• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

NeoGAF Official SEGA SATURN Community

ShinobiWan1

Member
I've been playing Street Fighter Zero 3 recently. I never tried the Reverse Dramatic Battle until recently...what a trip!


I had some lag issues with the stage where you fight Juli and Juni, someone mentioned that it might be the Action Replay or anything not the official 4MB Ram cart. So I tried this run with the ST-Key and the original ram cart. It didn't have anymore slowdown...but the music is messed up still! I couldn't see any scratches etc on the disc





I tried this on two different Saturns, with the same audio results. It looks like my game is defective :(
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus











This week, I was able to spend a few late nights in front of my 13-inch Sony Trinitron and play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on Sega Saturn. The new English translation patch finally allows me to enjoy this all-time classic. Kudos to King of Dragon for his excellent work.

I'm coming to this videogame backwards, as I've never played the Playstation original back in the day, but played through all of its subsequent sequels/remakes on Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. Overall, I would say that Aria and Dawn of Sorrow are my personal favorites, as Konami had refined their "Metroidvania" formula to perfection. As brilliant as Symphony is, there is a lot more backtracking than I would prefer, and the second mirrored castle just feels like a bit too much. I'm taking a short break before returning to complete the game's second half, but I do prefer the shorter lengths on the later installments.

This Saturn version of Castlevania has been universally derided by hardcore fans for years, and while the software team did commit a number of unforced errors---frequent bouts of slowdown, mesh transparencies, missing or toned down visual effects---this is still an outstanding videogame that remains thoroughly engaging and fun. And can we be completely honest and admit that Saturn was dying out when this title was published? Konami didn't have to port it at all. They could have focused their attention on the upcoming Dreamcast. So let's be thankful for what we have.

Features exclusive to Saturn Castlevania include two new areas of the castle, a number of additional collectable items and, most importantly, the ability to play as Maria from the start. As always, the bonus characters in Castlevania are glorified gimmicks, since the castle and gameplay is designed around its main character, but it's still a lot of fun to race around as Maria and judo kick everything in sight.

Overall, I'm loving the whole experience. I think the game runs too long--the second castle really does feel like overkill--but I honestly wouldn't change a thing. This game really is a must-play for all Saturn owners and everyone needs to grab the translation patch (this is definitely going onto my Saturn Top 20 list). And as you can see from the screenshots, everything looks fine in composite. Once More, With Feeling: if you don't like Saturn's "mesh" transparencies, just use the damn composite cables.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus









Some screenshots of Game Arts' masterful Grandia on Sega Saturn. This is playing with an early version of the English translation patch and it's such a wonderful experience. This videogame is right at the top of Japanese titles that deserved a Western release. I'm enjoying this so much that I'm willing to call it the equal to Panzer Dragoon Saga--it's really that good. That goes double if you're a fan of Miyazaki's movies like Castle in the Sky.

This adventure was clearly a labor of love for Game Arts, who have filled its world with endless little details like fish in rivers, steam coming from smokestacks and sewer grates, indoor objects that fall or wobble when you touch them, and those magnificent VDP2 water distortion effects that only Saturn can do. Seriously, how wild is it that the recent Grandia HD remake couldn't recreate this visual effect?

There's something about the fusion of 3D polygon environments and 2D hand-drawn sprites that is so endlessly appealing. There are so many animation frames that capture characters from every conceivable angle, as well as illustrated closeups during dialog scenes, that are clearly a step beyond 16-bit adventure games. These brilliant character designs just never look the same with polygons, even today. Honestly, game designers should continue with this art style. It hasn't aged a day.

Grandia looks absolutely fantastic on Saturn, and as we all know, the presentation is just a little more polished than its Playstation cousin, to say nothing of the HD remake. The screen just bursts with color and richly drawn textures, everything just shouts out fun and adventure and excitement. It's such a welcome alternative to the grim, monochrome look of so many fifth-generation videogames, including Panzer Saga and Final Fantasy 7. Remember color? Game Arts remembered, and God Bless 'Em for their efforts.

I can't recommend Grandia highly enough. This game placed second in the 2000 Sega Saturn Magazine JP readers' poll, and most deservedly so. Three cheers for the Saturn translation community!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


For those who are fans of Sega Genesis racing games, Andretti Racing will feel right at home. This EA Sports title features a comprehensive career mode featuring Indy and Stock cars, sixteen winding courses, crashes, pit stops, extensive broadcast video clips and two-player split-screen action. Gameplay is far closer to arcade than simulation with a strong 16-bit feel.

Visually, this game doesn't look very good. It's so typical of Western software developers during Generation Five, with their obsession with monochrome palettes and an overall dingy, grungy look. There are bits of color here and there on some stages (see my screenshot), but almost everything is drawn in shades of grey. The frame rate is manageable and smooth enough, although it certainly seems to be hovering around 20fps. Fortunately, the sense of speed is convincing and the controls are responsive enough to keep the racing swift and nimble, and if nothing else, the cars in this game handle very nicely.

Andretti Racing is definitely a "guilty pleasure" videogame. It was probably more impressive when it was new and it has certainly aged, but you quickly find yourself racing one more course, just one more event, just a couple more laps. The track designs are a little weird, with an obsession with sharp corners and turns that feel a little out of place, but you just learn to live with it.

Comparing the Saturn and Playstation versions of the game, the two are nearly identical. The PSX edition has a slightly longer draw distance and the smoke effects are smoother, and the textures appear a little rougher on Saturn. But the sense of speed is the same, the car and track models are the same, and overall this is one of Electric Arts' better efforts. Goodness knows the quality of their Saturn games are all over the map, and there was never any doubt which platform received most of their love and affection.

You can find a retail copy of Andretti Racing for $15-$20, which is acceptable. I would certainly recommend it if you're looking for a racing game with some meat on its bones.




EA's immediate followup, NASCAR 98, however, is just a mess from start to finish. The software developers used the Andretti Racing engine, yet the performance takes a significant hit in the frame rate and draw distance. Everything just looks ugly. Textures bend and warp constantly, the sense of speed is lagging, everything appears chunky and low-res. On the upside, the car models are larger and more detailed than the stock cars in Andretti Racing, but this seems to have strained the graphics engine past the breaking point. The coders should have done a better job.

This game is a pure simulation racer, the only one on Saturn, so if you want a realistic driving game for the console, this is your only option. And that's very unfortunate, because what's here is just such a sloppy, unattractive mess. Kindly spare yourself the inevitable comparisons to the Sony Playstation version, as it won't be pretty. This Saturn version lags far behind. Indeed, it looks notably worse than the 1995 Daytona USA, which begins to look like a work of coding brilliance by comparison (to say nothing of the JP Circuit Edition, which runs circles around this effort).

NASCAR 98 is one of those mediocre videogames that I try to revisit every now and then, hoping that I will find some qualities to enjoy. In its defense, I do find the vehicle controls to be solid, and the Saturn racing wheel is supported which is very nice. There is a certain joy in slowly clawing your way up the pack in the middle of a long race, and you really need to properly manage your speed to keep yourself on the road, especially on the twisting fantasy courses, which break up the monotony from all those ovals.

Again, if you want a realistic racing simulation, NASCAR 98 is your only option on Sega Saturn. It drives well, but just looks so damned ugly and sloppy and there's no excuse for this. Expect to pay around $20-$30 for a retail copy on Ebay, which is honestly far more than this game deserves.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




Some new CRT screenshots of Sega Worldwide Soccer 98. I had just discovered that Jack Charlton, the English football star and manager, had passed away in December 2020 after a long battle with dementia. A documentary movie about his life, "In Search of Jack Charlton," was released a couple years ago and I highly recommend that you watch it.

