🪐 Written: September 3rd-10th, 2022 🪐
Hello, gamers and readers, welcome to my blog, and thank you for taking the time to tune in today, I really appreciate it. 😃 Today is a Saturday, I'm talking all things Sega Saturn, which means it's that time again:
Random Saturnday II: The Sequel! I know, the subtitle is unoriginal, but I put in more effort on the banner this time around to make it look more appealing.
It's been three months since my first Random Saturnday post, covering my personal experience with the Sega Saturn console (the most amount of money I've ever spent on eBay) as well as briefly talking about my first four games for it. I was proud of how it came out, so much so that I wanted to do another, and in the months since then I've added an additional five Saturn games to my collection. All right, I! Am!! Ready!!!! 😄
The CR2032 battery that I inserted on the console back on May 12th is still operational, so it's all good there for however long it'll last. I've mustered enough courage to explore the system settings from the menu, and I now know that the Saturn model I own is an NTSC-4-V1.00a. It's nice to know that you can always change the clock and language settings at any time if it's needed, and I was curious about the console's memory manager, so I decided to check that out. Look at that ye olde ASCII font  and how the games saved in the system's memory are listed in alphabetical order, Sega certainly handled it differently than Sony would for the memory card screen on the PlayStation One.
Still love watching that 3D spaceship flying by and whizzing past in any which direction whenever I listen to the music from the system and hide its menu, it's always a positive when a game disc doubles as a soundtrack.
I've also rectified a wrong: back on May 12th when I got Core Design's Tomb Raider, my third Saturn game and my favorite Sega 32-bit game as of what I presently own, I only got the jewel case and game disc (as well as the soft sponge-like substance) but no manual (because I admit I didn't want to spend more than I needed to). Well, it only took until July 25th, but I got the instruction manual at last, and now it looks complete.
And from what I've gathered, neither title sounded as great as Eidos made them out to be; I can't believe the company who commissioned Tomb Raider sequels on an annual basis to the point that it exhausted members of Core Design both physically and mentally to the point of killing off Lara Croft (only to be undone) and unfairly scapegoated them for the underperformance of Jan de Bont's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life's box office could be so disingenuous! 🙄The back of the manual features adverts for two of Eidos Interactive's other releases, Core Design's Machine Head/Blam! Machinehead and Attention to Detail's The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga, neither of which I'm particularly interested in.
Before I begin with the brief thoughts* on Saturn games five through nine, I feel the need to clarify something from the first Random Saturnday post because a part of me is worried that there may be some who have interpreted one particular comment I made the wrong way.
* Brief by my standards, anyway 😓
When I said that I felt Tomb Raider was superior to Nintendo's Super Mario 64, this was not meant in any way, shape, or form to suggest that the Nintendo 64 launch title was bad. Not at all. Not even close. It too was a revolutionary 1996 3D platformer and it too set the template for future 3D platformers to come, both games can coexist in the same room. Super Mario 64 is likable and charming, it's got a strong core gameplay, it's a colorfully pleasant game to look at--
even if it looks plain compared to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo to Kazooie no Daibōken and Interactive Studios' Glover--
with an endearing sense of worldbuilding, it's got a decent amount of replay value, and is a fun game* to play. The main caveat I have with it? Its camera systems have not aged all that well, with more than one instance of it going from reliable to unreliable which slightly detracts from my enjoyment, and it doesn't help that the free-roam controls require you to adapt to the direction based on the positioning of the camera at all times (especially when you're walking on a narrow path, whether the camera is far from you or near you).
* I wish I could say the same for when trying to 100% it, but that's neither here nor there
Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is one such game where you can make a good case for why tank controls can work in 3D platformers which to me makes it more fun. The thing about free-roam controls is that your character's directional movement is dependent on your position in relation to the camera placement,
whereas with tank controls the direction buttons are unwaveringly consistent regardless which way your character is facing (even in instances when the camera isn't placed squarely behind you) so there's less of a forced quick-adapt in the direction controls in the event of an abrupt angle change like in the former 3D control scheme. I suppose it all varies depending on the overall execution. Do... does that make sense? I hope I explained that well. And again, this is simply my personal opinion.
Now that I got that out of the way, I can properly begin sharing my brief thoughts on these five games. Last time I hinted that my fifth Saturn game would be something special and one I already own on the PlayStation One format, and I knew exactly which game I wanted to fill that slot.
