Monday 30 July 2007

Videogame Cats for the win!

Ok, I know this is the THIRD post today on the Saturn Junkyard, but I just had to post this! As you may know I'm a huge fan of the web-comic VG Cats and today I searched through it's archives looking for Saturn/SEGA related stuff. Unfortunately there wasn't much, but anyway, here goes what I've found:


Resident Evil

More Resident Evil

Panzer Dragoon

Dinner with the Dreamcast (more suited to the Dreamcast Junkyard, but since I'm not a member)

By the way, in a totally unrelated matter, today I realised something: is Bomberman a terrorist?

I mean, just think about it, he passes his time wasting others with bombs! And if you're not careful you can even die with your own bombs! Isn't that the definition of a suicide bomber?

Wait, forgot my pills...

More racing goodness

By now you should all know that I have two passions when it comes to the Saturn. The first is obvious, Japanese imports, since every Saturn fan knows that there are so many awesome games those selfish bastards kept for their own. The other is racing games. Due to the immediate nature of those games, where you just put the cd in the console and in a matter of seconds you're already burning tires in the highway, they're perfect for a busy gamer like me. Recently I acquired two new racing games, and after playing them for some time, here is my opinion of them.

The first is Street Racer, an Europe/Japan exclusive (sorry caleb). Needless to say me version is the european one, since I only have Japanese games that are exclusives. Don't be fooled by the name, though. I now what you're thinking, "street racer", where there tuning games for the Saturn, where you compete in street races to earn cash and "pimp your ride"? No, and this game definitely has nothing to do with that.

This is in fact a rip-off of Mario Kart, so expect cartoon-like characters riding little cars in wacky tracks covered with powerups. This games isn't anywhere near the greatness of Mario Kart (or Crash Team Racing, my other favourite), though, for the controls are complicated, the powerups are shit and the CPU drivers race like Airton Senna. In multiplayer the game is better, of course, and the graphics have same charm to them, but overall this is a game to avoid, considering the many great racers the Saturn has.

My other game is much better, and even combines my two passions for this is a Japan-only release and, obviously, a racing game. I'm talking about Drift King '97. Doesn't sound familiar? Well, let's put it this way, know the Tokyo Highway Challenge games for the Dreamcast? This game is part of that series, so you can expect similar races against a rival in some busy Tokyo highways.

I haven't played much yet, maybe because I suck at it and wasn't able to win a single race, but fortunately for me, even if I lose I still earn money. This money is then spent in upgrades for the various components of the car, like engine, exhaust, brakes, etc... This is where the Japanese origins of this game kick in, because the names of the various parts are all in japanese and I can't understand shit. Fortunately the menus and stuff are all in English.

The handling of the cars is pretty good, but more realistic than a sega rally or daytona, so don't expect the car to turn so easily. As the name implies, drifting plays a big role, to the point where there is even a button just for it! Of course you can still try to do it manually, but it's just more practical to simply press the button. It doesn't do all by itself, though, so if you're not careful your car will be out of control in no time.

Graphically this game is just great, simple as that. You see a lot more pop-up than in other games, but this is due to the tracks being based on highways, allowing you to see the buildings surrounding it, unlike most games with "tunnel" tracks, with barriers along the road that prevent you from seeing much, thus saving the graphics processor.

Being as it is you can expect lots of buildings, including some pretty interesting ones, like the Tokyo Tower, for example. The traffic is also well done, with "neutral" cars being numerous and nicely modelled. There's also a retro flavour to this title, with the time passing by as you race (from afternoon to sunset and then night) just like in OutRun, Hang-On and other old SEGA racing games. On top of that there is also a great attention to detail, like the speedometer lighting up whenever you enter a tunnel.

Definitely a must have for any import/racing fan.

Sunday 29 July 2007

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Sega World Wide Soccer '98

You may remember in the early days of this hallowed blog, me getting all excited about finding a Saturn game at Gamestation for the paltry price of 20p (then again you may not.) If that's the case, then let me take you back in time! You can see it by clicking here...

Of course that particular title was the 1997 incarnation of the game... And a rather fantastic game it is too... But what I hadn't realised (or remembered) until today was that I also own the 1998 follow up release!

