Thursday 31 December 2020

Neptune - New Top 20 Favorite Virtua Insanity

 Good morning, folks! It's been well over a year since I started writing for this Saturn Junkyard, and since then, I have been playing so many new Saturn titles! It's been insane how well I've been able to track down some of these titles and be able to play them. While some of these titles will be familiar, there have been several games that have wowed me to no end! I was able to rediscover the Sega Saturn system in a whole new way. I got to play some of the best and the worst that the console has to offer and it only cemented my affection for the little machine. 

This brought about a bit of a conundrum, though. I had already brought about my top 10 favorite Sega Saturn games in one of my earliest articles on the Junkyard. So, instead of just 10, let's do 20! If you do not see a certain title on this list that you believe is the best, by all means, comment below and let me know! This is Virtua Insanity at its finest

#20. X-men vs Street Fighter

There is a lot to be said about this port of an arcade title that took the youth by storm. It is so faithful to the arcade port in so many ways that you can barely tell a difference between the two. Then there's also the fact that it is the greatest console port of its kind, period. Playing as both your favorite X-men and Street Fighter characters in a period where we just came off the X-men TV series and a great number of Street Fighter 2 ports is a feeling that one will not take lightly, especially their first time. The animation and the 2D sprites are beautiful, the background is colorful and lively and it is a challenge that you can be more than happy to take on because this title is arguably one of the greatest 2D fighting games ever made.

#19. Duke Nukem 3D

This badass title brought about new mechanics and new themes to the FPS genre as a whole, even coming close to rivaling Doom as a front runner. Unlike Doom, however, Duke Nukem was ported to the Saturn in style. The game takes just a moment to adjust from keyboard to controller if you're not use to it, but it controls so well that this is not a steep learning curve. You're spouting cool one-liners and putting holes in pigs in no time. Killing aliens is a breeze and you will be hard pressed to find a better use of your time than destroying giant monsters with rapid fire missiles! If you own a Saturn and love this game, do not hesitate to combine the two for a kick ass time!

#18. Die Hard Trilogy

Some have argued that this title is overly simple. Their argument is valid, but that's pretty much the point in the first place. This game was meant to be more of an arcade style game where you need to accumulate enough points to move on to the next section of all three individual games. The variety here is wonderful. You can have hours of fun driving a car through a bomb-riddled New York or you can go into a rail shooter to kill terrorists at an airport. All three movies are represented in this one title and it is beyond mindless fun to tackle all of them, even if you're just skimming through the game for the first time. 

#17. Sonic R

If you have been paying any attention to my reviews and articles, this will be no surprise to you. This can be considered a guilty pleasure, but that is hardly the point of anything. The graphics are old school and represent beauty in simplicity. The soundtrack for this game is legendary and it is beautiful! Have I said that enough times, because I feel I will never overstate it! The controls are janky but simply need some getting use to. Some of the levels have poorly constructed designs but there is a lot of fun to be had with this title regardless. Playing the extra games and enjoying the game with friends will bring it new life if this is your thing and you have the time to give it a chance. However, I am fully aware of why it is disliked so much and I would not recommend it to a wide variety of gamers. It is, however, a treasure that some Sonic fans will never give up. 

#16. Three Dirty Dwarves

A severely overlooked game that got little to no fanfare when it came to word of mouth. This title showed up in a demo disc that came with the Saturn itself, however, I was completely unable to locate the full game anywhere as its release was rather small. It was even a Saturn exclusive, though not by choice. The game mixes 2D and 3D elements into this very bizarre little beat'em up with a ridiculous story that you would probably laugh at if you pay attention. Fighting the badguys and all of the outlandish bosses is a fun trip, for sure. Though, the game is rather short and not especially difficult, do not automatically consider it a lost cause. This is a hidden gem in the Saturn collection and you would be depriving yourself a great deal.

#15. The House of the Dead

Back when I made the first list, I had no idea that this port got so much flak for its difference from the arcade. I played it once again very shortly after and even looked at all of the shortcomings it had by comparison and it was just fine. Yes, the framerate can be an issue and it isn't as graphically endowed but that is pellets against a flak jacket. This game is still plenty of fun and the downgraded graphics give it an old school feel that is so hard to truly replicate in today's modern gaming. It may not be as good as the Dreamcast sequel but that takes nothing away from this gorefest of zombie flesh. Munch away, friends.