Fox Interactive release Argonaut Software's 3D platformer Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, which I got on June 13th, was that game. 😃
Of all the Yoshi showcases for this post, I decided to go with Bullet-Proof Software's Yoshi's Cookie because I really like this puzzler (even though its gameplay is one I would struggle to describe without feeling like I'm going all over the place), but also it doesn't seem to me that many people know about this game, particularly the SNES version, as I hardly see it brought up anywhere, this despite the fact that the cookies themselves are a well-known part of Yoshi loreSo this is pretty much common knowledge among a lot of gamers and/or big Croc fans, but for those who aren't aware: Mario's dino-steed Yoshi was a prominently popular Nintendo icon following his debut in Nintendo's Super Mario World, who would become a playable character in numerous Mario spinoffs and would be the protagonist of plenty of games in his own namesake throughout the years.
Argonaut, who's made likable games like the Nintendo 16-bit Super FX racer Wild Trax/Stunt Race FX and licensed action game Scooby-Doo Mystery, made a pitch to Nintendo proposing a 3D platformer starring Yoshi. Despite showing initial interest, Nintendo ended up rejecting Argonaut's proposal thus ending their working relationship so the British developer took their business elsewhere and altered the title character's design to only look similar to Yoshi. And thus, Croc was born, his first game was a big success, and Nintendo took a big L.
I don't know about you, but I absolutely love Croc: Legend of the Gobbos on the PlayStation One, I genuinely think it's one of the best 3D platformers of the '90s. 😍 I acknowledge that its tank controls* (a la Core Design's Tomb Raider) didn't do it for everyone, I don't pretend that they're perfect or anything, but my affinity for this game stems from the big heart it's got: Croc is an adorable guileless hero who's completely selfless (Jonathan Aris' voice completes Croc, would be very different without him), the lighthearted charm levels are through the roof that it's strongly endearing, the gameplay is enjoyably fun, I love its sense of layout design and gradual progression of difficulty,
* Unless you turned on the analog setting with the analog controller
Royal Conquest was among the biggest gaming surprises of 2020 for me, Scharvona's compelling music helped carry me through the game that it convinced me to play Sunsoft's Super Famiport of DMA Design's Lemmings--WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??? 😱 Also, what are the odds that both Vortex and the Croc games feature a character named "Dante" in them? 🤨
and Justin Scharvona's soundtrack is perfect, it's so good! 😭 It helps that I love veteran Argonaut composer Scharvona's music, I think he's got a phenomenal range between this, Royal Conquest/King Arthur's World, and Vortex. And knowing that this game was also available on the Sega Saturn I just had to know how Croc's first venture was like in this format visually.
And visual differences between the original PlayStation One version and the Sega Saturn edition there are, I'm not going to bring up all of them but I will spotlight ones I felt were notable. In the PlayStation version the Croc and Gobbo icons were inanimate, but in the Saturn Croc's eyes blink whenever you get a life heart while the Gobbos turn their head left and right any time you rescue one.
There was also a choice to look up the password for your present progress in the PlayStation version
The font is different, as is the save game screen: in the PlayStation the camera is pointed at the center as it revolves around it in 360 degrees just like the title as you can save in one of the blocks available, while in the Sega Saturn version you can save your progress by choosing between file 0 through 5, with each file taking up four blocks of the system's memory.
In the PlayStation version once you beat a boss you'll be shown the level complete stat followed by the post-boss cutscene, and in the Saturn version the order's been reversed after a boss' defeat
The presentation for the level complete stat is different between versions; I quite like how in the Saturn version it's got a fancy entrance as it's all wavy until it straightens itself out, and the moment you get eighteen Gobbos in the first or second half of the map the Gobbo in Croc's backpack icon will blink on and off indicating that you now have access to the secret level once you defeat the upcoming boss.
Odd that in the Saturn version you can only go up or down an area in the map by pressing either shoulder buttonAnd guys, I noticed something very apparent while alternating between the two versions getting these screenshots:
Argonaut considerably zoomed in Croc when it came to the Saturn edition and made subtle alterations in the process compared to the base PlayStation version.
so there's a chance that in trying to zoom in to this degree that Argonaut was attempting to hide Sega's 32-bit console's limitations. It also doesn't have as much of the atmospheric (and colored) lighting as the PlayStation version as a result, and there are no transparency effects.
