I recently posted Sega Saturn Magazine’s Top 50 Saturn Games. Sega Saturn Magazine, affectionately known as SSM for short, was a UK publication that ran 37 issues from November 1995 to November 1998. Despite a short 3 year run, SSM has never left the memory of its readers. Pick up any issue and it’s easy to see why. Their undeniable passion for all things Sega Saturn bled off the pages. Their screenshots were phenomenal, always showing off the best parts of a game. Their definitive showcases, in-depth reviews and exclusive insider interviews all helped to make SSM truly legendary. Best of all, their sense of wacky humor. They always brought a smile to my face and I found myself occasionally chuckling at their silliness. In short, Sega Saturn Magazine was and forever will be, unequivocally, the best gaming magazine ever.
On October 12, 2003, I began sharing SSM’s Top 50 Saturn Games list on the Neo Geo forums. Posting two entries a day, it ran for a month and went viral in the retro gaming community. Stirring much Sega Saturn discourse, the thread eventually caught the eye of two former Sega Saturn Magazine contributors: editor Richard Leadbetter and writer Gary Cutlack. Imagine my sheer joy and shock when almost exactly one year later, them SSM boys reached out to me to applaud my efforts in recreating their Top 50 list for all to partake. This led to an interview with both Gary Cutlack and Rich Leadbetter. We reminisced about all things Sega Saturn — their favorite Saturn games as well as recounting their halcyon days writing for the famed publication. So grab a cold one and kick back for a little stroll down memory lane
From: Gary Cutlack
Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2004 3:28 AM
Subject: Sega Saturn Magazine
Just had to say how much I enjoyed reading your incredible series of posts on the Neo-Geo forums about SSM’s top 50 Saturn games.
Playing and writing about Radiant Silvergun was by far the happiest period of my entire writing career, and although I’m still writing about games for UK mags, nothing will ever come close to those Saturn glory days again — and we were doing it for fans like you!
Those glorious scans you shared of Radiant Silvergun brings a tear to my eye, they really do..
SAGE SaTRUn 4 EvaaaAAH,
Gary (Cutlack, formerly of SSM)
Then shortly following, Rich Leadbetter sent me this…
Just like Gary, I’ve just checked out your brilliant SSM Top 50 thread on the Neo Geo forums. I remember the feature very well. In the run-up to Christmas we had to get issues out of the door in an insanely short amount of time, so we’d “bank” pages in the preceding months by coming up with the likes of Tips A-Zs and retrospective pieces.
Your presentation of the Top 50 in that thread was superb, and I also greatly enjoyed the excerpts of other parts of the magazine. Brought back many memories long since buried and could well inspire me to venture into my attic and dig out a few issues.
I must salute you for truly capturing the spirit of what the magazine was all about. To be honest, I think we were fortunate in that we were writing when Sega’s AM and CS teams were at their very best, when quality gaming had a certain purity to it untouched by the seismic changes to the market (and the accepted idea of what makes a “good game”) that Sony brought about. It was a golden period and I think that the magazine worked because we knew it, and the readers knew it.
Anyway, thanks for a very welcome trip back in time…
This led to me interviewing both men. Let’s begin with Gary Cutlack.
Where the hell are Sam Hickman, Lee Nutter (Chewbacca!), and last but not least Richard Leadbetter today? (Note: This was before Rich sent me his email). Do you keep in touch with any of them?
Well Lee’s editor of PSW which is on the other side of the office from me, so I have no choice but to engage in occasional polite conversation with him in the kitchen on the odd days when we both make cups of tea at the same time. Rich still does freelance for several mags, plus I believe he’s now more of a DVD author making cover discs for US game mags. Sam was before my time, so I have no idea of her whereabouts.
What are your top 10 favorite Saturn games? Any region.
These are. I’ve even put them in reverse order to enhance the thrill. How anyone can prefer Virtua Cop 2 over the first one’s perfect score multiplier system I’ll never know.
What was it like working on SSM, and what were the last couple months like before SSM was laid to rest?
It was all right. I just sort of sat there very quietly writing enthusiastic things, getting angry at Matt for removing my jokes and adding spelling mistakes, and hoping that Ed Lomas wouldn’t come round from the CVG office and make me pull his finger. Doing the last issue was pretty miserable, especially as we were all so excited about the prospect of gradually morphing it into a Dreamcast mag and, obviously, ruling the world with it for a thousand years. But the Saturn was SO dead by that point (months after Sega had stopped releasing games for it in the UK) there was no hope of it carrying on.
How real was the rivalry with Saturn Power? (Note: Saturn Power was a rival UK publication). Any particular memories in regards to this rivalry?
It was more institutional than personal — we were EMAP they were Future, and nobody liked Future. They were moderately capable people making an acceptable magazine in typical Future style, whereas we were SUPERHARDCOREWARRIORS crafting the very best thing we could do each month. They might think otherwise, but put some of the screenshots from both mags side-by-side and you’ll be able to tell who cared most and put the effort in (it was us).
Final question: any Saturn games you think SSM might have overrated? Or, which Saturn games were very good back in the day, but haven’t aged very well?
None were overrated. The Saturn REALLY WAS THAT GOOD!
And now, my interview with Rich Leadbetter.
From: Richard Leadbetter
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 2:17 AM
Subject: RE: Message from Rich Leadbetter
Where the hell are Sam Hickman, Lee Nutter (Chewbacca!), and the rest of the SSM gang (the ones who matter, anyway) today? Do you keep in touch with any of them?
Sam Hickman is editor of several kids’ magazines produced by the BBC. Lee Nutter is the editor of the PS2 mag, PSW. Gary Cutlack is the deputy editor of the UK mag, Xbox Gamer. Matt Yeo has also moved on to editing kids’ magazines. I run my own multimedia company, Digital Foundry. Those DVDs that have been bundled with the last few issues of EGM? That’s our work.
What are your top 10 favorite Saturn games today? Any region.
To be honest, none of us are massive Saturn fans any more to the extent that we regularly play Saturn games. I haven’t touched my Sega stuff in years. But there’s no denying the POWER of the Saturn. A top ten, in no particular order would be…
There are probably others but those are the ones that I still recall most fondly.
How real was the rivalry with Saturn Power? Any particular memories in regards to this rivalry?
There was never a rivalry in any real sense from our perspective. We got all the good games first, always sold far more copies and were totally focused on what we produced as opposed to looking over our shoulders at what other people were doing. We would spend hours getting the right screenshots, making the text entertaining and really working on championing some fantastic games. I simply didn’t see that in Saturn Power.
In truth, the readers read Saturn Power more than we did and generally tended to email or write in to tell us about it. Since it struck a chord with the readers and it gave them a chuckle, we’d throw in the odd sly comment but in truth we didn’t really give a toss. Our focus was elsewhere. The only rival from a quality perspective we had at the time was from CVG magazine, produced in the office right next to ours. OK so it was a multi-format mag, but in terms of sitting down, poring over an issue, reading every word and admiring their work, they were our closest rivals. CVG was the only other games mag we wanted to read. The fact that we were friends and could go to lunch with them and talk games and have a great time was a bonus. We used to play Quake on PC a lot.
Final question: what Saturn games do you think SSM might have overrated? Or, which Saturn games were very good back in the day, but haven’t aged very well?
You probably have a far more encyclopedic memory of our review scores than I have. But you’re right in that Saturn Bomberman was underrated. In terms of stuff overrated, some of the PlayStation ports have aged badly, and some decent games at the time (e.g. Soviet Strike) are now forgotten and almost totally irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. Some reviews may seem contentious now, but our primary focus in the mag was always the showcases. Our emphasis on dedicating more pages to the big games, championing them and making them feel more special was what we liked doing the most.
Hope you enjoyed those two interviews! I was absolutely floored when they reached out to me more than 15 years ago, and reading those interviews again brings back a lot of fun nostalgic memories for me. Although Super Nintendo will always be #1 in my heart, the Sega Saturn and all its great games will always be #2 in my book.
In these crazy uncertain times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are staying at home than ever. As a teacher I’ve been off work the past two weeks, and won’t be reporting back until May at the earliest. With most of us implementing shelter-in-place, this has afforded us more time to connect with those we hold dearest, as well as enjoy our indoor hobbies. Playing video games, binge watching shows and movies or reading a good book. For me, it’s all these things and a chance to update RVGFanatic a little more frequently. Work has kept me busy, as well as moving in with my girlfriend, so I haven’t been able to update as much as I would like. With all this extra down time, I can’t think of a better time than now to convert one of my most popular articles from my original site.
Sega Saturn Magazine was a UK publication that ran 37 issues back in the mid to late 1990s. It’s often considered the “Sega Saturn Bible” and is a favorite publication of many. Their passion bled through the pages, and to this day remains my favorite magazine, beating out even EGM, GameFan and Super Play.
In issue #28 (February of 1998), Sega Saturn Magazine published a list of their top 50 Saturn games. I’ve always been a fan of top lists; I enjoy comparing my opinion to those of others. Not everyone will agree on every ranking, but that’s all part of the fun. Just keep in mind that this list was compiled in late 1997, so you won’t be seeing later Saturn releases on this list, such as Burning Rangers, Panzer Dragoon Saga or Shining Force III.
I originally shared this Top 50 list on the Neo Geo forums back in October 2003. It became one of the most viewed links there. So popular, in fact, that two former Sega Saturn Magazine contributors (including the editor) reached out via private message to thank me personally for the fond trip down memory lane. Now, nearly 20 years later, I’m proud to share that list here on RVGFanatic. Enjoy!
#50: MASS DESTRUCTION (87%)
Best described as Return Fire meets Soviet Strike, the unambiguously titled Mass Destruction is a technically outstanding blaster.
“Yeah, there’s a loose mission structure to follow, but the meat and bones of Mass Destruction is just that — mass destruction. Running at a super-smooth 60 FPS and featuring some of the most incredible pyrotechnics we’ve ever seen, it’s just a shame they missed out the all-important two-player mode.” -Lee Nutter
#49: THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’95 (89%)
SNK’s greatest fighters from their legendary beat ‘em ups amass in this one 2D battling mega game! Action-packed fighting action guaranteed!
