Hidden Gems: Sega Saturn

Hidden Gems: Sega Saturn.



Sega. Love ’em or hate ’em (and if you do our exit is that ‘x’ in the top right of the screen) they certainly haven’t got a clue when it comes to marketting. As with it’s successor, the holy Dreamcast, the Saturn was plagued by scheduling mistakes and ill-judged publicity stunts as well as an early announcement that the Dreamcast was coming.

It was the beginning of the end for Sega as a console maker but, despite finishing third behind the Playstation and the N64, the Saturn is fondly remembered by hardcore gamers mainly due to its fine array of fighters, shoot-’em-ups and racing games as well as a good range of RPGs.

So, here’s Danny and Gareth to take you through some of the best Saturn games you probably never played (I know I certainly didn’t).

Death Tank Zwei


There is a lot of stiff competition, believe it or not, when it comes down to naming “the best multi-tap game of the Sega Saturn” but Death Tank Zwei takes it home for being quite frankly awesome.

Given away for free on Duke Nuke ‘Em you could either unlock it by either shooting every toilet in the game (ewww!) or buy simply having a save file of Quake or Power Slave/Exhumed in your Saturn’s memory banks!

Essentially Death Tank plays a lot like your average worms game but all 2-7 players on one screen. Unlike worms though all the action is in real time and everyone moves and shoots all at the same time.

As you can see by the screen shot the game provides the players a chance to buy crazy weapons after each round with money earned whilst playing the game. These range from player controlled missiles to the mighty Death Head.

Overall Death Tank Zwei is about as awesome as it’s title music which happens to be some of the best you will ever hear on any video game ever.

Dark Savior


Created by Climax Entertainment, and often referred to as a spiritual successor to Landstalker, Dark Savior (that’s how it’s spelt, I swear) was a game I discovered during my ‘rent random games’ phase. Played from an isometric view point, this is primarily an adventure game. You go through areas talking to locals before going into a dungeon and bypassing platforms and puzzles. You will also get into fights which are in a very simplified Street Fighter style. Not very gem-like so far, I agree. Dark Savior has a trick up its sleeve however.

Depending on how quickly you complete the first stage of the game you play a completely different story. On your first play you’ll likely be getting used to the controls and exploring and won’t finish it too quickly. This will lead to ‘Parallel 1’, where you’ll be tracking down Bilan.

Upon completing ‘Parallel 1’ the game will restart at the first stage and you’ll be able to play through the game again, but this time you’ll surely complete the first stage quicker and encounter Bilan. With the main catalyst for the 1st Parallel defeated a very different adventure awaits. There are five Parallels in all, all intertwine and each is definitely worth playing once.

Dragon Force


Not to be confused with the (awful – Ed) metal band of the same name. Dragon Force was one of the first games to appear on the Sega Saturn and it’s an RPG with heavy strategy elements to it.

The objective is to unite the country by conquering all the castles so that they can unite the Dragon Force whose mission is to stop this evil lord taking over the entire planet.

While the game makes heavy use of the Saturn’s 2D capabilities the game is rather stunning. The anime pictures used to help describe what’s going on in the game are nothing short than breathtaking.

One thing that Dragon Force is renowned for was the amount of sprites that were on screen at once. The game allowed each general to lead a hundred men each at any given time and then you add projectiles and spell on top of that and you’ve got one hectic battlefield on your hands.

I really can’t recommend this game highly enough, it’s easily one of the best RPG’s on the Sega Saturn although be prepared to pay up to £40 if you wish to play it on a PAL console though.

Shining the Holy Ark


Part of Sega’s Shining series of games, this is a first person RPG, and this person’s first RPG. I had read about it in The Official Sega Saturn magazine and it got something like 87%. At this point I was young and didn’t have the money to buy anything that wasn’t superb (over 90% basically) and yet I kept getting drawn to the review to reread it. Eventually I took the plunge and my love for the RPG was born. I didn’t quite get it at first, but slowly I got the idea.

After a very slow start in the first dungeon things pick up. You fight a renegade ninja named Rodi but during the fight you’re caught in a cave in. You, your bounty hunter partner Melody and Rodi all lose there memories and are forced to worked together to get out of the cave and find out what happened. It’s a dungeon crawler basically, with some truly evil puzzles (a shrine level where you can walk both on the floor and the ceiling springs to mind), and an interesting Pixie system. Intrigued? Sorry, I’ve run out of space.

Fighters Megamix


People who have either not played enough or have never played on a Sega Saturn will insist that Virtua Fighter 2 is the best fighting game on the Sega Saturn. That’s simply not true, Fighters Megamix is so much better than Virtua Fighter 2 it’s not even funny.

Fighters Megamix is Virtua Fighters vs. Fighting Vipers with a few other random Sega characters thrown in for good measure. Fighters Megamix allowed the player to dodge up and down and Sega give the VF2 characters most of their VF3 moves as well and yet people still vote VF2 over this, numbskulls!

Their were plenty of things to keep the person playing including multiple arcade moves with different fights for each “course” as well as a ton of stuff to unlock including the Daytona USA character and the AM2 Palm Tree as playable characters.

