Monday 29 December 2008

Dezaemon 2 Shmup Galore - Part 2!

Ho, ho, ho, it has been Christmas... again!

Wasn't it like yesterday, that the Dezaemon 2 Save Game Manager has been released by the staff around Christmas? Damn, as time goes by. It's actually 1 year by now and I wasn't even able to finish some "projects" regarding Dezaemon, which I had in the pipeline. But don't worry, soon they'll be finished and be posted here.

But the more important news today is, that the staff wasn't lazy and actually released the Dezaemon 2 Save Game Manager Volume 2! Oh my, what a feast. This thing opens - once again - the world of Dezaemon 2 user made shmups to you and your Saturn. On the CD are approx. 70 games and I think there are once again quite some pearls amongst them. The "Urban" series for example, which consists of "Urban Assault" (horizontal) and "Urban Uprising" (vertical).

(click for bigger versions)

Check out those great and moody graphics! Don't tell me, you wouldn't love to play all this. So, go head to and download the ISO of the Dezaemon 2 Save Game Manager Volume 2 and be sure to cancel all apointments, since you'll need weeks to go through all those games.

Sunday 28 December 2008

Sega + Xbox = Awesomeness!

Can you guess what was the first game I tried on my recently purchased Xbox? No, not Jet Set Radio Future, I was already playing that on my 360. It was none other than Panzer Dragoon Orta! The only title in this magnificent series not released on the Saturn, I've waited for a chance to play it ever since it was first announced. Now, I'm not the biggest Panzer Dragoon fan out there, but I played the PD Zwei demo to death when I was a kid, and one of the first games I played when I bought my second (and current) Saturn was the original PD, so I really like the series, even though I've yet to beat Zwei and never even played Saga (it's on my list...).

Anyway, now it was the time to see how the only 128bits game in the series compared to the rest of the pack, and oh boy, was I in for a surprise. This game is fucking brilliant! I know you were expecting a more elaborate opinion, but to cut it short, that's just how it is. The game plays very much like the predecessors, you control a kid (in this case, a girl) riding a dragon through a pre-determined path and you basically just have to shoot your way out (though you don't necessarily have to kill everything), hence the name "on-rails shooter".

But, of course, Sega didn't just want to do the same thing again, they had to introduce some new twists. Now you can accelerate and decelerate your dragon to strategically position yourself on the battlefield and, even better, you can change its form. No shit, it's like having 3 dragons instead of one! Don't worry, though, for this doesn't mean that you'll have to bust your head trying to figure out what to do. The acceleration thing is only needed in some situations and the forms of the dragon are more a matter of personal taste than necessity. Some situations call for a specific form, like when there's a swarm of weak, little enemies the rapid fire of the "glide" form comes in handy, and the powerful shot of the "heavy" form helps beating some bosses, but in the end this is an action game, not strategy.

Then come the graphics, and OMG, isn't this game gorgeous. Even nowadays it still blew me away. That's because it excells not only from a purely techically point of view, but from an artistic one too. The PD universe is unique and surreal, no question about that, and this game explores that like no other. It's just...I can't really express it through words, but trust me, this game is beautiful, in any and every sense of the word. Pictures don't do it justice, and neither do videos, you really have to play it and see it in motion before your eyes. The level design is basically perfect, the scenarios are unique and varied and everything fits together so well... Playing this game is an unreal, truly fantastic experience.

Finally, to top it off, there's the extras. Not only is this a pretty long game considering genre standards (depending on player skill, it can last as long as most action games/FPS of today), but it features tons of unlockables. Really, there's a lot of stuff to unlock. You'll find detailed information about the game's universe, concept art, bonus missions with new character's/dragons and even a port of the original Panzer Dragoon! Woot!

So, in the end, this game is awesome. It's a god-send gift for fans of the series, a must-have, game something that proves that Sega didn't die with the end of the Dreamcast. Heck, it's so awesome they even made a limited edition Xbox after it!

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Bring a taste of the Saturn to the Xbox 360

Since all the other members of the Junkyard are posting, I might as well chip in a little information about my latest project. A few months ago, I modified a Sega Saturn controller to work with a handful of game systems, including the GameCube, Wii, Nintendo 64, and 3DO. For the Cube and Nintendo 64, it was mostly a matter of personal preference, but anyone who's actually played the 3DO knows that the system was begging for an alternative to its heinous stock joypads.

