As of 2013 I have 71 Saturn games, including 6 imports, not including the two demo discs, so it’s a whole lot less games than that N64 list I’ll post soon, but it’s a nice collection. I don’t have an import-heavy collection, so I’ll be reviewing a bunch of the Western Saturn releases that people often seem to skip over. Some are good games. The list is complete, but I’m sure some work could still be done to improve it even more. I’d also like to add all of the save file sizes.
One other thing to know is that I do have an Arcade Racer wheel and Mission Stick joystick, as well as the 3D Controller (and regular model 2 controllers too, of course, though I don’t use them), so I will be saying how games work with those controllers. I think that not enough people know about how games work with the Saturn’s analog controllers, so explaining about that is certainly one of my goals in this list. I don’t have the Stunner lightgun though.
My favorite Saturn games, of the ones I own:
2. Panzer Dragoon
4. Daytona USA
5. Galactic Attack
6. Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
7. Sega Rally Championship
9. Bug Too!
10. Star Fighter
Honorable Mentions: Willy Wombat, V.R.: Virtua Racing, Virtua Cop, Night Warriors: DarkStalkers Revenge, Blazing Dragons, Grandia, Fighting Vipers, Daytona USA: Circuit Edition, Clockwork Knight, Magical School Lunar!, Lunacy, Soviet Strike
2/21/2013: Added five new summaries:
- Jurassic Park: The Lost World
- Maximum Force
- Sonic 3D Blast
- Soviet Strike
3/9/2017: Fixed a few spelling mistakes; removed many uses of parenthesis; changed a few summaries that needed fixes, most notably replacing mentions of “2.5d” fighting games with just “no full 3d movement”, which is a much more accurate description; and most importantly, added a table of contents with hyperlinks to all game titles in the article.
Table of Contents
Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1
Battle Arena Toshinden Remix
Bootleg Sampler (demo disc)
Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition
Choice Cuts (video “demo” disc)
Daytona USA: Circuit Edition (J)
Die Hard Arcade
Frank Thomas: Big Hurt Baseball
Iron Man / XO Manowar in Heavy Metal
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Magical School Lunar! (J) (Mahou Gakuen Lunar!)
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat – Arcade Combat Edition
The Need for Speed, Road & Track Presents
NHL All-Star Hockey
Night Warriors: DarkStalkers’ Revenge
NiGHTS into dreams…
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei
Puyo Puyo 2: Tsuu (J)
Rise 2: Resurrection
Scud: The Disposable Assassin
Sega Rally Championship
Shanghai: Triple Threat
Sonic 3D Blast
Steamgear Mash (J)
Street Fighter: The Movie
ThunderStrike 2: Firestorm
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Virtua Cop 2
Virtua Fighter Remix
Virtua Fighter 2
V.R.: Virtua Racing
Willy Wombat (J)
(Sega) Worldwide Soccer ’97
Now, on to the games. I list the special controllers each game supports and whether it supports saving at the beginning of the review, and other platforms that the game is on at the end.
Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1 – Mission Stick supported. One player, has saving. This collection includes the arcade versions of Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, Tempest, and Super Breakout. The ports of the games are solid, and the collection does save your scores and settings. The Mission Stick support gives you analog controls in Super Breakout, Centipede, and Missile Command; the other two games always were digital. For Centipede and Missile Command especially, it makes a big difference and really makes those games better. I’m not so sure that it improves Super Breakout, though — in this game, in analog mode basically the stick acts as the paddle, so it’ll be on the left side of the screen when you move the stick fully left, at the center when centered, or on the right when you push it all the way right. That is, it doesn’t move the paddle, but instead basically the stick is the paddle. It’s kind of odd. For those other two though, huge improvement with analog. The analog mode will NOT work with the 3D Controller, so you’ll need a Mission Stick to make use of it. This collection also has some bonus materials, including developer interview videos and information stuff; this is one of the top reasons to actually buy this collection, or its counterpart PS1 version, now, because these materials aren’t available elsewhere. Also released on PS1, SNES (without saving or the extras), and PC.
Astal – Two players, no saving. Astal is a beautiful, but somewhat empty, anime-styled 2d platformer. You play as Astal, a superpowerful little anime character who has to save the world and rescue the girl, as usual. The game has very good 2d graphics and animation, but unfortunately, the greatness ends with the graphics. The game’s boring level designs don’t hold up well, and the gameplay suffers a lot as a result. Basically, you just go to the right in every level, and there aren’t enough obstacles, or variety, to keep me interested long enough to keep playing. Given the price this game usually sells for, I don’t know if I’d recommend it or not. Still, it is an okay 2d platformer on the Saturn, and the Saturn doesn’t have too many of them. Oh, the two player mode has player two controlling this little thing that flies around after Astal; it’s not a full versus mode or something. Think Mario Galaxy’s two player mode, and stuff like that. Saturn exclusive title.
Baku Baku – Two players, has backup save. Baku Baku is a block-dropping puzzle game from Sega, and was the primary … inspiration … for Capcom’s much more popular game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Basically, Puzzle Fighter is a blatant ripoff of Baku Baku. And yes, Baku Baku came first, it isn’t the other way around. I’ve read some excuses saying that Puzzle Fighter took ideas from a third, earlier game too, but that one’s quite different… no, it’s just Baku Baku with a few additions. Now, I do think that Puzzle Fighter’s additions make it a better game overall than Baku Baku is. The additions of the timed drop blocks and the way that blocks next to eachother will (in Puzzle Fighter) combine to form larger, higher-value blocks are great features that Baku Baku does not have. However, apart from that, the only real difference between the two games is the graphics. In this game, you play as some prerendered anime style characters who have to capture all of the escaped zoo animals. So, to use Puzzle Fighter terms because that’s the game I’m the most familiar with, playing the role of the regular gems are food blocks, and playing the role of crash gems are the animal blocks. It’s a cute game, and a lot of fun; Puzzle Fighter is one of the best puzzle games ever made, and this one is nearly as good too. This is a fantastic game, and you’ll get it for a lot less than the Saturn version of Puzzle Fighter, too! Also released on PC and Game Gear.
Battle Arena Toshinden Remix – Two players, no saving. This is a modified version of the first Toshinden game from the Playstation. For the most part it’s a port, but they mixed up a few things, and added another character I believe. The graphics aren’t quite as good as they were on PS1, but otherwise the game’s intact. Toshinden is an early attempt at a 3d fighting game. It’s great that you do actually have full 3d movement — that was rare at this point, most polygonal fighters on the Saturn don’t actually allow you to move in three dimensions with the main d-pad controls — but the game only sort of works, and can be frustrating. Toshinden never was all that great of a game, and I think the graphics and novelty were the things that really made the original PS1 release so popular in 1995. I will admit that this isn’t a terrible game, though; it’s not that good, but occasionally can be amusingly fun. Also released on PS1.
Battle Monsters – Two players, no saving. Battle Monsters is a unique 2d fighting game. The game’s not the greatest, but at least the developer did try something different, which counts for something. To give a comparison, Battle Monsters is essentially the Super Smash Bros. of digitized-people (Mortal Kombat-style graphics) fighting games. First, the arenas often have multiple levels, with different platforms to jump between. The combat system isn’t exactly like SSB, but does make me think somewhat of it, as Battle Monsters has as simplified fighting system where all of the characters activate their special moves via basic, one or two direction plus button commands, and the game only has two attack buttons, punch and kick. No quarter-circles here, it’s simpler than that. That may sound too simple, but there’s enough depth in the different moves, and characters, to give it some decent lastability, if you like it that is. The graphics are only okay; for a digitized-people game, this is probably lower tier. It’s pretty hard to figure out what some of the characters are supposed to be, or even gender in a few cases. Still, even if it’s certainly not one of the Saturn’s best fighting games, as a unique attempt at something clearly different from all of those Mortal Kombat clones, and indeed perhaps more of a predecessor to SSB than a clone of MK, Battle Monsters deserves a look. It’s fun for a few playthroughs, at least, for sure. Saturn exclusive.
Black Fire – One player, has saving, and supports the Mission Stick. Black Fire is a helicopter sim from NovaLogic, a company which made many sim games in the ’90s. NovaLogic mostly worked on the PC, but they did a few console games, obviously including this one. Black Fire isn’t the most hardcore of helicopter sims — this is no Jane’s Longbow II, let’s just put it that way — but with a Mission Stick it’s not too bad. I wouldn’t really recommend it without the Mission Stick, though; without the analog flight controls it gives you, it just isn’t the same game. This game is NOT 3D Controller compatible — it uses the analog stick’s throttle wheel for vertical movement, so controls on a 3D Controller in analog mode won’t work. This game is really something for genre fans. If you like somewhat simmish helicopter shooting games you might enjoy it. It’s not a great game though, I think; I’ve definitely played better helicopter games before, like, well, the aforementioned Longbow II. I think I might enjoy the ThunderStrike games a bit more than this too, though they’re close. Saturn exclusive title.
Blast Chamber – Four players (with multitap, two without), has saving (17 blocks). Blast Chamber is a multiplayer-focused action game from Activision. It looks like they put some money into its marketing, but I just don’t like the core gameplay very much, and find this game disappointing and not very fun. I must admit that I’ve never played it with other people, though; that’d probably be better than it is against the CPU. Still though… not so great. The game does have an original concept, I just don’t know how much I like it. On that note, as for the gameplay, Blast Chamber is a single-screen game. In the game you find a four-sided, rotating chamber, the Blast Chamber. You play one of four “contestants” who are in this game of death. You don’t get weapons, though. No shooting here. This game is a bit more complex than that. Basically, all four players each have a life timer. When your timer runs out, you die. In order to add more time to your timer, you have to grab the crystal items and carry it to your colored base. If you do that, you get time added. If anyone ELSE brings a crystal to your base, though, you lose time. The only attack in the game is punching; you can hit the other players, and when they fall over they’ll drop the crystal if they’re carrying one. Generally one player has their base on each side of the room, and that’s where the room rotation comes in to play. See, at certain points, you can rotate the room. The person who rotated the room will stay on their feet, but everyone else will fall down to the new floor, again dropping any crystals they have. You can also jump, for more complex rooms with more obstacles and such in them. And that’s the game. You compete in Blast Chambers, either against humans or computers. And… meh. My first impression wasn’t too good, and it’s stuck. I just don’t have enough fun to want to keep playing. Also released on PS1.
Blazing Dragons – One player, has saving. This game is a classic-style graphic adventure game for consoles. It’s funny and has good 2d art, like the best classic adventure games. Well, this one isn’t the best adventure game — it’s far too short, for one thing — but while it lasts, it is a pretty fun, and entertaining, game. If you like graphic adventures, you should play Blazing Dragons. In the game you play as a dragon, not a human, which is great; nice change from the usual adventure game thing. This was also released on PS1.
Bug! – One player, has saving (2 blocks). Bug! is an early attempt at a 3d platformer. It’s very, very ’90s, with a wisecracking anthropomorphic animal (bug, to be specific) as a character, but I think that gives it some charm; I think Bug’s lines are sometimes amusing, myself. The game is part 2.5d platformer, part 3d platformer. I think that it’s a very interesting, and really good, game, but it’s a very good game with one significant flaw — it’s incredibly hard. And that really is a big problem. This game is HARD. The save system is unfairly designed, too — not only can you only save between worlds, but it actually limits how many times you can load your save file on each level before you have to go back to an earlier level! You can get around this by backing up your save file to a memory card and copying it back for each use, but still, it’s a pain. As for the controls, Bug! controls okay. The controls are entirely digital, as you’d expect in 1995, but most of the gameplay is two dimensional, so it’s not too bad. That is, the levels are three dimensional mazes of platforms, traps, and challenges, but you’re almost always on a path that only allows you to move along one plane, except for when it intersects with other ones. This system works well. This clearly was a team trying to figure out how to merge three dimensional worlds with traditional platformer gameplay. They succeeded, I think. There are some bumps, mostly in the difficulty level and the very long length of the levels, though. On that note, yes, the levels are very long too, and checkpoints are infrequent so when you die, expect to go back a long way. And of course, on game over you go back all the way to the beginning of the world. And each world is made up of three long levels and a boss. Still, overall, I like Bug! a lot. I don’t know if I’ll ever beat it, it’s just too hard, but I like it a lot even so. Bug! is one of my favorite Saturn games. Saturn and PC only.
