Thursday 26 October 2017

Saturn Junkyard Cosplay Awards 2017

Here at the Saturn Junkyard, we heartily approve of grown men and women making ridiculous video-game themed costumes, and then wearing them shamelessly around a comic-con or gaming expo, whilst bemused onlookers try desperately in vain to work out who they are supposed to be.

Whether you are a  beautifully healthy sun-tanned Bay Watch body-double, or have got to squeeze your cellulite riddled, pock-marked, flab into an ill fitting lycra leotard and leggings, using a shoehorn and a tub of lard, matters not!

It's entering into the spirit of the thing that's important! So to help you decide on your own Saturn themed costume for this year, we'll show you some of the efforts people have gone to in the past, for better or for worse... They all get the world famous Father Krishna seal of approval for having a go!

What I hadn't reckoned on, was the strange psychological associations and feelings, brought on by perusing these cos-play pictures. Why do subjects as diverse as creeping terror, Cilla Black, the Joker, the Russian Mafia, evil clowns and Frank Sidebottom come to mind when looking at a bunch of gaming characters? (If you have no idea who my Anglo-centric comparisons refer to, click on the links!)

Choose your favourite and identify it in the comment section, or save them to your device and throw them up on the Facebook page for anyone who has missed them!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Imagine Dragoons: That Time Panzer Dragoon Was an Anime

I’m a big fan of Panzer Dragoon (the game), particularly its sequels. So when I recently came across a VHS copy of Panzer Dragoon (the movie) at a retro gaming convention, buying it wasn’t even a choice. I had no idea such a thing even existed – and yet it does – so obviously I needed it.
I’ve long ceased to own the requisite apparatus for playing back the newest (and probably only) VHS tape in my collection. But a cursory glance at the box and cassette revealed it to be an anime-style film, in color, dubbed in English, with an approximate run time of 35 minutes (though it’s more like 26). A further look at Amazon’s customer reviews for Panzer Dragoon (the anime) suggested it wasn't likely to be a very good film to begin with.

One customer, Sam, deemed Panzer Dragoon (the anime) “the worst fantasy anime ever,” or at least “the worst to be based on a videogame,” citing its animation as having “one of the most contemptible mixes of hand drawn animation and computer graphics EVER.” Dark Ren added, ”between the boring dialogue, and disappointing action scenes, I was wondering how this could get much worse,” while another unnamed customer obliged, “[the Panzer Dragoon anime] has the worst dubbing I've ever heard!!! My friend and I couldn’t stop laughing!!”

Undeterred, I still had to see it for myself. At the very least, Panzer Dragoon (the anime) had to be so bad that it's good, right? Well, that was the hope. Read more...

Fighting Your Way Through Halloween: Darkstalkers 3 - The Characters... (Part 2)


So, it's time for part two of our introduction to the weird and wonderful 'Halloween-friendly' characters of Capcom's insanely good 2D fighter, Dark Stalkers 3. We've already met our seasonal archetypes-- a mummy, a werewolf, a vampire, a Frankenstein-type monster, a machine gun toting fairy tale character, two confusingly saucy 'succubus' demons and a... *cough* ...haunted suit of Samurai armour...

Now it's time to meet the rest of the roster of  'Vampire Savior: The Lord Of Vampire' for the Sega Saturn!

Sasquatch: is of course the mysterious ape-man of the North American continent. Also known as Big Foot (the same name as his tribe). Sasquatch is an original creature to have in a horror-based fighting game, but unfortunately his race are depicted as something of  a bunch of stupid behemoths, daft enough to be lured to their doom by the offer of lots of bananas! A shame, as I can't think of him showing up in many other video games, and as everyone knows, Sasquatch are intelligent, even noble creatures, which is why they've never been caught by the razor sharp minds and keen cryptozoological instincts of the Finding Bigfoot team on Animal Planet.

Sasquatch's most notable ability is being able to turn water to ice by passing it through his body! Having huge feet (all the better to stomp you with) can also be quite beneficial when facing other creatures of the night...


