Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Sega Saturn Vector Illustration

Just a quicky, before I post the mammoth "Sega Saturn In Japan" article soon.

Sometimes, when I buy new Saturn games, I browse their manuals and hope to find nice Sega Saturn imagery, which I may be able to vektorize for future usage in artworks and such. When buying the PAL Version of "Blazing Dragons" I found this neat illustration in a great size and quality, which was perfect for scanning. So I did. Then I vektorized it 100 % by hand, which results in a near perfect copy of the original illustration. You could theoretically print it out several feet / meters tall without any quality loss! Can't wait to use it in weird Saturn related artworks. The little window gives you a zoomed in view of some of the details.

Friday, 25 April 2008

I'm so excited...



Things like this rarely happen to me. Normally eBay hates me. I'll be outbid on an item at the last minute, end up spending far more than I intended to, or at worst get totally ripped off by the seller.

Fingers crossed this one will work out for the best! After being alerted to the Saturn sequel on the Xbox by the dilligent team here on the 'Yard, I managed to score Panzer Dragoon Orta for less than £5, including postage and packing!

Happy days! I've also got two VF5 online opponents lined up in the guise of our very own Nebachadnezzar and new commentor, cynicalmatt! it looks like being a very good weekend indeed!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Virtua Fighter 5



This is just a quick post to enthuse about my most recent gaming accquisition. Getting Virtua Fighter 5, (I got it for £4 by trading in a lot of Dreamcast duplicates from my collection) means I now have every incarnation of the franchise, which in itself is something I'm rather excited about. VF1, VF2, VF Remix, VF Kids, VF3Tb, VF4, VF4 Evolution and now VF5 - eight games spanning four consoles and every one with it's roots planted firmly in rich, Saturn soil.


I suppose that would be my first point. From the ridiculously blocky and angular characters of VF1, to the photo realistic graphically gorgeous polished characters of VF5, the game is essentially the same... Moves, fighting styles, outfits etc. are quintessentially untouched from console to console.


Obviously the range of characters, the environments and other features have changed over the years, but on turning the game on, and selecting the game mode one is afforded the familiar 'ping' from VF1. It's a reverberation of the Saturn in the 21st century and a comforting one at that...


But then when the game kicks in, and you see the stunning next gen graphics, you know that the 360/PS3 incarnation is a different beast. It's literally breath taking! For me, even the PS2's VF4 was so next gen, that I was blown away... But seeing VF5 made me jump.


Playing VF4 in arcade mode I was able to beat the opposition on first play, up to Dural. Playing VF5 I was stomped unceremoniously. It would seem that the stakes in gameplay have been raised. This was confirmed by my first experience of playing VF online...


I've had two matches, and got fucked up royally (3-0) twice! I play all out attack (as Kage, always as Kage!) and apparently the way forward in VF5 is defense. Defense and then a stunning array of attack... Well that was how I got my arse kicked anyway! I'm going to enjoy playing and getting to know this title. It's as stunning a Saturn rebirth as Sega Rally Revo... (don't even whisper Nebacha! LOL!)


I'll update you more on this one as I become more familiar with it. Initial impressions? 10/10!

Happy days! :)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Farenheit 451: Dark Days At Gamestation...



(I've already posted this over at the Dreamcast Junkyard, but as the two sites have a slightly different readership (and the post is relevent to both sites) I thought I'd reproduce it here...)

Ah! Gamestation. Once a hallowed Mecca for three of the five members of the Dreamcast Junkyard team. For myself, Tomleecee and the Gagaman(n), Gamestation represented a high street store that until as recently as eight months ago, you could walk into and gaze upon a neat display of Dreamcast or Saturn games or secure yourself a classic Sega console and assorted peripherals . A high street store which seemed to recognise the value of Retro gaming and applaud those who still celebrated the might of systems past. It's where I purchased the vast majority of my Saturn and Dreamcast collections. Standout moments would be the purchase of Shenmue 2 for £25 when I knew nothing about it... All of the other games were £2.50... It's high price alone hinted that it might be something special. I was entranced by it for months after. It's where I also bought my rare copy of House Of The Dead for the Saturn, again for the high price of £25. Yet it proved to be an essential purchase...

