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Video Game Uber Fun Fun List: Sega Saturn

Author: Philippe
Posted: 05 Mar 2006

In which Sega finally manages to triumph over Nintendo and then immediately gets railed from behind by the Sony Corporation

So, Sega at this point had been having problems. The Game Gear cost them money. The Genesis made money, but the Sega CD and the 32X were big money sinks. Fuck it, though. Sega was a company that liked looking ahead. Forget the past. The past is done. For about 3 years, Sega had been developing something new. Sega wanted the most powerful 2D console ever created and commercially sold. Partway through this endeavor, they saw some technical specs for what Sony was currently doing and improved their design a bit. The 3D capabilities were up to par, the 2D stuff was breathtaking, and everything seemed super on the twenty-second of November in the year 1994.

Tremendous, in fact. The Saturn was an immediate success in Japan. Not only were sales good, but they actually surpassed those of Nintendo. "Yes, YES, YES!" they shouted. "We're winning! We're the big dogs...what is that noise...oh, that? It's just Sony, they don't know shit."

Wellllllllllll...yeah. Here's the thing about Sony. Sony had money. Lots and lots of money. Money and a very good system. Sony and Saturn had a nice little war in Japan over third-party games, but both systems sold very well and had some good games. Still, while Japan is important, You ain't shit 'til you've conquered the U.S. The systems turned their eyes westward.

The original release date was going to be September 2, 1995. Sony, however, was looking more and more like a threat. In a panic, Sega decided to start selling the systems four months earlier. Thus it was written that on May 11th, 1995, the Saturn was released to an American market. Good news: it beat Sony to the market. Bad news: the third-party developers were a bit thrown. An extra four months is a long time in the game developing business and a lot of developers couldn't get their games to market to go along with the release.

The Saturn released with a $399 price tag and lacking in games, yet it still managed to sell fairly well. Up until the Playstation was released. For 299 dollars. With lots of good games. And brilliant marketing. And it was a hell of a lot easier to program games for the Playstation. And Sega fanboys were already sort of pissed off because they had spent a lot of money on the 32X.

Poor Sega. Still, the Saturn was a good system. It just suffered from the same thing that everything else Sega put out suffered from -- being owned by fucking Sega. Enough of that, though. The Saturn had three years of games and the games on this list are some of the finest ever created by man, so lets get cracking, shall we?

So, for the benefit of those with flash photography....the bottom of the top.

9. Fighters Megamix (Sega, 1996). A 3D fighter in the Virtua Fighter genre. The game included Virtua fighters and fighters from just about everyone Sega could convince to join in the fun. I think there was even a car you could fight as. The game is fun and ridiculous but was easier than Virtua Fighter and, so, it earns the coveted position of the bottom of the top. The game seemed to be designed to be more fun to pull off silly combos than to actually go through the effort of winning. Grab a child with your front tire and peel off his face with the other tire. Weird but fun. Readers take note: the "Weird But Fun" theme pretty much defined the system. Reminds me of me, sort of. In any case, onward and upward!

8. Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega, 1996). The sequel to the world's first 3D fighter just had to make it from the arcades to the console, and Sega didn't waste much time doing it. It was a brilliant conversion from the arcade version and people ate it up. Of course, once Virtua Fighter was released, plenty of other people copied the idea and spawned a metric shitton of 3D fighters which would eventually surpass VF and VF2. It doesn't matter. Virtua Fighter is one of the most fun fighting games I've ever played. It's matched right up there with Killer Instinct and Primal Rage. Luckily, I hear there's a version available for the PS2 so I'd go pick one up. Good times abound, eh? Beauty!

7. Saturn Bomberman (Hudson, 1997). Everybody's favorite party game of course found its way onto the Saturn. We've all played Bomberman. This one did feature 10-player mode, which was know what? Get a few cases of beer and a way to get ten-player Bomberman on and you're in for a surreal experience. As an aside, while compiling the Saturn list, I befriended some people on a few Saturn discussion boards. This game caused quite a bit of controversy and I don't know why. I asked for some top ten lists from people and somehow sparked an epic battle between a bunch of people. Then the argument carried over to another Saturn message board (admittedly, I think all the people from the first board were on the second board). Odd, odd, odd. If you like Bomberman you'll like this. If not...well, screw you, I guess.

