Thursday 25 October 2018

Caspervania and the SJY Halloween Horrorcast

Want a podcast to help get into the Halloween spirit? Check out the latest episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast. In this one, we delve into the horror-filled worlds of some of Saturn's biggest Halloween-themed games.

Listen on iTunes, Buzzsprout, Google Play, and wherever else:

Discussed in this episode: Resident Evil, Deep Fear, D, Enemy Zero, Alien Trilogy, and Casper

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Halloween 2018 on the Saturn!

Well folks, it's that most wonderful time of the year! The time when the undead walk the earth, when ghosts, goblins and vampires roam the woods and zombies wait patiently for their dinner at the school yard gates! Halloween! Time to let your ghoulies hang out! Time for you to get in touch with your inner witch/warlock! Time for you to let your cos play fantasies run wild!

Or maybe not...

Anyway, the month of October is an excuse for unashamedly watching horror movies, hollowing out pumpkins, stuffing your face full of sweets and decking the halls with orange, black, purple and green! The Southern Sega Gentleman also declared it a whole month for indulging in horror themed gaming, so let's see what's been scaring us shitless here at the Saturn Graveyard...

This is not going to be a review article - more of a personal jaunt through each title, so I've included a few links and videos to cover the factual shizzle - Instead, it is simply a suggestion of a few games that might tickle your scary bone over the next few days... So sit back, relax, line your underpants with something absorbent and be prepared to encounter some of the best horror themed games available on the Sega Saturn...

So let's start with the quintessential horror experience for the Saturn, the House Of The Dead!

The House Of The Dead (Sega 1998)

The House Of The Dead, was for a long time, the most expensive Saturn game I owned. At a time when you could (genuinely) pick up Sega Rally for the princely sum of  20p, HOTD cost me £25:00.
I had become aware of this Sega classic, through playing HOTD2 on the Dreamcast, a game for which I had bought my Dreamcast light gun. At the time, the Dreamcast was my system of choice, the Saturn simply an out of date "also ran" in the console stakes. I still loved it, but the Dreamcast was the console that gripped me, in an almost obsessional way. Still, the chance to play a different iteration of the HOTD franchise appealed to me, and despite the prohibitive price tag, I picked it up. From the same store, I bought a 'Stunner' for peanuts, and was ready to kick some putrid zombie butt. Besides, my acquisition of a Saturn light gun, meant I could play Virtua Cop as it was intended to be played... i.e. not with a pad, as I had been playing it for years previously…

As I fired up the game, a zombie with blinking red eyes greeted me from the screen... so far so good, but then the story started and the game play began, I was immediately conflicted. The story looked ace, in a b-movie style, with cheesy dialogue and the same protagonists as HOTD2... RESULT! But the game itself looked underwhelming, rushed, dull, jaggy and pixelated. It was a visual horror show. I don't know whether it was my gun, the game, or me, but I wasn't having the same degree of success in zombie slaying, as I did on the Dreamcast. Still it was HOTD and I loved every minute of it! The game is still prohibitively expensive for a PAL or US copy, so a repro or a Japanese import is the economic way to play. Don't forget you'll also need one of those old fangled CRT TVs as well...

For a fantastic review of the game from the awesome Andrew Rosa of  Master-Cast TV, just click this link!

Alien Trilogy

Now as a proud owner of a Saturn back in the nineties, I dismissed 2D games as old fashioned and uncool. With a swish of my arrogant thick skinned skinhead, I dismissed all of the classic shmups and 2D fighters I now adore. I also dismissed the genre of first person shooters as being for solitary, geeky, PC nerds with only a mouse and keyboard for friends... I wanted arcade experiences, preferably those I could play with mates, so my Saturn collection consisted of Actua Golf, Sega Rally, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Cop,  At the time, despite it's tie in with a movie I had enjoyed, Alien Trilogy would have been sneered at. In a way, it's great that I was such a dismissive knob, because I now get to experience these genres with new eyes, and a they are a beautiful revelation.

