Saturday, 3 April 2021

Neptune - New Top 20 Least Virtua Insanity



So, here we go again with another updated list of times past. To check out my original list, by all means, give it a looksy. You may notice that not a lot of them have changed, save for one. Beyond that, their positions have changed as time has gone on because they have aged like already expired milk. Remember, it's not always the developers' fault but it can be a collection of reasons that the games turned out like they did. Not all of these games are really bad, but the majority of them are either bland, misguided, or just plain terrible to play.

Talk all you want about how small the Sega Saturn library is, but it still has some amazing titles attached to it. However, like barnacles to the bottom of a ship, there are also a great deal of terrible ones. There was a taste of both sensational and sinister, amazing and abysmal, terrific and toxic. Today, we will be looking at the bottom of the barrel.

These are the worst Sega Saturn games I have experienced so far. If you notice a title missing that belongs on this list, feel free to comment down below and I will see if I can get my hands on it. If you like some of these games, please don’t start hollering. You are entitled to your opinions, but I am not obligated to agree with you. If you enjoy playing terrible games, then you are invited to try the titles on this list that interest you. Just keep in mind that you have been warned.



#20 Contra Legacy of War

Anyone who gamed in the Nintendo era will remember one of the Konami greats. Its side scrolling run and gun action was a marvel of its time. Legacy of War does not take after its ascendent. This game is bland, milk toast and tasteless. You run and gun, but the controls are a lot more awkward and the aiming is a lot more related to its own rendition of depth perception. It’s, by no means, a terrible game. That’s why it’s so low on this list. It’s just not really worth playing.



#19 Golden Axe: The Duel

It’s a fighting game and about as stock as it gets. You recognize the characters, but then you realize that’s because they’re that one dwarf you forgot the name of along with the amazon who looked pretty while killing big armored guys in the beat’em up games. That’s just it, this wasn’t a good game because of the characters, it was fun to play when you were adventuring. The Duel takes all of the adventure aspects out and puts them in a fighting stage. There is no identity anymore and three or four matches is more than enough to force your attention elsewhere.



#18 Sonic 3D Blast

After another playthrough of this game, it doesn’t age nearly as bad, especially after seeing what horrors the Sega Saturn is truly capable of. Sonic 3D Blast still takes the speed out of Sonic and replaces it with a machine that makes you spindash over to the next part of the level. Then there’s portals that put you at the next part of the level. Then you get more birds and put them in a ring to move on to yet another part of the level. The boring, repetative gameplay did not age well at all, but the harmlessness and redundancy are at least good for some mindless head numbing.



#17 Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal

What kills this Ironman title is as soon as you kill one of the enemies, you walk down a hall and then see his half brother who happens to be wearing the exact same suit of armor. You get to a corner of a level and after scratching your metal head for a few moments, you see that there is a hole in the ceiling and you need to fly through it. After killing the original enemy’s fifth cousin twice removed on his mother’s side, you come to a fence. You shoot the fence, nothing happens. You walk up to the fence and it damages you with electricity, then it has a hole in it. You shoot the next fence, which makes a hole in it. This Ironman title (which is so long, I will not type that full thing out aside from the title of this paragraph) is mind blowingly samey in every aspect and every level looks like a friend you already know. A friend you want to stay away from and bar from your home forever!



#16 Batman Forever Arcade

This film just can’t seem to get a break. Not one, but two terrible tie-in games. Acclaim really went for the one-two punch with this one. So, you’re Batman, and you’re fighty and scrappy all well enough. However, every single time you beat up groups of badguys, you’ll get power ups. These power ups help you whether you like it or not and they just keep going. One minute, you’re punching a thug’s daylights out. The next minute the screen starts flashing green and lightning strikes you like you’re the Highlander and you just took someone’s head. Next thing you know, your punches explode people and then it goes away until the next random power up makes you swing back and forth, kicking people like George of the Jungle. This game just couldn’t be a normal beat’em up. It had to try and add sprinkles and fireworks. Instead of pumping the player up, it tires the eyes out to the point where you have to try and bring yourself to be disappointed that you ran out of continues.



#15 Alien Trilogy

Doom clone was a rather generic title for FPS’s back in the 90’s, however, at least some of them had their own identity. Alien Trilogy has this one along with its franchise and it utilizes neither of them to any extent. The most interesting aspect of this game was the fact that Doom was originally going to be an Alien title! They didn't end up doing that, but the idea was there. Now, after their success, the actual Alien game turned out to be Doom on ambien. The aliens pop out of nowhere and you have to take a minute to decide whether you’re scared or not. There are two types of aliens: the face huggers and the xenomorphs. It’s a coin toss as to which one you encounter. You shoot, they die, move on to the next bland green room. It’s exciting. See? I’m excited.



