• 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

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Now here is a Sega Saturn videogame that hardly anybody ever mentions, even the stubborn diehards like me: Robotica. This first-person shooter was created by Micronet in Japan (where it was published under the name Deadalus) and published by Acclaim in the US. It was met with decidedly mixed reviews upon its 1995 release and has all but disappeared since. This is understandable, as the genre was dominated by the likes of Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Goldeneye, Turok and our dearly beloved Powerslave.

I really like the idea put forth that Robotica is really a Roguelike RPG, citing elements like randomly generated level designs, hidden pathways and moody atmosphere. In that sense, any direct comparisons to Doom are unfair, where a better comparison would be Baroque. Indeed, Robotica really could benefit from a little bit of Baroque's creepy, unsettling nature.

My own experience with this game comes from renting it back in '95 and playing it for a solid week. I enjoyed its visual style, especially the CG cutscenes, but found the levels extremely repetitive, as though you were playing through randomized variations on the same stage over and over and over. To its credit, the metallic atmosphere is impressive and everything looks very nice. We even get some transparencies when enemy robots explode, and the choice of atmospheric sound effects over loud music is a very nice choice. By 1995 standards, this isn't too bad. It's not anywhere near the top of the genre, but it surely could be worse (cough, ahem, Ghen War). In other words, Robotica is perfectly average.

Kudos, as always, to SaturnDave making this great stream video. I hope he'll make more of these, which feel like enhanced podcasts and are highly entertaining. You've got me hooked on a 90-minute video of Robotica and made it all fun and entertaining. How was that possible?
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




Yo! Videogames dedicates a full three videos to playing Fighters Megamix, and what else is there to say? It's one of the all-time great fighting games played by a group of friends crashed together in the living room, laughing their heads off and having the time of their lives. You can't ask for more than this.

Whenever I think of my all-time favorite Saturn games, Virtua Fighter 2 has always topped the list. It's a glorious fighting game and a technical milestone that still looks amazing to this day. But Megamix just might be the better game. It takes itself seriously with the Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers cast, then drops a dozen joke characters into the mix, each one more ridiculous than the last. A bomb-throwing duck? A balloon panda bear? A jumping bean in mariachi outfit? A superhero whose batteries burn out? A cop who can just pull out a pistol and shoot you?

And then you discover the Daytona USA race car.

And then you discover Mania Mode.

And then all hell breaks loose.

It's absolutely scandalous that Sega hasn't revived this franchise. This deserves to become their answer to Smash Brothers. And it's still probably the best reason to own a Sega Saturn in 2022.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus



It's Dead or Alive on Sega Saturn. It's sensational. It's just about the best fighting game you've ever played, easily rivals VF2 and Megamix for the Saturn 3D fighting crown, and you can still grab retail copies for little money, even the supremely cool special release that includes an art book and slipcase cover.

Personally, I find myself reaching for Anarchy in the Nippon more often, but there's no doubt in my mind that Tecmo's high polish and panache is nearly untouchable.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus






Here are some new screenshots of Daytona USA Circuit Edition. This is the complete JP edition which arrived a few months after the infamously rushed and incomplete North American and PAL releases.

I've always struggled with this one, mostly due to the vehicle handling which never felt fully right. Tonight, however, the stars aligned and everything came into place. Here's what I did: 1) unlock the original Daytona car, 2) use the digital joypad, 3) select the fastest handling from the options menu. Now, finally, it plays like real Daytona, just like the original Saturn version that I love and adore. Honestly, I have no idea why this car wasn't playable right out of the gate. The other cars are nice, but let's be honest here. We want the original hornet.

It's fascinating to see how this software team handled Daytona, having built it from scratch via the Sega Rally engine. The frame rate is a silky smooth 30fps, the draw distance is much better (still present, but pushed back to respectable Gen-5 levels), there are some highly impressive lighting variations that you can select during the loading screens. The best gameplay option, in my view, has to be the link-up mode, where you connect two Saturns and two TVs for head-to-head racing, alongside 10 computer cars. It's about as close to the arcade experience as was humanly possible in 1997, and it's a real shame that Sega fans never knew this existed.

As Gen-5 is all about compromise, note what had to be taken away in order to achieve these great features. Notice how the cars are slightly smaller. They're still bouncy on the tires but not quite as much, and despite looking much more detailed, they resemble normal stock cars more than those goofy arcade Daytona designs. Notice also how the computer AI has been significantly toned down. Gone are the suicidal death cars that made the original Saturn Daytona so memorable. Forget about ever seeing massive 20-car crashes anytime soon. There are still bumping and jostling between you and your computer rivals, but it's not quite the same challenge. For 80-lap endurance racing, I'll stick with the '95 edition, thank you very much.

I still hate the Eric Martin music. I never liked Mr. Big, one of those latter L.A. "rock dude" bands that were summarily fired by Saint Cobain. The original songs are a million times better. I'm still not entirely sold on the analog steering, at least when using the 3D controller. I highly suspect this Daytona CE is built for the racing wheel, and I really need to get one of those. I still think the two new tracks are passable at best, but nothing can ever touch the original three courses, which might be the three greatest racetracks in all of videogames.

Definitely a Saturn favorite of mine right now. This is going near the top of my current Top 20 list.
 

Kazza

Member
I've always struggled with this one, mostly due to the vehicle handling which never felt fully right. Tonight, however, the stars aligned and everything came into place. Here's what I did: 1) unlock the original Daytona car, 2) use the digital joypad, 3) select the fastest handling from the options menu. Now, finally, it plays like real Daytona, just like the original Saturn version that I love and adore. Honestly, I have no idea why this car wasn't playable right out of the gate. The other cars are nice, but let's be honest here. We want the original hornet.

Thanks, I'll give that a try. Apparently there is also a way to make the Dreamcast game handle well too. I don't know why Sega kept having so much trouble with the Daytona controls!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


I found a very nice gameplay video of Jaleco's GT24 for Sega Saturn, which was released in Japan on May 1998. This arcade racing game used Sega's Model 2 board, so hopes would be very high for a solid Saturn conversion. However, it received a very cool reception from critics. Sega Saturn Magazine JP rated the title a 6-7-4, and Sega Saturn Magazine UK was even more harsh, handing down a bitter

I do have a backup copy of this game, but I haven't really played it more than a minute just to see that the disc worked. The visuals are very good, but there is an excessive amount of background popup and polygon distortion along the ground. It doesn't look nearly as rough as, say, Touring Car Championship, but it's very noticable and for a 1998 Saturn title, this feels a bit sloppy.

This gameplay video really surprised me. I honestly hadn't expected GT24 to look half as good as this. It's clearly not going to compete with the likes of Sega Rally, Daytona CE or Wipeout XL, to say nothing of the towering genius that is Gran Turismo, but I've seen worse. Maybe I'm just in a generous mood today.

GT24 features three courses which can be played in either direction, as well as an accelerated 24-hour marathon that allows you a choice of pit crews. Races Shift from daytime to sunset to evening quickly, a nice little touch of variety.

I can't say whether this videogame is any good or not. I still haven't played it, and the gameplay could be deeply flawed for any number of reasons. But this video at least looks compelling, boasting a very strong sense of speed, and any Saturn fan with Ridge Racer envy (meaning: nearly all of you) will be happy to be zipping along those tunnels. Definitely worth a look if nothing else.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


I can't recall if I've ever shared this video, so now's the perfect time. Saturnology tackles the highly controversial Sega Touring Car Championship, making a passionate case for the defense. As we all now understand, the key to driving these rockets-on-wheels is to use manual transmission with analog controls. The racing wheel is considered the definitive solution, although the 3D controller is also recommended here. Interestingly, a few stubborn (and frankly, sadistic) fans in the comments section stand by the automatic transmission.

