Saturday, 31 January 2009

Saturn Memories

A Celebration Of 15 Years Of Saturn Gaming:

First of all lets hear form Racketboy, possibly the most important hero of Retro gaming…

There are a number of things that keep me loyal to the Saturn.
First of all, until NiGHTS into Dreams, Guardian Heroes, the Panzer Dragoon series, Shining Force III, and Radiant Silvergun get accurately ported (or better) to a modern console, I won't be forgetting about the Saturn.

I am also a big fan of fighting games, and to a lesser extent 2D shooters. If you enjoy these types of games, a Saturn and a Dreamcast are must-own consoles. Having a six-button controller like the Saturn's gamepad is a definite plus for these as well. I think Sega needs to re-issue a Saturn controller for every console (and the PC again), preferably wireless, to give all of us retro fans something to cheer about.

And finally, the Saturn is just a great piece of hardware. I still think it is one of my favorite console designs and it runs super quiet. That was one of my biggest disappointments about the Dreamcast. It lost a lot of the elegance that the Saturn established.

NiGHTS into Dreams - Even after all these years, the gameplay is fresh and the level designs are out of this world. If only we could get it re-issued with smoothed graphics and HD support.

Panzer Dragoon Saga - Take the engaging world that the original Panzer Dragoons set up and mix in some interesting RPG gameplay. It's unlike any other in the genre.

Guardian Heroes - I love beatemups and adding RPG elements make the genre so much better. It also has some cool 2D graphical effects and a branching storyline. Some of Treasure's finest.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 - My favorite fighting game of all time. Sure SFA3 had more characters, but I thought everything else was better about the second installment. The controls seemed tighter and the fighters were more balanced. I even liked the backgrounds better in 2. It seemed like with Alpha 3, Capcom just crammed as much stuff in there as they could and didn't take the same amount of time to polish it up as much as they could.

X-Men vs Street Fighter - The reason to own a 4MB RAM cart for the Saturn. The original "Vs." fighter is still my favorite. Like SFA2, it had fewer characters than its sequels, but it was more polished. Plus it had some characters in it that I enjoyed, but were later pulled in installments that followed.

For more on the topic, I would recommend checking out my post, The Best Sega Saturn Games for Today “

Now, Tomleecee, Founder Of The Dreamcast Junkyard and defender of the realm:

“I got my first Saturn for Christmas in 1996 and it came with six games (Worldwide Soccer 97, Thunderhawk 2, Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally, Loaded and Alien Trilogy), a steering wheel and one pad. It was meant to come with two, but due to an apparent cock-up and Dixons, the cretinous sales assistant forgot to provide the extra pad so for the first few days me of owning it, me and my brother had to play two-player games with the steering wheel (which was interesting whilst playing Loaded in particular!). I do have fond memories of my Saturn, especially the heated arguments we used to have at school about who got the best console for Christmas (damned PlayStation owners). I actually had it for quite some time and it gave me some of the finest gaming experiences I've ever had (Quake, Duke 3D, Sonic Jam, Fighter's Megamix et al) but in the end I swapped it for an N64 with one game - Pole Position 64. It took me only a few hours to realise that I'd made a colossal mistake. Until ISS 64 came out that is...but that's another story. God bless the Saturn, and all who sail on her!”

Tom 10.01.09

Over to The Gagaman(n), Second In Command At The Dreamcast Junkyard, Multimedia Guru and Creator Of Sega Memories:

I've been somewhat of a Sega Saturn high as of late due to getting my mitts on one of those sexy white Japanese Saturn's, and I have been trying out a whole load of wonders that I never could before likle Capcoms' 4MB fighters like X-Men vs Street Fighter and vampire Savoiur, as well as Cyberbots, the Japanese version of fig

hting vipers with the pepsiman cameo, the Sega Ages memorial collections, Power Drift and much more. I'd be more than willing to contribrute to this month of Saturn goodness. =)

I still remember everything that came with my Saturn bundle from the shop Currys: It was about £250 and came with Sonic Jam, Sega Ages, Bubble Bobble Collection, Sega Rally and Manx TT (and Virtua Fighter was picked up for a fiver the same day). Being a Sonic nut the Sonic Jam pack got the most play at first: all the extra game modes and bonus content kept me stuck to it for weeks. Sega Ages was also a huge treat for me as I had always wanted to play After Burner at home but never got the Mega Drive one, and now here it was arcade perfect. Smashing!”