The only console that I wasn't able to persuade to play nice with my hacked Saturn controller was the Xbox 360. The system uses a security protocol to filter out input from any controllers not licensed by Microsoft, and many of the official joypads use multiple grounds, forcing you to connect two wires to each pad. It's a frustrating situation, because although the stock Xbox 360 controllers are very good for their intended purpose, playing old-school titles like Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting and Pac-Man Championship Edition is a complete chore with that kludgy D-pad.

Fortunately, there was a ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel of mushy, imprecise control. A post on the Digital Press web site revealed that the MadCatz Arcade Stick was the ideal candidate for a controller hack... it's relatively cheap, licensed by Microsoft, and has a single ground, greatly reducing the amount of wires necessary for the modification. Best of all, I actually had one of these sticks in my closet! I went right to work, grabbing some spare parts lying around the house and heating up the old soldering iron in preparation for the hack.

Several hours of careful soldering and testing later, this was the end result:

There were a few hiccups along the way... I had to resolder a couple of wires that had broken off during playtesting. After this happened several times, I used a hot glue gun to permanently hold the wires in place. A good solder connection will hold fast under some stress, but glue offers that extra insurance in case you get a little too involved in a game and give the controller a not-so-friendly tug.

After a shot of glue on all the connections, the controller worked consistently, and continues to perform well even after several days of thorough testing. The only major issue I've had is that there just aren't enough buttons on the Saturn controller to handle all of the Xbox 360's functions. L3 and R3 aren't much of a loss (who uses the buttons under the thumbsticks, anyway?), but the absence of Guide and Back buttons is greatly felt; especially in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night where Back is used to access the inventory screen.

Nevertheless, I'm really happy with this hack. It's already boosted my scores in Xbox Live Arcade games, but more importantly, it's made them a lot more fun to play. If you're interested in giving this controller mod a shot, first check out this earlier post, then use this schematic as a guide. You don't need to be an electronics engineer to make this work, but some experience with a soldering iron is a must.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Happy Second Birthday SJY!!!

Thanks to two computers packing up in my house recently (my laptop power lead snapped where you plug it in and my PC has just given up and died) I've been unable to do much in the blogosphere of late... Having finally wrestled my son's laptop off him for about half an hour and so much has happened since I last checked in.

The first, is the most welcome addition to the family of newest contributor Martin (see below.)

The second is that I've missed the announcement of the second birthday of the Saturn Junkyard! DOH! So even if it is a few days late, may I take the opportunity to thank all our contributors, commentors and readers for helping to keep the memory of one of the finest consoles of all time well and truly alive.

Things may not have been a tad slow round here for a while due to the reasons mentioned below by Nebacha, but rest assured that there will be plenty of Saturn love posted here before our third birthday in December 2009!

Monday 15 December 2008

You know it's Christmas when...

Firstly, I must say how humble I am to write on this well established blog. Hopefully my contributions will give you as much pleasure reading them as I have in writing them. I'm Martin, and I also write for the Dreamcast Junkyard. Obsessed with the SEGA of old and Japan, I think I can add something to this excellent blog on the SEGA Saturn.

Even though I am writing a Ph.D thesis at the moment Neb, I think I can squeeze in a little SEGA lovin'! I am indeed a segata sanshiro セガタサンシロ follower! I actually sang his song in karaoke in 2006 in Japan... you have no idea how huge he is there. People aged between 17 and 27 know exactly whom Segata is, which is just perfect. As for reading and writing Japanese, yup - I'll do my best! I know enough to get by in the games and also enjoy quite a lot of the more intricate titles... SEGAGAGA anyone...?

You know it's well and truly Christmas when you dig out your copy of Christmas NiGHTS on the Saturn and sit in awe of the amazing graphics and playability (especially if you have the analogue controller) of the Sonic Team creation: NiGHTS. 

As has been well documented before, Christmas NiGHTS is pretty much a demo version of NiGHTS, with a Christmas theme. It uses the Saturn's internal clock (CR2032 battery dependent) to 'skin' the game. In November, it's Winter NiGHTS, April is April Fool's NiGHTS and New Year also has a skin. 

Imaginative and hasn't been seen in games since. Maybe it's because most games these days are pieces of crap you don't want to come back to year after year...

