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!)


1.) House Of The Dead: When most Saturn games were retailing for between 20p and £2,50, House Of The Dead cost me £25. It remains to this day the most expensive Saturn game I have ever bought. But even at the time I was forking out that princely sum, I was convinced that it was I who was getting the bargain, not the Gamestation employee who was fleecing me for my hard earned cash. HOTD is the definitive Light Gun experience for the Saturn.
Now Virtua Cop had blown my mind, but I'd largely experienced it using the Saturn's Mark II controller, not the Saturn 'Stunner' light gun, so despite having inferior graphics, it was HOTD that captured my heart in terms of Saturn light gun gaming.

HOTD  (a 'gun game' created for money hungry arcade cabinets for all intents and purposes) filled my imagination completely. Whilst I don't recall playing Virtua Cop in the arcades, I definitely recall playing HOTD, with it's 'shlock horror', blood spattered cabinet -- twin guns, attached to thick cables for two-player co-op action-- zombie stuffed environments and superbly cheesy dialogue.
Standing sideways on, holding a magnum style pistol and blasting pieces off Romero influenced mutated zombies, as well as a plethora of other creatures and structural features was quite literally, a blast!

Now, with my Saturn and my Stunner set up in the living room, I was ready to repeat the arcade experience in my own gaff! Could home gaming get any better?

Whilst the Saturn version doesn't compare graphically to it's arcade cousin, all the elements that made the game great as a coin-op, are contained within the home console version. Progressing through the (very Spencer-like) Curien mansion, you can take branching paths through the building as you clear the hallways of zombies and other despicable monsters. Green blood (which can be changed to red or even purple) is liberally smattered and splashed throughout the game. Bite and scratch marks taken by the player appear on the screen, as your health depletes and your heart races. I defy anyone who plays it, not to be drawn into it's excellence. Rarely has a game given me so much replay value, and I used to put it on for guests, visitors and party-goers every Halloween.

N.B. It needs to be pointed out that 'light guns' such as the Saturn Stunner, will NOT work on modern TVs. This is a major league ball ache for Saturn (and Dreamcast) owners. I'm currently trying to source a small portable CRT TV for the sole purpose of playing my light gun games... I have a HUGE CRT TV in the loft, but it would take a small team of servants or a JCB to hoist it up and down the stairs... This Halloween, the Wii version of HOTD 2 & 3 will be fulfilling the Saturn's  job...

2.) Resident Evil -  I think that this is a game that won't be off any serious gamer's radar. Capcom's masterpiece has spawned a huge number of excellent sequel games and even a big budget movie franchise. it's a familiar story; members of the STARS rescue team have been forced to take cover in a zombie infested mansion (do I see a recurring theme here?) and now they must escape, whilst rescuing other members of their team, from the clutches of hideous Umbrella created deviants.
The Saturn version is a solid execution of the game, with a few extra features, missing from the more commonly experienced Playstation version. Lets look at the exclusives, as laid out for our convenience, over at

Saturn Exclusives
  • Battle mode, most similar to RE: Code Veronica's Battle Mode, except there is no infinite ammo or first-person view.
  • New variation of the Hunter, known as the "Tick".
  • An optional bonus Tyrant fight (in Battle Mode), where he is golden colored and has insane health.
  • A Zombie Wesker (in Battle Mode) in one of the lab rooms.
Resident Evil is a quintessential video-gaming experience, not just a Saturn one. If you've never played it you need to buy it now!!! But even if you have, playing it again on the Saturn is something you should do too, so either way, I expect it played, appreciated and enjoyed. Then write a detailed report and leave it on my desk in the morning!

3.) Exhumed - This is a new one for me, so I can't write about it with authority. One of the joys of my current Saturn gaming fetish, is that I have games which have been bought and rarely (or even never) been played. Exhumed is one such game.
A corridor based,  First Person Shooter, 'Exhumed' sees you playing as an adventurer, forced to travel through the tomb of  an undead pharaoh, dispatching Egyptian themed enemies and adversaries, solving mysteries, opening passageways and progressing though the creepy tunnels.
Made by the same company who bought us 'Doom' and 'Quake', this is a quality FPS, which sees you at different times, slashing with a sword (your 'go to' weapon of choice) or shooting a variety of  perishable weapons, as you make your way through each level. Jumping spiders seem to be experts at avoiding your sword swipes, so replenishing your gun's functionality is as important as replenishing your health. 'Exhumed' smacks of quality and I look forward to spending a lot more time with it during the season of the witch.

4.) Mansion Of Hidden Souls - Also known as 'Tale Of The Dream Mansion' in Japan, the game started life as a 'point and click. adventure, created initially for the Sega CD. It's of a similar nature to other Saturn titles 'D' and 'Myst', in it's presentation and execution.
The story sees two siblings, Samantha and Jonathan being lured into a mansion whilst chasing an exotic butterfly (I kid you not!) Despite warnings from their grandmother about unfortunate individuals being turned into butterfly-ghosts...
If that sounds a bit rubbish, it's because Mansion Of Hidden Souls is fairly dire. Point and click adventures are outdated in a way that even a confirmed retro-gamer like myself finds somewhat unappealing. The Alien Trilogy game, that I've already prevented myself from recommending  would have been a much better gaming experience to include, but  I feel Mansion Of Hidden Souls fits into the Halloween theme with more ease, so that's the one that makes the cut!
5.) Loaded - Wikipedia describes the characters within this game as combination of "villains, anti-heroes, psychopaths, perverts, mutants, and flamboyant murderers." So does that fit the bill for a Halloween game? I'm saying a big "YES!" as I'm quickly running out of titles within my own collection which I could legitimately shoehorn into the article... It's got a scary clown on the cover, so I'm claiming it.

The biggest surprise about 'Loaded' is it's perspective. I've played other top down or bird's eye perspective games, such as "Micro-machines" for the Megadrive or "GTA" for the Dreamcast, both of which I enjoyed... But in truth, it's not a perspective that I particularly enjoy. As well as the challenging perspective, the game looks graphically poor, even compared to other titles for the system. Pixelated graphics fail to deliver the sinister and inviting look of the character on the box art. Definitely a title where the concepts presented in the game, were never realised with the aplomb they deserved, Loaded is a case of style over substance.

So as a something to get you in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year, I hope these recommendations whet your appetite. If there are any games missed out form either my list or the YouTube collection, please let me know! And of course enjoy Halloween! There'll be more Halloween themed posts here on The 'Yard, so make sure you come back during the next few days!

1 comment:

Daniel Turner said...

nice! will have to check these out