The game can switch between both Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers which has a heavy impact on the games fighting style, FV being the quicker, more button mashy out of the two. I seriously can’t recommend this game highly enough as it’s very overlooked these days which is strange considering this is one of the better fighting games that Sega have ever put out.

Shining Force III


Like Shining the Holy Ark this is also part of the Shining series of Sega games. Unlike Holy Ark this is a strategy RPG. It features a death scene far more emotional than Aeris’, but that’s not the most interesting feature.

Actually, the most interesting aspect of this game was never achieved outside of Japan. Shining Force III came in three parts. I have only ever played the first part, as this was the only one to be released in the UK. It was released towards the end of the Saturn, so parts two and three were never translated. It still works as an excellent stand alone game, parts two and three were merely from different character’s perspectives. However, what you did in each part affected the others. Saving someone in part one means they can join your party in part two for example.

Alas, it was never meant to be for us Westerners. Or was it? There is light at the end of the tunnel. A group of lovely people are translating the entirety of parts two and three and creating a patch so that you can effectively play an English version of the game on an emulator or chipped Saturn. It has taken them years, but they are so close.

The SFIII Translation Project forums.

Saturn Bomberman


Released in 1997 Saturn Bomberman became the ultimate in Bomberman games. The story mode was awesome and had a tons of Anime cut scenes that the Sega Saturn was renowned for at the time. If you check Youtube you can probably watch a few of them, they are good.

While there was a really cool score attack mode as well as the standard story mode the main reason why everyone remembers this game because it was TEN PLAYER! Yep that’s right if you had a big enough TV you got to play some of the most craziest Bomberman action ever.

Hudson also added a lot of nice new features to the game like really interesting battlefields to play on and well as some new dino pets which you could ride around on. Each had their own unique abilities which include jumping over explosions and even the ability to detect what power ups nearby brick walls contained.

Overall for me this is the ultimate Bomberman so if you want some good old fashioned Bomberman fun definately check this game out.

Panzer Dragoon Saga


Unlike the three other games in the Panzer Dragoon series (good as they were) this is not an on the rails shooter but an RPG, and a very good one at that. You play as Edge, a young man who quickly comes across a dragon and they pair up to take on the Empire. The game is split into on foot sections, flight sections, and fights. You talk to people and explore towns whilst on foot and the on flight sections are the ‘dungeon’ areas where you encounter the fights.

Fights are interesting in that you can circle around the enemy on your dragon. A radar at the bottom of the screen shows which area is safe (green) and which area to avoid (red) as this is the area where the enemies would use their strongest attacks. You also have a choice of whether to use your character’s gun to target one enemy’s weak point, your dragon’s laser to target multiple enemies, or a special move that could be charged.

Presentation-wise this is probably the best the Saturn has to offer. Excellent music, good visuals with effects that you’d not usually see on a Saturn, and movie sequences which still look decent today, ten years later. One of the Saturn’s best games, and one of the best RPGs ever made

Guardian Heroes


Guardian Heroes is in my eyes Treasures finest hour and that is saying something considering I am a huge fan of some of their shoot-em-up’s as well.

A heavily Anime-inspired (what game isn’t on the Saturn eh?) game Guardian Heroes was a scrolling beat-em-up like Double Dragon or Final Fight but with a solid fighting system, decent controls and great RPG influences, allowing the player to level up their characters as they see fit.

The good thing about this game is that it could be played two player on story mode or six player on arena mode which was fantastic because the game had such a huge cast of characters ranging from peasants to mighty Earth and Sky sprits who looked a lot like dragons to the untrained eye. All of which had their own move sets and generally in my household we play the game on random select so sometimes you might get a mighty Ogre or sometimes a tiny rabbit like creature, oh those were the days!

The story mode had multiple routes, so many that it could be annoying keeping track on which paths you have already taken but at least it gave the game a lot of replay value. The game even allowed you to side with the “villains” of the game the Earth sprits which was quite novel for the time.

Quite frankly if you have never played Guardian Heroes then you have not lived putting it bluntly as it’s one of the finest games that I have ever played on any video gaming platform.

Die Hard Arcade


Another random rent for me and one of my best finds. Known as Dynamite Deka in Japan (Dynamite Cop on the Dreamcast is the sequel) this game has very little to do with Die Hard. It’s set in a huge building, there are terrorists, and your clothes slowly degrade throughout the game (ending with a vest and no shoes), but that’s about it. You start off being dropped out of a helicopter onto the roof of the building (with a female partner if in two player) and you fight your way through the numerous floors to save the President’s daughter.

This is basically an excellent example of the scrolling beat ’em up, like Streets of Rage or Final Fight. Viewed from the side you can beat up enemies with your fists or whatever weapons you find, from brooms to rocket launchers, or you can arrest enemies if you have a hand gun and grapple them to the ground. It also contained simple Quick Time Events which prompted you to press a button during a cutscene to beat an enemy or dodge an explosion.

This is arcade fun at its best. Not too hard (though it has its moments), but a game that you can play through again and again.

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