Whilst browsing Youtube, I came across the 'intro' footage to the game and the memories came flooding back! Up until I got my Saturn, the most cutting edge console I ever owned was the Megadrive. I cannot describe to you how incredible the above footage looked back then!

I would never, ever skip the intros to games back then I'd just gaze in awe at the graphics and 'rock out' to the crappy music!

When looking at the comments on Youtube, this very footage brought back very positive memories for those who had played it. But obviously, those people at some time obviously gave up on their Saturn, or got rid of it. I can't imagine life without my Saturn... When a new console comes out, why do people bin their old ones? If they break down, why do they not fix or replace them?

The Saturn I own at the moment is at least my fourth. It's like a trusted old friend, a faithful border collie or a long cherished family member. I love the way the Saturn logo comes from its fractured and splintered pieces into its steely and buff wholeness.

But what of the game? Like its younger brother SWWS 97, SWWS 98 is a simply stunning game.
Best played after a couple of beers with a trusted friend, the gameplay is absolutely sublime.
games that end in a draw go to extra time, and then to penalties. This is where the most fun comes from. There's nothing like clutching your Saturn controller close to your chest (like a closely guarded poker hand) so that you can ensure your opponent doesn't see the direction of your shot!

The goal celebrations (and their subsequent ridiculously funny animations) rub your opponents nose in your glory! its a great 'pick up and play' title and the controls are pretty easy to work out... One downside to the whole thing is that my sons (Pro Evo whores) won't play me at it as they think its just ridiculously out dated... The swines!

For a proper review of the game look here and here, to buy it look here, to download it for your PC look here and for its Wikipedia page look here!

Friday 27 July 2007

Segata Sanshiro trading card game!

I was happily surfing the internets when I stumbled upon this picture:

The text is in Portuguese, but the message is clear: Chuck Norris kicks ass!

Then I thought, who else kicks ass? That's right, Segata Sanshiro! But sadly, after some research, I found out that there wasn't any kind of trading cards with his picture! SACRILEGE!

But fear not, for NebachadnezzaR is here to calm the wrath of our god, creating a card with his holy image!

Gaze with awe to what I have done in the name of our master!

So...what do you think?

The text is roughly the same of the Chuck Norris card, by the way.

A Fabulous Saturn Resource

Just a quickie post here folks! Having browsed the Internet for cool Saturn stuff, I came across the rather wonderful Gamespot Gamefaqs... There are FAQs, reviews, cheats, forums and message boards, walkthroughs and a whole host of other great stuff, that makes you feel like the Saturn was still a current gen console.

For example. I found about eight player reviews of Resident Evil, posts on the greatest Saturn games of all times (look here), a list of every Saturn game ever made and even a Hardware FAQ written in Portugese for my good friend and team mate Nebachadnezzar!

So it seems along with the wonderful Racket Boy and Wikipedia, we at the SJY now have another fabulous Saturn reference point and resource! Praise be to Segata!!

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Japanese games have weird names

While searching the web for Saturn related stuff I came across two particular games that caught my attention due to their weird titles. No, I don't mean waku puyo-like weird, I mean really weird. Check this game for instance, called Mechanical Violator Hakaider. Wait, what? Mechanical Violator? Do we control some kind of rapist robot? Apparently no, it's a light-gun game but not like Virtua Cop or House of the Dead. Instead it has more story, intercalating the playable sequences with what they call "FMV style 3D RPG sections". Don't ask me what they are all about...
Anyway, we should have guessed all of this for the title, shouldn't we?

Think that was weird? Well, prepare for the next title. This one is called (prepare yourself) 6 Inch My Darling! Yes, that's it, 6 Inch My Darling... So, want to know what this one is all about? Well, apparently it's a typical Japanese text adventure (therefore, unplayable for the non-japanese reader) about 6 Inch tall people. Well, that explains the title, but I still think they should have saved it for an hentai game about some dude with a 6 inch penis...

Anyway, expect my next post to have more quality...

Tuesday 24 July 2007

Segata Sanshiro for the win!

See the .gif above?

Now, look at it again...

It's great, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the little purple cube. In fact I'd love to have one, or at least a Wii, since it can play GC games, for there are some brilliant exclusive games, like RE1 (remake), RE0 (zero), Eternal Darkness, Zelda: Wind Waker, and so on...