“Capcom have virtually owned the 2D fighting genre on Saturn, but this one SNK release shows that when it comes to true hardcore fighting games, the underdog are in a class of their own. KoF ’95 is probably the most lastable fighting game on the system… if you’re into SNK of course.” -Editor Rich Leadbetter
#48: SHINING WISDOM (N/A)
The last 2D game in the Shining Force series. Explore a fantasy realm and undertake a quest to save your homeland from destruction.
“Sega have always produced quality RPGs and Sonic Software Planning’s epic is no exception. While the visuals may look pretty basic, Shining Wisdom’s playability and grand scale are second-to-none. There are literally hundreds of characters to meet and magical spells to master. A deserved addition to the RPG fan’s library.” -Matt Yeo
#47: ENEMY ZERO (88%)
The best attempt yet at an ‘Interactive Movie,’ programmed by legendary Japanese nutters Warp. The 11th best selling Saturn game EVER in Japan!
“The Japanese loved it. We quite liked it as well, come to think of it, as the smooth sci-fi action and top quality rendered FMV makes for an enjoyable and deep experience, with a pretty tough challenge for all you Saturn owning adventure fans.” -Gary Cutlack
#46: ACTUA GOLF (90%)
Golf — hitting a ball around a field with a stick. Sounds crap, but it actually makes for a decent video game simulation.
“To convince your dad that games aren’t just about shooting and fighting, it’s essential to own a golf game. And you might as well buy a good one while you’re at it — Actua Golf scored 90% for its attention to detail, smooth 3D graphics and great control.” -Gary Cutlack
#45: PANDEMONIUM! (90%)
Resurrecting the neglected platform genre from its 16-bit glory days, Pandemonium! is the finest example of its kind on the Saturn.
“Incorporating classic 2D gameplay into a luscious 3D environment, Pandemonium! is a speedy and visually astounding platformer.” -Lee Nutter
#44: ATHLETE KINGS (90%)
One of the first games to be produced for the Saturn-based ST-V arcade board, and probably one of the best, featuring gorgeously smooth hi-res visuals… it’s AM3 magic!
“Tasty athletic girls in high-cut Lycra gear… lovely! Of course we’re only interested in the gameplay, and the button-bashing action made for an excellent sports game. It’s not the biggest game ever made, but beating your personal (and buddies’) bests presents a decent challenge that can last ages.” -Gary Cutlack
#43: DARK SAVIOR (92%)
Years in the making, this adventure has the same class and style as the epochal LandStalker on Mega Drive. Stunning adventuring, although RPG masters may find it too easy…
“The sheer quest in Dark Savior is one that all die-hard adventurers will savor — it’s quality. I completed the Japanese import, then played it through again when it came out here. Excellent.” -Rich Leadbetter
#42: DAYTONA CCE (90%)
The Rally conversion team tried their hand at recreating the awesome Daytona USA coin-op on the Saturn with mixed results.
“The highly anticipated update of the often maligned Daytona conversion is a mixed bag really. The myriad of improvements (two-player mode, new tracks and improved graphics) is commendable, but somehow the superlative gameplay has been lost in the conversion. It’s not really Daytona anymore, but a cool arcade racer nonetheless.” -Lee Nutter
#41: SPACE HULK (90%)
A corridor shoot ‘em up that tries to include more of a strategy element, with players responsible for positioning their troops as well as shooting.
“Do we want strategy in our shoot ‘em ups? Well, if you’re looking for something that’s a bit tougher and durable than most games, Space Hulk’s very complex levels and massive alien sprites should do the trick. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of mindless blasting for you shooting fans.” -Gary Cutlack
#40: SOVIET STRIKE (90%)
The inevitable 32-bit update of EA’s established Strike series arrives to much critical acclaim.
“Soviet Strike adheres to the same basic gameplay principles of the previous Strike games, but running on Sega’s powerhouse console, everything is done far better. More weapons, FMV clips, photo-realistic landscapes and a greater variety in the missions culminate in an awesome addition to the series.” -Lee Nutter
#39: JONAH LOMU RUGBY (91%)
The only authentic rugby simulation on the Saturn. Codemasters’ sporting star recreates the sights, sounds and smells of the big lads’ game. It’s a bit difficult to find in the shops, but the effort is more than worth it.
“While the world goes soccer crazy, Codemasters take a stab at one of the world’s roughest sports. Actual team stats, spot-on gameplay and bone-crunching matches ensure Jonah’s reputation (and tackle) remain intact. A welcome alternative to all those footie games.” -Matt Yeo
#38: MANX TT SUPERBIKE (91%)
The stunning Model 2 arcade racer was converted to the Saturn by Australian coders Tantalus, and they did a pretty good job too. But can they match the power of a true AM conversion?
“The one complaint that stops Manx TT from being a bit higher in this listing is the ridiculous number of tracks — just two. The graphics were the closest a racing game got to Sega Rally standards (at the time), and the racing action played bloody well too. Shame about the number of tracks.” -Gary Cutlack
#37: SATURN BOMBERMAN (90%)
The perfect party game. Hudsonsoft’s first Sega Bomberman outing offers loads of explosive fun with up to ten players trying to blow the living daylights out of each other. As Barry Norman would say: and why not?
“Bomberman’s a hit on every system. Excellent long term playability, multiple weapons and battle arenas, multi-tap compatibility and replay value galore. Although let down by a weak one-player game variation, this is still an essential purchase and a great party game.” -Matt Yeo
#36: CROC: LEGEND OF THE GOBBOS (91%)
Take on the evil Baron Dante in this multi-level, 3D platformer. Croc is set to be a big star and his first outing is a real hoot!
“Owing a big thanks to Mario 64, Croc’s adventures are perfectly pitched at both young and old players alike. Huge stages, tricky platforming action and hilarious bosses await intrepid players. Not an amazing Saturn game, but certainly in a league of its own.” -Matt Yeo
#35: SUPER PUZZLE FIGHTER II TURBO (86%)
Miniaturizing their cool Street Fighter characters (and others from DarkStalkers) and sticking them in a puzzle game made Capcom sound like they’ve gone mad…
“Fortunately Capcom’s masterful coding skills ensured that another gameplay classic emerged. Super-cute versions of Ryu, Chun-Li and the gang battle it out for 2D supremacy, and the gem-dropping gameplay makes for one of the best puzzle games this side of Buckaroo and Connect 4.” -Gary Cutlack
#34: BAKU BAKU ANIMAL (93%)
Not just another Tetris clone, as Sega’s cutesy Baku Baku Animal is arguably the finest example of the puzzle game genre.
“I hate this game. Buying it was the single worst mistake I’ve ever made. Baku Baku has single-handedly ruined my sex life. My girlfriend loves it, more than she loves me if truth be known. Bitch. No, just kidding, honest.” -Lee Nutter
#33: BUST-A-MOVE 3 (91%)
Another great puzzle game. Converted from the classic Taito arcade series, this one sees cute cartoon characters shooting colored bubbles all over the place… Intriguing…
“Puzzle games are fun, aren’t they? The graphics are always colorful and nice, and most contain simple gameplay that even your mum could understand. Bust-A-Move 3 would be especially popular with your mum because it’s great fun, and contains one of the best head-to-head two-player games there is. Cool.” -Gary Cutlack
#32: FIGHTING VIPERS (94%)
Tossing aside the realism of Virtua Fighter 2, Sega’s pseudo-sequel takes a more fantastical approach to the beat ‘em up genre.
“Adding weapons, barriers and armor to the established Virtua Fighter formula, AM2’s incredible Fighting Vipers conversion is a speedier and more brutal beat ‘em up than the more graceful VF series. Add to this the fact that as a conversion it’s virtually indistinguishable from the arcade, and we’re left with yet another top Saturn beat ‘em up. Ooh and you can watch AM2 play it too!” -Lee Nutter
#31: SEGA AGES (91%)
AM2’s arcade classics of the eighties: Space Harrier, Afterburner II and OutRun are gathered in one outstanding retro compilation.
“Sega’s graphics technology, coupled with AM2’s gameplay prowess, have led the arcade field for over a decade. These games (although aged) are still great fun — and OutRun in particular still ranks as one of the greats of the racing genre.” -Rich Leadbetter
Two epoch-making Taito platform games arrive on Saturn. The graphics might be crap, but the gameplay is golden.
“Bubble Bobble’s cool, but the real star of the show is Rainbow Islands. It might not be quite arcade perfect, but the depth of this game is astounding (there’s more to it than Mario 64). Couple that with perfect gameplay and I can’t recommend this enough.” -Rich Leadbetter
#29: LAST BRONX (92%)
Big men, little girls, bulging weapons — sounds like a dodgy porn flick. But it isn’t, it’s the awesome Last Bronx.
“The highly anticipated conversion of AM3’s first fighting foray certainly doesn’t disappoint. Excellent hi-res visuals, 60 FPS update and unequivocally violent gameplay culminates in one of the best 3D beat ‘em ups to grace the Saturn to date.” -Lee Nutter
#28: WIPEOUT 2097 (92%)
A speedy racing game that was one of the few reasons to buy a PlayStation… until it was converted (rather well too) to the Saturn!
“Cool futuristic racing, with eight tracks to race around. The hover cars handle really well, and the extra colorful courses all look fantastic in this Saturn conversion. Some of the special effects from the PlayStation version are missing, but who cares? It plays brilliantly and that’s what counts.” -Gary Cutlack
#27: MADDEN NFL ’98 (92%)
It was compulsory for every Mega Drive owner to have at least one Madden game, and the legendary US football series continued on the Saturn — just about the only EA sports title to continue the quality in the move to 32-bit…
“And it continued with style. One of the best multi-player games that consenting adults can enjoy, this ’98 update is faster, smoother and tougher than ever before. This year’s players and stats, and the ability to build your own team from scratch make Madden ’98 the best yet.” -Gary Cutlack
#26: STEEP SLOPE SLIDERS (92%)
The first Saturn snowboarding game to hit the UK and it’s a blast! 17 characters, six challenging courses and hundreds of cool tricks.