Bug Too! – One player, has saving (1 block). Bug Too!, the second and unfortunately last game in the Bug series, is a very similar game to the first one across the board. The game makes a few changes, such as improving the graphics even more and giving you three different characters to choose from, instead of just Bug, and also in having more areas with depth, instead of just 2d paths. Yes, this time fewer paths will be strictly flat, so you’ll have to deal with depth issues this time in ways you rarely did in the first one, where most of the time you were moving on a (horizontal or vertical) 2d plane only. I like that they were trying to mix things up, and add something new that the first game didn’t have, but they needed more 3d-friendly controls to go along with the level designs, I think, and I don’t know if this camera works the best for these levels either. However, this game does have some really cool sequences, both visually and gameplay-wise, so these are just criticisms of a great game, not game-breaking flaws, in my opinion. Still, as I said I wish that they’d added 3d controller support, it was out by the time this game released. Instead controls are the same as the first game, so you do still have to move only one one plane at a time. This doesn’t mix all that well with the game’s more open levels, I think — the depth issues make the game harder. Judging depth in a game like this can be quite tricky. Still, it’s a fantastic game… the complaints above are blemishes on this game, but the great graphics and good gameplay carry it through, if you can handle it. Yes, Bug Too! is probably even harder than the first game. As with the first game you can only save between worlds, and that means beating three long, LONG levels with a bare minimum of deaths, and then beating a boss, before you can save. Good luck, you’ll need it. Even the first world is brutally difficult — finishing it is a real test of skill. Apart from the difficulty and sad lack of analog controls I like this game a lot, but it is somewhat crazily hard. Saturn and PC only.
Bust-A-Move 2: Arcade Edition – Two player, has saving (69 blocks). First, for those who don’t know it, Bust-A-Move is one of the classic puzzle game series, and BAM2 is a great early game in that series. But this version of BAM2 isn’t just a great game. No, Bust-A-Move 2’s Saturn release is by far its best anywhere. Indeed, the Saturn version of BAM2 has some major features that don’t exist in any other release of the game. First, on the Saturn there is a second puzzle mode with an entirely different set of puzzles. So for that main single player mode, you’ve got twice as much content here as in other versions of BAM2. And second, BAM2 for Saturn has a puzzle creator. BAM3 and BAM4 had puzzle creators standard, but this is the only version of BAM2 with one. Beyond that, this is the same great puzzle action you can find in other games in the series. BAM2’s main options are the puzzle mode, where you play as Bub or Bob and go through a pyramid-shaped cone of levels, choosing your path at each branch (with, as I said above, two different entirely separate level sets, the second exclusive to this version), vs. CPU mode, where you play through a sequence of CPU opponents, and 2-player mode, in addition to the puzzle edit mode. I do think that BAM3 eclipses BAM2, and that one is my favorite in the whole franchise, but BAM2 is still a great game too, and this is the version to have. BAM2 is on many platforms (PC, N64, PS1, GB…), but they don’t have this one’s extras.
Clockwork Knight – One player, no saving. Clockwork Knight is a 2.5d platformer. You’re a toy knight and have to rescue the kidnapped toy princess. Sigh, yes, it’s THAT plot again. Fortunately the gameplay’s a bit better than the story. This game’s only barely 2.5d, though. Quite unlike Bug! and its large 3d levels, in Clockwork Knight you just go to the right. This game doesn’t even have the perspective shifts you’ll find in most later 2.5d platformers. This is basically a 2d game with some polygonal elements. Of course however this game was a very, very early Saturn title, launching in December 1994 in Japan, so it deserves some lenience, and with that in mind, it is a fun game. Clockwork Knight is about as 4th gen like as 2.5d platformers can get, and it’s a simple game, but it’s a fun simple game, so that’s alright. I like Clockwork Knight. It might be a little under-rated, though certainly there are plenty of other platformers as good as it is, you rarely hear it mentioned even on that list. Saturn exclusive.
CrimeWave – Two players, has saving, has Arcade Racer support. CrimeWave is a 3d polygonal overhead isometric driving combat game. The game has some really good points, and some really bad points. Overall I love the game, but its flaws are so huge that while playing it I’m almost as likely to hate it as I am to love it… but I do like it a lot overall. First, the graphics. I like the visual look of the game; the game has solid 3d graphics for its time. I like the art design too, each area and vehicle has a good look to it. There are two zoom levels; I recommend the farther zoom, because you can see more. It’ll be a little slower, but it’s worth it. On either zoom though, slowdown is a definite problem. It is the biggest graphical blemish the game has by far — the slowdown is frequent. That’s unfortunate, but doesn’t ruin the game in my opinion. The good visual design shines through the framerate issues. As for the gameplay, your goal in CrimeWave is to destroy the offending cars. You’re a bounty hunter working for the government, and have to destroy the threats to the city. Problem is, the government strapped a bomb to your car, so if you fail to destroy your enemy within two minutes of closing in on them, your car explodes and you lose. And no, I don’t mean that you lose a life. You only get one chance in this game. Blow up once, and that’s it, start over. And that timer ticks down FAST. You do have a large array of weapons to use, and there are even more lying around the stages, though, so you do have a chance. However you lose all weapons you picked up when you die, so even though you will respawn until time runs out, dying once can be a game-ending error, sometimes. So, memorize the levels (learning the road networks is key!), memorize where the enemies come from and their patterns, and figure out how to not die. It won’t be easy, though. CrimeWave’s world is made up of eight interlocking areas. Once you beat an area, several others will be opened. You begin the game with two available as a starting location. Your starting area will determine which car you use throughout the game — each car is specific to each of the eight starting areas. While you cannot continue after dying, as I said above, you can unlock more starting locations by beating levels. However, you don’t unlock an area as a start point (and unlock its vehicle) by just reaching them. Oh no, that’d be far too easy. Instead, you have to actually finish a level in order to unlock it. Yes, seriously. Just reaching a level isn’t enough, you have to beat it in order to start from that level, they are that cruel. And that too-high challenge level really is this game’s biggest problem, in my opinion. The hardest challenge is saved for the end of each area, too — the end of level bosses are brutal. You MUST have a powered up car, with lots of powerups and a large array of weapons, or you’ve got no chance at all of beating the bosses. So, for area one, I recommend first memorizing some of the weapons cache locations hidden around the area, and getting them. Also, somewhere late in the level but before the boss, maybe also blow up some civilian cars intentionally, in order to get docked points. The goal here is to repeat the 9th enemy, so that you can have more points; it’ll be hard to beat the boss without blowing up civilians, and if you get docked too many points and don’t have 500 after winning, you’ll… have to fight the boss AGAIN, because the last enemy is always the boss. Ouch! The bosses are often faster than your default car speed, too. If I go straight to the boss, I’m never fast enough to actually keep up, and if you can’t keep up, time will tick away and it’ll be game over. So have turbo powerups before facing that thing. Oh, as for the Arcade Racer support, it does work (and is only analog with the wheel, important to note), but I’d rather use the gamepad, overall. The (gamepad) controls definitely take some getting used to, but I think I have quicker control with the pad, and you need that. Finally, the two player mode is a co-op mode – a second person can join in to the main game at any time, and the screen will go to a split. Pretty cool, though I’m sure it hurts the framerate even more. Overall, CrimeWave is really frustrating, but I like it anyway. The game’s fun to play, while I can stay alive. I just wish that it hadn’t been so cruelly designed… but even so, good game! I like CrimeWave, and I definitely think that it’s under-appreciated. Is it a casualty of its difficulty, its slowdown, or that it was a Western-developed Saturn exclusive? Whatever it is, despite the game’s significant problems, it’s too bad that most people seem to have discounted it. It’s good. Saturn exclusive title.
Criticom – Two players, no saving. Criticom is a terrible 3d fighting game. This game has full 3d movement, unlike something like Virtua Fighter, but that sure doesn’t mean that it’s anything other than atrocious. Don’t buy this game. This game has two sequels of sorts, or at least, two more 3d fighting games were made by this same team. The second is Dark Rift for the N64 and PC (releasing it on other platforms so as to spread out the pain, were they?), and the third is Cardinal Syn for the PS1. Avoid all three of them! Just like this game, the others are also atrociously bad. Another thing they all have in common is an insane challenge level — Criticom and Dark Rift are both excessively difficult games, so much so that they’re not any fun at all, if they ever were fun to begin with. That’s doubtful. Also on PS1.
Cyber Speedway – Two players, has saving, has Arcade Racer and Mission Stick support. Cyber Speedway is an early futuristic hovercar racing game for the Saturn. On that note, no, this is NOT a Wipeout knockoff. It actually released before Wipeout did, in fact. It’s just in the same genre, and while decent, admittedly is not as good as that classic. You can tell that it’s an early release, too — the graphics are rough and early. This is not a pretty game, art design aside. On that note, yes, one of the highlights of this game is the art, which was done by legendary sci-fi designer Syd Mead. It’s pretty good, but the ingame graphics… not so much. Cyber Speedway is broken into two circuits, the first with five tracks, and the second with six, the first five new tracks in the five environments from the first circuit (and these are entirely new tracks, not variants or something), and the last an all-new final course. Eleven races may sound like a good bit for this time, but actually this game is pretty short, and won’t take long to finish. Still, as a futuristic racing game fan, I liked Cyber Speedway. The game has a story too, told with conversations between races and backed by Syd Mead art, and it’s fun to go through. Overall, the game, while not amazing, is solid, anyway. Also, it works quite well with the 3D Controller; the 3D Controller emulates the Mission Stick mode, which is better than the Arcade Racer controls are thanks to the better up/down control (you can’t tilt the wheel up and down, after all…). And yes, this game does have splitscreen, unlike the other racing game released around this same time, Daytona USA. Get Cyber Speedway if you find it for cheap, but don’t pay too much. Saturn exclusive title.
Cyberia – One player, has saving. Cyberia is an early FMV title made up entirely of prerendered CG. The game was released on various platforms, and was somewhat successful too. However, this game is very much a relic of its time. You’ve got your standard turret-shooting sequences, you’ve got some prerendered adventure game elements where you have to explore a base and decide what to do, etc. This is all par for the course stuff for anyone with experience with early CG FMV titles. At least the game supports saving and saves at every major point… it’s needed. Cyberia’s a game which has aged badly, like the rest of its genre. Still, this isn’t really a bad game; it’s alright. I’d just rather play other things… but as one of the better examples of a popular early kind of 5th gen game, it’s maybe worth a look, though I don’t know about a buy. Also on PC, PS1, and 3DO. (Oddly, the sequel, Cyberia 2, was released only on the PC.)
Daytona USA – One player, has saving, has Arcade Racer support. This first version of Daytona is somewhat controversial. A few people love it, while most others can’t stand it and think it’s the worst version of Daytona around. Well, I’m in the former camp — I like this version of Daytona a lot. Sure, it has the worst graphics of any version of Daytona, has no multiplayer, and only has three tracks. It also doesn’t have a championship mode, so the only thing you can do here is single races. That problem is one that plagues most racing games on the Saturn, and all of Sega’s racing games on the system — they almost never have any lasting single player modes. Virtua Racing does, but that port was outsourced, which is probably WHY it does. Sega’s ports on the Genesis and 32X don’t. Why they didn’t realize that championship modes are absolutely vital in racing games? It makes absolutely no sense, and is annoying. At least they finally figured that out on the DC… but anyway, Those things are all true. However, Daytona USA is an incredibly fun game even so. Sure you have to make your own challenges, but it’s a very tough game and will take time to get good at. This version probably has the best controls of any console version of Daytona, which means a lot. I simply think that this version controls better than the CCE, CE, or 2001 (DC) versions. This game works fantastically well with the Arcade Racer or Mission Stick. Daytona games just have never quite worked well with analog gamepads, an issue that this version shares, but I actually think that Daytona plays really, really well with the Mission Stick joystick. I wasn’t expecting it to when I first tried it, but it does… and you can’t use a joystick with any later console version of the game, only gamepad or wheel. The handling in this version is perfect, it really is. With a 3D Controller the controls are too jerky, but later versions of Daytona wouldn’t really improve on that much, they’d just ditch the joystick support. I think that this game’s graphics are okay too; yes, it has a draw distance, and the visuals could be better, but they’re certainly not bad. Good enough to do for sure, and better looking than, say, Cyber Speedway. I think it’s quite acceptable looking. Overall, Daytona USA has a thin feature set, but great controls and fun gameplay. This is a good game, and I have no idea why people liked the first Ridge Racer title for the PS1 over this; I think that there’s absolutely no question, Daytona USA is a much better game. It’s more fun to play and has got more tracks, three versus 1.25 or so for RR, too, so even if three tracks isn’t many — and it isn’t — at least it crushes its main competition, Ridge Racer. Other versions of the game are also on arcades, PC, and PS3/360 download. Enhanced versions were also released on Saturn, PC, and Dreamcast.
