Click for a list of the top 50 female Saturn video game characters in Japan sometime in 1998.
Click for reviews of Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games.
Click for reviews of Sony Playstation games.
Click for reviews of Super Nintendo/Super Famicom games
Virtual On Sega
I love Virtual On! Its actually one of the first games I'd wanted to buy for Saturn but it ended up bein one of the last. Too bad, as it's one of the best anywhere. The king of one-on-one mecha combat (not that that is the most crowded game genre) and pretty awesome. Very fast, n you dash and jump all over the place (all totally 3-d) and you get heavy, very cool weapons to blow up the other guy with. I always play as Fei-Yen...she's pretty much a Sailor Moon-as-robot spoof...her mecha body evokes pigtails, boots and a ruffled skirt with a bow. (really!) She's also kool cuz all her weapons fire pink bullets, etc. It's very fun to destroy someone with pink hearts; her coolest move is basically Sailor Venus' Love Me Chain. Fei-Yen is a typical girl fighter; very fast and light and agile but none too armored....however, the more damage she takes, the more powerful those pink hearts get (really cool). All the robots move so well and the game so intense, it's just like those Japanese cartoons where you see giant 40-foot robots jumpin and boogieing and rippin stuf up all over the place just like they weighed nothing at all. A nice touch...they all seem to have Saturns strapped to their backs (the door opens and the CD comes flying out...not a good sign maybe, but pretty funny) Basically the Virtuaroids (they are, really, unfortunately called that) are practicing by beating up on each other, and then it's off to the moon for some real war. yay! The fighters are all really good and it just gets better. The fighting arena are quite large, nice and (usually) have loads of things to duck behind. Good deal of thinkin, reflexes and long-distance shooting involved. It just rocks. Graphics are very cool and the little instant replay at the end of each round is the best...looks very anime with its camera angles but 3-d. The sequel is out for Dreamcast and I think I shall buy it fer sure! (it looks great)
Funny little game that kinda plays like a kiddie version of Virtual On. You choose one of 8 silly cute little SD mechs (or something) and duke it out fighting-game style one-on-one. Gameplay is pretty simple, but it's got addiction-potential. I think it's really meant to be a two-player game as playing against the computer is too simple. Against someone else (and this is one of the few Saturn games that uses the link cable) it could be really cool. But its pretty much, shoot, jump and bomb. You kin do extra moves by pressing button combinations, like a fighting game. Arenas are all 3-d, like the gameplay and there's stuff to hide behind and even blow up. They're kinda cool-looking. The gfx are simple, too jaggy, but charming wit some nice bits. Kid, the cowboy robot has two six-shooters, throws bundles of dynamite and also holds up his oversized sheriff badge as a shield. The opening animation is actually especially cool. Fave chara is Catty with her red hair and cat ears, naturally...she's cool. Gebockers gets points for cuteness, but the way better gameplay of VO has kinda spoiled it fer me...I'll still play this tho.
Gungriffon 2 Game Arts/ESP
The original was one of my faves on this system and this Japan-only sequel is even betta! The first Gungriffon is probably the best mecha game (I still like Bulk Slash better than all, but it's a different sort of game...GG is a better sim) GG2 improves the already pretty good graphics of the original (really good 3-d for Saturn and actually better than Armored Core on the PSX) I really enjoyed the gameplay of the original and it's improved here, with more complex, really well-thought-out missions and smarter enemies. It's harder, naturally, but not too. The first mission gets you in the game with a classic blow-up-all-the-enemies objective, but after that you'll be protecting convoys, leading rescue missions and the like (with still, even more, blowing-stuf-up to do). They are laid out intelligently and have a great sense of tension and suspense (something not found in the original). Wonderful. Probably the closest I'll ever get to mecha combat. One thing, there is a lot of Japanese in the mission briefings, but so far, it's totally easy to figure them out. I havent gotten too far...I'm basically stuck on the stunning polar-ice-cap level (#4). GG2 supports the Virtual On twin sticks (very cool!) but if you don't own any like me, the controller layout is the same as the first one and really good (for a game that uses a lot of buttons) You kin even sortie a two-seater mech with a friend, and with a link cable plus another Saturn, even play 4-playa games. yay! Oh, and I didnt mention that you get a few new weapons. Very recommended, if mecha combat is your thing. The latest game, Gun Griffon Blaze (I think) is out in Japan for the Sony PS2, and, if it's good (and it should be) I may pick one up just to play it.
