SB Recommends Sega Saturn Games

saturn_zippo.jpgOne of your first purchases with a Sega Saturn should be the 4-in-1 cart. Outside of being a RAM cart and cheat device, it allows you to play imports (regardless of your system's country of origin.) The Japanese versions of games are almost guaranteed to be cheaper than everyone elses.

Note that most non-Sega carts, like this one, are brutally bad for your cartridge slot (which isn't very robust to start with). Frequent insertions of non-Sega carts will cause the teeth to spread out and make poor contact, rendering the system unable to use carts. If you insist on using these carts, put it in there and don't remove it. Note that this will prevent the screen of a Hi-Saturn Navi from closing.

A lot of the Saturn's library are arcade ports. So, perhaps sadly, MAME has rendered a lot of the system's library obsolete.

    • Rudie: A fighter with high school girls beating the crap out of each other. Has an excellent R/P/S counter system, which gives the fights a dramatic feel.
    • The Blueberry Hill: The best entry of this under-appreciated fighting game series, which emphasises speed, combos, and cancelling, while managing to be a really easy fighter to learn. Highly recommended.
  • Batman Forever (also on: PS, Arcade)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: One of the most bent belt scrollers ever, it's a never-ending cavalcade of screen-filling lightning explosions, flashing digitized sprites and eyesore pop-up text. And those life bars are frigging huge. The aesthetic is, regrettably, quite faithful to the movie.
  • Bulk Slash
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Mission-based 3D mecha game intended to be evocative of Hudson's earlier PC-Engine shooters, which would explain the low difficulty. Regardless, it's processor-strainingly fast and sports some of the system's most gorgeous polygonal visuals, and there's even a light dating sim element that has subtle effects on your mech's performance. Featuring the only escort mission in a video game that doesn't suck.
    • unhappy days: Bulk Slash is super pretty, but I actually find it weirdly disorienting and, well… not that fun? The controls always strike me as quite strange, especially the speed tier adjustment thing when you're flying, though this may be par-for-the-course for people more experienced with mech games. The first time I played through it I didn't realise that your mech's pilot is constantly yelling directions at you, which, if I could understand them, would be helpful to follow as I always seem get lost. Probably wouldn't be too difficult to familiarise myself with the Japanese for left/right/behind you etc.
  • Burning Rangers - forum thread
    • Rudie: I used to say this game was a trainwreck. It still is! It's just a really great Sonic Team trainwreck. When Sonic Team made good games.
    • WarpZone: In a sense, the Saturn's frail 3D contributes to the idea of an unreliable, dangerous environment, but at times it can feel almost unplayable.
    • mechanori: The real reason to play Burning Rangers is to experience the primordial modernity of Sonic Team's game design. The help system (in which you press a “call” button and you're told where to go next) actually works, and it's a great way to make the player interact with the game world without having to shoot it. The jumping, even, is surprisingly physics-y. Oh! and the camera works!
    • Persona-sama: After getting used to the clunky controls and the scary graphics though, the game ends up breaking down to be just like NiGHTS in a 3d world. By earning crystals from destroying large fires that get in your way, you power not only your shield (which works in a Sonic-style 1 ring = life, 0 rings = death) but also power the teleporter that sends off the victims/hostages of the fire, much like how the Ideya Capture requires 20 blue sphere in NiGHTS. Once you're in the habit of this, the game turns into a performance of dancing over flames and navigating through complex levels as fast as you can in order to save the hostages, much like how NiGHTS turns into a complicated air-dance through levels once you grow efficient in it.
    • Schwere Viper: Burning Rangers is very rickety most of the time, but man, the amount of stuff that game does that essentially set the stage for a lot of 3D action games never fails to impress me.
  • Darius Gaiden
    • firenze: Dirt cheap and really good.
  • Dark Savior
    • Dark Age Iron Savior: Dark Savior is the most beautifully ugly 2D game ever. I have no idea whether it's good or not (it's a weird follow-up to Landstalker, although I think more mechanically faithful than Lady Stalker or Steal Princess), but man, it looks fantastic.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Dark Savior's battles are fought running back and forth on a single plane with one enemy. Aside from that, it's just 3D Zelda “puzzles” and shoddy platforming.