Daytona USA: Circuit Edition (Japanese import) – Two player, has saving, has Arcade Racer and 3D Controller support. Daytona USA Circuit Edition is the final Saturn version of Daytona USA. This version has five tracks, so two more were added. It has better graphics than the first release too, and all the music, both the original game’s songs and the instrumental pieces from CCE. You can choose which music goes with each track. CE also has eight cars instead of the first version’s two. There still isn’t a championship mode — you’ll only find that in the Dreamcast version — but it does have more tracks and cars, at least, and splitscreen multiplayer. For the controls, while the intermediate Saturn version, the US/EU-released Daytona Championship Circuit Edition, had more Sega Rally-esque controls, this one returns to controls very much like the first Saturn version. I think that that one has slightly better controls than this one or the DC version, which controls very much like this release, do, but it’s certainly okay here, at least, and is better than CCE’s controls anyway. I was disappointed to find that the Mission Stick doesn’t work with this version, though, as I said earlier that is my preferred controller for the first version. It’s the same with CCE; that native 3D Controller support came at the cost of the Mission Stick, apparently. Whichever version of Daytona you play, the controls with analog gamepads are far too jerky and imprecise; Daytona somehow seems to absolutely need a wheel or, for the first Saturn Daytona, joystick to control well. At least the wheel is still supported in this version, and it works very well. This version is also on PC, and the DC version is an enhanced version of this release. Note that Daytona CE actually did get a US release, as the incredibly rare and expensive Daytona CCE Netlink Edition. That version is widely stated to be identical to the regular CCE release except with online, but I’ve read that actually it’s a US release of this version, the CE. Of course, given the price, just get the import like I did. There’s absolutely no Japanese text in the game; only the manual is in Japanese. The game is in English.
Die Hard Arcade – Two player, no saving. Die Hard Arcade is Sega’s first 3d beat ’em up, and it was a popular title in the arcades. Die Hard Arcade has okay 3d graphics, but they’re nothing great. Acceptable for the Saturn, I guess. The game is essentially a single-screen-at-a-time game; areas don’t scroll, instead you fight in a room, and after beating the enemies will move to the next room automatically. There are some QTEs in the segments between rooms, and failing them can lead to you having to do an extra room. Unlike its Dreamcast sequel Dynamite Cop, this game is pretty much the same each time, with one route and minimal alternate paths. It also doesn’t save, and the only way to get more than a minimum number of credits is to, at the beginning of every single game, play a lengthy game of an early Sega arcade game. This game’s a bit boring though, so I don’t think this was the best design decision. Dynamite Cop has an early arcade game in it too, but you don’t have to play it that time, it’s optional. Better design there. Overall though, while lacking in variety and with a few questionable design decisions, Die Hard Arcade is a good, and fun, game. The sequel is essentially an improved version of the same thing, though, except on a cruise boat instead of a large building as this game is. Saturn and arcades only.
Fighting Vipers – Two player, has saving. Fighting Vipers is one of Sega’s many 3d fighting games for the Saturn which do not have direct “3d” movement controls in most of the game. I say that because much like the Saturn Virtua Fighter games and some others, you don’t have direct 3d movement control. Instead, all you can do is just move on a 2d plane, even though the characters and arena are fully polygonal. In all of these games some moves do move the characters around in 3d, and there is a hidden option to enable true 3d movement in one special mode, but in most of the game moves are the only way to shift the plane of the fight around in 3d, which makes it feel very 2.5d at times. Where you go around the arena isn’t something you can easily control. I prefer 3d fighting games to actually have 3d movement, but of the Saturn 2.5d fighters I’ve played, this is my favorite one. Yes, I legitimately enjoy this game, unlike, say, Virtua Fighter. It’s a bit faster paced and more fun, in my opinion. I like how they made it more than just a VF game. The arenas are all walled cages, too, which is nice, though it makes me wish for 3d movement even more — it’s frustrating that it’s so hard to maneuver the computer against the wall, 3d movement would make that much simpler. Oh well. The graphics are pretty average for the Saturn. The character designs are a bit silly — this game looks pretty ’90s — but are okay. As with many 3d fighting games rounds, and games, are pretty short, which I’ve never liked; I prefer longer rounds in fighting games, like you find in the King of Fighters or Last Blade games. Too long isn’t good, but games like this go too far the other way. Still, at least it’s not as short as games like Tekken; it’d have been nice if Fighting Vipers rounds were a bit longer, but I don’t mind them too much as they are. It is a short game though, unless you get into it and want to get good. They try to make up for it with the higher, harder difficulty levels, and plenty of depth in the move system of course. Whether that’s enough or not is something that’s a matter of opinion, probably. Still, for a 2.5d Saturn fighter, this game’s pretty good. Saturn and arcade exclusive.
Frank Thomas: Big Hurt Baseball – Two player, has saving. This version has the same name as the 4th gen version from the year before, but is in fact a sequel. This game, from 1996, is Acclaim’s last baseball game before the first All-Star Baseball game, so it has some similarities to that series. Overall, it’s an okay game, but a bit slow-paced and boring; I love baseball, it’s my favorite sport by far, but did they really need to make the pitchers take almost as long to throw the ball in this game as they do in real life? It’s kind of ridiculous. Also, you only have three pitches to choose from, and aiming your pitches works in a very 16-bit style, and by that I mean that it’s somewhat limited and imprecise. You can supposedly change pitch speeds too, but I have trouble getting that to work right. Also, I found figuring out the timing for batting really hard — it took five or six innings before I even made contact once, I think, in my first game. Yeah, this game has very tight batting timing. It feels kind of unfair when I can barely even make contact while the computer keeps batting around… Still, overall this game isn’t bad. If you like baseball as I do it might be worth a try, but there are definitely better baseball games out there. Still, it’s better than some, anyway. The game works, fielding is good, the graphics (3d camera with sprite characters) are fine, and once you manage to figure out the batting timing, and learn to deal with the slow pace, it can be fun. Also on PS1 and PC.
Galactic Attack – Two player, has saving. This game is a shmup, and oddly enough is the only Saturn shmup that I own, right now at least. Galactic Attack, also known as RayForce in Japan, is a great shmup from Taito. The game is entirely 2d and looks fantastic. This isn’t just a standard vertical-scrolling shooter, though; instead, perhaps inspired by games like Xevious or After Burner and such, you have missiles that you can lock on to enemies with. In this 2d game, that functions as being able to lock on to things farther in the background, that your gun cannot shoot. The lock-on uses a targeting cursor located in a specific position above your ship — like in Xevious, you can’t move it around, it’s just in front of you a certain distance up. It works well enough, I guess. You can get powerups that let you lock on to more enemies at once, too, which is nice. The lockon system really is central to this game; indeed, at times the guns feel peripheral, as if they’re only there because people expect shmups to have guns, while in fact most of the game is really designed more for the missiles, with guns as a backup for things you miss on the first pass. At other times you are expected to use both, however, so there is a good mix of things. But the missiles are central to the game, and it does make it feel slightly gimmicky at times. I didn’t love this game when I first played it; bad memories of Xevious, which I’ve never liked, surely didn’t help me like the lockon-in-a-2d-shmup design. I came around over time, though, and now I’d say that it’s a very good game for sure. It’s a tough one — you have a continue limit and no way to unlock more credits — but it’s great fun. Oh, the saving just saves your options and top seven scores, that’s it. Still, it’s very nice to have. Arcade and Saturn exclusive, in the West at least. Japan may have a PS2 release.
Gex – One player, password only saving. Gex, a multiplatform 2d platformer starring a very ’90s wisecracking lizard voiced by a comedian, has system saving on the 3DO and PC, but passwords only on PS1 and Saturn for whatever reason. Beyond that though, this is a fine, very accurate port of this good platformer. At least those passwords aren’t too long. I don’t find Gex quite as fun as, say, Rayman (another major 5th gen 2d platformer released in that same year, 1995), but it’s not nearly as hard as that game at least. Gex is a good game. The game has large levels with lots to find in them, so there’s plenty to do in each stage. Game and level design is solid; there’s not a lot to complain about here. I just don’t find it quite as fun as stuff like Mario. As for the comedy, it’s amusing, but Bug!’s is about as good, and that game’s better overall than this one in my opnion. Still, Gex is a solid B-grade platformer that’s well worth playing. I’d say it’s a lot better than its sequels, too, or at least what I’ve played of them… I haven’t played Gex 3, but Gex 2’s not so great. Also on 3DO, PS1, and PC.
Ghen War – One player, has saving, has Mission Stick support (minimally). Ghen War is another one of those often-forgotten Saturn games, overlooked because of its Western origin and 3d graphics. Saturn fans usually seem to be very focused on the system’s 2d, Japanese-developed efforts, and forget about the other stuff. Well, this one isn’t one of the best Western Saturn games, for sure, but it’s not the worst either. Ghen War is a mech first person shooting game. In the game, you go through a series of large levels, having to cleanse them of evil aliens. The levels aren’t just cooridors, but are instead large areas full of hills and valleys to traverse. However, while it can be fun to play, Ghen War has some issues that hurt it. The game has mediocre graphics, first. I know this is an early title, but still, the Saturn can do way better than this. The draw distance is way too close, too; there’s a black wall not far away in the distance at all times. Also, the game doesn’t have any analog controls — the Mission Stick support mentioned on the back of the box simply switches the buttons around so that fire is on the main trigger, it doesn’t give you analog control of your mech; that’s why I said “minimally” above. It’s disappointing, but better than nothing for sure! Fire on C would have been a real pain. Still, Ghen War’s an okay game. Look past the graphics, and you’ll find a moderately entertaining mech-FPS. Kill those evil aliens trying to exterminate the human race! Saturn exclusive.
Grandia (Japanese import) – One player, has saving. Grandia was Game Arts’ first major RPG after the Lunar games, and it’s a very good one. However, this version of course is in Japanese, as it wasn’t released outside of Japan, sadly, so it’s not much fun to play. There is an English translation, but it’s just a text file and not a patch, and only covers the first and last thirds of the game; for the middle part you’re on your own. Still, I thought this was worth getting because I wanted to see how it differs from the PS1 version which, yes, I also own, and because there’s an addon of sorts to Grandia, Grandia Digital Museum, that’s Saturn-exclusive. I don’t have Digital Museum yet, but I’ll definitely get it eventually; it has some new dungeons and minigames, with a party of Justin, Feena, and Sue. Good stuff. As for this though, it does have slightly better graphics than the PS1 version. The ground map in the starting town makes more sense here too. Still, there’s not much reason to get this really; the PS1 version doesn’t look much worse, and it’s in English. Get this if you want to get the most out of Digital Museum or if you really want to see the platform differences. Also on PS1.
Grid Runner – Two player, has saving. Grid Runner is an okay, but not great, topdown 3d action game. The graphics are alright for the time, but unspectacular. Visually it doesn’t leave a strong impression either way. The game has some strong puzzle elements, inspired by, perhaps, Lode Runner, but it plays on an isometric grid instead of on a wall. This game isn’t as good as Lode Runner, but it’s okay. It’s not just a clone, though; this game is its own thing, and mixes things up by having each level center around a 1-on-1 challenge. You face off against a single opponent in each stage, and the goal is to get to the flags on each stage, and turn the required number to your color. The first player to turn enough flags to their color wins the round. Your moves include jumping, attacking, and creating platforms to fill in gaps in the pattern. However, if you’re hit while creating a platform it won’t build, so you need some space to make them. Flags are often surrounded by holes, so you’ll need to make platforms to get to them. Of course, the computer can make platforms too. There are powerups on the maps you can collect and use as well. The game’s somewhat mediocre overall, but can get frenetic at times, so it’s fun sometimes, anyway. This would probably be fun in multiplayer, too. And yes, I like it more than Blast Chamber. Also on PS1.