“Board stupid? You won’t be with Steep Slope Sliders, an amazing game that faithfully recreates the world’s most popular winter sport with incredible detail and much playability. Play the game as a straight forward racer and beat the clock or pull off blazing stunts to rack up massive scores. If you’ve never been snowboarding before, Steep Slope Sliders is the perfect downhill trainer.” -Matt Yeo
#25: WARCRAFT II: THE DARK SAGA (91%)
Electronic Arts attempt to grab a slice of the lucrative Command & Conquer action more than makes up for the absence of Red Alert.
“Taking a medieval slant on the strategy based Command & Conquer formula, EA’s Warcraft II plays virtually identical to Westwood Studio’s classic. With over 52 huge missions to complete and the Beyond the Portal expansion pack toss in for good measure, this is awesome stuff and well up there with Command & Conquer.” -Lee Nutter
#24: SONIC JAM (92%)
Dubbed as the “ultimate retro pack” in issue #22 of Sega Saturn Magazine, Sonic Jam shows off the Sonic Team at their very best.
“The Mega Drive Sonic series was the main reason that many people (myself included) first got into games. Putting all four games on one disc was a masterstroke for the Sonic Team, and with the mind-blowing Sonic World — this is an essential slice of the retro cake.” -Lee Nutter
#23: X-MEN: CHILDREN OF THE ATOM (92%)
Cyclops, Wolverine, Juggernaut and pals battle it out in one of the most outrageous 2D fighting games ever conceived.
“Before X-Men: Children of the Atom, no one knew the potential of Saturn’s 2D capabilities. X-Men showed the world that no machine can match the Saturn (sans Neo Geo of course). When COTA appeared, work at EMAP stopped completely and many happy hours were spent pummeling CVG’s Tom Guise (and others) into pulp as he squealed like a stinking pig… but I digress…” -Rich Leadbetter
#22: DAYTONA USA (92%)
The first conversion of AM2’s classic coin-op and arguably one of the finest racers on the Saturn.
“Yeah, the graphics are looking a bit crap now and the PAL conversion is quite poor. But the fact remains that AM2’s Daytona conversion sounds, feels and plays just like the coin-op, not something we could say about the more recent conversion.” -Lee Nutter
#21: GUARDIAN HEROES (93%)
Platform kings Treasure combine classic RPG elements with some hard-hitting, side-scrolling beat ‘em up action. Explore mystical lands inhabited by fair maidens and bizarre monsters.
“Only rivaling Capcom in terms of 2D mastery, Treasure’s epic adventure is an innovative and challenging game. The fact that Guardian Heroes manages to breathe new life into the stale scrolling beat ‘em up genre can’t be a bad thing either. A truly ace game.” -Matt Yeo
#20: NIGHT WARRIORS: DARKSTALKERS’ REVENGE (93%)
A classic 2D beat ‘em up featuring a gaggle of truly gruesome creatures. Capcom’s creature feature is also the first sequel to the demonic DarkStalkers.
“What other game lets you beat the crap out of vampires, a werewolf and even Frankenstein’s monster? Amazing cartoon animation, completely over-the-top moves and Capcom’s trademark quality gameplay make this a must-have title. Unique amongst beat ‘em ups.” -Lee Nutter
#19: QUAKE (93%)
The impossible has been made real with Lobotomy’s translation of id software’s graphically amazing PC shooting game.
“Quake on PC is my all-time favorite video game. There may be no Death Match (so Tom Guise AKA TipDrinker gets off lightly this time) but Lobotomy’s tweaks to the single-player game have made it a highly entertaining, challenging experience. And graphically speaking, this translation is untouchable.” -Rich Leadbetter
#18: SHINING THE HOLY ARK (93%)
It’s a new Shining game on the Saturn from Team Sonic. It’s 3D and it’s quality. Enough said.
“I didn’t want to review this because it started out so dull. Regardless I battled through the early stages and discovered what ranks as one of the single most compelling RPGs I’ve ever played. I’ve happy memories of this title — I love it loads and can’t wait for Shining Force III.” -Rich Leadbetter
#17: SONIC R (93%)
Designed by the legendary Sonic Team and programmed by British developer Travellers Tales, the first Sonic title to be programmed specifically for the Saturn is a joy to behold.
“Clearly the focal point of Sonic R is the mind-blowing graphics, with some jaw-dropping visuals and special effects rivaling those of Mario Kart 64. But rather than just being a graphical showcase for the Saturn, Sonic R is an awesome game to play. There’s a massive exploration element to it, secret routes to discover, hidden items to find and … well, let’s just say that this is fine Saturn gaming.” -Lee Nutter
#16: PANZER DRAGOON II ZWEI (93%)
A brilliant blasting game, this game features astounding 3D effects that no Saturn game or indeed PlayStation title has managed to match. And despite being easy to complete, there’s tons of lastability in it too.
“We all knew that this one was going to be awesome, but when we first sat down and played the finished article, Panzer Zwei was like a gift from the gods. The graphics redefined our expectations of what the Saturn was capable of — suddenly anything was possible. The different routes, morphing dragon and vast amounts of hidden stuff add immensely to the appeal.” -Rich Leadbetter
#15: COMMAND & CONQUER (94%)
PC games don’t convert well to consoles — most are way too complicated to appeal to us. So how did Command & Conquer score 94% in issue #15? Well, it’s a great game, that’s why.
“Beneath the bland exterior beats the heart of a warrior. A warrior of gameplay, because maneuvering your troops around the battlefield, building bases and attacking the enemy is simple to pick up, and the controls work perfectly. It even comes on two CD’s, each with different areas and scenarios for the two sides in the conflict. A very big game.” -Gary Cutlack
#14: SEGA WORLDWIDE SOCCER ’98 (91%)
Raising a swift index finger to the established FIFA and Actua brands, Sega Worldwide Soccer ’98 out-quaffs them in every conceivable way, being the best footy sim around.
“The arrival of Sega Worldwide Soccer ’97 heralded a new standard in the footy sim genre, but the crap keeper AI and lack of Premiership sides was a real drawback. SWWS ’98 redresses these criticisms whilst retaining the graphical finesse and rampant playability of the prequel. If you don’t own the prequel, this is the only soccer game worth bothering with.” -Lee Nutter
Genuinely frightening action adventure in which the sole purpose is to survive. Roam freely throughout the secluded mansion, mercilessly slaughtering the undead and solving the diverse range of puzzles. Awesome!
“For Capcom’s first foray into the realms of 3D, Resident Evil is an exceptional achievement. This shit-scary scenario, non-linear gameplay and tense atmosphere offers players an experience they’ll never dare to forget. Blasting the head clean off a zombie as a fountain of blood erupts from between its shoulders is quite simply the most satisfying moment in gaming history. Hugely ace stuff!” -Lee Nutter
#12: VIRTUAL ON (93%)
Eight different robots battle it out over different stages in AM3’s robot battler. A game of strategy as well as reflexes, this is one of the best two-player games on Saturn.
“Virtual On is a game of strategy — of brains over brawn. It’s also one of the best one-on-one titles you can get for the Saturn. The amount of strategies and tactics found in this game is frankly amazing. Not many people bought this — a shame because it’s in a class of its own.” -Rich Leadbetter
#11: VIRTUA COP (94%)
The first of the much vaunted “Big Three” for Christmas ’95, Virtua Cop is a staggeringly accurate conversion of the AM2 masterpiece which simply must be owned.
“After the appalling Lethal Enforcer games, Virtua Cop breathed fresh air into the dying genre. Using polygon-sensitive graphics as opposed to the dreadful FMV, players could reenact their favorite Tarantino shootouts in a socially acceptable way. It’s an absolute classic, though has been largely superseded by its mightily impressive sequel.” -Lee Nutter
#10: STREET FIGHTER COLLECTION (92%)
The ultimate 2D beat ‘em up collection! Capcom’s finest titles meet head-on in a two disc extravaganza. Play the original arcade perfect Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and an updated version of Street Fighter Alpha 2.
“If you’re a hardcore Street Fighter fan then Virgin’s retro beat ‘em up compilation is a must-have item. The game that made Capcom the giant it is today is still the classic it always was and its inclusion here shows just how far the series has come over the years. This collection is still worth buying if you already own Street Fighter Alpha 2, although both Super Street Fighter II and Super Turbo are really starting to look dated.” -Matt Yeo
SPECIAL GUEST COMMENTARY #1
Excluding the Tekken series, I’m not the biggest fan of fighting games. Now, it hasn’t always been like this. I really enjoyed Street Fighter II Turbo back in the day, and I considered myself halfway decent. I used to play it late into the night with my then friends. It was the standard “loser passes the controller” setup that we had going, and the level of competition — as fierce as it was — was pretty even. Few people managed to hold on to the controller for more than three matches. Those were the times, but they are gone now. After that initial Street Fighter rush, I never played a 2D fighter again. Ever. But I’ll always have the memories.
SPECIAL GUEST COMMENTARY #2
I have a confession to make… I can no longer be called a TRANSFORMERS collector. ::GASP:: Wait!! Come back!! It’s not what you think. Actually, as of yesterday, I’ve become a *Action Figure* collector. Why? Let me spin the tale…
You see, I love collecting Transformers. They were a huge part of my childhood. I can remember going to Toys R Us and buying the latest Transformers toy, going home and spending the whole day totally focused on the joy of that new toy. They were a defining part of my youth and I’ll collect them and enjoy them for the rest of my life. Now, after I had “shed” the toy thing, I had become like any other teen… on the hunt for exciting adventures. Sounds like a porno but this ain’t Emanuel, so let’s keep it clean… and as for that new, exciting challenge… I found it. It was Street Fighter II.
I had always loved video games, but this one was different… it totally consumed me. I can remember going to the arcade, after school, with my friends and playing for hours. I remember drawing all the characters during my spare time… and history class. I loved the game, the stories, and thus… Street Fighter is one of my fondest memories.
#9: TOMB RAIDER (94%)
Arguably the best game of 1996, Core’s multi-format platform adventure became a massive success, thanks in no small part to the gravity-defying chest of a certain Miss Croft.
