Monday, 15 February 2021

Shining the Holy Ark - Swords and more Swords


The 32 bit era was a landmark for several different game franchises. It allowed many of them to change the perspective of their entire game and bring us even closer to the action. The Shining series brought their games to this landmark as well and we got some great titles as a result. Shining the Holy Ark is no exception to this! The RPG genre was boosted to a whole new level and the push to 3D was a resounding success!

With haunted mansions and an entire barrage of monsters to face throughout caves and other dreary landscapes, you will never grow bored. There is also a cascade of beauty in green forests and grasslands. When you and your band of mercenaries are hired to take down a strange ninja, you embark on a journey that is far beyond what you’d expect. With characters that use melee weapons and characters that are mastered in the arts of magic, you need to make your strategy an effective one if you want to get through all of the ridiculous obstacles.

Now, is the game perfect? No, in fact there are several parts of the game that force you to grind a lot of your progress. If this is your thing, then the game will give you a lot of it. You can easily get lost in the tunnels and caves and this can be a problem when you are running out of magic and items to survive.

The characters are one of the saving graces of the game. There’s enough of a story to keep your involvement solid, while leaving your character enough of a blank slate to make them your own. The monsters can get a bit difficult in spots of the game, but overcoming them gives you a great sense of satisfaction.

The real problem with the game is it can get repetitive and there isn’t a great deal of replay value attached. However, after a long while between playing, it is very easy to pick up once again. The graphics are an example of the time and many have compared playing this game to playing the ever popular Final Fantasy VII. Any Fantasy RPG fan will most likely love this title. The Shining series is a fantastic Sega franchise that boasts several games that are more than worth trying for yourself. Give it a try!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Neptune - Top 10 Sonic Games

 Throughout gaming history, there have been conflicting game companies in something of an arms race to harvest this potential goldmine. Games came and gone with differing margins of acclaim and there were some that reached the rank of legend. Whether you think I’m overselling the blue hedgehog a bit much is up to the eyes of the beholders. However, no one can argue that there was a time when Sonic was literally everywhere in terms of merchandise and game sales. He has had a massive impact that took the world by storm. Since then things have changed. 

While Sonic the Hedgehog has had a severe lack of quality in a lot of his gaming timeline, we are here to speak of the gems in this collection (pun intended). Whatever your favorite game is, if it is not on this list, please list your favorites in the comments. While I may not have had a favorable experience with them, I am sincerely glad that you did. Sonic is a celebrated character worldwide and so now let’s celebrate with a look at what I think are the greatest games in the Sonic library. 

#10. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

Alright, we all know that this is a Tetris clone, but who cares! It’s still fun. Sometimes it seems that the computer gets an unfair advantage sometimes as they get the exact right pieces right when they need them. However, the opposite is also true and it gets rather competitive. It has very little to do with Sonic other than the appearance of the characters, but it’s still enjoyable. You face against random robots until you get to the monkey robot who I forgot the name of. You face Robotnik at the end, but he gets ridiculously hard. Need a good time waster? Give it a glance.

#9. Sonic Adventure 2

While I can’t say I enjoy all of the game mechanics of this title, it’s still a whole lot of fun when it gets going. The speed sections are enjoyable and the world building through the story is fun to watch. This game still lives up to its Dreamcast days, though it’s certainly not perfect. When it gets tense, it still gets fun.

#8. Sonic the Hedgehog

The premier title for our hedgehog himself. A great game in its own right, but not reaching its peak quite yet. It still functioned very well as a platformer, as well as performing as a hit for the Genesis. Both critics and fans loved its Mario-like gameplay, saying it gave that franchise a run for its money. This title is not to be overlooked for any Genesis collection. Some of the levels are not especially great and sometimes they can go overboard with the water levels. It’s still great, though, in retrospect, it is very obviously missing one mechanic that the second game would revolutionize.

#7. Sonic Generations

A surprisingly good game, considering the time in which it was created. By the time 2011, the Wii games and a few other Sonic duds had already hit the market. Generations was a great addition to the collection, featuring not only some awesome 2D levels to go along with some of their better attempts at 3D Sonic since the Adventure games. With some awesome battles between Sonic and Metal Sonic and a class act in level design, this PS3/XBox 360 generation game boasts some unexpected success in this title. 

#6. Sonic R

No, this is not a troll and no, I am not trying to get attention with unusual opinions. This game not only has a nostalgia factor for me, but there is also a lot of fun to be had here. The controls were bad, but they just take some getting used to. This is Sonic on the Saturn and that just makes it all the better. The graphics are also not great, but they’re 32-bit goodness I’ve always loved. You don’t have to like it, but I will always love it.

#5. Sonic Adventure

A great return to form from the less than stellar performance on the Sega Saturn. Adventure truly brought Sonic to the open 3D world and it truly feels like the title suggests. Again, it is not a perfect game. It is loads of fun and can get very engrossing, but there are times when the segments can be slow and monotonous. Sometimes there is some drag, but I can honestly still call this title great!

#4. Sonic CD

Commonly considered the greatest title for the Sega CD, Sonic CD boasts some of the most beautiful 2D graphics in his early titles. CD has everything you loved about the first games with new and exciting mechanics and ways to take down the mustached menace, Robotnik! The real problem with this title is that sometimes its level designs can become very confusing. It also can have some game killing glitches on occasion. It is a game you can play for hours at a time and it is a great introduction to the franchise.

#3. Sonic Mania

The latest of the greatest Sonic titles on this list and it earns a staggering third place on this list for various reasons. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful 2D style graphics of any Sonic title but it also has some amazing callbacks to previous great titles while giving them a bit of an upgrade. Though the level design can be a little confusing at times, that does not detract from how much enjoyment can be expected from this fan-made classic that took Sonic fans by surprise. What didn’t surprise fans was that it out classed and ultimately overtook the official Sonic title of Mania’s release year, Sonic Forces in seemingly every way.  

#2. Sonic and Knuckles 3

Initially released earlier in the year, Sonic The Hedgehog’s 3rd title was soon joined by one of the first examples of paid DLC. Sonic and Knuckles was a separate cartridge that you could attach not only Sonic 3 but all three of Sonic’s original titles on the Genesis. Such an innovation did not escape the fans as it proved to be one of the single greatest titles of the original era. You could not only play as both Sonic and Tails, but also the newcomer, Knuckles. His gliding ability along with his climbing opened up older levels with a new way to explore them and it also changed the perspective of the ongoing story. Sonic 3 did not disappoint fans who got their start with Sonic 2 and it would become one of the hedgehog’s most widely beloved games.

#1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

While Sonic the Hedgehog was a brilliant starting point for the blue blur, Sonic 2 decimated expectations and wowed audiences and critics alike upon its release in 1992. Fans were delighted to find this sequel game included with their boxed up Sega Genesis just in time for the holidays. With the new added feature of the spindash and some of the most beautiful and practical level designs on the market, Sonic 2 left its mark as one of the greatest video game sequels. It was right up there with Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2 and it was a breaking point that made Sonic the Hedgehog a household name for decades to come. 

So those are my favorite Sonic games and there is always room for more in the future. Whether you love Sonic ‘06 or Sonic Colors, it doesn’t matter. By all means, make your own list! It’s always good to hear from a fellow Sonic fan. This icon of Sega has had the charm and the appeal to last for decades and it’s clear that he could easily last for decades more. Let’s just hope for some new releases soon and keep drinking water.

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...)