#14. Guardian Heroes

When you want some fast paced hack and slash with some of the most awesome gameplay this side of the 5th Gen, you go to Guardian Heroes. The characters are loveable and the story is quite in depth, though it doesn't take too long to get through. It is a rather short game, but the beautiful visuals and heart pounding action will keep you busy until the very end. Every single character is unique in their own way, and that's cool. The boss battles, however, are where it's at. You'll have a lot of fun taking them down in this RPG style beat'em up for every age (Rated T for Teen).

#13. Shining the Holy Ark

If you were looking for an absolutely immersive RPG game, then look no further than the Shining Series. The first person perspective puts you in the dungeons and the caves as you traverse through them and fight off different enemies such as monsters and evil warriors and wizards. The story is great, if a tiny bit hard to follow at times, and the characters are fun to follow through this fantasy world of swords and sorcery. The graphics may look aged, but to true blue Saturn fans, there could be no other way.

#12. Daytona USA

Right when you start this game up, you are treated to some of the best the Sega Saturn has to offer in terms of soundtrack. The graphics are colorful, if a bit dated, and the arcade style racing is just all around a whole lot of fun. This is another game that got a whole lot of hate because it was not quite as well received as the arcade port and many would consider Champion Circuit the superior version. Objectively, maybe, but the Champion Circuit just did not have the same feel. It was much like the Virtua Fighter Remix overtaking the original title, it just didn't hit the same chord. Daytona USA has a more pure experience and is tons of racing fun.

#11. Warcraft II: The Dark Saga

The Saturn version of this game is not quite as good as the PC version, but that's not really saying a whole lot. You can still play this title on the Saturn and have a fantastic time as either the Orc or Human factions! Real Time Strategy games are rather rare nowadays in the mainstream gaming business, but they hit a high chord in the 90's and were never really topped since. Even if your only experience with the series is World of Warcraft, you will still see lot's of callbacks and continuity in Warcraft II. The graphics took a hit, but don't let that deter you if you were interested in giving it a chance.

#10. D

When you think horror in gaming, normally you would think of Survival Horror akin to Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Well, this is a horror puzzle game that focuses on character and story while also giving you that terrible sense of dread. The surroundings are haunting, while the soundtrack and level designs add to the fear factor that leaves you on the edge of your seat. You even find small clues from your character's past, showing that she is not exactly a normal person herself. She traverses the mind of her father who has become a psychopathic killer and it is a trip and a half! If you love horror, you may just love it to DEATH! Moving on...

#9. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

If there is one thing that I hope, it is that at least a few people took my advice and tried the Crazy Cyrax code on this game. It is by far the best Mortal Kombat game, despite one problem with loading times. It is literally the closest they officially became to resembling the full experience of the Arcade Game and it handles very well with its controls. The AI is not the automatic button sensing bastards they were in Mortal Kombat 2, and obviously it surpasses the original Mortal Kombat 3 game by a lot. The characters you may choose from are vast and wondrous, and you'll have a good time ripping the spine out of your friend's fighter! 

#8. Shining Force III

The Shining Series boasts some of the greatest RPG's for Sega as a whole and this game is one of the amazing entries that belongs in that category. The only thing that really slows this game down is their attention to details in the story mode. The story itself is great, it's just that they spend extreme amounts of time on it. The combat, the gameplay, the graphics and the characters are some of the best seen in a Fantasy RPG. Playing through this story is some of the most satisfying, as it used quite the nice mechanic of going into 32-bit close ups as you attack your enemies or cast various spells. The leveling system is satisfying and the different skills with your party will give you a great way to come up with your own strategy in fighting. This is a fantastic title!