I thought I would give a teeny-tiny background on the way I game and what my main system is. As you can see on the left, I have a model 2 Saturn. I also have the original model 2 Saturn that I bought back in 1996 - untouched. This Saturn however, is heavily modded. There's a region select switch (3 way) and a 50/60hz switch. The LED is also a bright blue one which is a nice touch I think.

In time, I'll review some of the 404 games I have for the Saturn... I have 404 Backup Games, 20 PAL originals and 102 Japanese Originals... and still collecting! Looking forward to getting involved in the Saturn Junkyard - this console gave me the most heartache when I was a young lad... too expensive for Christmas... friend bought PlayStation and eventually that won... oh SEGA. Merry Christmas Sonic Team, SEGA of old, and to you all!

And then there were...7? Wow...

That's right, folks, we're now 7 (that's SEVEN!!!) here at the Yard. Since this place has been a little dead lately, I thought we could use the help of another Saturn enthusiast and Segata Sanshiro follower (I hope, forgot to ask him that...). So, everyone say hello to マーティン (that's Martin in Japanese)! He's a SEGA fan from Manchester (hey, Father, you two could have a beer together. Drink one for me too :D) and he has been in Japan for...I don't know, he'll give you the details. What matters is that he actually can talk and write in Japanese, which no doubtly will be of use to the Yard, since finally we'll have someone who can read import games (my little knowledge of katakana doesn't take me too far...).

But, more important than that, he's a true SEGA fan and his enthusiasm was what first made me want to add it to the team, so welcome Martin! Hope you'll bring some life to the Yard while Father K recovers from his shoulder, gnome works on his dissertation, ArugulaZ prepares a new video, elend waits for new weird merchandise to buy, caleb finds some game to talk about and I finish the fucking end of semester exams.

Sunday 7 December 2008

Fighting Force prototype

I finally had the time to try out the Fighting Force (Judgement Force/Streets of Rage 3D/Metal Fist/Whatever...) prototype and, oh boy, am I glad that we could finally put our hands on this beauty. The first thing I noticed was that, for an early version, this game both plays and looks very good. It has good graphics and, more importantly, the framerate is both fast and constant, so no slowdowns or slow gameplay. Speaking about gameplay, the game offers more options than your average brawler. Besides kicking, punching and jumping, you can also do a special, rotating attack; punch behind you (useful when surrounded) or charge against your enemies. There are also some weapons, but I couldn't get firearms to work, only clubs and the like.

Other than that, I can't really comment on the similarities and differences between this and the final PSX version because I haven't played that game in a long time, but a lot of the stages seem familiar to me, like primitive versions of what ended up in the final version. It was definitely a shame that this one got cancelled, it would be a blast for any Die Hard Arcade fans since they both play very similar, but at least now we can have a taste of what that would be like.

Thursday 20 November 2008

More Segata Sanshiro Merchandise

Woo yay.

Bought another batch of Sega Saturn merchandise. Most of it has to do with our great king Segata Sanshiro. First of all, though, I want to introduce you to this weird Sega Saturn branded... thing. I actually don't know what it is, or what it does. I assume you can store... things in it. Maybe CDs? It's very soft and has a little strap to carry it around with you. Very weird, yet interesting.

Then there's this great Segata Sanshiro... plush puppet. It's approximately 30 cm tall and very soft, so you can cuddle it as much as you want. On the back he carries a Sega Saturn, because I guess he's currently on training. There's this nice detail actually on that little cardboard label: This puppet came in varations. There are two with a half smiling mouth and 3 others with an angry (!) mouth. Also his arm positions seem different from puppet to puppet. Of course I need them all now.

With the puppet came this really cool and tiny Segata Sanshiro cell phone strap. You can put it on your cell phone and when doing so, you are most probably the coolest person in your country. It's very detailed, very nice painted and Segata Sanshiro looks really angry. Last but not least there's this incredible Segata Sanshiro t-shirt. This one actually got quite expensive (around 35 EUR), but it's totally worth it. It came with the original factory sealed plastic bag and features one big and many small Segata Sanshiros on the front accompanied by the Segata Sanshiro title. Who wouldn't love to wear that every day?

Fighting Force Alpha Cover

So, regarding that Fighting Force for the Saturn; I have yet to play it (Shame on me!), but at least I finally find some time to post the cover artwork I made for it here. It is based on the japanese Fighting Force version for the Playstation and looks much better, than the PAL artworks, imho. Yet, I will also try to do a PAL style one, since I guess everyone is much more familiar with this one and some probably even like it. Download the fullsize (300 Dpi) JPGs right here.

