Thursday, 11 August 2016

10 games that could have saved the Saturn


The Sega Saturn. One of the most midjudged flops in videogame history next to the Atari 5200. A console that nothing seemed to be going well for with a rushed launch; overpricing, there wasn't even a mascot game unless of course you count that Sega Sanshiro punch 'em up and, given the mans propensity for throwing exploding sumo wrestlers and kicking an ocassional homerun in a professional baseball game, you probably should. Yes, Sega Sanshiro was the coolest thing about the Saturn.



















One of the worst problems of all was the lengthy and legendary disagreement between Sega of Japan and Sega of America, and by disagreement I mean Bernie Stolar or perhaps for legal purposes I should say Bernie Stolar policy or the BS Policy.

You see, while Sega of Japan wanted the Saturn to be a 2D and 3D giant, Mr BS decided on behalf of America (and by extension the world of course) that 2D was dead, RPGs were unmarketable and the Saturn would ignore both of these as much as possible and be the herald of 3D gaming.

Fast forward to the future.

The Saturn produced games for six years in Japan and sold over ten million units. In America and Europe, the Saturn produced games for three years selling around two million systems before being canned.

You see, what Mr Bernie - the fastest game deleter in the west - had failed to realise was the Saturn's kit for 3D games was about as up to the task as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest, and 2D games were vastly easier to produce for it.

So, during the wait for third party programmers to pupate chaos into beautiful yet slightly blocky butterflies, the rest of us were left to potter with the Saturn's "radical" cd player or go outside for some fresh air in a world of relativly less squares and perhaps become addicted to some other 90s joy vaccume like pogs or something.

Below is a list of games that never made it to the west because of some BS. Each of these had the potential to help the console survive when it badly needed the support. Because of this, the majority of the games are centered around '97 just before the plug was pulled.


 
1. Xmen VS Street Fighter (1997)














The first in the Marvel vs Capcom series and the original game to introduce a fully functioning tag system, Xmen vs Street Fighter took arcades by storm. Sony opted to leave the tag system out of this and it sequels due to memory limitations making the series linear until the PS2 finally restored the feature in MVC2. 

The Saturn had this sorted five years before hand with a 16mb memory boost card delivering the arcade perfect experience and a highly addictive party game. As this was a 2D Game, its Western Saturn release was dead in the water from the word go - Sega of America never imported it.


2. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1998)


















Often voted as one of the greatest videogames of all time along with Konami's Metal Gear Solid, Symphony of the night singlehandedly created the Metroidvania genre and sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. Unfortunately, it was also an RPG and 2D; therefore garbage.


3. Grandia (1997)


 















Set to be released in the same year as Final Fantasy 7, the Saturn could have produced a contender to the throne. Sadly, Sega of America didn't like RPGs and by the time Grandia transferred over to Sony Final Fantasy 8 was on the shelves and 9 was already in the works.


 4. Policenaughts (1996)



















 

Who is this Kojiima fella? Some anime guy. Pass. 
 

 5. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1999)
















When Street Fighter Alpha 3 hit the arcades it was rivalling Tekken 3 and holding its own. To put that in modern perspective that would be like Snake making a comeback and fucking up Pokemon Go. I give credit to Sega of America for releasing Alpha 2, but when it came time for the series defining title to arrive the Saturn had already been declared dead outside of Japan. 

Given the imminent 6th gen releases, Alpha 3 probably wouldn't have shifted consoles but would it have helped its lifespan and software sales? With over a million copies sold on the Playstation in the same year and around 40% being in the North America market I believe it would. Regardless, all the extra characters, sprites and near arcade perfect gameplay compared to Sony's version had to just go away quietly.


6. Shining Force III scenario B/C (1998)


















Hey, you've got to give it to Sega. They at least had that perfect trilogy of Shining Force RPGs didn't they? Nope. Shining Force III was never finished in the west as Sega of America refused to commission its second and third parts for release. Oh well.


7. Radiant Silvergun (1998)

















Radiant Silvergun shook the 360 when it was released on Xbox live with its arcade action and online co-op. It all began here on the humble Saturn. Radiant Silvergun is one of a kind in its addictive gameplay and mechanics. It redefined the arcade shooter. The gaming press agreed. Sadly, well, you know where I'm going with this. 

 8. Princess Crown (1997)















A game that fully demonstrates the Saturns power for animation whilst also offering characters that are light and stylish, many reviewers declare this the Saturn's great unsung game. Princess Crown is what happens when the developers of Capcom's arcade Dungeons and Dragons series strikes up a team with the developers of Metal Slug to produce a female led action RPG. That's not a description: that's this game. The result is as good as it looks and during a period where the console was desperatly lacking games with larger audience appeal and badly needed console character assosciation, Princess Crown could have offered just that.


9. Metal Slug (1997)

















 
Sega of America saw no profit in this series and refused to have it on their system. Today, the average price of the first Metal Slug is close to two thousand pounds on the AES and collectors still lap them up. Even the anthology game sells at full retail price ten years after the fact. 


10. Wachenroder (1998)

















At this point, I could really pick any of the numerous RPGs that Sega of America snorted at. I choose to go with Wachenroder with its immersive artwork by Range Morata (Last Exile, The Animatrix) and its theme music by King Crimson's guitarist Ian Mcdonald. We follow the journey of a man trying to save his dying sister only to realise this is impossible. Instead he sets out to prevent further death by striking against an elitist society which is gradually transforming the city into a wasteland. Sound interesting? 

 Too bad you can't play it.

What are your thoughts on this list?
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