Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Games of my life - Part 2

Now that Saturnalia is coming to an end (wow, what a month...), I finally decided to write the second part of this...post...article...thingy... Anyway, while in the first part I focused on the games (and demos) I loved back when I was a kid and got my first Saturn, now I'm going to talk about the second coming. Of the Saturn, that is. More specifically the games I discovered, and played to death, when I got my second Saturn some years ago and seriously got into it. So, let's go:

Panzer Dragoon


OMFG, this game is GOD! O_O
Seriously, although I used to play the Zwei demo when i was a kid, I only really got into these games recently, when I beat the first one, got halfway through Zwei and beat Orta on the Xbox. This series is so surreal, there's nothing like it ou there. Sega knew their shit, and this proves it. Techically and gameplay-wise this game rocks, but for me what really sets it apart is really that, the ambience, the mood it puts you in. A mandatory experience for any gamer.



Alien Trilogy/Exhumed




I decided to put these two together to keep the post shorter. Definitely my favourite FPSs on the Saturn, they both excell at what they do. They're easy do play (but somewhat difficult to master), addictive and engaging. Oh, and they got nice graphics too, and don't give you headaches like most old-school FPSs do when played nowadays. To sum it up, they're what a good 32-bit FPS should be. Individual kudos to Alien, for being fucking scary at times, and to Exhumed, for making an excellent use of the egyptian theme (and for ripping off the name of Iron Maiden's album in the US release).




Keio Flying Squadron 2


Best. Saturn. 2D platformer. Forget about Rayman. Yeah, that one's cute, but this is the real deal. You take control of a cute girl dressed like a playmate (no shit) and beat up racoons with a hammer (again, I shit you not!). This game is awesome! No, not just because of those features, they're just bonuses. What matters is that the gameplay is spot-on, the control is tight, the graphics make full use of the Saturn's awesome 2D capabilities and there's even some variety to the gameplay, with horizontal shmup stages that resemble the first game. If you like platformers you absolutely got to play this game.



Loaded


Mindless, brutal fun. An overhead action game where you control some pretty bizarre characters and just shoot everything that moves. It's pretty gory, but in the Mortal Mombat kind of violence, in that it doesn't take itself too seriously, which just adds to the fun. Perfect for those moments when you just wanna kill everything in sight without thinking too much. Also, the music's pretty good too.


(watch the intro, it's pretty cool)

Firestorm Thunderhawk 2


I played this one not too long ago, and it was a damn good surprise, because I didn't really knew what to expect and it turned out as a pretty good action game. Yes, you control a helicopter, but this is no simulation, just pure action. The chopper's really easy to control, the gameplay is strangely addictive, the graphics are rather nice for a game that has to show a lot of things on screeen at the same time, and there's a lot of variety to the missions, both when it comes to scenery and objectives. Overall a pretty good game that should appeal to every action game fan. Not to mention not every game out there let's you unleash a firestorm on your enemies from above.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

3D Experience

So, since right now Manx TT is the only SS game in my library that fully uses the Saturn 3D pad capabilities, I haven't really used the 3D pad that I bought last year from the local pawn shop very much. The pad is in really nice shape, and all the buttons, work very well, and the analog stick and analog triggers have very smooth action in them...(i.e. there isn't any wobble/play in them). After I was done a my Manx TT session last night I decided to have a go on Panzer Dragoon 2: Zwei. I found that the 3D analog pad controls the aiming reticule quite nicely in Panzer, but I was curious why my dragon rider would only change directions to the right....then it hit me.....my 3D pas is broken.

I guess I didn't notice this in Manx TT since the bikes don't show a brake light, and I never really brake all the much when I play anyways. Well, I now know that I don't ever brake in that game. Anyways, I was just planning on salvaging the working digital functions of the controller as a regular back up, but I was really sad because I now don't have a fully functional 3D pad....and I've got a copy of Nights and Christmas Nights coming from Ebay. Being the curious, tinkering type of person that I am, I decided to open up the controller to see if I could find out what was wrong with it. There were no rattling pieces inside, and as I mentioned earlier, the movement action of the broken trigger felt absolutely fine. I spent some time on Google, but wasn't able to find anything about fixing a broken Saturn 3D pad. I have opened up some Dreamcast pads in the past, but ended up doing more harm than good I think.

It took me a little while to narrow down the problem, but I finally noticed that there was a magnet stuck to the outside of the right (working) trigger. After some more inspection I realized that the magnet had actually fallen out of the left trigger and made it's way through the body of the unit, and attached itself to the magnet inside of the right trigger. After a few attempts I was able to get the magnet back inside the left trigger, and after some trial and error (turning the saturn on and off) was able to get the magnet facing the proper side, and actually had the left trigger working again! I've never really read about how analog controllers work, but after this little session I'm kind of thinking that it has to do with the proximity of the magnet to a conductor or something like that ..i.e. the further the magnet is away from the source the less the trigger is actually being pressed.

In the end I'm very happy since I don't have to buy a new 3D pad. And I managed to snap a few pictures of the event....just in case any one wanted to see the inside of a 3D pad.






Monday, 23 February 2009

Ooh, Michael!


Michael Jackson, self-proclaimed king of pop and alleged king of illicit affairs with young boys, is selling off his extensive collection of arcade games and video game systems to pay mounting legal expenses and other debts. One of the items on the auction block is this Sega Saturn kiosk, priced at a fairly reasonable $100-$150. Granted, you could probably get a Saturn without the stand and picture of Sinaed O'Conner for at least a third of the price, but it's not about the cost... it's about owning a little piece of rock history. Just be sure you take some bleach to this kiosk, so you don't get the little pieces of rock history you don't want.

Aren't you glad I took a several month hiatus from The Saturn Junkyard, only to come back and post something incredibly tacky and tasteless like this?

MANX TT Review

Well, as I said last week, I was hoping that I would have time this weekend to play through Manx TT...and well, I did. SO here's the review:

My experience with motorcycle racers really isn't that deep. Let's see, Excite Bike, Super Hang On, Road Rash, and Manx TT are really the only motorcycle racing games that I have played...I think. I have a few good memories of ripping it up on the full size Manx TT arcade cabinet back in the day. So since I'm in the middle of rebuilding my SS collection, I figured that this game definitely needed to be acquired. I have never owned the home version, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on it. So far I'm having a good time and enjoying the game. It's one of those titles that has pretty good lasting appeal, since you can just pick it up, and play for a few minutes when ever ever you want. It's definitely not a deep game, but definitely one of the classic arcade racers that any fan of the genre should have in their game library.

