Sunday, 16 September 2018

Why Shenmue Deserves Attention On The Saturn Junkyard


So, we seem to have had a little bit of a kerfuffle over at the Saturn Junkyard in the month of August, when our favourite Saturn fan site changed it's name temporarily to The Shenmue Junkyard. Now why do a bunch of guys who claim to be devoted to the Sega Saturn, get all giddy about the HD re-release of a Dreamcast game on modern systems? The name change, podcast musings and overall distraction from the Saturn, has upset some of the valued members of our community and led them to question whether we're losing our way over at The Junkyard. So why is Shenmue of prime importance to every Saturn owner? Let's break it down...

Friday, 7 September 2018

SEGAMANIA 2018: It's the renaiSEGAsance on the Latest SJY TitanCast

Need something to listen to for your commute? Check out our latest episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast. Listen to us on iTunes, Buzzsprout, Google Play, and wherever else!

Buzzsprout: http://thesaturnjunkyard.buzzsprout.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-saturn-junkyards-titancast/id1320249250?mt=2

PlayFM: https://player.fm/series/series-2287282

In this episode, we step back from the nostalgia and chat about the surprisingly rich slate of recent and upcoming titles from our favorite game maker in 2018! Simon is out today, unfortunately, but Sam, Nuno, and Brian are joined by Mike Phelan from the Dreamcast Junkyard's DreamPod and Patrick Traynor from the Sega Saturn Shiro podcast. 

Dive in with us and revel in this current renaiSEGAsance we're living in! 



Discussed in this episode: Shenmue I & II HD, Yakuza Kiwami 2 and the series at large, Team Sonic Racing, Sonic R, Streets of Rage 4, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, and more!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Share Your Saturn Stories with the Junkyard Community

Fellow Junkies and Saturnites --

There's a brilliant Sega Saturn episode of My Retro Life in which Tyler from iretrogamer offers a rare and deeply insightful glimpse into his early memories with "Sega's most underrated console." Beyond an exercise in mere nostalgia, it wonderfully preserves the joyous enthusiasm that a boy and his father shared for the Saturn, not for what it could or should have been but for what it was. I'd encourage everyone to watch it (embedded below) -- so there's a quick Schlub plug for y'all.

Of course the Sega Saturn meant, and continues to mean, a great deal to us. Many of us had the opportunity to grow up with the console, with our memories inextricably linked to the highest highs and dramatic twists of its mid-to-late 90's lifespan. Others of us joined the party later on, acquainting ourselves with Sega's 32-bit system through a retrospective lens. Yet, we've all arrived here, with a shared appreciation for a beloved, if misunderstood console which continues to delight and surprise us decades onward.

So with that, we pose this to all of you in the community: What are your early memories of the Sega Saturn? How did you discover Sega's fifth generation console and what did it mean to you? Share your Saturn stories in the comments below.


Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Policenauts - The Greatest Story Ever Told?



hyperbole

[hahy-pur-buh-lee]

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com


noun Rhetoric.
  1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.
  2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, such as “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.


Those of you now familiar with the Krishna style of reportage, will realise that the information that follows the title of each of my posts, rarely corresponds with the title itself. Today's subject is no different. Policenauts is of course, NOT the best story ever told... That honour goes of course to Ryo Hazuki's vengeful odyssey in Shenmue, but I digress...
And now to contradict myself outrageously within the first paragraph: Policenauts is indeed the greatest story ever told... The greatest story ever told... on the Saturn.


Now this is not a review... In order to review it, I would  have to comment on the story, assessing it's characters, setting, plot twists and outcomes. I simply cannot do all of that. If I did, it could possibly create a huge rift between myself and one of the other Junkyard correspondents, The Virtua Schlub - Mr. Brian Vines. The other day I posted a snippet of plot on the Saturn Junkyard Facebook page and Mr. Schlub chastised me for being a "huge spoiler dropping butt-munch", so don't be worried dear reader, I won't be dropping any "S-Bombs" during this epistle. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Wipeout Playthrough in HD


With Wipeout fever being at an all time high here at the Junkyard - and with our Youtube channel sitting idly for a couple of weeks - I thought it timely to join our fellow enthusiasts of futuristic racing and show how beautifully this game in particular looks when running at a higher internal resolution.

I'm not the best Wipeout player in the world - far from it. In fact, the very first time I played it I positively hated it. I kept hitting the walls and slowing down, and couldn't figure out how to properly navigate the course.

Many years later, during my first time collaborating with the 'Yard, I gave it another shot, this time making the effort to understand the gameplay. It's actually pretty simple once you get to grips with it. You accelerate, you turn and, when trying to navigate a really tight corner, you use your air brakes for sharper turns. The trick is in understanding when - and for how long - to use the air brakes, since a split second too soon or too late will send you crashing against the nearest barrier.

