exactly the same icon as in a lot of other Psikyo's games. It's as direct and simple as shmups get.

Of course this is a lot of fun, but if you've already played a lot of other shmups and you're looking for something different, you most certainly won't find it here. It also ends pretty quickly and there's no unlockable goodies or extra game modes. There's just some sort of gallery mode as an extra that let's you gaze at 3D renderings of the planes while listening to some guy speaking in Japanese. Talking about Japanese, this is one of those games that never made it out of Japan, so if you're interested you'll have to import it.



On the plus side the graphics are particularly nice, and even thought they don't exactly push the limits of the Saturn, they're very enjoyable. Also, as with many Psikyo games (and this is why I love those guys) it has difficulty modes for virtually anyone, although they kind of make fun of you by calling the easiest setting "monkey"...

Anyway, overall I liked this game, but being a Japan-only release and such a short game, it's hard to recommend it unless you find it really cheap. At the time I'm writing this play-asia is offline so I can't check out their prices, but judging from ebay it gets quite expensive (the PSX version is a lot more cheaper, but we don't want to play 2D games on it, do we?). So, if you're an absolute shmup maniac or a collector, go for it. Otherwise, if you have a modded Saturn just burn it (it's definitely worth the CD-R) or, if you don't, just play it on MAME. See? You got plenty of options to try it out, so there's no excuses no to play this game.

I have another game to talk about but I think I'll do it in a separate post, don't want to overload you with a giant post. Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Another Saturn Car!

(click piccy for biggy)

Thanks to the creative folks in the Forza 2 Motorsport scene, there's another Sega Saturn car! Now this car is kinda special, though, because this time it's a real Saturn car. On top of that you'll find lovely nights and Virtua Fighter artworks on the sides and a great excerpt of the white 3D pad on the back. What I love the most, is the bonnet / front lit / hood. Call it what you like. I am now actually convinced that a car design like that would also work in real life. I can't wait to try something like that out on my very own car... which I still have to buy... and make a driver's license for... Oh well.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sega Saturn In Manga

Bamboo Blade is a Manga written by Masahiro Totsuka and illustrated by japanese artist Aguri Igarashi. It tells the tales of a broke high school teacher and kendo instructor. One day he is offered a bet by his former upperclassman. He then tries to win this bet, since he hopes that his life is les miserable when doing so.

So, the Manga has not too much to do with the Sega Saturn, yet in Book 6 of it, you can spot a nice little, white Sega Saturn there. I don't know the context because I can't read japanese, but I bet it's a heart warming scene, where someone gets a Saturn as a present and is really happy. Who wouldn't?

Watching the fairly new anime might show the Saturn in a much more glorious fashion. I don't know. I hope there are fansubs available, so we can even make out what the guy is saying, once he sees his new Saturn.


See some more (very small) pictures of the manga right here.

Also with this post I am saying kind of "good bye" to you. No, not because I plan to stop blogging here, but because I am leaving soon to Japan. On March the 23rd to be exact. Until then I have shitloads of stuff to do and thus won't be able to post anything here. I guess, after I am back I'll flood this blog with countless of Sega Saturn related photographs, stories, merchandise, flyers, whatever. I am so looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

NIB Saturn 3D controller found in wild!

I found this lovely IN BOX 3D controller in a random flea market store on main street in the city I just moved to. This was actually in the storage room in the back. I asked the owner if they had any other video games stuff.


There are not that many thrift stores, pawn shops, flea markets or such around here. I am glad I can still find Sega stuff though.

The box is a bit beat up, but it's still a box...


Wow! Now THAT is a shiny new Saturn controller plug!

It also came with a bunch of promotions for Saturn games.











Monday, 3 March 2008

Sega Rally Revo - final verdict

So, folks, I finally did it, I've acquired the final retail version of Sega Rally Revo (just Sega Rally in Europe, actually), hoping that it would be different (aka, more playable) than the demo I tried some time ago. Guess what, it isn't. It plays exactly the same, which can either be good or hellish, depending on the player. For me it was the later. After putting the game in I tried the first championship and guess what, after barely winning the first race, I lost the second. The second! OMG, I was barely starting the game and I was already losing, not because of my inability when it comes to virtual rally (I'm an ace in Colin McRae Rally) but because I couldn't control the fucking car properly!

I got so pissed off that I immediately turned off the console and smoked a cigarette, trying to calm down (yup, I smoke. With me it's a disappointment after another, isn't it? At least that's what my mom says...). With smoke in my lungs and heavy metal in my ears, I eventually got relaxed enough to try again. This time I tried to mess with the options, but no good, there's no options when it comes to the handling of the cars. Then I had an idea, what about the d-pad? We all know the 360's controller's d-pad sucks ass (the only complaint I have with an, otherwise, almost perfect gamepad), but hey, what the heck, let's try it out. Guess what, it worked! It's incredible how the game got so more playable! I was finally able to control the car properly, and although I still don't quite like the gameplay of this new game, I was at least able to win the first championship.

Not bad, but so far Sega Rally Revo is still probably my worst acquisition when it comes to Xbox 360 games, which makes me sad, being a Sega fan, and it's quite a mystery since, judging from the respective demos, I love the latest Virtua Tennis and Virtua Fighter games. Talking of those, I think I'm going to grab me some Virtua Tennis 3...