Graphics:
I would say on par with the other Model 2 racing ports. Very similar look to both Sega Rally and Daytona USA. The tracks looks really good in some places, and other places, very forgetable. I think Sega always did a reasonably good job porting all of their Model 2 titles to the SS. Obviously none of them ever stood up next to their arcade counterpart, but they graphics were always decent none the less. There are some nice graphical effects like tree shadow on the track, and my favorite, the contrast change after you come out of the tunnel on the Laxey Coast track....something that I never really saw until Gran Tourismo 5 Prologue (2007). Pop-up on the straightaways is pretty brutal. What's interesting is that this game came out after Sega Rally, yet the pop-up is a lot more obvious on Manx TT. When the course stays curvy, pop-up really isn't that noticeable. The bike models lok pretty decent, but the actual rider designs are a bit odd looking....they kind of have the Die Hard Arcade look to them........like, very pointy or something like that. 7.0/10.0

Sound:
I'm glad to see that all of the Sega Model 2 arcade racers have at least a few unforgetable sounds. Daytona has the "do do do do do do do do do doooo...Daaaaaaaaaaayyyytooooona", Sega Rally had the awesome "Game over Yeeeeah". Manx TT has the weirdest voice I think I have ever heard in a video game. I suppose the voice is supposed to sound British or Irish or what ever the main accent is on the Isle of Man? But to me the voice sounds South African or something of that nature....and the best line in the game is the "passing the checkpoint" that you hear multiple time through out the race. I suppose sega wanted to voice to sound intense as if it was coming from a sports announcer doing live commentary on the race...but it just sounds really bad, in a funny way though. The music is not nearly as good as other Sega racing titles...let's just leave it at that. And the sound effects are fine....similar to other racing titles of the mid to late 90's. 6.5/10.0

Gameplay:
The bikes control quite well using the 3D pad. The digital pad can be used fine as well, but it gives the game a very unrealistic feel as the rider tips over 5 - 10 times in a single turn. The 3D pad is certianly the way to go. The arcade mode bike doesn't really have much "weight" and tensd to steer too easy. The Saturn mode takes care of this a bit. I found that I actually liked the bikes with the poorer handling rating much better. The bike itsef has what I call the Ridge Racer Effect, where it seems as if the bike is always pointing forward, and it's the track that moves below you...I'm not a huge fan of this. So what happens is the bike is travelling in a direction that is physically impossible. Once you get used to the handling of the bikes, and the ridge racer effect though, the game becomes much more fun to play.
Only having two tracks is a bummer, but seriously Daytona USA has 3 tracks, and Sega Rally has 4 tracks, so it's not like it's horrible. I'm a much bigger fan of the Laxey Coast track that the TT track since it lets you really open up the throttle, and feels much more like a true arcade racer than the TT track. Having the Saturn mode gives the game a bit more flavor as well. I beleive there is a version of this game that has netlink...which would be a lot of fun to play. Sadly, I'll be playing this version by myself or split screen with a friend. 7.5/10.0


Overall:
Obviously the game is very repetetive due to the lack of tracks and race modes, but the 2 tracks that are available are really nice, and I know it's only a matter of time before I memorize them and start to try and continually set new fastest laps. The game itself is really fun to play. I don't think that this is a title I will ever sit down and play for hours on end like I have done with Sega Rally and Daytona, but I know that I will be playing it quite often, even if it's only for 20-30 minutes at a time. The graphics are pretty decent (for a SS title), and I'm very glad to finally have Manx TT in my Saturn game library. I think this game is still at the local arcade, so I'm definitely going to have to take a few laps on that one (and definitely bring some hand sanitizer), and compare the two versions. 7.5/10

Friday, 20 February 2009

The New Lot

So here's a quick pic of the new lot that arrived yesterday:


Manx TT, Bomberman Fight, and Fighting Vipers are all still new un-opened. There's nothing quite like opening a 12 year old game for the first time. I'm going to open one at a time as I play through them. First up is Manx TT. I'll try and get a review on here for that game over the weekend. Oh yeah, and decided to pick this up at a local store:

Wont be having to buy new batteries for my Saturns or Dreamcast VMU's for a while now. $2.00 CDN a pop....not a bead deal I recon.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

More Merchandise!

Four hours remaining on this auction



Sega Saturn Trophy!

Sega Saturn Merchandise Weirdness!

Holy fucking cow. I was finally able to buy the Segata Sanshiro action figure for a decent price. It's approximately 30 cm in height (That's 11.8110236 inch for the americans!) and looks really great. His wig is incredibly detailed, very well styled and he's wearing an actual judo suit. I didn't want to open the very cool box, though, so I was not able to pose some fighting stances or place him against a Godzilla doll.


But that's not all. This Segata Sanshiro action figure actually came with an inflatable bop bag! The ones that stand up again everytime you punch them. Why anyone would want to hit Segata Sanshiro is beyond me, but other than that, this bop bag is to the point: Segata would always stand up again!


Since I only need to eat once a day and avoid buying birthday presents for friends, I can save that money up and spend it on things like... this incredible Body Special 264 Puzzle, which I bought as well. It's some sort of a can with a very nice Sega Saturn print (and cutesy japanese girls) on it and it comes with 108 pieces. I am bit worried about that "Panel No. 1" note on the can, because I assume, that there are even more of those puzzles out there? Fuck! I want them all. :(

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Two New Arrivals



Just a quick one really to boast about two new arrivals that have appeared here at Krishna Towers.
The first is Marvel Super Heroes (Japanese version), which I picked up for £8.50 (Inc. P+P) - I reckon I got myself a bargain there - a quick scan of eBay shows most copies for over £20...


The second is Super Puzzle Fighter II (PAL) which I picked up for £7.50 (Inc. P+P) - perhaps not so much of a bargain - but a title I've been after for some time. Haven't had much time to test them out yet, I'll get to that pleasure in the next couple of days...



Only Last Bronx to come now... £5.49 (Inc. P+P) - I'm a tad worried about this one... No manual and scratches on the disc... Makes no claim that it works properly... I'll let you know!


