Thursday, 30 October 2008

Fire Pro (and Segata Sanshiro) Returns

Just thought you might like to see my latest video, which unlike the last half-dozen may be somewhat relevant to this blog! This is footage of Fire Pro Wrestling R, starring the savage Saturn spokesman Segata Sanshiro. No, he's not in the game by default, but since Fire Pro has historically had an extremely versatile create a wrestler engine, it wasn't too difficult to add him to the cast. I made sure to give Segata a large assortment of judo holds and throws, making him both look and act like the real thing. As for all the other characters in the video... well, I didn't make those guys, but if you watched television at all during the '80s and '90s, I'm sure you'll recognize most of them. If you were BORN in the '90s, however, you'll just see the grumpy dad from Hogan Knows Best and the guy who's in all those terrible action movies.

Oh yeah, this being Saturn Junkyard and all, it's probably worth mentioning that there were two Fire Pro Wrestling games for the Sega Saturn. Here's a review of the first, Six Man Scramble, by another YouTube member:

Obviously, the characters aren't as detailed as the ones in Fire Pro R, more closely resembling the ones in Fire Pro A for the Game Boy Advance, but everything else in the game holds up remarkably well. There are plenty of characters, largely inspired by real-life wrestling superstars, and the number of options available to the player are simply mindblowing. This was one of the more popular imports for the Saturn back in the late 1990s, and given the popularity of the now defunct WCW at the time, it's easy to understand why.

Then there's Blazing Tornado, best described as the New Coke of Fire Pro games. This release threw the deep customization of traditional Fire Pro Wrestling games out the window and replaced it with a more arcade-quality look and feel. What that means to the player is a lot of pretty character artwork and a whole lot more frustration and mindless button mashing. It reminds me a whole lot of Three Count Bout for the Neo-Geo, right down to the corny characters and the unnecessary thumb blisters. It's not the worst of the Fire Pro Wrestling titles (that honor has to go to Fire Pro Gaiden on the Genesis, with the Turbografx-16 games and Iron Slam '96 duking it out for second place), but it deserves plenty of scorn for losing sight of what makes the series so appealing to both wrestling nuts and video game addicts.

If you buy only one Fire Pro Wrestling game, make it Fire Pro Wrestling R for the Playstation 2. I know, it's sacrilige to recommend video games for a non-Sega console here on Saturn Junkyard, but it really is the best Fire Pro release yet, and there's a vibrant community dedicated to making game saves crammed with custom characters. Plus, it's like fifteen bucks. Even with the economy as crummy as it is, you can afford to spend that much on the ultimate wrestling game. If it sweetens the deal at all, you can always create your own faux-bama and have him beat the crap out of a George W. Bush effigy. Can you smell what the Barack is cookin'?

Virtua Fighter Mobile

Hi folks, sorry I've not posted here for a while, but after making a triumphant return to contributing on this hallowed site, I stupidly fell down the stairs and dislocated my shoulder, so my posting abilities have been very limited! I did get a new phone recently and of course my first thought was "What would it be like for gaming?" I decided to treat myself to a download and was thrilled to see Virtua Fighter was listed amongst the games on offer.

I pride myself on having every incarnation of Virtua Fighter (I know Nebacha is gonna say I don't have the anniversary edition - so I mean available for me to play...) so I had to get this. It's a buzz to see VF on my phone, although if I'm honest, it's only passable as a gaming experience. I have previously really enjoyed playing games on my mobile, Prince Of Persia Mobile was sublime and addictive. But VF is just OK-ish. I might change my mind if I have a little more success with the game, I'm getting my arse kicked!

Anyhoo, I'll let you have a look at this more comprehensive review by Spanner Spencer from the excellent Pocket Gamer website.

"Even after all these years, Virtua Fighter still feels like a technological wonder. It was nigh-on inconceivable, when the game first appeared, that a one-on-one beat-'em-up could exist in three dimensions, let alone one as slick and realistic as this.

Now the mobile platforms are breaking through into similar territory as the arcades did back in 1993, and it's time to see how well they can handle a full-on 3D fighter. And what better way to test the concept than with the sophisticated and playable king of all 3D tournament brawlers, Virtua Fighter?

Certainly in appearance, Southend has excelled. The polygons are fewer in number, but considering the differences in screen size between the arcade original and this mobile conversion that's really no issue at all. More important than polygon count in this game is the animation, as that's what really brought the original Virtua Fighter to life.

The liquid smooth realism of the way the fighters performed their kung fu was only a part of it, however. They bobbed, weaved and blocked accurately – adding an air of authenticity that it took other games years to recreate, and some still fail even today. The mobile adaptation has clearly paid close attention to this important detail, and the nuances of each character are very visible, despite their miniature renderings.

"The other important factor and expected sticking point is in processing power, of course. When tested on a Nokia N81, Virtua Fighter mobile struggled to keep up with the lifelike pace of the fighter's movements – particularly during the chained combinations of punches and kicks that most characters use in abundance. Despite the dropped frames, however, the game speed remains constant, so although you might miss out on some of the animation sequence, the bout itself never loses a second.

It comes as something of a surprise that such a glaring problem has been lessened by a system apparently designed to handle an underpowered handset. The occasionally jerky animation isn't such an issue when you're not also waiting for the system to recover from excessive calculating – button presses still register and as soon as the animation becomes more tolerable (when a character is laid out after a flurry of attacks, for instance) the game picks up immediately where the animation left off. That's not to say skipped frames are a feature, but the inherent problem is handled extremely well.

