Tuesday 8 May 2012

The Saturn gets new games!

Our beloved console may not get as many new games developed for it as the Dreamcast, but that doesn't keep it from getting a few unreleased/lost games from time to time. Remember Return Fire, a lovely action game that found its way onto the internet a few years ago? The same team that got a full working copy of that game and released it for free for all of us to enjoy has done it again, although this time we're talking about an unfinished game, so don't expect a full-featured title but more of a glorified demo.

 Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Major Damage

Available as a free download that can be played either on a emulator or on real hardware, provided you have a way to boot it, they went so far as to also make some rather nice artwork, in case we want to put it in a case, all nice and pretty among the rest of the collection.

I immediately proceeded to download the game and burn it to play on my modded Saturn. The file I got (from another site, at the time I didn't know it was also available on the official page) came with two discs, actually, labelled 146 and 157. I couldn't fin any info on why there were two discs instead of just one, and what was the difference, so I thought I'd just check them out. 157 looks like a very earlier version, with only one level that I couldn't beat because my character just got stuck at the end. 146 is where it's at, with three whole levels, which may not look like much but it's the best we can get.

About the game itself, it's an action platformer that somewhat resembles Contra or Metal Slug. It's very fast paced, with enemies coming from all angles and constantly respawning behind you. There's pits where you can fall to your death, platforms to jump, power-ups for the guns, typical action stuff. Unfortunately you can't die, which takes away all the pressure from the game. Other bugs include stairs, where you can pass through the steps, and the character sprites flashing in a weird pattern, but overall it's actually in quite a finished state. The graphics are very well done. The floor is 3D with very detailed 2D backgrounds and character sprites, and everything has that typical American cartoon look. The big drawback, as I've said before, is that this version only has three levels (the first and the third being really similar), which you can beat in 10 minutes or less, but there's a lot to see, specially on the 2nd level, where there are several shops in the background with funny titles that really make you want to pause for a second just to read them.

Overall though, I have to admit the game is somewhat average, even considering its unfinished state, and to make it worse we only get to play three levels (and two characters that play basically the same), so to say you'll have a blast playing this would probably be a lie. But in the end, and unlike Return Fire, this is not really meant to be played like a regular game, it's more of a piece of Saturn history, a game that could have been but wasn't, and this unfinished version is definitely better than just looking at magazine screenshots and wondering what it would be like.

And it's technically a new piece of software, for your Saturn, 14 years after the console was officially discontinued. So go play it right now! It'll only take a couple of minutes anyway :D