Monday 25 August 2008


Two days ago I decided (yes, just like that) to play every Contra game released to this day, starting with the NES version of the original title and up to the recent release of Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS. I know it might seem like a world of pain due to the inherent difficulty of these games but I have Game Genie and Code Breaker on my side. Take that, you evil, twisted programmers! Anyway, there was only one Contra game released for the Saturn and it was one of the worst (yeah, just our luck...) and only released in the US (WTF? The PSX version was in Europe too!). But I bet you've all heard this about Contra: Legacy of War, but what exactly makes it that bad? That is what I'm about to tell you.

I bet you're wondering about the title of this post. You see, "contra" is actually a Portuguese word (and Spanish too, I believe) meaning literally "against". That probably doesn't have anything to do with why Konami chose that title for the games, although in this series every single thing that moves is against us, but that can be said about a lot of games. Anyway, instead of being like the previous games, namely a run n gun game with a 2D perspective and some overhead levels to make the gameplay more varied, Legacy of War always has a top-down perspective. Wow, that's great for a frantic action game, isn't it?

To make it worse, they somehow fucked up the gameplay completely because for some reason it's a lot harder to aim in this game, I always take me a couple of seconds from starting to shoot and actually align my line of fire with the enemy, making the game that much harder and less fun. Oh, and then there's the airborne enemies... You know, for some reason in the previous games there was no height in the over-head sections, and that was because it's even harder to hit something that way than in the ground.

What pisses me off the most is that it was so easy for Appaloosa to make a good 3D Contra game, all they needed was to keep the 2D gameplay, like in Contra: Shattered Soldier for the PS2, but they decided to try new stuff and somehow they thought that the final product was entertaining. They were so wrong, and they realized that because with the next game, C: The Contra Adventure (a PSX exclusive), they returned with the side-scrolling levels, although they also fucked up by making yet again over-head levels and some weird Tomb Raider-like 3rd person levels. Anyway, if like me you're on a quest to play all Contra games you obviously can't pass on this one, but you're probably just looking for a good action game, and there are better options out there. Not that it is a horrendous game, or something, but it's so much worse than Contra III or Hard Corps (my favourites so far) and even if we forget the Contra license, by itself it's nothing special.

Friday 15 August 2008

The Incredible Sega Archive

Sega of America recently provided photos in their flickr stream of what probably is the holy grail of all Sega fans out there. Their archive. It's full with every Sega game ever released, plus some additional hardware and competitor's titles. Even though the majority of the stuff is from the US, I'd love to see that room for myself and... bathe in it. Now I'll stop the talking and suggest, you have a look for yourself.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Death Tank coming to XBLA


Simple 2D "Worms" style action without the wait time. It's not turn based. You just go into the game and start blasting other colorful quadrangles into oblivion.

I am not sure if it's gonna be Death Tank Death or Death Tank Zwei.

The original Death Tank was included with Powerslave. Death Tank Zwei required you to play both Quake and Duke Nukem to unlock, or you could just play through Duke Nukem and destroy every one of the toilets in game.

I literally played this game for about 2 minutes once when I was a teenager.

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Sega Saturn Posters

Remember when I told you in this post about how cool the Shopping Mall Japan is? With the Shopping Mall Japan I was able to bid on a bunch of very nice looking Sega Saturn posters, which will soon hang in my dedicated Sega Saturn room. Oh wait, my girlfriend will probably kill me, if I really use one room for Sega Saturn related stuff only. Anyways. I especially like the Willy Wombat poster, because it looks so heroic and cute at the same time. Also notice the quality of the posters. They are in perfect condition, just like nearly everything you buy from Japan. The Virtua Fighter 2 Poster was the cheapest for some odd reason, so I bought it twice and he even has a third one on Yahoo. Maybe I'll buy that as well, just to be sure...

Saturday 9 August 2008

Random Sega Saturn Find : Japanese RPGs.

I just recently went to a garage sale and bought a carton of Japanese games. Some guy had gone to Japan to learn to be an interpreter and brought a bunch of games home. His Mom helpfully sold them to me. Mostly they were PS and PS2 games (Including Lunar Silver Star). However I did notice that I got three Sega Saturn games in the mix.

Here they are. I think they are all pretty much standard JRPGs. Albert Odyssey is a brilliant 2D romp that I already have (NA release). Did I ever do a review of that game?

Click on the pics to enlarge.



However, the other two I have never really heard of. All I know is that they are spin offs of the Megami Tensei series of games and never were released in the US (Damn you Stolar!!!) So it's sort of the same gameplay. Please let me know if you have heard of them or if they are rare at all. I know Nocturne on the PS2 has gotten to be super rare lately and the rise in popularity of Altus US games has made more North American video game enthusiasts collect these games.