Monday, 16 February 2009

Waiting

I've got a few new games coming in the next couple of days (hopefully!):

Fighting Vipers: Played quite a bit of FV2 on the DC, and played FV1 in the arcades. Never actually played it on the SS though. My favorite is how you can bitch slap some one so hard their armor falls off. I'm not sure if you can do that in part one...but what ever, I'm psyched non the less. One of Sega's greatest games.

Saturn Bomberman Fight: I've been playing Bomberman Online for the DC, and don't own any Bomberman titles for the SS....I'm very excited to get my hands on this one. The videos I've seen of it on You Tube look really cool.

Manxx TT Superbike: Another great Model 2 racer from Sega. Again, didn't play this one on the SS, but have played it in the arcade quite a bit. Funny enough, my local arcade actually has this game in there right now. Graphics look to be on par with Sega Rally and Daytona

Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei: I used to own the first Panzer Dragoon...a great shooting game. Sadly it was one of the games that got sold with my original Saturn. I've always wanted to play part 2, but never had the chance. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on this game.

Weekend Review

Ok, so another weekend has passed, and I had a chance to do a bit of gaming. The latest session on the SS consisted of Sega Rally Championship, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, NBA Jam TE, and Akumajo Dracula X (Symphony of the Night). Here's the recap of each game:

Sega Rally Championship: Still my favorite racer on the SS, with Daytona USA and Sega Touring Car Championship coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively. So, holy crap do the graphics on some of the stages look bad. I remember the first time I played that game how awesome the graphics seemed, but after many hours spent on newer racing titles like GRID, and NFS Most Wanted, it's hard not to notice. Some portions of each stage look pretty good, but the car models themselves look like ass. Even the legit arcade game running on Model 2 hardware looks horribly dated these days. The physics system however is still one of the best out there. This is one of the only games where you can actually feel the weight of the car shifting around, which makes for awesome feathering of the gas and brake to hit those perfect drifts. Sega did an incredible job of making the digital control feel almost anologue in this respect. (I do have a 3D pad, but it's a bit too touchy for this game IMO). The music is pretty awesome too...even to this day. My favorite track is for the Mountain Stage, and the theme song to the credits.....such good Japanese Pop. I really haven't played this game hard in quite a few years, but I can't beleive that I still remember every corner of every track...that's either really sad, or really cool.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo: I played so much Super Street Fighter II (not thr Turbo Edition) on my Genesis console I completely forgot how much that game got raped on its port from the arcade. Don't get me wrong, it's still one of the best Genesis games out there, but after playing the Saturn version, I realized just how much of the character animations where cut, and how the sprites really suffered when it was ported to the Genesis. Anayways, this is a great game, but after playing so much Alpha/Zero, I hate not being able to air-block. Also, you can basically KO any one in three or four moves in this game...all of the characters are a bit too strong. It's amazing that in the arcades this was the same hardware that ran all of the SF games all the way up to Alpha 3 & Marvel Vs. Capcom. The game looks great and plays great as well. I love the funy sound the game makes when you pull of a Super Combo...it's like a squirting lazer or something.

X-Men vs. Street Fighter: See my earlier post about this one. Definitely one of the best games on the SS...enough said.

NBA Jam TE: I played a lot of this game on the Genesis/SNES, and it wasn't until playing it on the SS that I realized how bad the arcade ports really were for those systems. The game is pretty fun to play, and it was released around the same time that I was really into basketball, so I recognize all of the players. The controls are pretty bad, and I'm not a huge fan of games where the point scoring (i.e. making a basket) is essentially done by chance. This game came with one of the used SSs that I bought, so I would say that it's not worth buying for more than $5.00. The game session with NBA jam only lasted about 15 minutes. Random fact: The most interesting thing abot this game is that it was published by Aklaim/Iguana, the same group that went on to Publish the Turok sereies.

Akumajo Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoko: This game is fucking rad. The only problem is deciphering the Japanese Menus (does any one have a game guide for the Japanese version that explains what each of the items are?). Anyways, rad game design, animation, music, gameplay etc. I'm glad to own at least one of the most sought after SS games. I'll post a full review on this bad boy after I wrap it. If I can't figure out the Japanese text, I might just have to play through the version that is avaialble on XBOX live arcade...yes I know that is blaphemy, but what am I going to do....seriously.

Anyways, it was a really fun weekend with the SS, and I'm already looking forward to next weekend so we can spend some quality time again.

Sega Saturn shiro! (J's Drum & Bass remix) PV

I'm absolutely thrilled to bring you this particular piece, that was a present from J to me on the occasion of my fortieth birthday. I'd hassled and harangued the poor guy with the concept, until he could bear no more, and this piece of musical brilliance was the end result! It's never been experienced with video before, so this is an extra special gift to us all for the feast of Saturnalia!!!




I urge you to go over to RandomJBlog right now, because there is also remix of Daytona USA - The King Of Speed and also a remix of Sarah Bryant's Theme from VF1, neither of which I could reproduce here!

I'd just like to say a huge thanks to J for all of his many contributions to the 'Yard since it's creation which have included banners, art-work, reviews and music... Here's the great man himself to tell you how the Segata Sanshio Drum & Bass Remix came into being...


"A couple of years ago I did a Drum & bass remix of "Segata Sanshiro"'s theme song" because I was asked to by a disciple of Segata-san. It was great fun to do and was done in complete jest and fun. I figured it should get a music video, so here goes!

Long live Segata Sanshiro. The world truly was not ready for his mighty quiff , Chuck Norris style beatdowns and his dedication to Sega hardware."

Game review: Burning Rangers (by J)


Sonic team's swan song for the Sega Saturn was like something straight out of the 1980's. It takes everything you loved about children's' anime such as Voltron and Ulysses: a funky sing-a-long theme song, a futuristic setting, a couple of mecha's and a team of heroes in tight spandex, short jackets, white gloves, headbands and dodgy haircuts. This is the world of the Burning rangers. It's almost as though Sega saw you coming.