Here's a side by side comparison shot of the final fight featuring the Secret Sentinel, the visual difference is incredibly stark, but don't worry: there's still that corner jumping tactic to make quick work out of him by tail whipping all four gongs.
I did also notice some subtle differences with the Saturn version too: in the "Darkness Descends" level as you jump from moving platform to moving platform there is a lava-like waterfall that wasn't there in the PlayStation version plus it's appropriately dark that it lives up to its title, there were certain backgrounds that were different (especially in the intro), in this one snowy portion with the giant spinning gear at the top there is a snowball-tossing Dantini that wasn't there originally, the placement of a box when it came to a portion entailing monkey bars was relocated to a different spot, and there are a couple (maybe more) individual portions that have been abbreviated in size, et al.
Not sure when Croc would've wielded and waved a flag at any point while Beany is soaring from the distance, but that is a soothing visual regardless 😍I was so happy to see this beautifully silhouetted starry night sky artwork serving as the Saturn version's credits screen, I'm glad there's an official release of Croc that used this concept artwork, having only seen it before while watching the tech demo footage of the game on YouTube years ago.
I was very surprised to discover that Saturn Croc's game disc doubled as a soundtrack when inserted on a music player or game console, which is great because I love video game music. Considering the PlayStation version's game disc didn't share that same distinction, I had no reason to believe the Saturn disc would be any different until I put it in on the drive while on the menu screen.
There is a catch, though: a good chunk of Justin Scharvona's music has been excised from the Saturn version (some notable removed tracks being the perfectly composed iconic first area theme you hear, the second underwater theme, this one somber dungeon theme, this cave theme, one of the castle themes, as well as Baron Dante's first and third battle themes), and some of the longer themes that are there have been abbreviated from their original length.
Oh, well, win some lose some, I guess, at least the music that is still present in the Sega version is still good. I do love the underwater motif the Saturn game disc is going for with a still of Croc swimming, it certainly makes the PlayStation game disc look plain by comparison (unless that's just the Greatest Hits edition).
Gameplay-wise it's identical to the PlayStation version and structurally it's for the most part very similar, despite the zoomed in camera (it does make the action feel a bit more crowded in with less of a visibility of what's around you, particularly in the room where you have to jump from shrinking platform to shrinking platform). All differences aside, it is still a fun game through and through, although there are instances when the action gets slower depending on how much is happening onscreen. On the whole it's good, but the PlayStation version is superior, though I'm glad I got the chance to experience both versions. 😃👍
Twice delayed from its originally intended scheduled release, Croc 2 ended up eventually coming out during the Summer of 1999 on the PlayStation One; interesting that there was originally going to be a Roman numeral value in the title*sigh* What happened, Argonaut? 😔
Croc 2 is a sequel that should've turned out to be better than it actually ended up, because outside of the improved visuals and added gameplay elements this was a step backward. It's not a bad game, but there are problems that undermine the potential for it to be a complete improvement.
I also feel that this game leaned too close to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie territory, right down to the hub world and dialogue (right down to the gibberish sound effect) and occasional fetch quest and the requirement to hold down a button to keep the camera behind you, and you know,
I wish it didn't because I feel in doing this it took away from the charm and simplicity of the first Croc. Not that I dislike the interactions themselves, but they do play out in an undeniably similar fashion.
But no, the biggest problems I have with Croc 2 are threefold: its camera controls have been heavily reduced* with only one button held to keep it behind Croc and that's it (you can't even do a 180 degree turn like you could in the last game), the difficulty is all over the place, and the final issue I have is that it's not as fun (having to money farm for crystals to get supplies each time to give to Swap Meet Pete can be tedious if a level's been cleared without getting the Gobbo statue) and requires me to muster a lot of motivation to clear it 100% (let alone play it to the finish). I have all the time in the world for Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (both versions). Croc 2? Not so much.
* This doesn't make Nintendo's Super Mario 64's camera controls good, but at least that game had multiple camera controls and a way to see around you
The best thing Croc 2 had to offer was the hang gliding level with this super relaxing theme playing in the background. Nothing else in the game comes close.
Oh, remember during the cute pre-growth spurt montage in the first game when baby Croc learned the tail attack from watching Daddy Rufus in action?