Monday 23 October 2017

Fighting Your Way Through Halloween: Darkstalkers 3 - The Characters... (Part1)

As anyone who has read my last few posts can tell, I'm a huge fan of Halloween, and a recent convert to the genre of 2D fighting games, played of course, on the Sega Saturn. So when I realised there was a game that combined two of my passions, I thought it would be rude not to give it a feature post here at the Saturn Junkyard!
One of the best 2D fighters I've played, 'Darkstalkers 3' (or 'Vampire Savior: The Lord Of Vampire' as it was known in Japan) arrived through my door, some time in the first decade of this millennium, courtesy of one of the previous collaborators here on the 'Yard. It was sent with love, as a beautiful gift, with a burned copy of Radiant Silvergun tucked away inside. I'm ashamed to say I can't remember who was kind enough to send it to me. What I do know however, is that it remained unplayed in my Saturn collection for many years, due to the fact that my import playing Action Replay, did not facilitate the 4MB of RAM necessary for the game to work properly!

Fast forward to 2017; a new Action Replay arrives from Play Asia and all of a sudden, the game that had remained out of my reach for so long, suddenly arrived within it! I was hugely impressed from the moment I fired up the game.... I've already explained in a previous post, why I'm so enamoured with 2D fighters at the moment, so rather than explain all that again, I'll cut straight to the chase. As well as the quirky game play, and fantastic special moves, it's the combatants within this particular game that imbue it with it's eccentric charm and Halloween relevance.

What makes Darkstalkers 3 so fantastic, is it's insane roster of characters, inspired by classic horror archetypes as featured in the popular Japanese anime. As well as those monsters and 'creatures of the night' one might expect to find in your average Hammer Horror film, the game boasts some surprises. They're such a fabulous collection of Halloween-style freaks, creeps and misfits, that I've decided to shine the spotlight on each and every one of them during this article. I want to share their images and backstories, with those of you waiting to add this game to your collection, in order to whet your appetite. So lets jump straight in with the the first one! I've used as my primary source, so props to them!

Anakaris: is a huge mummy, a twelfth dynasty pharaoh who bears more than a passing resemblance to Tutankhamen. A slow and lumbering character, (the slowest in the game, in terms of mobility), Anakaris does have some compensatory abilities. Those abilities include the fact that he can float and hover temporarily in the air, teleport (like Dahlsim in Streetfighter) and drop a huge casket on top of his foes, amongst other things!


Halloween Video Treats: Five Creepy Clips To Help Celebrate The Season!

Sunday 22 October 2017

2D Fighter Kicks 3D Fighter's Ass!

One of the biggest revelations from my current revision of the Sega Saturn, is the brilliance of 2D fighting games. A genre which failed to excite me when the console was current, 2D fighters seemed cheesy, over the top, brash, outdated, cartoonish and comical. This was in comparison to what I perceived then, as 'realistic' 3D fighters, which I could not get enough of. For me, the characters of the Virtua Fighter series were far more interesting and strangely enough, believable (as if realism was an important factor in gaming!)  The ability to take on the persona and moves of a mysterious, yet understated combatant like Kage from Virtua Fighter--a character akin to the ninjas and martial arts masters I had admired in the kung fu movies of my youth--was loads more appealing than martialling the impossible theatrics of  Ryu, or the limb stretching slap-happiness of Dahlsim!

Now time has done a sneaky switcheroo on us, and the cartoon-like graphics of the 2D fighter have weathered the passage of the decades far more effectively than their 3D counterparts. Whilst the pointy and angular graphics of the Saturn's later software, --for example Sarah Bryant or Lion in 'Virtua Fighter 2'-- look undeniably dated by today's standards, the 'side on' two dimensional perspective of the  2D fighter-- for example 'Street Fighter Alpha'-- has emerged as more of a 'classic' look than an antiquated one. Whilst I'm talking about this genre, my only experience of these titles on the Saturn are those produced by Capcom. I'm hugely looking forward to exploring the SNK releases that so many Saturn fans hold dear, but I cannot speak about them from a position of knowledge at this time...