Then came the takeover by the giant corporation that is 'Game' and all of a sudden, the Saturn and Dreamcast (plus all the other Retro consoles) games were swept aside. Cast randomly into bargain bins, the once proud products of times past now looked like a load of charity shop (thrift store) crap. Covers gone, cases cracked, discs and cartridges without their boxes, the whole thing was a sorry mess. But as Games TM magazine reports, the company has now gone a step further. I'll repeat the article for you, copied out and hand typed and see what you make of it...

(From Games TM magazine) "Gamestation Burns Retro Stock"

"Internet rumours this month suggest a shocking trend within the UK's second biggest retail chain. reports from consumers claimthat the over 200 strong chain has pulled most of it's retro games from the shelves and has destroyed all but a few select desirable titles.
Gamestation itself has not released an official statement at the time of writing, but an anonymous source within the company has confirmed the rumour to Games TM.


Several retro cartridges and CDs have apparently been removed from sale and destroyed. The bulk of these games are highly unlikely to sell - such as very old sports games- but there are also many under-the -radar classics that have been inadvertently been destroyed.


Our source tells isthat an official list exists that outlines exactly which games to preserve. These are mostly from recognisable franchises like Sonic The Hedgehog and Final Fantasy and will continue to be sold in Gamestation stores. There are, however, a number of less obvious, but nevertheless desirable games that are not accountable on the list. We've personally heard of two highly collectable Saturn games that are not intended such preservation, which would boil the blood of any retro enthusiastif they knew exactly which games they were.

The notion that a high street retailer as well respected as Gamestation might even think about destroying potentially games, especially those that have not been re-released or emulated, is as bad as burning books in our view. The company's supposed preservation list is a good idea, but it really needs to be as thorough as possible to avoid mistakenly eliminating lesser known titles from history. And we'd also like to know if the destroyed cartridges are being recycled or simply thrown away. Gamestation will hopefully make an official comment in the future and shed more light on these distressing allegations."

So there you have it. I think its a fucking outrage... Could Burning Rangers, now with a degree of bitter irony, be literally burning? There are some classic "older football" titles that I still play to this day. Why not give them to charity, or offer them as freebies to their loyal customers? The cunts...

What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The History Of Panzer Dragoon

Whenever people talk about the Sega Saturn they also talk about its great games. Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter often lead the fanboy discussions but there is this third game, which the Saturn is known for. Panzer Dragoon. Released in late 1995 it was the first, truly great game for the Saturn, which was not an arcade port. And it has made its impact. So much, that Gamasutra.com - a site which looks behind the scenes of the gaming industry from time to time - features Panzer Dragoon in a whooping 8 pages tribute, called the history of Panzer Dragoon. Go for it, it's a nice read and may bring back some memories or even tears for you.

You won't believed what just happened to me...

Sorry for the shitty post, but I just had to share this with you guys. I don't bookmark the blogs I visit, I just memorize the first 2 or 3 letters of their url and type them on firefox, selecting the site from the drop-down list that appears. To visit the SJY, for example, I just type "th", the first 2 letters from "thesaturnjunkyard.blogspot.com", and quickly select it from the drop-down list with the keyboard arrows (down arrow to select it followed by the right arrow to load the site). Right now, however, the list took longer to appear and accidentally I tried to load the site with just "th" on the address line. Can you guess what site then appeared on my browser?...

The Tokio Hotel official homepage, fuck yeah!!!

I almost shitted my pants when I saw that instead of the 'Yard xD

The most awesome Saturn set-up I've ever seen...


Just take a look at it...

It's a display made for game stores, but I sure wouldn't mind having it at home! It features a place for the Saturn (the console is not included), a dedicated TV and two controllers (they look like model 1), all encased in a beautiful cabinet in shades of blue and orange, featuring a certain blue hedgehog on the front and the Sega and Saturn logos on the sides.

