Friday 27 April 2018

Join our founder Simon (a.k.a. Father Krishna, a.k.a. Father K) as he takes some time to reflect on the Junkyard community, discussing its various goings on, history, events, the "weekly" challenges, and -- most importantly -- you!

Yeah, it gets pretty sappy but thanks for making the Junkyard and greater Sega community what it is!

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Sonic R: Sonic Ace or Sonic Arse?

Something wonderful has happened within our little gaming community. Something unexpected, that has given me the most pleasure out of my whole Saturn experiences to date - the phenomenon of the "game of the moment". It starts with someone in the community extolling the merits of a particular game... it jogs the memory of some, tickles the fancy of others and invites the curiosity (or indifference) of the rest. So far, the games which seem to have captured the imagination and interest of our little community are the following: Sega Rally, Daytona USA, Christmas NiGHTS, Virtua Racing, Sega Touring Car, Burning Rangers and most recently, Sonic R. The buzz around certain games are often, but not always, influenced by the Saturn Junkyard's regular and partially successful Facebook challenges and by the wonderful tutorial videos produced by Sega Saturn Shiro's David Lee!!

There has been little debate as to whether the other games are "classics" or not. They've almost universally been applauded as great examples of their genres. But there is dissent in the air... the disgruntled and disenfranchised are making their voices heard. "Everybody's supersonic racing"? Most definitely not.
 So why is this game so divisive? Let's take a little look...

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Introducing the Saturn Junkyar(d)chives

Available Junkyar(d)chives:
While leisurely perusing the interwebs for various Saturn content, I recently came to a realization: finding high quality and in-depth info and commentary about some of these games can actually be kind of a chore!

Especially if you’re looking for in-depth analysis, personal stories, history, and commentary, there’s so much great stuff out there but it’s hardly a simple Google or Bing* search away. You can try searching YouTube and you might get inundated with loads of videos but it can take forever to sift through everything you’d want to find, if it even comes up in your search at all. Other times you might face the opposite problem: an ostensible dearth of substantive and easily searchable info whatsoever.

However, most of the time I’ve found that plenty of quality content does exist even if the almighty search engine algorithm gods refuse to offer their divine guidance. On top of that, so many of these resources can be spread across all manner of mediums – including videos, written articles, podcasts, images, etc. – sometimes I’m not even sure what it is I’m actually looking for, even if I’ve already found it!

Even internally within the Saturn Junkyard, this site is effing old now! So it stands to reason that perhaps there are also great SJY articles -- buried deep in the layers of our disorganized stratum of scrap -- which may still be perfectly relevant contributors to the conversations we’re having about these same games today. And of course there’s the wealth of great content that regularly comes from all of our Sega-loving friends throughout the community. This stuff can be easy to miss.

So what to do?

Well, I thought it might be fun, or at the very least helpful, to try and curate some of this great stuff where it can be made easier to explore and peruse, regardless of whether you want to simply learn more about an unfamiliar title or delve deeper into the body of work surrounding your favorite Saturn games. But the point is it would all be made conveniently accessible in one place -- like in a shrine, or an archive…or a Junkyard, perhaps?

Sure. Let’s go with that.

So here’s the goal: One game at a time, we’re going to do our best to explore the reaches of the Junkyard and far beyond to deliver you the best concentration of excellent Saturn game analysis, history, and commentary we possibly can. Apart from curating more of these as we go, we’re also happy to take suggestions for additional archives and aim to update these over time. If there’s other cool content you’d like to suggest, feel free to leave those links in the comments. Just note that for any original, independently-produced content, we will want to get the go-ahead from the creators to include their work.

So without further ado, I present you the first of -- let’s call them Junkyar(d)chives for now – and I’m immediately regretting that name choice. Anyway, until I come up with a better title, please enjoy this first curation effort, where we start with Sonic Team’s classic Saturn swansong: Burning Rangers.


- Brian

Follow SJY (@SaturnJunkyard) and me (@TheVirtuaSchlub) on Twitter for a ton of tweets from twits!

* j/k lol wtf is a Bing?

Burning Rangers: The Junkyar(d)chive

We gave you a rundown of what the Junkyar(d)chives are all about in the introductory post. So without further ado, here’s a wealth of great discussions, commentary, analysis, and other cool content about Sonic Team’s other Saturn classic: Burning Rangers!