Take one good look here and tell me what you do not see. How do you make a continuity gaffe like that, Argonaut?? Now Croc's art of self-defense doesn't make sense within the context of this sequel! 😖
I just realized, because Disney pretty much owns all Fox properties post-acquisition, that Fox Interactive is a part of Disney through ownership... NOOOO, Croc is too good for Disney!!! 😫Alas, Croc 2 was the last game featuring this adorable hero and was never followed up by a third game (mostly because Argonaut sadly got liquidated and defunct years after the fact). Well, at least Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was a strong start to this very short-lived franchise, and in my opinion was one of their best games, if not one of their most underrated.
Presently speaking it is the youngest Sega Saturn game that I own; and hey, should anything happen to one of my 32-bit consoles, I'll still have a way of playing this game, it's a win-win! 😄Who says there's such a thing as too much Croc: Legend of the Gobbos? Not I, that's for certain! And on the year of Croc's 25th anniversary, too? My, my, that sure is impeccable timing if I do say so myself. 😄
And speaking of iconic and beloved video game characters that turn a quarter of a century old this year,
My second favorite version of Door to Phantomile behind the original PlayStation One version, it was also worth it to play Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil for the first timewho very recently made a pleasantly surprising and well-deserved comeback with Monkeycraft's Klonoa 1 & 2 Encore/Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, which I downloaded on my Nintendo Switch on release day July 8th and felt was worth the wait. 😃 It's been doing very good (I've seen the phrase "Klonoa Sweep" float around) and I recommend checking it out if you haven't already. Wahoo! 😄
Um, anyway, back to the Sega Saturn. My first Saturn game, Sega's Clockwork Knight, I thought was good and enjoyed so much that I wanted to try its sequel. I've got good news on that front, for I managed to find a reasonably affordable copy of it against all odds. What I'm trying to say is: Clockwork Knight walked
so Clockwork Knight 2 could run, my sixth Saturn game which I got on June 25th. Well, actually, from what I read the original was rushed so that it could meet up with the release of the Saturn console so Sega split Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III's adventure into two games, but still I think this is also a good game, if not slightly better.
Shure Brothers microphone-tailed rockhead block snake boss is my favorite 😆The gameplay, bar a couple stages devoted to riding on Tongara's donkey Barobaro, is virtually the same as it was in its predecessor but that's not so bad as there are plenty of things that make up for that. The blend of 2D gameplay with 3D backdrops is still good, Tongara's sprites have been touched up and polished a bit, the difficulty's been amped up a bit making the proceedings a bit more challenging, the enemy and boss toy designs are still creative (especially the piece of paper turning into random animals boss),
the sound quality is still great (just listen to Hirofumi Murasaki go hard with the bluegrass music for the penultimate clock tower stage theme), there's an added sense of replay value with the ace playing cards scattered about and whether or not you find and run past them, there are more secrets to discover if you search thoroughly, and is still an enjoyable game to play while it lasts in spite of how short it is.
And the story set up in the first Clockwork Knight reaches a satisfying conclusion in this game, with a couple of unexpected twists (one of which made me retroactively feel weirded out given what was established beforehand, though none of the characters seemed to know this beforehand, but still 😳) following the climactic dragon boss at the top of the clock tower. That is a cleverly constructed design for a dragon.
Sega's Astal has still got my favorite Sega Saturn soundtrack so farYes, more dragon bosses on the Sega Saturn, please!
There is also a code which enables you to play through the whole of Clockwork Knight 2 as Ginger as opposed to Tongara
The version of Clockwork Knight 2 that was released in the West is based on the two-game compilation Clockwork Knight: Pepperouchau no Fukubukuro (sans the inclusion of the first game), meaning there is more content like the Bosses Galore boss rush of both games as well as the cinematics of both games. I like how Tongara's rival, Ginger, is a playable character in Bosses Galore and has a surprisingly stronger and swifter use of his keyblade.
Getting the second best ranking in Bosses Galore will grant you a code where once you enter it you're taken to a menu where you can choose one of several in a bizarre assortment of simple mini-games as they all take place in front of crudely drawn backgrounds, whether it be jumping from cloud to cloud or swimming upward as you try to avoid getting collided by fish or even a time attack-based racing game playing as, I presume, Barobaro.
It was also exhilarating to see a new character show up on the title screen with each time the game (or Bosses Galore) was beatenI see now why Clockwork Knight 2 generally goes for a high price, that is a lot of variety for one package. Not that I'm complaining, I like it.