Hi-Octane – Two player, has saving, has Arcade Racer support. Hi-Octane is a port of the PC game of the same name. This is a futuristic racing game built on the Magic Carpet engine, which is an interesting use of that engine. The game has somewhat ugly graphics, particularly in this Saturn release, and a somewhat close draw distance though it is far enough away to see where you’re going, so it’s not too bad, and lacking analog in its controls as even the wheel’s a bit digital-feeling, but I do in fact like this game. Part of that’s because I love futuristic racing games in general, so they have to do a lot wrong for me to hate them, but it’s also that this is a genuinely fun game. The graphics may be ugly, but they do the job, and the tracks are all large, complex, and fun to race through. This games’ track designs are great. The games’ weapon system works well as well — shooting at your opponents is always entertaining. The game has some design and balance problems, such as how hard it is to hit the other cars with some weapons, and can be hard, but it’s fun most of the time, for me at least. The good weapon action, good track designs, and fun challenge carry this game through. I’d say that in terms of game design, they got more right than wrong. The Saturn doesn’t have enough games like this. Hi-Octane is a good game overall. Also on PC and PS1.
Impact Racing – Two player, has saving. Impact Racing is a mediocre futuristic car combat game. This is sort of a combat/racing cross — in each stage, you drive along a largely straight road, and have to kill a certain amount of enemies before the race ends in order to continue. How you do laps while always going straight ahead, I’ll never know… 🙂 Oh, and yes, there is a timer always counting down, so you can’t just stop or something. There are a bunch of different weapons to collect and use, but overall this is a very simplistic game, with a basic concept and execution. The graphics are strictly average at best; below average, perhaps. The controls are about the same. They work, but no one would call them great. This game doesn’t even have any analog support; though the lack of Arcade Racer support is somewhat justifiable with how it uses the shoulder buttons for triggers, and does use the face buttons too, there has to have been a way. And of course they could always have supported the Mission Stick. Too bad, analog is better in racing games. It’s not too surprising that such an average game as this wouldn’t have it, though. However, even if it’s bland, driving along and blowing up cars can be entertaining for a little while, so I don’t dislike this game, really. It’s not good, but it’s the kind of thing I find entertaining. Also on PS1.
Independence Day – Two player, has saving. As with the above title, but with even worse repercussions, Independence Day is a game with digital-only controls. As the title suggests, this game is a flight combat game where you play through the invasion of Earth, as seen in the ID4 movie, and fight back and defeat all of the alien motherships. The game’s pretty bland and generic, but it’s not as terrible as many reviews make it out to be, I think. Or at least, it’s not on Saturn; I do like how the draw distance appears to be better on Saturn than on PS1. For instance, on PS1, the motherships seem to just draw in in the distance and all you see beyond is blue sky, but on Saturn you can see a lower-detail mothership going far into the horizon. It definitely helps the game, that’s for sure. As for the gameplay, this is a generic flight combat game. Fly around and shoot planes and targets. And do so with a d-pad only; as I said above, don’t expect there to be any analog controls. With Mission Stick support this game could have been pretty fun, I think, but as is, it’s average at best. Too bad. Still, I don’t hate it, and it probably is the better version of the game, for what that’s worth. Also on PS1.
Iron Man / XO Manowar in Heavy Metal – One player, saving via (26-character) passwords only. Yes, that’s right, this game saves via TWENTY-SIX CHARACTER PASSWORDS. On the Saturn and Playstation. And yes, the PS1 version is the same in that regard. Absolutely unforgivable! Beyond that though, this game actually isn’t too bad. I know that most reviews seem to absolutely trash this game, but it doesn’t deserve it. Iron Man/XO Manowar in Heavy Metal, or Heavy Metal as I’ll call it, is a sidescrolling, probably 2.5d, platform/action game. You control one of these two nearly identical superheroes and explore large levels, looking for enemies to blow up, things to destroy, and bosses to fight. In addition to jumps, punches, and kicks, you also have a long-range laser shot, and hover jets. Yes, you can fly in this game! You do have a meter, so flight is limited, but still, I love the jetpack. Quite fun stuff. The action is fun as well. As I said above the levels aren’t always entirely linear, so there’s a bit of exploration, which is fun. The graphics are solid, too — the game has a nice 2d/2.5d mix look, and it works well I think. The visuals are a bit dark, but it’s not too bad. Overall I like the visuals and gameplay. However, the game’s somewhat unforgiving — it’s often hard to avoid damage, health ups are uncommon, and the password saves how many continues you have used, and they are most definitely limited, too. This combination can make progress after the first few stages tough. Still, I had fun with what I played of this game. Well, until it started getting hard, that is. And I certainly didn’t enjoy having to copy down those passwords. What happened there, how could they have not supported memory cards? Gah… oh well. But the actual gameplay of this game is a lot better than many of the reviews suggest. It certainly has some issues, but even so anyone who likes 16-bit-esque sidescrolling action games should check this out. I wouldn’t be surprised if one reason why it did badly when it released was simply because of how 16-bit the gameplay is, and because people wanted more “next-gen” 3d experiences… but it’s not that bad, it really isn’t. It’s an okay game, maybe even good. Also on PS1.
Jurassic Park: The Lost World – One player, password save, has not-actually-analog 3D Controller and Mission Stick support. The Lost World for PSX and Saturn is a 2.5d platform-action game. In the game, you play as five different of characters, including two humans and three dinosaurs, each in their own dedicated levels. There are 30 levels total; each character type does not have the same number of stages, and you play all levels with each character successively, so you do not switch back and forth. This concept is interesting, and I like the variety. You can’t choose which to play as, unfortunately; it’s all entirely linear. Too bad. Still, the game’s okay, though it could have been a lot better. Each character type plays differently, but the controls are decent. Some things are hard to figure out, as the game does not do a good job of explaining things unless you read the manual, though. Make sure to Eat things with the dinosaurs if you want to heal! Mission objectives are usually simple, but this game is occasionally confusing, and level designs are not always great. Also, the controls can be slippery depending on dinosaur type. As with Sonic 3D Blast, you can use the analog stick in this game, but don’t expect proportional analog controls; they’re digital. Still, better than nothing, and you can’t do that on PS1 for sure. The game has decent-quality 3d graphics and overall looks nice for a polygon game on the system. The game does not have amazing graphics, but it looks solid, and better than plenty of polygonal games from the era. Still, overall this is a just slightly above average game. While the parts all work, none are outstanding; the controls are okay but could be better, the polygon graphics are alright but not the best, and the basic gameplay simple and standard, varied characters and occasional confusion aside. Overall, this is a mediocre to okay platform action game with some interesting elements, but also some issues. Try it if you like the genre, but it deserves the moderate to low scores it got. Note that while the game does not have saving, it does have cheat codes that go straight to each of the five characters’ sections of the game, and also codes for image galleries of the various dinosaurs and such too. There’s also an Easy mode code. I’d recommend using the codes as a save system replacement. Also on Playstation.
Last Bronx – Two player, has saving. The last of Sega’s 3d-movement-free 3d fighters for the Saturn, Last Bronx released after Sega’s 3d fighters, Virtual-On and Fighters Megamix, but sadly does not have 3d movement. Instead, this game feels very much like Virtua Fighter or Fighting Vipers, but it’s even less original or interesting, in my opinion. I don’t know, Last Bronx just feels generic. This game’s not bad, it’s just absolutely nothing special either. It’s got your usual Virtua Fighter-inspired movelist, except with weapons this time; that’s Last Bronx’s main gimmick, but it doesn’t change things enough to make it too distinct from the rest of them, I think. It also has generic ’90s anime characters to control, barely more than a shred of storyline, and not much else. There are character descriptions in the manual, but that’s about it really, don’t expect endings worth mentioning for instance. It does have nice graphics, I guess, but gameplay-wise this is as generic as this genre gets. There are two modes of play, Arcade or Original, but they’re quite similar. I also find it disappointing that it doesn’t have 3d movement, given its 1997 release date. Come on Sega, get with the times. There are more problems with this game than just that, though. It’s just so bland… Released on arcades, Saturn, and PC.
Lunacy – One player, has saving. Lunacy is a good first-person, CG-rendered graphic adventure game from System Sacom, the developers of the two Mansion of Hidden Souls games for Sega CD and Saturn, and yes, they are different games; the Saturn one is not a port. There are even some references to those past games in this one, which is cool. With good enough graphics, an interesting story, and great music, the title impresses for its time. The game was brought to the US by Atlus, in one of only two US Saturn releases, and is one of Atlus’s few, and perhaps first, graphic adventure releases. Unfortunately, the Atlus name also means that this game sells for more than either Mansion of Hidden Souls title does. In this two disc adventure, you explore around a thinly populated city solving puzzles and getting involved in a complex mystery. The game is somewhat pricey, but I was lucky to find a slightly-below-ebay-value copy locally for $30. And yes, it is complete — and that’s a good thing, because the manual is very helpful, and the map that comes with the game invaluable. Either use the one that comes with the game, or find one online. You’ll need it. The game has good graphics for a Saturn FMV game; it has the usual pixelization, but the CG is good quality, as expected from the Mansion of Hidden Souls team. The game has simple controls, much like those games — left or right to rotate to points you can move to or interact with, forward to move or interact. Forward again on a zoom-in screen will pick up an item, if there’s one to pick up. X opens your inventory, so that you can try using use items on the current screen. Yeah, no pixel hunting here, as with their previous adventure games, just streamlined controls. While that makes the game easier than it would be, there is still enough challenge here that it will take a while. One oddity is that you often need to be told you can do something before it will work, so talk to everyone before giving up on a puzzle. You do have a real inventory this time after all, and the resulting inventory puzzles; even if all you have to do is use the correct item on the correct screen, it will not always be obvious. The story can be confusing for sure, but given the title, that should be expected. I don’t want to spoil much, but your character is on a quest to find his lost memory, and a mysterious city as well. You can re-watch video clips you’ve seen, which is helpful. The game starts out easier, but gets tougher by disc two. While disc one is linear, disc two also has more branching paths, and the game has multiple endings depending on your actions. Overall, this game is the best of the three US-released System Sacom CG FMV adventure games; Mansion of Hidden Souls for SCD is a good game, but it’s short and simple, and it moves much slower too. The Saturn sequel moves quicker, but still is short. Lunacy is a longer, more challenging game with no visible loading, and a very good sense of atmosphere too particularly thanks to that great, lulling music. Lunacy is a pretty good game definitely recommended for any adventure game fans! Saturn exclusive.
Magical School Lunar! (Japanese import) – One player, has saving. I love the Lunar series, and this game is no exception. Magical School Lunar! is a console remake of the also Japan-exclusive Game Gear Lunar game, Lunar Walking School. This Lunar spinoff title is set in an entirely different period of history from the two main titles, and stars a group of three girls who have been accepted at this eponymous floating magical school. The game’s a 2d game, as with both Lunar remakes, but unlike those sadly does not have visible enemies — this game returns to the classic style of annoying invisible foes. Too bad. At least it still does have save anywhere, as with all Lunar releases. The gameplay’s classic RPG stuff, except it’s all centered around this one “town”, the school, and the grounds on its island; only occasionally do you adventure off to other places. The characters are amusing, and I like the main cast — the three main girls are all good characters, and the lead is great. She’s a strong character and a good lead, and it’s great to see a Game Arts RPG with a female lead. There are three rival boys who never can quite match up to them, their flaky teacher, and several other characters. It’s all very anime, but in a good way. Obviously this game is in Japanese, but it is a Japan-only Saturn-exclusive, so if you want to play it you have no choice but to play this version. There is a translation patch for the Game Gear original, but this version is much enhanced from that one, and it doesn’t have a patch. There is a text-based translation on Lunarnet, though. It doesn’t translate all of the flavor text, but does translate the whole main story, and tells you where to go next too, and some of what the people are saying along the way. I still would absolutely love to see a full translation patch, but in the interim this one’s great, and will get you through the game understanding what’s going on. That’s important here; the story may not be the most complex thing, but it’s fun and amusing, and with all the time you spend in town, you really do need to know what people are saying, too. Otherwise the game would be very frustrating. Anyway, this game has a somewhat mixed reputation, but I think that it’s good. It’s not as great as Lunar 2, but it’s by far the best of the Lunar games made after Lunar 2. I actually kind of like Lunar DS — I kind of hate it, but I kind of like i — but this is a better game for sure. Saturn exclusive title, though it is an enhanced Game Gear remake.