There are other factors at work in making the 2D fighter, particularly those from the Capcom stable so relevant in 2017-- and one of those factors is the longevity of Street Fighter as an IP. Whilst the 'Virtua Fighter' characters are fast becoming a faded memory in the mainstream gaming market, the assembled characters from Capcom's 2D biggest franchise, 'Street Fighter' still command big budget releases. They have a commercial relevance and familiarity today, that Akira Yuki, Lau Chan and Wolf Hawkfield cannot claim, however much we want them to. We've seen Ryu and Ken in recently successful iterations of Street Fighter, such as Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5. It's interesting to note that character models and the overall format of the games, were not altered much at all for the '2.5D' reboot, however... proof of the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.".  Capcom themselves knew that the 2D fighter was not a genre that needed much upgrading.

The updating of the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, and it's subsequent commercial success, plus the critical acclaim of the Wii's "Tatsunuko vs. Capcom" is also proof of the enduring love for the 2D fighter.

Talking of character mash-ups, Capcom's willingness to bring the characters from anime, comics and even rival software publishers for their 2D fighting releases mean that we have some monumental titles, full of charm and individuality. The range of 2 D fighters available for the Saturn vastly outnumbers that of 3D fighters. The flirtation with Marvel has been a very lucrative one, both critically and commercially, as the original titles that they produced with the company proved to be big sellers. Stand alone 'Marvel' games such as 'Marvel Superheroes' and 'X Men Children Of The Atom' brought superheroes and super-humans into the arena. Who wouldn't want to fight as Hulk, Spider-Man or Wolverine?  A stroke of genius to then pit them against the cast of Street Fighter! We're all prone to those "I wonder who'd win in a fight between..." questions. Here was a chance to find out! An unforeseen factor has been how much the Marvel brand has exploded in the wider public consciousness over the last few years.
As Marvel's movie franchises continue to play to the tastes of the mainstream, it's cast of characters again command a relevance in the zeitgeist of 2017, the whispers of which, resonate through when playing either of the games mentioned above, or indeed the wonderful crossover 'X Men vs. Capcom'.

So playing the 2D Fighters in my own collection is taking up a lot of my time at the moment. I'm getting to the stage that I understand the repertoire of moves for many of the characters I fight as, so now I'm just trying to perfect the timing and combos. I'm unfortunately tempted to rotate each game regularly in my playlist, rather than sticking to one and perfecting my moves or honing my skills with a particular character. That's been a problem for me for some time. I suffer from FGS... Flighty Gamer Syndrome. I'm rarely able to focus on one game long enough to be able to play it to my full potential. And these are games that are made to be mastered!

So what games are rocking my world at the moment? Let's take a look!


Saturday 21 October 2017

More Saturn gaming news, views and all round goodness from the Sega Saturn Shiro crew in their third podcast! We're a little bit late getting it up on the main page, but as long as they're doing their rather splendid Podcast, we'll keep promoting it over here at the 'Yard.
I'll let the chaps themselves (David Lee, Ke Kona and Patrick Traynor) tell you all about it!

On this week's episode, we go in depth with playing imports and backups. From swap tricks, to complete CD drive replacements.

We also drop the release of Armed (Also known as Aftermath), an unreleased Sega Saturn game developed by Point of View, which was originally going to be published by Interplay.

The URL for the game is provided in the podcast itself.

and here's the content listing & running order

Intro / what we've been up to
00:18:16 Shoutouts
00:20:20 Obscure Game: Groove On Fight
00:32:19 Technical Q & A: Save Data / Losing Saves
00:47:32 Different Methods for Playing Imports
00:58:24 Different Methods for Playing Backups
01:20:59 Using Quality Media & Best Practices

So make sure you give it a listen!

Friday 20 October 2017

The Best Halloween Saturn Game Of All...

My love for the Saturn is split into three phases; the first stage was my initial love in about 1996... the stage when the Saturn was my current console. I'd just bought it and I was blown away by the graphical wonders and futuristic gameplay of Virtua Fighter, Sega Rally, Panzer Dragoon and Clockwork Knight. The next stage, was about ten years ago, when I decided to founder the Saturn Junkyard, primarily because I was so blown away by the wonder that is the Dreamcast Junkyard, and wanted  a piece of the retro-gaming blogging action. At that time, I bought the bulk of my current PAL collection, when there was nothing on offer for the Dreamcast at Gamestation, as a source for reviews and articles on the SJY. The third phase is my current obsession, which has seen me neglecting all my other consoles and game library, to play the Saturn exclusively, buying up Japanese imports and padding out my software library with rips, as if I'm discovering it again for the first time.