I saw on eBay that there was a DVD repro case which had the Clockwork Knight 2 game disc, which had the least amount of money I've seen it sell for that didn't entail bidding (I don't bid), and it was the only one. I would check on it once in a while to see if it's there, and one day I saw that it went for $10 less than its original price, making it less than $50. Nearly a week later I decided to go for it, and I'm glad I did; of course, the worst thing that could've happened in waiting for the appropriate time to buy it was someone else could've gotten it before I got the chance (I knew there was a possibility of that happening), but luckily that wasn't the case. 😄 It was worth it because I thought Clockwork Knight 2 was a good follow-up,
and just like its predecessor it's a consistently fun and superior venue to Traveller's Tales' Toy Story, in my opinion.
Honestly, I'm surprised given when that licensed platformer came out that it never saw a 32-bit upgrade. 😕 The only 16-bit Traveller's Tales games to make the jump to 32-bit format were Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse on the PlayStation (with the PAL-exclusive Mickey's Wild Adventure)
... which was the seventh Saturn game I got on July 5th. 😏 Even though I played the original 16-bit version on Sonic Team's Sonic Mega Collection, I was curious how this game fared in this format. The night I got Clockwork Knight 2 I was on my own at home and wanted to catch up on Jeff Fowler's Sonic the Hedgehog (having missed out on it in theatres) on Paramount+ which I ended up finding a lot of fun and then once the credits finished imagine my surprise when it immediately got followed up by Sonic the Hedgehog 2 which I also found to be a fun and endearing to watch. Back-to-back Sonic goodness in one night, I thought they were fun video game movies (which is all I asked for), which ultimately made me want to invest in Sonic 3D Blast on the Saturn. 😄
With the combination of the core gameplay from Sega's Flicky, the isometric perspective of Minato Giken's Sonic Labyrinth,
I love how even the Flickies have shield barriers on them once they join up with Sonic while he's got a shield on him, that is so funnyand the blue blur's trademark speed comes Traveller's Tales' first contribution to Sega's successful Sonic franchise. Seriously, what better payoff is there by incorporating the title character from the 1984 arcade game as one of the animals trapped inside some of Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik's Badniks from the very start in Sonic Team's Sonic the Hedgehog than to not only feature them as vital and contributing characters in this iteration but also derive the core gameplay from Flicky in the process? Honestly, I think that's a clever bit of genius, and a direction I suspect that no one saw coming in its heyday.
This is the only version of the game to see a Japanese release, three years after the factOn the MegaDrive/Genesis Sonic 3D Blast was the last Sonic game in the system, and at roughly the same time was the first Sonic available on the Sega Saturn... though the only reason that's the case was because Sega Technical Institute's Sonic X-Treme was cancelled permanently following its disastrously hellish development so Sega commissioned Jon Burton and company to create this 32-bit edition also for the 1996 holiday gaming season. The end result is a game that is like the original 16-bit version in terms of overall gameplay, sound effects, structure, and layout (right down to the hidden nooks and crannies), but aesthetically is a totally new experience in the visual and music department.
It's fascinating to see a world map in a '90s Sonic action game, makes me think of Ancient's Sonic the Hedgehog Sega 8-bit editionThere are also a few things that were added in the Saturn version, like a world map, the present area map upon pausing the game, as well as new 3D rendered cutscenes for the intro and both endings.
My favorite Badniks in Sonic 3D Blast are the pufferfish, the pogo stick bunny, and the dragonI love the added touches Traveller's Tales gave to the areas Sonic roams through which augment the game's sense of atmosphere: like the digger moles working on the sidelines and animated flowers in Green Grove, the large Flicky statues and random floor tile that wobbles based on the direction Sonic runs on it from in Rusty Ruins and how occasionally it becomes misty and rains down, the frigid filter and flurry of snow in Diamond Dust, and the scorching red filter that lingers throughout Volcano Valley, et al. I knew the soundtrack was going to be completely different, I wasn't certain how I would feel about that because I like Jun Senoue's music in the original 16-bit version (especially the first Panic Puppet theme, which is an absolute banger) and was so used to it that I couldn't envision anything different beforehand.