The Burning rangers are a team of futuristic fire fighters. Players take control of one of two new recruits into the squad: Shou or Tillis. The game is made up of a handful of missions which have you navigating through labyrinths of fire filled buildings: to put out fires, stop explosions and rescue any helpless civilians you happen to come across. As you play through the missions you will come across crystals. Crystals are a form of currency that is needed to teleport civilians to safety. If you do not have enough crystals, then a civilian will have to be left to make like Cajun style chicken. Crystals are acquired by putting out fires, but crystals can be shattered if hit with a charged shot from your water pistol. So whilst a charged shot is guaranteed to extinguish a large fire, it could potentially nip all chances of acquiring crystals in the bud. As you move around fires and explosions can go off at anytime. Players are warned of these hazards beforehand via a whistling sound. When you hear it, it doesn't mean it's time to snap yo' fangaz and crank that like Soulja boy: it means you need to move fast! By tapping a button your Burning ranger will perform a dodge maneuver which will clear them out of harms way. In earlier missions the whistle will sound quite some time before an explosion, but in later missions the time between the whistle and the explosion become shorter and in some cases are instantaneous. Getting hit by an explosion not only means losing a chunk of your health, but also all of your crystals. No crystals means not being able to save civilians, which in some cases isn't such a bad thing. Some of them sit on the floor in the middle of large rooms moving their heads from side to side like Stevie Wonder, expecting to be saved.

Unfortunately you're not always able to choose who you save, as wandering into an area with a civilian in clear view will immediately trigger a cut scene and have you teleport them.
Some civilians aren't in such obvious locations however and the real challenge once you finish the game the first time round is going back and saving them all. They're at least kind enough to send you a letter for rescuing them which is quite thoughtful of them.



The audio in Burning rangers is fantastic. During missions there is no music and this works to the games' advantage as it creates a feeling of and being alone. All you can hear is the crackling of fires, explosions going off in the distance and the sound of debris and constructions falling around you. Having any music play throughout the duration of stages would take away from the atmosphere. You also have your navigator (the sexy, but cold and disinterested Chris) constantly speaking to you during missions which gives a real sense of being as part of a unit and also helps break up the silence. At the tap of a button your navigator will tell you exactly where to go. This is a pretty snazzy feature, as not once do you hear the CD spin in the Saturn like crazy trying to load the speech.

Burning rangers features bosses, all of which are crap. The Burning rangers are essentially glorified firemen with jetpacks, so why they have to fight bosses I have no clue. The bosses are unnecessary and do not work well into the plot (another thing this game didn't need). The final boss is some space alien looking thing that you fight on what looks like the set from Justin Timberlake's "Rock your body" video. It is not a rite of passage that every third person action adventure needs bosses. This game could've done without them. All of the bosses aside from the final one is some form of bland looking mecha. The only interesting thing about the bosses is that one of them resembles Pikachu and you can shoot him in the face.




Thankfully the design of the bosses wasn't extended to the main cast, as they're all a well designed bunch. Bright, colourful, camped up to the eye balls, but downright cool. The finger pointing Shou, the cute as a button Tillis, the sexy Chris, the smooth lady killer (but could also be gay) Leed and the big black Mr. T inspired Landman. Unfortunately, the supporting cast do not play much of a role in the game. They're in the intro and in the ending, but they don't do much in between. You'll sometimes come across some of them during missions. But when you do they're either just stood doing nothing, or they'll say a couple of words and then run off and leave you. It's a shame because the supporting cast are just as cool as the leads.

The graphics in this game are surprinsgly good for the Saturn. A console which was pretty capable, but ridiculously hard to get anything decent out of. Sega actually managed to pull some nifty graphics out of their big black box and as a result Burning rangers looks pretty spiffy. Especially in comparison to some the ghetto looking games that came before. (Only the Sega Saturn could fail to pull off an arcade perfect version of Virtua Fighter 1: which was pretty much cubes and a JPEG image for a stage background). The graphics in Burning rangers aren't perfect. There is some slow down and some clipping issues - but it's definitely one of the first (and unfortunately last) games on the Saturn that actually rivaled a PlayStation game in the graphics department. Burning rangers made the Saturn look incredibly capable and even now it still looks a bit of alright.




Burning rangers was a game that had everything going for it. But unfortunately it was released at the wrong time. By the time Burning rangers came around, the Saturn was already head shot out of the market. As much as I loved Burning rangers, I couldn't help but think it really did need a bit more to it and that it needed a more powerful console. When the Dreamcast came along and I saw what it was capable of, my first thought was that Sega should've released Burning rangers for it instead. They would've been able to do alot more with the Dreamcast's extra graphical power, controller and VMU unit. We could've had fully destructible environments, bigger explosions, analogue control, water blasting using the triggers and the VMU acting as a detector for finding nearby civilians. A missed opportunity for sure.

If you own a Sega Saturn and you foolishly do not own this game, then you need to take it upon yourself to hunt it down. It's a must own. Hopefully Sega will resurrect this series and introduce it to the masses who missed out on it the first time round. A re-release on the Wii shop, Xbox live marketplace or PlayStation network would be greatly welcomed.

Burning rangers is flawed game that is far from perfect, but one that was incredibly fun to play, original, full of promise, cool ideas and most importantly, still holds up to this very day. A Sega Saturn classic and one of Sonic team's best efforts.

RATING: 7 / 10

The good
+ One of the Saturn's best looking games
+ Easily accessible game play
+ Memorable characters

The bad
- It can be completed in one short sitting
- Terribly designed and unecessary bosses
- Not a great deal of replay value
- Not enough interaction or inclusion of the kick arse cast

1 arcade, a couple of 32 bit consoles and a best friend (by J)

A random encounter in an arcade and comments over my ability to remember a cheat to unlock Gold war machine in Marvel VS Capcom lead to the embarking of a friendship, with a fellow gamer who would go on to be a best friend. It started off with flippant comments like "You're well good at this game!" and "Ah, that air combo was SICK bruv!" to talking about which consoles we owned and our favourite games.

After bumping into one another in the arcades atfer school several times and exchanging names, we started to hang out. I found out he had a Sega Saturn and he found out I had a PlayStation. Due to my Father having not bought one for me for Christmas, I used to live out my dreams of owning a Saturn vicariously through him. And due to him not owning a PlayStation, he used to live out his dreams of owning a PlayStation through me. It sounds like we were using each other, and I guess in a way we were. But we became so close and had such a mutual love of gaming that in the end it all just boiled down to the fact that between the 2 of us we had a really cool collection of games and consoles to play.