Twinkle Star Sprites SNK/ADK
This is my new fave game, and it rounds out my Saturn collection nicely. One thing Saturn did really really well is Neo Geo ports and this is one! (it does NOT use the RAM cart, so ya don't need one) Twinkle Star Sprites is a combination of a versus puzzle game (like Puzzle Bobble or Puzzle Fighter) and an overhead shooter. It blends the best of both genres seamlessly and into a unique mix. Its hard to say whether this is better than Cotton or RS, but those are just shooters with puzzle elements by comparison. Twinkle Star is so much fun! Good fer 2 playas, of course. You and your opponent are flying over the same backdrop on a vertically split screen. You blow up chains of enemies (all hopelessly cute characters), which sends them zooming over (as fiery globs) onto your opponent's side and he/she kin send them back as more powerful characters. eek! Reversing attacks is a big part of the fun of this game. You kin even send bosses against yer opponent...there's nothing like crushing your opponent with a giant cabbit (unless it's blowing up the other guy's giant cabbit...sick!). Yes, it's pretty wierd and really digustingly cute (not so cute as to be annoying, tho obviously I'm the wrong judge of what would be too cute). You are LoadRun, a little girl witch on a broomstick (not another one!) who turns into a postpubescent fairy when she gets superpowers (her boobs even grow...kinda gross, but, sigh, I wish this would happen to me!). Her sidekick is a little cabbit. There are loads of opponents, either computer-or-human-controlled, included a great really powerful secret character (she's got a Cutey Honey thing going in that she has a million outfits). There's a story mode with good voice acting. Graphics are really really good, all 2-d of course with drop dead gorgeous backgrounds (not too much parallax but very detailed and animated!) The Saturn version improves on the original (also included here) with parallax clouds and stars and stuf and sparkles from yer broomstick. Also, it adds the aforementioned voices to the cutscenes. ADK added a great FMV anime opening with the Twinkle Star song (a fave!). Music is really good. There's also a second, omake CD with tons of production art and fan art. An incredible game, and, no it didn't see American release on Saturn. It's also available for Neo Geo consoles (and now Dreamcast) but not Playstation. If ADK is reading this, please please put this out on Neo Geo Pocket cuz it would go so well on that system and I'd take it everywhere. (And, totally unrelated, I wish Taito would do the same with a 2D Layer Section game). If you can find Twinkle Star Sprites and you like cute stuf, buy it!
Cotton 2 Success
This is my other fave! Cotton 2 is almost the perfect game, tho it's not as good as Radiant Silvergun, it's awful close. I'm currently playing it more. Someone at Success musta thought, "Hmm, let's make a game just for Linna." Well, not really, of course. I think Cotton 1 came out on the Super Famicom. Cotton 2 was I think first developed for the Saturn, then ported to the arcade (as an ST-V game) and then ported back. It's games like this that made Saturn THE 2-d arcade machine at home. (OK, there's Neo Geo but that's another story) Anyway, this game is a sidescroller shooter much like Sengoku Blade. Except, you're not an overendowed Shinto priestess (not that there's anything wrong wit that), you're a cute witch with a red bob-cut. yay! And you fly on your broomstick! too kewl! Plus there's a cute fairy in a bikini who follows you around. oooh! I like fairies! (Cotton is the witch, the fairy is named Silk) If this couldn't get any kewler, player 2 (cooperatively) plays as another cute witch wit a blonde bob (and an ugly talking witchypoo hat). I won't say it's better n Sengoku Blade but it plays differently. The characters are bigger, and the screen are filled with obstacles and more crowded. Like Radiant Silvergun its got lotsa shootin plus puzzlelike chaining. (This game wuz out first) Shoot a buncha enemies and ya get a power-up crystal. If ya shoot the crystal it changes color which gives you different spells which change your bullets n give you bomb-like spells too. (These look really neat). And you kin grab enemies n use em as weapons and throw em at other enemies! (ya know I like this!) You kin capture enemies in NRG balls n use those fer massive chaining mayhem goodness. This game is so much fun it makes me giggle sometimes. And it was so cute I cried once! The gfx are a bit pixelly but nice n colorful. Enemy design is really really good wit monsters, undead creatures, fish, goblins and pretty evil fairies and dark angels and more. The bosses n subbosses fire minature versions of themselves, which you kin grab n throw at them. (You kin even grab the subbosses) One time, you face a decomposing dragon skeleton, and you kin rip off his bones and hit him wit those. The sound fx are good n the music is wonderful pretty synth-pop. It's supposta give you more character voices if ya use a RAM cart (I don't have one). There is a ton of animation in the game (Cotton's dress and hair blow in the wind) and great anime intro and cutscenes. Control is soo smoooth it's really scarey. It's great. (No analog control tho) Cotton 2 is really hard but sooo worth it n anyone who luvs cute games hasta have it! There's a sequel, called Cotton Boomerang, but it's supposta be almost identical, only harder. I don't know who Success are, but I want more games like this! And it comes wit a kewl (but now outdated) 1998 calendar. And 2-d rules!!
Radiant Silvergun Treasure/ESP
When I first heard Treasure was developing this for the arcade, I was like "oh, this will be good." I luv 2-d space shooters. It's hard ta believe, but Treasure's never done one. (They did do Axelay when they worked for Konami). Treasure are known for side-scrolling violent action/platform games, typically weird, funny, fulla inventive tricks and lotsa craziness and more action. It was going to be interesting to see what they'd do with this genre. They didn't disappoint and the result is even better then I'd thought.
Radiant Silvergun puts EVERY other space shooter I've played to shame. Raystorm (and all else made by Taito), Einhander, Thunderforce series, anything for any platform. I haven't played Sokyugerentai and I still want Battle Garegga but they can't be better 'n this. It's the prettiest overhead shooter ever with a gorgeous mix of sprites and (I think a first for Treasure) polygons. It's got transparencies! Sparks! The best explosions...everything blows up real good. I thought that no shooter could ever cram more STUFF on the screen than Galactic Attack but RS does with tons of enemies and bullets and laser beams and background elements. Unlike that game, tho, there is occasional slowdown. It's not annoying tho, cuz it sometimes happens in boss battles when there is SO much CRAP on the screen; Either it chokes the Saturn or Treasure feels sorry for you but either way you're thankful for a little extra time to save yerself. (I think the former is true, n is becuz of polygons not sprites) There are tons of bullets n stuff to dodge and I like how they threw in a good bit of the wall-and-barrier-dodging more commonly seen in side-scrollers. Emphasis is on boss-fighting but there are tons of little (and not-so-little) footsoldier gruntcraft to blow away b4 fighting the big bosses that pop up more than once per level. Enemy design is fantastic, especially the bosses (Treasure's always had great bosses).