#14 The Horde

This could be a much better game and its wasted potential is part of the reason why it is not going to escape this list. The worst part about this is the FMV’s. The acting is so supremely bad and the fact that you have to keep up with a money system just pains the thought process. Why would they tax your pay when you’re just going around and slicing orcs? If you got rid of the live action scenes and cut out all of the currency mechanics, this could be a passable action game. As it stands, though, when you have to force the player into going into the action sequences through threat of imprisonment, there is something very wrong.



#13 Dragon Ball Z: Densetsu

Before this game came to be, there had already been tried and true ways to create Dragon Ball Z fighters. Why on Earth would you change the fighting game formula to this? I know that a lot of people have strong feelings about this game and I gave it a very fair try. I've been a Dragon Ball fan for many, many years and this is definitely my niche. However, there are some very unforgivable mistakes being made here. It more or less forces you into doing split screen. This causes the enemies to be hard to find, especially when you need to change characters. After the fifth hour of trying to whittle down the villains’ life bar, you’ll notice that it’s already whittled down five hours of your life bar. It’s not the 90’s anymore, there are a plethora of other DBZ fighting games to whittle upon. 



#12 Incredible Hulk - Pantheon Saga

Get ready to break things. By things, I mean glass and windows. The walls? Oh, things come off them as you punch, but breaking through is a no-go. There is no escape until you skulk around these random facilities and fight minimal enemies. It’s a puzzle switch game that doesn’t so much stimulate your brain as it does strain your senses. These senses are telling you that you could be playing something better. You should really listen.



#11 Virtual Hydlide

Even after playing a every side of the Saturn spectrum, this game proves to be one of the milder evils of the system. It’s awful, yes, but at least there’s some sense of adventure. Yeah, it handles like you’re near-sighted and the graphics give you motion sickness even without the motion, but the castles are decent to look at. Don’t get me wrong, this game is still tripe garbage. It’s just harder to stay mad at it as you walk down the Saturn’s freakshow hallway.



#10 Battle Arena Toshinden URA

Your eyes are not ready to gaze upon these “polished” pixels. It’s pretty much the first game’s graphics given a sharper layer, just in all the wrong places. The control is somehow ten times worse and your walk is even slower than before. The new badguys have no real introduction and while there is a story, it wouldn’t be worth the effort to read unless someone paid you to. Invite your friend over to play you a few rounds with this game and you’re bound to lose a companion until you start forking over the recommended amount of bribery junk food for your next gathering.



#9 Casper

Making a ghost house puzzle solver is like making a Superman game where he has to climb buildings to get balloons. It takes two seconds to realize that you should be able to pass through these walls. This becomes especially noticeable when you have a metal barred door in front of you and you’re made of incorporeal sheets. Top that with extremely boring gameplay and a nonsensical portion of avoiding uncles who are suddenly trying to… uhhhh… “kill” you. It doesn’t mix well and becomes very apparent why this movie did not get anymore game titles for it.



#8 Dragonheart: Fire and Steel

With a series such as Panzer Dragoon, you wonder why they didn’t mix that in with a side scrolling adventure game to create Dragonheart. No, they just had the sidescrolling. Coupled with a very nasty stamina meter that runs out after just a few swings of your sword and a hit detection that rivals Virtual Hydlide and you’ve got bland stacked on horrid, stacked on sludge. The controls are trash and the obstacle damage is literally unavoidable. Sorry, Grandpa knight, please limp your way slowly off of my screen, I am done with you.



#7 Corpse Killer: Graveyard Edition

It’s bad enough that FMV games force us to watch their preschool plays but do we really need live action actors trying to jump scare us in their mother’s halloween makeup? The zombies in this game look like they were cut from a coloring book of horrendous pixelation and the main villain’s gaze is so disturbingly ugly, you feel like you have a right to press charges. This game is so blatantly easy up to its later levels. Then they shove all of the zombies out at you all at once and the difficulty spike is a breath of fresh air. After all, Game Over means that you can turn off the game!



#6 Double Switch

Imagine the crappiest movie you possibly can imagine. Then imagine that you could control some of the events in that movie. That’s when you realize that you’re essentially helping it be crappy and after that realization, the game goes from lackluster to dreadful in a very short amount of time. While some people love this game for its flaws, it must also be looked at objectively. It’s still the equivalent of watching a really terrible movie that lasts for hours. Even controlling Plan 9 from Outer Space sounds like a better idea than this. Game developers honestly need to get on that idea.