My friend still mentions to me the days where we used to meet up during half terms and summer holidays and try to best our scores on Virtua cop 2, plough through Guardian heroes and murder the VS mode in Fighting vipers with Hyper mode turned on. I always laugh at him and joke "You're STILL going on about those days!?" when he mentions them, because it's like a part of his brain is stuck in the past. But I remember the moments vividly myself. He went on to tell me on one occassion that it meant shit loads to him that I used to kick it with him and just play games and have a laugh - because he was going through a really tough time around the period he met me. So I guess that's why he holds the memories of us back in those days so dear, and because of that I do too.

I think this is one of the reasons I've always had a thing for the Saturn. Because it'll always represent a moment when I acquired a new best friend. A friend who I'm still close with now.

Cool Gaming Intro: Last Bronx (by J)



A short intro, but a sweet one. This was way more than I expected from Sega at the time, and a step up from the badly rendered intro's that Fighting vipers and Fighters megamix got.

And how about that theme song?! It stinks of early 90's swing, along with the ever so slightly musk of cheese. But you gotta love it. I used to bounce to it back in 1997 and I still do now. Everytime I hear the song it makes me wanna put on a body warmer, some baggy jeans and do the running man until my carpet wears out.

Last Bronx Review by J


Before Soul Calibur came Last Bronx. A weapons based beat 'em up from the very same folk who brought us Fighting vipers, Virtua Fighter and were responsible for the graphics board that ran the titties-'em-up game Dead or alive. Unlike these games, Last Bronx didn't get to see a sequel. But it was nice whilst it lasted, and at least gave us a taste of beat 'em ups which featured beating down suckers with weapons. Last Bronx enjoyed a Saturn conversion that even Sega's beloved Virtua Fighter games hadn't been treated to until the release of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution. Last Bronx featured a full on anime intro (complete with your obligatory J-Rock sing-a-long theme), a story mode, extra options. And for the Japanese release: a second disc complete with a full on tutorial mode, complete with blackboards explaining the in's and outs of the fighting system and explainations from the characters themselves.

As with Fighting vipers, Last Bronx wasn't seen as a staple in the Sega library as Virtua Fighter was, but got characters whom were well designed, memorable and an all-round cooler bunch than the Virtua Fighter crew. Virtua Fighter had a brain-dead blonde bitch, a ninja in blue pyjamas and a white man in a red jumpsuit and plimsoles. Last Bronx had a cheerleader in a mini skirt, a punk in leather trousers who wields nunchucks and a blonde haired man in dungarees with a giant hammer.



As with many of Sega's games at the time, the arcade version ran on their Model 2 arcade board. The Saturn hardware was not capable of running a Model 2 game without some graphical downgrades and Last Bronx sufferred because of this. The fully 3D and animated backdrops were replaced with JPEG's, which didn't scroll or anything, and the characters were not as detailed as those in the arcade version. Despite the downgrades Last Bronx was still a decent looking game. The characters didn't look as detailed as they did in the arcade version, but had their animations intact and the game ran smoothly. It certainly looked better than Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers.

Last Bronx was a great arcade game and was a welcomed Saturn release because it was one of the first arcade-to-home conversions Sega did that featured a great deal of extra content over the arcade release: something that every arcade game released on Saturn up to this point had failed to receive. The main problem with Last Bronx is that the fighting system featured little depth. Battles were pretty much a case of juggle, ground attack, juggle, ground attack, juggle, K.O. Characters had very limited move sets and the game featured few characters, so there was little to master.

Last Bronx was an alright game, but featured many shortcomings and would later pale in comparison to Namco's Soul series. The Saturn version is commended for featuring smooth graphics and home exclusive extra's. But the lack of depth, a VS mode which get stale real quick and a lack of unlockables prevent it from being a long term title worth hunting for.

RATING: 4 / 10
The good
+ Solid graphics
+ Cool audio
+ A nice bit of home exclusive content

The bad
- Lack of depth
- Not enough options
- Short term appeal

Supposed signs of approval

My Dad decided to rent a Sega Saturn from Blockbuster. I think we were due to rent a PlayStation, but there were none in stock to rent, so we went for a Saturn instead: along with a copy of Virtua Fighter 1 and Sega rally. I don't think neither of us were expecting the Saturn to have the effect on us that it did. We'd sit up until all hours of the morning playing Sega rally: trying to best our times and tackle the horrid Lakeside track, only to fail miserably. Wake up early in the morning and rounds on Virtua Fighter 1: in awe at how cool the game looked. Stupid I know. Considering the characters looked like they were built from lego and the backgrounds were mere JPEG's of the kind you can set as wallpapers in Windows.

It was a turning point for my Dad and I, because he never approved of my gaming. Yet when we rented the Saturn, none of that seemed to matter. It was from this moment I decided I wanted a Sega Saturn for Christmas. Too bad I didn't get one. Guess I spoke too soon about turning points.

I stewed over not having a Saturn for years, as many of the games I loved at the time were releasing for it. I used to hit an arcade after school every day and spend all of my pocket money going rounds on Fighting Vipers, X-Men: Children of the atom, Last Bronx and occassionally Virtua Fighter 2 - games that all released on the Saturn. Sure, some of the ports were ghetto ports. But they at the very least played the same.

I always held resentment towards my Dad for not getting me a Sega Saturn. I felt like he was denying me something I really wanted purely because of how he felt about me gaming. It backfired anyway, because the PlayStation he got me instead got played to death and had me plunge further into the depths of gaming; despite buying me the PlayStation with no games and no money to go buy one. Ha!

As much as an arsehole my Dad was in regards to my gaming back then, I'll forever remember that weekend he rented the Sega Saturn. We grew so close over the course of those 2 days and we had fun. It was a glimpse that the father who approved of my gaming was in there somewhere and that he wasn't so bad after all. It was ironic, because he rocked at Sega rally and could work Akira in Virtua Fighter like no one's business.

J Speaks... We All Listen!


The next few articles, printed in customary maroon (the colour of quotation here at the SJY) will be published under my name, but are in fact authored by the one and only J (who most recently got a mention here...)

Despite his tender years, J is an authority on all things gaming, and very knowledgeable about Japanese pop culture too... He's been a long time fan of the Saturn, and regularly, (if not often,) gives it the props it deserves over at his most excellent blog: the minimalist-ly titled, RandomJBlog!

