Thursday 28 June 2012

Some hidden gems from the Japanese Library

Segata Sanshiro would be proud of me recently. I finally, after years of wanting and needing one, got a fully modded Saturn that can play any region of game as well as play in either 50 or 60hz, and every game looks beautiful on my LCD TV with it, unlike my Japanese Saturn which looked quite muddy and fuzzy on it for some reason. The only thing the system can not do is play CD-Rs (Unless I do that disc swap trick thing which I would rather not risk trying) so you know what that means: buy more games!

Thanks to this I have been back into collecting Saturn games again, and currently have 74 Japanese and 28 PAL games for it. A lot (and I mean a LOT) of games have escaped my grasp as they were bidded way to high up for my budget, but I have from time to time grabbed a bargain or two. I have also been able to find some truly underrated gems that not a lot of people seem to talk about, at least I think they're underrated..some people might disagree but PFFFFT to you. Anyway here's a choice selection of recent purchases I have really enjoyed.

First up: Goiken Muyou Anarchy in the Nippon. The box art doesn't do much to sell it does it? Looking up this one's development history will however: it was put together by a chunk of the staff who worked on the Saturn version of Virtua Fighter 2, who wanted to develop another fighter straight after so went off to make it themselves when Sega wasn't interested.

What you end up with is a game that plays a lot like Virtua Fighter, and is just as if not even slicker than Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn, but also has more of a sense of humor to it. For example two of the characters are a middle aged business man with residing hair and a fat old biddy with flamboyant glasses. The menus are are a little tricky to navigate without Japanese knowledge, but there are loads of game modes to choose from, and it's a really solid 3D fighter that still holds up well. Best of all it's a super cheap game nowadays.

This 2nd choice was admittedly not that cheap, at least compared to the other games here, as it got bidded up to around £20, which is not all too bad compared to other shooters ion the Saturn that's for sure! Sol Divide is a scrolling shooter with a difference: instead of a spaceship you are controlling a warrior floating around that can cast magic of all kinds (wind, ice, fire, you name it) and can get up close and personal to the enemies and smack them upside the head.

It has pre rendered sprites that are not the best looking now a days, but the game has a very cool Jason and the Argonauts style to it, and some of the massive boss sprites are really neat. In typical Psikyo fashion it has loads of difficulty settings that get increasingly insulting as you drop down easier: the bottom two are child and MONKEY. Do you want to be a monkey? Only if I get to fling shit at passers by. Sengoku Blade is supposed to be a follow up to this and a lot better, but this was the much cheaper option and I have had a lot of fun with it. So there.

Last but not least is this game I got just this week which has possibly become one of my favorites on the system in no time at all, and was an absolute bargain at under a tenner. Vatlva is a vehicle combat game with a top down perspective developed by Ancient, known for such classics as Streets of Rage 2 and the Story of Thor. You know what those games and this one also have in common? That's right! A soundtrack by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro! That along may me want to try this out, even if the gameplay turned out to not be that great.

But what do you know, this game is ridiculously fun! You move around the arena almost like a RC car, against anything from 1 to 5 other opponents (depending if you pick tam battle or not) and you have a ton of weapons at your disposable, which i have to mention can be mapped and customized to any button you want, and you can have six weapons at a time! Anything from standards bullets, missiles, bombs that shoot either front or back, close range attacks like buzzsaws, a shield and more bizarre weapons, like one which when it hits the opponent swaps the two of yous positions around! There is a ton of variety to how you can take out your foes.

The music is pumping, the action is fast, and you can even knock your opponent about when they have fallen out of their vehicle in defeat! Oh, and did I mention the multiplayer mode is up to six players? I really need to get a multi tap and some more controllers. Oh and almost all the menus are in English. This doesn't appear to be a very common game, but it is also not a expensive one either: as I said I manged to snag it for under £10. If you like multiplayer madness like Saturn Bomberman this is a must own.

Games like the three above are why I love the Saturn so much. They are not considered as classics or well known by gamers so they do not cost a bomb to pick up but most importantly they are great fun that still hold up today which can not be said for quite a chunk of games from the early 3D era. Grab them while they are (not) hot! You will not regret adding these to your collection.