P.S.: When you print it out, it's actually 1 mm bigger, than a real cover insert. So you have some kind of buffer, for cutting. Try to cut approx. 1 mm off of it, so that it'll fit the jewel case.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Judgement/Fighting Force on Sega Saturn

Hey, do you remember how Fighting Force was supposed to be a Sega Saturn exclusive before Core suddenly decided to switch its development over to the Playstation? It was the first worrisome sign that the system wasn't going to be as fierce a competitor in the video game market as its predecessor, the Sega Genesis.

Anyway, someone's managed to find the early beta version of Fighting Force (dubbed Judgement Force) for the Sega Saturn. It doesn't look too pretty after being held in cold storage for a decade, but hey, Saturn fans have to take what they can get these days. On a side note, it looks like Saturn Junkyard member elend had something to do with this game getting dumped, so be sure to give him props for that.

Friday 7 November 2008

The Sega Saturn Backpack

Finally I was able to buy one of these great Sega Saturn backpacks. They were released by Sega to... well... only god knows why. But as a Sega Saturn fan I really appreciate that and thank Sega for releasing something that cool. Whereas other console branded backpacks only have logos on them, the Sega Saturn backpack actually looks like a Sega Saturn with all its details. It even comes with a Joypad pouch! You have 2 external pockets. One under the CD lid and the other in the Saturn's memory card slot. Other than that, the main pocket is big enough for a Sega Saturn and other crap as well. It only costs around 47 Pound Sterling (7,140 Yen) and should be in the possession of every Saturn fanatic.

On a little sidenote: Also check out this incredibly cool Mega Drive tote! That's the birthday present for your girlfriends.

Thursday 30 October 2008

Fire Pro (and Segata Sanshiro) Returns

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

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

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

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

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

Virtua Fighter Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 22 October 2008

The Saturn lives on

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

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

Saturday 18 October 2008

Sega Saturn Gutted to Make a PC.

Pulled from Sega Nerds.


I am a bit on the fence about this.

On one hand it's a pretty sweet mod.

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

Damn! Is that a dual monitor setup?

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Sega Saturn Posters... again

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 7 October 2008

The Sega Saturn’s Explosive Shmups Library Posted at Racketboy

Go read this list!

An excellent rundown of Saturn Shumps.

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

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

Saturday 4 October 2008

The Sega Saturn PC

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

Wednesday 1 October 2008

In Praise Of Jonti Davies...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 30 September 2008

Sega Rally Championship - PS2

Just a quicky here. Here's some footage from the PS2 port/remake of Sega Rally 95 (I have it, yeay!). The guy playing is quite good (lol, "quite", he plays a lot better than me...), the video shows all the courses including the elusive Lake Side track and it shows off quite well the graphical improvements of this version, so I thought it deserved to be posted here. Enjoy

Monday 29 September 2008

Pocket Fighter (1997 Capcom) *Japanese Import*

Ha! My Saturn could soon be seeing a lot of use, as I've got this little baby winging it's way from the Land Of The Rising Sun... Capcom's answer to Virtua Fighter Kids, I'm thinking I'm going to love it! The following information came from the rather excellent,