Charlton provided a second color commentary to WWS 98, and it's quite enjoyable in that cheesy, silly sort of way. His line readings always sound like he's just been awakened from a long nap or drunk off his arse. In any case, it's always funny and enlightening at the same time. That guy was such a character.

Is WWS 98 the best soccer game on Saturn? From a technical standpoint, I think it's probably the most visually polished and accomplished, and the gameplay sits perfectly between old-school arcades and the EA/Konami simulations that would soon dominate the genre. World League Soccer 98 looks stunning but the gameplay is closer to Sensible Soccer in execution. Konami's J-League Honno no Striker looks great but its purely arcade style and the player animations are slightly stiff. J-League Go Go Goal boasts spectacular 60fps (it really looks like a budget Dreamcast title), but the gameplay is even more stripped-down and the computer players are merciless bastards.

I gotta be honest: FIFA 98 is probably the best overall soccer game. Yes, it's slightly rough on Saturn (the frame rate could be better), but the player animations and depth of gameplay are on a completely higher plane than anybody else. It flows like a ballet and when you're in a groove, the experience simply can't be beat. This is the moment where EA raises the bar and leaves everyone else choking dust. Only Konami's Winning Eleven/Pro Evolution franchise could compete.

That said, Sega's Worldwide Soccer games are still great fun and WWS 98 is the most accomplished of the bunch. Every Saturn owner should own a copy. Be warned that prices are getting really high, so you might want to consider importing a Japanese copy. But then you'll miss out on Jack Charlton's drunken ramblings. So what's the use?

Seriously, I'm putting Charlton onto my Sega Saturn Mount Rushmore monument, alongside Segata Sanshiro and Craig Stadler.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus






Here are some gameplay videos of FIFA 98: Road to the World Cup on Sega Saturn. As I've mentioned in my previous post, I would probably consider this the best overall soccer title for the system, although most dedicated Sega fans will choose Worldwide Soccer 98 for loyalty's sake. You can't go wrong either way, and it's very nice that we have so many good soccer games to play, as opposed to US football (Madden 97/98) and basketball (NBA Action 98), where only one option is available. It's an embarrassment of riches.

For me, what makes FIFA 98 stand out are its sheer number of options, offering nearly every conceivable team and league on the planet, a large suite of gameplay options (including practice drills, which is a favorite mode from Konami's Honoo no Striker), a large assortment of player moves, and the best motion capture animation of any Saturn sports game by a mile. Even Sega's WWS series, as good as it looks, feels slightly robotic and stiff by comparison.

There's something beautiful about the way players tilt and weave around the field, curving and dancing around with spins and kicks. The ability to pass across the field and not merely the closest teammate is a very welcome option and opens up greater strategic play. Hitting headers and bicycle kicks is far easier here than WWS, where half the time I'm kicking the ball in the opposite direction by mistake. You just feel empowered by having so many moves at your disposal, and this really allows for some creative play during matches.

According to Sega Retro, this Saturn version of FIFA 98 was handled by UK studio Climax (not to be confused with the JP Climax that gave us Landstalker and Dark Savior). I don't know what resources they had to complete this version, and I would like to hear behind-the-scenes from the developers, but I still have the sense that they had less time and money than the original EA Canada team had with the Playstation version. Everything here is just a little rougher and thicker, including the larger player characters that are oddly outsized (they appear to be nine feet tall). Ah, well, it's all part of the Saturn charm, and as long as the gameplay is fully intact, count me in.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus












I decided to snap photos of sports videogame reviews from Sega Saturn Magazine UK, and here is a collection of EA Sports titles: FIFA 98, NBA Live 98, NHL 98 and Madden NFL 98. From this bunch, Madden is the clear winner while FIFA is absolutely savaged. I still haven't played the hockey and basketball games yet, but I do have NHL 98 coming in the mail and am hoping it will be pretty good (choppy frame rates aside).
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus











Now let's take a look at Sega Saturn Magazine UK's reviews for the Sega Sports '98 lineup: NBA Action 98, NHL All-Star Hockey 98 and Worldwide Soccer 98. Note how the latter receives a four-page review, which is given for select games that the magazine really wants to hype. Missing from this collection is the masterful World Series Baseball 98, which was not released in the PAL territories. I really wish these guys would have given it a review, if just for completion's sake, but they probably weren't big fans of the sport.

Add in the brilliant Steep Slope Sliders and Winter Heat (two of my all-time Saturn favorites) and you have an outstanding lineup of sports games. It's really unfortunate that Saturn was heading into retirement just when they were hitting their stride. Oh, well.
 

DGrayson

Mod Team and Bat Team
Staff Member











This week, I was able to spend a few late nights in front of my 13-inch Sony Trinitron and play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on Sega Saturn. The new English translation patch finally allows me to enjoy this all-time classic. Kudos to King of Dragon for his excellent work.

I'm coming to this videogame backwards, as I've never played the Playstation original back in the day, but played through all of its subsequent sequels/remakes on Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. Overall, I would say that Aria and Dawn of Sorrow are my personal favorites, as Konami had refined their "Metroidvania" formula to perfection. As brilliant as Symphony is, there is a lot more backtracking than I would prefer, and the second mirrored castle just feels like a bit too much. I'm taking a short break before returning to complete the game's second half, but I do prefer the shorter lengths on the later installments.

This Saturn version of Castlevania has been universally derided by hardcore fans for years, and while the software team did commit a number of unforced errors---frequent bouts of slowdown, mesh transparencies, missing or toned down visual effects---this is still an outstanding videogame that remains thoroughly engaging and fun. And can we be completely honest and admit that Saturn was dying out when this title was published? Konami didn't have to port it at all. They could have focused their attention on the upcoming Dreamcast. So let's be thankful for what we have.

Features exclusive to Saturn Castlevania include two new areas of the castle, a number of additional collectable items and, most importantly, the ability to play as Maria from the start. As always, the bonus characters in Castlevania are glorified gimmicks, since the castle and gameplay is designed around its main character, but it's still a lot of fun to race around as Maria and judo kick everything in sight.

Overall, I'm loving the whole experience. I think the game runs too long--the second castle really does feel like overkill--but I honestly wouldn't change a thing. This game really is a must-play for all Saturn owners and everyone needs to grab the translation patch (this is definitely going onto my Saturn Top 20 list). And as you can see from the screenshots, everything looks fine in composite. Once More, With Feeling: if you don't like Saturn's "mesh" transparencies, just use the damn composite cables.



One of my personal GOATs. I grew up with the PlayStation version, only playing the Saturn import much much later.

Question for you as you are the Saturn expert. If this wasnt a port or if the game was originally designed for the Saturn, taking advantage of all its 2D capabilities, do you think the Saturn version could have been the superior version, graphically?
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
One of my personal GOATs. I grew up with the PlayStation version, only playing the Saturn import much much later.

Question for you as you are the Saturn expert. If this wasnt a port or if the game was originally designed for the Saturn, taking advantage of all its 2D capabilities, do you think the Saturn version could have been the superior version, graphically?