Maximum Force – Two players, has saving, has 3D Controller and Stunner (light gun) support. Maximum Force is a mediocre port of the Midway arcade game. The game runs in the Area 51 engine, but with new visuals and enemies to shoot, so like that game, this one has prerendered video backdrops with live-action actors inserted on top for you to shoot. It has an over-the-top crime-fighting theme, like a light-gun take on NARC or something (but slightly sci-fi). The enemy descriptions in the manual are silly stuff; it’s worth reading. Maximum Force is an average at best game. The shooting is okay, but nothing great; there are a lot of enemies and destructible things to shoot, but the bland visuals, issues described below, and dated graphical style have not aged nearly as well as the Virtua Cop games, for instance. The game is short, too, with only three levels to fight through, and the first two don’t even have bosses! There are 35 bonus rooms to find, by destroying the right things in the environment, but still, the game is short. Still, the game is okay, even if it’s definitely not good. Maximum Force is great with the lightgun of course, if you have one and a compatible TV. The game also has 3D Controller support, though the box and manual don’t mention it anywhere; the analog cursor is slightly better than the digital one, but it’s still no match for a gun. Still, as the PS1 version doesn’t have analog gamepad support, it is one advantage over it. Also, I’m not sure, but the PS1 version does not have a save icon on the case, so I don’t know if it saves. The Saturn version, however, does support saving your scores and settings. However, in terms of visuals, the PS1 version is better. You see, the Saturn version runs in a window, just like with the Saturn version of Area 51. This time the border is smaller than Saturn Area 51’s border was, but it is still there, and sizable. It is annoying, but you get used to it; the bigger issue is the blocky Saturn-quality video. The PS1 version has clearer video thanks to its better video encoder. Also, the Saturn version costs more to buy than the PS1 version; it’s at least $15. It’s unfortunate that Midway didn’t put more effort into its (few) Saturn ports, but still, this is better than nothing at least, and it is nice that Midway released it considering its fall ’97 release date. Also, it is something more to use with the Saturn’s light gun; as good as they are, and they are good, Sega only made three light gun games itself for the Saturn. Considering the game’s issues, it’s probably not worth getting, even though it is stupidly amusing while it lasts. Only get this if you find it cheap, are wanting more to play with your Saturn light gun, or are a Saturn fan. I got it because I just can’t resist, and would rather play Saturn than PS1 anyway. And I don’t have the PS1 version, so it’s not a duplicate. I do like the gun support and saving. Also in arcades and on Playstation.
Mass Destruction – One player, has saving. Mass Destruction is a rarity — it’s a Western third party game released in 1997 that was actually designed first for the Saturn. There weren’t many of those, to say the least. It shows, though — Mass Destruction looks pretty nice for a 3d Saturn game, and apparently the game actually has better graphics on Saturn than it does on PS1, too. This is a good game, and was a nice find. Mass Destruction is a top-view isometric tank action game. In the game, you drive around in your tank blowing up buildings, gun emplacements, and enemy tanks. It won’t be as easy as it might sound, though. You’ll quickly find that damage is something to be avoided. You have a lot of health, but can take a lot of damage in a hurry, so learning how to fire accurately while strafing is essential. As your vehicles are tanks you can turn the turret and drive in different directions, and at least basic strafing is a must if you want to get anywhere in Mass Destruction. This game isn’t the longest game, but it definitely gets tough in a hurry. That’s a good thing, though — too easy, and this wouldn’t be as much fun. I like that it puts up a challenge. There are various different environments to drive around, too, and blowing up buildings is always fun. Sure, you often have to stand thre shooting at a building for a while to make it blow up, if you’re not using special weapons, but the payoff when it does go makes it worth it. And plus, some buildings drop powerups after being destroyed! Yeah, this is fun stuff. The controls are entirely digital, sadly, but are solid beyond that. Recommended. I only wish that it had multiplayer, that’d be great. Released on Saturn, PC, and PS1, but the PS1 version is the weakest.
MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat – Arcade Combat Edition – One player, has saving, has Mission Stick and 3D Controller support. MechWarrior 2 for the PC is one of the greatest mech games ever made, but this version, while good, isn’t quite up to the level of the original. This consolized remake of the PC classic cuts out a lot of the original’s complexity, but, particularly with the Mission Stick, still is a very good game. If you want the full mech sim experience you’ll need to play the PC original, but while I definitely prefer the original PC version, this more arcadey take on MechWarrior works fairly well too. It’s not quite as good, but it’s also pretty good, if that makes sense. Essentially, in this game you go through versions of most of the same missions from the original PC game, but everything has been streamlined to make it more action-packed. There are more enemies, your mech’s systems have been simplified somewhat, and more. It fits with the console audience fairly well I think. Still, if you play with the Mission Stick, MechWarrior 2 still has a good mech-game feel. With the 3D Controller, or worse a regular digital controller, it’s not nearly the same game that it is with the joystick, but with a Mission Stick this game is great fun. Sure, the graphics aren’t quite as good as other versions — and yes, it does look a little better on PS1 — but they visuals here are reasonable enough that I think they look fine. And, well, I have a Mission Stick, but not the Playstation Analog Joystick that I’d need to play that version acceptably. Those things are even rarer than Mission Sticks are. Overall, MW2 is good and a must-buy for joystick owners. Also on PS1, and a simplified port of a PC game.
Myst – One player, has saving. Okay port of the PC original. I think it’s an okay version, though Not quite as good as the PC original. I never liked Myst all that much anyway, though… but if I did want to play it again for whatever reason, it’d be on the PC and not any of the console ports. Also on lots of systems, originally PC.
The Need for Speed, Road & Track Presents (Need for Speed) – Two player, has saving, has Mission Stick and Arcade Racer support. Road & Track Presents: The Need for Speed (PC/PS1/Saturn) is an enhanced version of the 3DO original. While this version doesn’t have quite the feature set of the PC-only SE release, it’s close. As the 3DO version doesn’t have any of the circuit tracks, I’d say this is certainly the better version. The game has good controls too, and works well with the 3D Controller too, in addition to the wheel and joystick it directly supports. As for comparisons to other versions of the game though, I only also own the game on PC, and the PC version looks better than this Saturn release, for sure, though from what I remember it’s close between the Saturn and PS1. However, for consoles the Saturn version doesn’t look too bad. It does have ugly car models, but all versions of the game have that. The car interiors look great, and it’s cool that the game has an in-car view, unlike most later NFS games, but the exteriors… not so much. Still though, with four circuit tracks and three long 3-part one-way courses, NFS has a fair amount of content to race through, and can be fun. It’s definitely not one of my favorite racing games — I prefer futuristic racing games to realistic ones, and don’t think this game is as good as some later NFS games, including NFS4 (High Stakes) and NFS Hot Pursuit (2010), but this first NFS game is a solid one. It will take a while to get good at the game, as there’s a definite learning curve with the cars, and crashes are punished severely (seriously, don’t crash much at all if you want to win), and it’s not always fun, but it is an alright to good game overall. Also on PC and PS1, and an enhanced version of a 3DO game.
NHL All-Star Hockey – Twelve player (with two multitaps; two player without them), has saving. NHL All-Star Hockey is a very early Saturn game, and you can tell — this game’s pretty ugly looking. As for the gameplay, I haven’t played it all that much, so there’s not much I can say. It seems to be an okay, but unspectacular, hockey game. It works, but isn’t as much fun as Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey on the N64, for sure. 🙂 Of course that’s a somewhat unfair comparison, arcade-styled game against this, but this probably isn’t as good as EA’s NHL series either. It does have polygon characters, while at this point NHL still used sprites, but there are at least as many disadvantages to the polygons as there are advantages. Saturn exclusive.
Night Warriors: DarkStalkers’ Revenge – Two player, has saving. This game is DarkStalkers 2, and it’s a pretty good port of that Capcom 2d fighting game. Darkstalkers is a somewhat simpler game than Street Fighter, with moves that aren’t quite as hard to pull off. Still, there’s plenty of challenge to be found here, and the game certainly rewards skill. Oddly, Capcom released DarkStalkers 1 as a PS1 exclusive, and almost at the same time released this game as a Saturn exclusive. Well, the Saturn came out very much on top there — this is a much better port than that PS1 port of the first game, and it’s got more content too, as it’s the sequel. This can’t compare visually to the import-only Darkstalkers 3 (Vampire Savior) for Saturn, but it’s about as good looking as Darkstalkers 3 for PS1, and has similar load times to that title too. Of course that one has a lot more content and features, but in terms of visuals and loading this matches up. It’s a great game, well worth it for 2d fighting game fans. It’s not one of the most expensive 2d fighters on the system, either; this one’s actually affordable. Saturn and arcade exclusive.
NiGHTS into dreams… – Two player (has to be unlocked, one player at the start), has saving, has Mission Stick and 3D Controller support. NiGHTS is one of the Saturn’s most legendary titles, and for a reason — it’s a great, great game, and Sonic Team’s premiere “platformer” for the console. It is also my favorite Saturn game. NiGHTS is a 2.5d flight game (flying platformer, sort of), essentially. It’s got some minimal 3d platformer elements, but if you’re good you should never be in the 3d platformer side of the game. Instead, you fly around along railed paths, defeating enemies, going through rings, and trying to get the best score you can. Occasional boss fights put you in an arena of some time, facing off against a challenging foe. There’s a clock too, and the game richly rewards you for finishing levels with speed. Indeed, NiGHTS is a game that centers around your score. The game has two characters to play as, though actually don’t spend any real time as them, you play as NiGHTS in either path. You do play different stages in each route though, and see different (CG) openings and endings, so they’re both worth playing. The game won’t take too many hours to finish, going by how long getting to both endings will take. Some of the later stages can be tough, particularly in the boy’s route, but still, this isn’t a long game. Beyond that, the main draw would be trying to get better. And there, at least, there is length — getting good ratings will take some real effort, and you’ll have to learn the game well in order to accomplish that. So yeah, this is a mid ’90s Sega game through and through. I found the game tough — learning the levels, and figuring out what to do for the best score, can be tricky — but a lot of fun, the first time through. And yes, going back to try to improve those frustratingly low scores is worth the effort, once you finally figure things out in a stage. NiGHTS is a fantastic game. As for the graphics and sound, the visuals are standard Saturn 3d. The art design is good, but the graphics… well, it’s the Saturn. It looks okay to good, but the art design carries things more so than the technical graphics. The audio’s great though. No issues there. The game controls perfectly with the 3D Controller in analog mode, and was designed for it. The analog stick perfectly controls NiGHTS’s flight. Play it with that, and not anything else. As for the multipayer mode, it’s an unlockable versus mode, Nights against Reala. You play it like the bossfights, essentially. It’s alright, but there’s better multiplayer games around. Saturn exclusive (outside of Japan; Japan got a PS2 port).
Panzer Dragoon – One player, no saving, has Mission Stick support. Panzer Dragoon is one of the first Saturn games, and it’s also one of the best. This exceptional rail shooter is an absolutely amazing experience beginning to end, and started off arguably the greatest rail shooter series ever. This first game does not have saving, instead using cheatcodes to access all of the hidden content, so look up the codes online. There’s some fun stuff hidden away in this game. What Panzer Dragoon does have is fantastic gameplay, great controls (particularly with the Mission Stick; this game is significantly improved with it, get a joystick today!), outstanding art design, good graphics for the time, one of the Saturn’s best soundtracks, and more. With the joystick, the controls work so essentially the joystick is your targeting cursor — when you point the joystick to the upper right the cursor will be in the upper right corner of the screen, etc. It’s much like Super Breakout above. This takes a bit of getting used to, but unlike that game, I think it works well here. However, that is also why this game doesn’t work well with the 3D Controller — you can’t fire into the corners thanks to that stick’s circular gate, versus the rectangle on the Mission Stick. Returning to the music though, I think that PD1 probably has the best music of any of the three PD rail shooters, and that’s saying a lot; all three are outstanding games with great soundtracks. Orta is probably my favorite overall PD game, but this one keeps things close — it’s about as good as single-path rail shooters get. PD1 is a somewhat short game, with only seven levels. And not all of those seven are full levels, either; really this is a six level game, as the sixth level has no boss, and the seventh level is just a boss fight. Orta is a much longer game than this. Still, while it lasts it’s amazing, and with the hidden stuff to play via the codes, there’s enough to do. Released on Saturn, PC, and Xbox (hidden in Orta).