#7. Panzer Dragoon Saga

I never got to play this game as a kid. Once I did, I was hooked! You talk about some high flying blissful roleplaying and glorious gameplay as you take down the most beautiful monsters you've ever seen in 32-bits! Do not miss out on this game if you can possibly find it for yourself. As you travel over landscapes that were so greatly crafted at the end of the console's life. Though the small crack in the mirror for this game is that they paid a little too much time on the story, at times. At first it wasn't quite as evident, but that part about it was a bit hard to follow. The cut scenes make up for this by being absolutely beautiful use of the Saturn's limitations

#6.Virtua Cop

When I was a kid, I was entranced by rail shooters, don't ask me why, I don't know. I always wanted that arcade game of Terminator 2 where you go around shooting robots and war machines. Unfortunately, I never got it. Later on, Virtua Cop more than filled the void of a rail shooter that was missing in my life. The day I got the Saturn, this game's wondrous graphics of its time and various weapons to use on various enemies. Virtua Cop 2 is awesome as well, and would be considered an honorable mention of this list. These are a staple of the Saturn and there is a very good reason for that. 

#5. Burning Rangers

Out of all of the titles I was able to play recently, Burning Rangers impressed me the most. The gameplay is unlike any platformer of its time and the graphics are exemplary with the Saturn's true potential. You float around platforms in a 3D area, putting out fires while also rescuing civilians. With such a simple premise, they were able to bring in a bit of a story element as well as some fairly likeable characters. This game reeks of absolute nostalgia, even if you didn't play it as a child, the feel of the gameplay and the old school graphics make you feel right at home.

#4.Virtua Fighter 2

The greatest fighting game on the system. After a bit of a rough start with the graphics of the first one, this game not only improved the details, but it also brought about new exciting mechanics as well as new characters. Virtua Fighter 2 is a gem of its own franchise and is some of the best looking games of its time. Each character has completely different strategies and each of them brings something to the table in terms of both unique qualities and personalities. The graphics are stifling close to the arcade version and paved the way for so many other great 3D fighting games thereafter. 

#3. Nights Into Dreams

The game that put the Sega Saturn on the map in terms of public relations. Nights set the standard for all Saturn games because it boasted graphics that allowed you to fly with such amazing freedom. The landscapes are strange but endearing, the gameplay flows together so well as an arcade style flying platformer. It gets you in the mood for some speed running as you try your very best to gain as many points to get as high of a grade as you can to get to the final levels. It is not especially long, but it boasts a good challenge and addicting qualities that has given it such staying power over the years as an image of beauty.

#2. Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei

What grabbed me about this title was not only its wonderful high flying gameplay and satisfying shoot'em up qualities. The real draw for me was the atmosphere of the whole thing. The backgrounds went on forever and the snow along with the colors of the sky all drew in such a feeling of relentless emersion. The levels differ so much, as do the strange creatures and machines that you fight in the air with your dragoon that is able to fire lasers at multiple targets. Taking down the large enemies gives off an intense feeling of glory and the challenge the game presents will get you hooked!

#1. Virtual On

To say that this is an addiction is something of an understatement. The fast-paced throng of destruction between two mech giants in a gigantic battle arena is hard hitting from start to finish. The number one rule of this game is that you never stop moving. Never stop firing between your arsenal of artillery of lasers, missiles, and high tech melee weapons until flames belch from the loser's metallic wounds. This game still has a following of players and contenders to this day and it is all because the 3D sci-fi ballistic action has captured the hearts of competitors for generations of staying power and awesomeness! 

The Sega Saturn has once again exceeded expectations in how awesome it is. Despite its short lifespan and smaller library, it has come out with some titles that have lasted ages. Sega's hesitance to give the Saturn any lip service is unfounded because this console has a fanbase that still thrives to this day and has the potential for success even in today's market if it is done right. Some more digital content and maybe even a mini would be awesome but that is only a hope for now. 

I hope to try more titles on this system soon and from there we can decipher another batch of great and terrible games. Honestly, throughout the titles I sampled, some of the terrible games were still fun in an awful way. It was really half the fun either way. These are just the ones I discovered in the first run through. Who knows what titles I could unearth in the future? Either way, drop a comment on your favorite and least favorite Sega Saturn games or even a title that you think deserves more praise. For now, this is the end of 2020 so what better time to drop a top 20 list? Here's hoping to a brighter future.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Halloween 2020 - 5 Saturn Games To Get You In The MOOD!