Has a Sonic game ever had a bad soundtrack regardless of overall quality?Fortunately, I had nothing to be concerned about, because Richard Jacques' Saturn soundtrack is just as good, if not better in some spots. In fact, the more I listened while playing the more it grew on me (the game disc also doubles as a soundtrack, yes!). 😃 It complements the new aesthetic, plus there are a lot of good themes which I enjoy: Rusty Ruins Act 1 which is engrossingly soothing and atmospheric (the piano 😭), Spring Stadium Act 1 has got an elegant night club vibe about it, the special zone theme is catchy, the normal boss theme is intense (with more of that creepy hollowed laughter like in the American soundtrack of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog CD), and I love the leitmotifs of the main theme incorporated in the epic-sounding Volcano Valley Act 1 and Panic Puppet Act 2. My favorite themes are Diamond Dust Act 1 and Act 2, there's such an uplifting joyful instrumentation about them both that brings to mind Christmas. 🎅
Ukiyotei's Kuri Skunk/Punky Skunk on the PlayStation One is super underrated, unfairly shredded by American critics when localized in 1998 (because of "mascot platformer" burnout or some nonsense), and I'm like, "... What are you all talking about? It's not a bad game in the slightest!" 😕 There are far worse titles you could play on the PlayStation
Yeah, more 1996 video game Christmas vibes! 😄🎄
So, the very day I got Sonic 3D Blast on the Saturn something happened which caused it to completely stop. What happened was I defeated Dr. Robotnik at the end of Diamond Dust, and the moment his malfunctioning ship went upward the screen faded to white (as it's supposed to) and I was waiting to see the score screen. It never happened, it just froze there which made me a bit worried, so I turned it off. The next time I played it I got all the way to Diamond Dust, defeated Dr. Robotnik, was relieved to see the score screen, and the rest was history. I don't know what caused it to freeze like that earlier, but I was glad that there was nothing wrong with the game disc, it'd have been very upsetting if it turned out I had gotten a dud not even ten games in.
The Special Zones in the Saturn version are very different than they were in the original MegaDrive/Genesis Sonic 3D Blast, and at first glance they seem like a 3D recreation of the Special Zones you'd find in Sega Technical Institute's Sonic the Hedgehog 2. They are better implemented here, though, with a neat sense of 3D design, bountiful usage of color,
have got good draw distance, occasionally throw a curveball at you with the swirls and springboards and deviously laid out spikes, and they do present more of a challenge compared to the Special Zones in the original 16-bit Sonic 3D Blast (which were super easy there). Those are fun detours from the main game while they last.
You can tell where Christian Whitehead found his main source of influence when it came to recreating the 32-bit aesthetic for the Special Zones in Sonic Mania. I realize it's a cliché to say this, but I do think it is the best out of the recent batch of Sonic games in the franchise.
I do feel bad for Tails and Knuckles just having to stand in their spot while waiting with abated breath (regardless of whether or not it's in vain) for Sonic to come to either one of them with fifty-plus rings so he can be granted access to the Special Zone. 🙁 Welp, it's a good thing this is the franchise that it is,
if it was any other series they'd both show Sonic a piece of their mind the moment this venture is over for giving them the task of waiting.
Sonic 3D Blast has always been regarded as one of those love it or hate it entries in the Sonic franchise, and not without good reason. Going too fast will easily cost you your rings, let alone cause the Flickies to scatter from you if you're not careful so you'll have to take them back to your group (the red ones are annoying if they're scattered because they bounce in a randomly directed arc and I'm like, "No, get back here!"), the isometric controls can be rather wonky in spots, and you're reduced to dilute your sense of speed if you wish to prolong your survival (which is not generally the goal of your average Sonic game).
It definitely is not devoid of issues, and yet I like Sonic 3D Blast. 😃 I could've done without the loading every time you clear a Special Zone and after you lost a life, but I think on the whole it's pleasurably fun so long as I go at a mindful pace and don't get carried away (there's no penalty for taking longer than ten minutes), there is a likable charm, and I really appreciated what Traveller's Tales tried to accomplish with this game. Between this and Sonic R, I consider this the better of the two, and anyone who's said either game was the British developer's worst effort
A tremendously sad waste of potential, a sad waste of 60 frames per second, a sad waste of the talents of Jim Henson's Creature Shop as well as the Blythe-Joustra composing duo, all undone by lack of forethought on Psygnosis' side; whereas Core Design's Tomb Raider and (in my opinion) Argonaut Software's Croc: Legend of the Gobbos made a good case for 3D tank control platformers, Rascal represents a case of how not to do 3D tank control platformers
has obviously never played Rascal, their true nadir. But even then, that PlayStation One 3D platforming misfire wasn't really their fault so much as that of their publisher Psygnosis.