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei – One player, has saving, has Mouse and Mission Stick support (with hidden twin-joystick Mission Stick mode). PDII: Zwei, the sequel to the above title, is similar to the first one, but adds new things such as saving, unlocks instead of cheat codes for the hidden content, ground levels where you’re running instead of flying, branching paths, and more. Zwei is a very, very good game, but I do think I like the first game a little bit more than the second; yes, the second has more to do, with the unlocks and the branching paths, but somehow I have a bit more fun with the first one. I also think the first one has a slightly better soundtrack. This one’s great, but the first’s is better. I also don’t know if I like the changed controls. You see, this time the game has a more normal control scheme where pressing the stick moves the cursor around, instead of tying it to the stick’s physical position. Going from the first game to the second one definitely takes some adjustment. However, this game does have some very interesting control options, including a hidden mouse mode, and a hidden twin-stick Mission Stick mode. For the latter, you have to have two Mission Sticks, and attach the both stick parts to one single central base unit. Then plug the second stick into the Sub Control port underneath the base unit. Now you have a twin Mission Stick, and will get dual analog in this game, with one stick aiming, and the other stick moving your dragon around. This mode takes getting used to, but if you want to spend the cash for two Mission Sticks, it is interesting for sure. Do know that this is the only game that is known to support this mode, though. Also twin Mission Stick mode isn’t compatible with Virtual-On, unfortunately, I’m pretty sure. Anyway though, PD Zwei is a great game. I like some of the additions, including a little bit more content — this game isn’t much longer than the first one, but it is slightly longer, and does have those branching paths along the way. I also like the saving, and that you have to unlock stuff now, that’ll keep the player coming back for sure. I do like the first PD even more, but this is certainly one of the great rail shooters. Saturn exclusive.
Puyo Puyo 2: Tsuu (Japanese import) – Two player, has saving. Puyo Puyo Tsuu is the second game in this great puzzle game series, and it’s a fantastic game. In Puyo Puyo, pairs of gel creatures drop, and you try to color match them. This gam doesn’t have Baku Baku/Puzzle Fighter’s strategic element of the crash gems, so instead the gel creatures simply pop when you get four of the same color touching. I think that that makes this not quite as good a game as those two, I like the additional strategy of the crash gems. Still, Puzzle Fighter is one of my favorite puzzle games ever, so even if it’s not as good as that game, this is a very good game. I also think I like the Puyo Puyo Fever style, with more variety of shapes that drop, slightly more than this classic style, but still, this is a great, and very difficult, puzzle game. As Arle the young mage, you have to fight your way past many cute anime opponents. The cuteness is just on the surface, though; underneath, this game is brutal. The game gets very, very fast, so you’ll need split-second reactions in order to get anywhere near the end of the story mode, and that’s just on Normal. Also, of course, all of the conversations between characters before and after matches are entirely in Japanese, so I don’t know what they’re saying. The gameplay requires no translation, but it is too bad about the story stuff, I’m sure it’s amusing. Overall this is a very good game that was well worth getting. It’s a good version of the game too. Also on a lot of other systems in Japan, including the TG16 CD, PS1, N64, etc.
Resident Evil – One player, has saving. Resident Evil for Saturn is a port of the Playstation version of the survival horror classic. I’ve only played a relatively small amount of the game, but it’s an okay to good game for sure. I like graphic adventure games, but survival horror adventure games have never really been my thing… I have a bunch of RE games, but don’t know if I’ve even gotten halfway in any of them. This one’s no exception. I don’t really like horror, I don’t like having to avoid respawning enemies instead of just being able to kill them (because of limited ammo), and don’t know if I like the key-hunt-centric gameplay; give me crazy-ridiculous adventure game puzzles over this, I think. Still, what I played of it seems alright. I never have been, but I can see how this game hooked a lot of people. It certainly is a tense game at times. That English voice acting certainly deserves its poor reputation, though. As for the version differences though, there’s a website detailing exactly all of the visual differences between the versions, but I haven’t played this on PS1 so all I can say is that for a Saturn game it looks pretty solid, and based on the screenshot comparisons it looks about as good visually as the PS1 version. I prefer the GC remake version to any of the original releases, but still, it’s great that RE was released on Saturn, and it’s certainly a good port. This is one of the only games with polygonal graphics that Capcom developed for the Saturn, and it’s the only one released in the US (the other one is the Japan-only Saturn exclusive Final Fight Revenge), but they did a fine job. This game is the only polygonal PS1 game that Capcom also ported over to Saturn, but given the quality of the port, it’s too bad that the Saturn didn’t get other polygonal Capcom titles like Mega Man Legends and such. Also on PS1, PC, and DS, and was remade on GC and Wii.
Rise 2: Resurrection – Two player, no saving. Rise 2 is the sequel to the infamous Rise of the Robots, one of the showcase “graphics over gameplay” titles of the mid ’90s. That game was hugely hyped before its release, but this one didn’t make much of an impact, and it’s obvious why — the first one turned out to be an awful game, so not too many people were interested in a sequel. At least the series did end with this one. As for the actual game, it’s a 2d fighting game with CG-rendered robots as the fighters, just like the first one, but with better graphics. There’s a quite large selection of robots to choose from, so the game does have choice, but they’re all fairly bland in design, so I don’t find any of them particularly interesting. The game’s pretty bad too. This is not a good fighting game. Characters, moves, controls, music, graphics… it’s all average to bad, and again the gameplay categories are the lowest. This isn’t worth playing enough to get good at. Also on PS1.
Robotica – One player, no saving. Robotica is a dungeon-crawler FPS from Sega, and it’s a very early release for the system. In the game you go through a sequence of thirty randomly-generated mazes, exploring rooms, collecting weapons, and killing evil robots. There’s a map on screen to help you find your way, thankfully; otherwise this game would be quite confusing. The game starts out easy, but gets tough a while in, and gets pretty hard after a while. The game doesn’t let you save, either, so you have to play this in one sitting. It does give you infinite continues — and on that note, one of my most hated game design elements is games which give you infinite continues but don’t let you save, that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE — but when you continue you continue from the last cutscene point, which are 4-5 levels apart or so, so if you’re stuck on a tough level, you’ll be repeating the levels before it a lot too. Of course you have to start collecting the weapons from scratch again too when you die. Still, this game’s actually not too bad. The graphics look fine — yes, the draw distance is close, but otherwise I like the visual look here. The enemy robots and environments are all nicely done. Variety is almost nonexistent, though, so the game can get repetitive for sure. Most of the levels are basically palette swaps of the same textures, and enemy variety is limited too. Still, for a while at lest this is a fun game. If it let you save, it’d be fun all the way through, too. As is… maybe worth it, maybe not. Saturn exclusive.
Scud: The Disposable Assassin – Two player, has saving, has Stunner (lightgun) support. Scud is a 2d, or perhaps 2.5d, sidescrolling action game from SegaSoft, Sega’s mid to late ’90s Western publishing arm that mostly published PC games. SegaSoft also made a PC Scud game, Scud: Industrial Evolution, but that game, which is a topdown 2d action/adventure game, is entirely different from this one. Unfortunately, Saturn owners get the short end of the stick here — the PC game’s not perfect, but it is better than this one. The core problem is that Saturn Scud is just far too repetitive in both graphics and gameplay. Within each level the backgrounds and enemies repeat constantly from beginning to end, and it doesn’t get better. Sure, some of the art is decent enough, and I like that it’s a 2d Western Saturn game, but there are better run & gun games, and better lightgun games, on the Saturn. One of the early levels in this game is confusing, too — you have to go through this installation, and it’s possible to get confused about where you’re supposed to go to progress. The always-identical backgrounds don’t make this task any easier, needless to say. There is some fun to be had here, but Scud’s a bit disappointing. One thing to know though is that this game actually is two games in one, sort of — if you play with the lightgun, instead of directly controlling Scud, he’ll move on his own, and all you have to do is aim and fire at the enemies. That’d deal with the annoying level designs, at least. Also, if you play two players, you can play with any mix of gun and controller. I don’t have a lightgun to test that mode with, though. Saturn exclusive.
Sega Rally Championship – Two player, has saving, has Arcade Racer and Mission Stick support. Sega Rally, another 1995 Saturn racing game, is a great Sega arcade racing game port. The game is extremely thin on content, but makes up for it with extremely high fun and challenge levels. The game is the best looking Sega Saturn racing game of that year, probably, and has the gameplay to back up its solid visuals. Well, in single player it does; in two player the draw distance gets distractingly close and is an issue. In one player it looks pretty good though. Sega Rally is a fast and fun game that’s got gameplay that’s hard to match in its genre. However, the extreme lack of content really is an issue — the default mode here is a 1-lap-per-race, 3-race long circuit. There is a fourth track, but you’ll only ever see it if you somehow manage to finish the first three in first, a task I’ve never managed to accomplish; it’s simply too hard. This means that an entire game takes under five minutes. That’s … not long. Of course actually winning will take a lot longer — I don’t know if I’ll ever get good enough to finish the first three races at first, it’s simply too hard — but still, the game has a ridiculously minimal amount of content. That’s going to be an issue for people for sure, and it is one for me. As far as the gameplay goes this is my favorite of the three Sega Rally games for sure, but the seriously limited content is a bit annoying. If only Sega had put more effort into making their home ports true console games, like many other companies did, this great game would have been even better. Still this is certainly a must have. Released on Saturn and PC, and also PS2 in Japan.
Shanghai: Triple Threat – Two player, has saving for options only, password save required for game progress. Yes, you read that right, it saves your options, but you have to write down passwords for the actual game. It’s utterly bizarre, I can’t understand how they came up with that at all. The actual game’s a solid Shangai, or mahjong tiles, game, though. As usual for these titles, you play a matching game with the mahjong tileset, having to match pairs of identical tiles, with the limitation that you can only access tiles that are free on the left or right sides. This makes for a challenging, and quite fun, game; I like Shanghai, fun game. This is a fine mahjong tiles game, and has three major game modes, as the title suggests. There’s the classic Shanghai mode, The Great Wall, and Beijing. Shanghai is the usual game, with the tiles spread around a board. The Great Wall has the tiles stacked high in piles. Beijing allows you to slide tiles around as you make gaps in the field. Each mode has different rules, so it’s nice to have some variety. There are solitaire, arcade, and 2-player versus games available for each of the three game types, too. There are plenty of puzzles here, so this game will last a good while. Also on 3DO, and Japan only on PC-FX and Sharp X68000.
Solar Eclipse – One player, has saving. First off, repeat the usual complaints about 3d flight games that don’t have Mission Stick support. It’s annoying, this game’s pretty good, but would be even better with analog joystick support, for sure. Beyond that though, Solar Eclipse is a pretty good rail shooter. A spiritual sequel to the 3DO game Total Eclipse, this is the third game in that engine, after that game and Off-World Interceptor. It’s probably the best game of the three, too — this game really is pretty good. The graphics are solid; it does look like the enhanced 3DO engine that it is, so much so that I wonder if this started out on 3DO, or if it’s just that they’re reusing the engine, and still has all sprites for the characters and enemies, but it looks nice enough. The game’s tough too, with a strong challenge level and reasonably long levels. The game’s well balanced. It’s challenging for sure, but isn’t impossible. With effort you can get through. I like the branching paths too, there are multiple ways to play through the stages. The live-action video FMV cutscenes between levels are fun stuff too. This game’s biggest claim to fame is that Claudia Christian of Babylon 5 is one of the cast; yes, she’s there, along with other much lesser-known actors. Expect the usual mediocre acting you expect from ’90s live-action video sequences. The gameplay carries this through, though; the story parts aren’t great, but the game’s good. The game saves your progress too, far from standard in rail shooters like this. I like this more than Total Eclipse Turbo, I’d say. It’s too bad that this is the end of this line of games. Saturn exclusive in the US, though Europe and Japan both also got a PS1 version.