#5 Street Fighter The Movie

It’s not even admirable what they were trying to do with this title. It’s one of those ideas that sounds good on paper and could have possibly been pulled off in a good way. However, blatantly copying Mortal Kombat’s style when you already have a fighting game phenomenon seems like a tasteless gesture. Cap that with the fact that the actors’ sprites look like they turn into cheap action figures when they attempt anything more complicated than an uppercut. The story mode is worth a good laugh, but that’s about all you can really appreciate about it.



#4 Rise 2: Resurrection

When I first played this game, I had no idea that it had a gigantic campaign behind its franchise. It promised amazing fighting mechanics coupled with memorable characters. It also proves that Aliens: Colonial Marines wasn’t the biggest lie in gaming history. This game teeters the bland and terrible meter to the point of breaking and leaving a shattered mess on the floor. Every character has no outer layer textures, they are simply faceless, shapeless machines that perform monotonous “fatalities” on each other while also spamming their attacks to an endless degree. Push your fastest attack in every fight and you will win, guaranteed. That should have been the ad campaign; at least it’s true!



#3 Battle Monsters

What’s this? A fighting game worse than Street Fighter the Movie and Rise 2? Believe it, friends. This game is the absolute worst of the worst when it comes to a 1v1. The characters blend so terribly into the background, you can barely see either character on the screen. The hit detection, level design and the playtime Halloween theme are laughable at best. It doesn’t matter what character you choose, the game is so terrible to control that playing it becomes more of an excuse to stare at the characters shamelessly ripped from popular horror movies. Whatever terrible drinking game you make out of this title, make sure you don’t get alcohol poisoning.



#2 Death Crimson

A current playthrough of this game caused it to go much higher on this list. Not only is it the laziest attempt at a rail shooter I have ever seen, but the fact that it can easily give you the worst motion sickness of your life makes it intolerable. The enemies are some of the worst paper cut out finger puppets and the lack of a damage indicator makes the entire experience mercifully short. Every graphic looks like literal puke and controlling the crosshair to actually fire upon a target is reliant on hope and prayer. Neither of which are worth wasting on this game.



#1 The Crow City of Angels
 
Even after sampling twice as many Saturn games as I have ever played, this game was not dethroned. It still tops the charts on horrible. The awful tank controls that snipped a chip of the effort put into Resident Evil make this game half unplayable. The hit detection and controls make this game completely hopeless. Defeating these annoying scumbags carrying guns is solely reliant on nonexistent luck. The graphics are among the absolute worst, even for Acclaim and the aimless walking around levels can only be described through thumbtacks in your skin rather than words. If you legitimately beat the first level, you deserve a metal. You also deserve to play Virtual Hydlide. At least that game is better.

There you have it! There were some laughs to be had, and even some unintentional fun in unexpected places. These games all have some kind of value to them, even if that immediately isn’t apparent… which it’s not in some cases. You could try it if you wanted. Just remember to not drown in the incompetence and instead, drink lot’s of water.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Finally Revealed: How to Play as Ryo Hazuki on the Sega Saturn!

OK, so it ain't Saturn Shenmue but bear with us here. This is still really dang cool!

As many fans already know, AM2’s Fighters Megamix is an ambitious crossover 3D fighting game for the Sega Saturn, featuring a mashup of iconic Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers characters duking it out for...reasons. For those who are unfamiliar with the game, we have written about it here on the Saturn Junkyard. It even ranked just outside folks' top 10 all-time favorite Saturn titles in our community poll a while back.

Aside from being an all-around excellent video game, Fighters Megamix is particularly notable for its smattering of weird and obscure unlockable fighters, including Bark and Bean from Sonic the Fighters, Janet from Virtua Cop 2, Rent-A-Hero (in the Japanese version), original character Deku, the prototype VF1 character Siba (who was cut from the original game before release), and most notoriously, the Hornet stock car from Daytona USA. And, uh, meat. The game even lets players fight as the AM2 palm tree logo once they've logged in a whopping 84 hours!

But apparently, that isn't everybody…

In a recent Japanese interview as part of the GO SEGA 60th Anniversary series, former Sega arcade/AM2 executive and Fighters Megamix director Hiroshi Kataoka let it slip that, buried deep within the recesses of Fighter Megamix’s code, there is one more unlockable fighter that the community has yet to unearth. Further, it was strongly hinted that this character would go on to be a massive fan favorite in the Sega community, which is especially since you bought merchandise relevant given the recent hubub surrounding certain other infamous AM2 prototypes on the Sega Saturn.