I tell myself to give Touring Car another chance and see if I could finally make it work. It has an almost terrifying sense of speed, but it always felt like I could barely control my vehicle. The polygon warping and lousy frame rate only just piles on the misery. But if Sega Saturn teaches us anything, it's the virtues of patience and stubbornness.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Finally for tonight, here is an excellent racing game that all Saturn fans will love: FunCom's Impact Racing. The gameplay fuses driving with combat in the style of arcade classics Spy Hunter and Roadblasters. The action is relentless and always fierce, and the need to reach your kill quota adds an extra layer of tension. Winning weapon upgrades during challenge stages is a must for survival. How I love this genre--we need more combat racing games!

As an added bonus, programmer Steinar Midtskogen left the following comments for this video at Youtube. If I can coax more insights from him, I'll share them here:


Thanks for uploading. I spent a few months in Dublin figuring out the Saturn hardware and writing the 3D engine for this game. I left the industry and I don't believe I've seen the final result before. I am to be blamed for the glitches in the graphics, but considering how soon I got something working from scratch after receiving a new, totally unknown devkit, it looks better than I feared. My brain was younger and faster back then.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Your periodic reminder that NBA Action 98 is absolutely smashing and a stone-cold Sega Saturn classic. It's Visual Concepts--the original 2K basketball. What more do you need to know? Overall, it's arguably the console's best sports title after World Series Baseball 98 (and, by extension, Greatest Nine 98: Summer Action) and Worldwide Soccer 98.

One of Bernie Stolar's unsung successes as head of Sega America was rebuilding the Sega Sports brand, which was absolutely wrecked under Tom Kalinske's tenure (losing Blue Sky Software was catastrophic, in my view). By the end of the Saturn era, all the pieces were coming into place, nearly every sport was fairly represented, waiting only for the arrival of NFL 2K on Dreamast to bring us to the promised land. Ugh, I'm still angry at EA for killing that franchise. Thankfully, NBA 2K is still alive and well and doing better than ever.

If you're a fan of 2K basketball, you owe it to yourself to play the Saturn original and see where it all began.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Courier Crisis was slagged heavily by videogame critics back in 1997, but in retrospect, this feels like an early take on Crazy Taxi or Grand Theft Auto 3, and it holds up surprisingly well.

This game was ranked No.88 in the 2000 Sega Saturn Magazine JP readers poll, a highly impressive feat. As always, this leaves me wondering what a Saturn version of Tony Hawk Pro Skater or Driver would look like.

Oh, and the Saturn version stomps all over its
PlayStation cousin, which is hobbled by polygon warping and a shorter draw distance.
But, as any Sega fan will tell you, such graphical glitches don’t count when they’re on Sony. Whoops!
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


I finally found my backup copy of Jaleco's GT24 for Sega Saturn and decided to give it a spin. Short, Short Version: Not Bad. Could be a lot better but could also be a lot worse.

This May 1998 racing title is very loosely adapted from an arcade title called Super GT24. I've only seen it on Youtube videos, but it does appear to look and play quite differently from the home version, with a far greater emphasis on sloppy powerslides and a smoothly polished graphics engine. On Saturn, the gameplay is much closer to the quasi-sim style that was popular at the time, meaning that you had to use proper braking in turns and avoid hitting other cars if you want any chance of getting anywhere. This is a highly challenging racer, one where you really have to fight to move yourself away from the back of the pack.

Three courses are available, in normal and reverse mode, and they're pretty good. They feature the usual assortment of twists and turns to keep you busy. I do wish there were more courses, but as we're talking about a late Saturn game, we should probably feel grateful that Jaleco gave us anything. Indeed, they probably would have done better to bring this one to Dreamcast instead, a console famous for its many excellent racers.

I find the gameplay to be very good. There is a good sense of speed (it does appear to move faster when using the front-bumper view, but I may be mistaken on this), the turns come fast and furious, and the cars handle the way I expect them to. Believe me, I played through several Nintendo 64 driving games for a book project last year (the whole thing fell apart after six months, long story*), and the vehicle handling on nearly every one of them was dreadful and nearly unplayable. I'm willing to tolerate almost anything if I can just drive the damned cars without sliding or wiping out everywhere. In this regard, GT24 delivers...mostly.

One major gameplay gripe are the spinouts, which occur if you take a steep turn too quickly. You car spins a 180 and then almost stops dead. Thanks to the aggressive computer drivers, you lose so much time that a single incident costs you the entire race. Yes, I am aware that the game is teaching me to hit those turns at the proper speed and it's something I can learn to overcome, but it's still deeply annoying and the only major mark against what is otherwise a highly drivable engine. The analog steering is especially nice and I recommend using the 3D controller or racing wheel over the digital d-pad.

Visually, GT24 is very rough: flat colors, notable background popup, polygon clipping on the road. I'm reminded of Touring Car Championship, and although Jaleco's effort isn't quite as bad, it's still sloppy and a clear step below Saturn's best racers. The frame rate appears to be hovering somewhere in the 20s, which is certainly passable but should be much better, especially at this late date. Seriously, why didn't every software developer simply license the Sega Rally engine and make life easier for themselves?

On the plus side, the car models look pretty good, especially in the vehicle selection screen, with subtle gouraud shading and lighting. There is also a very nice transition from day to night during races, with appropriate chances in color palettes. It's a very nice touch.

The whole experience is sloppy and uneven, yet also very playable and, honestly, better than what I was expecting. GT24 has a reputation of being a poor Saturn driving game, and I find that isn't really the case. There are far worse racers available on this system: Hi Octane, Cyber Speedway, Hang On GP, Destruction Derby, Hardcore 4x4. Ugh, let's not even think about those.

Seriously, Sony Playstation got Gran Turismo in 1998. This was the best Saturn could offer that year? Really?

Overall, as I wrote at the start, could be better, could be worse. Fix the graphical hiccups, add a few more courses, add in a two-player mode, and you've got something that's very good. Oh, well, too bad Jaleco peaked during the NES era.

Ebay prices for GT24 are pretty expensive, starting at $90 and quickly climbing into the hundreds. This makes downloading a backup copy almost mandatory until the retro gaming market regains its senses.


(*Note: The N64 racing games I played for the abortive writing project: Multi Racing Championship, Roadsters, V-Rally 99 and World Driver Championship. The first three were hideous train wrecks. The latter wasn't terrible, best enjoyed by Nintendo kids desperate for their own Gran Turismo and willing to tolerate sloppy seconds.)
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




There's no question that when it comes to soccer, Sega's Worldwide Soccer series holds the crown. WWS 97 was a sensational discovery when it was new, and time has taken away none of its charms. WWS 98 made only a few changes to the formula, keeping the solid gameplay intact. And World Cup 98 appeared as a final swan song to the beloved franchise at the close of the Saturn era. The only real debate among Segaphiles is which installment in the series they prefer. You can't go wrong with any of 'em.

The next question for soccer fans: is there anyone else who can dethrone Worldwide Soccer on the system? FIFA 98 comes close, thanks to the brilliant player animations, endless gameplay options (including an excellent indoor soccer mode) and nearly every team on the planet. But the frame rate is lousy and there's that half-second lag when pressing buttons (FIFA 95 on Genesis was the same way). Konami's Honoo no Striker has solid visuals and presentation, but the player animations are a tad slow and sliding tackles are useless. World League Soccer 98 has the wonderful visual design and wealth of gameplay options, but its frame rate also chugs at times and the computer teams are just brutally hard. Go Go Goal looks absolutely spectacular with its polygon players and 60fps speed (it may be Saturn's ultimate show-off videogame), but it's a simple arcade affair and the computer is even more vicious than in WLS 98.

The third party soccer titles are all solid, but let's be honest, none of them can seriously challenge Sega on Saturn. I'm very curious to hear what everybody else thinks. Is there a beloved favorite soccer game for this platform? Any underdogs that we should know about?
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
DT MEDIA DT MEDIA

What's the easiest way to play the games you're listing?


Your options for playing Sega Saturn would be: 1) collect retail discs, 2) download and burn to CD-R backup discs, 3) download and save to SD card. Obviously, the first option is the easiest, since all you have to do is pop in a disc to play. The second option requires the use of a Pseudo Saturn cartridge, a mod chip installation or the old "disc swap" trick. Be advised that excessive disc swapping may ruin your disc drive. I owned a model one Saturn that burned out this way, but my current model two has been in use for over a decade without issues. The third option requires major surgery to your Saturn, replacing the disc drive with an SD card reader. However, some people are currently working on a new solution that won't require any modding, but allow you to connect an SD player externally. I'm greatly looking forward to this.

Thinking long term, your best option is to collect the retail discs. They will last the longest. CD-R discs will last roughly ten years before breaking down (sometimes far less, depending on the discs used), and the lifespan for SD cards is about the same. I suppose we would also need computer hard drive backups for all the software titles, and this is probably going to become the definitive solution for preservation for future generations. But hard drives break down, computers become obsolete, formats become abandoned and lost.

Anyway, that's all serious long term planning. For the here and now, I'd recommend a combination of retail discs (just don't spend a fortune) and backups. And while prices have skyrocketed in recent years, there are still many bargains to be found on Ebay and similar markets.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Tomb Raider: Unfinished Business is a 1998 expansion pack released on PC. It features four new levels for the original game, two easier stages for beginners and two harder stages for the experts. While it was never commercially released to home consoles, the homebrew community ported the title to Sony Playstation some years ago, and now a talented programmer is bringing it to Sega Saturn.

This port uses the existing Tomb Raider engine from the NTSC release, meaning that there won't be any new optimizations or improvements to the visuals. We won't be seeing any boosts to the frame rates, for example. That said, what's being shown here is remarkable and looks terrific. Tomb Raider remains a highly underrated videogame for Saturn and Unfinished Business offers another chance to appreciate this classic.

The programmer, who goes by the name "JR Tomb Raider," left the following message with this gameplay video, which was posted to YouTube on July 1:

Here's some gameplay footage of Temple of the Cat running on the TR1 Sega Saturn engine. This is from an old test build, which also happens to be the latest. I won't be returning to this project for another while, so I felt it was worth showing the current state of this level to fill the void a bit. You might notice how certain textures are quite blurry (regardless of camera distance). The goal is that (most of) these textures will be full-sized when I've optimized enough data i.e. allowed enough memory. I do think there's a lot of potential to make Unfinished Business on Saturn a worthwhile experience. Once again, to be continued.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner is a 1995 anime-cyberpunk RPG that was released on Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation. It remained exclusive to Japan, although the series has found its way Westward in recent years and now commands a cult following on our shores (this game's direct sequel, Soul Hackers, was released on Nintendo 3DS). A new fan translation of the PSX version is nearing completion and should be available very soon. The people behind this project have also promised to follow up with a Saturn translation, which is very welcome news.

On related news, Baroque for Playstation has now been translated into English and the software patch is available for download. Fans of this excellent Roguelike RPG should be very happy. I don't know what this means for the ongoing Saturn translation, if anything, but it's good news nonetheless. The Saturn project is currently tackling a major problem of squeezing English text into smaller window space that was intended for Japanese characters. It doesn't appear to have an easy solution, beyond truncating or simplifying many of the words and dialog.

Finally, the team behind the outstanding Bulk Slash English translation have announced that they are working on a new Saturn project, but they have not yet announced the title. I wonder what it could be? Can't wait to find out!

(P.S. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Princess Crown still hasn't gone anywhere. The two people behind that translation project have, once again, gone completely silent with no work on any progress or updates. They've been "working" on this for over a decade now and have nothing to show for it. They did, however, find the time to publicly complain when I called them out some weeks ago.)
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


The Bulk Slash translation team have announced their newest Sega Saturn project: Stellar Assault SS, released in February 1998 by developer SIMS. This first-person and third-person spaceship shooter is an enhanced port of the similarly titled game that was released to 32X in 1995. It is highly regarded as among Saturn's very best games, especially by fans of outer space adventures like Wing Commander, Starfox and even the classic Atari Star Wars arcade.

This in-depth review shows us all the game's stages and missions and really shows off everything that makes this a true Saturn classic. It supports analog control and full 360-degree movement, and missions can become quite hectic and exciting. The game is also very story-driven with extensive dialog among your copilots. Expect extensive English dubbing in the upcoming translation release (the call has already gone out for auditions on Twitter).

I can't wait to see this Saturn hidden gem receive its due attention, and I'm very happy to see one of my favorite translation teams working on bringing more classic videogames to our shores. This is going to be something special.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus



Here's a screenshot I captured of Last Bronx a few days ago that I wanted to share. Consider it your friendly reminder to appreciate one of Saturn's most magnificent fighting games, and especially marvel at the skillful use of VDP2 planes and objects to simulate a fully three-dimensional space in the subway, garage and penthouse suite stages. It's really quite amazing to see in action, and combined with the high resolution 480/60 visuals, make this one of the absolute best-looking titles for the system.

On my personal rankings of 3D Saturn fighting games, I'd probably place Last Bronx behind Fighters Megamix, Virtua Fighter 2 and Dead or Alive, although my love of Anarchy in the Nippon threatens to steal that fourth slot. This console is incredibly spoiled for this genre, and for that we are eternally thankful.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus




Oh, now I've done it. I've mentioned Anarchy in the Nippon, one of my all-time favorite Saturn fighting games, and so I'll have to share a good gameplay video. Thankfully, there are a few more recent videos to choose from, so I won't have to settle for the ancient and low-res videos from a dozen years ago.

This game is essentially a fan tribute to the Virtua Fighter series as designed by four of the top "Iron Man" professional tournament players, the leader of whom just happens to be a videogame designer. Their extensive knowledge of the Virtua Fighter mechanics plus their own twists on the formula (no ring-outs, no jumping, a dislike of giant post-knockdown stomps, a desire to punish those who run away to kill the clock), all set to some very inspired and slightly irreverent character designs (the VF Tetsujin are available as bonus characters). And everything is rendered in Saturn's glorious 480/60 which never fails to impress.

I bought a copy of the official guide book, which contains extensive photos and move lists for all the characters. I really should take some photos and share them with you one of these days.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus





Here are some scans from an early issue of Sega Saturn Magazine JP, featuring an ad for Virtua Fighter and reviews for the game as well as its updated edition, Virtua Fighter Remix. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Sega's seminal 3D fighter gets near-perfect marks in its review. What's interesting is how Remix scores lower. Why was this so? Did the Japanese reviews simply prefer the flat-shaded look of the arcade to the more "modern" texture mapping? In the West, of course, the two sets of review scores would be completely reversed, as critics would be obsessed with the original VF's polygon glitching above anything else. I suspect Japan just never cared as much about such things. Or perhaps the novelty of having the cutting-edge Virtua Fighter brought home was too exciting to pass up?

Even today, the original VF is highly respected among Saturn fans. It certainly speaks to the huge popularity Sega's arcade game generated. If only the series received the same level of affection on our shores.
 

Naked Lunch

Member
Thinking long term, your best option is to collect the retail discs. They will last the longest. CD-R discs will last roughly ten years before breaking down (sometimes far less, depending on the discs used), and the lifespan for SD cards is about the same. I suppose we would also need computer hard drive backups for all the software titles, and this is probably going to become the definitive solution for preservation for future generations. But hard drives break down, computers become obsolete, formats become abandoned and lost.

Anyway, that's all serious long term planning. For the here and now, I'd recommend a combination of retail discs (just don't spend a fortune) and backups. And while prices have skyrocketed in recent years, there are still many bargains to be found on Ebay and similar markets.
Great post and recommendations.
Actually great curating of the entire thread. Just awesome stuff.

Just a couple of bits of info to add and stuff ive experienced:
I slightly disagree with your assessment of 'long term to collect retail discs'. It seems since we've reached a certain point - the CD lasers of these old consoles will fail at some point. Interestingly my Saturn is still going but my Gamecube laser died with no way of fixing it. I take immaculate care of my consoles too.

Cart reading consoles are one thing (and will probably last seemingly forever) - but complex and precise CD laser consoles will have a much more limited lifespan. The optical disc drive emulators (ODE) - SD card solutions seem the safest bet for all CD laser consoles.

For Dreamcast - im still using burned CDR games from 1999-2000 and they still work today - so thats a bit of real world research on the lifespan of CDRs.

However, some people are currently working on a new solution that won't require any modding, but allow you to connect an SD player externally. I'm greatly looking forward to this.
Have you heard of or tried the Satiator device yet for Saturn? Im thinking this is what your last paragraph was eluding to. It plugs right into the Video CD port of the Saturn - uses SD cards - and you dont have to remove the CD drive.
Ive been eyeballing this for awhile now:
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


I love Radiant Silvergun to pieces. It's just about the greatest videogame graphics demo ever created. But I'm absolutely terrible at it, because the difficulty is so far off the charts that I find myself looking for a new word to replace "impossible." No, the square root is minus-one is impossible. This is a whole other plane of existence.

Fortunately, The Electric Playground has an excellent videogame where he shows tricks in mastering Silvergun. He claims you could "1CC" this game, meaning you can play from start to finish on one quarter. Personally, I find that as believable as Bigfoot sightings. But, hey, if you want to believe you can pull that feat off, good for you. Rock on.
 

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

The Sega Saturn was Sega's second to last system, but sadly its remembered as failure. That doesn't mean that it doesn't have a fantastic library of games, because it absolutely does and I'm going to be taking a look at a few that push it to the limit!


00:00 Intro
00:26 Wipeout 2097 / Wipeout XL
06:47 Sega Rally
07:55 Fighting Vipers
13:00 Skillshare insert
14:06 Quake
19:20 Panzer Dragoon II Zwei
25:15 Burning Rangers
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Thunderstrike 2 is thrilling, exciting, tense and always highly satisfying fun. If you're looking for a fast, arcade-style game with lots of fierce firefights and explosions from every direction, this late 1995 Core shooter delivers. This videogame is a direct sequel to one of Sega CD's very best titles, featuring an attack helicopter armed with machine guns, rockets and bombs that embarks on a series of military strikes around the globe.

This game was released to both Saturn and Playstation and both versions appear to be identical, aside from the slightly smoother ground textures on Saturn (thanks to VDP2) as well as a lack of those adorable Sony zig-zags. The Saturn version does support the analog mission stick, but the standard digital controls work perfectly fine and after a minute of flying around, you'll be swooping, diving and circle strafing with ease.

I am reminded a lot of Gungriffon, Mechwarrior 2 and the Gundam Side Story Trilogy, which also features similar 3D battles in open landscapes, all brilliantly conceived and executed. There was a Nintendo 64 chopper shoot-em-up called Chopper Attack that boasted 3D polygon worlds and a similar range of combat missions, but it wasn't anywhere near as good, slogging along in a half-speed drunken fog with controls that were barely functional. Sega and Sony fans have nothing to worry about.

One nice little detail in this game is how the missions send you to countries that are often nowhere close to the locations shown on the map. Your generals think Chile is really Colombia, and that Panama is really Mexico City. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a little bit of satire on US foreign policy. It certainly feels that way after the 2003 Iraq War, and the idea that you're playing as a clueless American bumbling around the globe, always bombing the wrong nation, is an idea too funny to resist. Perhaps the ending features you and your superiors being dragged in front of the Hague for war crimes.

Beyond that, there really isn't much to say. Thunderstrike 2 looks terrific by 1996 standards (you'll just have to make your peace with all the backgound popup), runs very smoothly and serves as a showcase for Saturn's 3D abilities. It was released in the West on December 1995 and Japan in February 1996, and used copies are available for a reasonable price, making this an easy must-own.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


In the 1990s as well as today, the universal consensus was that Sony Playstation was superior to Sega Saturn when it came to 3D polygon graphics, and doubly so when it came to third-party titles. However, there are many examples where this isn't the case at all. One very good example is Mechwarrior 2, published by Activision in 1997. The console versions are faster, more arcade-oriented variations on the popular series on PC, and fans of giant robots will have a great time stomping around varieties of alien landscapes, destroying enemy bases and mechs.

As you can see in this video, Saturn makes a number of improvements over its PSX cousin, including smoother textures, better shading and lighting, some very nice transparent explosions and extensive use of VDP2 planes for the ground and sky. It all looks very, very nice and demonstrates just how good this system can run when in the hands of skilled programmers.

On another recent NeoGAF thread, a programmer from the old days commented that, by 1997, Saturn was actually the easier platform to code for, thanks to their evolving graphics libraries, as well as the fact that everybody better understood the hardware and knew all the usual tricks, such as those VDP2 floors. Ironically, at that time, Playstation development was moving away from C and towards Assembly coding, which is where that console reached its greatest heights in 1998 and beyond--hello, Gran Turismo and Tony Hawk! As always, the high school gossip overshadows everything, and real life is much more complicated than the diehard fanboys on all sides would choose to believe.

I've long believed that these two consoles are very evenly matched, far closer than most gamers realized at the time, and Mechwarrior 2 demonstrates this. True, there are titles on both platforms that would struggle if ported to the other, but on the whole, these rivals are as closely matched as any rivals have ever been. If you don't believe me, just look at ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, or Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, then get back to me.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus



Great news for the Saturn community: Genki's 1997 racing game Shotoku Battle 97 is now translated into English. This new patch makes a number of interesting (and funny) changes. First, the title has now been changed to Tokyo Highway Battle: Drift King 97, in keeping with the Western title of its Sony Playstation cousin. Secondly, all text has been translated into English and the new logo has been superimposed onto video clips. Finally--and I am not making this up--Craig Stadler has been added into the game for dialog screens. Hah!

I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I was very happy to discover this racer years ago and it's one of the best driving titles on Saturn. It's a real shame it wasn't localized for a US release, because I think it compares very favorably to the Sony version (namely, looks the identical apart from no zig-zags). Kudos to the folks behind this translation project. Bravo!
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Yeah that game plays wonderfully, even though I never get far due to the language barrier I love the drifting style in it, it's so weird they didn't have drifting in some of the direct sequels like Dreamcast's Tokyo Xtreme Racer, it would have been so good.

But the PS version does as usual have much nicer looking draw in as new geometry smoothly fades in view while on Saturn it's the usual chunk by chunk pop of objects, though some of the night environments help hide it a little bit. I still prefer it anyway.

I think you forgot to link.
 
Last edited:

SpiceRacz

Member
DT MEDIA DT MEDIA Has there been any more progress on the Princess Crown translation? I don't recall how far along they were, but I think I remember the project was on hold for a bit.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus






Here are some new screenshots of the magnificent Wipeout XL on Sega Saturn, captured on my 13-inch Sony Trinitron with the composite cables. I'm a big fan of this series and absolutely love this translation by Australian studio Tantalus. You'll remember them as the ones behind the excellent Saturn conversion of Manx TT, and they're still alive and kicking today. Their most recent work was the HD remaster of Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Nintendo Switch. This remains one of my absolute favorite racing games for the system, easily a "top three" alongside Sega Rally and Daytona Circuit Edition (JP).

Youtube channel NX Gamer created a brilliant two-part video on the Wipeout series, devoting the first episode to the first two entries on Playstation and Sega Saturn. This includes extensive descriptions of the respective hardware designs, performance including frame rate, and other observations. I'm a big fan of his videos and highly recommend that you watch and subscribe.

You may be surprised to know that the host actually prefers the Saturn version of Wipeout XL over its more popular PSX cousin. He cites the analog controls as well as the stronger color depth, fewer polygon distortions and greater draw distance. While it's true that the PSX edition runs at a higher framerate--25fps (PAL) and 30fps (NTSC)--that speed also fluctuates and stutters quite a lot. The Saturn version runs slightly more slowly at 17fps (PAL) and 20fps (NTSC), but remains steady throughout the races. In the end, Tantalus should be commended for their excellent translation, which uses the Manx TT engine and handles wildly varied tracks, a dozen vehicles and a host of cool lighting effects. The usual "mesh transparency" effects are present, but as you can see above, it looks very good with composite.

Of course, the one thing that PSX Wipeout XL has over its Saturn cousin is the spectacular electronica soundtrack, featuring all the major players of the day: Future Sound of London, Photek, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, and a very early (pre-robot) Daft Punk. For Saturn, Psygnosis' resident musician Cold Storage provides the songs and they're very good, although I do feel that his music for the original Wipeout is better. Whatever. Just get the soundtrack CD and play that while you're playing the game. Just don't tempt me to track down the out-of-print vinyl LP edition, okay?

Just hurry up and buy a copy of Wipeout XL for your Saturn, okay? The PAL version, Wipeout 2097, is much cheaper and easier to find, but be aware that you'll be playing at the slightly slower PAL speed. Ugh, I'm going to have to get a PAL television so I can play those European Saturn games at the correct speed, right?



 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Here's Tecmo's stunning J. League Go Go Goal in action. It features polygon players and stadiums (along with VDP2 planes for the ground) and runs at an amazing 60fps. You read that right: sixty frames per second. And it's running on the "can't doo three dee" Sega Saturn.

Mic drop.

You're welcome.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


Well, look at the new toy that arrived today. I paid five bucks for this steering wheel (plus shipping), which was an enormous steal. This was entirely due to a glitch in the thumbnail description by the seller, which had the word "JUNK" in capital letters, but when reading the complete description, you would discover that was merely an explanation of the seller's grading system. So I got a very nice deal on a Saturn racing wheel for a song because everyone else thought it was broken. Nope. Aside from one missing pad on the bottom and an old tape glue stain (which you can see in the photo), this baby works perfectly.

So how does it play? Well, now, that's very interesting. My first go-to disc was Daytona USA Circuit Edition, the Japanese release that is miles better than the unfinished (and slighly sloppy) Championship Circuit Edition that was released in the West. I quickly popped in the code to unlock the original Daytona car and played a few races, and came away very impressed. I have yet to decide whether I prefer the handling setting at "normal" or "quick," but I greatly enjoyed the experience either way. Steering and handling is much more refined and subtle than the analog 3D controller, and at least the equal to the digital d-pad.

Next up was the original Daytona USA, and all I can say is..."Wow." This was a minor revelation. I always loved the gameplay and the way your car handled with the d-pad, but the racing wheel is on a higher plane of existence. It is absolutely sublime, and I cannot fathom how I could have been playing this videogame all these years without discovering how the cars handle with analog steering. It's like discovering Daytona all over again.

Daytona USA has always been a whipping boy among diehard gamers, blaming the game for single-handedly destroying Sega as a company and killing the Saturn the minute it was born. It's Atari 2600 E.T. all over again, but with a lot more whining. Yet those who could look past the notoriously choppy, roughshod graphics engine would discover the brilliant gameplay that captured the spirit of the legendary arcade perfectly. It's no lie when we say the 1995 Saturn Daytona is the best playing home version ever made.

Now add in supremely responsive and smooth analog steering and be amazed. Your jaw will drop. Your fingers will shake. I can ride a perfect line through curves. I can finally pull off powerslides and counter-steer my way out of cheap bumper hits. Digital steering is brilliant but always felt a touch dry. Analog lifts your car into the clouds. It is, as I have written, a minor revelation.

I continue to be astonished and humbled by the work Sega AM2 put into Saturn Daytona. Get over the sloppy, functional-at-best visuals and marvel at the gameplay. See how good these cars drive with the racing wheel, notice how steady, precise and smooth the steering can be. This may very well put Daytona '95 back on the top of my favorite Saturn racing games.

Saturn Racing Wheels are actually very affordable, usually costing around $30 with your choice of three colors: black (US), grey (JP) and off-white (JP). This accessory is one of Sega's hidden aces of the era, and it's truly confounding how the company never promoted it as such. You need to get at least one of these, maybe two.

Next up: Sega Rally and Virtua Racing. And bring on Touring Car!
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
So how does it play? Well, now, that's very interesting. My first go-to disc was Daytona USA Circuit Edition, the Japanese release that is miles better than the unfinished (and slighly sloppy) Championship Circuit Edition that was released in the West. I quickly popped in the code to unlock the original Daytona car and played a few races, and came away very impressed. I have yet to decide whether I prefer the handling setting at "normal" or "quick," but I greatly enjoyed the experience either way. Steering and handling is much more refined and subtle than the analog 3D controller, and at least the equal to the digital d-pad.
CCE Net Link Edition is CE in English, you should... acquire that. But yeah, original plays best. I've never had a wheel. I only have a really crappy one that was gifted to my brother in law and he dumped to me, it's a really tiny thrustmaster one that just doesn't feel nice to hold at all, I've not tried it.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
CCE Net Link Edition is CE in English, you should... acquire that. But yeah, original plays best. I've never had a wheel. I only have a really crappy one that was gifted to my brother in law and he dumped to me, it's a really tiny thrustmaster one that just doesn't feel nice to hold at all, I've not tried it.


I found a single copy of Daytona USA Netlink Edition. The seller is asking for twenty thousand dollars. I am not making that up.

The JP Circuit Edition can be bought for under twenty bucks. Feels like a no-brainer, especially since the real star of the show is the link-up mode, which keeps a number of CPU cars on the tracks alongside the human players. That plus two arcade racing wheels is as close to “the arcade experience” as one could imagine in the 1990s. Or today, for that matter.
 

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Checking out the Victor V-Saturn, a Japanese Sega Saturn game console sold by the company better known (to me) as JVC. The Vサターン RG-JX1 is a variant I've had my eye on for years. And the fact that it's modded with a Fenrir ODE is extra appealing since I've never used one. Until now! So here's a quick overview of the V-Saturn and a demonstration of the Fenrir ODE. And then the rest is just games, heh.
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
I found a single copy of Daytona USA Netlink Edition. The seller is asking for twenty thousand dollars. I am not making that up.

The JP Circuit Edition can be bought for under twenty bucks. Feels like a no-brainer, especially since the real star of the show is the link-up mode, which keeps a number of CPU cars on the tracks alongside the human players. That plus two arcade racing wheels is as close to “the arcade experience” as one could imagine in the 1990s. Or today, for that matter.
Just saying, I think you've paid enough for that game's different Saturn versions, to acquire the localized version of what you got in Japanese without any issue. If/when a new modern port comes along, like they did for PS360 and abandoned it again locked there, you can buy it again then.
 
Last edited:

MikeMyers

Member


Here's Tecmo's stunning J. League Go Go Goal in action. It features polygon players and stadiums (along with VDP2 planes for the ground) and runs at an amazing 60fps. You read that right: sixty frames per second. And it's running on the "can't doo three dee" Sega Saturn.

Mic drop.

You're welcome.
Feels like the closest Saturn got to Virtua Striker.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
I have offtop question. Where dreamcast thread?

I don’t think that we have one. An Official Dreamcast Community forum would be terrific. Somebody ought to put that together…that “someone” is gonna end up being me, right?
 

TheMan

Member
I just bought a Japanese saturn off eBay! Think I’ll need to get an RCA to usb converter and i think I’ll pick up a pseudosaturn cart too. Anything else?
 
Last edited:

SpiceRacz

Member
I think Powerslave/Exhumed has come up in here several times, but I'm wrapping up the remaster and it's excellent. I've started the Saturn one a few times and never got too far with it. Playing this game in HD and with a mouse and keyboard is a different experience. The game feels ahead of it's time with the metroidvania elements and platforming. Unless this game falls off a cliff in the last few levels, this is probably my game of the year. I'd be curious to know how much was pulled from the different versions of the game on Saturn and PS1.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
I just bought a Japanese saturn off eBay! Think I’ll need to get an RCA to usb converter and i think I’ll pick up a pseudosaturn cart too. Anything else?

Read through this forum thread, beginning with the first post. That should help you out.
 

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus
Well, you'll never guess what I did this past week: I picked up an Atari Jaguar from Ebay. This was something I've wanted to do for a very long time, but for various reasons, I never pulled the trigger. This time, however, I found a very good bargain on a console with two standard joypads, made a couple bids and found myself the winner. Whoops, surprise! At this point, I honestly don't know if I'll keep it (and purchase a multicart as the games are horribly expensive) or sell it and get all my money back.

One thing's for certain, however: I will be playing the heck outta Tempest 2000, Jeff "Yak" Minter's psychedelic retro gaming masterpiece and the Jaguar's finest hour (Alien vs Predator, Iron Soldier, NBA Jam TE and Brutal Sports Football round out my Top Five). I really want to see how the Sega Saturn translation compares and if there are any notable differences.

Here are a pair of gameplay videos showing Tempest 2000 being played on real hardware, first Jaguar and then Saturn. You are free to discern any differences between the two, given the usual caveats about Youtube video compression issues. Feel free to add your own observations or past experiences.





P.S. Just for kicks, I thought I should add the Sony Playstation edition, called Tempest X3 and published by Interplay in 1997. This version almost qualifies as a semi-sequel or update to the original T2K, offering updated graphics, additional enemies and gameplay tweaks. I will also post Jeff Minter's review which originally appeared online in January 1997.




What follows is the text of the Tempest X3 review that I posted to rec.games.video.sony, followed by some additional comments. You might find this review to be a bit more critical than my usual reviews, but there is a good reason for this - I happen to have designed Tempest 2000, the game upon which Tempest X3 is based, so I am intimately familiar with the implementation of the gameplay, and the game is close to my heart, so I am inclined to be a bit picky. Where it has been changed in a way that I feel is detrimental to the game, I tend to rant about it. But don't get me wrong - I think TX3 is a mighty fine game, and I'm just being opinionated about the way I think things should have been done. I am also mildly miffed that I was not included in the test/tweak endstage of TX3's design, since I could have prevented at least one major glitch getting into the original T2K mode and maybe offered some suggestions for enhancements to the original design for X3 mode. Oh well, I'll address those things when I do Tempest 3000... ;-)


I finally got ahold of this game this morning, and I've just taken it up to a million odd and have seen enough of the game that I feel qualified to offer comment.

The game is basically Tempest 2000 with extra PlayStation-oriented graphics effects, plus a few extra enemies (that I've seen so far, I'm at level 47) and some subtractions, which I will get to later. The Webs are rendered with translucent, warping textures in the panels instead of the Gouraud shading of the original, and shots fired down the Web light up the textures in a most pleasing manner. The whole game scene is rendered in a persistance/blur field, which is cranked up at certain times (such as firing your Superzapper) and which makes everything go a bit psychedelic, which is what we would expect in any game based on T2K :). There is also a mild plasma around the edges of the screen that is subtle but tasty.

The pixel-shatter explosions and effects in the original have largely been replaced by polygon-based effects, which, combined with the aforementioned blur field, look very nice indeed, and when the going gets hectic and lots of things are blowing up (as they should be in any good game) the display becomes agreeably trippy. The "2000" and "Excellent" messages are now rendered in a translucent plain font - which looks OK, but I think I still prefer the shattering originals.

The Webs themselves are a variety of different shapes, typically less angular than the T2K webs - and there are more of them. Whilst having more webs is nice, I think that on the whole the web shapes are a bit tamer than in T2K - I would have liked to have seen more of the folding-onto-themselves type that were such bastards in T2K. So far I haven't come across any "hate webs" - in T2K every now and again you'd come across a web that was such a bastard, you'd always say to yourself, "God, I hate this bloody web!" and it'd often be a sticking point, and you'd get a most excellent feeling of relief when you got by the sucker. I kinda miss the hate webs. Mind you, maybe I'll discover some above level 47 :)

The audio is of course improved from the original T2K, being as the choons are now delivered from the CD-ROM, allowing the use of the upgraded versions that were on the T2K audio CD. Those tunes still kick ass! Can't beat a nice drop o' techno for a game like this. Some of the audio FX have been changed, and by and large the new FX are good - nice solid meaty samples. The only noise I don't like too much is the noise that the Pulsars make - I reckon it should be much more deep and threatening ;-)

Okay, on to the gameplay. Now, I am going to make some criticisms here, but don't get me wrong, I think they've done an excellent job on TX3 and I like it a lot, and indeed I rate it as one of my 3 fave PS games (Wipeout XL and Robotron X being the other 2). I'm bound to be a little hypercritical of some things, because this is more or less my game with some embellishments and changes, and hey, you gotta love your own :).

Your claw looks a bit nicer IMO than the one in T2K, and moves nice and responsively just like it should. The lasers are now more colourful polygon objects - the Particle Laser in particular is a lot beefier-looking than in T2K. The basic gameplay is exactly as in T2K - blast enemies coming up the Web, collect powerups to get points, goodies, and access to one of the three Bonus Rounds.

The powerups come in the usual T2K sequence, starting with the Particle Laser. There is one extra powerup beyond the Warp Token - something called a Super AI Droid. And speaking of the AI Droid, at this point I am going to have my first moan.

They've lobotomised the AI Droid! The poor thing has no "I"! Instead of targeting enemies on the Web, the poor enfeebled thing just follows you around and hovers over your ship with no autonomy of its own! This ruins one of my favourite strategies in T2K - when you got the Droid and knew how it behaved, you could more or less leave it alone to handle one part of the Web while you concentrated on defending another part. It was a great comfort to know it was there looking after your ass. Now, you have to lead it by the nose everywhere you go - which makes it perfectly useless in one of the situations where the old Droid used to be so useful - if you are trapped in a corner with enemies at the top of the Web and you don't have Jump Enabled yet. The old Droid would pick the enemies off the Web rim for you and hopefully buy you the space and time to get ahold of that Jump powerup. The new Droid just sits and wibbles over your head, and the baddies march in and get you!

I think he may get some of his brain back if you get the Super AI Droid powerup, but by then you're usually near the end of the wave anyway, and don't really have time to feel the benefit before you're done on that Web. As it is, I miss having a smart Droid terribly, and it's taken the fun out of "Yes, Yes, Yes!" powerups. I'd rather have my Particle Laser straight away than that useless droid. I'm sorry, guys, but minus points for an AI droid that isn't I. :-/

The usual crop of enemies are there and on the whole behave as they should. The Demon Head has been replaced by a similar enemy that fires a blue thing at you when shot - I actually preferred the look of the Demon Head though, but that's a minor quibble and largely a matter of personal taste. There's another enemy that looks a bit like a delta-wing aircraft that takes several shots to kill. Fuseballs are now rendered as squiggly kinda white things - I would have liked to have seen each arm of the squiggle be a different colour, like in the original, but again, that's a matter of taste. However, and I'm going to have another bit of a rant -

They've emasculated Pulsars! In T2K, when a Pulsar reaches the lip of the Web, it splits in two and the pieces hurtle around the lip - a real sphincter-tightening occurrence if you had Jump, and certain death if you did not! The X3 Pulsars just behave like Flippers when they reach the top (which is what happened in original Tempest, but which is a bit boring). A Pulsar or Pulsar Tanker nearing the top in T2K used to be a source of abject terror for the player, and dealing with them early was a major impetus to the gameplay. Now, they are not to be feared at all, so long as you don't get caught in the lane when they pulse. I miss that terror, and I get a little nostalgic twinge whenever I see a Pulsar getting near the top and I don't get scared at all. I don't really hate Pulsars like I used to, and I think that's a shame.

Another difference in the gameplay is in the behaviour of the Particle Laser and Spikes. In 2K, the Particle Laser makes very short work indeed of Spikes, eroding them almost instantly. In X3, it has no discernable increase in efficiency over the standard laser when shooting Spikes. This means that Pulsars over a spiked lane become a lot more dangerous. Now, I can see that maybe they wanted to deliberately make Spikes more of a bother in X3 - fair enough. But it's a big flaw that the same thing now happens in 2000 Mode - the Particle Laser does not kill Spikes like it should. I sincerely hope that they haven't made the same mistake in the other versions of the game for the Saturn and Windows, because those are being sold as straight T2K, and the fact that the Particle Laser doesn't nail Spikes properly alters the balance of the gameplay considerably. (This is the reason I wish that they had shown me the conversions prior to release - I could have trapped silly errors like this).

The Bonus Rounds are as in T2K, although I find them a bit more difficult (I think the tail in the Particle Tube sequence disappears waaaay too fast when you're off the track, and it also doesn't look quite right - it should taper more). One oddity is that in Bonus Round One, the Jupiter texmap sequence, the background starfield is for some reason drawn on top of the texmap instead of behind it, which looks a little strange. The feedback effects in Bonus Round Three (and, indeed, throughout the game) are a lot faster and smoother than on the Jag - but I found the rings a bit harder to see in BR3 than they were on the Jag.

Overall, though, despite these cavils, the gameplay rocks along at a blinding pace just as it ever did, and it's even more spectacular than before, and benefits from having less slowdown when there are a lot of enemies onscreen than the poor old Jaggi did. Anyone who is familiar with T2K will settle right in and score a good half-mill first time out. Those who missed out on the joys of Jaguar ownership and missed T2K can now find out what all the fuss was about and enjoy some nice extra eye- and ear-candy into the bargain. As I said before, TX3 now ranks in my top 3 PS games ever, and if you want one of the hottest, most intense blasting games out there, nip out straight away and score a copy. As ever, best played in a dark room with the stereo cranked whilst under the influence of the stimulant of your choice.

Other, minor things that bugged me:

They took out my rotating yak-head and replaced it with boring corporate logos! Boo! Hiss! hehe...

They took out my yak-head Web! Waaaa!

2K mode should not have been hidden. And the code for accessing it - I could have understood some bovine or ungulate reference, but "yiff!"? That sounds like a dog with a cold doing a wet sneeze! Wassap with that??

Only minor silly things really. The only things that really annoy me are the new uselessness of the AI Droid, the less-than-terrifying Pulsars and especially the Particle Laser not shooting Spikes properly in 2K mode - that one was a big "oops".

As I hope you can tell, I actually like the game a lot, and I hope I haven't appeared overcritical. I do think that I have isolated some of the reasons why some Jag T2K diehards have been a little critical though - it's not all just sour grapes; there are some significant differences that alter the balance of the gameplay in a way that may not be to everybody's taste. I would say that that's fine, there's a 2K mode for those that prefer it - but the particle laser/spike anomaly shifts the balance of the gameplay in that mode too, which is definitely not how it should be.

Moans notwithstanding, a fine variant on the Tempest/2K theme, that looks and sounds wicked and which will have your thumb aching and your retinas smoking :)


Okay, you may be thinking, Yak is pissing and moaning about odd little things, and not offering any constructive criticism. Well, here's my two cents' worth (jeez, I have been in America too long!)...

There is a lot to like about TX3. The implementation is nigh-on flawless - I really like all the new graphics FX, fast and funky feedback and blurfields, textures in the Webs, and lack of slowdown when there's a lot going on on the screen. The coder's done an excellent job. My only criticisms are based on the modifications to the gameplay.

It's understandable that the designers wanted to make a game that had extra gameplay features, above and beyond T2K. I think I can see the direction they wanted to go with it, and I'll go through the modifications that they made, and offer my suggestion as to how they might have achieved similar things without impacting the gameplay so much:

They wanted to add more Webs. Yes, of course, I totally agree that adding more Webs is an excellent thing to do. I do think that they should have left in some of the "milestone" Webs from T2K in the appropriate places - like that bloody little 4-pointed star that was always such a bastard! - and then, yeah, add new Webs up the wazoo. I like the fact that the first 16 Webs are the original Tempest ones - I wish I had had a working Tempest game when I wrote T2K!... "Hate Webs" were major milestones in one's progress through T2K - I would often get email or meet people who would proceed to curse me roundly for some Web or other - "that bloody bleedin' level 63, you sadist!" kinda a thing. Gave the game a bit of character. As it is, the Web shapes are quite nice, but I am up to level 55 now and not one is particularly burned into my brain yet.

They wanted to make Spikes more significant. Okay, I can see why they might want to do this - Spikes are hardly an issue in T2K once you have the Particle Laser, whereas in Theurer's original they are a lot more of a problem. Now I happen to like the mastery over Spikes that a Particle Laser gives you, and I would have made the transition to "hard" Spikes happen more gradually as you progress through the game. In the early levels Spikers would produce normal "green" Spikes that the player could mash easily with the PL, as per usual. As the player progresses up the Webs, there would be an increasing probability that a new Spike created by a Spiker would be a "hard" Spike - of a different colour - which would be slowly eroded even by the PL. This would have brought Spikes back into the equation more, but provided a more gentle transition from the original T2K style of gameplay.