    • spectralsound: I like Dark Savior, in theory. it's similar to Landstalker but with a semi-fighting-game-style battle system. it also has a neat little gimmick where your performance in the opening mission determines which path you take through the rest of the game.
  • Daytona USA (also on: Dreamcast, PC)
    • B coma: I still prefer the original Daytona to the CE version. the draw distance and graphics are not much improved and they ruined everything good about the presentation and control. That and they did something to the game in CE where the AI no longer causes 20 car pileups and chaos. Like, that first Daytona is still the closest port to what kind of game the arcade version is as long as you squint! I'm including the DC version in that statement which had really weird controls and I couldn't deal with that either.
    • Cynic: B coma nails it WRT CE vs original Daytona.
  • DecAthlete / Athlete Kings (PAL)
  • Deep Fear
    • NightsB: One of my favorite games for the system, minimal Japanese, the voiceovers are in English, and it's a huge Resident Evil ripoff that is a trillion times better than Resident Evil. It's a shame it didn't come to America. I have the Japanese version and I'm fine in it, although you can track down the Euro version which is harder to find but probably cheap anyway.
    • exodus: It's campy, it's bizarre, and it's Resident Evil by Sega.
    • nuttyevans: Deep Fear is an underlooked gem. Clunky/creaky/charming as hell Survival Horror with a hell of a soundtrack and suitably off its tits voice acting. [Japanese] version is easy to get a hold of.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Definitely the best Resident Evil knockoff of the 32-bit era, and the underwater base setting is extremely well-realized and cohesive. Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell) did the music!
  • Die Hard Arcade / Dynamite Deka (JP) (also on: Arcade, PS2)
    • nuttyevans: Die Hard Arcade is flat out awesome.
  • Digital Pinball: Necronomicon NFGGames article
    • Chris B: I'm not into pinball games at all, but this one really is an amazing exception. Has a Lovecraft theme to it and an asskicking redbook soundtrack with hilariously cheesy speech samples, which alone is worth the price of admission (of course the mechanics are top-notch too). I'd go so far and say that if you like Pinball titles, this is worth getting a Saturn for.
    • The Blueberry Hill: KaZe's Pinball masterpiece. Probably the best videogame pinball ever made.
    • dessgeega: On the video pinball scale which runs from “only possible in digital versions of pinball” (at which reside things like Gee Bee and Flipnic) to “aspires to simulate a physical pinball table,” Necronomicon is near the latter end (aside from the occasional six-ball multiball). it's not less interesting for being one of the more “realistic” video pins, though, because it's very well put together and has frankly amazing sound design and a pretty killer Lovecraftian facade.
    • Deets: It's not a great pinball game but it's got heart, y'know?
  • Elevator Action Returns (also on: arcade; PC; PS2; Xbox)
    • Rudie: FUCK YEAH.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: If Gears of War got a 2D spinoff, it would be something like this. Taito at their creative peak. “CRASH THE OLD ORDER!
    • Elevator Action Returns recently acquired perfect MAME support, but the Saturn version is still nice to have. It's got the original game, the ability to map grenades to a third button, and an armful of unused music tracks.
  • Enemy Zero (also on: PC)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Kenji Eno experimenting as usual. An unforgiving first-person shooter where all the enemies are invisible, and can only be tracked through audio “blips.” Spread over four discs, the game is chock-full of CG FMV cutscenes that come across as hilariously dated but pleasantly abstract. Featuring numerous direct references to the movie Alien.
  • Fighting Vipers
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Most of the game's content is present in Megamix, but I still really like this. It's the first 3D fighter with walls, and they sure didn't put them to waste: comboing your opponent off wall-bounces is essential to winning against human opponents, and there's many moves that can only be performed in close proximity to a wall, an idea I don't believe was ever copied. That aside, it's essentially a sped-up Virtua Fighter 2 with ridiculous knockback, and its chunky polygons are dripping with cheesy 1995-ness.
