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Thread: Let's Reminisce: Sega Saturn

  1. #1

    Saturn Japan Let's Reminisce: Sega Saturn

    I thought SSJN's idea for "Let's Reminisce" was a good one, so I wanted to steal it and turn it toward one of his choice's competitors in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Sega Saturn. As discussed in another thread, I'm getting the itch to collect something old to scratch that itch, and I am fairly certain this old and reliable is where I am headed.

    Why? Well, that's not a simple answer.

    The Saturn was one of the two systems from that generation that I bought on their release day, the Saturn's of course being the surprise date in May. The Nintendo 64 was the other. Had Capcom not made Resident Evil, who knows how long I could have ignored the PlayStation.

    It is undeniable that many multiplatform releases -- whether they were ported from Saturn to PlayStation, like Tomb Raider, or from PlayStation to Saturn, like Resident Evil -- wound up better on the PlayStation due in large part to its more forward looking 3D architecture. However, that doesn't take away from how many great true and console exclusives the Saturn had. In fact, I think it's fairly easy to say the platform that has eaten away more of the Saturn's exclusives than any other is MAME.

    I'm going to concede that nearly all of the Saturn fighters have been released elsewhere since in just as good of form, if not better. Although, there will likely never be a better pack-in pad for playing them than the Japanese or model 2 Saturn's. Even after market has only produced the Neo Pads 2 and 3 as real competition in terms of pads.

    A lot of people debate between the PC Engine and the Saturn as the ultimate shooter console. The Saturn sports many, many exclusives. Some, such as Battle Garegga and Soukyugurentai, have since been supported by MAME, making them more console exclusives in terms of at home play. However, there are still the true exclusives like Hyper Duel and Game Tengoku that are unlikely to ever appear anywhere else. And, of course, there are those that are simply the best versions, like ThunderForce V and Twinklestar Sprite, and those that likely should have been, like DonPachi, DoDonPachi, and In the Hunt. The Saturn also shares with the PS1 the requisite Konami collections: Gradius, Parodius, Twinbee, and the crown jewel, Salamander.

    Another genre well represented on the Saturn, though not as well as on 16-bit systems, is the classic beat'em up. The Saturn boasts very traditional entries in this genre, such as the Dungeons & Dragons Collection. But it also has nontraditional examples, such as the polygonal Dynamite Deka and the RPG-influenced Guardian Heroes. It's unfortunate that Captain Commando somehow made its way to PS1 but not the Saturn, though the later Capcom Classics Collections make that essentially moot.

    Though unable to stand up to the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Vandal Hearts, and Suikoden, the Saturn had a decent RPG and strategy lineup. There were the SRPGs like Wachenroder and Shining Force III. There were also more straight representations of the genres like Dragon Force and its sequel in strategy and Shining the Holy Ark for RPGs. And then there was Panzer Dragoon Saga, which helped close out the system's life in the US in grandiose style.

    Alongside Shining Force III and Panzer Dragoon Saga in really helping the Saturn go out with a bang in the west was Burning Rangers. Though lesser known, I view its fire fighting as a vastly superior game to another Sonic Team effort on the system, NiGHTS. The decision (read: mistake) of floating NiGHTS instead of a proper Sonic game on the Saturn did unmeasurable damage to the global sales, despite the inexplicable critical acclaim for the former.

    Though leaving out many, many other worthy games, I'll only mention one more. I was a fan of Deep Fear at the time of its release. It was essentially Resident Evil underwater with all of the faults and benefits that implies. Thankfully, the recent Resident Evil: Revelations did the idea (though on the water instead of under it) its full due, so Deep Fear is no longer as unique.

    It's unfortunate that so much of TNL was covered in Nintentaint coming into the 32-bit generation or only has experience with the PS1, but I am still curious to hear others' experiences either at the time or since with Sega's very underrated and second best console.

  2. Pretty weak system unless one had the ability and money to import.

    I thought NiGHTS was crap too.

  3. It's unfortunate that Captain Commando somehow made its way to PS1
    Did not know this....

  4. Yeah, the US lineup wasn't terrible if you didn't know any better, then once you installed a chip, switch, or cart to play imports, that's when the system truly shined.

    It hold a place in my heart for the best final 5 releases ever though. (Panzer Saga, Burning Rangers, House of the Dead, Magical Knight Rayearth, Shining Force III)

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Yoshi View Post
    Sega's very underrated and second best console.
    I agree that it's underrated, but second best? I personally think the Dreamcast, Genesis, and even the Master System were all better systems.

    That being said, Diff is pretty much on the money. The pickings were very slim if you didn't import, but if one was willing to take that step, it was a 2D powerhouse. There really was no other choice for shooter and fighting game fans that wanted accurate ports. I remember the local Software Etc. in Sacramento regularly carrying import copies of Capcom's stuff. I eventually amassed quite a collection of RAM carts. Some of my favorite RPG series at the time (Lunar, Langrisser, SMT: Devil Summoner/Soul Hackers, Tengai Makyou) had excellent new installments and remakes first on the Saturn. And of course there was the more high profile stuff, like the Shining and Panzer games, as well as Grandia.

    And though 3D has aged terribly from that gen, I probably played the home port of Virtual On more than any other game during those years.

    I loved NiGHTS.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by Yoshi View Post
    It's unfortunate that so much of TNL was covered in Nintentaint coming into the 32-bit generation or only has experience with the PS1.
    It was?
    One of the things that attracted me to Gamego and TNL was it's love for Sega and the all things off beat. As I've stated many times in the past, I always seemed to choose the underdog console. I had the Master System, followed by the Turbografx, followed by the Saturn.
    I did get an Snes, Sega CDX, and Playstation as well, but always thought of those first three as my "main" consoles.