Breathtaking, isn't it?

And this could be yours! If you live in America and have the money to spare, that is. Follow this link to craigslist in order to contact the seller, if you're interested. The advertisement has no price, but I doubt it'll be cheap...

Since this is way out of range for us, common mortals, let's gaze at more pictures instead:

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

My Saturn Collection

Hey Folks, I've finally got round to gathering up my Saturn and Dreamcast games and putting them into some sort of order! Previously, I had them bundled and cluttered in a variety of cupboards, drawers and obscure places, randomly scattered and poorly stored!

Last night, I stayed up 'till a ridiculous hour, gathering my lost children in and alphabeticising them, so that I now have an easily accessible stash of Saturn games! (Pictured on the lower shelf...)

I'll catalogue them here on the 'Yard very soon, but for now just gaze on their glory!

(On a sidenote, grab a copy of the wonderful Games TM magazine if they sell it near you. It's got a six page retrospective on Burning Rangers!!!) =D

Our Hero Returns!

To get over the pain of having my copy of Savaki returned to sender before I even received it, I've had to pray to the great Segata to distract me from my pain. It's been a while since I dusted off my Elvis wig and donned my Judo suit, but that's just what I did yesterday. I lit incense, put the great man's signiature tune on the stereo and chanted the mantra.

I was thus amazed to find a new slurry of Segata related videos had appeared on Youtube, which I post here for your delight and delectation. One of the more logical ones (yet unintelligible to me and of frankly shit quality) was an interview with Segata's alter-ego Hiroshi Fujioka, who did the voice acting for Ryo's murdered Dad (Hazuki-San) in the legendary Shenmue. This of course '>was intended for the Saturn but eventually came out on the Dreamcast.

The other videos are somewhat random and of varying quality, but have our esteemed leader as their common thread... So put on your ceremonial garb, think of our Lord and Saviour and 'enjoy...'

(BTW, if any of you site contributors who are so much more technologically able than me, want to tinker with the supersize video I plonked in the sidebar, feel free!!! =D)











Monday, 14 April 2008

The Best DS Lite Mod To Date

Whilst browsing the japanese Yahoo Auctions site for rare Sega Saturn goodness, I came across this modded Nintendo DS lite. Yahoo seller xxx_pumpkinfactory_xxx refurbished his DS not only with weird bling bling, which he probably stole from his girlfriend, but also with the miniature Sega Saturn Gashapon we all love. I dunno what to think about it. The Sega Saturn looks class as always, but the bling bling gives me the chills. Also note the selection of very expensive games underneath it! Psychic Assassin Taromaru (around 200 USD), Radiant Silvergun (around 150 USD), Death Crimson (! around 100 USD) and Guardian Heroes (well... cheap!) give the Saturn modded DS the stage it (probably) deserves. Oh and btw, click the picture for a bigger version.

On a sidenote: Yes, I'll also post something about Sega and the Sega Saturn in Japan, too! I still have to edit the photos I took, though. Approximately 1,100 pics! Don't worry, I won't post all of them in one single blog post.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Sengoku Blade

A great hidden gem, this one is. One of the few Psikyo games for the Saturn I was missing (the only one left now is Sol Divide, I think), this is the sequel to the arcade game Sengoku Ace (or Samurai Aces outside Japan). Being the completionist that I am, I had to play the first game before trying this one out, and it didn't disappoint. It uses the same engine from Strikers and Gunbird, but the scenario is totally different (some sort of mechanical feudal Japan), so it doesn't get repetitive even for fans of those games like me. There are a lot of pretty scenarios and original enemies (and bosses), and the gameplay is the usual, fun and accessible like Psikyo is known for (unless you try out higher difficulties, that is). Overall, it's a good shooter that you can try for free using MAME or, if you're not into that, it was also released in a compilation for the PS2 featuring both the original game and the sequel.