But I simply had to show you all this, for not only it is an hilarious animation, but it shows how much Segata love there is on the web.

Now, put on your wigs and sing along:

Segata Sanshiro

Segata Sanshiro

Sega Saturn...


Monday 23 July 2007

Resident Evil - Saturn

Resident Evil Re-Visited...

"Resident Evil A piece of gaming history, as Capcom branches out from it's 2D fighter roots, and takes the gaming world by storm by virtually inventing the 3D Horror Survival RPG. Only one snag here... I could never get into any of the Resident Evil titles. Firstly, I'm shit at the game. Whether it's this initial foray into the franchise on the Saturn, or the highs of R.E. Code Veronica on the Dreamcast, I'm just shit. I want to like it... I really do, but whichever incarnation I play, I end up hating the way the characters seem to ice-skate through the game when walking... I get lost very easily, can't remember where I've been or come from, panic as zombies approach and end up with one of the undead motherfuckers taking a good old chomp out of my neck, with blood spurting out whilst I try to shake them off, wriggling about like a little girl whose been injected with smack. And those doors, those fucking doors that you have to stare at while the levels load... *shudder!*"

That was my dismissive summing up of Resident Evil for the Saturn earlier this year, and in a typically Krishna-esque U-Turn, I then became obsessed with the franchise, playing RE 4 on the PS2 to its conclusion, closely followed by RE: Code Veronica, RE:CV Gun Survivor, RE: DS and have also bought (but not played) RE (Gamecube Re-Make), RE Outbreak File for PS2 and have bought DVDs of the two movies...

However, until today, I had not actually played the Saturn's 'Resident Evil' for anything more than five minutes, before dismissing it as
a waste of time. I had intended to play through a good chunk of Panzer Dragoon, but as I looked for the game, I came upon Resident Evil.

"Should I give it another go?" I thought "Should I dip my toe into the Resident Evil waters once again?" and somewhat inevitably I decided "Yes!"

So where do I start? Well let's start at the very beginning... The game starts with a very atmospheric video, showing the S*T*A*R*S rescue team dropped in Raccoon Forest looking for their stranded 'Bravo' colleagues. This must have been so cool back in the day! The uber villain of the series, Albert Wesker, is there leading the team and its not too long before they flee from those zombie Dobermans into the Umbrella owned mansion where your quest begins...

Playing as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine (Chris represents harder gameplay) you start your exploration of the mansion and its not too long before those sinister and shuffling zombies show up, ready for you to waste...

The great thing is, thanks to playing the DS remake, I now know roughly what to expect in each room and also the layout of the mansion, so exploration is not so hit and miss. The DS remake is literally a straight port of the first outing, with a few nods to the DS stylus/microphone control system. So in a sense, even though it was played looking at the tiny screen of the DS, I have already played this Saturn game before...

Still, onto the best features... the game is HUGE for a 32 bit title. The mansion is sprawling, and there is much to explore if you have the time or patience. The graphics are superb for the time and the detail in the mansion's rooms, furniture and fittings are magnificent. The game's musical
score is superb, building up tension as you edge through those oh so slowly opening doors!

Compared to later RE titles, the action is relatively slow paced. The zombies are pretty scarce at the start of the game, with most rooms containing items rather than monsters. The inventory system, with its maps, weapons, ammo and healing devices is brilliant and the same system is being used, as Resident Evil 5 for PS3 and Xbox 360 looms upon us. One grumble is that the saving system (randomly scattered typewriters that require ink ribbons) are few and far between. You can be killed by an unexpected zombie (their attacks are pretty unforgiving) and you can be sent backwards through your progress in the game, losing large chunks of combat and discovery, finding yourself back at square one, and having to repeat large chunks of the game.

Another gripe is the aiming and firing system. A slightly wrong nudge of the D Pad can find your aim way off line (particularly when fighting the zombie dogs). It could just be me but knifing seems pretty ineffective and bullets are precious. Therefore when firing your weapon, a lot of bullets seem to get wasted, and you find yourself running out of ammo quick!

An 'easy' option would be very much appreciated (by me anyway). Take this very pertinent point from the article "What Just Happened? (Death and Defeat In Gaming)" from the wonderful (and oft cited on this site) Games TM magazine...