"A superb, abstract and humorous fighting game featuring miniaturized renditions from several Capcom fighting games; including the legendary "Street Fighter" series, as well as "Darkstalkers" and the little-known "Red Earthtake".
During a bout, players will be able to release coloured gems from successful attacks against their opponent, as well as from wooden chests that regularly appear. Collecting these gems will 'power-up' the player's character, giving them more powerful attacks. There are two bars and three sub-bars in the interface. The two main bars are the life bar and the super bar; the first indicates the player's health and the second their ability to throw super combos. The Super Bar itself can be filled up to nine levels, allowing players to execute more super combos. Each super combo has a level assigned to it, and it uses Super Bars depending on it. The 3 sub-bars show the level of 3 of each player's special moves. Each character has at least three special moves, as shown in the sub-bars, and each of these corresponds to a color. Some characters have one or two additional Special Moves that aren't affected by sub-bars. Each time a player shoots their opponent, gems pop out of him or her, and the attacker can take them to power up their own special moves according to the colors. There are 4 buttons : PUNCH, KICK, SPECIAL, and TAUNT. The Special button is a chargeable move that cannot be blocked and upon impact drops gems in the opponent's possession. More gems will be dropped depending on how much the player charges the attack. Holding Down, Forward or no direction at all when using the Special button will cause a specific gem color to drop from the enemy. Holding Back along with the Special button allows for a defense that is specific against the unblockable Special attacks. Other kinds of attacks do no damage when blocked, and unlike most 2-D fighting games, this includes special and super moves. Pocket Fighter also features Flash Combos in which a player can execute a combo by pressing the KICK or PUNCH button after they have hit their opponent using the PUNCH button for a total of 4 hits. Flash Combos will usually cause a player's fighter (except Ryu) to change into various costumes during the sequence, and perform a powerful attack in the end. This final hit is usually the hardest in the sequence to connect with. These costumes range from uniforms (such as traffic cops or schoolgirls), to swimsuits, and even cameos of other Capcom characters. For example, Chun-Li may turn into Jill Valentine from the Resident Evil series, while Felicia may turn into Mega Man or other Darkstalkers characters not playable in the game. The commands are also very easy compared to the Street Fighter series, thanks to SPECIAL button. By doing a motion (for example : qcf or hcf) and pressing the Special Button the fighter will launch his or her super combo. In addition to the usual punches, kicks and fireballs, each character has a couple of very abstract yet powerful 'special' attacks; which can range from the player producing a huge mallet (Ken), to standing on a podium and motioning a bicycle race through the opposing fighter (Chun Li)."

Admit it, you're jealous aren't you? LOL! Oh, and there is a nice review of Saturn 2D fighters over at Racketboy...

Friday 26 September 2008

If it's not a Saturn controller, it's not real control!

Of the Sega Saturn's many charms, perhaps the most appealing is the design of its controller. Nearly fifteen years after its Japanese introduction, the Sega Saturn joypad remains the most responsive controller available for any console, past, present, or future. It's become slightly antiquated in the 21st century due to its lack of analog thumbsticks, but there is no better way to play classic collections and the rare modern release presented in 2D than with the Saturn's sublime controller.

Knowing this, game companies have manufactured adapters for a variety of systems, ranging from Sega's Dreamcast to plain vanilla home computers. There was even a replica of the flawless Saturn controller released for the Playstation 2 in 2005. However, neither of these solutions are completely reliable. The adapters are limited to a handful of formats, and the replica controller has become obscenely expensive in the three years since it was available in import stores. Even if you're willing to shell out a hundred dollars or more for the joypad, there's no guarantee it will work with your favorite 2D games. Odin Sphere, the spiritual sequel to Princess Crown, refuses to recognize it, and it's just as useless with collections like Namco Museum 50th Anniversary and Mega Man Collection.

Perhaps the greatest frustration of all is that the razor-sharp precision of the Sega Saturn controller has been completely unattainable on Nintendo consoles, particularly the GameCube and its more popular successor the Wii. It's possible to get the replica controller working with the original Xbox if you daisychain it to an adapter, but if you're a GameCube or Wii fan, you're out of luck. Your only option would be to somehow build your own controller... which is exactly what I set out to do last night.

Inspired by similar projects on the Internet, I decided to make one of my spare Saturn controllers compatible with the GameCube and its close cousin. I first opened the Saturn controller, removed the original cable, popped off the logic chip in the center of the printed circuit board, then connected a series of very thin wires to the traces left in the chip's wake. These wires were then soldered to a male 15-pin D-shell connector.

(This connector is as old-school as it gets... it's used as the gameport in older personal computers as well as the controller port in the ancient Atari 5200 game system. It's not as elegant as the Saturn's flat connector, but it's extremely handy in a project like this, where you're making simple wire-to-wire connections rather than routing buttons through a logic chip.)

After I was finished with the Saturn controller, I then took a cheap third party GameCube joypad, opened the case, then soldered wires to the metal pads on its own printed circuit board. Some of these pads were split in half with an Xacto knife before making the connections to keep the signal and ground separate. The other ends of the wires were then soldered into another 15-pin D-shell connector; this time female.

There was a lot of setup involved, but all that effort was ultimately worthwhile. I'm a legendary klutz when it comes to electronics, and my projects rarely work the first time around. Luckily for me, this was one of those rare exceptions. I pulled my old GameCube out of the closet (no sense in taking any unnecessary risks with the Wii!), then plugged the finished project into it and popped in a copy of Alien Hominid. Every button I had wired up on both ends as well as the D-pad worked as planned. There were some slight issues with the A button sticking, but that was a mechanical error; something I fixed by cleaning the joypad housing with a toothbrush and a dab of dishwashing liquid.