The fact that he is apparently unlockable as an alternate Akira skin also lends some credence to our suspicions, and it was later confirmed that Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki -- or at least a very early prototypical iteration of him -- is indeed a hidden playable character in Fighters Megamix.

Ryo? In Fighters Megamix?! This is cool!

It can't be overstated how monumental this potentially is for the Sega fan community. The fabled Saturn prototype build of Shenmue (a.k.a. Project Guppy, a.k.a. Virtua Fighter RPG: Akira's Story, a.k.a. Project Berkley) has been a white whale for fans ever since AM2 revealed detailed footage from the prototype project alongside Shenmue II. Perhaps one day a former Sega or AM2 employee (who is also a supremely benevolent and all-around wonderful human being) will step forward and grace the world with a playable build of Saturn Shenmue and give us adoring fans a chance to experience it for ourselves in its full 32-bit glory. Unfortunately, this prototype build reportedly ran on an upgraded version of the Saturn (rather than stock hardware), which could pose its own practical challenges to our collective pipe dream. Nevertheless, it would be a remarkable glimpse into the unbridled ambition of a masterful Yu Suzuki-led AM2 team who dared to unravel the seams of the medium to engage players in new ways and immerse them fully in its living, breathing virtual world.

Until then, having the chance to play as Ryo in a 25 year-old fighting game could be the next best thing. However, there is a catch. Unlocking our (baby) boy Ryo in Fighters Megamix is apparently a very time-consuming ordeal and none of us at the Junkyard have had a chance to try it since learning this information a couple of days ago. For any patient and dedicated souls in the community with some extra time their hands, this is how it’s supposed to work:

Similar to other secret characters in the game, unlocking Ryo requires playing Fighters Megamix for a certain threshold of time before be becomes playable. Unfortunately, in Ryo's case, this is double the amount of time it takes to unlock the AM2 palm tree: 168 hours!

Worth it.

Done doing that? Good.

After logging a full 168 hours into Fighters Megamix, simply go into any mode and highlight Akira on the fighter select screen, hold *L+R+B+X+Z simultaneously before selecting the character with either A, C, or Y

* Note: we believe they meant L and R as in the shoulder buttons, not the D-pad inputs.

And after that…?

Let’s get sweaty.

That’s all we know so far. We will follow up with some updates once we’re able to play as Ryo for ourselves. In the meantime, if anyone in the community can unlock Ryo first and share their spoils with the Saturn Junkyard Facebook community, we will be forever grateful for your legendary exploits!

May Segata Sanshiro guide your path.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Balan Wonderworld Demo - Nights on Training Wheels

 So, you wanted high flying action? Mysterious and wondrous worlds of beauty and glamour? How about amazingly smooth gameplay with awesome mechanics? Well, if you were expecting a true successor to Nights Into Dreams, allow me to probably be the 10th person to tell you, this ain't it. What they did was take the most basic mechanic of walking around as a child in Nights, added some power-ups and crappy puzzle solving and slapped it onto a game. Then they added some Chao clones and one cool enemy along with his generic minions and called it a day. 

Do not get me wrong, I know this is a demo and I know that there could still be some good stuff here, but that's where they really screwed it all up. The point of the demo is to give people a taste of what is to come and make them want more. What this gave us is the most basic of 3D platformers with the same problems in depth perception and cryptic purpose to all of it. If this is really all we have in store for us, count me out.

This leads me to believe that if there is something of a Nights flying mechanic, it is buried underneath idiotic level designs and time-wasting bonus rounds in the "Balan Bout" segment. These segments heighten your score but they are not fun in the least; they are Quick Time Events: The Game.

Nights Into Dreams mixed with elements of Alice in Wonderland should have been a homerun. Well, it's not even a first base hit. It attempts to make the level designs interesting, but it's stuff we've seen twenty million times before. So, now we're walking around as a child in this watered down version of Wonderland. Do the power-ups even make a dent in this boredom? Of course, not. The best thing about them is that they called the rabbit suits "Jumping Jacks" which is very mildly clever. Beyond that, you're a sprouting flower much in the vain of Mario Odyssey, a dragon that puffs out a scrawny fart of fire and a rabbit suit that does the Luigi running long jump. The next power up is just a pig suit that makes you do the super stomp, much like MARIO!