I love Halloween. LOVE IT! I get excited at the end of September, and it is one of the few consolations I have to keep me buoyed up, as as the summer starts to fade and we tumble into Autumn...

As such, it's one of the very few seasons that can get me motivated to "put pen to paper" (so to speak) and whip up an article for the Saturn Junkyard. This is now the fourth year since we resurrected the Yard, so thinking of a set of titles that I've never mentioned in my annual Halloween epistles, is becoming harder and harder. The links between horror and gaming are getting more and more tenuous, the choices of games becoming more and more scarce... My rule of thumb thus far, is that I have to have played the game myself, rather than having simply heard of it, or watched YouTube videos about it. As such, I was going to start waxing lyrical about Frankenstein -Through The Eyes Of  The Monster, or indeed Battle Of The Monsters, but i decided against it. I briefly looked at purchasing the afore mentioned game until I saw it's price tag... I think I will perhaps order a repro copy from the most excellent "Nightwing Productions", so I can perhaps report on it in my Halloween 2021 post.

So, on with this year's journey into the spooky world of  Samhain, where we will rub shoulders with broom riding witches, crazed, blood thirsty monsters,  brooding, growling ogres, antagonistic anal probing (probably) aliens, mutated, maximum security prisoners, demonic despotic prison bosses, howling crazed mental patients and... erm... anthropomorphic needles(!)

Cotton Boomerang: 

WooOoooOoo.... WOOOoooOOO... Are you scared yet? No? Well I'm afraid this first game is merely dipping a green, warty toe into the slime infested swamp of Halloween. What we have here, is an early   evening, pre-watershed, kid-friendly "cute 'em up" - in other words, a cute, cartoony, side scrolling shmup. The Halloween link comes from the fact, that rather than controlling a spaceship or WWII fighter plane, you control a witch on a broomstick... See? We're getting there... A cute witch... who isn't scary at all, but a witch, nevertheless... 

The Cotton franchise is a series of multi-platform titles, developed by Tokyo based developers "Success Corporation", making it's debut in 1991 with Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams, with the Saturn release of Cotton Boomerang arriving in 1998. The game consists of piloting your witch and her broomstick, through a series of magical and haunted worlds, battling mythical creatures, while all manner of projectiles -  crystals, power ups and even Jack O' Lantern pumpkin heads - fly towards you. As well as your ability to fire regular or hyper-powered shots, you can switch between characters, each of which has different styles, attributes and abilities.

 Despite it's cute visuals and cartoonish outlook, Cotton is not an easy ride. Fortunately, as is often the case with games of this genre, there are a plethora of 'continues' to access, and you should be able to progress nicely through each charming level, soaking up the magic of this ghoulishly charming game...


Now hold on there Father! Are you having a laugh? Gex is a 90's, 'Tude-fest, TV themed action platformer! What on earth does that have to do with the spookiest time of the year????

Yes... I know, I know... I'm stretching it... but as I said, I have to have played each title -  and whilst my Saturn collection is fairly large - finding five horror themed titles that I hadn't considered before on these very pages, was becoming rather difficult. Fortunately, during Gex's rather long and drawn out back-story, it becomes apparent that the stereotypically wise-cracking, Star Trek impersonating Gecko is watching a horror movie as he is zapped into the television, by the evil Rez. The object of each level is to find hidden TV remote controls, and by doing so, progress to the next... 

Therefore! As we delve into the hub world of the game, we are treated to a level which is incredibly suitable for a bit of Halloween Saturn fun. We are in a graveyard, a suitably murky palette of colours and creepy zombie ducks(?) lumbering slowly towards you, arms out-stretched in classic undead style... 

Gex was developed by Crystal Dynamics for the 3DO and ported to the Saturn in 1996. Critical reception for the games was good and the game is an entertaing platformer with a very satisying gameplay and a large dollop of humour, thanks to the character of Gex which was voiced by comedian Dana Gould. 

As Gex, the bad ass, fun loving reptilian, you must wall walk, tail spin and bounce your way through the level, flicking out your tongue and munching golden flies... and that's it! I cannot tell you about any of the other levels, as I have consistently failed to find any of the remotes and therefore, have never progressed beyond the spooky horror themed hub world... therefore I always think of Gex as a spooky title. Good job really, as my selection this year was a bit thin on the ground, as mentioned earlier...

So... moving on swiftly, it's about time we ramped up the fear factor. Let's get to something a little less juvenile and a bit more adult oriented. Ladies and germs I bring you... 


This is a strange one. A two disc opus, brought to us by Warp, again originally developed  for the 3DO in 1999. The game is more of an interactive movie and features the protagonist and "digital actor" Laura, who featured in a number of games by Warp, In this one, Laura finds out her father, a respected medical practitioner, has gone insane and murdered all of his patients. As Laura, you must enter the hospital to investigate what has happened. As soon as she walks through the door, her world begins to morph and mutate and she finds herself in a gothic looking building, with strange instruments of torture and mutilated bodies scattered around.

The mood is dark and mysterious, Strange events, psychedelic visions, shifting dimensions and surreal happenings are triggered as you move through the building. You have two hours to complete the game, with no opportunities to save. 

Whilst the game is interesting and atmospheric, it is far from linear, and can be very difficult to navigate easily to the end of the experience. You might find yourself, as I did, struggling to progress at pace, finding yourself wandering and backtracking fruitlessly. Although I liked what I saw, it was not enough to keep me going, and after an hour or so, I became frustrated and bored. Watching a walkthrough video would not be conducive to the "search and reveal" nature of the game, but by the same token, unless I get some hints, the experience will stagnate and dissipate. Perhaps that is the most horrific element of the game. Certainly the biggest nightmare I faced within it's clutches...

So, from one moody gothic mansion to another... this time you're really going to be scared. In fact you're going to...


There's not much of a backstory here. You find yourself in a dark and foreboding castle. Outside, as glimpsed through the arched gothic windows, black clouds race across a deep purple sky. The dark, dank corridors and subterranean dungeons are patrolled by a variety of foes including gun wielding "grunts" and hammer wielding ogres... there are health, armour, weapon and ammo pick ups scattered throughout the levels. The scares come from the enemies, who pop up and attack you when you are least expecting it...

Developed by Lobotomy Software, the Saturn version of Quake was the first console release of the popular PC first person shooter. The game utilises the SlaveDriver engine, first developed for the excellent Powerslave/Exhumed/1999. As such, this is not so much a port as a game built from the ground up...

The Saturn version boasts an exclusive hazard (the void) and an exclusive, very un-FPS unlockable -  "Dank and Scuzz - a voice acted story set within the Quake world. The game has been oft praised for the textures, colours and lighting effects, which to some extent surpass the original. The brutal Nine Inch Nails provide the soundtrack, which is unsurprisingly dark, menacing and drive the game forward.

This one really IS a good one for the Halloween season and like it's cousin Powerslave, is a quality title which fits the mood of the season perfectly...

 Area 51:

Not too long ago, in a pre-Covid world, gangs of slightly insane nerds, gathered at the US military installation known as Area 51, poised to do "Naruto runs" headlong towards the armed military guards, with the hopeless intention of busting in, and subsequently seeing the alien bodies and captured saucers that have been held there since the greys crash landed into the Roswell desert in 1947...

Thanks to Atari Games, Saturn light gun enthusiasts do not have to compromise their personal safety, in order to observe the interior of the Groom Lake facility. All they have to do, is load up this title, pick up their Stunner and get ready to go... 

In a matter of seconds, all the aliens in the facility will start to jump out in front of you in order for you to shoot! How very accommodating of them! Seriously though, this is not a bad game. It has it's roots in the arcade and whilst it is no Virtua Cop, it far outstrips last year's offering Corpse Killer! 

You are a member of the STAAR (Special Tactical Advanced Alien Response) Team, along with your colleagues Lieutenant Stephanie Grant and Sergeant Major Marcus Bradley, you are tasked with activating a nuclear self destruct button... 

Hang on a minute??? Who the hell is going to sign up for that??? 