Right now the joypad is working at 90% efficiency. I don't have the L and R buttons wired up on the GameCube controller, although those connections have been made on the Saturn joypad. Also, you can't use the C button for GameCube games, since the system doesn't really have one. The good news is that this design doesn't limit me to just the GameCube or Wii... it's modular, so I can apply it to all kinds of systems by tearing up their respective controllers. Holy crap, I just realized that I could make 3DO games playable with this hack! Way of the Warrior, here I come! Okay, maybe just Super Street Fighter II Turbo.

If you're handy with a soldering iron, I would definitely recommend giving this project a shot. All you need is a spare Saturn controller, a joypad from the game system you'd like to adapt, some very thin gauge wire (for the Saturn controller's PCB, it doesn't really matter what kind of wire you use for the other controller), and two 15-pin D-shell connectors; one male and one female. If you're feeling lost, this web site will give you some idea of what you'll need to do to get your Saturn controller working on other systems.

However, if you've ever worked with electronics, you won't have much trouble with this hack. There are no resistors, no capacitors, and none of that migraine-inducing electronics math... you just follow the traces from the pads on the Saturn controller's PCB to the buttons, and wire them up accordingly. Just make sure you're using a really thin tip on your soldering iron, and keep the wires separated so you won't get mixed signals while you're playing games.

I'll keep you guys informed on the progress of this mod, as well as its functionality with the Wii and any other modules I create in the future. I've already got my eyes set on that Super NES controller I've got buried in the closet...

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Daddy's Home!

Hello my dear Saturn brothers!

Yes 'tis I the long absent Father Krishna, back from the brink and ready to contribute to this most hallowed site again! I have conducted a little experiment recently. I wanted to leave the SJY to fend for itself, like a parent giving their child a gentle push out of the family home. I wanted to see how the site would fair without me and I'm pleased to say, my baby has become a fully functional adult, independent of it's Father and thriving in the blogosphere, thanks to the wonderful team that keep it alive. So first of all a great big thank you to elend, Caleb, Nebacha and Arugulaz (particularly elend!)

But what kind of dad would I be if I didn't come by every once in a while, to check up on my offspring every once in a while, bringing the odd present every now and then? So here I am with a present for you all. For I'm now going to present you with a five page article from 'games TM'. magazine, lovingly typed and transcribed word for word by myself. The article is in celebration of a very special man. In fact to us lot here at the SJY, he's more than a mere mortal, he's a shining golden lord. A deity of mythic proportions...

The one, the only, SEGATA SANSHIRO!!!!

Without any further ado, here we go... I've got a lot of typing to do, so I better get on! As usual
I'll use the quotation scarlet coloured text. I would credit the journalist who wrote the article, but he/she is not named personally....

" Hello Segata Sanshiro!" from games tm. No. 74 (August 2008)

Hiroshi Fujioka is a burly chap and he seems fully committed to everything he does, even if that means answering the questions of pesky journalists like us. He made his movie debut in a1965 flick called Anko Tsubaki Wa Koi No Hana aged 19. born in Ehime, Shikoku, the actor then went on to star in dozens of Japanese cinema classics, but he achieved even greater fame throughout Asia in the early Seventies for his role in the Kamen Rider TV series. With his renowned skills in the martial arts,it seemed like the most obvious choice, when Sega decided to employ Fujioka as a fearsome judo master of a Saturn promoting character during the late Nineties.

Fujioka began his work with Sega mid-1997, once the Saturn had been established as moderately successful in Japan. On the 28th of November that year, when the advert for Sonic R was broadcast on national television, he made his first appearance as Segata Sanshiro, a martial arts specialist whose reason for being, was to command people to play Saturn games. He also performed in 16 radio commercials, which ran on local Japanese stations between 1997 and 1999, some of which were in the promotion of specific Saturn titles, while others were image building exercises and chances for the Segata Sanshiro message to be heard. A classic example from the winter holiday of 1997, aimed at school and university students,went like this: "This is Hiroshi Fujioka, Segata Sanshiro. All of you students who are preparing for exams, soon you will be on the home stretch. Those of you who like games, resisting games may be painful, but your future prospects are precious. That's why you should resist games and focus on your studies. It's difficult for me to say this, but when spring comes, you will be free to play... Play Sega Saturn."