“From virtually every perspective, it’s damn near impossible to find fault with Core’s first real hit. This game is big — like really big. Split into 15 differently themed levels, each feature enormous 3D environments, comparable in sheer scale to those of Mario 64. The gameplay is no slouch either, with a vast array of puzzles to solve, tasks to perform and endangered wildlife to kill. But the real star of the show is of course, Lara Croft. With a versatile array of superbly animated acrobatic maneuvers at her disposal, Lara certainly has great things in front of her (sigh). Unfortunately not on any Sega machine.” -Lee Nutter
#8: EXHUMED (94%)
Lobotomy’s initial adventure was unfairly dubbed “Doom in Egypt.” In truth it’s one of the deepest action-packed adventures money can buy. One of the most criminally underrated games of all time. Known as PowerSlave in America.
“It took the whining and moaning of our own “Manual” Daniel Jevons to convince me to take this game seriously. When I started playing — and playing it properly — I realized that this adventure is a work of genius. Sega Saturn Magazine got behind Lobotomy in a big way and our prayers for them to convert Duke Nukem and Quake were answered. It’s also extremely cheap at £20 in most shops, so there’s no excuse not to own this classic.” -Rich Leadbetter
Rich Leadbetter and the rest of the SSM staff really did a lot for not only Exhumed, but for Lobotomy, the Saturn, and Saturn owners. They pushed Exhumed to the moon. Even after a massively impressive 94% review in issue #11, Exhumed sales were quite low in the weeks following. So, Rich, being the high quality gaming crusader that he was, sought to seek justice. And in issue #13, this was his editorial…
Rich’s editorial went a long way. The UK masses went out and bought the damn game en masse. Exhumed became a hit as rentals and sales went through the roof following Rich’s passionate plea. Exhumed often appeared in the top 10 rental list. Nice job, Rich. Way to champion the little guys!
And due to its smash success in the UK, GT Interactive saw fit to allow Lobotomy to program Saturn Quake. If it weren’t for Rich’s never-say-die attitude and Sega Saturn Magazine…
#7: MARVEL SUPER HEROES (95%)
The game they said couldn’t be done. Capcom’s most ambitious 2D fighting game arrives on the Saturn replete all the awesome visuals and playability that you could hope for. Senses-shattering!
“We got arcade Marvel Super Heroes in the office at about the same time that the finished Saturn X-Men appeared. I remember comparing the two and thinking, ‘no way will this ever come to the Sega machine.’ Whilst the conversion isn’t perfect, it’s incredible in every way that matters. The rich visuals are beyond compare, but it’s the combo system that really makes this game. And Doctor Doom is ace.” -Rich Leadbetter
#6: VIRTUA COP 2 (95%)
Following the unprecedented success of the seminal Virtua Cop conversion, AM2 reaffirmed their position as the greatest coders of Sega’s machine with this stunning sequel. Time Crisis? HA!
“The most important thing to mention about Virtua Cop 2 is that it is huge — approximately twice the size of its predecessor in fact. Each of the three levels feature multiple routes about halfway through, making the sequel a less linear affair than the first game. Each of these levels are densely packed with destructible scenery and of course, hod-loads of bad guys. There’s also some stunning set pieces in there — the car chase sequence in particular stands out in my mind. Yeah, it might not be as close a conversion as the less ambitious Virtua Cop, but AM2 have pulled off a miracle in getting the Saturn to emulate the Model 2 coin-op so well. Everyone must own this game.” -Lee Nutter
#5: FIGHTERS MEGAMIX (95%)
AM2’s greatest creations clash in a 3D beat ‘em up of unparalleled proportions! Virtua Fighters meet Fighting Vipers for some hard-hitting 3D beat ‘em up shenanigans. If you want speed and action, get this!
“The Saturn is blessed with a number of awesome 3D beat ‘em ups but Fighters Megamix is something else. A staggering 32 characters, Vipers’ armor-breakers, Virtua Fighter 3 moves, enclosed arenas and secrets galore make this a premier Saturn title. Even if you own both Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers, there are still plenty of new features and playable faces to get to grips with. Loads of depth and playability makes Fighters Megamix one game you can’t live without!” -Matt Yeo
#4: DUKE NUKEM 3D (97%)
One of the most action-packed politically incorrect 3D blasting games imaginable. Lobotomy promised us an excellent translation but the final product defies belief. The best game released this year.
“The speed and action contained in Saturn Duke Nukem just blew me away. Couple the playability with Lobotomy’s incredible 3D engine and you have a game that’s just as cool as the PC game — and sometimes superior. And it hoses down the PlayStation game. Completely. I honestly don’t think I’ve played a game quite as satisfying as Saturn Duke for ages. On the higher difficulty levels the sense of carnage you get is almost intoxicating. Awesome!” -Rich Leadbetter
97freakin’ percent. That’s the massive rating Sega Saturn Magazine awarded Duke Nukem 3D. SSM were big fans of Lobotomy since the days of Exhumed. SSM was there every step of the way as Lobotomy converted Quake and Duke Nukem, with previews, showcases and interviews with the Lobotomy staff. Hell, Quake and Duke graced back-to-back covers! Fun fact #1: Lobotomy credited Rich Leadbetter under “Special Thanks” in Saturn Duke.
Fun Fact #2: Rich Leadbetter and Gary Cutlack contacted me back in October of 2004 to thank me for posting their Top 50 list. I had the extreme honor of interviewing both of them about their Sega Saturn memories — from working for the best magazine ever to their favorite Saturn games. Check it out here!
#3: NiGHTS: INTO DREAMS (96%)
Quite simply the most unique, innovative and beautifully crafted video game of all time, from the crack development team that brought you Sonic the Hedgehog and the explosive Burning Rangers (coming soon!)
“Whilst many were quick to criticize the Sonic Team’s creation for being a tad short and easy, what they consummately failed to appreciate was the true nature of the game. Whilst the sumptuous 3D visuals are enough to draw most gamers in, it’s the superlative retro style of gameplay which keeps them engrossed. Pulling off massive links, racking up huge scores, performing a diverse range of aerial stunts and watching the artificial life system evolve as you play is only a minuscule part of what NiGHTS has to offer. Admittedly, the game concept may appear bizarre at first and ‘immature’ even, but NiGHTS is a unique and lasting experience which simply must be owned by everyone who is serious about games.” -Lee Nutter
Sometime in mid-late ’96
I just got home from Toys R Us and have sampled both Mario 64 and NiGHTS. I came away impressed with both. Mario 64 is destined to become a classic for generations to come, and NiGHTS possesses a unique charm… the kind that might make it a cult classic for the ages. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two still have a large fan base decades later…
I remember the whole Mario 64 vs. Crash Bandicoot vs. NiGHTS thing. Good times those were. The battle of ’96. Each heavyweight representing its system. I’ll never forget that Saturday when I was at Toys R Us waiting in line to test play each game. It was an exciting time and rivalry — one I still have yet to feel in today’s generation of games. Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical. NiGHTS was something else to witness in 1996. It was poetry in motion. The music was off the charts. They sure as hell don’t make games like this anymore.
I love NiGHTS! If they ever make another one, here’s an idea. Imagine finding a secret underground passage underneath a tree, filled with gems and power-ups, or even better, a clan of Nightopians living in seclusion.
I loved NiGHTS so much that I bought the import. One of the most inspirational games I played in ’96. Only 2 games have EVER kept me up the entire night fueled from adrenaline… NiGHTS and the original Sonic. Yuji Naka and Sonic Team, thank you.
I just picked up my copy of the latest Next Generation magazine and along with it my copy of Christmas NiGHTS. What a great gift! I had forgotten how fun NiGHTS was to play. I couldn’t put it down last night until I had 23 of the 24 gifts. I was confused as to why I couldn’t get the 24th gift until I changed the date to earlier in the year and saw that the 24th gift was Christmas NiGHTS itself. I thought the Sonic into NiGHTS gimmick was a nice touch! I just want to thank Sega for giving me (and others) this very cool Christmas treat!
Being single and living alone, I usually don’t get into the Christmas spirit until I go to visit my folks a few days before Christmas. I just got Christmas NiGHTS and it actually gave me the Christmas spirit earlier than normal. Thank you Sega. Now I don’t have to buy a tree…
Don’t forget people, Christmas is coming, and you know what that means:
Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams time!
If you got this little gift of joy, whip it out. If not, go find it. Don’t look at me though. Mine ain’t going no where but inside my Saturn.
So, don’t forget…
Don’t forget people, Christmas is coming, and you know what that means:
Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams time!
Still copyless you say? Fool!
So, don’t forget…
Don’t forget people, Christmas is coming, and you know what that means:
Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams time!
You BETTER have a copy by now.
So, don’t forget…
Don’t forget people, Christmas is coming, and you know what that means:
Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams time!
So, don’t forget… but I don’t think I have to repeat myself any more. It’s tradition by now
This might sound sad but I owe Sega some major thanks. In 2000 I found myself alone on Christmas Eve, with only Christmas NiGHTS to keep me company. And you know what, it was a pretty good Christmas, all things considered. So thanks, Sega.
Wow, almost Christmas NiGHTS time already. I’ve played every year since its release on Christmas. Not only has it become tradition for me and many others, it’s become a staple for the holidays. When I was a kid growing up, Christmas just wasn’t Christmas unless you watched A Christmas Story, went to the parade, sang carols and sat on Santa’s lap at the mall. Well, for me anyhow, these days and, yes, still to this day — Christmas NiGHTS is the equivalent to all those, if not a little sweeter.
I agree! Christmas just isn’t Christmas unless you watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol, eat some gingerbread men and play some Christmas NiGHTS! It’s a legend all in itself. One in which I shall pass down to my kids and their kids. Sega made a lot of mistakes over the years but every time I play this, I say thank you for the great memories.
#2: SEGA RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (97%)
Since its release in early 1996, Sega Rally has gone on to become the best selling Saturn game ever and the benchmark by which all other racers are judged. And rightly so, in our opinion.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why Sega Rally is such an incredible game. Maybe it’s the flawless conversion of the twenty times as expensive coin-op. Maybe it’s the feeling of gritty realism the programmers manage to convey, making you think you’re actually driving a Rally car, but there’s never so much realism that you’d have to know how to drive one yourself to play the game properly. Or could it be the decent smattering of Saturn specific modes, from the awesome split-screen two-player mode, to the ghost mode and custom car option. Who knows? The point is, two years on from its release and Sega Rally is still the best racer on any console bar none. Whilst other racers may boast superior graphics (and only just), none have surpassed Rally in terms of sheer playability. It’s a classic video game of our time.” -Lee Nutter
At one point in my life I poured so many hours into Sega Rally that, honest to gosh, I went out driving and heard a voice in my head say “Long medium left baby!” That’s when I knew I had crossed that line… no game but Rally has ever made me feel that way. Not even the almighty Tetris…
Sega Rally was one of the few video games my father actually played. He couldn’t understand how a man in his late 20’s could be interested in playing video games (NOTE: He was addicted to computer golf, but did not think of it as a video game).