I guess we can begin with some internal stuff from within the Saturn Junkyard scrapheap, including a whopping TitanCast episode dedicated fully to discussing Yuji Naka’s futuristic firefighter opus. In this episode, we delved deep into the blazing corridors of our memories, experiences, observations, and struggles with Burning Rangers. Not only that but – at least as of this typing (April 2018) – this episode is the longest TC podcast we’ve ever recorded.

It’s no secret that Burning Rangers is a rather expensive game in western regions and the Japanese version is far more affordable. However, much of the game’s exposition and player directives rely heavily on its character voicework, which is all in Japanese in the NTSC-J version. This can be a problem if you don’t speak 日本の. The Southern Sega Gentleman (SSG) offers some helpful insights into whether the Japanese version is worth picking up amidst the trade-offs between its cheaper price and language barriers.

Next we jump back in time to the very beginnings of the Saturn Junkyard. In this 2007 review, contributor J takes us through his impressions of Burning Rangers, including descriptions of the game’s premise, mechanics, and criticisms of life as one of the future’s most renowned celebrity firefighters.

From the pages of the May 1998 issue of the Official Sega Saturn Magazine, the Out-of-Print Archive brings us an interview with the legendary Yuji Naka. In this interview, Naka-san describes some of the inner workings behind many of the choices Sonic Team made throughout development, including its premise, influences, gameplay mechanics, navigation system, character animations, stage designs, and so much more.
“We wanted to create a game where you could rescue people. Nowadays, there are so many games where you just kill people. Instead we decided to make a rescue game…Rescuing people, and many of the other things that a firefighter does, are in fact the very essence of a Sonic Team game. The firefighter is a hero people can identify with because they exist in our current everyday lives.” – Yuji Naka

On her YouTube channel, author Alicia Goranson offers a fantastic critical analysis of the plights facing our flame-dousing heroes. In her video, she delves into the multitude of ambitions, flaws, and other idiosyncrasies underlying BR’s mechanics, presentation, and much more.

In this SEGAbits video, Ian Ashcroft offers a massive, in-depth review of Burning Rangers. In this video, he covers every imaginable faucet of the game, spanning its concept, characters, presentation, gameplay, boss fights, technical aspects, soundtrack, and just about everything else.

In this video playthrough, join our friend Chris at Saturn Memories as he blazes through BR’s myriad of platforms and corridors en route to an A-Rank and a bevy of thankful survivors. Those fires never stood a chance!

Next, there's an excellent video review on SnicketySlice’s YouTube channel, where he provides a unique and humorous review exploring numerous conceptual, presentational, and mechanical aspects of Burning Rangers. Throughout this video, Snickety offers some unique and entertaining observations about BR, including its recurring themes of humans’ penchant for self-created destruction, a more realistic interpretation of the game’s voice navigation system, and a refreshingly in-depth critique of the game’s trademark rap theme song.

Burning Rangers OST - Preserved on YouTube by Deoxysprime

Finally we will close with a link to the full original soundtrack for the game which I know you'll want to stop everything to listen to right now. Just do it! Just Burning Rangers!

Hope you enjoy the growing body of work within the Saturn Junkyar(d)chives -- I keep cringing every time I type that. Anyway, this stuff is always iterative and we're happy to grow these collections over time. Note that in the case of original, independently-produced content, we will want to get approval from their creators before including them.

Special thanks to Saturn Memories, Alicia Goranson, SnicketySlice, and of course, the OG SJY contributor, Barry from SEGAbits!

Thanks for reading/watching/listening!

Follow SJY (@SaturnJunkyard) and me (@TheVirtuaSchlub) on Twitter for a ton of tweets from twits!

Back to the Junkyar(d)chives home post

Friday 20 April 2018

SJY Let's Play: Virtua Schlub "Races" and Rambles Through Sonic R

In this episode, Virtua Schlub takes a leisurely stroll through the lush islands and dangerously radioactive cities of Sonic R. Join him as he "races" through the game all while discussing its design, features, mechanics, environments, soundtrack, innovations, critiques, divisiveness, and generally pondering its greater place within the Sega Saturn's legacy. Hope you enjoy delightfully cheesy vocal dance pop because we got all of it!

And while we're at it, here's Virtua Schlub's follow-up speed "run" of the Resort Island level with Super Sonic!

Wednesday 18 April 2018

The TitanCast Shoots the Shenmue Shit!

A new episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast has arrived!