As a general rule, if a multi-platform game was created for one console first, that becomes the better version. There are many examples on both the Sony and Sega side. Even then, most of the time, the differences are relatively minor and were greatly exaggerated by diehard fans at the time who lived for their "console war" rivalries. Honestly, the whole notion is a bit childish, as though your self esteem is based on whatever toy Mommy and Daddy bought you for Christmas. And that's the great thing about enjoying classic/retro videogames: you don't have to worry about who is "better" and just enjoy the games themselves on their own merits.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is an all-time classic and I'm very thankful for the opportunity to enjoy it on Saturn. If you played it on PSX, PSP or the modern digital platforms, that's terrific! Everybody wins in my book.

Having played through the first half of the game (I just got to the inverted castle), I think the only real issue with Saturn Castlevania is the slowdown. It's easily an unforced error, because what's onscreen shouldn't even come close to maxing out Saturn's hardware, but it's manageable and goodness knows that I've endured far worse on the Super Nintendo. It never really frustrated me, and for that I am thankful.

The mesh transparencies, once again, can be resolved by using composite cables. I haven't had any problems when playing and everything looks fine (if slightly less smooth than PSX) on my Trinitron. This shouldn't be an issue anymore. It's been well over 25 years and gamers need to move on with their lives. If anybody still objects to the mesh patterns, I will reply with three simple words: Super Mario Odyssey.

I think it's very interesting how Konami did not press the Playstation hardware to its limits with Castlevania. They understood the system's comfort zones and stayed safely there, focusing instead on the art direction and character animation. What's displayed on your screen could be recreated almost entirely on a Sega Genesis--which, by the way, is now happening on the homebrew scene. I can't wait.

Not every videogame has to push the technical limits, throw up the most objects on screen, scroll the most backgrounds, display the most complex visual effects. Good art design is more important, as well as creating a believable world to explore and discover. Not everybody has to be like Treasure (whose Saturn games look absolutely sensational). Just stay in your comfort zone and you'll be fine.

P.S. For the best looking 2D videogames on Saturn, not counting the RAM-enhanced titles, I'd have to go with Treasure's three masterworks: Guardian Heroes, Silhouette Mirage and Radiant Freaking Silvergun. Holy buckets, do they look fantastic, even by today's standards.

P.P.S. DGreyson is very kind to consider me the "Saturn Expert." I am only a devoted student and I'm learning alongside everyone else here. We're all taking the long, strange trip together.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus









Looking once again at Sega Saturn Magazine UK, here are a few more sports game reviews beyond EA and Sega. Jonah Lomu Rugby is a beloved PAL exclusive that reminds me a lot of Sensible Soccer and SWOS and similar classics of the 16-bit era. Actua Soccer: Club Edition is a PAL exclusive update to the popular soccer title (released in the US as VR Soccer) that featured 20 Premier League teams. NFL Quarterback Club 97 was Acclaim's football rival to Madden and was pretty successful on Nintendo 64. And NBA Jam Extreme was Acclaim's first entry in the legendary series after securing the franchise rights, offering chunky polygon graphics instead of digitized sprites.

Personally, the only one of these that I've played was Quarterback Club 97, and that was only for a few minutes to be sure the disc worked. I thought it was pretty good but did think the 96 edition looked a lot nicer. Actua/VR Soccer was well received at the time but its reputation fell hard in the years since, especially on Saturn where so many great soccer games are available. NBA Jam Extreme was widely hated but I'll probably pick up a copy one of these days, just for completion's sake. And Jonah Lomu Rugby is definitely on my must-buy list.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Oh, here's a complete list of hidden character codes for NBA Jam: TE on Sega Saturn. I watched the Pandamonium documentary a few nights ago and it's just fantastic. It was very interesting to learn of the development of the Saturn and Playstation versions of Jam, which are both very good but also have annoyances that leave me a bit cold. The Atari Jaguar has my favorite home version of the classic, and I really wish a good emulator was available on Mac so that I could play. That's a great little system that deserved more love.

Anyway, here's the JAM TE cheat codes!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus







Here are some Sega Saturn Magazine UK scans for the sensational 2D fighter Astra Superstars. This is one of my all-time favorites and it remains one of the greatest showpieces for the console. These wildly over-the-top cartoon visuals would look good on Sega Dreamcast, and the gameplay is both chaotic and simple enough for more casual players to jump in and enjoy themselves. This is much more of a button-masher than a technical fighter, and because of that it works best in more social settings.

If you really want to show off your Saturn, Astra Superstars will absolutely deliver the goods. As for finding a retail copy, well...prices begin at $350 and climb steadily from there. Backups are your only realistic option for now, until Sunsoft or Santa Claus or whoever owns the IP rights brings this game to modern platforms. It's pretty wild that this remains a Saturn exclusive after all these years, right?
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Speaking of Sega Saturn exclusives that deserve to be revived and seen everywhere, here's Hudson Soft's excellent Saturn Bomberman Fight! as reviewed in the pages of Sega Saturn Magazine UK. This four-player battle game dispenses with the usual single-player story mode and gets straight to the multiplayer mayhem, featuring all-new 3D polygon arenas, a fine assortment of cartoon characters and new weapons like a super bomb that detonates half the playfield.

Honestly, this was the last truly great Bomberman ever made, and the series has just stagnated and regressed ever since. I don't even want to get into Bomberman R on Nintendo Switch, which just felt like such a dull disappointment after having been spoiled by the likes of Saturn Bomberman (truly the franchise peak) and Bomberman Fight. Seriously, after playing these, who would even bother with anything else?
 

ShinobiWan1

Member
As a general rule, if a multi-platform game was created for one console first, that becomes the better version. There are many examples on both the Sony and Sega side. Even then, most of the time, the differences are relatively minor and were greatly exaggerated by diehard fans at the time who lived for their "console war" rivalries. Honestly, the whole notion is a bit childish, as though your self esteem is based on whatever toy Mommy and Daddy bought you for Christmas. And that's the great thing about enjoying classic/retro videogames: you don't have to worry about who is "better" and just enjoy the games themselves on their own merits.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is an all-time classic and I'm very thankful for the opportunity to enjoy it on Saturn. If you played it on PSX, PSP or the modern digital platforms, that's terrific! Everybody wins in my book.

Having played through the first half of the game (I just got to the inverted castle), I think the only real issue with Saturn Castlevania is the slowdown. It's easily an unforced error, because what's onscreen shouldn't even come close to maxing out Saturn's hardware, but it's manageable and goodness knows that I've endured far worse on the Super Nintendo. It never really frustrated me, and for that I am thankful.

The mesh transparencies, once again, can be resolved by using composite cables. I haven't had any problems when playing and everything looks fine (if slightly less smooth than PSX) on my Trinitron. This shouldn't be an issue anymore. It's been well over 25 years and gamers need to move on with their lives. If anybody still objects to the mesh patterns, I will reply with three simple words: Super Mario Odyssey.

I think it's very interesting how Konami did not press the Playstation hardware to its limits with Castlevania. They understood the system's comfort zones and stayed safely there, focusing instead on the art direction and character animation. What's displayed on your screen could be recreated almost entirely on a Sega Genesis--which, by the way, is now happening on the homebrew scene. I can't wait.

Not every videogame has to push the technical limits, throw up the most objects on screen, scroll the most backgrounds, display the most complex visual effects. Good art design is more important, as well as creating a believable world to explore and discover. Not everybody has to be like Treasure (whose Saturn games look absolutely sensational). Just stay in your comfort zone and you'll be fine.

P.S. For the best looking 2D videogames on Saturn, not counting the RAM-enhanced titles, I'd have to go with Treasure's three masterworks: Guardian Heroes, Silhouette Mirage and Radiant Freaking Silvergun. Holy buckets, do they look fantastic, even by today's standards.

P.P.S. DGreyson is very kind to consider me the "Saturn Expert." I am only a devoted student and I'm learning alongside everyone else here. We're all taking the long, strange trip together.
I played through the Saturn version of Dracula X for the first time last year, and I loved it. Certainly, there were things that I wished were better, all of the stated issues included. But the MAIN issue I had is the lack of MAP button! It was replaced with an extra item button! I've only used the extra item button just to say that I used it. It got a bit tedious going through the pause menu to get to the map. The extra loading times that happened every time I checked the map added up.

Sometimes, they did a pretty great job with showing transparencies (using whatever methods they were afforded, VDP1/2 etc)





Sometimes going this route

\

But of course, there's this most of the time



(which looked better in the Bestiary!)



Anyways, I overalled enjoyed it. Loved using the Saturn gamepad for it. I still have to check out the updated translated version. I also have to get the stuff to play that converted version
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




Here are some screenshots from NHL Powerplay 96, released in late 1996 by Virgin and developed by Radical Entertainment. This was immediately hailed as a Sega Saturn classic upon release and was widely regarded as superior to the Sony Playstation version. Its claim to fame was its all-polygon graphics, which was a step above the 2D bitmap sprites as seen in Sega's (hideous) NHL All-Star Hockey and the pre-rendered sprites as seen in Sony's (much better) NHL Face-Off.

The visuals are remarkably smooth and fluid, sticking to a solid 30fps with nice player animations, which were reportedly motion captured (another big buzzword at the time). The arenas are cleanly rendered with billboards along the side boards and team logos at center ice, with lots of scuffing on the surface. Not quite as smooth and glossy as one would expect, as though the zamboni broke down, but I don't mind and it all looks very good.

Gameplay is where it counts and Radical did a very solid job. They had some experience with Brett Hull Hockey on the 16-bit consoles (and a very nice Atari Jaguar port that was never officially released), and that experience shows. They're not quite at the level of EA Sports, but they're certainly getting there and you can see the beginnings of a future rivalry...if only the software studio continued the franchise beyond 1997. Sega absolutely should have bought out the studio when they bought out Visual Concepts.

Overall, an excellent sports title for Saturn and arguably the best hockey game for the platform. I do prefer it just a little over NHL All-Star Hockey 98, as the gameplay is just a little faster and smoother. But you can't go wrong with either and prices are still very reasonable for collectors.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




When Virgin declined to publish Radical Entertainment's followup to NHL Powerplay 96 on Saturn, Sega immediately picked it up and published it under their banner, using the title NHL All-Star Hockey 98. This would be the third entry in the franchise, following the thoroughly mediocre NHL All-Star Hockey 95 on Sega Genesis and--dare I call it the worst hockey videogame ever made?--NHL All-Star Hockey on Saturn. Finally, at long last, Sega had found a solid studio for its hockey franchise, and the results speak for themselves.

So what is different from the '96 edition? The arenas are rendered at a sharper resolution, resulting in better illustrations of team logos at center ice. Player models have been beefed up with higher polygon counts and an overall thicker look. Textures are more detailed, and probably a bit too detailed, as it adds to a slightly dusty, grainy appearance. Fighting has been added and it's executed pretty well. Stadium sounds have been improved including short organ and rock interludes (it's still mostly quiet aside from crowd noises). The computer AI has reportedly been given an overhaul, and player animations have improved.

On the downside, this hockey game plays slower than its predecessor. Either the frame rate has dropped slightly, or the overall speed has been reduced, but it's cleanly obvious that Powerplay 96 runs both smoother and faster. EGM roasted this game alive in their review because of this, although I feel far more generous. It's certainly an issue but it's not the end of the world. If I want perfection, I'll play NHL 94. Like, duh.

The main camera angle has been changed in the '98 edition, bringing you closer to the action. There are many times when I feel the view is too close and I need to be able to see the other side of the rink, and while it's great to see the polygon players at eye level during breaks, I do prefer the more distant and traditional viewing angle from '96.

Another issue that as always irritated me: it's far too quiet when goals are scored. You don't hear a buzzer or horn, you don't see any flashing lights, and even the crowd doesn't appear all that excited. I think there is a faint horn sound in Powerplay '96, but it appears to be missing completely here. Why? I can't say, but it does add to an overall sense that this game is still slightly unfinished and unpolished.

Gameplay modes include basic exhibition and season, as well as an international tournament for 16 teams. Player creation and trades are not present, as are any GM management options. That's something that could have been added to future installments, if only Radical had continued the franchise into Generation Six. Have I mentioned lately that Sega of America should have purchased the studio at the same time they purchased Visual Concepts? A new hockey game for the Dreamcast launch would have been spectacular.

Overall, I find this to be a very enjoyable hockey game. As long as you accept the fact that nothing will ever equal NHL 94 on Sega Genesis, you'll have a good time. I do think Powerplay 96 has a slight edge for its cleaner presentation, faster play and higher frame rate, but the additions in All-Star 98 are nothing to sneeze at. Your best bet is to just own both games, but that's something you want to do anyway as you'll want a complete Sega Sports '98 lineup (and this includes Steep Slope Sliders and Winter Heat).

I have EA's NHL 97 and NHL 98 coming in the mail, so once they arrive I will be able to make some firm comparisons. The universal consensus is that Radical's games are better, and given EA's notoriously uneven track record on Saturn, that's almost certainly correct. But we shall see.

My iPhone screenshots, as always, really don't do the game justice. It doesn't look quite so rough in action.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


I wanted to share Electronic Gaming Monthly's savage beating of NHL All-Star Hockey 98 on Saturn, if only to hear another perspective from back in the day. While certainly harsh, I do appreciate the fact that a videogame magazine was courageous enough to actually hand out low review scores. Most prozines were very openly in the butt-kissing business, either to keep the advertisers happy or court possible future employers. Personally, I don't think it's quite as bad as they make it out to be, but the game does run more slowly than Powerplay 96, to say nothing of the holy NHL 94. Seriously, why even bother making new hockey games after 1993? Just update the rosters and add the season mode from NHL 95 (literally the only good thing from that edition) and leave it at that. Same goes for football (Super Tecmo Bowl) and basketball (NBA Jam TE).

P.S. Oh, by the way, EGM was waaay too harsh on Saturn Quake. Just look at those scores. Ouch!
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Sega Lord X dedicates his latest Youtube video to the latest series of Sega Saturn fan translations. Titles in this video include Valhollian, Grandia, Vandal Hearts, Bulk Slash, Sakura Wars, Lunar: Silver Star Story, Cotton 2, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Linkle Liver Story, Sega Ages: Mickey Mouse. If you're looking for the latest news on the translation scene, this video does an excellent job covering most of the major projects.

Now if we could just get Princess Crown and Baroque finally translated...Sigh...
 

ShinobiWan1

Member


Sega Lord X dedicates his latest Youtube video to the latest series of Sega Saturn fan translations. Titles in this video include Valhollian, Grandia, Vandal Hearts, Bulk Slash, Sakura Wars, Lunar: Silver Star Story, Cotton 2, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Linkle Liver Story, Sega Ages: Mickey Mouse. If you're looking for the latest news on the translation scene, this video does an excellent job covering most of the major projects.

Now if we could just get Princess Crown and Baroque finally translated...Sigh...
I usually get to the point in Princess Crown where I'm collecting fruit and getting in some small fights. But I'm completely lost lol
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus











Three words: Radiant Freaking Silvergun. That really ought to be the official title. Here is a lengthy article spread and review from the pages of Sega Saturn Magazine UK for the Treasure masterpiece and one of the most sensational arcade shoot-em-ups ever created. It's so fantastic that even the mighty Xbox Live Arcade release doesn't look that much better than the original (same goes for Guardian Heroes).

I am still gobsmacked that Treasure could conjure something so pure and perfect as this, and I could say the exact same thing about Guardian Heroes and Silhouette Mirage. The Saturn era was definitely their creative peak, and it's such a shame that their fortunes began to go into decline at the turn of the century. Really, what did they do after Ikaruga that was worth caring about? Astro Boy on Gameboy Advance, maybe?
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus





Here's a look (from the pages of Sega Saturn Magazine JP) at Konami's little-known soccer title for Sega Saturn, J. League Jikkyou Honoo no Striker from 1998. Personally, I love this game and appreciate its arcade-style gameplay that feels like a tribute to the 16-bit International Superstar Soccer series. Indeed, this might be the final hurrah as the groundbreaking Pro Evolution Soccer was set to arrive on Playstation just a few months later. With that, the entire genre would be dominated by just two players: EA and Konami.

I recently saw a copy on Ebay that's selling for around $10, which will be incredibly good luck for one of you. Hurry up and pick it up if you can. It's great. You'll love it.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Here is a terrific Youtube video comparison of all versions of NBA Jam TE, including arcade, Saturn, Playstation, Jaguar, 32X, Genesis, Super NES and MS-DOS. It covers all aspects of the classic sports game, comparing good and bad points about each version before making a final ranking. Skipping to the end, the Atari Jaguar version wins overall with Saturn finishing second.

One interesting point was made about my biggest complaint about Saturn Jam: the clock runs too slow. The analysis presented in this video shows the hard numbers. The arcade version of JAM plays a full game at 10:00, while the Saturn version drags out to a whopping 22:00. Ouch! Fortunately, you can adjust the clock speed in the main options menu, but even at the fastest setting, a full match on Saturn Jam runs 12:00. That's much more manageable (at an extra 30 seconds per quarter), but still longer than it needs to be. It's not ideal, but I'll take it.

Now what I'd really need is a Jaguar and a copy of Jam that won't cost me $300-$600. Ack!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Time for another comparison video, this time featuring Quake on Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. For obvious reasons, I'm going to say the Saturn version by Lobotomy Software is better, thanks to its more complex architecture, detailed textures, dynamic lighting effects and overarching sense of dread. But let's not discount Midway's efforts on N64, especially the smooth frame rate and super cool underwater effects. That said, I would much rather recommend that N64 fans check out Quake 2, which not only looks much closer to the source material but also includes four-player split-screen that gives Goldeneye and Turok a run for their money.

In any case for Saturn fans, Quake is a standout title and one of the console's very best games. It's the third part of the holy Lobotomy Trilogy! What more do you need to know?
 

Thaedolus

Gold Member
Anyone have a rundown on which CD drive > SD card reader replacements out there are the best from a reliability/reputable seller standpoint? I’m interested in checking out these fan translations, but running CD-Rs makes me worried my drive won’t last very long.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Anyone have a rundown on which CD drive > SD card reader replacements out there are the best from a reliability/reputable seller standpoint? I’m interested in checking out these fan translations, but running CD-Rs makes me worried my drive won’t last very long.


I hope somebody here can help out with CD drives and SD card players for Saturn. I can testify that I've had my current JP Saturn since 2011 and it plays CD-Rs perfectly. I haven't had any issues. Perhaps this is because it's a model 2? I previously had a model 1 whose disc drive finally gave out. At the time, I blamed the blank discs, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps my switching between blank discs and retail discs has an effect? Or perhaps the fears of CD-Rs killing the drive lasers are overblown? Or do the disc drives simply wear down over time? These consoles are over 25 years old now.

We need a full-scale scientific experiment to solve this mystery.
 

MikeMyers

Member





Here's a look (from the pages of Sega Saturn Magazine JP) at Konami's little-known soccer title for Sega Saturn, J. League Jikkyou Honoo no Striker from 1998. Personally, I love this game and appreciate its arcade-style gameplay that feels like a tribute to the 16-bit International Superstar Soccer series. Indeed, this might be the final hurrah as the groundbreaking Pro Evolution Soccer was set to arrive on Playstation just a few months later. With that, the entire genre would be dominated by just two players: EA and Konami.

I recently saw a copy on Ebay that's selling for around $10, which will be incredibly good luck for one of you. Hurry up and pick it up if you can. It's great. You'll love it.
One of my favourite Saturn games. The presentation isn't as good as Worldwide Soccer but it plays more fluid. Should have been a UK release.

Technically, if you count the Mario & Sonic Olympic games, Sega still has a foot in the football game world.

Ever play Euros 96?
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus



I wanted to share some gameplay footage from NHL All-Star Hockey 98 since I'm on a hockey kick this weekend. It's tough to find good Youtube videos as most as over a decade old and the resolution isn't very hot. But I think you'll get the idea of what to expect in real life.

Once again, I'll state my allegiance to Radical Entertainment over EA for the Saturn hockey titles, although it must be said that NHL 98 does play pretty well and has solid presentation (pity the frame rate is so choppy, there's no excuse for that). But there's no question that Powerplay 96/ASH 98 has the edge on smoothness, speed and responsiveness. I remind myself that Generation Five is a very awkward time for videogame hockey, and nobody could match the perfection of NHL 94 on Sega Genesis. As Mark Bussler of Classic Game Room fame would say, this is the "awkward teenage phase" of hockey games, between the simpler arcade-oriented 16-bit classics and the realistic simulations of later generations.

Oh, and since I'm here, I will once again declare my love and affection for EA's magnificent NHL Slapshop on Nintendo Wii, which really does feel like a modernized NHL 94. Its 3-on-3 pee wee league is the best thing since sliced bread and the thrill of knocking down players and hitting slap shots can't be beat.

All of which is to say that Gen-5 won't be your first choice for hockey games. But they do have their charms if you're in the right frame of mind.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




MikeMyers asked about UEFA Euro '96 England, and so I thought I would show some gameplay videos.

This series of soccer games by veteran coders Gremlin is a little confusing, so maybe someone out there can help us out. Euro 96 was released on Saturn as a PAL exclusive in May 1996. It is derived from Actua Soccer, which appeared on PC in PAL sometime in 1995 and North America in March 1996. The Sony Playstation version was released to EU in March 1996 and NA in October 1996. The Sega Saturn version was released in Japan on October 1996 and in NA on December 1996, under the generic title VR Soccer. Finally, in 1997, an updated version called Actua Soccer Club Edition was released to Playstation and Saturn as a PAL exclusive, featuring English Premiership teams instead of international teams.

Whew!

What confuses me is whether there is any real difference between these three different titles, or if they are are essentially licensed variations on the same original program. It has been said that there are gameplay improvements made to Euro '96, but I'm not aware of what those changes would be. We would need players out there with personal experience to help solve the mystery. For now, I'm going to assume that these are all just different names for the same core game, and it all comes down to which set of teams you want to play.

Based on the Youtube videos I've watched, the PSX and Saturn versions are completely identical. Maybe the ground shimmers a bit on Playstation while Saturn uses those ultra-smooth VDP2 planes, but that's probably it and you'd probably have to be a lunatic to notice. In other words, everybody wins.

I really would like to try this one, as I'm a big fan of Saturn soccer games. The system just has so many to choose from and they're nearly all good. I'll definitely have to grab a copy on my next buying spree.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Aaaand...since we brought up soccer games, I have to bring out Tecmo's J. League Go Go Goal once again. I finally bought a retail copy and it should arrive any day now, and once again I am just gobsmacked at how good this title looks. This baby is running at 60 frames-per-second, with 22 polygon players on the field. How did Tecmo pull this off? What sort of alchemy did they employ to push the Saturn this far?

Gameplay is purely oldskool arcade, meaning it's just basic pass-shoot-slide-run. It would have made for a great coin-op and I wonder if Tecmo ever considered that. It's clearly not on the same level as FIFA or ProEvo, but who cares? You're here because it's a Saturn game that looks like a Dreamcast game and you can't explain why.
 

MikeMyers

Member
So a bit of background on Euros 96 England, as someone who lived in England in 1996.

Euros is kind of like World Cup, just for the European team. England, the birthplace of football, got to host the 1996 tournament and thus is where the "It's Coming Home" meme came from. With a much anticipated event coming out, Sega UK essentially produced a console-exclusive Euros 96 game for the Saturn which was viewed as a killer app for the system.

So even though the gameplay is basically Acuta Soccer, you can see what the appeal was.

Technically, it was the first Euro game and it is still going today (albeit under Konami instead), so a rare example of a Sega Saturn birthed IP that is still alive today.

For YouTube videos, I highly recommend you check out this video of actual soccer fans playing the game. They have quite the response. Another fun one is the Italian trailer for the game. A rare PAL Saturn ad!

I'm not sure what my ranking for Saturn soccer games is. I'd probably go the Konami game, Worldwide Soccer, FIFA 98 and then Euros 96. I still haven't played the Tecmo game, but I really want to.

Bit of a random note, but Sega USA gets all this praise but I feel Sega UK doesn't get the praise they deserve. Heck, in-between all the fighting SoA and SoA had, Sega UK was able to put a 3D Sonic on the Sega Saturn!
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus






Arrived just today: the fishing simulation Murakoshi Seikai no Bakuchou Nihon Rettou, created by A-Wave, published by Victor and released in June 1998. I wrote about this last year and it was a genuine surprise for me. I had never heard of it, nor could I find anything about it aside from a couple Youtube videos and the required Sega Retro page. It's always great to discover another Sega Saturn hidden gem.

After playing for a short while this evening, I realized something that I should have known: this is actually the third title in the Sea Bass Fishing series. In fact, it looks and plays almost identical to those earlier games. The original Sea Bas Fishing was released in 1996 and was also exported to PAL territories (those guys got a lot of great exclusives). The sequel, Sea Bass Fishing 2, was released in Japan only but also appeared on the Titan arcade system under the name "Sea Bass Fishing" in 1998. Not to confuse anyone out there.

Anyway, this game translates roughly to "Seikai Murakoshi's Bomb Fishing Japanese Islands." Mr. Murakoshi was a professional fisher (now retired and in his mid-sixties) and was featured in all the A-Wave fishing games. This game allows you to visit 11 locations across Japan, catching many kinds of fish and using your earnings to purchase new equipment. There are 10 different kinds of lures and 25 kinds of fish, according to the manual. You can play at day or night and in varying weather conditions, all of which will impact your success in catching fish.

This game was also released on Sony Playstation in 1998, followed by a PSX-only sequel in 2000 that boasts a new 3D polygon engine for the underwater segments that is clearer and more detailed, but choppier and, weirdly enough, doesn't look quite as good. The fish battles in particular feel far less exciting and static.

In any case, if you have ever heard of Sea Bass Fishing on Saturn, now you know about the whole series of at least five entries, all of which are worth your time. This third Saturn game is quite excellent, looks wonderful, runs smoothly and offers a great mix of 2D and 3D visuals. It's quite a showpiece for the system and I'm honestly surprise this series was never brought to the US Saturn, which was not only starved for good sports games, but also good 3D games that could run with Sony and NIntendo. No, no, let's go play Ghen War and Congo instead.

Fortunately for collectors, import prices are still cheap, around $20, but be warned that this game is becoming pretty rare. I was lucky to score my retail copy, so don't dawdle or waste too much time. Even if you have a copy of Sea Bass Fishing 1 or 2, you should pick this one up. There is a slight improvement and evolution as the series progresses, so you're not just getting the same videogame three times over (cough, EA Sports, cough).

Update: Here's a gameplay video of Murakoshi Seiki no Bakuchou Nihon Rettou in action, running on a real Saturn with RGB Framemeister. Enjoy!


 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus





Now this is interesting and worth a quick followup post: it appears that A Wave, the creators of the Sea Bass Fishing series, previously released a fishing game called Fishing Koushien on Saturn in March 1996. Its presentation is purely 2D sprites but some very fluid animation on the fish and those wonderful water effects that Saturn does so perfectly. At first, it appears just like a throwback to the Genesis and Super NES, but later stages look much nicer and everything has a very bouncy, cheerful arcade flair. The split-screen competition on stage two is especially nice.

I'm definitely going to have to pick up this one. It appears that A Wave are the masters of the fishing sim. Who knew? Well, it's not a big genre, to be honest. But if you're a fan, Sega Saturn will have you spoiled rotten.


Update: Make that five hardboiled eggs. A direct sequel, Fishing Koushien 2, was released on Saturn and Playstation in 1997. It features 2D sprite graphics and anime-styled cutscenes, but there are some improvements to the visual presentation.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus





Oh, did you know that Konami made a Digimon game for Sega Saturn in September 1998? Surprise!

Have I mentioned lately how badly Sega of America dropped the ball during the Saturn era? Games like this will be used as cannon fodder for the diehards who insist that the console should have remained on the shelves at least until Dreamcast arrived. Sega could have had a piece of that Tamagotchi pie! That Monster Rancher cheesecake! And ever hear of a little thing called "Pokemon"? This thing is a license to print money! No, it was much smarter for Sega to just completely disappear for two years and leave the kids paranoid that Dreamcast would be dropped without warning at any moment. Which, of course, is exactly what happened.

Well, to be fair, I'm probably being a bit harsh. Sega of America (and especially Bernie Stolar) can't be blamed for the state of things in 1997-98. Saturn really was dead once Super Mario 64 arrived and absolutely nothing could change that. But whose fault was that, really? When you look at the Japanese Saturn videogames that could have been released in the States--Radiant Freaking Silvergun, Thunder Force 5, Grandia, Dragon Force 2, Wachenroeder, Dead or Alive, the Capcom 4MB fighters, all those killer shoot-em-ups--you really have to wonder what was wrong with the kids back then. They just wouldn't give Saturn a second glance. But we're talking about the same country where Vanilla Ice sold more albums than The Velvet Underground and Donald Trump ended up in the White House. These aren't the smartest tools in the shed.

Oh, and by the way, there was a Tamagotchi game released on Saturn in January 1998. Here's another free pile of money sitting on the table. Who wants it? Anyone? Bueller? Time to fire up the Alec Baldwin Speech again.


 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Next up on our list of Japanese Sega Saturn Videogames We Deserved To Play, here's Takara's 1997 RPG card battler Arcana Strikes. This little wonder has everything that diehard fans needed: an adventure game for a console starved for adventures, card battles that cash in on the Magic: The Gathering craze, loads of lighty-glowy effects that made the Sony Playstation so popular (and "couldn't be done" on Saturn). This baby clicks off all the boxes. So it's only natural that you're only hearing about it twenty-five years later.

But, of course, it's all in 2D. And it's Japanese-looking. And it's an RPG. And it's not dark and gritty. And there aren't any polygons in sight. And we need to get ready for Dreamcast, which means going completely off the grid for two full years and disappearing without a trace.

Ugh. I need a stiff drink.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Take everything I said about Arcana Strikes and multiply it times ten, and you'll have Culdcept. This is one of the absolute best Japanese Sega Saturn games that you've never played. Imagine a fusion of Monopoly, Magic: The Gathering and M.C. Escher and you'll get the idea. Add in some sumptuous 2D sprite graphics, loads of impressive visual effects (including those coveted lighty-glowy f/x that nobody thought Saturn could handle) and music by the great Yuzo Koshiro.

Culdcept has continued over the years with a devout cult following, as the series migrated to Playstation, Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and 3DS. Yet it all began on the Saturn and it's just as good there as anywhere.

Fortunately, this remains very affordable to buy, usually less than $20. There is a lot of Japanese text, but there are numerous websites that will translate everything for you and explain the rules of the game. I would highly recommend that the fan translation community take a look at this game. An English patch would be perfect right about now.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus







Here is an article on cult classic Linda Cube from Sega Saturn Magazine JP. This RPG-Adventure ranked 8th in the 2000 SSM readers' poll of the greatest Saturn games. A fan translation of the Playstation version is currently underway and it is expected that the Saturn version will quickly follow. Let's hope so!

I don't know very much about this one, aside from the basic story that involves a catastrophic asteroid on a collision course to Earth and an eight-year scramble to save as many animals as possible for transportation in a galactic ark for journey to a new world. There are multiple and varying storylines and it's all very gritty and serious. It first appeared on PC Engine and then moved to Playstation, minus some censorship, before arriving on Saturn fully intact. There also appears to be extensive animated cut-scenes and voice acting, which is always very nice. The visual design is improved over the PCE original while still retaining that classic 16-bit look.

Needless to say, there's no chance that Linda Cube would have been imported to the West back in the 1990s. But the prospect of an English translation could bring a new audience to this cult classic. I really want to see what all the fuss is about.

Update: The print ad describes Linda Cube as a "psycho thriller + hunting RPG," so imagine something like Monster Hunter but with a renegade '90s bent.

Here are a couple gameplay videos for you to check out:



 
Last edited:

MikeMyers

Member



Have I mentioned lately how badly Sega of America dropped the ball during the Saturn era? [/MEDIA]

Let's see.

Wasting their resources on the 32x, thus having no US-centric games available at the Saturn launch. Then forgetting sports games were a thing. I'd forgive them on Sonic Xtreme though, that one was on both SoA and SoJ infighting.

They did do a good job on NBA 2k and NFL 2k on the Dreamcast, but forgot to make a good soccer game for Europe.

That said, gotta check this game out. Loved Digimon as a kid.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus








Here's the final installment in Sega's masterful baseball franchise, Greatest Nine 98 Summer Action. This was released in August 1998 only in Japan. This is the direct sequel to World Series Baseball 98 and serves as a fascinating look at what a possible WSB 99 could have been, had Saturn remained on the market one more year.

First of all, can we just marvel at the cover illustration? This is one of the best Saturn covers ever made, and it really makes me hungry for a casual baseball videogame that takes place on the beach. Why hasn't anybody done this?

So what is different about this final entry in the franchise? Surprisingly, the graphics engine has been updated. As I once noted in a previous post, WSB 98 uses several different graphics engines in its game. The main batter/pitcher screen uses a 2D illustrated backdrop and scaled polygon players in the background to simulate depth, while the main "inside the stadium" view during play uses players with smaller poly counts. It's one of those things you likely never noticed nor cared to look, as everything runs so seamlessly. I am reminded that this same design decision was made with Saturn Virtua Fighter 3, where the replays would use larger poly models that more closely match the arcade, but, as always, such talk is legend and gossip.

Anyway, Summer Action uses a single graphics engine for everything, and this means a couple things. One, the player models have been beefed up, not only in the wider in-play view, but also the batter/pitcher view. Second, this allows for a number of new camera angles as you swing the bat. Sometimes there is an overhead closeup of home plate, which makes absolutely no sense, but much of the time you will have an interesting angled view of the batter and the stadium. It all looks so good and stylish and I'm quite impressed. Finally, the crowds in the stands show some color shifting which is meant to simulate movement, I guess. It's still a mass of confetti pixels like every sports videogame made to that point, so it's rather interesting.

The player animations are completely identical to WSB 98, and I have yet to find any new animations. The batter quadrant system is still in place and also unchanged, but since it's already perfect, it's good for Sega to leave well enough alone. The gameplay is also completely identical, meaning that the ball physics and scale of the stadiums are just right, players run, swing and throw just as before and the auto/manual fielding is still present (I'm terrible at manual fielding in baseball games, so that's perfect for me).

Basically, you're playing Summer Action for the Japanese teams, and you have 12 teams from two divisions, plus four original teams including a Nights team, which is a nice little touch. All of the authentic arenas are present and they look terrific (the Deep Fear billboard at the Tokyo Dome is nice), slightly more convincing in size and scale than the US stadiums in WSB 98 (I really wish we could have had a WSB 99 with this updated engine, to say nothing of bringing the franchise to Dreamcast). The Japanese announcers do a very good job, and I was especially impressed by the polite female voice who works the stadium's PA system.

Overall, this is a superb continuation of what I consider the greatest baseball videogame ever made. True to its title, it feels more like a half-sequel, but what more does one expect at the end of a console's lifespan? Heck, all I've ever wanted from EA after NHL 94 was updated graphics and roster updates (and the season mode from NHL 95). Once you've reached perfection, resisting the desire to tinker away for its own sake becomes the greatest challenge. Obviously, you should have WSB 98 for your Saturn, but if you want to play one of the Japanese titles in the series, make it this one.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




I recently went on a major Saturn software bender over the past couple weeks, and all but four have now arrived. A lot of these were ones that I had on backup, and some were all-new additions to my library. Most of these were sitting in my Ebay checkout cart for some time, and since I'm about to undergo a rather severe financial upheaval this year, I decided I should take one last splurge.

As you can see, I do choose "disc only" for US Saturn games, as these are often much cheaper than a "complete-in-box" package. I've never been a fan of the long-box designs, which were initially chosen by Sega of America to clear out their unsold Sega CD inventory and are far too bulky and fragile for their own good. Are those stupid little sponges still available, or did they all rot away? Ugh, what a lousy idea, especially when the more stylish and attractive CD jewel cases were being sold in Japan.

I am presently awaiting only three more games. A fourth, Olympic Soccer, was cancelled by its Japanese seller due to long shipping times due to COVID restrictions. Worldwide Soccer 98 (JP), J. League Go Go Goal (JP) and NHL 97 (US) are still in transit.

So here's a quick recap of everything I purchased, in order as shown in the photos:


Murakoshi Seikai no Bakuchou Nihon Rettou -- Excellent fishing sim from A Wave. Did not realize until now that it's the sequel to the two Sea Bass Fishing titles, but there are enough changes to not feel like a cynical retread (cough, every FIFA on a Nintendo console), and it gives the Dreamcast fishing games a run for their money.

Culdcept -- Brilliant and wonderfully stylish card battle board game, definitely a cult classic. It ranked 9th in the 2000 Sega Saturn Magazine JP readers' poll and the series continues to enjoy cult status. I grabbed the Satakore (Saturn Collection) version because it looked nicer.

Greatest Nine 98 Summer Action -- I just wrote about this in post 1,243, so go ahead and read that if you haven't. This is a slightly upgraded version of World Series Baseball 98 with Japanese teams and plays just as perfectly as ever. And the cover design is pure pop art bliss.

Winter Heat -- Fantastic arcade Olympics game and one of my Saturn favorites. I do enjoy it better than Decathlete, but that's because I prefer the Winter over the Summer Games. This JP edition features a bonus character, that guy with the crazy 1970s afro, so that's why I chose this over the US version. Well, that and because the US disc is far more expensive.

Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story II & III -- The second and third episodes in Bandai's brilliant trilogy of fast-paced mech shooters. Definitely among the best 3D showpieces for Saturn and it still remains very obscure among Western fans. Thankfully, prices are very affordable as a result. You really need to grab these before the whole set hits the $100 mark, because you know that's coming.

Mass Destruction -- Drive a tank and smash everything in sight in glorious 480/60 high resolution. I love this one to pieces. Unfortuntately, my disc is scratched and will not play past the second movie clip, so I'll have to return it for a refund unless I can find a way to repair the disc.

NHL 98 -- I was a little surprised by this one. The frame rate is terribly choppy, like it's being run through a frame-skip mode, but the gameplay is very solid and the presentation is very good. Definitely rough around the edges but it has its charms. The Saturn version was programmed by MBL Research, which was a software studio founded by...wait for it...Mark Lesser! The mastermind behind NHL 94 on Sega Genesis! Okay, I'm keeping this disc just for that fact.

Steep Slope Sliders -- I already have the JP disc and wanted to see if there were any differences between the two. There are several examples of Saturn games being more polished and less glitchy from one region to the next (Daytona USA, Daytona CE, Tomb Raider, Magic Carpet). The US edition does change the title screen and remove one of the hidden characters, but I've yet to see any difference in graphics or frame rate. I'll have to play a little more if Mattie "Shark" allows me enough time.

Tomb Raider -- This 3D adventure classic is creeping up in price, so I had to grab it now before it became too expensive. The US and JP editions are revised and improved over the infamous PAL version, which was released in an unfinished beta state. This version of Tomb Raider never got much love over its PSX and PC cousins, but I say it's still great and has its unique charms. It certainly looks a lot moodier with sharper contrast and deeper shadows.

All-Star 97 Featuring Frank Thomas -- Acclaim's excellent baseball franchise that is best known on Nintendo 64 looks and plays great. Very solid presentation, all the stadiums, players and stats you could want, the play-by-play is good. Baseball is a sport that was very successful on Saturn and this is one of the very best. Obviously not on the same plane as WSB 98, but that's okay.

Myst -- The iconic computer adventure became the killer app for CD-ROM before migrating to Gen-5 consoles. I loved this one to pieces and consider it a favorite. Definitely one of those "notepad" games where you need to write down 30 pages of notes, but once you crack its internal logic, everything makes sense and you'll become lost in its surreal worlds. Oh, and be sure to read the books if you can find them.

Fighters Megamix -- Obviously, Saturn fans need no introduction. I already have the JP disc and I really just wanted this for the English text on the training mode. I also wanted to see if there was less slowdown and glitching in this version. But I'm really just too lazy to read the katakana sometimes. Fun Fact: both US and JP editions use the same save file, so you don't have to unlock everything and can head straight to the Daytona car. Yay!
 

ShinobiWan1

Member











Three words: Radiant Freaking Silvergun. That really ought to be the official title. Here is a lengthy article spread and review from the pages of Sega Saturn Magazine UK for the Treasure masterpiece and one of the most sensational arcade shoot-em-ups ever created. It's so fantastic that even the mighty Xbox Live Arcade release doesn't look that much better than the original (same goes for Guardian Heroes).

I am still gobsmacked that Treasure could conjure something so pure and perfect as this, and I could say the exact same thing about Guardian Heroes and Silhouette Mirage. The Saturn era was definitely their creative peak, and it's such a shame that their fortunes began to go into decline at the turn of the century. Really, what did they do after Ikaruga that was worth caring about? Astro Boy on Gameboy Advance, maybe?

I have this issue! Such a great magazine, and game!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus






There are videogames, and there are videogames. Street Fighter Zero 3 on Sega Saturn: what more is there to say?

I do wish this game would receive a fan translation. I don't think it gets enough love from fans, most likely because of the monstrously expensive price retail copies go for these days (well over $300), but having English text for the world tour mode would certainly help turn that around.

Personally, this is my all-time favorite Street Fighter, if only because of its massive character roster of every SF character up to that point, although the diehard fans have gravitated to Alpha/Zero 2 in recent years. It's a bit like naming your favorite Beatles album. They're all perfect. Only this one is more perfect than the others, and it absolutely smokes its PSX and Dreamcast cousins. This is probably a Saturn Top Ten game for me, although Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter captures much of my attention as well.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Oh, by the way, did you know that the original Sid Meier's Civilization was released to Sega Saturn in Japan? Can we PLEASE get somebody out there to translate this into English? And can someone kindly tell me why it wasn't released here? Hello?!

You can pick up the Japanese disc on Ebay for $30-$40. All the text is in Japanese but it uses an icon menu system, so if you're familiar with the game on PC, you'll probably be able to figure it all out.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Here is a first look at the new Wachenroeder English translation. The project is still early so don't look to this as anything more than a work-in-progress. I'm sure the final patch will be perfect as always. If you're a fan of Strategy-RPGs like Shining Force, you're absolutely going to love this one. Another Saturn original is finally making its way to our shores! Yay!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Speaking of Sega Saturn English translations, Success' classic 2D cute-em-up Cotton 2 was given a full translation last year and it's just wonderful. Obviously, there isn't a lot of text to read and you don't really "need" that in an arcade shooter, but it's the thought that counts and I'm just happy to see more Japanese exclusives receive more attention in the West.

C'mon, it's absolutely criminal that Darius Gaiden and Galactic Attack were the only 2D arcade shooters to be released on the US Saturn, while Japan was literally drowning in an endless deluge of modern classics. But 2D was massively unpopular in the mid-nineties and the kids wouldn't touch anything unless it involved 3D polygons and lots of lighty-glowy effects. As always, there's no accounting for taste.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Mass Destruction is one of my all-time favorite Sega Saturn games, a glorious arcade shoot-em-up where you roll tanks over enemy terrain and smash literally everything in sight. The entire screen is filled with explosions, fireballs, shooting flames and bits of debris falling everywhere, and I love it.

This Youtube video from GamingTheSystems compares the Saturn and Playstation versions of the game. Structurally, the two are identical, but the Saturn has an edge due to its 480/60 high resolution and use of VDP2 planes for the ground, making the action more vivid and fluid, more arcade-like. This is a perfect example of the fusion of 2D and 3D that exemplified Generation Five.

One especially nice touch: note how the massive flamethrower is reflected over water, and how bits of debris splash as they hit the ground. It's also quite fun to run over soldiers, which was my favorite thing about SNK's Iron Tank on the NES. I don't know what else you could add to this game to improve it. Maybe a multiplayer deathmatch option? Sure, why not? Make it an updated version of Atari's Combat and Mattel's Armor Ambush. I miss tank videogames. They really ought to come back.
 
Top Bottom