The original Virtua Fighter did a sterling job of allowing simple combinations of buttons and joystick movements to perform some terrific moves, and this simplicity does a world of favours for the mobile adaptation. The keypad acts as a directional controller as per standard, with button '5' being used (surprisingly, but effectively) for blocking, while '7' and '8' work as kick and punch respectively, and the bottom row of buttons perform a dual function: Punch + Kick, Punch + Guard and Kick + Guard. This was added to the console versions of Virtua Fighter to make use of all the available buttons on the controllers and to help players unknot their fingers a little, and continues to help the mobile game's combinations immensely.

This isn't a game for everyone, though. By today's standards it's pretty shallow, and anyone who doesn't appreciate Virtua Fighter for its nostalgic value or place of honour in beat-'em-up history won't find a great deal to slake their pocket gaming thirst, so it has to lose a point or two for all round gaming appeal. Virtua Fighter fans, on the other hand, will enjoy seeing Pai, Akira, Jackie, Lau and the others in their original, untextured costumes."

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Saturn lives on

Just a moment ago a friend of mine showed me an article in a newspaper about the so-called esports. You know, those professional gamers who get paid to play Counter-Strike and Starcraft. Well, what does that have to do with our beloved Saturn? Guess what picture they chose to illustrate the article...

Click on it to maximize and notice just what controller the kid is holding. Hell yeah! Despite the Saturn not having virtually anything to do with the article, they still decided to show it. Now that's recognition for a good console :D

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Sega Saturn Gutted to Make a PC.

Pulled from Sega Nerds.


I am a bit on the fence about this.

On one hand it's a pretty sweet mod.

On the other hand some poor Saturn had to be gutted.

Damn! Is that a dual monitor setup?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Sega Saturn Posters... again

So... I was buying things from again. This time another batch of Sega Saturn Posters. The first one is actually vinyl banner, though. It promoted the games, Sega Rally, Virtua Fighter 2, Virtua Cop and World Series Baseball. I really like the claim they used there. "A little too real". Oh yes, that's exactly what Sega Saturn's 3D graphics are. Too bad it's a bit wrinkled in the corners, but I'll try to iron that out.

Other than that, I bought these two posters as well. One being a very cool Fighter's Megamix Poster and the other one being a promotion for the 3 Free Games package, they once released in the US. Too bad they have quite been destroyed with wrinkles here and there and even holes in them. But I'll try my best to preserve them for the future.

With so many posters currently in my posession I should really think about a Sega Saturn gaming room...

I'll let you know, once it's finished.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Sega Saturn’s Explosive Shmups Library Posted at Racketboy

Go read this list!

An excellent rundown of Saturn Shumps.

Included (of course) is the excellent Galactic Attack / Layer Selection / Rayforce / Gunlock (different names same game). I reviewed this excellent looking game and it's one of the easier to find shumps that generally doesn't cost that much. If you want to start building a shumps collection try starting with this Taito classic.

In other news after 4 months of waiting I have gotten my 4-1 memory card which will allow me to play Saturn games that require extra memory. Look forward to some new reviews soon.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Sega Saturn PC

Another weekend, another "browsing the internet for random Sega Saturn finds". This time, I present to you, the Sega Saturn PC. Famous (?) japanese website Akiba PC hotline tried to put a complete PC inside a Sega Saturn case and actually succeeded quite well. They even modded the mouse to operate as an USB mouse, which I'd really love to use on my PC as well. Too bad, the Saturn mouse didn't have a scroll wheel yet. Check out their page for some interesting pictures and even two proof of concept videos.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

In Praise Of Jonti Davies...

Those of the eagle eyed persuasion may have noticed a small comment at the bottom of my "Daddy's Home" post, which simply stated "Glad you enjoyed the article. :-) Jonti"...

There were no contact details on the Blogger ID, so I replied to the commentor... "Jonti! Are you indeed the journo who was kind enough to bestow on us all this prestigious article?If so, please contact me at"

Well, I'm thrilled to say that it was indeed dear Jonti and he contacted me last night with the following comment...

"Yep...and I also did the Burning Rangers interview that ran in gamesTM earlier this year. Oh, and I'm currently putting together a two-part 'Making of...' series of interviews looking at the three Panzer Dragoon Saturn games for Retro Gamer.

Yet more shameless plugs: if you like Sega stuff in general (and not just Saturn wonders), I recently interviewed Yu Suzuki for an Outrun cover piece (Retro Gamer 53); spoke to Yuji Naka for a Prope feature (gamesTM 70); and interviewed the guy who came up with Samba De Amigo for another 'Making of...' (Retro Gamer 56, out next week).

Like Homer S., I "live to give." ;-)

Very nice site you've got there...Jonti"

I can confirm that the email came from Otsu-shi, Japan and that a very gifted journalist from the most excellent Games TM, who has rubbed shoulders with the giants of gaming, does indeed check out and dig our humble little site! How cool is that?

So thanks again to Jonti for providing the most excellent article that we all so much enjoyed. Hopefully now the appropriate credit is now given, where it is most definitely due! Respect! :)

So there you go! Be sure to seek out and find his other articles and I will let you all know if we hear from him again!!