Even away from his working life, Fujioka is intensely focused on the martial arts, so in many ways his role as Segata Sanshiro was a perfect match. Fujioka is a first dan in karate and iaido, as well as a third dan in judo, fourth in battado and kotachi goshindo, and a seventh dan toudo master. "(Since I was) six years old my father saw to it that I was trained to use a Japanese sword, through practising the ancient art of bushido," he explains "so having been accustomed to the martial arts for such a long time, I felt in harmony with (the Segata Sanshiro character)." Fujioka had been immediately in tune with Sega's ideas for the most visible and enigmatic of marketing characters.

"I thought it was good that they wanted to send a strong message to children in an age when young people had no direction," he explains. The creation of the Segata sanshiro character work of Sega's PR machine. "I contributed some serious ideas myself," Fujioka reminds us, but his parody of 'Sugata' Sanshiro had already been decided upon when Fujioka turned up at Sega HQ one day in the summer of 1997. Sugata Sanshiro, incidentally, was the fictitious and eponymous lead character in the first film directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. Sugata Sanshiro learns to rely on judo, and the actor cast as the original Sanshiro, Susumu Fujita, bears a vague resemblance to Fujioka. For the Japanese public , Segata Sanshiro would be an obvious reference-in-parody to the first hero delivered by Kurosawa.

Then there was the name itself, cleverly constructed to sound a lot like 'Sega Saturn , shiro' - an imperative that means 'play Sega Saturn' - but which can also be interpreted as referencing the white colour of the then standard Japanese Saturn SKU.
After accepting the proposed role, Fujioka was as determined as ever to exceed his employer's expectations. We ask about his motivation, other than his stern professional resolve and the obvious but unspoken financial benefits. "There were various motivations for me, but one enjoyable feature was that the role enabled me to influence society for good" he says without any irony. "My schedule was incredibly busy, but (Segata Sanshiro) had an effect on all sorts of people. The reaction from young people was particularly strong."

The bulk of Fujioka's work as Segata Sanshiro centered on starring in TV commercials to promote Sega's latest games. The scenarios of these adverts were always related to the games they promoted, but set in a hyper dramatic reality in which Sanshiro had scope to be active and heroic. The
Burning Rangers advert was set inside a burning building (obviously), while the Winter Heat commercial showed Sanshiro racing a professional speed skater across an ice rink. Sometimes there was no clear connection to anything: one of the earliest Segata Sanshiro appearances sees him beating up a group of "young punks" who "weren't focused", before reminding them, as would be his wont, to "play Sega Saturn". The ad then cuts to promotional footage of Sonic R.

Fujioka has some fond memories of the production of these highly effective commercials:
"Running around a skating rink barefoot without using a stuntman, breaking ten roof tiles with my head, punching an extra large (Saturn) controller until my fist was bloody... I did all of these things seriously focused: I have strong memories of (performing those stunts). I wanted to convey to the younger generation that whatever they do, if they make a serious effort, afterward they can enjoy this great sense of exhilaration. But to do so, I felt that I first had to charge into this experience myself, in order to make the idea understood. The staff and cast, all of us were united and putting in great effort. That's why on location, when we were filming the commercials, there was a good level of tension. I think that everyone could see that in our productions."

The adverts' recurring theme song,
Sega Saturn Shiro, which is sung throughout most of the television slots Sega produced, eventually became worthy of a release as a CD single. Fujioka sang the Kamen Rider theme song, 'Let's Go!! Rider Kick', for the first 13 episodes of that series , and released a handful of singles between his big break in 1971 and 1985 , dabbling in love songs and pop, but this challenge was something else. While the version used in adverts and elsewhere had been sung by Ichiro Tomita. Fujioka was determined to do his own work in the studio when a CD single was at stake. "I was nervous when recording (the Segata Sanshiro theme song)," Fujioka openly admits. "But even today I love that song. If you listen to it, your blood will begin to flow and you'll start to feel courageous and brave. I'm grateful that I was able to sing such a powerful song."

Fujioka's workload also included appearances at promotional events, and he seems, characteristically, to have relished playing the Segata Sanshiro role in such circumstances. "Yes I performed at various events", he reminisces. "Each time I turned up, there were many fans gathered to greet me, and I was happy to hear their comments and receive their support. At those events, the message of the TV commercials was repeated to make sure it was clearly understood. I really looked forward to such opportunities."