(Sengoku Ace)

But hey, enough with Sengoku Ace, I'm here to talk about Sengoku Blade, the Saturn game! Guess what, unlike traditional Psikyo sequels, like Strikers 1945 II or Gunbird 2, what we have here is a totally different game. Instead of planes, we now control the characters themselves, and instead of being a vertical shooter, like most Psikyo shooters, it's a horizontal one!

This left me apprehensive, since I usually don't go along too well with horizontal shmups. Tried out Parodius sometime ago (while I was in that "shmup fever") and, as much as I wanted to like the game, I just wasn't able to enjoy it. Oh, but is Sengoku Blade different... First of all, this is a Psikyo game, no doubt about that. The gameplay is exactly what we could expect from them and instead of being an horizontal shmup "by the book" (ie, like all the others), it plays more like one of their vertical games but tilted to the right. Oh, and it plays like a charm with me new arcade stick (I just can't go back playing shmups with the gamepad again).


And that basically sums up the gameplay part, so I think I'll talk about the graphics instead. OMFG, isn't this game gorgeous! Seriously, I'm not kidding, this game is just downright beautiful! Easily one of the best 2D games I've ever played. I actually paused the game at times just to admire some backgrounds and enemies, specially bosses. The web obviously can't make it justice, with small images and blurry videos, but to see this game in motion is truly breathtaking, or at least it was for me who didn't know what to expect. Now that I'm creating all this hype maybe you'll be disappointed when you try it out...



Anyway, this game is ace! Great gameplay, even for horizontal shmups haters like me, and awesome graphics make this one of the best shooters I've played for the Saturn (and by now I've played a lot). Too bad that it's (once again...) a Japan-only release and it gets somewhat pricey. Not on the level of Radiant Silvergun, mind you, but somewhere between what Father K paid for Savaki and a brand new Xbox 360 game. Still, it's a great game that I recommend for every shmup fan out there.

BTW, elend, did your copy (yes, my supernatural powers are telling me that you have it xD) came with the bonus disc? If yes, what's its size in Mb? I'm just asking because I don't have it and in case it's not too heavy I was wondering if you could rip it and upload it for me. Only if it's not too much trouble, of course. :)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Casper The Friendly Ghost

I'm a tad embarassed, yet conversely a tad proud to be highlighting this one, but it remains one of my favourite Saturn games of all times, and definitely a contender for the Saturn game I have clocked up the most gaming hours on.

Yes it's a movie/game tie in (and quite a shit movie at that), yes it's main character is a cute little ghost, yes it's directed at the kid's market and YES I LOVE IT! And just to prove there's more to roaming around a spooky mansion and encountering the undead than Resident Evil and House Of The Dead, I'm going to tell you all about it...

The plot sees a little girl (Kat) and her psychic researcher father (Doctor James Harvey) move into the eerie Whipstaff Manor, which they soon find out is inhabited not only by Casper, but also by his evil ghostly Uncles - Fatso, Stinky and Stretch. throw in some evil property developers who want to take over the Manor, a Reincarnation machine that can give Casper the chance to be reborn and a shitload of cheesiness and you've got the premise for the film...


Doesn't sound to promising does it? The game however is sublime! A 2D adventure/puzzler that somehow appears 3D (the view is Birds Eye, but Casper can also float up and down over objects as well as side to side and come 'towards' or 'away' from you as you watch...) Our hero floats from room to room, discovering new and secret parts of the mansion by finding coloured keys which unlock various doors, discovering new powers, for example the ability to move through vents in the wall as a puff of smoke, moving the lances on ancient suits of armour which reveal secret passages and so on...


For some reason he also eats sandwiches and carrots which are found in the kitchen areas and has to avoid the sulphorous belches and farts of his deceased uncles. The goal of the game is to discover pieces of portraits of Fatso, Stinky and Stretch and to get that danged reincarnation machine working again... It also has one of the finest orchestral Saturn scores I've heard...

Now I realise that this is a piss poor review that probably leaves you none the wiser about the game and does little to make you want to rush out and buy it, but TRUST ME, you'll love it!
I give you my personal garantee!