It requires reflexes and finesse, and when you immerse yourself in it and pull off a good run it's incredibly satisfying. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the old reflexes came back to me, almost a decade after playing it for the last time. Silverstream still kicked my ass, and I'm nowhere near beating the Rapier class, but I still managed to pull off a decent run.

And the graphics are reaaaaally sweet, minus some unavoidable glitches. We could really use an Omega Collection for the older titles. Too bad the series seems to be a Sony exclusive nowadays :(

Monday, 4 June 2018

Wipeout: The Greatest Racer On The Saturn?


Hello Saturn Junkys! First of all, let me apologise profusely to all of you rare creatures that find yourselves here, having a little read every now and then. This is supposed to be the Junkyard's main hub, the place we all come to find new and interesting opinions, stories and articles about our favourite console. Whilst original team member Nuno has been producing Junkyard YouTube videos which receive thousands of hits, he's also been writing articles on emulation and generally putting this old Father to shame... In fact, in May 2018, for the first month since the 'Yard reopened, I have contributed nothing to it's hallowed pages. As an excuse, I'll throw in a couple of those hiccups that life sometimes throws at you, one of the warmest, driest, sunniest Mays since records began, a birthday and some major yardening... but enough of the past, May has gone. Now we're in June; the mid-way point of the year. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and summer feels like it has arrived with a bang for the first  time in years! Time to shut those curtains, crack yourself open a cold one and get your Saturn on!


So by now I'm guessing the title of the blog piece has been a bit of a giveaway... today we're talking about Wipeout, a fast, futuristic racer with a penchant for jet powered hover-cars, majestic sweeping race tracks and an acid house/drum & bass fuelled soundtrack. This is a game which originally appeared on the PlayStation, produced by legendary publishers Psygnosis and indeed became something of  a flagship title for that console. So how did it end up on the Saturn? Did we get a decent port? And is it still worth playing now?

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Killing Pixels: Part Deux and a Half - Now in 4K!


Because HD isn't quite high enough, we're taking the Saturn to new extremes. Revel in the glory of your favourite 3D titles rendered at a mind-boggling 3840x2160 - for comparison, one of the most used resolutions on the Saturn was 352x224).

Now, it isn't all roses. A large portion of the Saturn's Library was made of 2D games, which benefit nothing from an increase in resolution. Of the 3D games available, a large portion has moderate to serious problems running in YabaSanshiro - and many don't run at all - and of those that do, some don't benefit that much. Polygon jittering is a recurring issue, or 2D planes like the ground that don't scale that well and seem out of place.

But then there are models that just look gorgeous. Look at the player characters in Anarchy in the Nippon, Fighters Megamix or Virtual-On, and tell me they don't look straight out of a Dreamcast game.

As always, try it at your own risk. You might surprise yourself ;)

In case you missed the previous entries, check them out:

Part 1: Shaders in Retroarch

Part 2: Saturn Games in HD

Part 3: Widescreen Hacks

Friday, 11 May 2018

Saturn Emulation 101: Part 1 - What Emulation is All About

EMULATOR
noun em·u·la·tor \ ˈem-yə-ˌlā-tər \

1 : one that emulates
2 : hardware or software that permits programs written for one computer to be run on another computer
[Source: Merriam-Webster]



Aside from piracy, emulation has to be one of the most hotly debated topics among gamers. Most swear by their original consoles, disparaging emulators as the inferior choice, only suited for people who don’t really care about games and take the easy, dirty way to play them. I’ve seen all kinds of arguments throughout the years, ranging from “emulators are always full of glitches” (they’re not), to “they add input lag” (only half-true, depends on setup), and the last resort of someone who’s out of arguments, the “it doesn’t feel the same”.



If you’ve been following my content for the Yard, by now you know I’m an enthusiast for everything related to emulation. Having said that, I’m not an apologist for it. I think good things stand for themselves and don’t need anyone praising them and trying to convert the masses, so that is definitely not what this article will be about. I’m not going to try to convince anyone to leave their consoles gathering dust (as if you can’t use both).
Instead, this article is aimed at anyone who’s already into emulators and wants to know more about the Saturn scene in particular, or those who are curious but have yet to dip their toes in this gigantic pool and are looking for some guidance to get started.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Tech Battle: Episode 2 - Sega Rally Championship

 
Episode 2 of our new series, this time with less mishaps and better production values. We've widened our scope from a simple tech comparison to more of a retrospective that also takes into account the gameplay, features and history of the game. Hopefully this will make it more informative and interesting to the viewers.

Of course, we still go very much in-depth into the many differences between versions.

A couple of addenda that didn't make it into the video:

- We talk about an unlockable "secret car" but for the original arcade version this was simply an alternative handling mode for the regular cars. Later on the Saturn port actually added a new car to fit this handling model, the now iconic Lancia Stratos, so many gamers started to retconn the original and refer to that alternative handling as being the Stratos. It is true that the development team stated in interviews that it was their idea to include that 3rd car, which was then cut for time constraints, and the only trace of its existence is that extra handling mode, but back then regular arcade goers didn't know about that.

