Saturday, 10 March 2018

Pseudo Saturn And How It Changed My Life

When I decided to crowbar open the rusty gates of the Saturn Junkyard, back in September 2017, my intention was to simply and carefully explore, my collection of approximately sixty PAL games and about twenty Japanese imports. The lion's share of my personal collection, had been procured about twelve years ago in the mid-noughties, from the wonderful 'Gamestation' (nestled within the confines of entertainment behemoth Blockbuster - remember that?) The majority of those games were bought for approximately £2.50 to 10.00, many within the infamous BOGOF deal (buy two and only pay for the more expensive title.) They were also bought at a time when I was realistically more interested in the Dreamcast, and so only the finest Saturn games purchased at that time - House OF The Dead for example - got any kind of playtime...

So as I say, my original intention when opening the Yard was to use my personal collection, as genuinely "virgin territory" in terms of my video-gaming experience. It would provide me with enough games to write opinion pieces and personal reflections. I would be able to mine my Saturn software stash on a monthly basis, giving each game the sort of play-through, one would feel compelled to bestow upon it, if you had forked out the original £40+ required to secure the game in the mid-nineties.

But then my good friend Jon Lee began to insist I had something called "Pseudo Saturn". He was insistent that I should have this "modification". I envisaged initially, that it would mean a modification to the hardware, and I balked at the idea of having to entrust my old Saturn to the ravages of the Royal Mail. He soon explained that it would mean the modding of an Action Replay card.

Now I have no idea what he did, The Southern Sega Gentleman has already written a more technical piece about the magic involved in bringing this particular piece of electronic wizardry to fruition, but for all of you readers who are simply interested in it's functionality, it can be summed up succinctly:
It allows you to play copied games.

Simple copies made by James Morton

Now immediately we have to deal with a small moral dilemma... we're essentially dealing with piracy here. Right now I could be construed as advocating and endorsing piracy... so I would like to state at this juncture that at the Saturn Junkyard we only endorse the idea of copies as back-ups for legally bought software... 😉😉😉

Now, speaking personally... as Simon Early of Moss Side, not Father Krishna of the SJY, I can state that I have no problems with copies. As an elderly gentleman, I existed at a time when people used to copy their vinyl records (albums) onto cassettes (tapes). this was the common way of sharing music in the pre-internet days. It was completely illegal... denied the musician's their copyright and royalties. But literally everyone did it. Making a CDR copy of a twenty year old IP, which is no longer being sold physically or digitally, holds no moral dilemma for me. As a Roman Catholic, I'm pretty good at "guilt"... yet I feel no remorse about receiving or buying copied games. But officially? As official policy of the SJY? We don't condone piracy or illegal practises. 😉

That being said, as soon as you have a Pseudo Saturn Action Replay - (you can buy them straight off our Facebook Page) - you have every Saturn game at your fingertips, saving you money, allowing you to "try before you buy" (in the case of more expensive titles), negating the need to import, providing access to fan translation projects and most importantly providing mind-blowing experiences which confirm the Sega Saturn as the true star of it's console generation.

Marvin Macias

Shmups are a genre that I have come to love slowly. The fact that the Dreamcast's "Last Hope" (a 2006 release) was one of the first shmups I loved, proves that the world of Saturn shmups completely passed me by. I also missed out on the "2D Fighter" genre during it's heyday. But whereas I was able to start building up a decent collection of 2D Fighters - including X Men Vs Streetfighter, Vampire Savior, Marvel Heroes - by buying imports off EBay and Amazon... The Shmups? Not so much... even the Japanese editions and exclusives are expensive... Yet through the magic of  Pseudo Saturn, I now have access to a comprehensive collection of gaming experiences - including Radiant Silvergun, all of the Parodius games, Darius Gaiden, The Game Paradise, Sol Divide and so on...