But lets go back to phase 1: It's 1996/7 and as well as the games mentioned above, you can add a very small handful of games, that made up up the entirety of my Saturn software collection. One was Virtua Cop, one was Christmas NiGHTs and the other was the title I want to discuss today.

The game in question was 'Casper', a title I'm going to nominate for my ultimate Halloween Saturn game. It's a title that has everything you might want from a spooky Halloween experience-- A haunted mansion, darkened passageways, moonlit graveyards, creaking doors, moving objects, ghostly laughter and sandwiches, lots and lots of sandwiches!


Monday 16 October 2017

Sega Saturn Saucepot Of The Month... October 2017

As I said last month when I started this feature, this is not some sort of "boys only", misogynistic, perv-fest, but is in fact, an equal opportunities, gender inclusive, true appreciation of the pretend physical perfection, of non-existent characters, made up of sprites, polygons and magic.

So, to keep things balanced, and in a perfect Yin/Yang style harmony, it's time to select a male 'Saturn saucepot'.  I was thinking of using a real life human sex object, in the shape of one of the Saturn Junkyard's Facebook Page Admins, but as I only have myself, Jon Lee and Daniel Turner to choose from, I had to scrap that idea.


Come and get me girls!
Wanna see my stunner?

So, with so many Saturn themed cyber-hunks to choose from, where do I start? I think it would be prudent to select from Saturn exclusives, but obviously it can't be Virtua Cop as that was the source of last month's saucepot... One of the Burning Rangers boys or perhaps one of the guys from the Last Bronx posse? One of the male crew from the Deep Fear submarine? NiGHTs? Is she even a guy or is he actually a girl?

Sunday 15 October 2017

The Scariest Games On The Saturn...

As the summer fades and we approach this Autumnal time of year, my mind always turns towards the gothic, the haunted, the horrific and the (bio)hazardous. It's nearly Halloween, my favourite Holiday, and therefore high time we decided what Saturn games we should be playing as the nights draw in.
Now, I was trying to recall all of the Saturn horror titles I could think of for this article, but my knowledge is by no means comprehensive. So I decided to start researching the topic, heading towards YouTube as my first port of call.

And lo! There were two videos that encapsulated the very topic I wanted to discuss! So the simple and lazy thing to do would be to post the videos here and shut up shop, and I dare say that's the route I would have taken during the Junkyard's first incarnation. However, the descriptions of the games featured within the videos are fleeting to say the least. I also wanted to put my own stamp on this post, so I've given a brief account of some of the games from my own collection that I will be playing over the Halloween period. Part of my remit during this outing on the Saturn Junkyard, was to give serious play-time to titles that I may have been dismissive about in the past.

 At best this pair of videos serves as a list of the most obvious Saturn titles of a spooky nature, showing each game running, perhaps the best way to showcase any game. It pretty much nails both the common PAL/US horror-themed releases and references some of the more obscure Japanese games which can be imported.

There will of course also be some titles missed out in the video compilation... (The Mansion Of Hidden Souls for example.) When considering the sheer volume of releases for the system in Japan alone, there are bound to be some that didn't make the YouTube collection. There's also the possibility that some tenuous links (in terms of the 'Halloween' theme) may have been made... Resident Evil? I guess that fits the Halloween bill...Spooky mansion, dark passage ways, rage infested zombies? Yes!
Alien Trilogy? Doesn't that fit into the Science Fiction genre more easily? Lone space craft, dark passageways, xeno-morphing extra terrestrials? ... Halloween-ish? Not so much!

So, as I'm here, I'll give you the lowdown on my own personal 'Saturn Halloween' top five, based on the games currently residing in my own collection. I'll tell you why I love them (and indeed in the case of one mansion-themed outing, why I don't!)


Friday 13 October 2017

Sega Saturn- An Informal Beginner's Guide For Beginners (Part II) The Games!

I'm very pleased to be able to bring you part 2 of Brian Vines most excellent "Sega Saturn -  A Beginner's Guide For Beginners" This time, Brian focuses on the stand out games that an aspiring Saturn collector might want to add to his or her library, without needing to take out a second mortgage to procure them!