They wanted an extra AI Droid powerup. Fine, yes, I agree! But doing it by actually destroying the function of the original Droid is, I have to say it, just cheap. I would have made the extra Droid powerup give you just that - an extra, second AI Droid that fought alongside you and the existing one! I'd have also made each enemy launched into the Web from then on actually be two enemies, to tweak the difficulty up a bit to balance your improved firepower, given that the PSX can sustain a lot more baddies on screen without slowdown. Getting to the extra AI Droid powerup would then be a pile of fun, coz you'd be kicking major ass and things would get well busy with things exploding everywhere, plus you'd be rewarded by more points because there'd be twice the enemies to kill until the end of the wave. You'd finish the wave in a blaze of glory and exploding baddies with a big smile on your face screaming "Eat that, suckers!" at the screen. As it is, if you get that second AI Droid powerup, all you get is a minor feeling of relief that at least your AI Droid now works like it should have done in the first place. Ho-hum.

They wanted to make Pulsars less intimidating! The only reason I can think of that they did this was to balance the fact that they have arbitrarily hardened all the Spikes. This makes it harder to nail Pulsars and Pulsar Tankers before they reach the lip, and maybe they thought that it was then too much to have Pulsars be such a threat at the rim. In my scenario with the gradually-increasing amount of hard Spikes, I'd have left the Pulsars fully functional, and okay, they'd be even more terrifying at the higher levels - all well and good :). In fact I would have emphasised the terror of a Pulsar reaching the top - with a meaty audio effect when they split at the top, a nice big lens-flare-type explosion, pulse that fuckin' blur-field... WHUMP! - flash - extreme psychedelicness - terror... and I'd have had the sparks running around the top rendered with some wicked blur or translucency effect... and you'd be jumping and yer sphincter would be twitchin' and then when you nailed the sparks there'd be a big adrenaline rush and feeling of "YES!!"... hehe... that terror/relief/rush cycle is part of what gives the game its bollocks and keeps you locked in.

In conclusion, I can see that they wanted to make some additions to the gameplay, but I reckon they should have done it by having the T2K gameplay as a subset, and then enhancing certain elements, as I have outlined above. Altering the game by "wussifying" elements and then, in the case of the AI droid, getting an extra powerup in there by just restoring things to how they should have been in the first place, strikes me as a bit of a cop-out. I am truly disappointed that I was not allowed to be involved with the final tweaking and balancing of the gameplay - TX3 is an excellent game as it is, but I feel with a few more tweaks we could have made it into the best Tempest ever, which is what it should have been. I can't understand why I was not involved even to a small degree - I wouldn't have asked for any extra money to give advice, since I'm getting royalties anyway it would have been in my own best interests to help make the game as good as possible. If you're going to make a game based on someone else's design, it just seems like common sense to consult with the original designer, especially if it isn't going to cost you anything except a couple of CD-R disks and a bit of email.

And I could have fixed that bug in the 2K mode. I was looking forward to playing what should have been the best 2K around too - smoother, less slowdown! - but due to the spike anomaly, it doesn't play quite right. And why no hiscores for T2K? C'mon, all you had to do was feed in another data structure...

Oh well... TX3 is still a very good game, and one of my top 3 PSX picks. It's definitely the smoothest, best-looking Tempest yet, and still highly recommended. I can't help thinking that it could have been the best Tempest ever though...

Never mind - I keep thinking that a new version of Tempest would be a most excellent showcase game for That Which I Am Working On Right Now. I haven't mentioned it at work yet, but I'm sure we could work out some kinda deal with what remains of Atari... Tempest 3K... now I've got an idea or two about that I can tell you ;-)


Update (8/12 4:15 pm): Years later, Jeff Minter confirmed that the reason why notable gameplay changes in Tempest X3 was so that the publisher wouldn't have to pay him royalties for Tempest 2000. That's just a big no-no in my book. You don't screw over the Yak like that. Thankfully, you can show your support by buying the new Tempest 4000 which is available on all major digital platforms. Or you could just score a Jaguar for the ultra-cool style points.
 
Last edited:

DT MEDIA

GAF's Resident Saturn Omnibus


My Atari Jaguar arrived today, and you know the first thing I would play would be Tempest 2000. It's all a bit surreal: the last time I played on a physical Jaguar was in June 1994 during the Summer CES in Chicago, where I currently live. And the year 2022 shares the exact same calendar as 1994. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.

So how does Tempest 2000 on Jaguar compare to High Voltage Software's Sega Saturn version? To my great surprise, the two are very different from one another, and in all areas except one, the Atari version comes out ahead.

First off, T2K on Jaguar is spectacular, absolute perfection. It's easily the greatest stoner videogame ever made and one of those that you find yourself helplessly addicted and playing at two in the morning. Jeff Minter knows classic arcade games like the back of his hand, and he clearly loved the original 1981 Tempest arcade deeply. He knows its mechanics and knows precisely where to add features and make changes without disrupting the original's sense of rhythm and tension. This game is most famous for its highly trippy psychedelic effects, including melting screens and endless layers of particle effects that hypnotize and blind you. But it's the frantic gameplay and smooth action that always keeps you hooked.

T2K is a true stoner's game, with visuals that are extremely smooth and loaded with particle trails and explosions that just drift away, causing your mind to slowly wander. The frame rate is surprisingly low, probably around 20fps, and this causes some choppiness during hectic moments. Yet that sense of speed and swift controls never waver, and you find yourself adapting accordingly until you honestly don't notice or care. Indeed, that frame rate only adds to the psychedelic style, lifted up and carried by that magnificent techno-rave soundtrack and endless little chirpy voices that float in and out.

The Sega Saturn version looks far sharper and cleaner, and you immediately notice that it's running at 60fps. It feels very crisp and sharp, as though you swapped out the cannabis for Red Bulls and Jagermeister. While this is, by any metric, a notable improvement, I find that it leaves me a touch cold and detached. For some reason, the Black Sabbath song "Snowblind" comes to mind.

In every other aspect, Saturn T2K takes a step backward. The audio has been completely remixed, with the sound effects punching harder and losing that magical, almost analog-like midrange. The mix sounds overly compressed and much louder, not unlike modern casualties of the "Loudness War." Nearly all of the voice samples, like "superzapper recharge" are missing. Your player controls feel slightly sluggish, as though you need a half-second to get up to speed, and you really miss that immediacy of your craft's movement. Worst of all, your laser cannons cannot destroy the spikes that appear in the lanes during battles. This was something that Yak himself noted on the Playstation Tempest X3, and it also appears on Saturn. Thankfully, the AI Droid still does its job properly.

T2K on Saturn looks nice and plays well, but I've always found myself ignoring it, leaving the disc to collect dust, while I literally had to drag myself away from the Jaguar cartridge and turn off the TV set. And we haven't even brought up the support for rotary controls, which are now available from aftermarket hackers. I'll be ordering one myself tomorrow and, frankly, can't wait to see how it plays.

There's also some weird timing issues with the trippy effects on Saturn T2K, and much of their potency becomes lost. This version of Tempest is far too clean and sober for its own good. Even the ultra-smooth gouraud shading on the stage webs are off, replaced with odd color banding that always sticks out like a sore thumb. I would have gladly sacrificed the frame rate, bring it down to 30fps, if that meant preserving the game's original color and art design. And I certainly would sacrifice everything else just to have those silky-smooth controls back, instead of the slight off-beat sluggish movements.

One interesting feature of Saturn T2K is the heavy use of transparencies on text and objects, especially on the "Jupiter" bonus stage. The flowing river appears translucent on Saturn but solid on Jaguar, and which style you prefer is really just a matter of personal choice.

Overall, I'd still say that Tempest 2000 on Saturn is a solid effort, but apart from the higher frame rate, it's a notable step backwards from the Jaguar. Count me surprised on this one, very surprised.
 
Top Bottom