Anyway, my niece and nephew were visiting and he asked me to bring over some games for them to play. I debated for about 5 seconds before I packed up the Saturn, steering wheel, and several games — including Sega Rally.
Sega Rally hardly left the machine for the other titles. Everyone was trying to get the best score. The game is just pure fun. I played it last night just to see if my memory was holding it in too high a place. Nope. I played it for a good two hours, loving every minute of it again.
As for my father… I overjoyed him last Christmas by giving him a Golden Tee arcade cabinet for his den.
After playing out my current batch of Saturn titles, I decided to start playing some of the older ones I hadn’t played in ages. I popped in Sega Rally, a game I had beaten many times before and much to my surprise it was just as if not more fun than it used to be. The excitement of Rally racing is still there after 6 months! I beat all my records and had a blast doing so. If anything this is a testament to its replay value and AM3’s care and love for the games they make.
9-8-99 (1 day before SEGA Dreamcast’s launch)
Nothing’s sweeter than practicing hard all night til you just manage to shave a half second off your career best. Man that is so satisfying. Words cannot do it justice. Even better is having a buddy watch you do it, trying to psych you out so you don’t beat his best time — and then handing the controller off to him with a smug smile saying “Your turn, champ.”
Rock on, SEGA Saturn.
Bring it on, SEGA Dreamcast!
True story. One Saturday night I stood up my girlfriend. I had an hour to go before the date began. I thought “eh, a little Sega Rally never hurt anybody.” Right? An hour quickly became two. My girlfriend called my phone but I left it upstairs. Eventually she came over to my place. She was about to blow her top when I told her to sit down and play. She looked like she was gonna kill me but I continued quickly.
“Look, I’ll give you a BIG lead. If you can beat me, I’ll promise to go to that … opera with you.”
I caught up with her on the last lap and was in position to win. But, purposely, I bumped into one of the railings and let her speed ahead for the win.
But really… I won. The opera? It wasn’t so bad.
OK — it was really bad. I hated it.
But, I didn’t get kicked in the balls. Or have my Saturn and Sega Rally copy chucked out the window. It balances out…
A month later we got engaged and 8 months later we got married. I had an hour before the wedding started. I thought “eh, a little Sega Rally never hurt anybody.” Right? …
#1: VIRTUA FIGHTER 2 (98%)
Virtua Fighter 2 remains the Saturn’s finest hour, bearing all the hallmarks of greatness that the Saturn stands for. For starters, it’s an AM2 arcade conversion — quite possibly their best one to date. The Saturn’s high resolution mode is used to create the most lifelike fighters yet seen on the system, and the super smooth 60 frames per second movement is uncannily realistic. But for all its technical accomplishments, the real joy with this game is its playability. Each of the characters battles away with REAL fighting techniques, they move and react just like real fighters would. And the possibilities with the 2,000 moves in the game make it virtually limitless in terms of lastability. When this arrived in coin-op form, it was such a step forward that arcade-goers across the globe took notice. And the Saturn version, bar small graphical compromises, is identical. A mammoth achievement — still.
“I remember seeing the first demo of Virtua Fighter 2 in motion on the Saturn. You couldn’t play it — you could only watch as two computer controlled opponents slugged it out. But I was spellbound. Months earlier we’d seen the Saturn seemingly having difficulties replicating the first Virtua Fighter, which had no texture mapping and half the frame rate. To see Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn with all the techniques, characters AND in hi-res was a revelation. Plain and simple. But technical issues aside, VF2 is more than a game, it is an art. On a trip to Japan, my old MAXIMUM colleague Gary Harrod brought back videos of expert VF2 players getting to grips with Akira and Jeffrey (my favorite fighter and his, respectively). What I saw on this video was light years ahead of my own skills. Watching these Japanese masters playing VF2 was like watching an entirely different game to the one I was playing. It was another revelation. These guys had taken the game’s precision controls and stunning physics to awesome effect, with combos and techniques I would spend the next few months attempting to emulate. It’s this huge lastability that makes VF2 superior to Fighters Megamix in my eyes. True, Megamix has more characters, but it lacks the precision gameplay and thus the aspiration for true mastery that VF2 has. And that’s why I think Virtua Fighter 2 is the best Saturn game money can buy.” -Rich Leadbetter
Just the other day I was at my friend’s house. He showed me Virtua Fighter 2 and, remembering the disaster the first Virtua Fighter port was, I prepared myself for a good chuckle or two. Then I played it. Well I’ll be. Virtua Fighter 2 is quite impressive. I feel a little jealous it’s not on the PlayStation. Perhaps there is legit competition in the Saturn just yet. It certainly has changed this diehard PlayStation user’s perceptions on what the Saturn is capable of.
-Brent ‘The Bone’ Bonds
I finally got my hands on Virtua Fighter 2 (for $49) this past Friday, and I must say… this game is truly awesome. Virtua Fighter 2 has been the first game I’ve purchased that has made feel like “OH my God, this is incredible!” I look at this game and simply can’t believe I’m playing this at home and I’ve played a LOT of games on a LOT of systems, and this game is just AWESOME!
I’ve written quite a few programs, and worked with a lot of graphics applications, and maybe this is why I am so impressed. To realize what is going on and what has to take place in order to bring you a game of this magnitude is simply mind-blowing.
I’d post more, but gotta get back to my Saturn.
Irvine Alumni, Class of 1994
University of Southern California
I just purchased a copy of Virtua Fighter 2 from Microplay and it is absolutely amazing!! At the first sight of the incredibly high-res display and fluid animation, I was blown away. What’s here folks is nothing short of a miracle. It’s the punch in the face Saturn owners have been waiting for! Here’s my quick review:
Graphics: 10 Sound: 9 Game Play: 10! Replay Value: 10!
Definitely THE best fighting game on any home system to date, and it’s just so damn fun to play, I could go on FOREVER about how great it is! BUY THIS GAME!! If you don’t, I’ll hire midgets to burn down your house.
In my gaming life, I can point to certain console moments that shall forever haunt me. Super Mario Brothers 3 on NES. Sonic the Hedgehog on Genesis. Street Fighter II on SNES. Add Virtua Fighter 2 on Saturn to that list. I went with my dad and three friends to Toys R Us to buy it. Then we got home at 8 PM and played against each other for five straight hours. Imagine… four 12 year old kids huddled around a 27 inch TV for five straight hours on a Saturday night. You know whatever’s keeping their attention for THAT long has to be pretty special.
I was one of the biggest Street Fighter fans back in the early ’90s. Then came Virtua Fighter 2 and I found my new calling. I recall many hours spent at my local arcade attempting to master all 11 characters. I’d stay until they had to literally kick me out.
Then the Saturn version came out and blew away everything I expected. I swear I must have spent at least 1,000 hours on it. No game is perfect, but in my book Virtua Fighter 2 is VERY close.
-James Dat Nguyen
I don’t play games much today. In fact, the last game I really touched was Halo on XBOX when it came out. Yeah, it’s been a while. Anyway I still lurk from time to time and felt the need to chirp in.
There was once a golden age in gaming. It was the early ’90s. NES was still kicking, Genesis was coming into its own and SNES was just around the corner. Boy what great times. Then came the 32-bit war. It wasn’t quite as memorable as the previous generation of games but three words…
VIRTUA FIGHTER 2.
This game has the kind of magic where, sadly, not everyone will understand. To fully experience it, you must have a gaming group of friends — all equally skilled — and have get-togethers on occasion where you just feast on this game. It really is a marvel. The bouts can either be snap-snap-snap or long drawn-out epics. It’s as fun to watch as it is to play. This is the only way to truly appreciate Virtua Fighter 2.
All the guys I used to play this game with back in the day — they all got married and became fathers. I still talk to them and we kid around sometimes about the “good old days.” We still get together to play Virtua Fighter 2 every once in a long while… but for sure those times in 1996-1997 were priceless.
We like to joke around that one day we might be as old as Shun himself
I absolutely hated fighting games until I played Virtua Fighter 2 on May 1, 1997. I thought both 2D and 3D fighting games were stupid, boring and offered no depth whatsoever.
The day I got my Sega Saturn was the day that I changed my mind about fighters. I learned that deep fighting games did exist, I just had to find the ones made by Yu Suzuki. From 1997 up until 1999 my gaming group and I played on average six hours of Virtua Fighter 2 a week. That’s a lot of hours. The only reason why we stopped were due to life (marriage, college, whatever).
I used to feel the same way about racing games. I hated the genre. Thought it too was junk until I discovered my love of Sega Rally. Thanks to both these titles (both on Saturn of course) I “evolved” as a gamer.
-Glenn A. Rudy III
With the boom of the 3D era in 1996, some of our old favorite genres took a backseat to this changing of the guard. Or in some cases, they became an endangered species. One of those was the beat ‘em up genre. From the glorious late ’80s to early-mid ’90s, beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade (and home console) scene. From classics such as Final Fight, Double Dragon, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage just to name a few, they were a staple of many childhoods. But they went by the wayside when 3D gaming ushered in the next generation. Enter Sega’s Die Hard Arcade. It was a 3D interpretation of the classic beat ‘em ups of yore. A Saturn port was released a year later in March of 1997. It’s not the best game in the world but damn if it isn’t wacky fun.
30 YEARS OF KICKING TERRORIST ASS
Today (July 15, 2018) marks the 30 year anniversary of Die Hard. Released in theaters on July 15, 1988, Die Hard carved its way into our hearts and memories. The film followed the exploits of one, John McClane. A one man wrecking crew, he attempts to save his separated wife and countless hostages from the vile clutches of some East German terrorists. Taking place over the course of one wild night (Christmas Eve) and one highly memorable location (the fictionally named Nakatomi Plaza), Die Hard was an action movie for the ages. It launched Bruce Willis into superstardom and had one critic call it “a perfect action movie in every detail, the kind of movie that makes your summer memorable.”
