The first Japanese game I ever played to completion with no knowledge of the language outside a few basic characters was Shining and the Darkness for the Sega Mega Drive, later localized as Shining in the Darkness for North America by Sega of America. It wasn’t mad savant skills that got me through this text-heavy role-playing game, but a spoiler-free walkthrough and plenty of maps yanked from a Japanese magazine that came with the game when I purchased it. I’d played a few Japanese MD games previously, but most were shooters such as Gaiares or not quite perfect arcade ports like Golden Axe or Altered Beast.
I stumbled upon Shining and six of seven other imports at a used book and record store in NYC back around early 1992 and couldn’t pass up buying all of the games at somewhere between eight and ten dollars each. All of those games are still in the library here and some even get pulled out and played on occasion. It took me the better part of the summer to complete SitD because I was only using the walkthrough when I got stuck and was filling in the plot on my own. It ended up being pretty close to what the actual game and English version would be because it was a simple “rescue the kidnapped princess!” story with a few expected and unexpected twists.
Yeah, that postcard to the left was promising back in 1996, but less than three years later, the Sega Saturn ship was about to come crashing to earth in a slow nuclear explosion. While the console did get a number of excellent titles, fans of the system in North America suffered through Sega of America’s leadership at the time that seemed to ignore some pretty obvious Japanese 2D imports in a few genres in favor of approving too many first and third party polygon-based games or imports that seemed “safe” bets if the right segment of the system’s audience was willing to buy them.
Combine that with some third-party games taking seemingly forever to arrive and Sega deciding to only ship limited quantities of the last few major games on the platform and having the gall to rub consumer’s faces in it for the best game on the platform (see below the jump) and you end up with a console that died a horrible death it really didn’t need to… Continue reading →
Well, it WASN’T supposed to be such a damn slow day here, but between the rain keeping me inside and away from a decent wi-fi connection and some issues with a PC game I was trying to get running, it’s been kind of a “Meh” day for productivity. I did, however, discover this little clip from the old Sega Saturn and PC game Enemy Zero that sums up all of today in three seconds:
Yeah, well… I’ll get over it tomorrow. OK, enough time burning – back to the salt mines for me…
So, as I posted last week, I finally got around to sending back that formerly long-lost Kenji Eno autographed copy of D2 about a week or so ago and got this nice surprise as a return response. A copy of Lumines: Electric Symphony autographed by the game’s producer and one of Eno’s close friends. Nice. Amusingly enough, I hadn’t played this Vita game previously, so now I get to do so and having done something nice for someone in the process. Yeah, I’m a nice guy under all that cranky. MOST of the time. Not get the hell off my lawn, you kids. Scoot! I have some games to play and no time for you whippersnappers. Git!
One of my favorite game creators, Kenji Eno, passed away on February 20th and I’d planned to write up something memorial-esque last week, but couldn’t for a few reasons. The main one was it’s actually quite hard to write something brief about what playing through some of the games he and his studio WARP created during their brief run meant to me without actually going through the library here and taking time to do so. That’s going to get done in about a month or so, barring incident. The other was I wanted to read what some of his close friends wrote about him in order to get a better insight on the man and his work. There was also a little bit of unfinished business to take care of in getting a certain something back to a certain someone, so that had to come first… Continue reading →
I was moving some games last week and this one fell on my head, so I had to see if my memory still works by recalling what it’s about. Well, other than being a collaboration between the generically named Game Studio with ToysPress and May Music, Airs Adventure for the Sega Saturn is pretty dated if you judge it by today’s standards. Granted, it was probably dated by 1996 standards because the game isn’t all that complicated or challenging save for some wandering about necessary mid-game to solve a puzzle. Despite the language barrier It was one of the first imports I was able to complete it twice without understanding any Japanese thanks to the simple combat system, only two party members to deal with and for the most part, fairly linear progression.