So if you've never been there make sure you do, right now! That's an order! You'll find some excellent commentary on contemporary gaming, music, his recent trip to Japan and the quirky stuff life throws at you from time to time, all written about with a wicked sense of humour!

J, we at the Saturn Junkyard salute you!

Friday, 13 February 2009

IGN mentions how awesome the Saturn is.

Well it looks like IGN is getting into Saturnalia as well.

Check out #6 in the Wednesday 10: Smug Hardcore Gamer Quotes.

""I suppose I can see why you believe the PlayStation is a better machine than the Saturn, just as I can see why some people prefer 'Annie Hall' over 'Manhattan.' They've been told to. But the Saturn outpaces the PlayStation's 2D capabilities, which allowed developers not intoxicated by Sony's marketing to craft real games for, well, real gamers. Have you experienced the Japan-only Vampire Savior that required the RAM cartridge? All the evidence you need is in the animation for Morrigan's Darkness Illusion Flattener. Actually, I would go so far as to say hardcore gaming died with the Saturn." Levi Buchanan IGN

Of course this quote can be taken in the context that IGN is poking a little fun at us hardcore Sega Saturn fans...

...but come on the Saturn's 2D performance is so excellent that can't possibly be the case! Any gamer worth his or her salt knows that. This obviously a direct nod to how wonderful the Sega Saturn is hidden in an article making fun of other people's pretentious gaming views.

I mean come on, real gamers know how cool the Saturn is right?

The month of Saturn marches on!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

My favourite imports

Inspired by Martin's post about Japanese imports for the Saturn, I decided to make a little post about my favourites. The keyword here is "favourites". This means that this is in no way a comprehensive list, just a handful of games that came to my mind, they're not necessarily cheap and they're also not necessarily excellent, although I like them. A lot. So, let's go:

DonPachi/DoDonPachi/Batsugun


I put these games together because they're basically all the same, bullet hell shmups were you dodge almost impossible bullet patterns while building your ship up to some ridiculous levels of firepower. This means that they're all great, fast-paced games with greatgraphics and awesome gameplay that are sure to keep you hooked up to your tv. And that's great.



Sengoku Blade


Also a shmup, but a horizontal one. If you're not a fan of the genre they may all look the same to you, but vertical and horizontal shmups play quite differently. Vertical shmups have more emphasis on reflexes while horizontal ones reward memorization of the levels. The unique thing about Sengoku Blade is that, while having an horizontal orientation, it actually plays a lot like a vertical shooter. And then there's something about the gameplay... I don't know, it's just so damn addictive... Usually I beat a shmup once and then put it in the shelf, maybe having a go at it once in a while, but with this game not only did I beat it with almost every character, I sometimes beat it two times in a row. It's just that addictive!



Tryrush Deppy


A little, hidden gem of a 2D platformer, in the likes of Rayman or Astal. It's a pretty fun game and...welll, there's not really much more to say about it. It's not groundbreaking, but it's just adorable and pretty fun while it lasts.



Shinrei Jusatsushi Taromaru


Also known as Psychic Killer Taromaru, this game is more famous for its rarity status and the outrageous price it can hit, than for its gameplay. The surprise is, this game is actually pretty good! It's basically a side-scrolling beat em up, but with more mid-level bosses and less regular enemies. The gameplay has some rather original mechanics and so do the graphics, a mix between 2D characters and 3D levels with no loading times between areas. Of course, it's not worth the outrageous price most people ask for it, but if you're lucky enough to find it cheap, or if you can get it through "other means" (*cough*piracy*cough*), it's well worth checking out.



Dead or Alive


You've all heard of DoA already, so I'm going to keep it short. Of all the versions of this game, the Saturn port was the one chosen by Itagaki to be remade for the Xbox. 'Nuff said. Okay, not quite, but overall this is a pretty good version of DoA, superior in many ways to the latter PSX version, the one most of us played. Get it if you can. Wasn't too expensive last time I checked.



Honorable mentions:

- Savaki: an interesting fighting game in the vein of Virtua Fighter, featuring some of the best graphics I've seen on a Saturn. Too bad it's short on game modes and has only one (!) arena
- Princess Crown: looks awesome, but without understanding Japanese I never went too far
- Strikers 1945 I and II, Gunbird: if you like shmups, these games are simple yet a lot of fun
- Nekketsu Oyako: a completely fucked up beat em up, Streets of Rage-style. There's a level where you fight squid-man...inside a whale...WTF...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Kicking Ass





Oh Man....I freekin' love this game. I never really played X-Men vs. Street Fighter all that much, I was much more a fan of Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter, and never really gave this one much of a chance....but opportunity knocked, and I had to pick it up...and boy am I glad that I did. I remember when I first saw this game in the arcades I just thought that it was lame...it wasn't until a few years later ('98-'99 'ish) that I really started see why the cross over games were so popular.

I think to the same extent that people enjoy Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold more than Alpha 3, the game play just seems a bit tighter than the later versions of the series, and it's more playable for some one like myself who has a lot more experience with the traditional Street Fighter series' rather than the cross-over series' (i.e. you can still kick ass using regular SF style tactics, something that you can't get away with in Marvel vs. Capcom 1 & 2). And you can use Akuma/Gouki as a secret character, which I'm very glad about....'cause at first I didn't know he was in this game. I just love that not very many people outside of Japan have had a chance to play an arcade perfect translation of this game on a home console.....and this is why the SS just owns.

The load times are almost non-existent, and the Saturn Mark II pad is pure awesomeness to play this game with. The box isn't in too bad of shape, considering that it is 12 years old. I've got Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter coming in the next few weeks, and when it comes I'll share my story about that game....we've got quite a history together.

Here's a video of my 2nd play through after the game arrived. Not bad for my 2nd time playing this game in about 10 years. There were a few close calls, but I made it through on a single play. The difficulty setting isn't bumped up at all...but still.

Sorry for the crappy video, but if you do suffer through it you'll all see my skills.

Part 1



Part 2

Games you need in your import collection pt1

I thought it might be useful to collate some of my import collection for those of you new to the scene. It's easy enough to get games in your own territory, but people often rave about Japanese games circa 1990-2000. 

The thing is, a lot of these games are now overhyped or just plain old expensive. Let's hit on a few that are great games, but won't break the bank. Welcome to part 1 of my import special.

Saturn Bomberman Fight!