" The problem is that a large number of games are still made as tests of timing, tactics and reflexes, with a story forced in to the gaps between levels. If narrative is to develop and fully engage the player, then setbacks inherent in the story will have to take precedence over extreme difficulty. If story is to be told effectively, then surely there is experiential benefit in allowing the player to reach the end without too much difficulty. Replaying the same ten minutes of a story 50 times will leave you frustrated and possibly convince you that the adventure isn't worth taking."

Wise words indeed! That sums up whats happened with me and dozens of games! But when you know that a story within a game IS worth seeing through to a conclusion, all too difficult games become very frustrating. That's why games with 'easy' options, or forgiving save systems are the ones I have loved the most. (Examples include RE4, Shenmue 1 & 2, Enter The Matrix and Head Hunter.)

The Saturn version of Resident Evil is a MUST in any Saturn collection and the best way to investigate the RE franchise, if you've never played any of the titles. Playing through the series chronologically, rather than the back to front way I have approached it, is the best way to experience the joy of Resident Evil.

For some great RE resources look here, here, here, here and here!

More crazy Japanese stuff

After sometime without touching my beloved Saturn (been busy lately with my 360), I decided to try another obscure Japanese game, this time a dungeon crawler much like Diablo (did I ever mention that Diablo II is my favourite game of all time?), or so I was told. The fact is this game is much more similar to Evolution, a series of RPG's for the Dreamcast, which is not that bad, since I kind of liked Evolution 1 and 2...until I got bored to death with the repetitive gameplay.

(Diablo II: I wuv it so...)

But let's talk about this particular game. The game in question has one of the longest/weirdest titles I've ever seen, it's name being (breath in): Waku Waku Puyo Puyo Dungeon Limited (breath out). My first thought was that this was some kind of strange mix between Waku Waku 7 and the Puyo Puyo series in a dungeon-style setting, but although I've never played Waku Waku 7, I didn't see any reference to it.

Well, maybe this is because I can't understand a fucking word of Japanese, and this game is full of it! Yeah, yeah, I know, what else could I expect from an import, but there are some games that have a lot of english between the kanji. Unfortunately this is not one of those, and although I don't care for the story, it's really hard to manage your inventory like this. I bet I'm still using my beginner's rusty sword while my inventory is full of "great swords of the greatest greatness +5".

(beware of killer puyos!)

At least the gameplay is really basic. You start the game in what seems to be some sort of crazy fun park, with the typical horror house along the not so typical puyo dungeon (WTF?). It doesn't really matter what area you choose, because they all end up like being the same thing, only the background is different. Just like in Evolution, you have to explore a maze-like dungeon, fighting enemies (oh noes, killer puyos!), collecting items and exploring the dungeon until you find the stairs to the next level. The worst thing about this game, and about all others of the same genre, is that this is all you do, and you have to repeat it ad nauseam (I like to show off the little latin I know :D). Combine this with my short attention span and you have a game that will only be in the console for 1 or 2 days.

Anyway, in case anyone really digs this kind of games, this is a good choice and not a too expensive one (you can usually buy it for, like, $30 or something).

Puyos, aren't they cute...(and deadly!)

Friday 20 July 2007

Schools Out For Summer!


Guess what peeps!? I'm off for six weeks! That's right people, six weeks on full pay!
You cannot know the JOY of this day! IT ROCKS!

I don't care about the weather, the climate or the fact that this years weather looks like a monsoon...

I can stay up all night, play games and blog, lie in bed every morning, watch crap on daytime TV, catch up on my DVD collection, drink in the daytime and avoid any sort of housework...

At this point my friends, life looks sweet!

Thursday 19 July 2007

Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Its a lazy bloggers trick, (posting videos off Youtube), but occasionally it does yield up a treasure or two. Take a look at this rather stunning slice of 'Panzer Dragoon' from the Panzer Dragoon Saga. If ever proof were needed of the graphic capabilities of the Saturn, then this is it!

OK, admittedly large quantities of this clip are 'cut scenes' but, WOW! The forerunner of the classic Dreamcast title 'Rez', Panzer Dragoon was an almighty, (nay epic) title, that transported the player into an alternate universe of spaced out dragon riding.