Funny how this "Nights clone" is looking more and more like the gargantuan Nintendo franchise. It's almost like they didn't want to spend all of that time and effort on creating full blown flying mechanics so they just asked themselves "What's easier and doesn't take a whole lot of thought? I got a dinner date for the rest of the week." Okay, that was a bit cruel to the developers but what else are we supposed to think? They had every single bit of potential this world had to offer and they cheaped out on us! 

The introduction graphics and opening theme are quite good, if we're going for compliments. The opening score is nice to listen to and it's quite obvious that there was a lot of effort put into certain elements of this game. One of the main baddies we do get to meet actually has a cool character design; you know, much like a Nights villain with tentacles. That's pretty much where all of the praise comes to a close. Beyond that, it's so mediocre and off-putting because they gave us every single wrong idea. To their credit, they at least released a demo. That's a lot more than can be said about other certain games that have come out recently. 

So, Saturn fans, I'm sorry to say that this is not the game we were hoping for. It's highly unlikely that Nights Into Dreams will ever get a full sequel outside of that underwhelming Wii game. If this game includes awesome high flying episodes, that should have been the whole entire game or at least 80% of it. Balan Wonderworld could have been a contender for a nostalgic throwback of amazing proportions, but they decided not to go that route, for whatever reason. Be absolutely sure you play this demo if you have any interest in this game at all. It could be your cup of tea, as doubtful as that is. It's not completely devoid of fun, it's just lacking a great deal of it. Looks like Nights still remains king while this pauper is nothing more than the castle janitor. Decide for yourself, and don't forget to drink water.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

The Virtua Fighter Series - Punch, Kick, Repeat



Virtua Fighter is one of the flagship franchises for the Sega Saturn. It is one of the most instantly recognizable games on the system and it is an exemplary fighting game. No matter what generation after the fifth generation of consoles, this series has had an impact on it. VF had somewhat humble beginnings, but has never sagged in its portrayal of a genre that it helped invent. It was the first 3D fighting game to hit the arcades and it set the standard.

What it lacks in story, as it doesn’t have a great one, it makes up for it in pure fighting mechanics. Each of the characters are distinct from one another and each of them boasts a different type of technique. With every entry in the series, it only grew in quality and number of characters. No matter what kind of character you fight with, there is someone for you here.

We’re going to be taking a look at the main titles of this series. All of them bring something new to the table and all of them are up to par. It competes with the strongest franchises. Although it didn’t keep the popularity up the whole way through, it still kept its dignity in tact with every entry to the series. Starting with Virtua Fighter in the arcades, the franchise took off like an eagle!


                                                                                Virtua Fighter
                                                    

With some blocky, jagged graphics, the first installment of the series was crude, but that didn’t matter. While the graphics didn’t age well at all, the game mechanics aged like a fine wine. We’re introduced to characters who will be following us for more and more generations than we could have known at the time.

With great characters like Pai-chan, Akira and Jeffry, you have quite the array of different personalities and styles to play with. There really isn’t much of a story behind this game, but honestly, it doesn’t need a complex narrative behind it. Fighting games can be made great with a story behind it, but in this case, it worked just fine without one. For the time, the graphics and the fighting mechanics were at a great high.

3D fighting games were a great rarity when Virtua Fighter was released. The backgrounds are simple but effective in their portrayal of the setting. A cityscape looks like a whole cluster of fireflies standing still and the beach looks like a small patch of sand with a never ending body of water on the outskirts. Still, it looks just strange enough to work.

Virtua Fighter doesn’t win a great deal of points for graphics, but its controls and its atmosphere of retro fighting makes it a staple for any Saturn collection! Not to mention, it was a perfect opener for a fantastic encore!


                                                                                Virtua Fighter 2       
                                                   

Many consider this the best in the series, and they are not wrong. As well upgraded as the future sequels were, Virtua Fighter 2 encompasses everything we love about the original series. The graphics were upgraded to a ridiculous extent. The console version stacked up well against the arcade edition, as it only featured minimal differences from the original version. It even gave the characters new moves and brand new backgrounds for fighting arenas.

Lion and Shun are brought into the fray and who could say no to a drunken fighter and the mantis style? They fit in perfectly with the cast and bring about their own extended mechanics. Shun, especially, brought a new weird batch of fighting moves as the more you make him drink, the more fighting moves he can perform with different button combinations.

All of the character models look so much better and the frame rate smoothed so much more this time around. If you were looking for a fighting game to challenge yourself by learning its ins and outs, this is your game. It has been used for competitive fighting many times and still holds true greatness to this day.


