Saturn Reviews A

Area 51
Grade: A-
Publisher: Midway (1995)
Reviewed: 2011/10/20
Rating: Mature (17+) realistic violence

screenshotWhen it comes to light gun games, they just don't make 'em like this anymore! Area 51 was a mainstay in the arcades and it's easy to see why. It used photo-realistic scenery, live actors, and claymation-style aliens. You are a soldier trying to bring order to the Area 51 base after detained aliens have run amuck. The action is "on rails" meaning you have no control over your movement.

That's fine, because you'll want to focus on your sharpshooting. You'll clear out warehouses, hangars, and offices as aliens and zombified soldiers pour out of the woodwork. It's very satisfying to see barrels explode and splatter nearby aliens. My favorite part of the game is when you're being driven around an airfield in a jeep, blasting barrels and causing mayhem at high speeds.

The shooting might seem shallow on the surface, but there are special weapons and secret rooms you can unlock by hitting strategic targets (like windows). As much as I loved the Playstation version, the Saturn rules when it comes to light gun accuracy, which puts this edition a cut above. Area 51 packs a few surprises, but even if it didn't, there's plenty of fun to be had. As icing on the cake, you can even team up with a friend. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 80,231
1 or 2 players 

Astal
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sega (1995)
Reviewed: 2002/3/26
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotI was expecting Astal to be a dull, generic side-scroller, and the corny, overwrought intro didn't help matters. But once I started playing, I was captivated. The scenery is a pastel-colored fantasy world, and the hand-drawn graphics are wonderfully artistic. Beautiful, tranquil background music complements the visuals perfectly. The characters are large and colorful, most ranging from fantastic and bizarre. Just wait until you see the bosses - these 3D monstrosities are simply amazing.

Of course, the fancy presentation wouldn't mean squat if the gameplay wasn't any good, but it is. The side scrolling action is slow and deliberate, but there are some innovative attacks that spice things up. You can smash the ground, toss enemies, throw things down from the air, and use a devastating breath attack.

Best of all, you have a bird companion that can perform special attacks, gather items, and occasionally save your life. It's possible for a second player to take control of the bird, which is a nice touch. Astal provides a few continues, but unfortunately there's no password feature. It takes a while to master the controls, but it's worth the effort. Astal is an attractive, underrated side-scroller. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of Moby Games, Shinforce, Games Database, Video Game Museum, GameSpot, Rotten Tomatoes, Racket Boy, GameFAQs.com, Old Games News, Hardcore Gaming 101, IGN.com