I still have this Saturn classic in my collection, and this video has inspired me to give it a serious play this weekend. I was a raver when I had this game and I used to put it on the TV when I came home after a hard hight's clubbing. Not to play it mind you, just to gawk at its graphic spleandour and trip out to its surreal visuals. One of the first titles for the Saturn that I really got into, my memories of the game are golden! The PD Saga is now a very pricey collectable. Panzer Dragoon itself still fetches a tenner, (£10), at Gamestation and it's price denotes it's quality!

One frustrating element to this story, is that I'm sure, (absolutely sure) that I had the follow up title (Panzer Dragoon Zwei) at one point. But one thing is for certain, I don't have it now! Like the playable demo of Christmas NiGHTS that I once owned, its now lost within the junky recesses of my house!

Still, at least this video has ignited the spark of interest, that will become a burning inferno of obsession when I pop this hallowed title into my Saturn this weekend!


Wednesday 18 July 2007

There's a Sonic X-Treme for everyone!

Since apparently I'm the only one here that has played Sonic X-Treme, I decided to spread the love. For all of you out there that don't want to modchip or swap-trick your saturn, and for the people that don't even have a Saturn (*points at gnome*), here's the Sonic X-Treme Pack for the Saturn Junkyard!

This is a pack made by your's truly containing a release of Sonic X-Treme, along with a lot of cover art, and two versions of my favourite Saturn emulator for the PC: SSF. I haven't used it for quite some time, so I decided to include the version I had, 007, and the latest, 008. The older version runs quite fast but with a lot of graphical issues. The newer version on the other hand is quite the opposite, graphically perfect but with a terrible framerate. This, I believe, is just a matter of tweaking the emulator, something I wasn't able to do but that shouldn't be that hard.

If you have any questions on how to work with the emulator feel free to ask, and you can always try girigiri too, another Saturn emulator that supposedly also works with Sonic X-Treme.

Sonic says: "If you don't try it right now, you'll definitely get some!"

Better do what the hedgehog says...

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Now I do have Sonic X-Treme!

After a bad night of sleep (couldn't' fall asleep knowing what expected me in the morning) I finally downloaded Sonic X-Treme, burned it (into a cd, I mean) and played it on my Saturn. And what do I have to tell you about it? Well, it's just what we all saw in that video sometime ago, really. There's that grass area, with rings and stuff, and you can walk around. Nothing more and not really worth the $2500 the guy paid for it, but definitely worth the download. Why? Because this is a fucking piece of Saturn history, that's why! We are talking about the only Sonic game developed exclusively for the Saturn and even if we just have one level with nothing to do, it's still awesome!

I was so excited I even recorded a video for all of you guys to see. I used my phone, which explains the quality. And yes, that's really me. Pretty handsome, hey? xD


Monday 16 July 2007

I have Sonic X-Treme!!!

Ok, now that I got your attention, the title isn't entirely true, but close enough. Remember that Sonic X-Treme video that caleb posted awhile ago? Remember when gnome said "perhaps we could find some working prototype"? Well, I've found it!

According to DCForums (and Kotaku) there are only 2 discs left with that demo, one locked up inside the SEGA HQ and another one that was stolen by the employee responsible for destroying all the demo discs that were made. This very employee then sold that demo for the ridiculous amount of $2500 and the buyer decided to spread the "sonic game that never was". Here you have a little explanation:

"This disc is not a complete game, the simple reason being that there never was a complete game. What this disc contains is the small playable demo that was produced initially as a proof of concept for Sega of Japan, and then shown to the press at Gamer's Day in 1996. The four screenshots at the bottom of this page are taken from this very same demo.

This is, he assured me, the only playable Saturn build ever seen outside of the development office itself, and I really have no reason to believe otherwise. Furthermore, with the possible exception of one disc under heavy lock and key in Sega's library (according to another anonymous employee, who I spoke to about two years ago), this is very likely to be the only surviving disc PERIOD. Why does he know this? Because he destroyed the others himself, it was part of his job.

I guess the point I'm getting at is that, for better or for worse, this small little demo IS Sonic X-Treme for the Saturn. And if that's something you feel you have to have,'d better grab this, because there's not going to be another opportunity. There is no chance of a "more complete build," and it isn't likely that another copy survived."