                                                                        Fighters Megamix

                                            

A crossover that brought the likes of Fighting Vipers into the arena alongside Virtua Fighters. Does it work? Yes, but there are some issues here and there. First off, though, the greatest thing about this whole game is the roster of characters and the settings for each wondrous level. Bringing all of these characters together and giving you the opportunity to play with both regular player characters and boss fighters was a stroke of 90’s action awesomeness!

Now, as for the shortcomings, unfortunately there is a bit of a balance issue when you take certain characters into consideration. Fighting Vipers featured some of the more fast paced moves along with armor protecting its characters, so they had something of an unfair advantage some of the time. Beyond that, there is also a few cage matches where the frame rate tanks at a ridiculous rate.

Beyond those problems, though, the graphics look amazing and the roster even bears some characters you never would expect to be in a fighting game, like a bear. Unlocking all of these characters are half of the fun and enjoying the wondrous images of both the Virtua Fighter and Fighting Viper backgrounds is a sight to behold.

Beating the game isn’t much of a challenge as all it takes is choosing some of the less scrupulous fighters with the bigger, easier combos to perform. This is okay for unlocking characters and beating the computer, but not so great when you’re fighting your friends or siblings. Be sure to keep it fair.


                                                                       Virtua Fighter Kids

                                                           

Something that probably should have never happened, but we’re glad that it did! Featuring the roster from Virtua Fighter 2 in kid form, this strange title became something of a lauded title in the series. Given its strange game content and the overall outlandish execution, its kind of a wonder as to how it all worked so well. The game mechanics have changed quite a bit, but still retained its greatness in controls and fighting styles all around.

The thing about this title is that it is, in fact, aimed at children and even gives them the option to choose a more kid friendly difficulty. It also features brighter colors and a much more upbeat atmosphere. Somehow, this mixed in with the fighting mechanics just fine. Pay no attention to the fact that the guys with facial hair still retain these as a kid. The fact that Shun is an oldman kid is hilarious.

One thing worth noting about this title is that both Sarah Bryant and Akira Yuki appear in their kid forms in Fighters Megamix as some of the later unlockable characters. Beyond this, sadly, there were no sequels made for the Kids title. It’s sad, but then again, it’s not surprising as this seemed more like an experimental game. If you want to try and gets kids into Sega Saturn fighting games, then look no further!


                                                                    Virtua Fighter Remix

                                                          

A revamping of the original title in the series, Remix came and improved pretty much all of the graphics of Virtua Fighter. To be honest, it looks better, but there is just something missing from it. It lacks the atmosphere of the original titles and the polished graphics just don’t feel like they belong. Many would find it to be preferable over the blocky polygons you see in VF1 but honestly, if that sort of thing bothers you, then you’re better off just going with Virtua Fighter 2 rather than this.

This is more subjective than anything because newcomers will probably find this version far superior. It’s definitely worth a try, without question. However, those who look past graphics and frame rates and enjoy the old retro style may not find this favorable. If you have a chance to try and see for yourself, do so, please.


                                                                           Virtua Fighter 3tb

                                                 

Now moving onto the Sega Dreamcast system! Virtua Fighter graduates to a new set of 32 bit graphics with this take on the Virtua Fighter series. Virtua Fighter 3 came out on the arcades but hit the Dreamcast with the “tb” at the end (standing for Team Battle). The graphics overall look remarkable, certain details aside, and the fighting mechanics are still here for your fighting pleasure.

This is probably the worst title in the franchise, but that’s not saying a whole lot because it’s still fantastic. The real problem it has is in the team battle aspect itself. This mechanic makes fights take far longer and the length makes them out stay their welcome just a little bit. The graphics, while improved, also start hitting the uncanny valley when it comes to seeing the people’s faces. Their eyes and facial features just look a little off and seemed like the improvement only made them worse.

Still, the fighting arenas never looked better and fighting in them is a lot of fun. The level of detail can be seen with such clarity and you get to meet your old favorite characters all over again while also being introduced to more. While the new characters don’t really have the same kind of staying power or charm, they also don’t get in the way of anything.

Honestly, this is not the title you should use to get people into VF, but it also won’t scare them away. The team battle aspect can be a lot of fun if you have the patience and the time to work it to your liking. The characters have looked better, though, and it’s a little sad that this is the only title that made it to the Sega Dreamcast, as Virtua Fighter 4 was never ported to it. In fact, this is the last Virtua Fighter game to be on a Sega system. It’s sad, but let’s move on.


                                                                         Virtua Fighter 4

                                                       

After a bit of a dip in quality with the third installment, hopes weren’t exactly high for this title. Boy, was I surprised to find that this game made improvements across the board and even gave it even more of a fun factor. This is how you truly improve upon greatness. The introduction to the PS2 honestly could not have gone better for Virtua Fighter. It not only kept its underlying greatness, but the story mode is actually a whole lot of fun!

