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.