Gagaman(n) 10.01.09

Here's Gary, Dreamcast Alchemist, Collector Extraordinaire and Provider Of Lost Treasures:

“Hello FK,

I'm afraid I don’t have must to offer on the Saturn ... only to say I do remember the day very clearly when my wife talked me into getting a PS1 for our son in 1996 instead of a Saturn. As I'm now a HUGE DC fan I often wonder if I would have been better going down the Saturn path?

Keep up the good work on the Junkyards!”

Regards Gary 10.01.09

dreamcasting@btinternet.comAnything Dreamcast JUST ASK!”

Now, Dreamakuma from Master Of Soul Calibur and Arcade Cabinet-Making Wizard, The Planet Dreamcast Forum 11.01.09

Hey FK it's me Tom, I'm glad you are getting back into the Saturn again. here is what I have to say about the system.

It's the third best arcade based console,only beaten by the neo geo, and it's successor,the Dreamcast. I should make a Saturncab for it. So many great gems and perfect arcade ports makes the system a great treasure to any arcade nut. Even today it's tech is full of great innovation.

i hope that helps with your blog.

take care


Introducing Twicesliced, Canada’s leading authority on gaming and all round guitar hero, elder member of the Planet Dreamcast Forums 14.01.09

“While I've been a video game enthusiast for over 20 years now, and a SEGA fan since Sonic The Hedgehog first hit the scene, I didn't own a SEGA Saturn in its heyday. I did rent Saturns quite often though, so I was familiar with much of the hardware and software. When a high-school friend of mine offered to sell his model 1 Saturn to me for $20 (with three games: Bug!, Clockwork Knight, and WipEout), I couldn't resist. He brought it to school and kept it in his locker until the end of the day. When he opened his locker to get the system for me, the Saturn fell from the top shelf (about six feet off the ground) and crashed to the floor... And still works perfectly today, some ten years later!

My Saturn collection has slowly grown over the years, and now ranges from sealed copies of common games to SEGA's official Japanese 4MB RAM expansion cartridge. One major trend I've noticed as my collection has grown is that the vast majority of the console's best software is published by SEGA. This realisation caught me a little off guard, considering that SEGA's supposed abandonment of the Saturn in North America late in the system's life is often cited as one of the company's major historical failings. I have 30 Saturn titles, only four of which are not published by SEGA; one of those four is a SEGA property. Looking at the console's exclusive titles, the games that really make it worth owning before another console, one can't ignore the facts that most of them are from SEGA and that they're true classics. Just glancing at my collection, I immediately notice games like Astal, Dark Savior, Fighters Megamix, and The Legend Of Oasis that simply cannot be found anywhere else. Taking into account all of SEGA's exclusive original titles along with their great arcade ports, I have a hard time agreeing with that common sentiment that the company abandoned their Saturn fans. It certainly is unfortunate that SEGA didn't fare better in the market over time and felt it necessary to withdraw when they did, but I can't help feeling as though they left us with plenty to keep us busy.”

Thoughts from Someguy, Sage-Like Gaming Guru and Superior Planet Dreamcast Forum Moderator 16.01.09

"The Saturn was, for me, quite special. It’s not anywhere close to being my most played console. Neither did it have the most games, or even the highest number of my personal favorite games. Compared to the Playstation, it received a fraction of the attention over the years, and I always had a much smaller library.
However, what makes the Saturn really special for me was that it basically ushered in the true 3d era, and opened my eyes to what the “next generation” (and beyond) of games would hold.
My first memory of the Saturn was as a child, maybe 11 or 12, living in Florida. My brother and I at that point already had most of the popular consoles of the day.

