Friday 28 December 2018

Segata Sanshiro Shinken Yugi - The Segata Sanshiro Christmas Mini-Game!

Well dear readers, whilst our Christmas video went swimmingly, excellently spliced together by my dear brother Nebachadnezzar, I was left feeling that my own contribution was sadly lacking in detail and even incorrect in a couple of places. I have only myself to blame for this lazy description of the game, as I had sent my own copy over to a Segata acolyte  in Australia, who's devotion to Segata I felt deserved this very disc *... In the video I lamely discuss Segata Sanshiro Shinken Yugi, a Saturn import title that has our titular hero as it's main protagonist....

You can watch my faltering description here...

*This act of selfless generosity however, left me disc-less and therefore unable to play the game before I described it. So as something of an addition to the video, I will now describe the mini -game in more detail and with more accuracy.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Back in the Game

Happy Saturnalia, one and all! (It was a real holiday once, honest!) I bring you great tidings of personal gaming joy... after years of going without, I finally have a Sega Saturn to replace the one I had in Michigan. Here it is now, tucked into the center of my shelf along with a handful of other systems...

Sega Saturn... kuro!
Right now, I can't actually do much with the machine... I've got no games, no Pro Action Replay loaded with Pseudo-Saturn, and the controllers, while technically usable, are those unreasonably large US models. I'm not sure what Sega was thinking when they designed these, but whatever it was, Microsoft must have had the same idea when they made the Duke controller for the original Xbox. And the Xbox One, now that I think about it. That's one video game revival the world could have done without...

I did spin a music disc in my new Saturn, though. There are two things worth noting... the Saturn had many boot up screens thanks to the hardware being sublicensed to Victor, Hitachi, and Samsung, but it's my opinion that the opening in the US model is the best of the lot. The gentle ringing of chimes followed by the slamming of a car door is a good sight better than the abrasive "Waaab, waaab, WAAAB!" noises the Japanese had to put up with in their version of the system.

Second thing... while it's dated by today's standards (of course it is; the system is over twenty years old), the Saturn's interface for playing music is far superior to the static rainbow splashes displayed on its arch rival, the Playstation. You know all the complaints about the recently released Playstation Classic? People seem to have forgotten that it looks the way it does because the original Playstation did too. Seriously, fire up one of the earlier models with a music disc in the tray for proof. Boring, isn't it?

The Saturn, on the other hand... now there's an interface with style. Chromed orbs hover in mid air as buttons on a retro-futuristic space ship control panel. Play a music disc and polygons on either side of the panel pulse in time to the beat. Hide the control panel and you actually see the ship soaring through space, with stars racing toward the player and a slowly turning nebula in the distance. Back when I first bought one in 1997, the Sega Saturn was my first compact disc player, and I can't think of a better introduction to the technology.

Anyway, enough wistful nostalgia. Enjoy your winter holiday of choice... once Christmas is over, I'll be on the hunt for some cheap Saturn titles, if such an animal even exists. If you've got any leads on a supply of low cost games, or even better, a cheap Pro Action Replay, by all means let me know in the comments!

Monday 17 December 2018

Some warm Saturn memories

    The temperature drops, snow covers the ground and you can see your breath as you talk to your friend outside. You talk about holiday plans, family you still need to shop for and the general busyness of the season. Warm nights spent inside with family by the fireplace’s gentle warmth enjoying time together. Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic listening to the same cheery song on the all Christmas station. This time of year is synonymous with all sorts of special moments and memories. Video games in particular can be the catalyst for deep long term memories and the seeds from which nostalgia grows. From a gift from a special someone, to the time spent enjoying quality time together. When it comes to myself and the Saturn this is around the time I came across a local ad for a Saturn game that would start  my collecting and help me eventually build deep and lasting memories with new friends and newish to me games.