You play as one character and improve that character to your liking as you fight in arcades around the city in order to take them all over! The more arcades you take as yours, the more your character improves overall. It makes you want to keep fighting and improving your character to take over more regions of the city where there are bigger and more important arcades.

To say this was a graphics improvement would be an understatement. While the new characters still lack in staying power, it really doesn’t matter. The character designs are still stylish and their overall portrayal has lost none of its potency. This was a surprise and a half! Virtua Fighter 4 is a hit! How it could possibly have been the only title the series had on PS2 is a mystery, but it carried on an amazing legacy and ushered in even a fifth title.


                                                                                 Virtua Fighter 5

                                                         

The fifth and final title of the main game series. VF5 was released on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and wowed audiences and critics alike! The graphics are sublime and it never stumbled on its fighting mechanics, as the series never would. You can still see your old favorites along with a few new, rather noticeable additions to the line up.

How is it that this was the last title, though? Was there a bit of franchise fatigue or did AM2 simply think that they should end the series on a high note? This is definitely a high note and it is worth buying right now because you can get it remarkably cheap. It holds the same mechanics as VF4 and the frame junkies will get their fix because it runs as smooth as butter cream. It’s just such a shame that the series needed to end so unceremoniously. They could at least release a Virtua Fighter collection or something to commemorate such an amazing series as this.

Virtua Fighter had its highs and its small mediocrity, but it never dipped below its own standards. It still held true to its mechanics and every single one of the game developers should be proud of how it all turned out. Not only is it a staple for Sega enthusiasts but Fighting Game junkies will get their money’s worth in many ways with any of these titles on this list. If you are a fan of this genre, then you are neglecting a fantastic bunch of games in skipping out on this franchise. Do yourself a favor and get as many of these games as you can because this is a legacy that needs to endure and Sega needs to show it some respect. There are titles that I missed (namely the Sega Genesis 2D fighter) in this list, but these are the titles that I have played and loved in doing so. Give it a go, just don’t be like Shun and over indulge. He should drink more water and so should you.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Doom - Saturn Demon Gorefest

 Let's talk about Doom. The masterpiece of a game created by ID Software, headed by both John Carmack and John Romero. Originally meant to be an Alien tie-in, Doom took on the hot subject of hell, death, guns and gore and put it on computers across the entire world. The impact this game has had on the world could not be overstated with a series of novels. If Wolfenstein 3D is considered the grandfather of modern FPS, then Doom is the father. With limitless amounts of ports across platforms of all kinds, the Doom franchise has thrived across the span of over two decades, despite a long lull in development between Doom 3 and Doom 4.

So, putting it on Sega Saturn should have been a match made in heaven, right? Well, not so much. While the developers had more than enough to work with in making it the best console port of its time, it was John Carmack that came down with the decision to not use any 3D tech, opting instead to keep it to the original textures. He single-handedly killed this port for everyone simply to avoid a bit of texture wobble. 

The result is rather disheartening. The frame rate drops to crawling rates, the controls are less than stellar but at least the graphics are fairly decent. The textures actually look really good, if not a little bit discolored, but was it worth it? No, no it really wasn't. This makes it look like the Sega Saturn couldn't perform well enough for Doom, but that is not at all the case. The Saturn had every capability in carrying both Doom and Doom 2, but instead, the frame rate was dropped to a dismal 12 fps which constantly bottoms out with too much activity on the screen.

You know what the real kicker is here, though? It's still Doom and it is still very much playable. It's no lie that the frames are awful and the controls are very slowed down as well, but thankfully the weapon firing rates were all heightened to compensate for the difficulty. It works surprisingly well. You can still find great enjoyment in this port if you are willing to look past its many faults. 

Discovering what became of this port was very depressing. It took time and gameplay, but overall, it was not a terrible experience. In fact, there is a lot of enjoyment to be had! You can now cheat and make it where you can have the super shotgun and all of the weapons in the first episode of Doom, Knee Deep in the Dead. You can now take down the Bruiser Brothers, the Barons of Hell in the Phobos Anomaly with the BFG 9000 and the plasma gun! It's a riot! 

There have been some who came forward, saying that Doom on the Saturn was the first version they ever played the game. They still love Doom. They had no problems playing it and thoroughly indulging in it. This is definitely not the best port by any means, but it is still not the worst. It still has the majority of the Doom 1 and 2 levels in tact, despite its limitations. Do not count this port out just because it has some graphical shortcomings. Doom is Doom and the Saturn is no different. 