At that time, fighting games were all the rage, and Street Fighter was just about every kid’s favorite, as well as being the technical pinnacle.
I remember for some reason going with my mother and brother to a Toys R Us across town in spring or early summer 1994.
There they had set up a playable kiosk with a Saturn running Virtua Fighter in all its glory.

I was mesmerized!

Never had I seen actual 3d graphics before, all running so fluidly!
I still remember it quite distinctly. The game was running a CPU vs. CPU match between Kage and Lau in Kage’s stage. That particular stage has a very enjoyable soundtrack, with Japanese-style flutes and trademark Sega electronica. Combined with the amazing graphics, I was floored.
Instantly my brother and I began playing, Kage vs. Kage (he was a cool-looking Ninja and we were both little kids. No other characters had a chance;)). We played for easily over half an hour before our mother dragged us away.
The whole way home we could not stop talking about it. We explained to our indifferent mother just how incredible this system was, and how we MUST have it.
The only problem was, in the US, it was $400 at launch.
Somehow, we managed to convince our poor dad that we would do anything for this system. After nearly 8 months worth of chores and quite a few additional tasks around the house, came Christmas morning.

There it was! We finally had it. I can honestly say it was probably about the most excited I have ever been for a console.
It came bundled with the one game we had been drooling over (Virtua Fighter), and we purchased a second (Japanese) controller for 2 player, and that was all for about the next 3 months or more.
We played for probably 5 or 6 solid hours on Christmas, and many months afterward.
Our library grew slowly. The next game was Clockwork Knight. A quirky, fun little Toy Story-esque platformer that wasn’t terribly special but was perfect for kids.
The Saturn quickly became my platform of choice for fighting games. When Virtua Fighter 2 came out, we rediscovered the magic all over again. But it wasn’t until Street Fighter Alpha 2 that we found a game we couldn’t stop playing. I’ve probably beaten it at least a dozen times with every character by now, and it’s one of those rare games that I could still play nearly every day. And of course, it was the best on the Saturn.
At it’s ‘peak’, our library for the Saturn reached maybe a dozen games or so. We got the Playstation for my next birthday, and it slowly overtook most of the Saturn’s game time. And we (foolishly) began trading away Saturn games to snatch up the latest, greatest PSX games. Now, my original library sits at a meager and pathetic 5 games, and some real treasures like NiGHTS, Sega Rally, and Virtua Cop 2 were sold off.
The Saturn has not been totally neglected in that time, though. I still take it out maybe every other year for a few weeks, enjoying and reminiscing about the timeless old 2d and 3d fighters, and getting a good match of Virtua Fighter 2 or SFA2, or sometimes the original VF (if only to hear the music).
But for the most part, the Saturn sits in its original box, tucked safely away in my closet with the other classic consoles. A great reminder that not everything that is not a commercial success or wildly popular is without merit. Actually, often quite the contrary.
And it will forever hold some of my fondest early gaming memories, and is a great testament to the genius and ingenuity of Sega."

Post Script: Someguy had this to say a few days later…

“Well Father K, I've really got to thank you. happy

Since taking the Saturn out for those photos, I decided to go ahead and set it up and try out a few games.

I've got to say, I've really enjoyed it. Virtua Fighter was surprisingly enjoyable, and I can honestly say Virtua Fighter 2 is still a very impressive fighter all-around. Heck, it even looks pretty decent for a game that's over 12 years old, and it's incredibly fun still to play.
There's a used game store not far from me that still sells old Saturn games (though truthfully, they're not the best), but I might just go and see what I can find for it.

Thanks for helping me rediscover it, FK, and for getting all the VF music stuck in my head again.”

And that my friends is a very fitting way to end this piece!

1 comment:

NebachadnezzaR said...

It's great to see the impact the Saturn had on so many gamer's lives. Great writings, everyone :)