I would be happier to get some shmups or fighting games that I could actually play but I am not going to turn my nose up at Saturn games of any kind.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Lunar: Silver Star Story and Eternal Blue

I can't believe I didn't think of writing about this sooner! Ok, there's a reason for that, the fact that I played the PSX version of these games, but since they were such big Saturn titles in Japan I think they deserve a mention here. I'm talking about the Lunar series of RPGs, more specifically the two main titles (there's also a bunch of spin-offs), which have quite a story. They were first released for the ill-fated Sega CD (aka Mega CD) add-on for the Mega Drive (aka Genesis) but later remade for our beloved console in two versions, a first one in 1996, and a 2nd, even better one, entitled Silver Star Story Complete in 1997. Now, I have to be honest, I don't exactly know the differences between the original and the first Saturn game, but the 2nd, which was later ported to the PSX (the version I played), improves on the original in every possible way. The graphics are way better, the characters have been redrawn, it features excellent anime-style cut-scenes and even the gameplay is better than in the original, with enemies present on screen instead of random encounters. Unfortunately for some reason they decided to change some bits of the story too, usually for worse, but it's still a very enjoyable game.

It's basically an RPG like many others, were you control a boy and his group of friends in a quest to save the world, but if you look past this cliché theme (which was probably more original back then) you'll find an interesting story, engaging characters and a universe worth exploring. It's a great RPG all and all, and it deserves a look by every fan of the genre, although it won't convert any RPG-haters. But wait, there's got to be a reason why I chose to play the PSX version instead of the Saturn one. An why is that? Try to guess... yup, it was never released here.'s times like this I get really pissed... At least the PSX version was released in the west, but by "west" I mean the US. Yup, no European version...

Anywho...Lunar 2 is even better, specially when it comes to gameplay where it shows some pretty inspired features, like a character in your party whom you cannot control or the final boss battle that is just epic, specially for its time. The cut-scenes are also improved, with CGI effects along with the traditional anime style, and my only complaint about it is the soundtrack which in my opinion is not as good as in the first game, and I'm saying this because the music is a big part of these games, specially the first one, where one of the main characters is a singer. Just listen to it:

Once again, this post is somewhat redundant since I doubt any of you will play the Saturn versions, but if you like the genre and have a PSX at hand (or a good emulator, I personally recommend pSX for the ease of use but if you're looking for graphic improvements you may want ePSXe) I definitely recommend you give these games a try, while pretending you're actually playing on a Saturn :)

The Sega Saturn IR Pads

Some months ago I was browsing, when I suddenly saw some Sega Saturn Joypads in their original box. Since I am a mad collector of Sega Saturn stuff, I had to get these. After a closer examination (the original picture made by the seller was probably from a webcam made pre 1990) I noticed that those pads are actually wireless infrared pads. I didn't know that there were such things available for the Saturn, since I never was interested in wireless stuff. My father once bought a wireless (radio controlled) mouse, which didn't work at all. We once had a wireless (radio controlled) keyboard for the PC, which didn't work too well either. Hell, we even had wireless LAN at home, which... you guessed it, didn't work too well either. So naturally I wasn't a fan of wireless things. That was until I experienced the Xbox 360 and PS3 wireless pads as well as the Nintendo Wiimote, which DO work quite well. I remember my mate, throwing a strike in WiiSports bowling, whilst taking a dump on the toilet. So, the new Bluetooth technology seemed to work really well, whereas the old radio controlled technique worked not so well... what should I think about the old infrared technology then?

There are two things, which make these pads so great:

When I tested these pads for the first time I really wasn't expecting anything. I even was expecting, that they don't work at all and have a lag or something like that. I was then even more amazed, when I noticed that they work nearly as well as the bluetooth pads on the nextgen consoles. They have a really large freedom of movement. I can even turn my back to the Saturn and play whilst aiming the pad at my wall! Also there is no noticable lag. Every command is executed as if I'd play with an ordinary pad. There is only one point in my room, where the pad does not work anymore, but that's a point, where I don't see the TV anymore either. So... totally amazing IR technology, which I haven't experienced like that before.

The other great thing about them is, that they have been slightly changed in design. At first I was like: "Oh noes, the Sega Saturn pad is the best possible Joypad ever made, how can they change its design?". When I was holding it for the first time I immediately felt it to be more comfortable. It's a tad thicker and especially heavier now, due to the batteries you have to insert at the back. That gives it an even better feeling than the original, very light weight pads. The little chambers, where you put the batteries, also stand out a bit, which gives you a much better grip. Also the shoulder buttons are a tad different now. They don't dangle losely around anymore, but fit thight and have a... "more comfortable" microswitch inside. It's hard to explain, but everything feels much more solid! The D-Pad feels a bit different as well, with much softer movement plus it has this weird stuff on it, which gives it more grip. But maybe that'll hurt after long gaming sessions. This I have yet to test.

So, when I post an extensive text like this one, only for some weird Sega Saturn joypads, I must be really amazed. I never thought, that you can improve the original Sega Saturn pad plus I feel a little bit nextgen due to the new freedom I have whilst playing Saturn. The pads have its price, though. For the set of two pads, a receiver and the original Box I had to pay around 45 EUR, which is quite much. They have also been released in Japan, so maybe you can get those a bit cheaper. I can only recommend them to anyone who is used to his Xbox360 or PS3 wireless pads by now.