I couldn't find any video of it (please let me know if you do!) But I did find a rather positive review, and some screen shots which I shamelessy nicked!
If you buy this and don't like it, I will personally hand deliver you a copy of Radiant Silvergun, carried on a velvet cushion, in a gold plated box, accompanied by vestal virgins and Egyptian dwarves sounding fanfairs on platinum trumpets made from Unicorn horns. (Or will just deny all knowledge of this post... *cough*)


Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Crypt Killer, Yes it's mostly 2D but it's fun.

Crypt Killer (Not to be confused with Corpse Killer that's a different game) was a Konami arcade game that got released on the Playstation and Saturn in 1997.



Let me be straight with you. This game has 2D enemies. It looks horrible compared to Saturn Shooters like House of the Dead.


But for some reason I had fun time playing it.


Perhaps it's the nostalgia of playing the arcade version during those awkward years when I hadn't gotten my drivers license yet. The arcade version had huge plastic shotguns which were pretty cool looking.

Perhaps the real reason I like this game is that I have recently come into possession of a Sega Stunner Saturn lightgun. I was quite lucky to get it since Saturn hardware seems to be increasing in price online. The lightgun is great. Two buttons. Simple design.
Maybe that's what makes the game so appealing to me. It's just simple, mindless blasting of 2D targets. No need to worry about shooting an innocent like in House of the Dead. There are none in this game. Just shoot shoot shoot and shoot some more. It doesn't make the game all that exciting for marathon gaming but it's fun none the less.
Lets run down the major points:

PROS

-Your main weapon is a shotgun and you can choose in the settings how close you have to come to shooting something for it to count as a hit. Which is nice.

-Cool little items pickups like gatling guns and super shotguns.
-Nice little effects that break up the action. For example at one time your character falls down and rolls. The first person camera does a complete roll which is pretty cool.
-Choose your own path by shooting either of two doors. Sort of makes the on rails aspect of the game more bearable.
-Cheesy Monster sound effects actually work well in this game. In fact a lot of things in the game are quite amusing.

CONS

-The game looks horrible. At least there is a variety of 2D enemies though.

-The main character sometimes yells out stuff that during the 1990s *might* have been cool but now are really lame.

-Somewhat shoddy hit detection on some of the enemies when they first appear. For example you have to wait until a zombie fully rises out of the ground before you are able to shoot him.

-The story is stupid and there seems to be no reason for the giant floating head that tells you nonsense things throughout the game.

If you can look past the 2D enemies like I did this game is actually fun.

The PS version of the game got some horrible reviews. However, there are almost no reviews for the Saturn version. I don't know if the Saturn version is really that much better or not. I know that a lot of people complained that lightguns were pretty inaccurate for the PS version which does not seem to be the case for the Saturn version at all. In any case...

I would spend $5 bucks for a CD of this game. I would spend $8 for a complete set.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Virtua Stick, Japanese oddities and Euro-greatness

I've been wanting to post about a lot of stuff lately, but for some reason I just didn't feel like writing, and when that happens I just can't force it. So, instead of doing whole post about each subject, I'll just cram it all in one, hopefully not too long, post. To start things off, the Virtua Stick. After countless hours of gazing at pictures of it, with the wallet too light to afford one, I finally found a deal too good to ignore. Having finally bought the hallowed controller, I immediately plug it in for a session of DodonPachi and it didn't disappoint me.

(this is not mine, just a random picture I found on the web)

Actually I was a little disappointed by the fact that the joystick is noisy as hell, but in terms of performance, the stick is tight and responsive, allowing for some bullet-dodging impossible to recreate with the regular pad. But the best was yet to come, for this stick obviously can be used as a 2nd controller, allowing for the first ever 2 player matches I've played with my Saturn! Yes, my friends, for the first time in my life I shared my Saturn with a buddy!

Going by the nickname of fredy, he had promised here to pass by my place to play a bit of Savaki, and indeed he did that yesterday. But oh, we didn't just play Savaki. We also played DoDonPachi, Battle Garegga, X-Men, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Figher 2, and it was awesome!