Do I wish we got a port more akin to the PS1? Of course, I do. Carmack was obviously not happy with his decision in the long run, and the developer who wrote the port was mortified to have been forced to change it from his original version which reportedly worked at 60 fps. It would have been nice to have, but these are the cards we have been played. Give this version a try if you fancy yourself an old school gamer. Saturn fans don't need to be proud of it, but we can keep it to ourselves. Now go spill some blood and rip demons responsibly. 

New SJY TitanCast Episode -- Yakuza: Like a Dragoncast w/ Kinsey Burke & KC RadioMan!

Join us for a monumental celebration of SEGA and RGG Studio's Yakuza: Like a Dragon (a.k.a. YakLAD)! In this mega episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast, Brian and Camron are joined by special guests KC (host of The SEGA Lounge on Radio SEGA) and Kinsey (YouTuber and Producer at Chuhai Labs) for a lively deep dive into the inaugural adventure of Ichiban Kasuga and friends.

Available on podcast sites everywhere, including:

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts
Listen on Buzzsprout

For the first half of this episode, we have a spoiler-free chat about our broader experiences and impressions of LAD as a sequel and entry point, and its merits as both a continuation of and departure from the series' legacy. Later in the episode, things take a turn for the absurd and spoilery as we fawn over Ichiban, reminisce about our hypercapitalist tomfoolery in the business sim mini game, and talk mad shit about certain “supporting” characters.

Whether you already love Yakuza and Like a Dragon or are curious what all the hoopla is about, join us for a fun time, either way!

Games discussed in this episode: Yakuza: Like a Dragon (and not much else)

Panelists (Twitter links):

Kinsey (@KinsZilla)

KC (@KCRadioMan)

Camron (@Tsundain)

Brian (@VirtuaSchlub)


Related Links:

The Sega Lounge podcast site - https://thesegalounge.podbean.com/e/bestofsega2020/

Radio Sega main site - https://www.radiosega.net/

The SEGA Lounge Twitter (@thesegalounge) - https://twitter.com/thesegalounge


Chuhai Labs main site (w/ Discord link) - https://www.chuhailabs.com/

Chuhai Labs Twitter (@ChuhaiLabs) - https://twitter.com/chuhailabs


The Saturn Junkyard blog site - http://thesaturnjunkyard.blogspot.com/

SJY Facebook page & community - https://www.facebook.com/thesaturnjunkyard

SJY YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/c/TheSaturnJunkyard/

SJY Twitter (@SaturnJunkyard) - https://twitter.com/SaturnJunkyard


The Dreamcast Junkyard home page - https://www.thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk/

Brian's Shenmue III article on DCJY - https://www.thedreamcastjunkyard.co.uk/2021/01/LegacyofShenmue3.html

Monday, 15 February 2021

Shining the Holy Ark - Swords and more Swords

 



The 32 bit era was a landmark for several different game franchises. It allowed many of them to change the perspective of their entire game and bring us even closer to the action. The Shining series brought their games to this landmark as well and we got some great titles as a result. Shining the Holy Ark is no exception to this! The RPG genre was boosted to a whole new level and the push to 3D was a resounding success!



With haunted mansions and an entire barrage of monsters to face throughout caves and other dreary landscapes, you will never grow bored. There is also a cascade of beauty in green forests and grasslands. When you and your band of mercenaries are hired to take down a strange ninja, you embark on a journey that is far beyond what you’d expect. With characters that use melee weapons and characters that are mastered in the arts of magic, you need to make your strategy an effective one if you want to get through all of the ridiculous obstacles.


Now, is the game perfect? No, in fact there are several parts of the game that force you to grind a lot of your progress. If this is your thing, then the game will give you a lot of it. You can easily get lost in the tunnels and caves and this can be a problem when you are running out of magic and items to survive.



The characters are one of the saving graces of the game. There’s enough of a story to keep your involvement solid, while leaving your character enough of a blank slate to make them your own. The monsters can get a bit difficult in spots of the game, but overcoming them gives you a great sense of satisfaction.



The real problem with the game is it can get repetitive and there isn’t a great deal of replay value attached. However, after a long while between playing, it is very easy to pick up once again. The graphics are an example of the time and many have compared playing this game to playing the ever popular Final Fantasy VII. Any Fantasy RPG fan will most likely love this title. The Shining series is a fantastic Sega franchise that boasts several games that are more than worth trying for yourself. Give it a try!