Alien Trilogy is a corridor FPS based on the movie franchise. I did wonder whether or not to include a science fiction title in a Halloween round up. I mean does Science Fiction really have a place at the Halloween table? HELL YEAH! It does when it's as pant-soilingly scary as this particular franchise, which owes as much to the horror genre - with it's shocks and atmosphere of claustrophobia mixed with despondent isolation - as it does to science fiction. The game consists of level after level, of seek and destroy missions, involving the hunting and dispatching of xenomorphs, face huggers, gut busters and other aliens, as well as soldiers, synthetics and mutated crewmen. Your ammo, arsenal and inventory can be replenished as you progress through the level, much of it hidden in crates, which you have to shoot open. The only problem is the fact that they also hide those pesky face huggers... The music is integral to the atmosphere and despite it's twenty two year old graphics, this is still a great looking game. The xenomorphs are still creepy as hell and the frequent jump-scares have left my underwear with more skid marks than Brands Hatch after a Formula 1 race... Have a look at the Master-Cast review here!
You can pick up this game pretty cheaply and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Deep Fear (Sega 1998) 

I was going to resurrect my Biohazard gaming for Halloween, for the first time since the game gave me a truly horrific experience  - by freezing three quarters of the way through, when I played the Saturn version, as a newbie last year... Instead, I grabbed my copy of Deep Fear, sent to me in a bundle of burned discs, by Junkyard Facebook Admin and all round top bloke, Daniel Turner. Boy, am I glad I did!

Deep Fear is an underwater adventure produced by Sega in 1998. It is essentially a Resident Evil clone, suffused with the atmosphere and themes of the movie The Abyss. It has the dubious honour of being the last PAL release before the demise of the Saturn and was only released in limited numbers in Europe, not at all in the US. SHAME!!! This is a great game! To my mind it surpasses Resident Evil, as the game is much more forgiving than it's inspiration, in terms of ammo, health and saves. There is, however, an added fear factor, in the limited air supplies that an underwater setting facilitates.

The characters in the game are pretty shallow and the acting is hammier than a hamster, but Deep Fear has a great plot, full of jump scares and mutated monsters. There are genuinely horrific cut scenes and real shocks within the game. One such scene left me so shocked, that I dropped my controller to post this fact on the FB page, only to die as the monster I thought had drowned, came back to rip my spleen out with it's crab-like claw...

Deep Fear costs a ridiculous amount for a PAL version. But a Japanese import is largely in English and very playable. If you love Resident Evil, but are looking for a new twist (and the ability to walk and shoot at the same time) then Deep Fear is for you. Master-Cast TV Review here...
The game gives us a look at what could be achieved on the Saturn given the right development team and is crying out for a "Gamecube style" re-vamp for a modern console... And talking of Vamps, that leads me very cheaply into my next paragraph...

Vampire Hunter (Capcom 1996)

Not all horror games need to be of the adventure variety, as Capcom's 1996 effort Vampire Hunter proves. Vampire Hunter (or Night Warriors; Dark Stalker's Revenge - Banpaia Hantā Dākusutōkāzu Rebenji in Japan) is a quirky 2D brawler with a roster of horror, mythical and sci-fi inspired characters with awesome moves and stunning backdrops. Fighters include the Dracula-like Dimitri Maximoff, buxom bat-winged demon Morrigan Aensland, the "Eddie-from-Iron Maiden -alike" zombie, Lord Raptor, Victor Von Gardenheim (who bears a passing resemblance to Frankenstein's monster) the Egyptian mummy, Ankaris and  paradoxically foxy feline "Were-cat", Felicia.

The game has some amazing fighting moves, pulled off with ferocious flare and fluid animation. The game has a quick "pick up and play" element to it, but of course mastery takes time. Combos can be used to stunning effect and the backgrounds are themed around the characters and fully animated. This is perhaps the best looking of this year's bunch and still looks fabulous on a modern TV. If I have one gripe, it's the absence of the machine gun wielding Little Red Riding clone, Bulletta, but other than that, it's a Halloween winner. My apologies if your favourite horror themed, or spooky Saturn game didn't feature, but as I reminded my Graveyard colleague Brian Vines, we have to leave some available for next year... until then, Happy Halloween one and all! 

No Bulletta (B.B. Hood) in Vampire Hunter sadly...

A Tour de Saturn at the 2018 Portland Retro Gaming Expo

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo (PRGE) happened last weekend and it was nothing short of a celebration of excess in retro game collecting and culture. Although PRGE lacks the corporate-bankrolled production values of shows like PAX or E3, the expo sports a ton of attractions and no shortage of distractions. There was a myriad of video, arcade, and pinball games to play, plentiful panels with familiar YouTube personalities from throughout the retrosphere, plus an assortment of competitive tournaments -- including the Tetris World Championship -- a far more intense and interesting affair than I would've ever expected.