- We criticise the original Saturn game running at a higher resolution in the emulator YabaSanshiro for the missing polygons in the tracks. The PC version, when running at higher resolutions, seems to suffer from a similar - if less noticeable - problem, so maybe that's not an emulator bug but a quirk of the game engine.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Join our founder Simon (a.k.a. Father Krishna, a.k.a. Father K) as he takes some time to reflect on the Junkyard community, discussing its various goings on, history, events, the "weekly" challenges, and -- most importantly -- you!

Yeah, it gets pretty sappy but thanks for making the Junkyard and greater Sega community what it is!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Sonic R: Sonic Ace or Sonic Arse?


Something wonderful has happened within our little gaming community. Something unexpected, that has given me the most pleasure out of my whole Saturn experiences to date - the phenomenon of the "game of the moment". It starts with someone in the community extolling the merits of a particular game... it jogs the memory of some, tickles the fancy of others and invites the curiosity (or indifference) of the rest. So far, the games which seem to have captured the imagination and interest of our little community are the following: Sega Rally, Daytona USA, Christmas NiGHTS, Virtua Racing, Sega Touring Car, Burning Rangers and most recently, Sonic R. The buzz around certain games are often, but not always, influenced by the Saturn Junkyard's regular and partially successful Facebook challenges and by the wonderful tutorial videos produced by Sega Saturn Shiro's David Lee!!


There has been little debate as to whether the other games are "classics" or not. They've almost universally been applauded as great examples of their genres. But there is dissent in the air... the disgruntled and disenfranchised are making their voices heard. "Everybody's supersonic racing"? Most definitely not.
 So why is this game so divisive? Let's take a little look...

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Introducing the Saturn Junkyar(d)chives

Available Junkyar(d)chives:
While leisurely perusing the interwebs for various Saturn content, I recently came to a realization: finding high quality and in-depth info and commentary about some of these games can actually be kind of a chore!

Especially if you’re looking for in-depth analysis, personal stories, history, and commentary, there’s so much great stuff out there but it’s hardly a simple Google or Bing* search away. You can try searching YouTube and you might get inundated with loads of videos but it can take forever to sift through everything you’d want to find, if it even comes up in your search at all. Other times you might face the opposite problem: an ostensible dearth of substantive and easily searchable info whatsoever.

However, most of the time I’ve found that plenty of quality content does exist even if the almighty search engine algorithm gods refuse to offer their divine guidance. On top of that, so many of these resources can be spread across all manner of mediums – including videos, written articles, podcasts, images, etc. – sometimes I’m not even sure what it is I’m actually looking for, even if I’ve already found it!

Even internally within the Saturn Junkyard, this site is effing old now! So it stands to reason that perhaps there are also great SJY articles -- buried deep in the layers of our disorganized stratum of scrap -- which may still be perfectly relevant contributors to the conversations we’re having about these same games today. And of course there’s the wealth of great content that regularly comes from all of our Sega-loving friends throughout the community. This stuff can be easy to miss.

So what to do?

Well, I thought it might be fun, or at the very least helpful, to try and curate some of this great stuff where it can be made easier to explore and peruse, regardless of whether you want to simply learn more about an unfamiliar title or delve deeper into the body of work surrounding your favorite Saturn games. But the point is it would all be made conveniently accessible in one place -- like in a shrine, or an archive…or a Junkyard, perhaps?

Sure. Let’s go with that.

So here’s the goal: One game at a time, we’re going to do our best to explore the reaches of the Junkyard and far beyond to deliver you the best concentration of excellent Saturn game analysis, history, and commentary we possibly can. Apart from curating more of these as we go, we’re also happy to take suggestions for additional archives and aim to update these over time. If there’s other cool content you’d like to suggest, feel free to leave those links in the comments. Just note that for any original, independently-produced content, we will want to get the go-ahead from the creators to include their work.

So without further ado, I present you the first of -- let’s call them Junkyar(d)chives for now – and I’m immediately regretting that name choice. Anyway, until I come up with a better title, please enjoy this first curation effort, where we start with Sonic Team’s classic Saturn swansong: Burning Rangers.

Enjoy!

- Brian

Follow SJY (@SaturnJunkyard) and me (@TheVirtuaSchlub) on Twitter for a ton of tweets from twits!

* j/k lol wtf is a Bing?

Burning Rangers: The Junkyar(d)chive

We gave you a rundown of what the Junkyar(d)chives are all about in the introductory post. So without further ado, here’s a wealth of great discussions, commentary, analysis, and other cool content about Sonic Team’s other Saturn classic: Burning Rangers!