Sonic 3D Blast – One player, has not-actually-analog 3D Controller and Mission Stick support. A somewhat controversial game ever since its release, Sonic 3D Blast for the Saturn is a port of the Genesis game of the same name that Sega quickly made when Sonic X-Treme slipped out of 1996 and thus sadly was cancelled. I think I like the original Genesis game more — and yes, I do like it — but this is a fine version, with improved graphics and nice Sonic 2 style but polygonal 3d bonus stages. There’s one key problem though: they didn’t put in a save system! Idiots… Apart from that though this is a good port of a good game. The game is an isometric platformer, and while it has the usual pitfalls of the genre, most notably that jumps can be hard to judge, the game does not have pits of death, so the design was made with the constraints of the isometric viewpoint in mind, which is good. The controls are the same as the Genesis version, except as I listed above, you can use the analog stick on the 3D Controller if you wish; though actual control is still digital, with no proportional movement, 8 directions only, but in this kind of game a stick can help even so. In each level, you have to find five Flickies in each half of the level, then fight the boss. Most Flickies are found by defeating enemies which are holding them, which means that the enemies are spread out. The game is slow paced, and not as fast as most Sonic titles, but still, exploring the levels, avoiding obstacles, navigating the stages, and looking for killable enemies. There’s some good challenge here, and also good level design as well. I know many people dislike the perspective and speed, but the level designs are good regardless. The main issue is that things are spread out a bit, but I think it’s a challenging enough game as-is, considering the challenges of the viewpoint. This Saturn version’s improved graphics look nice as well, and those bonus stages, while they play quite differently from the Genesis ones, and I did like those bonus stages, do look great. This is the only version of 3D Blast with polygonal bonus stages. However, the PC version, while it’s got 2d sprites in the bonus stages, which play like the 3D Blast ones, but aren’t polygonal, and some serious issues running on many modern PCs, has one thing this version doesn’t have: saving. Yes, you can save your progress in that version, finally. With how long and slow paced this game is, it’s really inexcusable that Sega and Traveller’s Tales force you to play the whole thing in one sitting; this game is too long for that. There is a level-skip cheatcode, but that’s not quite the same, and doesn’t save crystals of course so you would need additional codes for that. Really there’s no defensible reason for this Saturn version to not let you save, except for that Sega, when this game came out in 1996, still hadn’t grasped the idea that games should all actually have saving in them, at least in password form, better on-cart or in-system. Nintendo had gotten that back in about 1992-1993, but for Sega, I’d say it wasn’t until ’97 or ’98 that they finally got the hint… it’s annoying. Also, this really is a 16-bit up-port, and not a fully new game. Still though, it’s decently good, even if it’s definitely not the Sonic platformer I wish we had on the Saturn. I mean, I like 3D Blast well enough, but at its core its’ a Genesis game, while X-Treme would have been something new… and with how the videos of X-Treme remind me of Bug!, and as anyone who read this probably remembers I love that game, I think it’d have probably been great, too. Oh well… Also on Genesis and PC.
Soviet Strike – One player, has saving, has 3D Controller and Mission Stick support. Soviet Strike for Saturn is an enhanced port of the Playstation version of this fourth game in EA’s Strike series of helicopter combat/sim games. As with all Strike titles, the game is played from an overhead perspective. This time the graphics are polygonal, but you still move on a flat plane above that 3d world, so it’s effectively 2.5d. The game has nice graphics for 3d visuals from 1996; the game does look ugly, with the usual texture issues and pixelated textures you expect, but still it looks better than some other 3d games did in 1996-1997. The controls are good, and are the most improved thing versus the Playstation original — while the PS1 version was digital control only, this one adds both Mission Stick and 3D Controller analog support, and both work great. Honestly I think that the game controls a bit better with the 3D Controller than the Mission Stick, since with the Mission Stick you have to push it so far to move at all that it gets a little annoying, but at least it is analog, and the feel of playing it with a joystick is hard to match. But for the easiest controls, use the 3D Controller in analog mode. It’s great that they added analog controls in. The other major addition is that the game has several Saturn-exclusive enemy and weapon types to use. Not bad. It did release after the PS1 version, but at least EA put some effort into this port. I never liked the first three Strike games all that much, but this one is better. It’s similar, and still has some of the issues that I disliked the originals for, but it is improved enough that I somewhat like the series this time. The most important thing to know about this game is that while the combat is actioney, as you fly around, shoot enemy tanks, soldiers, towers, or what have you, and pick up hostages, you need to be prepared, so make sure to spend a lot of time in the pause menu. The pause menu in this game has a large amount of information in it, and learning a lot of it is vital. First, because this game was on a CD, there are of course live-action video FMVs. Some come between stages, or at mission objective points, but there are also live-action or CGI FMVs in the pause menu, one for every single item there. Every objective, enemy type, weapon, what have you has a short video explaining it. They are not all required, but it’s amusing to watch at least some of them. Beyond that though, the pause menu also has a great map of the level, explanations of what to do for each of the many objectives on each map, and various displays you can put on that map. Displays include showing the locations of all enemies by type, showing where mission objectives such as hostages, buildings you have to destroy, and what have you, sorted by type are, where allied soldiers and refueling stations are located, and more. Memorize this information! It is quite hard to tell enemies from allies apart while in the game, so know which ones are your friends. Also make sure to know where the refueling station(s) are, because you will periodically need a refill. And the mission objectives are not always easy or straightforward, so learn that stuff too. And while you have a couple of extra lives / replacement helicopters, if you mess up and fail a critical objective, it’s game over, start from the beginning of the map again. Yes, this is a complex game, as usual in the series. There’s no saving between checkpoints in each campaign, either, as usual in the franchise. Sure, there are only five maps, but it will take quite a while to get good enough at each one to be able to beat the whole thing in one try, so there’s plenty of play value here if you have the patience to stick with it. It is quite frustrating when I lose several missions into one of the maps, but the game is well designed and good enough that it is worth playing, I think. This is the better version of a pretty good game. While the series started on the Genesis, this was the last Strike game for a Sega platform because Nuclear Strike was released for PS1 (1997), and N64 and PC several years later, but not Saturn or, of course, Dreamcast given EA’s refusal to support that system. Pick this one up; it’s overlooked, not too expensive, and worth it, particularly if you want a challenge and a game that requires some thought mixed in with its action, and have an analog controller. Also on Playstation.
Star Fighter (Star Fighter 3000) – One player, has saving, has Mission Stick support. Star Fighter 3000 is a great futuristic flight combat game. Originally on a computer, 3DO remade the game for their console. The game is a unique flight combat game with an exceptional atmospheric electronic music soundtrack. This version is one of the ports of that version. Unfortunately, while the 3DO original is a great game, the other versions aren’t quite as good. The visuals suffer badly on the other systems due to an unremovable black wall of draw-in off in the distance; on 3DO, you’ve got full visibility, with lower-detail stuff in the distance. No such luck elsewhere. And on top of that, the Saturn version here has the worst graphics of all the versions. Still, even if it’s the ugliest version of Star Fighter, it’s still a version of a great game, so I love it regardless. Plus, this game is fantastic with the Mission Stick — this game clearly was designed for flightstick-style joysticks, and it shows. Note, this game won’t work at all in analog mode with the 3D Controller. You’ll need a Mission Stick. You can play this game with a dpad, but it’s nothing like playing it with the joystick, that’s for sure. Nowhere near as good. Of course the 3DO and PC versions also support joysticks (not sure about the PS1), but still, this is a very good game with the Mission Stick. Analog control does wonders for Star Fighter’s controls. Oh, those controls WILL take some getting used to. Star Fighter has a very unique control scheme where turning left or right flips the plane over end over end, so basically to turn you have to carefully angle your plane at the correct angle, and then hold it there to turn. You don’t just press left or right to turn, that’ll get you nowhere. Take some time on the first, training map and get used to the controls; they’re not bad, just different. The controls are quite good once you get used to them. So yeah, this is no competition for the 3DO version, particularly with that system’s joystick, and of the ports is far behind the PC version visually, but even so it’s a great fun game with okay graphics and good gameplay. I like Star Fighter a lot. Also on PS1 and PC, as a slightly downgraded port of a 3DO remake of an Acorn Archimedes game.
Steamgear Mash (Japanese import) – One player, has saving. Steamgear Mash is an isometric action game with 2d graphics, fun shooter/action gameplay, and cute anime graphics. You play as a robot which has to rescue the kidnapped little girl daughter of the scientist who created him. Yes, it’s a rescue the girl plot again. The intro is told without words, so there are no language issues there. There are some bits of Japanese text, but it’s easy enough to figure out. As for the gameplay, it feels like one part topdown shooter, one part isometric platformer. You run around the stages in your robot, shooting the enemies as you find them and sometimes jumping between platforms. It’s pretty good, and a lot of fun. The levels start out cute, but get somewhat more serious as you progress. This game’s a lot cheaper than any of the import shmups, too, so it’s a good pickup. It has some hard parts of course, including plenty of tough bosses and some jumps I had trouble with. The game’s also on the short side, but it’s a good game even so. Saturn exclusive.
Street Fighter: The Movie – Two player, has saving. Street Fighter: The Movie is a 2d fighting game with MK-style digitized people as characters, based on hte movie. It’s a somewhat infamous game that’s generally regarded as terrible. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised, though. While Street Fighter: The Movie definitely has lots of issues, including serious balance problems, but this game’s not all bad. It’s a simplistic game, not as good as the Street Fighter II or III games for sure, but this isn’t some legendarily bad game, I wouldn’t say. It made sense for Capcom to try a digitized-actors fighting game, with how popular Mortal Kombat is, and this is that game. Well, Capcom fans didn’t take kindly to the idea, and Capcom never tried again, not after the arcade and home versions of this game. Still, as I said, if you don’t mind the questionable balance and somewhat broken moves, this game’s a somewhat amusing Street Fighter-eseque fighting game. This game’s not great, but it is better than I was expecting considering what gets said about it. On Saturn and PS1.
ThunderStrike 2: Firestorm – One player, has saving and Mission Stick support. ThunderStrike 2 is the sequel to Core Design’s Sega CD helicopter flight combat game Thunder Strike. Obviously the graphics have improved here versus the first game, and the gameplay has too, but this isn’t one of the best helicopter games around. That makes it much like the first one, which also wasn’t one of its platform’s best flight combat games. And in gameplay it certainly resembles the first one, with a lockon-based shooting system and lots of ground targets to blow up. Fly around, blow up your targets, rinse and repeat. This game’s more arcadey than Black Fire, so it’s a more approachable game. I don’t know which one’s better overall though, I’d need to play them more to be sure. Like that game ThunderStrike 2 is of course better with the Mission Stick. Also on PS1.
Tomb Raider — Featuring Lara Croft – One player, has saving. Tomb Raider of course is a popular game and series, but it actually started out as a Saturn game. As Core Design had been a strong supporter of the Genesis and Sega CD this makes sense, but they wouldn’t be sticking with Sega for long; Sony paid off COre to not release Tomb Raider 2 on the Saturn, and that was it for Core on the system, after this and the above game. Too bad. Still, the Saturn version of Tomb Raider here was pretty good. The graphics look great for the time — this is a pretty good looking game for 1996 on consoles. They clearly put some effort into getting this game looking good on the system. Looking at comparisons it might look slightly better in some ways on PS1, but it’s close enough that I don’t think it matters. As for the gameplay, unfortunately this game is digital only — and it did release after the 3D Controller, so it could have had analog — but beyond that has good enough controls. The large, exploration-heavy levels are the best thing about Tomb Raider, though. I was definitely not a fan of this game, or series, back when it came out, and I’m still not, but I must admit that the first Tomb Raider, at least, is fairly good. I like the exploration and platforming elements particularly; I have a lot more interest in that element of this series than the shooting. Fortunately, this one’s got a lot of the former, and somewhat less of the latter, unlike too many of the newer Tomb Raider games I believe. There are also some puzzles. Not bad, this game’s better than I would have ever admitted back in 1996. Still, I can’t see calling it game of the year as some did, no. Certainly not. But it is a good game, sure. And yes, this is a fine version. If you want the best version you have to get the Gold edition for the PC, of course, but between this and the PS1, this one compares quite well. Also on PS1 and PC.
