Why hello there my name is Remy, and if you’re reading this chances are you’re new to the sega saturn fold. And as the saying goes better late than never. This is a brief ins and outs of the big black box that lays before you.
This often overlooked console competed and failed against the Sony playstation and Nintendo 64. Although it did topple the 64 in it’s native Japan, where the system garnered favor among hardcore fighter, RPGs and shooter fans, as well as horny otaku.
Just because the system tanked doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun. The saturn is the undisputed king of 2-D existing in a time where there was still some fleeting interest in 2-D before the 3-D boon took over for good. And indeed there are dozens of fantastic 2-D games that just aren’t the same anywhere else. This is the main reason why the console still has a loyal following long after sega turned it’s back on the lonely little planet.
First things first, you’re going to want to save your games. And chances are your internal memory is already dead. So it’s time to hitch up your britches and replace the internal battery. You will need to do this once every couple of years until kingdom come or the sun blows up or however you think the world will end. And I know what you’re saying, but Remy can’t I just use the backup memory cart I bought? In a perfect world yes, but the cart is just that a back up. Very few games will give you the option of saving directly to the cart. Most will require you to save your data in the internal memory and than copy it onto the backup. Now quit yer bellyaching and turn the console to it’s backside. On the left hand side there’s a plastic tab. Pull it out and you should see a presumably dead internal battery. Now either get your car keys or prepare for a long walk to your local grocery store so you can pick up a 3V lithium battery (if you can’t remember that I recommend just bringing the dead battery with you), and grab me a case of diet coke while you’re there. Now head home and transfer the battery into the system.
Now were ready to shop for games right? Not quite, any saturn collector will tell you it is imperative that you have an action replay cart. This bad boy allows you to play imports which is a must and has the RAM upgrade needed for some of the more demanding games the saturn has to offer. They also serve as a memory cart so no worries there. These can be found new for around 30$ at many websites not the least of which is Ebay. If you want my advice and if you didn’t why are you reading this? Avoid the gameshark, sure it will allow you to play imports but in the long run it will reek havoc on your saturn cart receptor making them far to wide and incapable of reading other carts.
NOW we are ready to go over the games. I will give a short description of why the game is worth checking out along with a four star rating system. Four stars means it’s a must have, 3 a great title 2 worth a look and one it has some novelty but don’t worry if you pass it up.
Nights into dreams (sega) ****-It’s only fair I start with the game that made my love the saturn in the fist place. A majestic and fantastic game that has yet to meet it’s match in terms of pure whimsy. Nights was segas answer to fans demanding a 3-D sonic, they never got sonic (sonic extreme is a tale better left out of this article) however they got something in my opinion that turned out far better.
Nights practically oozes the surreal and the dreamy landscape merely sets the stage for probably the most inventive platformer in recent memory. You play a nightmaren why wants to return peace to dreamland and do this by enlisting the aid of two children. Yes it sounds corny, but I doubt you’ll care once you start playing. Nights is freeing and limited all at once, and once you play it I’m sure you’ll agree it’s one of the most fluent games around. To wrap nights up I must mention you will need to buy the 3-D controller for this game. While the standard controller does work, it’s kind of like picking a hamburger over a steak. Sure you could do it but why would you want too?
Fighting Vipers (sega) *-Well since I showed you the sublime it’s only fair I show you the muck too. This game had it’s fair share of fans but I however was not one of them. It plays a lot like Virtua Fighter would if you removed all of the balance and dignity. What with the completely out of whack strength some of these characters sport as well as how incredibly lame these fighters are. Really the main reason I recommend picking this game up is Pepsi man. For those unfamiliar with Pepsi mans exploits, he was Pepsi’s mascot in Japan. And if you haven’t figured it out by now he’s an unlockable character in this title. But ONLY the Japanese version of the game, sorry but he’s import only. This may be worth getting for a couple of bucks just to hear the PEPSI MAN chant, or maybe not.
Shinobi legions a.k.a. Shinobi X (sega) ***-The shinobi franchise may be at the end of it’s rope. Simply put the last two attempts to resurrect the franchise forgot to bring their shurikens to the battle. Even so Shinobi still holds a special place in many sega fans collections, as it should. These games were excellent. Legions has the distinction of being the only worthwhile Shinobi game to come out in the past decade. It also has the honor of being the first (and only) Shinobi game to use fully digitalized graphics. Not to mention many hilarious(ly bad) full motion video clips since this was the tail end of the short lived FMV craze it isn’t a surprise. And it also shouldn’t surprise that this is pure ninja action bliss. The digitalized graphics look great, the combat is fast and precise like and Shinobi game should be. However the only real stumble the game has is it’s jumping controls. Specifically the double jump, you have to hit up and jump in mid air simultaneously to perform a double jump. While it doesn’t sound bad in the think of a very difficult platformer section it can be quite frustrating. Often resulting in starting the whole level over again. Regardless Shinobi legions is certainly worth playing and deserves a spot in any saturn collection.
Galactic attack a.k.a Layer section (akklaim) ****-One of the best and fortunately one of the cheapest saturn shooters. Layer section is just a beauty to behold, when I first saw the enormous space battles on screen my jaw nearly dropped. What was even cooler was the ability to launch salvo after salvo of lasers into the aforementioned battles and see a ship go nova and burn up over an alien world. To put it simply Layer section plays like xivous on steroids. Allowing you to lock onto multiple enemies in the background, or simply ones that haven’t emerged into the foreground yet. So you can take out waves a of ships before they even get on the same plain as you. This adds an engrossing layer of strategy to the simplistic shooter formula. Don’t just go for the turrets go for the base holding up the turrets and bring the whole station crashing down on it’s head. The only real fault I can find is sometimes the graphics can become a little pixiley but it isn’t very noticeable or really a big problem. Plus it even gives you the option to play the game vertically by putting your tv on it’s side. Not terribly practical but a neat addition anyway. Tough as nails and a bonafide classic, this is one shooter that will be spinning in your saturn for a long time to come.
Mass Destruction (ASC games)***-I have to say this tank blaster was really a hidden gem among saturn titles. In fact this almost makes up for ACS’s previous crime against humanity for the saturn 4X4 HARDCORE which is in the running for the worst game of all time on any platform. Mass destruction is a game that truly lives up to it’s name sake you can blow up just about anything in this game. In fact that’s really all you do, which is a refreshing change of pace from tedious escort and rescue levels and other action game cliches that plague the genre. No this game is all action all the time, which is actually what runs it into trouble. The action while great fun in short bursts can get repetitive after prolonged play. Still all things considered this game comes pretty close to the four star mark as well, but minor things prevent it from being truly great. It looks nice and sharp plus the environment does a good job of mixing things up. If all you want is action you can do a lot worse than this, hopefully you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
In the hunt(kolpekia)***-This was one of the first playstation games I ever purchased, and it still ranks as one of my favorite. Of course this article isn’t about the playstation, no this is saturn country. But the psx version WAS the reason I fought so hard to find a copy (Ebay can be a true monster of an opponent). And the saturn game is more or less the exact same game plus a really bad intro video and the benefit of the superior saturn controller. This is one of the few nautical theamed shooters that doesn’t have bizarre space fish or anything of the like (barring the hydra and stone man). No all the opponents here are of the mechanical variety, and are pretty nifty too. Plus the two player co-op is to die for, not only is the action superb. But you and your friend can compete for boss brands similar to those put on fighter planes for ever enemy ship they take down. Whoever scores the most points on a boss gets to wear the emblem proudly, it’s a nice touch. The nautical motif and excellent co-op really make this one a winner not to be missed.