Friday 26 June 2009

Dungeons & Dragons Collection: Saturn Review

Game: Dungeons & Dragons Collection - Sega Saturn
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1999 (Oroginal release date of games: 1993 & 1996)

irst off
, I was never into D&D as a kid. I could never really understand what the hell was going on, and it just seemed quite lame to me. Don't get me wrong, wizards are cool, sword welding warriors are cool, and scantily clad babes riding dragons are cool too. I've never really been a huge fan of RPG's either (I'm slowly gaining interest), but action-adventure games like Zelda, Shenmue, Metal Gear. I just can't get enough of.

When I found out that there was a D&D game for the Saturn, and it was an arcade style 2D scrolling fighter, I definitely needed to check it out. I was a really big fan of the 2 and 4 player arcade games of the late 80's and 90's, a la Final Fight, Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Spider Man and so on, but I had never seen this game before. I think it's because when these games were released I was busy playing Super Street Fighter II and Sega Super GT. The Saturn version was not released until March, 1999 (only in Japan), and by that time I was well into my N64 and PS1 hay-days. The closest that I think I ever came to playing a similar game would have been Knights of the Round which was also a Capcom game, or Golden Axe . Well, anyways I was about to enter the magical world of D&D. The Saturn version (which I now have) is quite hard to find. I got my version from Ebay, and was not cheap. Over the many months that I was humming and hawing over whether or not to buy it for the Saturn I did download the ROM for MAME, and played the game quite a bit. I finally broke down and picked up the SS version, and I am very happy with it. So, on to the review...

Game play (7.5/10): Your classic hack and slash type game play. There are quite a few different characters to choose from, all with their own fighting style and magic capabilities. The control is nice and tight, and each character is well balanced so you can play any part of the game with what ever character you want and not have too much trouble. The game doesn't really do anything that I haven't seen before (action-wise), but there are quite a lot of different attacks and magic spells that each character can perform. You can also buy axillary weapons and items, which is nice too.

The levels are well designed, and there are plenty of bad guys and bosses to take on. There are quite a lot of levels, especially for an arcade game, and you can pick different paths throughout the game, which does add replay value. This game was definitely designed to eat quarters in the Arcade, as it is quite difficult, and I find myself dying all the time....I just seem to get my ass kicked a lot. The game is much easier when there are 2 players working together, which brings me to my next point; the arcade version actually supported up to 6 players, but unfortunately, the Saturn version only supports 2.

Graphics (7/10): In a way, I'm kind of surprized that the game requires the 4MB RAM cartridge. I think this is more to support the mutliple character models, rather than deliver amazing visuals. But since the game only supports 2 players, I'm really not too sure where the additional RAM is being used. The graphics are nice, but not that impressive. They look more 1991 than 1996. The game does look pretty good when there are a lot of enemies on the screen and some big 'ol magic spell is cast. The animation on the characters is OK, it's not super fluid, but it does the job. The levels look nice, and each one is visually appealing in its own way. So let's put it this way, graphically, it's no Princess Crown, but it is still one of the nicer looking 2D games from the 90's.

Sound (6/10): The vocals are brutal....the screams and little voicing there is sounds like it came from a Master System Game. Come on now, this was 1996, it couldn't have been too hard to put together some higher quality voice acting. The rest of the sound effects are fine, but nothing special. The same goes for the level does the job, but nothing that I'll ever be humming in my head a week after playing the game.

Overall (8/10): OK, so how does the game get an 8/10 for the overall score when clearly I haven't given any of the individual review sections anything over a 7.5? Well, even with its faults, the game is super fun to play, and is a definite must have for any Saturn collection. It's the kind of game you can pick up and play for an hour or so and have a great time. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that you actually get two games here: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara so you do get quite a bit of value in the purchase. Compared to the ultimate Saturn 2D beat 'em up (Guardian Heroes) D&D collection comes in 2nd place, but it's still a really good game. Think of taking Knights of the Round and Golden Axe, making them have a baby, and then giving that baby a bunch of Steroids, and there you have D&D collection. So if you can find it for a reasonable price, definitely pick it up, and even if it's an unreasonable price, you should consider getting anyways.

Monday 22 June 2009

What if...?! Cartridge Games

So, there were those great Dezaemon 2 releases some time ago. On Volume 1 was Devil Blade 2 by Shigatake, which is simply the most amazing Dezaemon 2 Shmup yet. I decided to put it permanently on a memory card, so that I don't have to load it from the CD and copy it onto my memory card every time I want to play it. Of course it needed a nice sticker then as well and whilst designing it, I thought about how cool it would have been, if there were actual cartridge games for the Saturn available.

The Sega Saturn memory cards are roughly the same size as the Mega Drive (Genesis) cartridges and so I went out and bought a very cheap Mega Drive game, to put my memory card containing Devil Blade 2 in. Now it only needed a cover! I had a closer look at japanese Sega Saturn releases and altered the design a bit, so that it fits the new measurements. Et Voila! The Sega Saturn Cartridge Game packaging is born. Only thing missing would be a cool booklet.

Now I am planning to also do a "Best Of Dezaemon 2" memory card containing my favourite games from the first Dezaemon Save Games Manager release. I still have to play volume 2 and I guess, there I will find even more great games. Damn, I need plenty of memory cards now.

Saturn Model 2: Lost in New York

Ah, my first post at the Saturn Junkyard. So what does the Nomad do in his first article? He brings the whole place down by resorting to celebrity sightings! Don't worry, I'll make it SEGA related and will even visit a pretty sweet video game store.

Let's begin: This past weekend my girlfriend and I were visiting some old friends in New York City. Our first stop was a visit to VideoGamesNewYork, a small but jam-packed game shop that had everything from the Odyssey to the 360. On our way to the shop, things took a turn for the awesome when we spotted Kevin McCallister himself, Mister Macaulay Culkin!