I guess we can begin with some internal stuff from within the Saturn Junkyard scrapheap, including a whopping TitanCast episode dedicated fully to discussing Yuji Naka’s futuristic firefighter opus. In this episode, we delved deep into the blazing corridors of our memories, experiences, observations, and struggles with Burning Rangers. Not only that but – at least as of this typing (April 2018) – this episode is the longest TC podcast we’ve ever recorded.



It’s no secret that Burning Rangers is a rather expensive game in western regions and the Japanese version is far more affordable. However, much of the game’s exposition and player directives rely heavily on its character voicework, which is all in Japanese in the NTSC-J version. This can be a problem if you don’t speak 日本の. The Southern Sega Gentleman (SSG) offers some helpful insights into whether the Japanese version is worth picking up amidst the trade-offs between its cheaper price and language barriers.




Next we jump back in time to the very beginnings of the Saturn Junkyard. In this 2007 review, contributor J takes us through his impressions of Burning Rangers, including descriptions of the game’s premise, mechanics, and criticisms of life as one of the future’s most renowned celebrity firefighters.



From the pages of the May 1998 issue of the Official Sega Saturn Magazine, the Out-of-Print Archive brings us an interview with the legendary Yuji Naka. In this interview, Naka-san describes some of the inner workings behind many of the choices Sonic Team made throughout development, including its premise, influences, gameplay mechanics, navigation system, character animations, stage designs, and so much more.
“We wanted to create a game where you could rescue people. Nowadays, there are so many games where you just kill people. Instead we decided to make a rescue game…Rescuing people, and many of the other things that a firefighter does, are in fact the very essence of a Sonic Team game. The firefighter is a hero people can identify with because they exist in our current everyday lives.” – Yuji Naka



On her YouTube channel, author Alicia Goranson offers a fantastic critical analysis of the plights facing our flame-dousing heroes. In her video, she delves into the multitude of ambitions, flaws, and other idiosyncrasies underlying BR’s mechanics, presentation, and much more.




In this SEGAbits video, Ian Ashcroft offers a massive, in-depth review of Burning Rangers. In this video, he covers every imaginable faucet of the game, spanning its concept, characters, presentation, gameplay, boss fights, technical aspects, soundtrack, and just about everything else.




In this video playthrough, join our friend Chris at Saturn Memories as he blazes through BR’s myriad of platforms and corridors en route to an A-Rank and a bevy of thankful survivors. Those fires never stood a chance!




Next, there's an excellent video review on SnicketySlice’s YouTube channel, where he provides a unique and humorous review exploring numerous conceptual, presentational, and mechanical aspects of Burning Rangers. Throughout this video, Snickety offers some unique and entertaining observations about BR, including its recurring themes of humans’ penchant for self-created destruction, a more realistic interpretation of the game’s voice navigation system, and a refreshingly in-depth critique of the game’s trademark rap theme song.


Burning Rangers OST - Preserved on YouTube by Deoxysprime

Finally we will close with a link to the full original soundtrack for the game which I know you'll want to stop everything to listen to right now. Just do it! Just Burning Rangers!


Hope you enjoy the growing body of work within the Saturn Junkyar(d)chives -- I keep cringing every time I type that. Anyway, this stuff is always iterative and we're happy to grow these collections over time. Note that in the case of original, independently-produced content, we will want to get approval from their creators before including them.

Special thanks to Saturn Memories, Alicia Goranson, SnicketySlice, and of course, the OG SJY contributor, Barry from SEGAbits!

Thanks for reading/watching/listening!

Follow SJY (@SaturnJunkyard) and me (@TheVirtuaSchlub) on Twitter for a ton of tweets from twits!

Back to the Junkyar(d)chives home post

Friday, 20 April 2018

SJY Let's Play: Virtua Schlub "Races" and Rambles Through Sonic R

In this episode, Virtua Schlub takes a leisurely stroll through the lush islands and dangerously radioactive cities of Sonic R. Join him as he "races" through the game all while discussing its design, features, mechanics, environments, soundtrack, innovations, critiques, divisiveness, and generally pondering its greater place within the Sega Saturn's legacy. Hope you enjoy delightfully cheesy vocal dance pop because we got all of it!


And while we're at it, here's Virtua Schlub's follow-up speed "run" of the Resort Island level with Super Sonic!


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The TitanCast Shoots the Shenmue Shit!

A new episode of the Saturn Junkyard's TitanCast has arrived!

We were lazy and forgot to do any planning this week but we recorded it anyway. Listen as we catch up on some of the recent Sega news but we mostly discuss the importance of Shenmue, generational divides, platform identity, and other random stuff.

Listen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlistlist=PLqVG4O_PptZUh9jJq0ptKNZzVjSv7SFPb

Buzzsprout: http://thesaturnjunkyard.buzzsprout.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-saturn-junkyards-titancast/id1320249250?mt=2