The film worked on so many levels. One of its biggest reasons was the pinpoint portrayal of villainous mastermind, Hans Gruber (arguably one of the best movie villains of all time, right up there with the likes of Darth Vader himself). Played by Alan Rickman, Hans Gruber was masterfully memorable for his accent and wicked ways.
Die Hard was filmed at Fox Plaza in Los Angeles. Completed in 1987, Fox Plaza is 35 stories tall (493 feet) and served as the film’s memorable backdrop. Made on a budget of 28 million, Die Hard went on to gross that number five times over for a whopping 128.1 million. There are currently five Die Hard films with a sixth one on the way. Willis will reprise the role of McClane but a younger version is being cast for the earlier portions of the film which will depict McClane as a rookie cop in the ’70s. Happy 30 years, Die Hard!
My girlfriend and I caught Skyscraper in theaters last night. I’m a big Rock fan but this one just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I was subconsciously comparing it too much to Die Hard, but it had none of the charm and memorable characters.
Die Hard Arcade was conceived by AM1’s Makoto Uchida. Uchida worked on numerous well known Sega titles such as Altered Beast and Golden Axe. A big fan of the original Die Hard film, Uchida had the idea of creating a 3D beat ‘em up with Die Hard as his main inspiration.
THE STORY GOES…
Wolf Hongo and his cronies have invaded a skyscraper in Los Angeles. They want the vast riches in the vault and have also kidnapped the president’s daughter. It’s up to you (and your partner) to stop Wolf.
Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously as seen here. The president’s daughter manages to elude the bad guys at some point and they cannot find her despite her being right under their nose.
DEEP SCAN CAMEO
Deep Scan is a 1979 arcade game from Sega. Play it to earn extra continues.
“WELCOME TO THE PARTY, PAL!”
The action starts out hot and heavy on this little rooftop ledge.
Many weapons are in play, including brooms!
There’s also the ever reliable handgun.
The blocky graphics add to the charm of the game. It’s a little rough around the edges, literally, but that’s just all part of the charm.
Quick time events, if handled right, allow you to recover some lost health. If you fail however, you’ll need to clear that area of any bad guys that linger. You have to pay attention to which button they ask you to press, like a Simon Says. It’s pretty neat and was later used in Shenmue on the Dreamcast.
Next, make your way to this elevator lobby where you can beat up the bad guys with everything from a missile launcher to a grandfather clock! This game is ridiculous and I can’t help but love how insane it is.
The bum in the green hat actually falls into the blue dumpster during a cutscene prior to McClane arriving on the scene. As stated earlier, Die Hard Arcade doesn’t take itself seriously and has a ton of black humor.
Watch out for the water spray, which can juggle you for damage. It can also hurt the enemies. Pick up the fire axe and hack away. There are also exploding barrels that you can heave their way.
The next scene is unforgettable. One of the bad guys is relieving himself as you approach ready to maim. Stuff like this is what makes video games so great.
Yes, John McClane is suplexing a naked man in a diaper. Some descriptions defy logic.
Anti-tank rifles, clubs, guns and more can be used here. Or just kick their ass the good old fashioned way. Toilet paper rolls roll around. This section is by far my favorite part of the game and I wish it were longer.
Use robot arms lying around to send these bastards back to the trash heap.
“Come on, hand over the club. We all know how this ends.”
This big, beefy, masked mauler is one tough son of a gun. It’s a good thing you can shoot his ass and throw chairs at him, then. I love the whale swimming in the aquarium tank in the background.
THE SEQUEL: DYNAMITE COP
A sequel, Dynamite Deka 2 or Dynamite Cop in North America, came out in 1999. It was released in the arcade and on the Sega Dreamcast. It takes place on a boat and similar to the first game, has something of a cult following behind it.
DYNAMITE DEKA EX: ASIAN DYNAMITE
8 years later, a revised version of the second game was released in arcades in Japan only. It was an odd release to say the least. By then the beat ‘em up genre was even more obscure than it had been in the early 2000s. The game was never ported to home consoles nor did it ever officially leave Japan.
RE-RELEASE ON THE PLAYSTATION 2
In 2006, Dynamite Deka was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 under the Sega Ages 2500 budget line. It featured revamped graphics.
Die Hard Arcade was even made into a manga by the name of Burning 2020.
It’s pretty incredible how Japan latches on to random entities and makes a “thing” out of them.
GameTZ (or Game Trading Zone) was a website where gamers can share their wanted and available list of games. You can browse other users’ listings and message them to strike up trades. I joined on March 21, 2001 — I was still a few months away from graduating high school. It was a crazy fun time… it was like the Wild West of the internet back in those days. People were more willing to trade before the site became a shell of itself in the years to come. My third deal there was trading my copy of Resident Evil (PlayStation 1) and $6 for Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade (Saturn). At that time, I had just gotten back into all things Sega Saturn and I vividly remember the day Virtua Cop 2 and Die Hard Arcade arrived in the mail. Later that night, my brother and I binged on both games and it was the best arcade experience at home I had had in the longest time. It sent me on a tailspin of endless Saturn love as I would explore the system’s library further in-depth and uncover the most obscure of obscure games. Great memories!
There were truly some funky deals I made on GameTZ. Maybe a story for another day. But I can’t resist sharing a few right now. I once got Street Fighter Collection in exchange for Golden Axe: The Duel and an obscure Wolfgang Krauser collectible that I got in the mail circa 1994 via TAKARA. But perhaps my funniest trade was getting High Velocity (an obscure racing game for the Saturn) for my Predator 2 VHS copy. Ah, GameTZ, how I loved thee once upon a moon.
Die Hard Arcade is a blast. It never takes itself too seriously, it’s violent as hell and it’s stupid fun with a friend by your side. My brother and I loved playing this game and although it’s short at around 20 minutes or so, we kept coming back to it over the years. It’s a true testament to how fun and over the top the game is. We didn’t care that the graphics were a little blocky or that the story wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen a thousand times before: a good beat ‘em up should be fun and Die Hard Arcade most certainly is.
There’s actually something charming about the blocky visuals. It was in the early days of 3D where polygons were mostly blocky. Developers were still finding their way with the new style of graphics; it was a sign of the times. But the best thing about this game is teaming up with a buddy to kick terrorist ass in the most amusing of ways. Whether you’re chucking a grandfather clock at the bad guys or beating them upside the head with a broom, Die Hard Arcade is a memorable foray into the realm of the 3D beat ‘em up. It’s campy, over the top and balls to the walls nutty. It’s not a perfect game, but for what it is, it’s perfect (if that makes sense). Now excuse me while I find my copy of this game and dust off the ol’ Saturn one more time…
When Resident Evil first hit the PlayStation in the spring of 1996, it caused quite the uproar. Gamers and critics alike raved about its tense atmosphere, its amazing cinematic feel and its edge-of-your-seat survival horror gameplay. Sure, games like Alone in the Dark came before but it was Resident Evil that really caused the boom of the survival horror genre from where I sit. There were really only two games I was genuinely scared of before I first played Resident Evil back in the summer of ’96. Those two being NES Godzilla with its creepy music (hey, I was five years old) and Doom, the first person shooter that saw imps and demons stalking you through the tight corridors and haunted halls of Hell. Then along came Resident Evil. It reminded me of what it felt like to actually have a sense of dread as I navigated my way through the game. With this being October and all, it’s a great time to look back on this epic horror game and remember what made it such a classic. Capcom is no stranger to the survival horror genre. They released Sweet Home exclusively to the Famicom (Japanese Nintendo) in 1989. Resident Evil, in fact, was heavily inspired by the firm’s previous survival horror effort seven years prior. It’s safe to say time and technology allowed Capcom to take the genre to the next level. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…
IT ALL STARTED WHEN…
Remember where you were the first time you played Resident Evil? I bet you do. Whether it was a stormy night in Sacramento or a darkening late afternoon in Detroit, everyone remembers the very first time they played and laid eyes on this. It’s just one of those games. Back in the day I was lucky enough to have a tight-knit gaming group. Those guys were a big part of my childhood. Sure, I had my best buddy Nelson, but there’s something special about 18 kids coming together and having legendary sleepovers where we would stay up til 2 in the morning gaming the night away. And it was these damn bastards that introduced me to the EVIL. It was the summer of 1996. By then I had largely slipped out of the gaming scene. At least in the sense that I was no longer reading game magazines and following up on it like I had in the earlier part of the ’90s. So it was on a faithful hot summer evening that my friends, knowing what a horror freak I was, took me upstairs to show me this new “badass” game. I watched the B-Movie-like intro and was sold immediately. I had never seen or heard of this game before. I had no idea what to expect, except I knew this was a moment not only in my gaming fandom but my childhood that would come to stand the test of time.
The classic newspaper headline added perfectly to the B-Movie feel. I remember thinking “Who killed the people?” My friend then passed the controller to me. I looked at him bewildered, as if I had just seen a ghost. They told me they already played it and that it was my turn. And so, it began…
After the cheesy yet tense intro, you find your three characters escaping into the safety of a secluded mansion, or so they think. A bit of corny dialogue ensues as they decide to sweep the mansion for their missing team members.
This was the first time a console video game ever made me jump out of my chair. Needless to say, my friends enjoyed a hearty laugh at my expense. I’m pretty sure it all happened to them the first time too, but of course, they denied such a thing happening. What a bunch of great friends, huh?
Chris Redfield’s old friend and partner, Barry is a former SWAT team member. He maintains and supplies weapons for all S.T.A.R.S. members. With over 16 years of experience, Barry has led many successful projects. Barry is a trusted ally but has had some trouble with his wife and two daughters as of late. He may look or sound depressing at times due to his current issues at home.
Previous member of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and already stationed in Raccoon City, Joseph was recently promoted to serve as vehicle specialist for Alpha Team. Many Bravo Team members are jealous of his promotion but he was anointed by Wesker himself. Joseph is young, enthusiastic and has an inquisitive nature.
After being kicked out of the Air Force, Chris became a drifter until he met Barry Burton. Barry recruited him for the newly formed S.T.A.R.S. squad. Now Chris has been reassigned to a smaller unit at Raccoon City headquarters in order to prove himself.