The Sega Saturn boasts a solid library of exclusive software, but it's not going to be everything to everyone, as it specialised in some particular types of games and genres over others. The Saturn excelled in vibrant, arcade style offerings that were easy to learn, yet difficult to master. As you make your way through the consoles more value oriented offerings, these are likely the types of games you'll find yourself playing, as you patiently search for decent deals on the more elusive heavy hitters. I mean, Panzer Dragoon Saga is great, but it's just not worth going out and dropping several hundred dollars on right away. There are so many other great and more affordable Saturn games out there, its a far better use of time and money to focus on getting those first.

If I were jump starting a collection on the cheap, I'd first search my preferred auction website for a decent bundle for sale. This can be a bit cheaper than buying games piecemeal can be. When it comes to the Saturn, everyone seems to think they know what they're selling (and will often charge accordingly, usually excessively) so you'll need to be very patient. In general, I'd recommend some of the following titles. Whilst this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the great and reasonably priced games the platform has to offer, these should make some mice additions to a well rounded starter collection, in no particular order.

NiGHTS into Dreams - Oh yeah, I forgot to mention a small detail about the Saturn. Bafflingly, Sega and Sonic Team never made  a proper, mainline Sonic game for it. However, they did produce this little gem, which is an incredibly unique 2.5D flying jester simulator. It's fast like a Sonic game, but with free form verticality and nifty aerial acrobatics. It controls very smoothly, but the 3D analogue pad is all but mandatory. It's also a gorgeous title that does an admirable job of putting the Saturn through it's paces.

DecAthlete/Athlete Kings & Winter Heat: Fans of Konami's classic Track and Field or other Olympic themed button mashing games of that style-- will feel right at home with these summer and winter sports events titles, respectively. They both have super simple gameplay.: for most events you're tapping a button until its time to hit another one- with timing and precision dictating your success--yet somehow these games manage to be damn fun, despite their streamlined game mechanics. Even better, you'll often find tripping and falling on your face is a fun alternative to playing the events properly. If I had to pick one, I'd pick Winter Heat.


Tuesday 10 October 2017

Segata Sanshiro Spotted On New Dreamcast Mini-Disc!

We're well aware of our heritage over here at the Saturn Junkyard. Indeed, the place wouldn't exist if it hadn't been for the establishment of the Dreamcast Junkyard and it's magnificent benevolence in terms of mentorship and guidance.

It provided inspiration for, and encouragement of, this very site, way back at the start of the millennium in around about 2006... And it still is, for the Dreamcast Junkyard have run a fine article on the game Dreamcastnoid and highlighted the appearance of everyone's favourite Elvis-wigged, Judo-suit-rocking, Teen-beating, superhero...SEGATA SANSHIRO!

And here he is in all his monochrome ghostly glory!

Who's that lurking in the shadows?
And thanks again for the source material to the Dreamcast Junkyard!

Friday 6 October 2017

Once Upon A Time When Sega Were Literally Giving The Saturn Away...

Sounds too good to be true right? Sega, not a company known for savvy business practises, were never actually so insane that they gave away their 32 Bit powerhouse did they?  Well no, I've got you here under slightly false pretences, using a little hyperbole and exaggeration, but there is a kernel of truth in my outrageous claims!

They may have given a few out free in the board room to prospective clients and business partners, to tech magazines and TV shows from whom they were trying to court favourable reviews, and perhaps some as competition prizes in various promotions, but they never gave away entire consoles to ordinary saps like you and I, willy-nilly. They did, however, give away Saturn peripherals and system components, to anyone who asked. Free. For nothing. Nada. Gratis.

Read more:

Thursday 5 October 2017

Sega Saturn: An Informal Beginner’s Guide for Beginners

It's only been a matter of days since the padlocks and chains were removed from the doors of the Saturn Junkyard, the dust was blown off the blogging machinery, and the old place swung into action once more. Since then we've had two articles sent to the 'Yard! One you've already seen, a very personal account of the effect receiving a Saturn had on one 14 year old back in 1996 (our Kev).
Today, It is my great pleasure to present to you  part one of :

"Sega Saturn: An Informal Beginners Guide For Beginners" by Facebook group member, Mr. Brian Vines.
His work is written in red, to ensure no one thinks I am attempting to pass it's excellence off as my own!