Top: The Video Game History Foundation's 35th Anniversary NES museum shows off random '80s and '90s Nintendo merch, complete with a creepy-ass Link face that someone might have conceivably worn on top of their own face. Left: We witness an epic final tournament round of that Russian block drop game; it was nearly as intense as a match of Smash Bros I watched where one of the players had to fight using a N64 mouse. Right: Ben Heckendorn takes some time to dismantle a Sega Genesis in between dad jokes. 

However, with the high profile events like Smash Bros Melee and Mario Kart tournaments, a spectacular display of NES history, and all of the Thrashing Christs and Nintendo Hoodlums and other retro gaming public figures wandering about -- what surprised me most was what didn't get lost in the shuffle. The Atari Jaguar had a surprisingly strong presence with no less than five upcoming, in-development games playable on the show floor.

Atari Age shares the Jaguar indie love with a new shmup, an RTS, a Dizzy game, and more. The racing game on the right-hand side is literally called Not Outrun. At least it knows what it isn't.

Then there was our beloved Sega Saturn, which was repped surprisingly hard at PRGE. I stumbled upon a 10-player Saturn Bomberman set up when I first arrived at the expo. Apparently, they even held a tournament at some point over the weekend. What fun!

Saturn Bomberman: the Saturn's multiplayer game of the year...every year since 1996.

Of course, a major part of any expo consists of people selling shit. And at PRGE, dozens of vendors had plenty of Saturn goods for sale. Whether you were looking for affordable Japanese games or less affordable North American long box titles (including plenty of sealed games), vendors had you covered. On the whole, prices weren't nearly as exorbitant as I expected, albeit with some exceptions...

If you thought the Saturn's priciest games were overly expensive...try spending $55 on Virtual Hydlide! For additional perspective, any one of those shitty NES games in the display case will fetch at least double the price of Panzer Dragoon Saga.

Sidebar: While not specifically Saturn related, the free play arcade area did have a Virtua Cop 2 cabinet, which is one of my favorite Saturn games. There was also an F-Zero AX cab, which totally rocks...uncontrollably, side-to-side as you bank through the game's churning twists at 1,500 km/h. There were also some older Sega arcade titles on the expo floor but I don't really remember which ones. Probably Congo Bongo and stuff like that.

Time to serve some sweet, Stunner justice...or suffer some severe motion sickness. You decide!

That brings us to one of the more topically relevant aspects of this year's PRGE: Retro-bit and Sega's upcoming Saturn gamepads. There were a few original-style pads on display, including both the Saturn and USB wired versions (the wireless pad was absent, outside of its placeholder box design). From what I could tell, the controllers hold up well compared to the originals -- with a strong build quality and feel of the d-pad and face buttons. In other words, RetroLink this ain't (which is a good thing) but it's a bit odd to hold a brand new Saturn controller that has yet to be broken in. The shoulder buttons remain a work in progress -- the representative said Retro-bit is focusing on refining the springs and molds to get them to feel as clicky as the original pad. Although it's not quite there yet, I see this this as a promising sign that Retro-bit is sweating the details and making an earnest effort to do justice to one of gaming's all-time greatest controllers. We should find out whether they succeeded by the end of the year.

EDIT: For more info and impressions on the Retro-bit Saturn pads, be sure to check out this article from the Sega Saturn, Shiro! guys. I think they spent a bit more time putting the pads through their paces than I was able to.
Some close up pics of the Retro-bit Saturn pad, draft promo boxes, and my ugly mug.

Also, I have to give a huge kudos to Ke Kona and Ben Wallace of Sega Saturn, Shiro! These guys had a booth celebrating plenty of Saturn goodness, including some of Ke's gorgeous repro art and an awesome NiGHTS poster.
A Murder of Crows, a.k.a. the Sega Saturn Mecca of PRGE.

The Saturn is often seen as Sega's forgotten middle child of a console -- nestled firmly between the breakthrough popularity of the Genesis and the long-tailed shooting star that was the Dreamcast. However, one of the interesting bi-products of the current retro renaissance is that many people have cast an eye towards discovering the retro games and platforms they missed back in the day. Since the PlayStation outsold the Saturn by over 10:1, Sega's diminished presence in the broader gaming lexicon ensured that relatively few gaming fans had ever heard of the Saturn, let alone played or owned one.