Marvin Macias

By exploring copied games, produced for a fraction of their current eBay value, I've realised I don't care for RPGs... I won't go into detail about which ones I've tried and dismissed as "not my cup of tea", - I'd imagine there might be some slack jaws and shaking heads if the community got wind of my epic failure to find the enjoyment in some of the most cherished and revered RPG titles!

Ben Boyd

Thanks to Pseudo Saturn copies and repros, my game choice for last night (09.03.18) was as follows... Courier Crisis, 3 Dirty Dwarves, Astal, Dungeons and Dragons - Tower of Doom, Parodius - The Real Condition and The Game Paradise. This stellar collection was ALL copies. Astal and Courier Crisis were bought as Repros, from artist Marvin Macias at Nightwing Videogame Reproductions. The other games were simply copied discs, written upon with marker pens. Some were gifts, others bought for a pittance... the money exchanged representative of the seller's time and nothing else.

Marvin Macias

But this takes us on to the next layer of the whole "copy" scene... "Repros". My introduction to the world of Repros was through the amazing artist and all round good bloke Mr. Ben Boyd... Ben's work was first brought to my attention in the closing overs of 2017... Shortly after this,  Ben was kind enough to send me a true work of art. Ben custom made an original box and manual for my copy of Christmas NiGHTS. This had originally come with a rudimentary cardboard sleeve as a give away  from the Original Sega Saturn Magazine. What Ben did, was create original reproduction packaging using images drawn from the net. He also made a custom printed original manual to go with the game... These are things of beauty, works of art.

Ben Boyd

Ben Boyd
In doing so, Ben had elevated and enhanced the game. He had created something unique, original and captivating. The game now sits on my shelf, indistinguishable from it's contemporaries. There was no fraudulent intent here... no desire to make a quick buck... no CEX style attempt to pass a copy off as an original.

Ben Boyd

Similarly, the work of Marvin Macias, who produces discs as well as packaging, are works of art. There is no attempt to pass this work off as originals... the discs are clearly distinguishable (and in my opinion BETTER looking) than the originals, as they have a matt finish and are coloured rather than the original simple printing on top of the silver discs. His boxes are DVD style for US/PAL Saturn cases... so again, there is no attempt to pass these off as originals... these are custom made reproductions... just like when you go into a furnishing store and buy a Picasso print... no one is trying to pass off the copy as an original! It's a work of art nevertheless...

Marvin Macias (discs)

Plus Marvin provides a service... he provides access to vapourware and fan translations. If you buy Policenauts, you get the English translated copy... something ONLY available in the repro scene! Both Ben and Marvin only charge their clients at prices that cover the cost of their high end materials... These are labours of love rather than products designed to squeeze cash out of their buyers.

Ben Boyd

One unexpected result of owning repros and copies, is the desire to buy the actual game, after owning the copy... leading to hunting down through import - or finally buckling and paying an over inflated price for a rare original. So in some cases the owning of a 'pirated' copy, leads the owner to legal and legitimate ownership of the game.

Ben Boyd

Now, having praised the repro/back up scene without criticism thus far, I have to say there is one drawback to almost unlimited access to the Saturn's international library. If you are an undisciplined type like me, you may suffer from "Flighty gamer syndrome". This unfortunate condition leads it's sufferers to jump from game to game as random whims take hold of their psyche... The ownership of inflated numbers of games lead to a greater choice and therefore to an inflated inability to actually ever complete or get good at a game before jumping to the next!

Ben Boyd

If you are one of those Saturn owners who reads this and doesn't own a Pseudo Saturn Action Replay and a bunch of copies... or perhaps one of those who is considering using repros to bolster your existing Saturn collection... get involved! Its all out there on the internet... all you are doing is accessing it.

Hear what the Junkyard Crew think about copies in this episode of the Titancast!

"We Need Backups!"


Daniel Turner said...

awesome stuff. love my pseudo cart!

Blondejon said...

Excellent article and thank you for the kind mention old chum :)

ricardo said...

Hi. I love your Policenauts anda sega flash Repros . Where can i ono get one like that?