Oh yes. It's Bomberman! What a cainer. Blow the crap out of your opponents. The best part? Having a sleep over? No problem. With a multi-tap or two, you can have up to 10 players. 10 players. Most teenagers these days don't have that many physical friends*. Anyway, this is a great game. You all know bomberman and this is one of the best. Get it!

Layer Section




This is an often overlooked shooter. Everyone raves about Radiant Silvergun. It's often sold for over £100. Sod that. Don't bother unless you are a collector - which you would have to be to pay that for it. It's a good shooter, but overratted. Layer section is pretty old school but feels really tight and can be found cheaply.

Panzer Dragoon

Yes, this can be found PAL for cheap cheap cheap, but... look at the artwork on the Japanese game. Worth the price of an import Saturn if you ask me. Which you aren't, but I am telling you anyway. Gorgeous.

Great game too!

This concludes the round up of the games you should own on your import Saturn. Part 1. Stay tuned!

*complete guess and probably quite offensive. If you're a teen, write in to let us know.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Revelation X



Perhaps I was too easily swayed to purchase this game for some unknown reason????

Somewhat inspired by the excellent post from Martin below, I've decided to tell you about two of my latest Saturn gaming experiences. I'll get the bad out of the way first. Those of you who have scrolled down the sidebar of the blog, will have noticed a permanent video link for a dailymotion clip of a Japanese game called "Digital Dance Mix" starring J-Pop stalwart Namie Amuro.



I originally threw this up there to try and impress one of my blogging heroes the wonderful "J" of RandomJBlog, who is not only a Saturn fan, but also a gaming guru and expert on all things J-Pop. But with the approach of Saturn February and the imminent arrival of my Japanese Saturn, I thought it might be a buzz to actually buy, play and review this culturally specific title. I assumed it would be a sort of "rhythm-copy" game, akin to Space Channel 5 - in other words, you watch Namie dance and then push corresponding buttons to repeat the sequence.

But no! Now unless I'm getting something very wrong (and there's every chance that I am) all it is, is some kind of dance instruction CD. You can choose from two tracks (Chase The Chance or You're My Sunshine), a variety of costumes and backgrounds and then off you go. You can then change the camera angles as a digitized Namie dances lamely and sings. Although the graphics are stunning for the Saturn, I'm beginning to think it's sole purpose is to teach young girls to study Namie's dance and learn it. Very disappointing? Somewhat so far...


You see, my attempts to be quirky and find a Japanese gem unknown to others, so rarely work. Ho hum!

Now, on to part two of the review. Revolution X had been in my collection for some time. The horrible looking case was battered and falling apart, in the way that those horrible PAL cardboard Saturn cases can just... disintegrate. There was no manual and I had given the game about five minutes play, when purchased. My only memory was thinking that it would have been mildly better with a lightgun and that the graphics were appalling...

But that's all changed! First of all lets spell out what makes this game so great... It's a frenetic shooter of the Outtrigger, Point Blank or Silent Scope variety, with the cursor flying round the screen and you locking onto targets. It plays beautifully with the pad rather than a lightgun. It's graphics are perhaps dated, but somewhat classic looking, using digitized sprites based on real photos (think Area 51).


The game focuses on you rescuing Aerosmith (for God's sake!- I feckin' love Aerosmith!!!) from a fascistic organisation called the New Order Nation, who are hell-bent on banning all things, that we, the kidz, are into! So basically, you're job is to stick it to the man, shooting bullets and CDs at them, whilst Aerosmith classics (Eat The Rich, Toys In The Attic, Walk This Way and Sweet Emotion) blast away in the background. Oh, and did I mention the bikini clad chicks, (sorry sisters - this is a Revolution after all...) -that you have to rescue?

This was an arcade port, which comes as no surprise, you can imagine the halcyon days of the arcade, with Wayne's World style youths pumping endless 50p coins into the cabinet to rescue Steve Tyler and the boys. The Saturn game even prompts you to put coins in when you need to use another credit...


Talking of which, on easy, the credit allocation is VERY generous and the game can be completed (to one of three possible endings) in one run through. The replay value comes from beating you're high score. I won't say too much more because the video illustrates the joy of the game very well!

You should be able to pick it up for a couple of quid, so go for it! You won't be disappointed I guarantee it...

Crow and Crows.

Ahh... February. The month of Saturn.

This month I have gotten a few new Saturn Games and have been going over some favorites.

Using my shiny new 4-1 card I was able to play Marvel Superheros at a much faster pace with the mighty 3 Meg Ram boost! Juggernaut's ending was a bit sad. I wanted to see the big guy destroy all his enemies including that egg headed goody-two-shoes brother of his.

I also played around with Discworld a bit. I highly suggest reading "Guards! Guards!" by Terry Pratchett before you mess around with this game. Fun Times.

OK here is the main review of Two games that I have played recently. Separated only by a plural "s" it has never been more clear how much a single letter can matter.

First off The Crow city of Angels.


Not. A. Good. Game.

Not even a decent game.

It looks like they didn't finish *making* the game. It's very sad since you can *almost* make out a good 3D brawler in there. I mean everyone seemed to complain about the RE camera angles but they weren't too bad. It was the other problems.

Awful collision detection. Horrible looking Graphics. It's just so clunky and awful slow. It's hard to move around the screen and hit the enemies.

It's a damn shame. A bit more work and it could have been nice. I actually liked the enemy taunts.

Here is a video of the PS version. I could not find video of the Saturn version.


This is the only video game based on "The Crow" and I am saddened that such a horrible game was released before it was finished.

I suppose it has some value as a collectors item. And perhaps if you are a huge fan of the movie you might *have* to own the one game inspired by it.

And of course there is the "so bad you just have to check it out" status...I mean that's why I bought my copy.

But add an "s" to that and you get this:

Crows "The Battle Action For Sega Saturn"

This is a lovely little 2D beat-em-up. It features super deformed chibi street punks beating everyone up! It's a Japanese only release.

Not the best game mechanics I have seen in this sort of game but the style of it is great!

This is the sort of game you can sit down and kill 20 minutes with. It's got the traditional "run around and mash buttons" Final Fight gameplay with some decent additions such as the ability for some characters to stomp enemies when they are down (something I always wanted in a beat-em-up but only available in a few titles such as Clover's God Hand). It's also got a decent weapon system and special move system that really changes between characters. Also you don't automattically drop your weapon after one hit (something that always annoyed the hell out of me in other games). To select some of the characters you first have to beat them in combat. Scattered around the levels is mispelled English graffiti which was amusing.