By 1998, Segata Sanshiro was a sufficiently popular and well recognized character for Sega to produce an entire game starring Fujioka as Sanshiro. The result of this collaboration was a title called Segata Sanshiro Shinkenyugi, the 'Shinkenyugi' bit meaning 'serious sports', which is appropriate enough when the mini-games in this compendium are based on Fujioka's daring stunts from Sanshiro's television appearances. Of Shinkenyugi, Fujioka tells us: "I was happy (for the Segata Sanshiro game to be developed.) I thought it was something worth doing, but I also felt some responsibility. Of course I've heard various things about the game...."

We'd venture a guess that Fujioka is tacitly admitting that it wasn't a great game - and he'd be right - but it's not without his own inimitable charm, and we'll always have time for head chopping slates or pulling judo-disc shapes...
Happily we can report that Sanshiro wasn't a hypocrite. While he was admonishing everybody to "play Sega Saturn" the man behind the message Hiroshi Fujioka himself, was a genuine fan of Sega's output. "I played and even really enjoyed (Sega's games)," he tells us. "I think they put out a message to the world." Fujioka likes to emphasise the ideological resonance of his Segata Sanshiro character. He believes it was necessary to convey "the message" to the younger generation in the late Nineties.

The most obvious reason that Sanshiro is so well loved and so well remembered, however, is his sense of humour, which carries through every in-character appearance he made during his tenure as the fearsome face
of Sega. When he's surrounded by zombies in the TV ad for TheHouse Of The Dead, he scowls and says "these aren't humans", as though he has only just realised the fact and is outraged that he hadn't been informed of their ghastliness some time earlier. Another time, on the scene of the Burning Rangers advert, Segata Sanshiro is giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a woman and doesn't seem to troubled by the inferno around them - by the end of the ad he seems to have completely forgotten the notion of escaping the building. Meanwhile, the commercial for Pro Baseball Greatest nine '98 placed Sanshiro in a batting centre scenario, but instead of using a bat to slog the incoming volley of baseballs, he kicks one for a home run before showing off his masculinity by revealing a bare chest and allowing half a dozen balls to pelt him in the midriff. Without flinching.

By the end of 1998, the Dreamcast krunch was imminent and virtually all Saturn development had been terminated, leaving the obviously Saturn-tied Segata Sanshiro with just one last obligation: to go out with a bang by ushering in the Dreamcast era.
And how he did it. Sanshiro leaped from the roof of Sega HQ to prevent the company building from being hit by an incoming missile, as the inspirational Segata Sanshiro theme song blared away and Sega employees looked in awe from their office windows. It was the last great sacrifice in Segata Sanshiro's quest, although Fujioka showed up in character at the Dreamcast launch and looked alive and well. Hiroshi Fujioka later provided the voice of Ryo Hazuki's father in the Japanese versions of Shenmue and Shenmue II, but the Segata Sanshiro character had at last been retired. He was brought back for a one off special progamme on Fuji TV at the end of 1999, but other than that appearance, it was game over.

In the place of two Saturn game-packed years in Japan, Sanshiro had left a marketing legacy that included books, T-shirts, action figures, CDs and games, all of which are sought after by local Sega fans. We ask Fujioka to confirm that Segata Sanshiro is as dead as Elvis. He concurs, but remains positive: "I'm not contracted (to Sega) at present, but if there's some new project then I'd definitely like to participate. I think Segata Sanshiro still delivers a good message even today, so a revival would be interesting..."

Phew! That took a while! Hope you all enjoyed it! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to don my Elvis Wig and judo suit and retire to the SJY dojo, to light some incense and bow down in prayer! Goodnight my brothers!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

FUCK YEAH! The Virtua Fighter Jacket

Ebay is the best thing in the world. Where else can you buy a Virtua Fighter Jacket? I don't know too many places. So, I sniped this wonderful, incredible, lightweight and golden Virtua Fighter Jacket, which was probably some kind of prize in a contest once. Sadly I don't know too much about it and apart from the Virtua Fighter print on the back and a Sega Saturn logo on the front, it doesn't give any hints. I'd love to know how many of those have been produced, how people were able to grab those, back then and if it was for sale or a prize in a contest.

And well, of course I won't wear that jacket, since I fear being beaten up on the streets.