An intelligent soldier that has rescued many S.T.A.R.S. members from danger in the past, Jill has been reassigned to Raccoon City just like Chris. She is excellent with mechanical devices such as lock-picks. Jill has strong moral convictions and fights for what she believes in.
Brad is a computer expert and is great at gathering information. His fear of dying draws much heat from his fellow soldiers. His lack of enthusiasm for rushing into danger has earned him the nickname “Chickenheart.”
Wesker has risen quickly inside the S.T.A.R.S. organization and currently leads the Alpha Team. Wesker was recruited by a headhunter for his sharp insight and eventually founded the S.T.A.R.S. unit in Raccoon City.
A very important member of the unit, he is the communication expert for Bravo Team. The only link back to headquarters for teams out in the field, Richard pulls double duty as radioman for both units since Alpha Team really has no trained operator except for Jill (who has a knack for technology).
The youngest member of the group, Rebecca was recruited for her knowledge of field medicine and First Aid. She is nervous around other team members due to her age and her lack of experience. Rebecca is eager to please.
Bravo Team’s leader and Wesker’s second in command for the S.T.A.R.S. unit, Enrico feels threatened by the arrival of the Alpha Team. He has an inkling that Chris or Barry may end up replacing him as Wesker’s right hand man. Nonetheless, Enrico is a dedicated S.T.A.R.S. operative and is always proud to lead the unit whenever Wesker gives him the nod.
Forest is a great sniper as well as Bravo’s vehicle specialist. He is a consummate professional and his work earns him great respect from his colleagues. He shares a very natural connection with Chris Redfield.
A quiet but very talented field scouting officer, Kenneth also has spent time as a chemist. His chemical knowledge will come in handy for Raccoon City’s zombie siege…
There’s also a flamethrower and rocket launcher to be found within the hallowed halls…
SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE SPECIAL
Sega Saturn Magazine (the best gaming publication EVER for my money) championed Resident Evil to the moon. They sold the game so wonderfully well that I’m including excerpts of their various Resident Evil previews, showcases and review below. Enjoy!
RESIDENT EVIL CONFIRMED!
Those who haven’t seen Resident Evil will no doubt be wondering what all the fuss is about. It caused a huge stir last year when it was released on the PlayStation and was a massive commercial success. This survival horror video game follows the exploits of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield who are both members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They have been called to investigate a series of grisly murders at a place known as Raccoon City.
EVIL HAS A NEW ADDRESS
Resident Evil is an incredible and terrifying gaming experience. For Capcom’s first foray into the realms of 3D, Resident Evil is an awesome achievement which upon the time of its release received rave reviews and critical acclaim. The game uses a mixture of horror and puzzle elements to dramatic effect, creating an atmosphere unparalleled in any other video game ever. As a result it proved to be immensely successful, surpassing SEGA Rally Championship as the fastest selling CD game of all time.
Capcom of Japan are renowned for being perfectionists with a meticulous attention to every conceivable detail as is evident from their 2D beat ‘em up classics. So despite the high praise heaped upon Capcom, they weren’t entirely satisfied with the finished PlayStation version of Resident Evil. Several ideas that the programmers had in mind for the game failed to come to fruition, so upon completion of the original game the programmers set to work on an enhanced version. The new version would allow the programmers the opportunity to iron out the gameplay irritations of the original and incorporate those various elements that were absent. The new Resident Evil Dash as it became known was intended for release on the PlayStation some time ago, but failed to arise as it was canned not long into its development cycle. Luckily for Saturn owners, this is the version they’re getting.
THE PLOT THICKENS
Like every B-movie horror flick, Resident Evil Dash has a terrifying plot which unfolds and develops as you play. The horror story centers around two main characters Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, two members of the S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) Alpha team. They are called to a remote town, Raccoon City, to investigate the grisly murders and the disappearance of the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team, with whom all communication has been lost. After a brief encounter in the woods with a pack of savage canines, Alpha Team seek refuge in a secluded mansion which, unknown to them, is full of frights.
Further investigation leads to the recovery of reconnaissance notes which reveal sketchy details of a company known as Umbrella. They have been conducting genetic mutation research commissioned by the government. The aim of this research is shrouded in secrecy, with a cover-up under way to prevent details of horrific events leaking out. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, locate the whereabouts of Bravo Team and find out exactly what the hell is going on…
THE EVIL WITHIN
Put simply, RED (Resident Evil Dash) is a disturbing and harrowing experience players are proud to say they have endured and survived. Guide Chris or Jill around the dingy, claustrophobic and blood-splattered rooms of the mansion uncovering clues to the plot which remains shrouded in secrecy until the very end. All the while players are stalked by a bizarre series of genetic mutations, evidence if ever it were needed of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong. From the flesh-eating zombies to the giant tarantulas, ravenous Dobermans and lizard creatures, danger is lurking around every corner and behind every door.
It quickly becomes clear that our brave investigators are ill-equipped to deal with the situation at hand, so survival becomes the primary goal. This makes locating the secret ammo stashes even more essential, whilst getting acquainted with the capabilities of different weapons.
But that’s all by the by, the main interest of RED is clearly the gratuitous violence. To my mind there’s no other video game as blatantly gruesome, gory and stomach-churning as RED. Frantically reaching for a shotgun and blowing the head clean off a zombie as a fountain of blood erupts from between its shoulders is one of the most satisfying moments in video game history.
However, there’s so much more to RED than the infamous blood-spilling sequences. There’s a strong puzzle element to the game requiring much lateral thinking and forward planning. Some of the puzzles are self-explanatory switches or locating certain items. But as players gain access to more areas of the grounds and the plot steadily unfolds, the puzzles become more complex requiring a much greater deal of head-scratching. But that’s not to say that RED is a rock hard mammoth gaming chore reminiscent of Core’s Tomb Raider. Capcom appears to have set the difficulty level just right, allowing novices to progress through the game with competence as Jill, whereas more seasoned players are able to take their gaming skills to the limits as Chris (who carries less items than Jill).
Graphically, RED is in a class of its own with the pre-rendered backgrounds looking absolutely stunning and exhibiting more detail than even the original PlayStation version. From the blood-stained corridors to the dark laboratories, the level of detail and depth to each of the scenarios is incredible. The real stars of the show however are the hideous monsters which are superbly animated and chillingly realistic.
But what makes RED so undoubtedly great is the tense atmosphere upon which it thrives, keeping players engrossed in a masochistic kind of way. The feeling of your imminent demise is intense throughout the game, heightened by the chilling Hitchcock-style tunes, not to mention the accompanying moans and groans from the undead. Add to this the dramatic fixed camera positions (reminiscent of Alone in the Dark) which lends the game a cinematic feel. Factor all these aspects and the scene is set for one of the most horrific games of all time.
HEAR NO EVIL SPEAK NO EVIL
Capcom’s Saturn development is arguably the best of any third party developer. Over the last couple years Capcom have supplied Saturn owners with a wealth of arcade beat ‘em ups, such as the awesome Street Fighter Alpha 2 and X-Men: Children of the Atom, a trend which appears set to continue. Why, just flick through the glossy pages of this esteemed magazine and you’ll discover the very latest earth-shattering pictures of Saturn Marvel Super Heroes and Street Fighter Collection. However, Capcom’s latest and possibly greatest Saturn development is not another 2D arcade beat ‘em up but rather the multi-genre gore-fest of Resident Evil.
BE AFRAID… BE VERY AFRAID
Playing Resident Evil is like nothing gamers will have experienced before. Though comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn with Core Design’s Tomb Raider, essentially the two games play very differently. For the most part, the gameplay of Resident Evil is of the killed or be killed variety with players being stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by hordes of bizarre genetic mutations. The range of monsters is astonishing, from the giant spiders to the huge Tyrant boss, all thirsting for the taste of your blood. Survival soon becomes the main priority as operatives struggle to escape the confines of the mansion. To make matters worse, ammo is scarce, so it’s not simply a case of running around in a mad blasting frenzy. Some monsters are best avoided altogether as they’re either too tough or too difficult to hit. Conserving ammo is the key to success as players soon learn how to side step the hordes of genetic mutations in order to amass enough ammo to destroy the final boss.
All the while players struggle to overcome a wealth of diverse puzzles featured throughout. Most require you to locate a certain object before using it to unlock a door mechanism, or finding a hidden switch somewhere. But later on the puzzles become more complex, with chemical formulas being mixed and even a piano to play! On the whole, the difficulty level of the puzzles appear to be pitched just right, presenting a deep challenge to even experienced gamers.
However, what really sets Resident Evil apart from Tomb Raider is the tense atmosphere. Terror lurks around every corner with some genuine shocks in store for first time players. Savage dogs leaping through windows, seemingly dead zombies chomping at your ankles and giant snakes bursting through walls are just a taste of the shocks in store. Add to this the macabre music, eerie silences and accompanying moans from the horde of the undead, and Resident Evil works better than a strong laxative.
The problem that has beset so many other adventure games in the past is that their linear structure means that once the game has been completed there’s little to entice players back. Therefore it’s to Capcom’s credit that such pitfalls have been avoided with Resident Evil. The gameplay is surprisingly nonlinear, with players being required to make decisions at several key points during the game. Depending on which choices have been made greatly affects the unfolding plot and eventually the game’s ending. However, the main source of variety in Resident Evil stems from which of the two S.T.A.R.S.’ operatives that players select at the beginning. Choosing either Chris or Jill affects which weapons players are able to discover, the amount of monsters and ultimately the outcome of the plot (just to name a few key differences).
Though Chris handles himself considerably well when separated from his fellow S.T.A.R.S. crew members, players choosing to take on his mantle are essentially opting to travel the most difficult route through the game. That said, players who wish to explore every nook and cranny of the mansion and solve every last puzzle in order to appreciate the full splendor of Resident Evil are best off choosing Chris. To begin with our hero is ill-prepared for the horrors which await him, being devoid of all firearms and armed only with his trusty combat knife. Obviously this causes a few problems when encountering flesh-eating zombies hell-bent on sinking their teeth into your flesh and draining it of blood. So Chris’ first priority is to seek out a more powerful weapon. Once the Beretta has been located, Chris’ superior shooting skills become evident, as he is able to fire with greater accuracy than Jill, requiring less bullets to take down the mutated monsters. It’s a good thing too, as the plentiful ammo supply enjoyed by Jill is not available to Chris, with extra ammo being scarce throughout his campaign. By way of compensation, Chris’ bulky frame is better able to take more damage than Jill before death comes knocking.