Part one discusses the hardware and gives some salient and economic advice to new and existing Saturn owners. Part two, to be showcased in a few days time, will cover the best Saturn software available without breaking the bank!

So you just bought a Sega Saturn - - Good for you.
Or perhaps you're considering getting one. Or perhaps you've always owned a Saturn, but have just remembered that fact until today. Or perhaps you despise the Sega Saturn, in which case I'm not sure why you are reading this, but kudos for expanding your horizons!

So now what? Where do you start with your brand new, state-of-the art, decades-old console? What should you expect? Would you like to kick off your Saturn library with some worthwhile games whilst still having some money left over for food? Any other useful tips to consider?

Well here's a bit of help. While this article is by no means comprehensive, you could consider it an informal starter's guide to help get the ball rolling on your new/future/forgotten/non-existent Sega Saturn home video game console. I'll briefly touch on various topics throughout this post, though nearly everything here could warrant it's own in-depth article to properly delve into the ins and outs of every aspect. There's also a lot I'm going to miss, including game pads and peripherals, hardware variations, emulation options, all of it's incredible RPGs, shoot 'em ups , and 'Bug!' - which may be the most glaring omission of all...


Monday 2 October 2017

Segata Sanshiro: The Podcast!

Play the Saturn or I'll kick your arse...

Anyone who takes the time to peruse this site, will see lots of archive material about a certain 'Elvis-haired' Judo Master, who beats people up if they're not playing the Sega Saturn enough. Now, as a lifelong pacifist, I don't ever condone any violence by one human being, towards another. Apart from that levelled by Segata Sanshiro at those non-Saturn playing fools out there!

So it gladdened my heart, when I discovered three fine young men from the United States, taking the time to not only promote the Sega Saturn through insightful and knowledgeable discussion. But hey, why don't I let them introduce themselves, and when you've read the introduction and want to listen to the Podcast, just click on the link here:

Aloha Junkies
I'm Ke (pronounced "K" like the letter), and an admin/mod at a couple of different/other Saturn based facebook groups.
Patrick Traynor, David Lee, and I are the hosts of SEGA SATURN, SHIRO, a podcast dedicated to all things Sega Saturn. We're still getting used to the whole podcast thing, but if you want to take a gamble, we finished our second show last week. You can listen to it here;
For the most part, you'll find us either in Sega Saturn Collectors of America, Sega Saturn Trade, Sell, and Collect, or Galaxy Sega.

Christmas time, mistletoe and... Saturn?

One of the great pleasures I have always taken from the Junkyards, (firstly, the Dreamcast Junkyard and secondly, the Saturn Junkyard) is the opportunity for interaction with some of the retrogamers and Sega enthusiasts worldwide. Luckily, the trend continues! The Saturn Junkyard has barely celebrated a week of it's renaissance, and we've already had a nostalgic contribution from one of our Facebook members:
Kevin Mason
Kev spends some quality time
with his favourite console...

Kev has penned an account of that special time in all of our lives, the day he got his Saturn! So sit back and enjoy Kev's memories of his favourite Christmas!

(As is the custom here on the 'Yard, we'll change the font and text colour so readers know that I am not plagiarising or passing other people's work off as my own!)

Christmas morning 1995, saw me rushing downstairs to unwrap something I was very excited about... At the age of 14, I hadn’t been so geared up for present opening in quite a while! Having picked out the Sega Saturn from my Mum’s “Kay’s catalogue”, I had eagerly anticipated the day I would get to play on it, for what felt like months...

This was the most technological way you could shop back in the '90s..

I would later learn that the Saturn only came with a scart lead, not the more common A-V lead. However a “pre-check” by my Dad, (good old Dad!) had apparently spotted this faux-pas by Sega, and a quick trip to Dixons had fortunately cured this omission. Why this was bundled with the system, I have no idea, as it would be years before myself (or anyone else I knew) would have need of a "scart cable", or for that matter, know what one was...