    I bought my first Saturn the week Tomb Raider came out. I had been reading so much about that game that I just had to have it. I walked into an Electronics Boutique and grabbed the system package that came with Sega Rally for $229.99 (though the system is long gone, I still have the box). Sega was still giving away the 3 pack of Daytona, Virtua Fighter 2, and Virtua Cop as well. So for around $300 I walked out of there with a new system, and four awesome games and the one I bought the set for (tomb raider) annoyed me so much that I never put more than 20 minutes in it (maybe a bit more, but I still remember to this day a part early on where you had to jump down into a pool and push a lever. No matter how I tried to line myself up, I always ran out of air before I could situate myself properly to move the lever. Game was ugly as hell too. Fuck the Saturn version forever.)

    The Saturn was a milestone for me in a lot of ways. It was the first system I bought an import for (more on those later). Thanks to the netlink, it was the first time I was ever able to go onto the internet, and thus the first time I spanked it to internet porn. Jesus, I still remember sitting in the living room late at night when everyone else was asleep, turning the saturn on, going to and waiting a few seconds as each shitty resolution pic would slowly appear. TMI?

    There was a local game store called Game Craze that was great because the owner was also into the Saturn (he was into everything, to be honest) and he imported just about any game that was playable by someone who didn't know Japanese. Above the US releases was a shelf adorned with just about any shooter, platformer, or fighting game you could want. Problem was they were all $70-$80 a piece.
    Most US releases were $40 tops. So it had to be a pretty special game for me to sacrifice getting two to four games I could actually read instead.

    My first import of course was X-Men vs Streetfighter. It was worth every penny (and I'm not now, or was I then into fighting games that much, but that game was just wow).
    This was before handy devices like the proaction replay, so I (like many) perfected the technique of hot swapping a game shark and the 4 meg cart. My import collection grew slowly but surely from then on.

    I began to see pics of the Japanese Skeleton Saturn (the original brownish one) and just had to have it. Most of the games I played were japanese, so why not get a jpn system? I had been hearing how people were frying their cartridge ports by hot swapping, so my US system probably wasn't going to last me much longer anyway. I could still use the game shark to boot my US games. It made sense to me!
    So I went to Game Craze and asked the guy if he would order me one. He said sure, it's like $400. I ended up trading in my US Saturn, a Turbo Duo with a ton of games, and some other shit and got $275 towards it.
    I was soooo excited.

    At one point I had the entire US library sans sports games and just about every import worth having. I never owned Taromaru, but I did have Silvergun and countless other "grails". Ebay became a thing, and I saw how much some of the games were going for and since I was going through a split up, I sold everything off.

    A bit later I started to regret it, and bought a Derby Skeleton Saturn and started collecting again. Game Craze still had a lot of imports, but since they weren't moving locally and the owner wasn't familiar with eBay; he marked them all down to $20. Games like the D&D Collection, Soukygurentai, Metal Black, you know the ones. All $19.99 (when selling for up to 4X as much online) and he'd often give me a deal when I bought small quantities. Only game that I got for that cheap that I still felt I paid too much for was Final Fight Revenge.

    These days, I have less than 40 games for it, but they're all the ones I know I will replay at some point. The shooters and fighters are mostly gone since they've been made available elsewhere; but I still get the itch to play Shining the Holy Ark or Panzer Dragoon Zwei or even Baku Baku Animal. It's funny that Yoshi did this now, because I was reading through some old GameFan mags thanks to that other thread and an article on Lunacy made me want to play that again.

    By the way, I came to love Game Craze so much, that I eventually got a job there. Twelve years later, I'm still here and co own one of the places. I try to make sure we don't sell hard to find shit crazy cheap anymore, but sometimes things still fall through the cracks.

  7. #7
    The domestic releases dried up too soon, but all you had to do was buy a $20 cart to play imports, so that was moot unless you didn't have an import shop or the ability to order off of the net.

    I had been playing the Saturn since launch pretty much. My bud and I rented the Saturn at launch, and the same buddy ended up buying one a few months later, and we rented pretty much everything. A couple of years later I bought my own, and although I had a PSX as well I was all about Sega and Capcom's arcade ports on the thing. When the domestic releases started drying up I saw the writing on the wall and was a bit bitter, but the local EB got a copy of Xmen vs SF with the 4 MB ram cart and a (separate) import cart, and I paid a cool $100 for all of it. I then discovered Buy Rite's (lol) retail store and started to make almost weekly drives there to pick up imports, mostly fighters. I regret now that I skipped over the shooters, I had Radiant Silvergun in my hands once for $40 or $50 and I bought Real Bout Collection instead.

    I love shooters these days, and there is still a ton of stuff on the system I haven't played. Too bad many of those shooters cost an arm and a leg now.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Some Stupid Japanese Name View Post
    It was?
    One of the things that attracted me to Gamego and TNL was it's love for Sega and the all things off beat. As I've stated many times in the past, I always seemed to choose the underdog console. I had the Master System, followed by the Turbografx, followed by the Saturn.
    I don't mean then. I mean the people that are on TNL now. A lot of the awesome people are long gone.

  9. It's a shame that those D&D Arcade beat-em-ups still haven't been on any other console. Same for Die Hard Arcade.

    Instead, the Playstation got the turd that was Die Hard Trilogy.

  10. I think TNL's got a pretty good mix in reality.
    It's just that the Mzos and Yellers of the board are really loud and drown out the rest of us.


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