This is one of my fave bosses......it blows up real good too.
Gameplay is fast, intense and pretty innovative fer this genre. There
aren't any power-ups. Instead you get all 7 weapons at once (each assigned
to a controller button like a fighting game) and they get more powerful
the more you use 'em. Yay! You get kewl weapons too, like Layer Sectiony
lock-on lasers, homing shots, a homing lightning zapper and my fave, the
Radiant Sword. Way more better than Einhander's sword, the Radiant Sword
lets you slash enemies and you kin charge it up by slashing away enemy bullets.
When it charges up all the way, it turns inta a GIANT pair of scissors that
destroy most anything in their way and have kewl trails and funky-ass-old-skool-vector-graphics-fx.
This thankfully gets rid of the need for smart bombs in the game and is
more fun besides. (later on, for whatever reason you actually fight a boss
in vector graphics mode. Trippy!) You get a bonus fer shootin chains of
enemies of one color n bonuses fer finding hidden cartoon dogs. I don't
know what the dogs are for but they bark when you find em n they are cute!
You also get a bonus fer destroying bosses piece-by-piece rather than all
at once. Double Yay! N you'll get an extra continue fer a 100% perfect destruction
rate each time. So the more you play, the bigger weapons n more continues
you get. Evil! And you kin play in Arcade mode which gives you unlimited
continues that I find waaay too tempting. Besides Saturn mode has a storyline
with great in-game cutscenes (the first time I wasn't aware the gameplay
had started). You also get a dramatic Japanese voiceover that lasts till
you fight the first boss. Combined with the great symphonic (and all BGM...yay!)
soundtrack, this is the first shooter that really makes you feel that you;re
in the middle of an epic Star Wars-style space battle. There's also a great
anime intro wit kewl characters (the girl has a green bob and antennae n
is really reminiscent of Nicole from Guardian Heroes). I don't know Japanese
so I cant tell if the intro is a spoof or not but it's really dramatic and
Radiant Silvergun is really hard but I've never enjoyed gettin my ass
kicked over and over again more. It hasnt left my Saturn since I got it
and I havent played anything else since. If you like shooters n have a Saturn
you HAVE to get this game. If you really luv shooters and don't have a Saturn,
it's reason enuf ta get one. Really! RS is only available for the Japanese
market and it seems to be really in demand, but it is so worth finding on
import. If there ever was a PSX version, it wouldn't be as good since the
original arcade game was done for the ST-V Titan (a Saturn w/more memory).
If I could never buy another Saturn game gain I wouldn't mind. I don't think
I'll EVER get another overhead shooter (except maybe Battle Garegga) this
is so good. I don't think there will ever be a better space shooter until
maybe Treasure makes another one.
Last Bronx Sega
Like I need another Saturn fighting game. I picked this up for $20. It doesn't take place in the Bronx, but in Tokyo, including real locations in Shibuya. It's made by Sega's AM3, not AM2 who did Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers n it's a little different. You fight with weapons, like nunchuks and its very fast n violent. Weapons spark! You kin taunt (in Japanese) and there are long combos. Matches are over very quick. It lacks some of the polish of the AM2 fighters especially in the character select screen and the screens between matches. But the in-game graphics are very good and so is the gameplay. The characters have more animation and more personality (sometimes you see em breathing!) My fave chara is Lisa, who's the cutest girl n she wears a lil skirt wit suspenders and kewl boots. Backgrounds are better than AM2's Saturn games (I'm not sure if they're really 3-d). It's kinda easy on Normal setting (I finished it on the first try) but you kin put it on Hard as well as secret settings like "Arcade", "Judo" and "Berserk." The only problem is the bad polygon glitching that happens when the characters do their winning poses or sometimes when doing throws. Its really ugly but it doesn't ruin the gameplay. Really good anime and in-game cut-scenes (Tomb Raider should learn from them) and the opening song is nice J-pop with tone deaf vocals. Worth getting and different and way better than Toshinden.
Sengoku Blade: Sengoku Ace Episode II Psikyo/Atlus
This l'il import gem should be what 32-bit games are about. Perfect 2-d graphics with hectic classic shooting gameplay. Unfortunately, that's not what the 32-bit era turned out to be (while I do luv 3-d) and this game didn't see an American release. Sengoku Blade is best described as Thunderforce with Samurai Shodown characters but it's more than that. It's a side-scrolling shooter set in a steampunked version of medieval Japan with weird magic and technological enemies. The game's setting and design work very well in the total package. Your character flies and shoots, apparently with the aid of magic. You also get a little spirit or animal friend that flies with you and shoots (like Gradius "option" powerup). You'll need him/her/it. You'll also need the supply of big bombs (great animation on them) and yer friend has neat special attacks and gets more powerful with each power-up. As with most 2-d Japanese shooters for the Saturn the gameplay is very smooth and intense. It seems a bit like Darius (which isn't bad), but the gameplay is much better. You fight tons of bosses, several per level. If you like bosses that you blow up bit-by-bit or transforming bosses this is the game fer you. If you like boss fighting in general, this game is fer you. It's pretty hard, too. The main character is Koyori who's got on an outfit like what Sailor Mars wears around the temple, aviator goggles on her head and has humungous boobies (bigger than Lara's). She's gorgeous with a really pretty face (she kinda looks like you-know-who. Like I wish I could grow boobs that big!). You kin also choose from a pretty-boy who looks like an effeminate Ryu from Street Fighter, a robot samurai, a big ugly bald dude wit earrings and a strawberry blonde girl whose best friend is a fire-breathing ring-tailed lemur (really!).