For many of us indulging in retro gaming today, the Saturn carries a certain mystique and allure by virtue of its relative elusiveness. The Saturn appeals to many peoples' sense of discovery in the retro space -- or perhaps retro FOMO -- so I'm not surprised that people would still be drawn to the Saturn and its “hidden gem” status at a convention like this. At the very least, my experience at this year's PRGE has shown that Sega's forgotten console may not be so forgotten after all.


Anyway, PRGE is an awesome expo and if you happen to find yourself visiting the Pacific Northwest around this time next year, you should absolutely check it out. Otherwise, you don't need to be on this side of the globe nor wait until next year to get your retro convention fix. If you're near Blackpool this weekend, check out Play Expo where the great folks from our sister site, the Dreamcast Junkyard, will be hanging out. As a nifty bonus, our very own Father K will also grace the expo with his presence.

Stop by and say hello!

Saturday 20 October 2018

The Sega Saturn is the Best Neo Geo Emulator out there!

With the release of the Neo Geo Mini system, I am reminded of what a developer once said to me during an E3 conference some time ago. I remember that SNK did have a presence at that show and they were debuting SNK vs Capcom Chaos for the AES/MVS. Upon looking at this title, I, along with a few other show goers were amazed that this title was coming out on what was essentially dead hardware, but it looked so amazing. This led to a discussion about this title being ported to the Sega Saturn someday, and we all agreed that it needed to happen.

Neo Geo Screenshot on Left ... Sega Saturn on the Right:

We were convinced that there was no other system out there that could do Neo Geo Ports any justice. We compared them to past Playstation releases and our unanimous agreement that no other system could make perfect Neo Geo Ports. This got the attention of another show goer who interjected about PC emulation, and yes while PC emulation would probably be a good way to experience Neo Geo Games that wouldn't come stateside, emulation at the time was new and relatively unknown to most gamers. In face most gamers never played Neo Geo at home unless they owned one of the inferior ports. Also at the time Neo Geo emulators weren't up to snuff.

The discussion got the attention of a developer who happened to be walking by the SNK booth. He inquired about our emulator talk and was convinced that emulation was not the ideal way to play anything. I will never forget what happened next, as the show goer who first brought up emulation asked this developer, and I quote "Is there a perfect Neo Geo Emulator out there?" to which he replied "Yes, it's called The Sega Saturn!" This developer was not present for the first half of the conversation and said that without hesitation. I laughed so hard upon hearing this, as did a few other show attendees within an earshot.

Again... unless you know you can't tell the difference!  Neo Geo Left... Saturn Right!

So, just remember, if someone asks you what the best Neo Geo Emulator is, just tell them "It's Called The Sega Saturn".

A fun little story that popped back into my head recently.

--Collector Chris

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Microsoft's Got that Saturn Lovin' Feeling...

Damn it, Google! I don't mean an impound lot full of scrapped compact cars!

Arizona... looks nice doesn't it?

Anyway. I'm in Arizona now, separated from my Sega Saturn, which is languishing in a storage shed thousands of miles away. Fortunately, Microsoft's got the methadone for my acute withdrawal, offering nearly a half-dozen Saturn favorites (or rather, their arcade counterparts) for chump change. How does Fighting Vipers for $1.24 grab you?

Or perhaps the more substantial Virtua Fighter 2 for $2.49 would be more your cup of tea. There's also Daytona USA for $4.99, and Virtual On (actually Oratorio Tangram, the Dreamcast sequel) for $7.49. You'll find more information about this week long sale over at the Major Nelson web site. Note that these games can be played on either the Xbox One or its predecessor, the Xbox 360. Also note that you'll need a subscription to Xbox Live Gold to get in on these deals. Note that I've said "note" a lot already, and it's getting annoying.

Father K models the Saturn t-shirt...

By the way, the Sega Saturn avatar T-shirt that I mentioned in a post years and years ago is still available for just a dollar. You can show your love for Sega's long defunct game console by dressing a rough digital approximation of yourself in Saturn merchandise!

Wednesday 3 October 2018

A boy and his dragon.