6. Radiant Silvergun (ESP Software/Treasure, 1998). Possibly the last of the great top-down shooters. The game wasn't hugely succesful as interest in vertical scrolling shooters had been waning for...15 years or so. It's a shame, because this one was really fun. The gameplay wasn't anything special but the graphics were top-notch. The game was really hard and you had to play it for about 20 minutes before you got into a zone. Then train yourself not to blink for an hour. Hard but fun and quite a hit amongst the frat-bound kids in my freshman dorm. Well, the third floor anyway. The fourth floor was dominated by my NES, complete with Metroid and Duck Hunt.

5. Shining Force 3 (Camelot, 1998). Ok, so the Empire and the Republic are at war. But instead of lightsabers, they use...sabers, I guess. Fun little RPG. You lead a team of soldiers into a bunch of battles and fight through and win teh game! The game sort of suffered from being extremely linear. Fight a battle until you win. Get to the next town and talk to people until the next battle starts. The battles and graphics were really fun but it got a little repetitive. Keep in mind that my complaints listed merely brought this game down to the five position. The game kicks ass.

4. Guardian Heroes (Treasure, 1996). This was a fun little 2D action platformer that played a bit like an RPG version of...oh, let's say Street Fighter. That also includes the multiplayer fighting that could be done. The story was a bit plain -- you're looking for a Magic Sword in order to Save the World. Gameplay and graphics are top-notch, though. In fact, this remains one of the prettiest 2D platform games I've ever seen (not a lot of market in it these days). Lots of intense action and fairly good sound track, to boot. A bit easy when you get the hang of it, but screw it. Risk is easy, but I still quite like it. Well-deserving of number 4.

3. Dragon Force (Working Design/Sega, 1996). Wow. OK, so who liked Ogre Battle? This game reminded me of Ogre Battle. In this instance, though, the ogre had been working out and taking steroids. Huge battles, a large world, and a lot of really kick-ass epic bosses including the God of Destruction who's out to kill you. You could command hundreds of troops ranging from archers to zombies to dragons. The game was nice and long and took a good amount of time and energy to beat. Well worth it, though. A great little gem to start off the top three.

2. Nights (Sega, 1996). Nights was awesome. It was an acid-lover's dream. For those of us who have never actually taken acid, it was pretty sweet, too. It was really, really, really weird. The plot were this guy, and you had to go find Nights. Once he was found you'd fuse together and then collect spheres and do tricks and score as many points as possible until the time ran out. Doing well would save the planet, and we all like saving the planet. I did it in Contra and I've considered myself a hero ever since. The flight mode was bitchin' and the graphics were incredible and good sound all around. In fact, the gameplay is enough to almost get this bad boy to the top of the list. Unfortunately, the game is ridiculously short so it will have to remain in the two spot. Take heed, though. If you get a Saturn, I highly recommend this.

And now a drumroll, if you please...the number one game for the Sega Saturn is...?

1. Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega/Team Andromeda, 1998). What we have here, in the simplest terms, is a third-person shooter. The game remains one of my favorite shooters of all time, easily surpassing Starfox for the SNES in terms of gameplay and graphics. This thing was beautiful in every sense of the word. You flew on a dragon and fought a plethera of bizarre monsters and enemies including some truly inspired boss characters. The cut scenes were also incredible. Mixed in with all the shooting was an excellent RPG element and story. Different attacks and powers becomeavailable as you winged your way through the best game crafted for the Sega Saturn. Music, graphics, story, gameplay, all of them receive full stars from me.

And so we've reached the end of our little saga. Hope you enjoyed the ride because I sure did. So go out, get a Saturn, have fun, and play!

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