But moving on to the single-player side of the Saturn, before even thinking about the Virtua Stick I spent my time playing two very different, but equally great, games. The first was an hidden gem coming straight from Japan, going by the name of Tryrush Deppy, and it's times like this that I can't help but wonder about the brilliant future the Saturn could've had here in Europe and also in America, had we received all the great games that were exclusive to Japan. This, my friends, is a platformer capable of rivalling games like Rayman or Astal, when it comes to both awesome graphics and great gameplay.



But hey, we still had a lot of good games released here, and some even made here, like Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2 by Core Design (yup, the same guys from tomb Raider). Sequel to the great Sega CD game Thunderstrike, here you control a helicopter but don't think of it as a flight simulator, because this is a pure action game.

(the European cover is great, isn't it)

You choose the mission (from South America to Eastern Europe or Japanese waters), equip your heli with a vast array of different missiles and bombs, and then you're free to blast everything in your way. There are some different types of missions, like escort or protection, but the better ones are the "just blow everything up". The graphics are awesome for a early game, the gameplay is solid and intuitive after getting used to the controls, and overall the game is just plain fun.



That's all for now, folks :)

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Saturn Coding Contest 2007 results

Remember when I talked about this contest? Well, it's finally over! This time the judges had a really hard time picking up the best participant, for there were some really great works, as I've shown in my previous post. By far the best two were Gaganoid, a very playable and very good looking Arkanoid clone with some crazy power-ups thrown into the mix, and Police Officer Smith, an adventure game that pushes the limits of the Saturn, with images at the highest resolution possible and some really great voice acting for a homebrew.

In fact, these two projects were so great that there was a draw, with both receiving a total of 57 points! But like in Highlander, "there can be only one", so the battle had to be decided via extra points.

So, without further delay, the winner is...






Police Officer Smith, with 5 extra points! Congratulations to the creators, Arnold and Rockin'-B.

But wait, don't go away, for I have a surprise for you. Curious to try out these marvellous creations? Now you can! Since the contest is over, all the works were made public for everyone to download and try out first-hand, and you can get them here.

Another year, another big step for the Saturn homebrew community. Props to all the devoted programmers who keep supporting our favourite console with high-quality home-made releases!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Sega Saturn in anime

By now we've seen Sega's almighty console appear in the most varied forms of media, ranging from movies to manga, but still it's always nice to spot one, and this time I had that honour! I was quietly eating lunch while watching Evangelion on tv for the 4th or 5th time when suddenly I see a Saturn controller appear before my eyes! How the fuck have I missed it before??? Anyway, it doesn't matter, what matters is that one of the best controllers of all time was featured in all it's glory and detail in one of the best anime series of all time, and I was fortunate enough to find footage of it on the inter-webz. It's not untouched footage, though, for the uploader decided to mix it up with a famous clip from the Angry Video Game Nerd. The result is pretty fun, though:



Notice the detail of the controller, even to the point of having the SEGA logo (or is it "SECA"? It's hard to tell whether that is a G or a C). Funny enough, there were a lot of Evangelion games for the Saturn, 5 in total according to GameFAQs, but, guess what, they were all Japan-exclusive releases and I believe that most, if not all, are heavy in text, thus unplayable by us gaijins, and that's sad...

Anyway, if you haven't seen Evangelion yet, make sure that you do, for this is a most excellent production that everyone, with no exceptions, should see, regardless of whether you like anime or not. Evangelion is made of WIN and GOD, so do yourself a favour and don't miss it. Now that I think of it, I've never seen the movies... Got to take care of that...

Oh, and by the way, my Virtua Stick arrived today! Already tried the beast with DoDonPachi and man, that rocks! The joystick is tight and much more precise than a d-pad and it has turbo options! Add that to the fact that it also serves as a 2nd controller (I'm finally able to play against other people) and you have a really damn fine purchase! Unfortunately not all games support it and the joystick seems to make a lot of noise when I move it, which eventual gets in my nerves, but all and all, I'm fucking happy with it!