     This is a review wrapped in a story. It’s simple, honest, nostalgic and has at least one dragon in it. Before my teen years and the rise of the internet, getting news or reviews on video games came from friends around the playground, television commercials and of course magazines. Whenever my mom went to town for groceries I’d go just to read up on the latest video game news. When the September 1998 issue of Expert Gamer magazine came out I had no idea the impact it would end up having on my life. The cover featured Mega man Legends, Parasite Eve, F-Zero, and other assorted “note worthy” games. These weren’t what got me in the end, for you see on the back cover was a cut out mask. To advertise Panzer Dragoon Saga SEGA had a magazine advertisement of Edge’s face as a cut out mask. I was interested in knowing more about this new SEGA game. Fortunately this very issue had a review inside. Though small in length these four mini reviews were enough for me, I was sold. “I must play this game.” I though, but how? I’d never seen a Saturn in person before. One day I’d make it happen.

     Over twenty years I managed to avoid spoilers, I’d also cry and cuss as the price of Panzer Dragoon Saga rose and rose. YouTube had created a retro craze, day by day, more and more classics soared becoming out of reach. I had a choice to make and 2018 was the year, I saved up and bought myself copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga a Saturn and a 3D control pad. I though I was going to faint when I opened the parcel and removed PDS from the foam bubbles protecting it. My first play through was equal parts excitement to dread... “Would this game live up to my expectations?”

“What will the battle system be like?”

“Will I like the art style?”

“Am I a fool for spending this much on a game?”

   The more I played the more the dread subsided. The more I engaged with enemies the more depth I discovered in battles. Flying atop my dragon felt awkward and clumsy at first even with the 3D control pad. By the end of the first disc I had a better understanding of the controls, heck I even started to appreciate them. I held firm to my childhood expectations, though I’m happier knowing I waited till I was an adult to play this game. As a kid or teen I probably would have got to disc 3 got stuck and gave up. With the way the story is set up, layered and presented to you, it’s easy to get lost in the game play or overlook a seemingly small detail that will hide something from you for the rest of the game. Panzer Dragoon Saga is a game where you get out of it what you put in. If you speed run or focus only on what you need to, you could finish in 9-18 hours. You could also explore every corner, talk to every living being and fight every monster for that 100% play through. That’s both this games strength and weakness. That’s why I’ve replayed it and will keep replaying it. Team Andromeda packed this game with detail, action, personality, thought and balance. Keeping true to their vision of what this game was to them.


Over four discs you’ll never feel like the story is rushed or ever distracts from the game play. What starts out as a tale of vengeance, will mature into a story of a hero who will change the world forever. A blending of both fantasy and technology themes help not only with giving a great environment for the main story, they also help tell an underlying narrative.


This is one of if not the best looking 3D Saturn game. All the areas fit the style and tone of the game. At times you’ll fly and watch the world render before your eyes. This is a hardware limitation of the Saturn and considering the how the development team handled these limitations I will overlook some flaws. Keep in mind though good for the Saturn, in 1998 there was better looking games and time can be cruel. Keep an open mind.


The music of Panzer Dragoon Saga is haunting, charming and perfectly fitting. You may even find some songs stuck in your head. The monsters screams, cries and great sound effects make them seem more believable. Plus the amount of spoken dialogue was unheard of for the time and still is!

Game play:

At times you’ll fly your dragon through open environments exploring the world, for the most part these sections are great. Using a target to explore though true to the Panzer series can this game feel like it’s a point and click adventure. Now the battle system is an interesting one, you have the ability to circle your enemy for either a good opening to attack from, or a safe place they can’t attack you from. Your enemy can also circle you. You can also customize your dragons stats at any time by “morphing” him or changing it’s appearance, granting you certain bonuses.

Replay Value:

Even though you could, should and will replay this game. I feel the average gamer will play it tops three times and shelf it. Personally I’m going to play it a couple more times before I put it on my self to be played yearly.


I’d say for myself, it’s been quite the journey and experience. At the end of the day I got the value from this title that I expected. I wish I could have bought it new in 1998 or at least from SEGA so they could have benefited from my purchases, seen that I cared and appreciated their efforts.

    It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since this game came out. Also That in those 20 years nothing quite like this game has been made. If you are an RPG fan and you want a fresh experience unique to SEGA and Saturn, you owe it to yourself to play Panzer Dragoon Saga. If you are a huge SEGA fan and want to try an arcadesc RPG with shooting elements and morphing dragons play this game. If you want a game or story that feels like Mad Max meets Dragon Heart meets Afro Samurai you should play this game. You should probably avoid this game if you want a quick fix, lack the time to invest into it, or can’t stand RPG's.