To make things more difficult, Chris left his backpack at the drop zone and his action slacks are only able to carry up to six items at a time. This means playing as Chris requires a great deal of forward planning and effective resource management. Much of the time players find themselves legging it back and forth between storage rooms and depositing unwanted objects in favor of more useful items.
Despite his shortcomings, Chris Redfield is a skilled member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose superior shooting skills, strength and resilience make him a worthy (if challenging) character to play as.
Jill Valentine is a relatively new member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team whose mission is considerably simpler and shorter than that of her colleague for a number of reasons. Firstly, Jill begins her adventure armed with a Beretta pistol, having a clear advantage over Chris who spends much of the early part of the game foraging for weapons and ammo. In addition, Jill is given a lock-pick early on by fellow S.T.A.R.S. teammate Barry Burton, enabling Jill to enter certain rooms and storage areas not accessible to Chris without the corresponding key. Jill is also able to carry up to eight items in her navy blue action slacks. Her larger inventory means that managing resources is a tad simpler than playing as Chris. Jill’s game is also considerably easier in that fewer monsters patrol the corridors of the mansion, so players needn’t worry too much about being overrun by hordes of the undead. Besides, even if Jill were to find herself in a spot of bother, secret admirer Barry Burton is on hand to make sure she comes to no harm.
However, in some respects Jill is worse off than Chris. Being of a slight build, her body is less resilient to enemy attack, taking less chomps from a marauding zombie to kill her. In addition, Jill’s aim isn’t up to the same standard as that of her teammate, requiring her to take more time when aiming and with less accuracy than sharpshooter Chris. Despite her shortcomings, Jill’s superior intelligence and lock-picking abilities make her mission a more straight-forward affair and rather less challenging.
THE EVIL HAS LANDED
As we exclusively revealed in last month’s SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE, the long-awaited Saturn version of Resident Evil will be quite different to its PlayStation brethren.
Possibly the most exciting addition to the Saturn rendition is the planned inclusion of an Arena Battle/Survival Mode. This is a special mini-game which becomes available once the regular game has been completed. Controlling either Chris or Jill, players progress through 15 stages fending off a continuous onslaught of 11 different types of genetically mutated monsters which advance with relentless speed. Only one weapon of choice is available to begin with, though more are collected as players use all their skills to battle through the stages. Players are then ranked upon completion or demise according to items used, the time taken and lives remaining.
At long last Capcom have also confirmed Saturn Resident Evil will DEFINITELYfeature new monsters… and we’ve seen ‘em! The new (as yet unnamed) monster in the 80% version we have is a redesigned version of a Hunter and lurks in the sewers beneath the mansion. It acts similarly but looks quite different. In addition, survivors of the PlayStation version may recall the huge Tyrant boss at the end of the game. A genetically engineered super-creature, the Tyrant was very agile and extremely difficult to kill. Well, depending on your point of view and game playing skills, the good or bad news is that for the Saturn version of Resident Evil there are now two Tyrants to destroy!
And now, let’s meet the monsters…
A lethal experimental virus was accidentally released among the Laboratory technicians. After the initial itchy sores had subsided, the laboratory technicians began to lose their minds and their bodies slowly began decaying. Their stinking rotting corpses now stagger around the mansion, arms outstretched in the hopes of snaring their prey and feasting on its blood. Their lack of agility and intelligence makes them easy to run around. Also be weary of downed zombies as they tend to play dead, pardon the pun, awakening only to chomp at your ankles.
Genetically engineered to be devastating fighting machines, the Hunters are extremely difficult to avoid and even more difficult to kill. When attacking their enemy, the Hunters leap about into the air, making targeting at times a virtual impossibility. Their sharp claws prove deadly and are often used for severing heads from shoulders.
After being infected with the same lethal strain of virus which drove the lab technicians insane, the one-time guard dogs of the mansion are similarly affected. The hungry Dobermans retain their in-bred instinct to protect the mansion and its grounds from intruders, and that means you!
A lethal and deadly opponent, the Chimeras not only patrol the floors of the tight corridors but also the ceilings, occasionally swinging down to attack their prey with their vicious claws. Naturally this makes targeting the genetically mutated monsters very difficult indeed, which invariably leads to heavy ammo loss. So you’re best advised to avoid them with some nifty foot work.
The giant snake is encountered twice throughout the game and is the largest genetic mutation roaming the mansion. Those bitten by the snake will find their bloodstream infected with a deadly poison unless treated immediately with an anti-poison vaccine.
Much of the time they remain passive but make a mistake and the aggravated flock will swoop down with great haste to peck their prey to death. Just ask poor Forest…
The grand finale to Capcom’s awesome horror-fest sees the unleashing of not one but two Tyrants. A genetically engineered killing machine, the Tyrant was created to be the ultimate life force. It’s extremely fast, attacking opponents with a devastating series of claw swipes before finishing things off with an uppercut which skewers the victim. Players are confronted by a Tyrant on a number of occasions and are best advised to run away from this super creature, stopping occasionally to launch an attack. Good luck!
SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE’S REVIEW
Taking a break from the 2D beat ‘em ups for which they have become synonymous, Capcom’s latest Saturn development is the critically acclaimed RESIDENT EVIL. Originally titled Biohazard for its earlier Japanese release, the game offers a scenario whereby players are called to investigate a series of grisly murders around a secluded mansion at a place known as Raccoon City. As one of its two members of the elite S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team, it becomes evident that the mansion has played host to a series of bizarre scientific experiments which early reconnaissance notes suggest have gone terribly wrong. Alpha Team’s mission is to explore the mansion and eliminate everything within, find the missing Bravo Team and find out what the hell is going on.
The game is similar to last year’s massive hit Tomb Raider and the rather dated Alone in the Dark games, but is arguably superior to both. Basically, players find themselves trapped inside a vast mansion crawling with all manner of strange genetic mutations with an unquenchable thirst for blood. Protocol is quickly discarded as players struggle to survive and escape the confines of the mansion. However, blocking the route to safety through the dark and dingy blood-splattered corridors are locked doors, the keys to which are usually hidden at the opposite end of the mansion. Expect plenty of diverse puzzles, too. These usually involve locating certain objects and exchanging them with others, or triggering a hidden switch to reveal a secret passageway. Some of these puzzles are huge, requiring a great deal of lateral thinking and forward planning, considering you’re only able to carry a certain number of items at any given time.
Of course, this could have the makings of a pretty boring game were it not for the vast amount of action in Resident Evil, something which clearly distinguishes the game from the likes of Tomb Raider. For the most part, the gameplay is of the killed or be killed variety as players are stalked throughout the mansion and its grounds by a continuous onslaught of genetically mutated monsters. So locating the more powerful weapons and replenishing the limited supply of ammunition quickly becomes a priority for operatives wishing to stay alive. This gives way to some of the most gruesome and shocking scenes ever witnessed in a video game, with gallons of bloodshed featured throughout.
Clearly these elements contribute to a fantastic game, but it’s the intense feeling of terror heightened by the chilling music and eerie silences which sets Resident Evil apart from any other adventure game you may care to mention. The shit-scary feeling of your imminent demise as players are faced with a room full of zombies and rapidly deteriorating health is quite unlike anything players will have experienced before in a video game, being more akin to a Wes Craven horror flick. Indeed the game has a very cinematic quality to it, with the ensuing action being viewed from the dramatic fixed camera positions pioneered by Infogrames’ Alone in the Dark series. Some camera angles can lead to some rather interesting visuals…
In fact, aside from the terrible voice-overs and over-emphasized hand gesticulations which provide the game with some unintentional light relief, there’s very little to moan about.
BTW, EGM scored it 6.5, 8.0, 8.5 and 9.0.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS
You get this cool cutscene if you pick Jill. My jaw dropped the first time I saw this. I couldn’t believe the amount of gore or how raw it felt. I remember thinking to myself on that summer night of 1996 that video games have come such a long way from when I first played the 8-bit Nintendo some 10 years prior!
I’ll never forget that sweltering summer night back in 1996 when I first faced the horrors within the hallowed halls of Resident Evil. It was like no other console gaming experience I ever had. Players were literally dumped into a horror movie from hell, submerged in a twisted world of monsters and mayhem. The game has an atmosphere like no other. There was always this impending sense of doom in the pit of your stomach as you dashed through the dark corridors of the mutant-infested mansion, searching desperately for an ink ribbon, healing herb or new clue. Ammo was limited so you had to rely on your brains and not so much your brawn. It was a harrowing experience the likes of which I had personally never seen before, and I’ll always fondly remember it for that.
Those entering the world of the original Resident Evil, be it on PlayStation or Saturn, for the first time today may not quite appreciate it the way we did over 20 years ago back in 1996. I liken it to playing 1993’s DOOM for the first time today. You kind of had to be there when it first came out to get the full impact. Although the controls were a bit clunky; there was no 180° degree turn back then and the graphics had its limits (though I’ll admit to enjoying the jagged less-than-perfect 3D polygons of the 32-bit generation), there’s no denying Resident Evil was a shit-scary experience. It left an indelible mark on an entire generation of gamers, as evident by the swarming legion of fans still to this day. This led to numerous sequels and had other companies scrambling to create their own survival horror game as seen with Konami and Silent Hill. Capcom, like they did five years earlier in 1991 with Street Fighter II, once again struck gold!
Earlier this month I fired up Resident Evil for the 50th time. It’s a true classic and a title I love revisiting every October. The eerie music and creepy silences add tremendous atmosphere to the game. Not to mention around every corner and behind every door there lurks a bloodthirsty zombie or two just waiting to feast on your flesh. The plot is simple and effective, it features a memorable cast of characters and monsters, and it brought home an authentic B-Movie feel in raw 3D. Good times indeed. Another notch on Capcom’s belt, Resident Evil is a classic adventure from the 32-bit era.