Take a look what 2D on the Saturn can be!



And the music is pretty nice too.



All in all this game is a fun little game that won't make your top 10 for the Saturn but will probably make it to #11 easily (if you enjoy 2D beat-em-ups as much as me).

Video and Images totally ripped off from http://www.satakore.com


Sunday, 8 February 2009

"The Rise and Fall....and Rise of the Sega Saturn (With some other consoles mentioned too)"


Just to clarify, this is an article written by SJY commentor, "The Plushiest" (real name Sam Lieff). I may as well use this as an opportunity to welcome his royal Plushiness to the team, as his sterling journalistic efforts and devotion to the Saturn have resulted in a place in our ever expanding team of correspondents! Over to you Mr. P!

"I'm a long time gamer. I wouldn't call myself hardcore, but I've definitely grown up playing games. My First gaming experiences were with the Nintendo Game & Watch series of handhelds (circa 1982), then came the Amstrad CPC. My first real console was the Sega Genesis. I played the shit out of that thing, and owned just about every popular Genesis game at some point or other. All my other friends at the time seemed to have a Nintendo, but I stayed true to Sega. Christmas of 1996 was a life changing (at least with regards to gaming) event for me. That was the year my dad bought me a Sega Saturn. It was the boxed version that came with Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter 2, and Daytona USA. He also bought me Nights Into Dreams. I immediately bonded with my Saturn. Over the course of the next two years my game library grew extensively. At one point I owned the previously mentioned games, along with, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, Street Fighter Alpha, Mortal Kombat II, Sega Rally Championship, Sega Touring Car Championship, Die Hard Arcade, Die Hard Trilogy, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, Panzer Dragoon, and Road Rash.

I spent hours upon hours mastering the tracks on Sega Rally, memorizing every move combination in Virtua Fighter 2, perfecting continuous loops in Nights, and unlocking puzzles in Tomb Raider, but by 1998, even though I had a pretty awesome game library, I had my sights set on the Playstation. With titles like Resident Evil 2, Gran Tourismo, Soul Edge, and Tekken 3, I just couldn't help my self. Sony had games that Sega didn't. I couldn't afford both consoles, and in the heat of the moment, I sold my Saturn along with all of my games in order to by a Playstation. 1998-1999 was the year of the Playstation for me, and I also picked up an N64 for certain titles like Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, and 007. In early 1999 (through a very serendipitous event) I picked up an import Dreamcast, and my fond memories of the Playstation and N64 were all but gone (I traded in both those consoles to afford the then pricey $249.00 DC).

I remember the first time I ever played Sega Rally 2 at home ( I hadn't seen it in the arcades before), I was blown away. I had played Sega Super GT (on Sega Model 3 hardware) quite a bit from 1996 - 1998, but I could not believe the graphical power that I was seeing before me....on my own T.V. It would be another 4 months before the Dreamcast came to North America, and showing up to my second year of University that fall with Sega Rally 2, Soul Caliber, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Power Stone, Shotoku High Way Battle, and Virtua Fighter 3....let's just say I was pretty popular with my gaming friends.

1999 - 2002 was a pretty good stretch for me. My Dreamcast library grew extensively with the purchase of import games, and a fair share backups pulled down from IRC channels. Sony had released the PS2, and Nintendo had just rolled out the Game Cube. Microsoft had the X-box, but I was just never very interested in that particular console. The fall of 2001 was one of the biggest turning points in my gaming career. I began DJ'ing, and I started spending just about all of my money on DJ equipment and Vinyl.

By 2004 I rarely played any video games any more, and the decision was made to sell all of my consoles....with the exception of my Dreamcast. From 2004 to 2006, I didn't even really think about video games at all. I had purchased a Nintendo DS, but that was it. I had come a long way since my early days as an avid console gamer. I didn't even follow the video game scene much any more, so when Microsoft released the 360 in 2005, I didn't even really know about it.

It wasn't until the fall of 2006 that a my life would undergo a gaming renaissance. Something must have changed in my brain, maybe it was something chemical or emotional, but what ever it was, all of a sudden, I was set on procuring a PS3 and a Wii. I did, but that still wasn't enough. Over the next two years, by way of scouring garage sales and pawn shops, I was able to find a PS1, PS2, NES, SNES, N64, TurboGrafx 16, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, 3DO, Game Gear, PSP, Game Boy Micro, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy, XBOX, XBOX 360......and Yes.....another Saturn.....actually two of them (a Model 1 and a Model 2) and many games to go along with all of these consoles. I honestly wish that I had never let my original Saturn go in the first place, but there is no use crying over spilt milk. I'm currently building up my Saturn game library again....slowly but surely, and currently own Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally Championship, Virtua Cop, NBA Jam T.E., Street Fighter Collection, and NHL '97. I'm basically buying any decent Saturn Games that I can find at the local swap and pawn shops. Not quite as great as my original collection.....but some day I'll get back there. I've found a 3D pad, but sadly no Nights yet. It does work with Sega Rally, but it's a little bit touchy. I'm too lazy to do the Ebay thing, and to be truthful, it's more fun finding gems at pawn shops and garage sales anyways. The Saturn will always be part of my console collection from now on, and to this day, I wonder where my original Saturn is.....I hope it's in good hands.

Of all my classic consoles, there's just something about the Saturn that stands out. And to some degree, I'm glad that not too many people really ever played the system in the first place, and it's only a select group of gamers who are privy to all of the amazing titles that the Saturn has to offer. And I have to say that it's great to find a place like the Saturn Junkyard, where there are people that share my enthusiasm about the Sega Saturn. I'm currently tracking down an 4mb action replay cartridge and Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter....I might just have to pick up an import console wile I'm at it. I leave you with a picture of my happy Sega Family....and a few of their extended relatives who happened to sneak into the picture.

UPDATE: X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Akumajo Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoku just arrived this week. I've never played this particular Castlevania (I do own Castelvania I, III, and IV though), but I've read such good things about it that I had to pick it up. These are my first import titles for the SS, and I'm super excited. I've been wanting to pick up X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Superheroes vs. Street Fighter for about 10 years now....and I've got some good stories to go along with it....but that's another story....for another day."