    Burning Rangers was always a game I kind of knew about back in 1998 reading gaming magazines. The SEGA advertising with a fireman in a kiddy pool always stood out but I don’t think in the way SEGA intended. I was never sure what the game play was like due to lack of video at that time. Around this time last year I saw a local ad for Burning Rangers, I knew it was rare and expensive as one of the last US Saturn releases but it was in very good shape and cheaper than eBay. I took a small risk since I had no clue what it was like just that if I didn’t like it I could sell it or trade it. Built as a show piece as to say “Here is what Saturn can do in the right hands.” it’s little more than a glorified tech demo with some anime cut scenes. Luckily I love what’s here, I decided I wanted to share my new found joy with like minded people and I had recently joined the Junkyard by ways of the Dreamcast Junkyard in hopes to finally connect with people who like Saturn and want to talk about it.
    It was wonderful as I shared my new found love for Burning Rangers it turned out other people also shared their love of Burning Rangers and it turned into quite the phenomenon. A warm inviting atmosphere where people shared tips, memories and maybe have even started some small friendly competitions. It was then I knew yes this was worth joining this group. Talking with the admins and seeing the active role they play in the community is impressive. The way there is always an active member ready to share their Saturn experience. As I learned things about Saturn and played more games I returned the kindness and shared whatever I could, engage in whatever activities I could. Like in April when Sonic R stole the show and warmed our hearts with sunshine. I hadn’t a Saturn copy to join in the group time trials so I used my Game Cube copy in a pinch just to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad I did because it opened my eyes to how good a game Sonic R is.

    It’s the passion and energy that you feel from Titancast, the YouTube team and the Facebook group that can make you look at a game in a new way that makes you revisit it with new perspective and that’s what’s so great about the Saturn Junkyard, people making games exciting even some of the lesser known US games like Casper or obscure Japanese exclusives like Cotton. The last year in ways has felt like it’s 1996 and I’m ten years old again talking about games on the schoolyard. Getting a boxed Saturn, getting Dragoon Saga and experiencing all the games I saw in magazines and more has been a mixture of surreal and childlike glee. Every Saturn game I buy is a new adventure, a new experience I can’t wait to share with friends and hopefully in 2019 we’ll continue to make more deep lasting memories around Saturn.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Twelve Years Old Today! A Birthday Message From Father K!

So here we are in 2018, and thanks to ArugulaZ we're still here! For it was on this very day in 2006, that the Saturn Junkyard as a "thing" first existed. Of course we can't mention the birth of the Saturn Junkyard without also acknowledging the site's mentor and patron, Thomas Lee Charnock, the founder of our sister site, The Dreamcast Junkyard. For it was he who gave me my first break in the blogosphere, allowing me to be a contributor to the Dreamcast Junkyard and giving me permission to bring his original concept to the Sega Saturn.

Now of course, The Saturn Junkyard is  a YouTube Channel, a Facebook Group and a place where like minded Retro Gamers - but more importantly REAL friends -  can hang out and have a laugh together. We have become so much more than a blog, we have become a community. That is a pretty amazing thing to be able to say as we enter our twelfth year!

Love to all of the Junkys from me, your very fortunate founder, Father K. Thank you for your participation. Who knows where we'll go next?

Monday 3 December 2018

Saturn Puzzle Games - The Forgotten Genre?

It seems my education about the Saturn is ongoing. I learn new things all the time... this year I found out that you could unlock Pepsi Man in Fighting Vipers. That sort of thing really tickles me, as it brings new life to an old console. So as I'm sure you can imagine, uncovering a whole genre that I had never really acknowledged existed on the Saturn, has caused my retro-gaming to career down yet another unfamiliar path. It started at the Play Expo in Blackpool. Here, I bought several cheap, import games, and it dawned on me that I'd stumbled onto a whole genre that I was barely aware of.

When was the last time you engaged in a discussion about your "favourite Saturn puzzle games"?  People don't often recall puzzle games when reciting their top ten Saturn titles. Sure, Super Puzzle Fighter II sometimes makes an appearance, but I'd always thought about it as more of a Street Fighter novelty spin off. I had it in my collection, but for years it had languished in solitary isolation, without a puzzle game friend to rub shoulders with, in the Saturn section of my game collection.

But as I came out of the Blackpool Play Expo, I had eight new games and half of them were puzzle games. Bust-A-Move 2, Hanagumi Columns, Columns Arcade Collection and Monsterslider. "Puzzle games"... it's a genre that is alive and well. But full price physical CD copies of puzzle games haven't appeared on consoles for a number of years. The block falling magic of Tetris may have sold on the Gameboy, but it wasn't going to cut it on the PS3 (although the hyper-casual shovel-ware marketed on the Wii made sure the puzzle game would have it's last hurrah  as a genre, on a big selling console...)

When mobile phones became "smart phones", with touch screens, the puzzle game became the perfect way to pass time at bus stops, on the train to work, or during your break time. Bright, brash, snappy and colourful, connecting and destroying bricks, jewels, fruit and a host of other nonsense, with satisfying crunches, munches, plops and squelches, all to a jolly, easy listening soundtrack, they could either be bought for peanuts or downloaded for nothing at all. They were satisfying to play and uncomplicated to master. But their compatibility with smartphones and tablets meant they would cease to be released as physical discs for consoles.