We were lazy and forgot to do any planning this week but we recorded it anyway. Listen as we catch up on some of the recent Sega news but we mostly discuss the importance of Shenmue, generational divides, platform identity, and other random stuff.

Listen on YouTube:



Friday 13 April 2018

Tech Battle: Panzer Dragoon

I have a thing for comparing different versions of the same game and see how they differ. It's the very first thing I do before starting a new game for the first time, especially the more ports it has. Most people simply go for their favourite platform (i.e., the Saturn, of course) or the one that's most convenient to them, but assuming that I'll only be playing through the game once, I just need to do it with the very best version there is, whether it's about having better graphics, performance or extra content. The problem is this information is not always so easy to find. There are lots of rumours that upon closer inspection turn out to not be true (the Japanese release of Tomb Raider does not have better performance), and sometimes there's just no info at all.

So, because I'm a curious guy by nature, I thought I'd try and figure this out by myself. The choice of game wasn't random, this whole idea came to me soon after purchasing a second hand copy of the PC version and realising that at that moment I finally had the full set of Panzer Dragoon.

Friday 6 April 2018

Killing Pixels Parte Três: Aspect Raidou

Aspect ratio is a contentious subject among retro gamers. With widescreen televisions being the norm nowadays, many gamers simply plug and play their old consoles and don’t pay any attention to whether the picture is in the original format or stretched to fill the screen. Some even go as far as stretching it on purpose because to them, having a black bar on either side of the picture is more annoying than round objects becoming oval. Our own Father K would be an example of someone who just wants to play and doesn’t care about such pesky things.

On the other side of the barricade you have people who don’t tolerate a stretched picture, it’s 4:3 with black bars or nothing. To them, preserving the proper aspect ratio is absolutely integral to the experience and changing that is nothing short of heresy. I would be an example of this type. Heck, one of the best moments of my gaming life was when I found a way to force my monitor to show old PC games in proper 4:3.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Announcing the N64 Junkyard!

After months of thoughtful discussion and debate, myself, the Southern Sega Gentleman (Sam), Nebachadnezzar (Nuno), The Virtua Schlub (Brian) and Arugulaz (Jesse) have decided that we'd like to take the Junkyard ion a new direction... a Nintendo based direction.
Although all of us love the Saturn, it is really the second system in all of our hearts... it was always playing second fiddle to our true love, our true passion... the Nintendo 64. Possessing twice the juice of  the 32bit Saturn, Nintendo's powerhouse vastly exceeds Sega's effort in all areas... Let's take a look...
Power: As already mentioned, the N64 has a 64 bit system (Duh! It's in the name...) whereas Sega's effort only had 32 bits at it's disposal. Consequently, graphics, framerates, polygons and sprites (whatever they are) were all superior on the N64... The machine is just better. And it's made by Nintendo after all... the company that bought us the Virtual Boy and the Wii U. No Nintendo system has ever failed commercially. The N64 vastly outsold all other consoles of it's generation. especially in Japan.
Style: Just looking at these controllers tells you everything you need to know. The Saturn's controllers are small and can easily slip out of the hand whilst playing. Most people think these controllers produced by Sega, are amongst the worst ever made for a video-game system. The N64 controllers are ergonomically designed to stay in the hand. They also have an analogue stick...something NO Saturn controller has ever had. Plus, they come in funky colours.
Games: Whilst the Saturn had a lot of games that were good, the N64's library was vastly better. This is due to the fact that as everyone knows, the newer the system, the better the games. Plus a 64 bit system has more... erm... bits. Take Mario 64 for example... it's in 3D whereas Sonic's first 3D outing, "Sonic Adventure 2" didn't even appear on the Saturn. It was on the Dreamcast. Sega took a full console generation to catch up. In fact no Sonic game ever appeared on the system, which has irked all of us for a while. The N64 also pioneered First Person Shooters... Golden Eye being the best FPS ever made. There are no FPS games on the Saturn. RPGs are also missing from the library, whereas the N64 has both Zelda games... Ocarina of Time AND Majora's Mask.
Fan Demand: We're not the only ones that have had these thoughts... Many of the posters on the SJY Facebook page have called for the switch too. It seems many of us have harboured the desire to convert the Yard, to a shrine to Nintendo. So we've finally bowed to the pressure. From now on, we look forward to bringing you news, reviews and opinion on the best 64 Bit console ever!

Also check out the new video on our favorite N64 games on our YouTube channel: