A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Game Collection: The Sega Saturn, Harbinger of Destruction

The Sega Saturn is a sad tale.  A tale of Sega's continued mismanagement of their brand, hardware, game IP, and the good will of both gamers and retailers.

A system sold a good 6 months before the scheduled launch in the US just to try to beat out the Sony Playstation to market, yet with hardly any games, a high price tag, and a machine that while capable it was designed to be a good 2d machine that was hastily upgraded to polygonal 3d graphics it couldn't quite handle in comparison to the PS1 and later the N64.  (And even their 3d looks dreadful now.  The 32 bit era has aged the worst of all console generations.)

Add in Electronic Arts' issues with the company that would become worse in the next generation, and how nearly every developer that mattered supported the PS1 over this and you had a recipe for disaster, exacerbated by one of Sega's honchos at the time.  (Bernie Stolar.)

It wasn't a bad machine and its second controller was excellent, possibly one of the best D Pad type controllers ever made.  But.. it was a failure, one Sega quickly cancelled in the US to try to bet it all on the Dreamcast, itself a failure thanks to the Saturn and Genesis peripheral disasters.

Thankfully it did ok in Japan and is currently the easiest system to play import games.  With a cartridge port in the back top Save Data (to supplement the small and tiny battery saved internal memory), expansion RAM, and even region unlocking were possible.  (I have a cart that does all 3 and cheat codes.)

Which is good because outside of arcade ports from Sega and a few RPGs, most of the great games stayed in Japan.

Albert Odyssey and Dragon Force were RPG or Strategy Games translated by Working Designs, a company that got their start bringing over niche titles like this for the Turbografx 16.  They tended to try to stay basically true to the Japanese origins of the games they translated, though they tended to put in silly pop culture text and sometimes their programming tweaks made games all but unplayable.  (Exile 2 on the TGCD is one such example.)  Astal is a pretty but unmemorable side scrolling platformer.  Blazing Heroes is a renamed game (because it was similar to the D&D Mystara name), Fighters Megamix was a fun for the time 3d fighting game.  Gun Griffon was a pretty awesome mech sim.  Nights Into Dreams is a pretty fun platformer and 2d plane with 3d graphics mascot styled game that came with an analog controller.  Panzer Dragoon Saga was one of the last Saturn games released by Sega and had a microscopic print run for such an amazing RPG and is now worth stupid amounts.

Tempest 2000 is the Saturn version of Jeff Minter's classic remake of the Atari arcade classic on a system someone almost owned.  (Nobody owned the Jaguar.)  Shining the Holy Ark was a first person RPG in the style of Shining in the Darkness on the Genesis but being much better.  Virtua Cop 1-2 were translations of the fun 3d light gun shooters.  Virtua Fighter 2 was the solid port of the 3d fighting classic.  And Virtual On was the AMAZING mech fighting game of the arcade.

Yet this is all my English language software.  Some games I still want cost stupid amounts like Shining Force 3 part 1, or are impossible to get.  But with said cartridge I have many good games become available that we never got.  See the 32 bit era was really the last hurrah of the Japanese gaming industry.  Thanks to "bro gaming" and the increasing popularity of electronic games, the western market would quickly become more and more important during this era. 

(Unless you were a Japan worshipping otaku anyhow.)

Christmas Nights was a holiday themed version of the first level of Nights that was a mixture of demo and holiday gift to Sega fans.  Gradius Deluxe Pack was an arcade collection of the first 2 titles in that fun but massively abusive series.  Dungeons & Dragons Collection is the port of the popular arcade beat em ups that is sadly in Japanese only making the questions part of the branching levels a bit tricky.  Dragon Ball Z Super Budoten is a 2d fighter that had a massive roster for its time.  Godzilla Real Time Monster Attack Simulation is an RTS where you fight off Godzilla & company.  Its all in Japanese but I not only figured it out I also finished it!  Zeta Gundam and Macross are rendered graphics 2d action games.  Zeta having stupid difficulty and no way to skip the voiceover scenes you have to hear every time you die and replay that section.  Rockman X 4 (I had Limited Ed that came packed with a nice model kit) is the Japanese version of Mega Man X 4.  And Super Robot Taisen F is the first of a 2 part story in the Super Robot Taisen series of SRPGs.

Overall I like the Sega Saturn but it just didn't do that well and since I don't speak Japanese a lot of games are either barely or completely unplayable to me, especially in my main genres.  

But what lead us here?  What began Sega's decline?

We will get to that too.

No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Southeastern CT, United States
I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/