  • Fighters Megamix
    • Loki Laufeyson: easy enough that you don't need to be that good at fighting games to win, and the absurd cast should get people's attention. It is also the best videogame company fanservice fighting game ever.
    • The Blueberry Hill: I can't stand this game. The cast is outstanding!, but otherwise its a pretty ropey, bastard version of the fun 3-D fighters Sega was releasing in the arcades round the same time.
    • Maztorre: Fighters Megamix is a mashup of the Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers cast, coupled with miscellany from AM2's history. Characters from Sonic Fighters, Virtua Cop and Daytona are among some of the additional fighters, alongside various other little cameo appearances (both players hold X at the start of the skyscraper stage to have the Afterburner jet do a flyover, for example). This is pretty essential. There are no other ports of the title, and the concept hasn't really been done to a similar level since.
  • Golden Axe: The Duel (also on: Arcade) forum thread
    • Rudie: hmm.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Decent SamSho-alike with inspired presentation and music.
  • Guardian Heroes (also on: 360) - forum thread
    • Maztorre: A medieval multiplayer brawler with a huge number of branching routes, a diverse cast, pretty substantial movelists for the main characters, an AI-controlled Undead warrior that you issue orders to, and it has a Treasure logo on the front. The battle mode has a 45 character roster and allows for 6 simultaneous players with a multitap.
    • WarpZone: Guardian Heroes is a sloppy beat-em-up that's reluctantly one of the better games in its genre, able to send you and a friend into a time capsule of slowdown-riddled cooperative sprite carnage for an hour or so on a rainy Sunday.
  • Gungriffon / Gungriffon: The Eurasian Conflict in Japan (JP)
    • Takashi: GunGriffon is pretty much worth the 30€ price of admission and looks exactly how I expected a game from the future would look like back in 1990.
  • Herc's Adventures (also on: PlayStation)
    • lolipalooza: Herc's Adventures is a spiritual successor to Zombies ate my Neighbors which features Lucas Arts' usual sense of humor playing with Greek myths and a full overworld instead of levels. There's a PS version as well, but I'm not sure if either can be found cheap these days.
  • Konami Antiques MSX Collection Ultra Pack (also on: PlayStation (over three separate releases)) - game list
    • showka: I really enjoy these ancient Konami games, particularly Penguin Adventure. I don't know why and doubt the condition is widespread. There are four Gradius games and a Parodius in this collection and they are really interesting once you look up how they work. I have never beat any of them or played past an hour or so (well, I actually have, just not in the last decade) because they're so goddamn frustrating but I'm still glad to own this disc.
  • Layer Section (JP) / Galactic Attack (NA/PAL) (also on: Arcade (as RayForce (JP) / Gunlock (PAL); PC; PS2; Xbox)
    • Rudie: Possibly the best shooter on the system, and doesn't command near the price of others on the Saturn. It's gimmick is the two layers of attacks that allow you to launch lasers to bombard things below you.
    • spectralsound: Rudie is totally right! also the soundtrack is wonderful and it tells a rather profound story without the use of any text or cutscenes. god damn Taito shooters are just the best shooters.
  • Linkle Liver Story
    • Arisu: If you like Magic Knight Rayearth and want more Zelda slash value for your import, look no further than Linkle Liver Story. It feels like it was made with the same people […] Very fun to play.
    • Takashi: God I love Rinkle/Linkle Liver Story so much. It's a fantastic game and it's just the perfect mix of 16-bit ideas and early 32-bit stuff. Again, not terribly hard, but fun and I think it's one of the cheapest games you could find (I haven't checked in a while).
  • Logic Puzzle Rainbow Town
  • Magic Carpet (also on: PC; PlayStation)
  • Manx TT Superbike (also on: arcade)
    • firenze: Manx TT is an underrated gem, it's a motorcycle racing game with that Sega arcade style. Very few courses, 2 tracks plus mirrored verions. However, they are excellent track designs and the controls are quite good. I like this game, probably my second favorite Saturn racer (behind Rally, of course).