Sengoku Blade comes with a second CD full of fan art (loads of clean cheesecake), character sketches n more. They also have adverts for other Psikyo shooting games, Gunbird, Strikers 1945 and the first Sengoku Ace, all of which are nice-lookin top-down shooters. At least two of the characters have been carried over from the first one n aged a bit. (Koyori has gone through a LOT of puberty since) Sengoku Blade is worth getting on import for the atmosphere (including some nice traditional Japanese music) and classic action. I luv it n its the kinda game ya can't turn off.
Most everyone knows this game, mostly fer its multiplayer fun. Unfortunately Sega only wanted their version to be one-player So Lobotomy had ta work hard at makin Quake a decent one-player game. Tho I don't play first-person shooters much, I'd hafta say they succeeded. Also doing well-received versions of Duke Nukem and Powerslave for the Saturn (the crap ports of Hexen and Doom are not theirs), Lobotomy have done well in getting this game to run on a dinky console. They took some stuf out but put other stuf in. Call it Quake 1.5. The graphics are improved over the original Quake and they made the enemies smarter. They're supposta hunt you down rather than standin around waitin ta be shot (like they do in most games of this type). While the gameplay is decent what makes Quake such a winner is its atmosphere. It's so dark and spooky with some weird ancient alien architecture, kinda Hellraiser- or Lovecraft-ish. Also the Trent Reznor-composed music Is really nice n spooky n adds to the whole experience. Great lighting effects too. The textures are grainy but they almost always are in this sort of game. It's all polygons, too! You get kewl weapons like the nail gun (yay) or grenade launchers that blow the enemy into pieces of meat (yuk). You'll need the grenades cuz if you don't blow up zombies they come back to life (nice). Analog control is supported, which is nice. Unfortunately there are no multiplayer options (what's up wit that?)
Mass Destruction NMS/ASC Games
This is another one I saw when it was in development n couldn't wait fer it to be out. Unfortunately the publisher was BMG Interactive which folded. Mass Destruction came out for Playstation and Saturn under the ASC Games logo. I don't think it was very popular cuz the Saturn version was hard to find. It's too bad, cuz this is an awesome game. Imagine the old Atari Combat with tons of stuff n Command & Conquer-style graphics ('cept the graphics are better than that). You control your lil tank in a lil top-down polygonal world and blow up stuf. Blow up buildings and collect powerups inside 'em. Sometimes there are enemies in the buildings to blow up. Blow up extra stuf fer bonuses! You're sent on missions around the globe to stop our enemies, "The Republican Army". You have tons of enemy vehicles n troops tryin ta blow you up along the way. The troops are the funnest, they are tiny-ant-sized people that scream in the most horrible way when you shoot em, sometimes running around with their pants on fire. The most efficient way to kill em is just ta run them over. This game is really sick and it's sickness is canceled out by the fact that the graphics are soo pretty and the battlefield so toylike and cute. And it's sooo much fun! You get all sorts weapons (the flamethrower is awesome) n you kin drive anywhere on the battlefield n turn yer turret independently from the tank. Nice water effects, your tank kin drive underwater fer a bit (til it fills up) and if you blow up something near the water, the explosion is reflected in the water, along with pieces of shrapnel splashing. I also dig the cheesy Eurosynth soundtrack. Unfortunately there's a bug that turns the sound off the first time you play (you have to turn it on manually in the options). Also, there is no 2-player mode, either versus or cooperative. Boo! Very recommended, tho. There are a few differences tween the Saturn and Playstation versions, only graphic, the Saturn is worse in some ways, better in others. I don't know if the Sony version was any more popular.
Bulk Slash Hudson
I've lusted after this since it was in beta, and now I got it. Id trade most all my games just for Bulk Slash. Awesome awesome transformer mech game imported from Japan. Faster and more arcadey than Gungriffon and loads of fun. Fulla action and anime style. The enemies are great and the bosses unbelievable. One looks like a cross between Mothra and a robot dragon with a big-ass gun for a head. Big big explosions! Loads of weaponry and possible the best part is zooming around exploring the 3-d NeoTokyo backgrounds. Yes! Full 3-D movement! If only ya could blow up the buildings. It is fun taking out signs and traffic lights and sailboats and blimps tho. All transformer games should be like this! Macross games should be like Bulk Slash and it could be one. You even get lock-on missiles. If you ever wondered what it'd be like to play the battle climax of Macross Plus, this is pretty dang close. Unlike SDF Macross, in which you could pretty much stay in one mode, here it really helps to transform. Flying parts play like a 3-D Afterburner at times. Textures are kinda grainy, but the environments are so rich and graphics fast and glitch-free. Pop-up is handled very well, with buildings that gradually fade into view. Kewl anime-soundtrack/80's metal music. I started singing the Tenchi Muyo theme halfway through. Hudson threw in a special, very Japanese little gimmick that was probably the game's main selling point. As it is easy ta get lost in 3-d games like this, they let you pick up cute anime chicks to help you navigate. They appear in a lil 2-d window in the upper left screen and tell you where to go and yell at you in Japanese and react to what is going on. One looks a lot like Rei from Evangelion. There is a TON of Japanese, both written and spoken, but you don't need to know it to play. They really should sell an American version. It's so good. A lot of care and hard work went into Bulk Slash and Hudson deserves applause. Hurray!
Guardian Heroes Treasure/Sega
This game pretty much shows what's good and bad about the Saturn. It's kick-ass, fast, lovely 2-d with neato fx and lotsa action and mean enemies. Maybe Streets of Rage crossed with Golden Axe and Gunstar Heroes. Lovely anime-atyle art and a neat intro. But Sega didn't hype it, n advertised screen shots were ugly. N yeah, its 2-d. Also the box art makes it look like a bad Masters of the Universe RPG (tell me that's not He-Man and Skeletor on the cover). Way ta go Sega! Please use the Japanese art next time. Compare it to Nintendo's hype of Mischief Makers (also 2-d and from Treasure). too bad. My fave character is Nicole, she's so cute! She's an acid house kid cuz her god is Smiley. She has no weapons but kewl Sailor Mercury type spells. She kin vault over her enemies and attack them from the other side. You kin choose your own character and build them up as they go. Kinda RPGish. Also has branching storylines, but it is pure action. Oh, yeah, you kin jump between multiple scrolling planes using the shoulder buttons. All 2-d scrollers should be done this way. If you know Treasure's other games, ya know what ta expect. They also have Silhouette Mirage for Saturn and Playstation (It looks awesomely weird) and of course Mischief Makers for N-64 (I haven't played it but almost makes me wanna get one). Also godlike shooter Radiant Silvergun (above). GH is available for pretty cheap and everyone should get it.
The Super Dimension Fortress Macross ("Do You Remember Love?") Emotion/Bandai/Big West
I like 2-d shooting games and I love Macross, n this is a 2-d Macross shooting game, so I was forced to buy it. The Macross game for Famicom was one of the best and this is like 100x better. It's got multiple backgrounds n enemies attacking from multiple planes. Transformer games are fun! Half the fun is switchin between fighter and robot modes. Gerwalk mode too, which is kinda inbetween which I like. You get the best weapon too: lock-on MIRVing missiles that zoom all over the screen with whooshing exhaust trails n it looks just like the cartoon! Gorgeous graphics. The sprites are mostly pre-rendered 3-d. Massive, elaborate backgrounds, more like a whole environment. In the first level, you fly through a city with buildings that blow up n even lil cars n trees. Later, you fly inside the Macross n fight there. The Macross is a big-ass space-city transformer that could eat Optimus Prime for a snack n poop him out. Watch out for when it transforms and everything goes sideways. The soundtrack is really good too with explosions that sound like you are in the middle of World War 3. You also get long nice-lookin Trumotion FMV scenes between levels. They're from the real cartoon and some computer animation. The story is from the first Macross, the one that became Robotech here. Minmay is in it alot, she is so cute! You kin skip over it too. A few levels suck tho, because they force you to follow the plot of the movie. If you took away all the gfx n Macross goodies, it prolly wouldnt be half as good as Taito's shooters. But it's got the goodies! Its kinda expensive, n comes on two CDs but its worth it if you are a fan.
NiGHTS into Dreams Sega
For the past two years when he should have been working on a new Sonic game, Sonic creator Yuji Naka was lying on the beach at Goa, tripping. Then he went back to Japan and made this game. I really don't know what he was doing, but Sonic Team must have gotten some serious hallucinogenics to come up with this. Really, this flying dude in a jester cap game partly convinced me to get a Saturn. It doesn't appeal to everyone cuz it looks like a wussy game and is pretty weird besides. The commercials for it were really bad: a few seconds of poor quality screen footage then someone dropping a Playstation off a building. You play NiGHTS, the jester dude dreamed up by two kids to defeat their nightmares. You fly through their dreamworld, collecting stuff, bonking enemies on the head, defeating bosses, the usual platform game stuff (you also hatch eggs). What makes it different is the gorgeous graphics and feeling of flight. Its a 3-d game with 2-d movement, but the way NiGHTS moves (especially with the analog pad) is so awesome, you wont care. The bizarre levels are really lovely with all sorts of kewl effects. You can fly though a waterfall and the water splashes around you; fly in front of a mirror and there you are. My favorite is the Soft Museum, where the ground, floors and ceilings make waves under you as you fly past. Strange enemies and stranger bosses, my favorite is the big fat lady you bounce like a beach ball. I managed to finish this game with both characters and then went back to do it agin wit all A's on every level. At its heart, the gameplay is as classic and tight and addictive as any old 8-bit game. Additionally NiGHTS includes a primitive artificial life program with the levels populate with lil pinhead angels (really!). The Nightopians evolve and breed (this is where you hatch their eggs) and you kin cross-breed them with the bad guys. They interact with you on a pretty basic level and the background music changes depending on what they think of you. Everyone needs to play this game!
Gungriffon Game Arts/Sega
It's too bad this game isn't more popular. I don't know why! Maybe its because of the ugly cover art. There's a really bad picture of a mecha on it and the artist didn't give it a head! Maybe to make it look more American. Japanese mecha have heads and more personality, while American designs look like the front end of a bomber plane on legs. And the screen shots on the back are really ugly too! I got this real cheap. Really, it is a cool 3-d mecha game with great graphics and action. Your mecha has a head and the kewlest weapons! Loads of really good explosions! Also your mech has jets to jump high up in the air and fly for a bit. It is sooo much fun to jump up and take out a wise-ass helicopter that's been buggin you. Also to rain death from above on enemy mecha. Kewl enemies and exotic locations such as Novosibirsk, Kiev and Ulan Bator. They have personality and great animation. The first time I saw the Masamune Shirow-style spider tank, I got douche chills. N then I blew it up! I haven't played games like Krazy Ivan and MechWarrior, but I imagine this is better. And out of nostalgia, the on-board computer is called Silpheed.
Darius Gaiden Taito/Acclaim
Besides making "Mortal Kombat vs. Aerosmith Space Jam Wrestling", Acclaim has imported some really good games from Taito. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone likes them, cuz they are always on sale. Darius is a side-scrolling space shoot-em-up like Scramble or Nemesis. Beautiful graphics and soundtrack. Trippy psychedelic special effects. Loads of enemies, most of which are fish for some reason. You get lots of power-ups and instead of smart bombs, you get a black hole bomb that sucks up everything on screen and blows up. You can also defeat the mini-bosses and take them over and make them fight on your side. And, instead of makin you go from level to level, you kin branch off to different levels (28 total) and take several tracks.
Tomb Raider Core/Eidos
This game was really really popular for two reasons and they are in Lara Croft's bra! Really, what makes it so good are the gorgeous environments and the way you explore them. It really puts you in the game. I've wasted so much time on this game and I've only just begun! (Unfortunately I wiped out my Saturn's memory bout 1/2-way thru and am unlikely to pick up Lara's quest agin). The characters are blocky, but the action is good. The adventure part is simple enough for me to do and it is fun shootin animals. Unlike the 2-d Flashback, you don't have to run and jump just so to get where you want. Lara has really big boobs and a cute lil outfit (I would wear it if I was exploring) n she looks real cute the way she pulls herself up onto a ledge. I think Pitfall Harry has the hots fer her! She has a cute accent. I like the part where you run around her house n she tells you how to move. Too bad TR2 isn't on Saturn, but it's OK, cuz it sucks anyway.
Galactic Attack Taito/Acclaim
Another from Taito! Even better than Darius. This is one of my absolute fave games and its a 2-d space shooter! It's top-scrolling like Xevious or 1942, and like Xevious you blow up stuff both in the air and on the ground. It mixes anime and old-skool flava. Beautiful graphics, as atmospheric as you can get in 2-d, with asteroids and clouds and waterfalls and future cities and even moving space dust! Great power-ups and weapons, including a kewl lock-on laser that lets you blow up everything you can lock on to. And you'll need it cuz there are TONS of enemies, including some really big mean ones (it has the baddest bosses). Unlike too many shooters, these guys fire back. If you don't watch out, you will be on a screen full of nothing but bad guys and their fire. Good lookin' and filled with action. Oh yeah, you kin play wit yer TV on it's side and the increased aspect ratio gives you all of the taller arcade screen. (I did this wit my computer monitor and you get ta see tons more of the backgrounds...impressive!) It cost $20, but I would pay a lot more for it. I play this most every day and has become like an old friend tho I haven't finished it. It was called Layer Section in Japan. It's only on Saturn, but there is a 3-d version called Raystorm for Playstation (n in Japan, Layer Section 2 for Saturn).
Fighters Megamix Sega
Megamix gives you all the characters from Virtua Fighter 2 (with VF3 moves) plus all the ones from Fighting Vipers and 10 secret characters like the chick from Virtua Cop 2, characters from the Sonic fighting game, and the racing car from Daytona. The resolution is no where near as high as VF2's, but the characters are Goraud-shaded which looks really good. Plus you get cool dust clouds and sparks when you hit each other. Too bad there is bad slowdown on a few stages. Some really good punching sounds too. It's based on Fighting Vipers, so the characters from that game look really good (the Virtua Fighter ones look worse). Also, like that game, you can fight in closed in rings like cage matches. You can knock your opponents through them. Also you can climb up to the top of the wall and jump into the ring, just like on wrestling shows! I like the moves better than the ones in Virtua Fighter cuz they are wilder and more powerful. VF2 is more real, but I think Megamix is more fun. My fave character is Candy (Honey in Japan) from Fighting Vipers. You get a choice of cute cute cute vinyl schoolgirl and angel outfits and play as blonde or brunette. My favorite Candy move is the one where she does the Bump and hits people with her butt! Also where she comes up behind her opponent and tickles them! That doesn't do any damage, but it is fun to do! There are a lot of secrets in the game that are unlocked as you play, such as all the Candy outfits, super-fast Hyper Mode, secret tracks, more secret tracks and secret options I haven't discovered yet. It is kinda easy, but it gives you a chance to learn all your moves (also there is a Training Mode) and you can always play it on a more difficult level or in Hyper Mode (like me). Also nice CG intro and picture gallery. Here are 3 pictures of Candy from it (you cant see her wings in the angel outfit)
Fighting Vipers (Japanese Version) Sega
I got this too cuz I luv Candy/Honey so much! In the Japanese version you get ta fight Pepsiman and there are a few Pepsi product placements. Maybe more sexy Candy stuff. In some ways its a better game than Megamix. No slowdown, the animation seems smoother and the backrounds more complex. More and better camera angles (there it goes again, right up Honey's skirt!) Its also harder and enemies are smarter and more fun. I've been playing this a lot more than Megamix.
Panzer Dragoon Sega
When Saturn first came out, this was about the only game that looked halfway interesting. Really good 3-d graphics, especially for then and the sequels look even better! I got it for $15. Panzer Dragoon is like Space Harrier except you fly around on the back of a kewl blue dragon. You get a laser gun with lock-on capabilities (it looks so cool the way the beams MIRV) to blow up weird enemy machines and really nasty mutant critters. Nice levels and music too. Too bad it's only a rail-shooter and doesn't give you real 3-d movement. But it does support the analog pad and is still a great game.
It's not the most realistic racing game but it's a fave. Futuristic anti-grav hovercraft racing. Awesome! Fast, fast movement, with crazy tracks full of nausea-inducing twists and drops. Nice techno soundtrack too. Wipeout has a unique look from the vehicles and the pilots to the Designer's Republic-designed manual. Sega messed up the cover though. You get weapons, and while they are pretty wussy, it is fun to blow the leader out of the air as he is making a jump. It is too easy though. I can complete it and you don't even have to like use the brakes until maybe the 4th track. Darren Emerson of Underworld sez he can't even qualify on the first track It's still fun. The Playstation version does look better and has an pretty good soundtrack (the rights are owned by Sony) and the same is even more true of Wipeout XL (review on PSX page).
Bust-a-Move 2 Taito/Acclaim
Another from Taito! I must be keeping them in business. This is really Puzzle Bobble 2 (2x if you are picky). It stars Bub and Bob of the classic Bubble Bobble. Your cute lil Japanese dinosaur has to shoot colored bubbles at a mess of bubbles that gets lower and lower to you. Line up bubbles of the same color and they pop. Another variation on the Tetris theme, but its different enough and very addictive. Also it's too too cute! Cute enemies and animations, including a joke on Darius. Giggle! Kewl Vs. mode and you can make your own levels! The box art is really bad, Acclaim seemed ashamed of the games cuteness, so it just put a picture of some dude with his eyeballs propped open on the cover with a warning about how addictive the game is. No mention of Bub and Bob, who are only barely visible on the back. (Thankfully Natsume has taken up publishing this series in the U.S. and has NO problem w/cuteness) Also, it will play special holiday animations depending on your system's clock, like fireworks on July Fourth. I will go play this right now!
Bubble Bobble with Rainbow Islands, Taito/Probe/Acclaim
And one more, last but not least. Arcade-perfect version of the 1985 classic. You probably know (and maybe) love this; You're a lil dinosaur who hops around these (like 100) mazes. You blow bubbles to trap monsters, n after you pop the bubbles, they die and turn into fruit, candy, etc. which you grab. Yummy! Simple concept, unbeatable classic gameplay. Like Pac-Man or Dig-Dug but I like it better. It's tons of fun and cute and I play it a lot. Soundtrack by Vincent Clarke of Erasure. (not really, but it'd be funny) Rainbow Islands was sold as a sequel, buts it's a different game. You're a short, fat, probably simpleminded red-haired kid who kinda looks like Cartman on South Park. You build rainbows to kill enemies and to travel upwards across many platforms. It's pretty fun, but not as good. They also include an "enhanced" version of Rainbow with more 32-bitish gfx. Acclaim did a typical lame Photoshopped clip-art irrelevant cover, but it's not as ugly as Bust-a-Move 2's. Acclaim's FMV logo even looks like crap. Probe's looks not much better. Luckily, the real game part was left up to Taito. There is a 3-D FMV intro that's very well-done, but the resolution is pretty bad. Bubble Bobble was available on NES (Rainbow Islands, too), Game Boy and other systems. There's a very nice total rip-off available fer Mac. Playstation has a version of this disc, but I'm not sure if Rainbow Islands is included.
Tempest 2000 Atari/Interplay
There are few games more fun that old-fashioned shooting games, and the original Tempest was one of the best back in the day. It was really intense and fast and unique. I started to miss it, but here it is! Tempest 2000 was a Jaguar game originally n was probably the best (guess it beat Missile Command 2000). Interplay has brought it to the Saturn and another version to the PSX. Thanks guys! Guess what? it's better than the original, with way trippy graphics, new enemies and power-ups. 2-player versus mode is fun too and it does include the original Tempest. I can't say Tempest holds my interest for long-the first like 100 levels are too easy-but I play it now and then. Kinda lame "techno-rave" soundtrack, but it does put you in like a shooting trance. Eat electric death!