I managed to snap the photo seen above just before Culkin spotted us and hailed a taxi. Seconds later, and I shit you not, Liev Schreiber (Sabertooth of Wolverine) was walking on the opposite side of the street with his son! The gaming gods must have planned all of this as upon entering VideoGamesNewYork I spotted Home Alone 2 for the Genesis and a poster advertising the next-gen Wolverine game.

So what did the store have to offer in terms of SEGA games and systems? In five words: a hell of a lot. You'd be hared pressed to even find a store back in the mid-90's that had this much Saturn stuff in one spot. There were literally hundreds of US and Japanese games available, as well as boxes full of controllers, multi-taps and 4meg carts. After the excitement receded, I asked myself "how could this much Saturn stuff go unsold?" I quickly had my answer: the prices were (for the most part) ludicrous! Games that would go for $5 on ebay were $25, shrink-wrapped stinkers like CROC went for $60 and used controllers were $25. More examples outside of the Saturn: A new Dreamcast was $140, used VMUs were $14.99 each (without caps), Sonic Adventure was $60 and a used Master System Converter was $90. Ouch.

Despite lots of overly priced items, there were some deals to be found. Many staple Saturn games like Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter 2 were between $5 and $9. The Bomberman Multi-tap was $60, new in box.

On the Dreamcast side, the often overpriced Illbleed was $9 and the rare official Dreamcast to Neo Geo Color link cable was $25 and was well stocked (I counted a dozen or so). Genesis and Sega CD games went for reasonable prices, though if you wanted a boxed cartridge you'd spend $25+ for games like Sonic 2 and Golden Axe.

In the end I left with a small amount but excellent selection of items. I snagged Floigan Bros., Illbleed and a third-party ASCII controller for $30 total. Not too shabby! Unfortunately I didn't obtain any Saturn items, as I really had my eye on their rarer games but couldn't handle their prices.

Overall, visiting VideoGamesNewYork was a great experience, if only for the opportunity to stand before hundreds of classic SEGA games. There ARE deals to be found, but I'd advise making up a list of games you're on the lookout for beforehand and comparing the online price to what VideoGamesNewYork offers. You can check out their website here and view more photos of the shop here. I also have this article reposted at The Nomad Junkyard, with a bonus photo!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

A Nomad Wanders Into The 'Yard...

You may have noticed a certain blue hedgehog making a prolific amount of appearances in the comment sections of our sister site, the Dreamcast Junkyard, in the cbox in the sidebar and even adding some interesting Saturn modding advice in the comment section of the last post!

Yes it's the ever present and ever funny Barry The Nomad, so named because of his love of Sega's "bulky but beautiful" handheld masterpiece. Indeed, Barry's love for the Nomad has resulted in the creation of the Nomad Junkyard, the latest addition to the ever growing family of Sega Junkyards out there.

And what a corker of a blog it is! As slick as an eel soaked in butter, and with twice the bite, the Nomad Junkyard celebrates all things Sega, not just the Nomad itself. So what did I do when I saw his wit and talent displayed over at the NJY??? Why I hijacked him of course, bundled him into a large sack and forced him at gunpoint to agree to syphon his Saturn musings to the Saturn Junkyard! Mwuahahahaha!!!

I also sat him in front of a large black and white spiral that spun slowly inwards, and a swinging golden pocket watch which hypnotised him into a deep trance. I then played the Segata Sanshiro theme tune on a loop through some headphones for the next 72 hours, ensuring his status in the cult of Segata, and subsequent undying allegiance to the SJY! The effect on Barry was somewhat startling , as you can see from the photo evidence below. He now only wears his Judo suit, and has spent over seven hundred thousand dollars having the 'Elvis style' hair of a genuine Japanese Segata impersonator, grafted one by one, onto his own scalp.

Barry before Cult Indoctrination...

Barry after Cult Indoctrination.

So may I be the first to welcome our esteemed colleague and good friend, Mr. Barry The Nomad, to our ever expanding international team!

Monday 15 June 2009

To The Plushiest - A very public apology!

You may remember some time ago that our newest team member, and resident Saturn shmup and 2D fighter expert, the Plushiest, made a very generous offer to send your's truly the "jizz soaked" edition of Vampire Savior. The condition of this very generous gift?

"The other condition is that upon receiving the jizz copy, you must make a video about how awesome it is that I sent it to you and post it here."

Well, true to his word, our dear Plushy dispatched a rather lovely package, all the way from the distant, wonderful transatlantic land of Canada, which arrived, rather fittingly, on my 42nd birthday. Inside was the rather luscious prospect of a copy of Radiant Silvergun as a little bonus.

Now, I messed around with Vampire Saviour, trying to get it to play, but I cannot get past the first screen, which has some Japanese writing... I've pressed button after button and it will not play (for some unknown reason) on my Saturn... Now I have quite a few Japanese games in my collection, all which play fine, so I don't quite understand why this disc won't. Could it be the jizz??

OK, onto Radiant Silvergun. Now my Saturn is not chipped, so I had to try the old swap trick. As soon as I read that I had to unscrew a part of the casing, I "bottled it". (Translation for our US readers: I chickened out...

Now, I desperately want to play my lovely gifts, and since Nebachadnezzar reported on his "Saturn chipping service" success, I've researched the possibility of getting mine done. I was thrilled when I saw this rather fantastic video over at the rather wonderful Console Passion website.

Do you think I should go for it? It'll cost me about £60.

However, none of this information negates the fact that the Plushiest (real name Sam Lieff) is owed a video declaring his awesomeness, to the SJY... Nay, to the world!!!! Until I can play them and report on how great they are, this simple image will have to suffice....