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, http://www.arcade-history.com/

"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.

Thursday 11 September 2008

SKU You, Pal!


I'm referring, of course, to Best SKU, which currently has a sale on Sega Saturn accessories. These include an RF adapter, the Virtua Stick, and Sega's sublime Saturn Control Pad, all for low-to-the-floor prices. One oddity is an Australian version of the Control Pad with the D-pad and buttons recessed inside large oval windows. It's like the alien cousin of the standard Saturn controller!

Annnnyway, most of the items on the site are just $4.99, with the Virtua Stick priced at a slightly higher $9.99. I've got no clue how much shipping costs or if these guys are even trustworthy, but if you need more Saturn controllers (and really, what Saturn fan couldn't use more of them?) and are willing to take a chance on an unknown mail order company, this is a golden opportunity for you.

One final note... at long last, I've got a computer that can handle Saturn emulation at a reasonable speed. You folks have any recommendations as to what emulator I should be using, and what games I can play with it?

Sunday 7 September 2008

The Japanese Sega Saturn Store Display?

Whilst browsing the internet for random porn and Sega Saturn related stuff I found this quite incredible picture:
To me it's quite incredible, not because that guy is so handsome, but because it shows, what I thought didn't exist! A japanese Sega Saturn store display. There is no confirmation yet, if it really is, what I think. It could also be a fast thrown together display for fair purposes only. The blog entry, where I found the pic, sadly has no information about it at all. Since my first excitement passed by now, I can also admit, that it's not exactly, what I'd call "awesome". It looks a bit basic, a bit grey and a bit small. But it's at least something and takes less space away, than the uber huge european store display.

Thursday 4 September 2008

NiGHTS into Dreams, Brazilian style!

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a Brazilian Saturn game looks like? Well, now you can see it thanks to our amazing fan, Renato Borba aka retrogamejunker who kindly provided us photos like this one.

But there's many more, like a shot of the cd case, the manual, inside the manual, yet another shot at the manual and even of another game, Cyber Speedway.

Thank you very much for the photos, Renato, we all appreciate them here at the Saturn Junkyard. Obrigado pelo apoio e continua a visitar-nos, é de leitores assim que nós precisamos :)

Monday 1 September 2008

Sega Saturn Games From Brazil

I recently bought some cool factory sealed Sega Saturn games... brazilian versions. Yes, the Sega Saturn was available in Brazil through Tec Toy, like a gazillion of other Sega consoles as well. Tec Toy is keeping the spirit alive up to this day, with for example recently announcing the Sega Master System 3. Since I am collector of all sort of things with the Sega Saturn logo on it, I had to buy these. Too bad I can't have a look inside those brazilian games, because they are factory sealed and I want them to stay that way. But on the brazilian ebay I saw some pictures from the insides. Inside those cardboard boxes seem to be some weird black plastic CD cases and a manual. Now, if I only could buy more brazilian stuff... a boxed Saturn for example.