As well as aliens, you are also faced with mutated zombie soldiers, meaning it conveniently gets a pass for our Halloween selection... the presentation is better than our other Halloween light gun favourite, House Of The Dead and this is a better graphical spectacle, utilising digitized video - enemies, innocents and explosions are 2D digitized sprites. The vehicles and levels are pre-rendered 3D. I'm saying that like I have a clue what it means, when in reality I just nicked it all from Wikipedia. 

Overall, the game is a winner, and if you've had enough HOTD for one year, you should definitely give it a blast!

So there we have it... Five titles that will take us through till, this time next year, when I will have invested in some proper horror titles to report on! 

*( Last minute honourable mention goes to Loaded... a top down 2D shooter, based around a maximum security prison. I'd always thought it was a bit shit, but having persevered, I have to say I rather like it!

Put it down as next year's first on the list...) 

Monday 28 September 2020

Impact Racing - No Horn, Lasers!

When you want some high octane in your tank and you’re tired of taking crap from the drivers next to you in other racing games, look no further! Impact Racing has to be one of the most underwhelming title by comparison to its content. Yeah, you’ve got impact, but you’ve also got lasers, ion cannons and mines in order to destroy your opponents. The destruction is wonderfully therapeutic and you get your money’s worth in speed! It’s the kind of racing and gunning fun you’ve been looking for, if that’s your thing. 

The graphics aren’t the best, even by 1996 standards, but they get the point across and do not hinder your ability to take down your opponents. With an overhead radar view, you get the chance to take down enemies from behind you with the mines. There is no ammo cap on neither lasers nor mines, so have a ball! You can fire both at once.

That’s not to say it’s always that easy. Sometimes, you’ve got quite the strenuous time limit to get to the checkpoints. Destroying enemies can supply you with extra five second blocks, but that’s at random, and it’s not always guaranteed that you will be directly behind them to catch the time block. However, taking down other racers can also supply you with special ammunition and armor. If you take down enough enemies, you will also get a bonus stage for a chance to upgrade your weapon even further!

This is raw retro gaming and it is just plain fun! This game is just something you can pick up and play within a moment’s notice. It’s nice and challenging and the 32-bit graphics will bring you back to a simpler time when games were made for fun. The one real strike against this game is that there is no 2-Player mode, which is very unfortunate, though not uncommon for racing games back in the day. Still, if you see this for a reasonable price, by all means do not hesitate to add it to your Sega Saturn collection. Virtua Laser Strike!!!

Sunday 6 September 2020

The House of the Dead - Digital Zombie Brains


If you have ever been to an arcade of any quality at all, you’ve probably seen The House of the Dead in one of the corners. There were two shiny red and blue guns and a whole bunch of zombies coming out of the woodworks to eat your face! So, from the arcade to the home console, you can tell that there are some differences among the similarities. It’s still the infectious undead package it was in the big box, it’s just taken a couple of hits. 

This game was given a lot of flak for how much quality it lost in the translation from cabinet to Saturn and somehow it lost a lot of face in the process. Yeah, the graphics weren’t as good and the frame rate was crawling at some points. Whatever happened to “Graphics don’t make the Game?” There are times when they can seriously get in the way and sometimes some of the more wobbly polygons can go a ways to make you sick. The House of the Dead had none of this. It’s just some of the textures became dulled and some of the features on character renders didn’t look quite as good. 

The gameplay and the game itself is still the same at its very core. There is still plenty of brain-sucking freaks coming at you as you take them all down in a blaze of glory. You can play two player and you have a lot more content than you did in the arcade (not to mention, you don’t need to keep churning coins into it) like different characters and gameplay. None of these graphical downgrades get in the way of putting bullets in dead people. 

Not only was it just the novelty of bringing a fully 3D game home after years of going to the arcade, but the fact that you could bring a friend to play with you as well. It’s something of a bonding experience, shooting at a screen next to a friend is very satisfying. Do I wish the graphics didn’t glitch so much? Yeah, maybe, but that goes away just as fast as it came. 

