Sunday 30 September 2018

Life on Saturn

Thoughts from someone who, until very recently, had never owned or played a Saturn. 

 There it lay: The ntsc-j Saturn. 

 When was it made? Not sure. 

 When was it popular? No idea. 

 What games does it play? Not a clue. 

For me though, it was all intensely exciting. I’d rarely seen Saturns in the wild. In fact, I think I’d only ever seen one. But now I could study it in detail.

Straight away the buttons on the front had me intrigued: POWER. Ok, no problems. OPEN. Yes, fine. And… ACCESS? My teenage son laughed and told me it was in case I wanted to ‘hack’ into it. But he too was curious. And it had both a CD tray and a cartridge slot. Surely it must be capable of truly great things? In terms of aesthetic it seemed to resemble a slab of clay and was heavier than I expected. 
Time to boot it up… 

The first game I played was International Victory Goal, which surely must count as one of the catchiest football titles ever. You may think this is a strange choice but I currently only own three games and my eight year old was very keen to see this one. As the intro played, with huge people doing various kicks -presumably to score the victory goal, I found myself wondering if the images were state of the art back in the day. The copyright on the box was 1995. About the time of the Playstation? My gaming history is so dodgy. Just before n64? If those console dates are right then the graphics were indeed not bad. The n64 still gets a lot of love in my house from all ages and the Saturn produced better graphics. Certainly, I rather enjoyed them. 

I didn’t get too much chance to test the gameplay because the eight year old (who's a big fan of ISS64 and FIFA16) quickly took the pad and began experimenting. I’ll be honest, we all giggled at the running animation. The players seemed nothing if not enthusiastic. The angle of the camera (from behind the goal) took a bit of getting used to but there was something strangely captivating about the whole experience. When he scored his first goal he celebrated as energetically as ever -all criticisms forgotten. Moments later, Italy equalized and everything was unfair. In that sense, it was a typical football game. The fact that we played it for a considerable amount of time suggested that the gameplay was fairly decent. 

I have no idea if it is the best football game on the system. Perhaps there’s Cosmopolitan Triumph Goal, waiting to be uncovered. But one thing is certain: This first, brief, foray into the world of Saturn is worth following up.

Maybe next time I'll even press the ACCESS button...

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Clockwork Knight - The Definitive Saturn Experience?

OK Saturn Junkys - it's something we've all wondered on occasion... What games represent the very best of a console's back catalogue? If you had to show off your favourite console to a gaming fan who by chance had never experienced playing it, what game would you choose? What game provides a quintessential, exclusive Saturn experience?

Now to actually boil any console's software repertoire down to one title is an almost impossible task... especially when that back catalogue is as vast as the Saturn's. So maybe we should think about genres... Best Saturn driving game? Daytona? Sega Rally? Best sport's title? Sega Worldwide Soccer 97? Or 98? Pebble Beach Golf Links? Okay, what about best puzzle game? Best fighting game? Best RPG? Best shooter? Damn this is harder than I thought it would be... maybe top twenty is more realistic...

Saturday 22 September 2018

Final Fight Revenge - A Game you Need to Play Before you Die.

Final Fight Revenge - A Game you Need to Play Before you Die. 
Released in Arcades in 1999, Capcom decided to make a 3D fighting game based on Final Fight. This game plays similar to Street Fighter EX, but was developed by the American division of Capcom (Production Studio 8), the same team behind Final Fight Streetwise and the first Maximo. It was later ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan and would make use of the 4MB Ram cart. This would be the first time characters like Poison, Haggar and Andore would be in a 1 on 1 style fighting game. Needless to say I was excited to finally dive into this one as were many other fighting game fans. Sadly, the final product was, shall we say, less than stellar.

This game shares some similarities with Street Fighter EX, but where that game succeeded, Final Fight Revenge fails on many levels. To my disappointment, the game plays like a slow, unresponsive mess at times with visuals that look like they were drawn by a 4 year old in MS Paint. I often wonder why the 4MB Cartridge was actually needed for this, as it seems to do almost nothing to help.

But, I still own it to this day, and I really do enjoy giving it a spin from time to time. Why? well, when you take a step back and think about it, even with it's strange visuals, awkward controls, and strange character lineup, this game does have overwhelming charm. Sure, it's a very bad game, but soon after starting, you will find yourself laughing and pressing on through the roster just to see what else is in store in this mess of a game. Only to have the final boss be a Zombie version of Belgar (The original game's Final Boss). Apparently he died in Final Fight, and now has been reincarnated as a zombie! You can't make this stuff up folks, the final boss is a Belgar Zombie! The only truly unfair thing, is that Zombie Belgar isn't a selectable character ... but if you manage to beat the game you are gifted ... GIFTED with an animation of Zombie Belgar performing the "Thriller" dance for you. 
Final Fight Revenge is truly a mastery of epic proportions. Not only are you laughing the entire time you are playing the horrendous pile of trash (Witch incidentally was the Final Release Capcom made for the beloved Sega Saturn), but you Strike gold when you finish, leaving you with an overall sense of accomplishment and a feeling of good fortune having witnessed the climax of this game. The fact that it was completely developed in the United States, by American programmers, then released only in Japan and never seeing the light of day in the country it was created in (unless you imported) only adds to it's already overwhelming charm and baffling existence! 

If you can track down a copy of this game, please ignore what everyone says and just enjoy what is being presented. It's sort of like the Movie "The Room" with Tommy Wiseau. It's not something you want to experience, but once you being you NEED to see it to completion. Keep in mind that an actual copy of Final Fight Revenge can go for quite the high price ... not because it's a great title, but because it's a game you NEED to experience before you die. Sure, it's a bad game, and you will probably never see this game used at EVO ... but it's just so darn charming, that I cannot classify it as one to avoid. If you can get it or play it, please do so and enjoy the baffling, hilarious experience that is Final Fight Revenge!

--"Collector" Chris Dunlap

Sunday 16 September 2018

Why Shenmue Deserves Attention On The Saturn Junkyard

So, we seem to have had a little bit of a kerfuffle over at the Saturn Junkyard in the month of August, when our favourite Saturn fan site changed it's name temporarily to The Shenmue Junkyard. Now why do a bunch of guys who claim to be devoted to the Sega Saturn, get all giddy about the HD re-release of a Dreamcast game on modern systems? The name change, podcast musings and overall distraction from the Saturn, has upset some of the valued members of our community and led them to question whether we're losing our way over at The Junkyard. So why is Shenmue of prime importance to every Saturn owner? Let's break it down...

Friday 7 September 2018

SEGAMANIA 2018: It's the renaiSEGAsance on the Latest SJY TitanCast

Need something to listen to for your commute? Check out our latest episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast. Listen to us on iTunes, Buzzsprout, Google Play, and wherever else!




In this episode, we step back from the nostalgia and chat about the surprisingly rich slate of recent and upcoming titles from our favorite game maker in 2018! Simon is out today, unfortunately, but Sam, Nuno, and Brian are joined by Mike Phelan from the Dreamcast Junkyard's DreamPod and Patrick Traynor from the Sega Saturn Shiro podcast. 

Dive in with us and revel in this current renaiSEGAsance we're living in! 

Discussed in this episode: Shenmue I & II HD, Yakuza Kiwami 2 and the series at large, Team Sonic Racing, Sonic R, Streets of Rage 4, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, and more!