Sega Rally Championship, Sega (duh)
Scarey real rally racing game. The graphics are very good and the control and the way the car feels are tremendous. The first time you try it, you floor it and the car takes off so fast it's frightening. It supports the analog pad. You get a choice of a Lancia (with a secret very fast Lancia hidden away) or a Toyota Celica. There are nice touches like birds that scatter as you drive at them, and a helicopter over the finish line to the first course. You can't run over the spectators (or the elephant). There's a really nice replay mode where you kin play back yer race from different angles. It's fun ta watch n the music is pretty good. I think the game's really hard and over too soon, but I keep tryin to win. Sega Rally came out in 1995 and has not been beaten by any other rally game on any system yet. There is a sequel for the arcades that will be out for Dreamcast.
Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition, Sega
This is my fave racing game! The second version of Sega's arcade classic for the Saturn has better graphics than the first. Plus, more courses and cars to choose from. Its less real than Sega Rally, but I think it's more fun. Daytona feels pretty fast, controls very well (analog supported down to the gas and brake pedals) and you get these great end-over-end crashes. You have to hit really hard to wipe out, n once you do you kin get back in the race and your car will be all dented in 3-D. I luv the courses. In the first one you race against 39 other cars, n it's great watching the other cars get in position for the next turn. I love it! The music's kinda good, even a junglist tune (tho you hafta choose it in options), 'cept for the horrible rock song that plays over the replay mode (vocals by some guy from Mr. Big...yuk).
Virtua Fighter 2, Sega
Another Sega classic. The Virtua Fighter series hasn't been beaten by any other 3-D fighter, tho some have come close. I was so happy when I got it in the 3-for-free pack and booted it up. The graphics are so pretty! The fighting's very real (yeah, like I've ever been in a real karate fight) and the moves (there are lots of them) are so good. Any game that has a Drunken Master character I like. I mostly play as Pai Chan, the Chinese girl with pigtails, tho the blonde chick Sarah is pretty kewl. VF2 is pretty hard, n supposedly the AI learns as you play, but I've beaten it. If you own a Saturn you should get this but you probably have. On the Playstation, only Dead or Alive could come close (Tekken is fun but not nearly as good). VF3 in the arcades is frankly amazing with super graphics. The Dreamcast version may not be totally acrade-perfect but really really close. VF1 for Saturn had very crappy graphics (the 32x version is better). Fighters Megamix has VF3 moves (plus side-stepping) built in and I like it and Fighting Vipers better. VF2 is better put-together tho.
Virtua Cop, Sega
Another game that came in the three free pack. They really spoiled people with that. Too bad the system died within a year. The point of this game is to eat the most donuts Pac-Man style before the clock runs out. No, really, Virtua Cop is a shooting-gallery game with really nice 3-d graphics for its time. The bad guys clutch themselves and fall over in pretty convincing ways and the gameplay is far better than most games of this genre. You get tons of firepower. It's tons of fun, but it gets boring after a while. It's probably best with the light gun. I don't have one, but I use the analog controller with the shoulder buttons (they're triggers, natch) set to reload and shoot. The sequel is supposta be way better n I'd like to get it with the gun and pretend I'm in a violent Hong Kong movie.
ST-Key import converter cartridge
Aside from buying a Japanese Saturn, the easiest way to play imported games is to plug a cartridge into the Saturn's cart slot. There are other models, and more recent ones that give you extra RAM and stuff, but the ST-Key seems to be the most popular and available. Its pretty cheap at $20-25. There's no manufacturer listed on it and the whole thang seems dodgy and borderline illegal. Since the NES days, Japanese console manufacturers have built some kinda territorial lockout into their systems. You can't play a game meant for Japan on a system sold to Americans and vice versa. This is to keep the manufacturer's control over distinct markets. Unfortunately it means Americans miss out on some great games. Nintendo's systems use differently-shaped carts for each market and cd-based systems like Saturn or Playstation put a code on the insidemost groove of the CD. On boot-up, the system looks for this code to make sure it is playing a cd meant for its home market (this also keeps it from playing pirated games). What the ST-Key does is override this boot-up process. (It will not, however, let you play pirate games) Although it has an ugly-ass boot-up screen, the ST-Key works perfectly. It will not work with some multiple-cd games (Macross is fine) or games that require you to use an additional RAM cart (some Capcom fighters, SNK games). For that, you can rewire your Saturn's guts, but this is easier. (also you kin get one of the 4-in-1 converter carts that have built-in RAM) The ST-Key will let you play any Saturn game meant for any market on any Saturn. This includes Europe which is weird considering they use a different video standard (I haven't tried).
3-D Control Pad aka Analog Pad bka NiGHTS Pad from Sega
This is the controller that you can get bundled with NiGHTS. I love it! Its a big round controller with grips below it on the sides. Even though it's really big, it fits comfortably in your hands. And you can reach all the buttons. Its got kewl pistol-style left and right trigger buttons on the front. But most important, it has a short, round analog thingy (it's too short to be a joystick) just north of the d-pad. It gives you great control on games that support it, especially Nights, but also Sega Rally and Panzer Dragoon. Other games may support it (even if they don't say so), but even if they don't you can switch it over to digital mode and use it. Its is still better than Sega's regular controller which is kinda junky. Even the trigger buttons work great for Virtua Cop or ANY game that requires you to use the left and right shoulder buttons a lot. I usually hate using shoulder buttons, but this controller makes it fun. Get your hot lil hands on one! Oh yeah, n Sega's newest machine, Dreamcast comes standard with a controller based on this one. Yay! Too kewl!