  • NiGHTs Into Dreams (inc. Christmas NiGHTs) (also on: PS2)
    • Loki Laufeyson: An amazing game, with pretty much nothing else like it. Probably Sonic Team's finest hour.
  • Panzer Dragoon (also on: PC)
  • Panzer Dragoon Zwei
    • Sniper Honeyviper: No other game has married level design to narrative so elegantly. A simple rail shooter that also happens to be a brilliant 32-bit spectacle, and it gets kudos for the indecipherable ending that blatantly references 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Loki Laufeyson: Excellent, beautiful and easy to get a cheap copy of. If you have a saturn, there's no excuse for not having this game.
    • Maztorre: Panzer Dragoon 2 frankly pisses on everything the StarFox series was praised for. An awesome game.
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga (NA/PAL) / Azel: Panzer Dragoon RPG (JP)
    • Rudie: This game is garbage. It is ugly. Actually somewhere near completely hideous. The plot is not a sleep aid at best. The combat system makes every battle easily winnable. I stopped at the end of Disc 2 because I realized this game wasn't entertaining at all. I didn't go in with the expectations that it would give me a blowjob, I just expected it to be dated and entertaining. The fact that it is at all revered is mind blowing. I imagine only because this game is involved in a money making pyramid scheme does it have any accolade at all.
    • The Blueberry Hill: A short RPG with a a somewhat unique atmosphere for its genre. The 'battle system' is interesting.
    • Maztorre: Saga is an RPG set in the same world as the previous two titles, and fleshes out the brief storylines of the previous games. The battle and exploration mechanics are pretty unique and worth checking out, they haven't really been adopted by any game since.
    • remote: Honestly, aside from the battles, which feel like a hybrid of the on-rails action of the PD shooters and console RPG-style battles, the rest of the game feels more like a late DOS-era or Windows 95-era adventure game. In a beautifully imagined world and with flying dragons. The whole Moebius-esque “technorganic” thing (e.g. The Incal (Jodorowsky!)) + the Nausicaä influence makes it really special.
    • unhappy days: While it doesn't quite live up to the hype it constantly receives, Panzer Dragoon Saga is a beautiful game. The environments and enemies are so thoroughly conceptualised that it constantly feels like you've only scratched the surface of the game's deep logic. It's full of weird and endearing secrets, including a bunch of side-quests that, rather than being completely vacuous, reward you with little morsels of panzer dragoon lore. The music is powerful and mysterious. It's super rewarding just speaking to all the characters and hearing their stories. While the character models don't have facial expressions, they each have distinct ways of communicating their feelings through these really uncanny/expressive bodily movements. If you're paying attention, you can usually trace their individual narrative trajectories throughout the game.
      The first and second discs are really brilliant, but I felt the game got steadily worse as it went on. Some of the environments in the latter part of the game just get too repetitive and labyrinthine for their own good. The story has a great spirit of discovery and intrigue to begin with, but eventually lapses into cliche.
  • Purikura Daisakusen (also on: Arcade)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Yes, Clara of Power Instinct non-fame got her own game. It's an isometric run-and-gun with a melee attack, a chain reaction scoring system and some seriously thumping metal tunes for the bosses. Something about the controls feels off, but there's really nothing else like it, and the final boss is a Giger-esque monstrosity named FLASH THE ALL.
  • Quake (also on: Linux, Mac, N64, PC)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: It's subjectively the best-looking version of the game: colored lighting and gritty pixel soup. There's also four exclusive maps created by Lobotomy that have never been available on the PC.
  • Radiant Silvergun (also on: Xbox Live Arcade)
    • spectralsound: Better than Ikaruga, for my money. not that I have money for the original version of this, mind you. I can't say how faithful/better the recent Xbox 360 port is, but it certainly looks fantastic.
    • unhappy days: I do think Radiant Silvergun deserves all the praise it gets. The combo system adds so many extra layers of depth and strategy.
  • Sega Rally Championship (also on: Arcade; PC)
    • Rudie: 14 years later, and still one of the best racers out there.
    • Maztorre: The Saturn version of the original Sega Rally is definitely worth checking out because it really helped kickstart the craze for rally games and 3D racers in general and frankly is as responsible for the sim racing genre as Gran Turismo. It's also fun as all hell and still has amazing course design.