Tunnel B1 – One player, has saving. Tunnel B1 is a first-person vehicular combat game. In the game, you control a vehicle of some kind and have to drive through tunnels, cleansing them of a plague of evil robots and such. Yeah, it’s a fairly generic concept, and is generic in execution too; there are plenty of other games that do something similar to this, and often a bit better than this one too. However, it’s not a bad game, just average. If you like vehicular combat games, you well might enjoy this one. Drive around, shoot stuff, collect better weapons, try not to die, and make your way through the increasingly complex tunnel networks. You start out with only basic weapons and in tunnels with only a branch or two, but it gets more interesting farther in. Still the game never reaches greatness, but it is average shooting entertainment, at least, and can be fun to play. I enjoyed it just enough to buy this Saturn version even though I already have it on PS1, but I do enjoy vehicular combat games. Also on PS1.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – Two player, no saving. While the Saturn port of Mortal Kombat II is considered disappointing, this release of UMK3 is done quite well and is great fun. Essentially, this is a Saturn version of UMK3 based on the work done for the PS1 version of Mortal Kombat 3, but with the UMK3 content instead of plain MK3 like that one has. Oddly MK3 was released on PS1 but not Saturn, while UMK3 was on Saturn but not PS1; I think the Saturn gets the better of that. This is a good version of Mortal Kombat, with fine graphics and good, solid Mortal Kombat gameplay. I always did like Street Fighter more than MK, but for an MK game this is pretty good; it’s certainly one of the better home console 2d MK games that I’ve played. The visuals look great, load times aren’t too bad at all, and the game plays just like you expect. I only wish that they’d listed all of the moves in the manual; they don’t, and only give you two moves (and no fatalities) for each character. Arcade port, also on SNES, Genesis, DS, and other systems.
Virtua Cop – Two player, has saving (11 blocks), has Stunner (lightgun) and Mouse support. Virtual Cop was Sega’s first 3d lightgun game, and it still holds up as cheesy fun. In the game you play as some secret agents fighting against evil organizations and terrorists and such. The game is short — there are only three levels, just like as in many other arcade lightgun games — but the game’s certainly not easy, so beating all three levels in one game, without running out of credits, will be quite hard. You can play them in any order though, so you don’t need to do that to see all three, which is good; otherwise this game would be quite frustrating. As is, the game’s great fun. This is a fun, fun game, that’s for sure. Even people who don’t like playing lightgun games on gamepad will probably enjoy this one even if you don’t have a Stunner or two. As for myself, I’m so bad with aiming with actual lightguns that I think I’m probably better with the pad… I mean, I don’t have a Stunner, but I do have lightguns for other consoles, and am horrible at hitting much of anything with them. These games are tough with pad too — mouse is the way to really make lightgun games easier — but I don’t have one for Saturn. Still, this game has variety, silliness, solid graphics, and quality gameplay. Released on Saturn and PC.
Virtua Cop 2 – Two player, has saving (11 blocks), has Stunner (lightgun) support. Virtua Cop 2 is quite similar to the first game in style and gameplay, but they made a few enhancements the second time, including branching paths, so the game doesn’t go exactly the same way every time this time. That’s definitely a good addition. The graphics are a a little better too. The game’s similar in length overall to the first one, but anyone who played Virtua Cop 1 should certainly play the second game too — it’s more of the same, at least as good as the first or better. Released on Saturn and PC.
Virtua Fighter – Two player, has saving. Virtua Fighter was one of Sega’s most popular early polygonal 3d titles, and from a visual standpoint I can see why. Gameplay-wise, though, the game has never interested me much, as I have said before. I don’t like the floaty jumps, and I don’t think it plays as well as 2d fighters, either. This game started the trend of polygonal fighting games using more realistic move sets, but I like classic fireballs and the like, myself… I can forgive that it doesn’t have full 3d movement — this is a pretty early polygonal fighting game, after all — but that does mean that the biggest differences from 2d games is visual, I think. I mean, the polygons do have an impact on the gameplay of course, but not as much of one as the visual look did, I think. The gameplay is different because of the more realistic move sets, not just the polygons. This version has a very poor reputation, but it doesn’t seem THAT bad… I mean, sure, visually it’s not all that impressive, but at least it works, and does support saving for your stats and such. The 32X port may look visually very similar to this version, but it doesn’t save… and it released months later, too, actually after the Remix version below on Saturn. So yeah, as a launch title and packin it’s a bit disappointing, but for a version of Virtua Fighter it’s fine. I like the shaded-poly look too; I know that in 1995 that was a big negative, and everyone wanted textures, but I think shaded poly styles are fine. But yeah, I know some people consider it a classic, but I think that Virtua Fighter is a quite dated game that I don’t find all that fun. It’s not a bad game, I just personally don’t like it all that much, and never have. Also on arcades, PC, and 32X.
Virtua Fighter Remix – Two player, has saving. Virtua Fighter Remix is basically the same thing as the first version, but with cleaned up visuals, maybe a slightly better framerate, and textures instead of shaded polygons. Otherwise though, it’s identical to the first version. Why is this considered such a huge improvement over the above release? Is it just because of the textures? I guess that because i don’t mind shaded polygons, I don’t know if I think that that makes it so much better… anyway though, the gameplay’s the same. Saturn and Arcades only.
Virtua Fighter 2 – Two player, has saving. Virtua Fighter 2 is often mentioned as a graphical showcase title for the Saturn,and I can see why — this game has impressive textured polygon graphics for the system. The gameplay works on the same formula as the first game, and again doesn’t have full 3d movement, unfortunately; that would have to wait for Fighters Megamix and VF3 on the Dreamcast. As always in the series, the focus is on more realistic fighting moves, over the over-the-top stuff other fighting games did… and of course, since I like that over-the-top stuff, I don’t consider that an advantage here. It makes the games different for their time, certainly, and maybe objectively good, but subjectively? I get bored quickly with this game, much like with the first one. This is a better game than VF1, but still, I like Fighting Vipers more, myself. Virtua Fighter 2 is one of the Saturn’s best selling games, or maybe its overall best selling game, because of its massive popularity in Japan, but I like many Capcom and SNK 2d fighters a lot more than this, personally. Also on Arcades, PC, and Genesis, and PS2 in Japan.
V.R.: Virtua Racing (Time Warner’s) – Two player, has saving, has Arcade Racer support. Virtua Racing is an outsourced port of the Sega arcade classic. While Sega itself did the earlier Genesis and 32X versions, Time Warner Interactive made this one. It also seems to have a somewhat mixed reputation. However, this is a fantastic version of the game, and indeed is probably the best overall version of Virtua Racing. I love other versions of the game too, but the Saturn version has more features, and better wheel support, than the other versions. V.R. for the Saturn has a significant amount of exclusive content. First, in addition to the three tracks from the arcade version, Time Warner made a full seven more courses, all just as good as any of the arcade tracks. That makes for ten total in this game; unfortunately the two tracks Sega added to the 32X version are absent from this release. The game also has all three car types that the 32X version has, including stock cars, prototype cars, and F1 cars. Each type of car handles differently. In addition, unlike the Genesis version or the Western 32X versions, this game saves your best times too; previously only the Japanese 32X version did that. This game has a full, points-based championship mode too, unlike any of Sega’s internal racing games for the Saturn. It goes through all ten tracks, and the person with the most points at the end wins. It’s just fantastic that this mode was included; I love the 32X game, but without a championship or any backup save, the game feels kind of pointless, unless I write down my times or something. This version entirely solves that problem, and that’s great. I wish Sega had put as much effort into their own home ports of their games as Time Warner did in this one. The game has the splitscreen mode you expect, too. The graphics are still flat-shaded polygons, like the other versions, but I think that looks great. I assume that that hurt the game a lot on Saturn back in 1995, because people all wanted shaded polys, but I don’t think it matters at all. In fact, the shaded look looks better than a lot of early attempts at textured 3d. The framerate’s good as well — this game is smoother playing than the 32X version for sure. The only blemish here, really, is that you NEED the Arcade Racer for analog controls. This game is entirely incompatible with either other analog controller, they’re digital only. This matters because the game’s controls really are significantly improved by analog control. T his game was made to be played on the racing wheel, and I highly recommend that anyone who likes this game should absolutely get an Arcade Racer — it makes a big difference in the game. The game’s playable with gamepad, but much more fun on the wheel. Less feature-rich versions of the game are available on Arcades, Genesis, 32X, and PS2.
VR Soccer – Two player, has saving. VR Soccer is Interplay’s attempt at a soccer game on the Saturn. The game is fully polygonal, with polygonal characters that you won’t see in most of the other Saturn soccer games, but unfortunately the gameplay does not match up to the graphics. VR Soccer’s biggest problem, you see, is that it’s absolutely glacially slow. This is one of the slowest-paced, least fun soccer games I’ve played since World Championship Soccer on the Genesis. It’s too bad, because the game has an extensive feature set and solid visuals for the time, but the gameplay is far too slow to tolerate. The characters run like the field is covered in molasses or something. Also on PC and PS1.
Willy Wombat (Japanese import) – One player, has saving. Willy Wombat is a top-view isometric 3d platform/action game from Hudson. The game has sprite-based characters in 3d environments, like some other Saturn games, and the look works well. Willy Wombat is a pretty good game that any platformer fan should pick up. The story is entirely voice acted in English, too, so there’s almost no language issue — the game’s all in English, with Japanese subtitles. The language fits with the nicely done Western-style cartoon theme and art design the game has. The only Japanese you need to know is “yes” or “no”, to choose the right option on the save screen. Willy Wombat can be a challenging game, but it’s very well thought through and high quality. The game has only a few real issues, most notably controls — this game is, of course, digital only. Controlling a character in a 3d world like this with only digital controls never works as well as analog controls do, and this game is no exception — there were many times in this game that I was wishing that they’d programmed in 3D Controller support. There’s no reason that they couldn’t have, either, given that this was a 1997 release. Apart from that though, Willy Wombat is a good game. You will need to get used to moving the camera around — you’ll often have to rotate the camera in order to get a good view, there isn’t an auto-camera — but once you get used to it it works well enough. In the game, you run around as Willy Wombat, the anthropomorphic wombat from the title, through large levels, collecting items, defeating enemies, going through jumping puzzles, and solving puzzles on occasion too. The story’s nothing great, it’s a fairly standard videogame story, but it’s certainly nice to be able to understand the text — it’s somewhat amusing at times. The voice actors are native English speakers, too. Given the English voice acting I imagine that this might have been supposed to release in the West, but sadly it didn’t, so you’ll have to import. Thankfully it’s not expensive like the shmups. Saturn exclusive.
WipEout – One player, has saving, has Arcade Racer support. Wipeout is a version of the first game in this now-storied futuristic hovercar racing game franchise. This version is mostly the same thing you can play on other systems, minus the multiplayer because the link cable mode from the PS1 original sadly was removed from this one so that it is single player only, unfortunately. However, from the techno music to the stylish visuals and narrow track courses, Wipeout is still a great game on the Saturn. Indeed, this version is similar to the earlier PS1 and PC releases, but Psygnosis made a few changes in this later port due to fan comments on the original release. Most notably, instead of losing all of your acceleration when you hit a wall, you only lose a small chunk of it. As a result, the game now handles like all Wipeout titles since the second one, all of which have you lose only a small bit of speed like this one does. I like the change very much, myself — it makes the game a bit less technical, so you don’t need quite the same degree of perfection to win that you do on PS1 and PC. The PS1 version is quite simply too hard for me — I tried many times, but never could get good enough to beat the first championship. On Saturn however, I can, and I can finish the second one too. So yeah, I like this version of Wipeout a lot. The graphics don’t quite match up to the PS1 version, especially in terms of visual effects, though — weapon effects are a lot less flashy here. Background and car graphics look about as good, but weapon effects aren’t close. Still, Saturn Wipeout looks pretty good on its own, if you’re not directly comparing it to the PS1 version, and has improved gameplay too, thanks to the wall-hitting change. It’s too bad that the link cable mode the PS1 version has was removed, but otherwise I’d say that this is the best version of the first Wipeout game. Wipeout is one of the greatest racing game series ever, so that is saying something. This game’s a lot of fun. Also on PC and PS1.
(Sega) Worldwide Soccer ’97 – Four player (with multitap, two without), has saving. Sega Worldwide Soccer ’97 is Sega’s second of three Saturn soccer games. The game is a good, solid soccer game. I am a little disappointed that it doesn’t support analog (and indeed, apparently even the ’98 edition doesn’t have 3D Controller support), but apart from that this game seems good for a soccer game. It’s certainly much, much better than VR Soccer. The game looks good though not great visually. Saturn games definitely can look better than this, but it looks alright for the system certainly. More importantly, it’s not too slow and plays well. The game has a lot of modes and options, with a good number of international teams available for play. Modern soccer games have hundreds more teams, of course, but for 1996 this game’s quite full featured. Gameplay is paced well, and the controls and speed are all just about right. You can do a bunch of different moves, too, not just run, tackle, shoot, and pass, like earlier soccer games had. Saturn exclusive.