Or more precisely, what’s left of both after the great “I Need Money!” sell-off of a few years back. The three PAL Saturn titles I think I posted already last year, but I’m too lazy to go look up something on my own website (wow, that’s bad!)…
Anyway, While I do miss the stuff that’s gone and harder to find (and even more insanely expensive these days), I have my fingers crossed that one of these days, Sega will find a way to get some of their first-party Saturn games back into gamers’ hands in SOME reasonable manner. Oh yeah, I added in a picture of my Mega mouse just to show that the thing actually existed and yup, works fine for the games that use it. The disc-only games (which I normally don’t collect) came in a CD wallet that was part of a giant box of stuff I traded for a long time ago. All of the games worked fine, but some needed a lot of cleaning (and a bit of Perma-Spin action – that stuff is awesome!).
Hey, Sega! Longtime supporter from the arcades to Dreamcast and beyond here. While I’m loving that you’re finally getting NiGHTS onto XBLA, PSN and PC soon enough, I’m also one of those crazy people that has the original game in it’s box with the analog controller, the Christmas NiGHTS disc (I have one each here for the US, Japanese and UK Saturn), the excellent Wii follow up and yes, that means I’ve played the game to death and will do so once more when this HD u[date hits. That said (dot, dot, dot)
Not to be a pest (again), but I’m just wondering when we’ll start seeing some of those other first-party Saturn titles get the same HD or remake love. The Panzer Dragoon series, Shining Force III (including all the content that stayed in Japan), Burning Rangers, stuff like that? It’s not as if I’m screaming about BUG! or Clockwork Knight not getting HD remakes here (you get what, one email a month about those, right?). I’m just a little bit concerned about Sega of America ignoring some of its best games on a console that’s been HUGELY underrepresented since it died. That and while they may not have sold in spectacular numbers on the Saturn, the games I listed might do even better today if the time was taken to bring them to gamers in the best possible manner.
Hell, I’d bet a Panzer Dragoon Complete Box Kickstarter would see money raining from the heavens…
This collection is now about 1/4 of the size of what it once was, but still has some nice titles in it along with a few commons and a bunch of duds. *Yes, I stuck in all the NIGHTS demos and versions from the US and UK, but those were in the same shelf space, so I figured I may as well run them here. I’ll get to my smallish US Saturn library at some point. It’s up in a closet with my US Sega CD stuff (also slimmed down dramatically) and I need to see what’s leftover after a few on and off years of whittling it down. Now, if Sega would FINALLY get wise and do a Sega Saturn collection of some of those games I no longer have, I’d be a much happier man…
Amusingly enough, I was going through some old artwork and found this unused cover for my ancient fanzine, Continue? This was going to be published in the third issue sometime around January or February 1998 (which was actually the fourth issue, thanks to issue 2 1/2 – don’t ask) along with a chunk of Sega-related articles. The story behind the cover goes something like this: By 1998, Sega was in a bit of a pickle, as the Saturn had pretty much fallen off the map and the Dreamcast was a year away. Meanwhile, Sony’s PlayStation was ruling the roost and games like Parappa The Rapper were rewriting the book on originality in game design and a few other innovations.
I imagined poor Sonic and Tails unemployed (well, between consoles) and out on the street one day as a familiar (and flatter) figure strolled by. No, I wasn’t a Sega-hater at that time, folks. I was just taking a look at the company’s missteps and hiccups in the mid to late 90’s that put Sonic on the street for a bit. I also planned to run copies of all the correspondence I’d gotten from Sega’s wonderfully cool customer service team from the early to mid 90’s (back when you could write a letter and get some neat stuff back in the post), so it wasn’t going to be a complete poke in the eye issue.
Of course, Parappa is long gone and Sonic is back on top (or close to it) these days. I just haven’t even thought of reworking this piece to reflect that. Perhaps one day… but I’ll have to make sure the rapping paper dog and pals aren’t popping back up on the Vita or whatever anytime soon first…