So, tonight I'm going to download this baby and tomorrow I'll try it ASAP and inform all of you guys about it. OMG, I can't wait!!! :D

Saturday 14 July 2007

Meet The Family!

Hello everyone, may I first apologise for the recent drought of posts from yours truly. I do have a reason, if not an excuse, for my poor correspondence. I've become consumed yet again by Resident Evil 4, this time the Wii Edition, which has meant I have found little time for anything else!

However, I have my lovely six week summer holiday starting on the 20th of July, so hopefully my posting output will be back to its best!

For now though, I'm going to share with you, a whole page of Saturn information, from the wonderful Games TM magazine. If you've never read this wonderful publication, I suggest you give it a go! Over recent months, they've produced loads of top quality Saturn related articles, and its great to see our beloved console getting the attention it deserves!

The article in question takes a look at the range of Saturns available and their relative costs!

I take no credit for the words below, and unfortunately I can't credit the author either, as his/her name is not given. So I'll use a different a different font and colour for their words, OK?
Good, lets proceed!

"The world of retro gaming can be very confusing for the uninitiated and some consoles and computers can be more confounding than others, thanks to their many models and varations. With that in mind we will occasionally hijack the magazines Buyer's Guide to bring you a round up of a particular series of a classic games machine. This month we take a look at the weird and wonderfulvariations of the Sega's Saturn hardware.

Black Saturn: Estimated Price £10: Manufacturer Sega. Released in the UK and the US, the standard black console is the one variation that the majority of readers will be familiar with. But did you know that two different black Saturns were released? The differences between them were minor: the first featured oval buttons while the second had round ones. the joypads, however, were quite different: the first console came withlarge pads that weren't too comfortable, while the second featured smaller pads which were modelled on the Japanese ones.

Grey Saturn: Estimated price £25 Manufacturer: Sega The Japanese never received the black Saturn. Instead, in the East they were treated to a much more interesting grey console with blue buttons and a joypad to match. Its unclear why Sega decided to recolour the Saturn for the West - perhaps they thought black was more suitable for a piece of entertainment technology. Games TM happens to prefer the grey model, possibly because we're elitist snobs, who knows?

White Saturn:
Estimated Price: £30 Manufacturer: Sega
Japanese production of the grey Saturn ended soon after its launch, in favour of a much 'jazzier' white model. Featuring a similar hue to the Dreamcast, the white Saturn also came with a matching pad withmulticoloured buttons and is the model you will find in the homes of most importers. Interestingly, Sega also redesigned all its peripherals - memory card, Virtual On sticks, steering wheel and so on - to match.

Derby Stallion Saturn: Esimated Price: £200 Manufacturer: Sega The Derby Stallion Saturn is definitely the most desirable of the regular Saturn variations, this translucent blue console was released in 1999 and came bundled with ASCII's horse racing game, Derby Stallion and some exclusive memory card stickers. Aesthetically the console looks very similar to the earlier 'This Is Cool' branded Saturn but is much harder to come by. Only 20,000 units have been produced to date making it one of the rarest Saturns in existence.

Hi - Saturn: Estimated Price: £80 Manufacturer: Hitachi One of the first Saturn models to be licensed out to an external manufacturer, Hitachi's Hi Saturn was produced to support the burgeoning Asian Video CD industry of the time and came fitted with an M-Peg decoder specifically for the task of playing such CDs. Apart from that, the only differences were the black coloured casing and a new start up screen, featuring a revolving Hitachi logo. With video CDs now more or less defunct, the Hi Saturn is for collectors only.

Samsung Saturn: Estimated Price : £100 Manufacturer: Samsung Essentially, the Samsung Saturn is the same as the Hi Saturn, but the Samsung model was released exclusively in Korea and is relatively unknown among Saturn collectors. As another Video-CD player, the console is of little interest aside form its low buildquality. A space for a power light exists, for example, but there is no actual LED built into the motherboard. The Samsung Saturn is also the only Saturn not to feature a reset button. See, were full of useful information at Games TM.