  • Shining Force III
    • Loki Laufeyson: Possibly my favourite RPG ever. The friendship system is pretty unique, and adds a kind of strategy that carries from battle to battle in a cool way as well as making the characters feel more like people than just setss of numbers. Infamously, only one of the three scenarios was officially released in english. It's still worth playing, though.
  • Shining the Holy Ark
    • Sniper Honeyviper: I will also mention that Shining the Holy Ark is tragically overlooked. Definitely one of the crunchiest Wizardry-likes out there, and the dungeons have a mystery to them that's absent from nearly all JRPGs.
  • Shinobi Legions (NA) / Shinobi X (PAL) / Shin Shinobi Den (JP)
    • firenze: It's cheesy as hell but strangely fun, and pretty cheap most likely.
  • Silhouette Mirage (also on: PlayStation)
    • exodus: […] the best (my opinion) version of Silhouette Mirage, which is a lovely game.
    • Sniper Honeyviper: While I can also recommend Silhouette Mirage, it's not the alpha and omega of Treasure's catalog. It's kind of at a halfway point between Gunstar Heroes and Mischief Makers—the stage design has some light but unsubstantial exploration, the controls are a bit too floaty for a fine-tuned arcade experience, there's too much required stop-and-start progression for farming coins (even in the Japanese versions). Still, you really can't go wrong with Treasure.
  • Sky Target
    • wasted potential: No one ever mentions Sky Target. It's Sega's spiritual successor to After Burner, but with polygons! It's cheap and retains that arcade-fun style, so go for it.
  • Sonic Jam
  • Soukyugurentai: Otokuyo (The non-Otokuyo version is also on: Arcade; PS. As Terra Diver outside Japan)
    • The Blueberry Hill: I'm not sure I can sell it any better than a Youtube video can (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shTMXSlZue4), but: It's one of those lovely bleak-feeling shooters, mostly due to the music, which is some parts SNES-muffley, some parts Bomberman 64 crisp. The presentation is lovely, especially the level transitions. There's a lock-on mechanic with variable 'cone' shape, otherwise things are pretty standard. I guess that's it: an above-average shooter, with great atmosphere.
      It also has a Battle Garegga demo :)
    • Sniper Honeyviper: Don't do what I did and buy the non-Otokuyo version if you've only got a US Saturn, it tries to load nonexistent data for Terra Diver and glitches out.
  • Super Tempo
    • Take it Sleazy: A really fun Earthworm Jimmy kind of platformer with really nice animation and music. It has lots of Japanese text in the cutscenes, but no real language barrier to play it/beat it.
  • Twinkle Star Sprites (also on: Neo-Geo; PS2)
    • Rudie: A versus puzzle/shooter. Playing it once sets your mind on fire, and immediately makes you hardcore.
    • The Blueberry Hill: I prefer the Saturn version, for its extra modes, but any is more than fine. It's wonderful, frantic, wonderful, and wonderful.
  • Wachenroder
    • Sniper Honeyviper: How I wish this wasn't forgotten! Unfortunately, it was released a mere three months prior to the Dreamcast in Japan. It's basically Sega's answer to FF Tactics, and remains remarkably streamlined and playable. The “mystic steampunk” setting is well fleshed out, complemented by some amazing FMVs of plastic model animation. Former King Crimson member Ian McDonald was even involved (I think that's his contribution in the video), as well as Yoshitoshi ABe. If only some missions didn't have unfair turn limits. There's a fan translation, but it only exists as a text file, as Saturn emulation/hacking is notoriously finicky.
  • Wizardry Llylgamyn Saga (also on: PC; PlayStation)
    • Chef Boyardee: There was a remake of wizardries 1, 2, and 3 on the sega saturn called the Wizardry Llylgamyn Saga released only in japan that for some reason had the option to play in English. It is probably the best of any of the wizardry remakes.

See also

 
 sb/recommended/saturn.txt · Last modified: 2016/02/19 05:54 by the_blueberry_hill
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