Now, bad things about this game that actually affect it are more of a problem with the enemy mechanics. Sometimes, there were these monkeys (yes, you heard me correctly) and it seemed like no matter how many times you shot them down, they kept getting back up. Armored and hard to kill enemies can get a little tedious sometimes, especially when there are sections of the entire level that seem to feature them exclusively. Then there’s the times when monsters immediately pop up in front of you and slash you. This is a common problem with many railshooters and it feels like a cheap way to  score a free hit on the players who don’t see it coming. Even when you saw it coming, there’s a chance you won’t react in time. 

The real love that is given to this game is not only in the therapeutic killing of zombie hordes, but also the many types of zombies and monsters that you encounter along the way. There are sludgy swamp zombies, zombie frogs, zombie worms, leatherhead chainsaw zombies and big huge brute zombies! There are monsters of all sorts gathered for the boss levels and some of them are still archetypes of the genre! The discovery of these creatures is only beaten by the sight of their heads exploding and their torsos being blown off! 

With cheesy dialogue and nonsensical mad scientist plots and schemes, this game is a campy corny masterpiece. It may not look as shiny or run quite as well as its arcade counterpart but there is still so much to love about this port of the game. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to find a PS1 version. (Oh, snap!)

Sunday 26 July 2020

Five Platform Games On The Saturn Which Still Hold Up In 2020

Do you ever start something and think to yourself; "I really don't know what I'm doing here..."? Well I think that is the starting point for this brief consideration of platform games on the Saturn. As I started, I realised I didn't really have the exhaustive knowledge necessary to write this article, that I was unaware of all examples of the genre available for our 32 Bit obsession, and that I hadn't even played any of these games sufficiently to actually pass judgement on them.

SO - please look upon this written passage as a way for you to dip your toe in the waters of Saturn platforming, rather than an exhaustive deep dive into the ocean of up and down, left to right and occasional back and forth...

My initial consideration was about the exact type of game I should include... should I include games such as Sonic 3D, NiGHTS or Burning Rangers? Should I include Castlevania or Metal Slug - both of which contain platforming elements - the directional side to side and up & down movement, being integral to both games? Should I include Clockwork Knight - (by far my most played Saturn platformer, but also one which I had highlighted before?) In order to cover myself on all fronts, let's just re-brand this article as "5 Platform Games On The Saturn (Part 1)" implying there will be careful consideration of other games in the future!

Okay, caveat over, we'll dive straight in...

Saturday 4 July 2020

Duke Nukem 3D - Don't Steal Our Chicks

A game that needs very little introduction on its own and was another landmark in the First Person Shooter genre of video games. Duke Nukem wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was a fantastic way to jump from Doom to a new age of games when it came to play style. Where Doom made different vertical levels possible, Duke Nukem made it to where you could not only jump, vertical aim and platform, but also fly around on a jet pack. There were now recognizable structures that you could view around a city with different environments and entire alien worlds.

After the abysmal port of Doom to the Sega Saturn, many might think that Duke would be similarly tainted by framerate and movement problems. The exact opposite is true, as it ported the game with seemingly no differences and even did it better than the Playstation and the N64. Textures, lighting and graphics were transported to the system and it delivered on an amazing scale.

As said before, it wasn’t perfect. Using the controller was a bit of a switch from the normal keyboard and mouse and it took some getting used to, especially when it came to things like aiming. However, the learning curve worked well with the levels. As difficulty grew, so too did your ability to use the Saturn controller. Many, such as myself, played this port of Duke Nukem more than the PC itself.

With such great innovations as environments rich with both detail and interactivity, Duke Nukem had a great deal of high points that still shine bright today. The main character was a badass, although his one-liners weren’t exactly what we’d call original. His large array of weapons was a lot of fun to sort through and test out in the battlefield.

While his franchise didn’t exactly pan out very well at the end of it, it certainly shined in the early games. Duke Nukem 3D remains the best game in the entire line-up and that is not an insult to the other games. They even made the conversion over to the Saturn with grace and elegance and you can master the controls in no time. If you have the opportunity to pick up this title, do not hesitate. Although, it has become somewhat pricey among the retro gaming community. Just stay safe and game well while you’re drinking water.