Hotel Saturn:
Estimated Price: £500 Manufacturer: SunSeibu
Japanese hotels often feature special versions of games consoles for guests to play on. and the Saturn was no exception. This particular model featured a seven CD changer inside in order to offer players a wide choice of games. It was coin operated to allow for the system to be played for a pre-defined number of minutes. That the timing mechanism can be switched off, and that the console is compatible with all the official peripherals, makes it ideal for collectors. Hi Saturn Navi: Estimated Price: £900 Manufacturer: Hitachi

Basically a regular Hi Saturn with a mini screen attached, the Navi was intended as a portable games console to be used in cars. As well as the standardgame and VCD playback, the Navi also includes support for karaoke discs, has audio and video-in so that the monitor can be used with other devices, has input for a TV tuner and supports GBS devices. Rather uselessly however, the Navi connected to its car's handbrake and would shut down most of its features unless the car was stationary."

So there you go peeps! A potted history of the entire Saturn range! And just look at all of those gorgeous Saturns! Jesus! When I win the lottery, all of them will be mine! In my mansion will be a special Saturn room, with each of them connected up to a high-res TV. I'll be there, serving you all cocktails while you enjoy House Of The Dead, Sega Rally, NiGHTS and Virtua Cop.

I hope I'll be a bit more pro-active in giving you all a bit more to read in the upcoming weeks!
Until then, its a Resident Evil obsessed Father Krishna, saying "Goodnight children, wherever you are... " :)

Sunday 8 July 2007

"Like Manx, but worse"

It seems that I can never separate myself from my beloved Saturn. No matter how much work I have, or how busy I am, I still can't resist to play on my little box of retro goodness. After the passion for 2D beat'em ups, followed by a strange obsession with obscure Japanese titles no one ever heard about, lately I've been all into the racing genre. As most gamers I have the essential titles for the Saturn, like Sega Rally (best racing game ever), Daytona USA (2nd best, although I miss the CCE version), Sega Touring Car (shit) and Manx TT, but lately I've been craving for more exotic titles, that offer something different, you know?

In the past few days in particular I focused more in motorcycle games, instead of cars, and after some time spent with Manx I needed something more. And that's where Hang-On GP '96 comes in.

This title is none other than the sequel to on of the most important racing games of the past, the original Hang-On. I recently talked about it on an article about Yu Suzuki for PTGamers, but since I doubt many of you can read portuguese, I'm going to resume it. Basically Hang-On was a fucking amazing game for it's time, with gorgeous graphics (by the 1985 standards) and an awesome gameplay, along with an arcade cabinet featuring the very first force feedback system.

But right now we only care about Hang-On GP, right? Well, if I could resume the game to a single catch-phrase it would have something been this: "Like Manx, but worse". But of course there's a lot more to it than this, so let's see exactly what this game is all about. For a start, HO GP is more into the simulation style instead of pure arcade. Unlike Manx, where you just have to know when and how to turn, HO GP lets you to balance your weight on the bike, do powerslides and even change the tire grip to match track conditions.

With that said, if you thought Manx was hard, well, HO is harder, specially because if you touch the walls of the track your bike will jump in the air and until you're back on top of it you'll loose a lot of time/positions. Anyway, most hardcore fans of the genre will like this kind of depth in the gameplay (not me...).

It's a shame the same amount of depth wasn't put into the playing modes. When you start you just have the usual practice and championship modes, with the later being just a single race mode, really. There are only 3 tracks, but at least they made 2 versions of each one, with the more complete version being available after you beat the shorter one. There's also a hidden bike (you have several at your disposition) and an endurance mode, but like most racing games of it's era, HO GP ends really quick.

The graphics are nice, though (it's a shame that I can't find screens with more quality). Unlike Manx, which had a more sober colour palette, HO GP has the type of vibrant colours you'd expect from a SEGA game. The framerate is also stable and all the tracks, bikes, etc... are well designed.

Although I usually don't talk about the sound, since in the Saturn era most games just have "ok" soundtracks, I really need to talk about the sound of the bikes in HO GP. It's fucking annoying and it makes my ears bleed! No, I'm not exaggerating, it really is a fucking high-pitched whine that will drive you crazy! Thank Segata my tv has a mute button...

Overall this is a good game, but I think that only the motorcycle aficionados will enjoy in it's full glory. Despite this, if you already have Manx and want something similar, give Hang-On GP '96 a try, you wont regret it.

As always, good bye and good games ;)