Screengrabbed and cropped while watching NintendoComplete's Mickey's Wild Adventure gameplay video on YouTube; "Get out of here, alternative Rodney Matthews tanuki logo design, you ain't working in this joint again!"... or should I say "Pygnosis"?
Preemptive karma for Rascal or simply an unfortunate case of the programmer not paying attention with the copyright information?Stupid Pygnosis! 😒
Even though I've only been acquainted with this version of Sonic 3D Blast for two months now, I honestly prefer it to the original 16-bit version, if only by a small margin, and I think the added aesthetic touches helped with that. I know it's got its problems, I don't pretend it doesn't have any, I simply choose not to let them bother me so much. Glad I caught up with this version. 😃
So on July 5th I got the game disc by itself on a blank average sized jewel case (because I didn't want to spend more than what I thought necessary for the game), nearly a month later on August 4th I got the repro case for Sonic 3D Blast which I feel is a much better home for it (and is the least amount of money I spent on anything Saturn-based)... as for the blank jewel case, I recycled it. I decided it doesn't matter whether I get the Saturn game in a jewel case or in a repro case, what's more important is if the game disc is in good condition. A nice thing to add to my collection, haha... 😄 ...... *gaaaasp* 😲 Oh my God!
A '90s Sonic game I own in physical format as opposed to having access to it on a compilation or as an unlockable? Amazing!!! 🤯 Can't believe it took until 31 to get to that point.
On the back of the manual for Sega's Clockwork Knight was an advert for a fellow stand-in for Sonic until his big Saturn appearance, Realtime Associates' platformer Bug!, which was my eighth Saturn game which I got on July 16th. Let's see now...
The context isn't even canine, what in the world?! This was seriously typed in the back of the North American version's jewel case"Bug! Knows Action!" Oh no, not a big ego! "The plot: bit--" 👀 "Bitchy"? "Bitchy"??? 😲
The whiplash, my God!!! They only wanted to put that in there for shock value, didn't they? It worked. Oh well, Bug is not the first character in a game to say #$%&* at least...
The text may be censored, but the audio is not; only applicable in the PlayStation One versionthat would be Eric Idle. 😆 A secret so well-hidden in Teeny Weeny Games and Perfect 10 Productions' Discworld that it took nearly twenty years after its 1995 release for it to be discovered, mainly due the obscure set of commands used to bring that up.
Discworld II was also released on the Sega Saturn, but only in Europe; the second Discworld point-and-click graphic adventure is my favorite of the two due to it not being as difficult as the firstI love how in Perfect Entertainment's Discworld II: Missing Presumed...!?/Mortality Bytes! there is a secret Easter egg where Discworld II Rincewind briefly transports himself to the start of the first game (recreated aesthetic and everything) and meets Discworld Rincewind, as well as the fact that there is an obscure way to reference the first game's well-hidden secret with a remark on how it had yet to be discovered. The Discworld games are very amusing due to the funny writing and dialogue they have (or rather the straight manner in which the often bizarre dialogue is delivered makes them amusing). 🤭
I'm sorry, I realize I'm stalling, it's just... I didn't find Bug! to be all that enjoyable of a game. 😔 I'm just going to say it right now, it is the weakest out of the Saturn games I own (I don't really have much nice to say about it). How do I describe Bug!'s gameplay? I suppose one way to go about it is to say that it's like a precursor to the kind of platformer defined by Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot games (you know, the prolonged tracking shot platformer),
except without the diagonal movement controls as you only move in a square pattern, and it lacks any of the fun and charm and polish of the aforementioned classic series. The gameplay lacks polish (which is not aided by the uneven camera) and as a result feels very cheap a lot of the time, so you always have to move on your defensive to not lose health quickly. I found Bug to be so annoying with his cocky smugness and myriad of obnoxious audio bytes any time he sustains damage or disposes of an enemy and how ever so frequently they're spoken, I'm glad there's the option to turn the voices off to retain a sense of sanity.
Transpiring in a series of movie sets, you contend with a random assortment of insects, reptiles, amphibians, and so forth as you collect crystals along the way and occasionally find things to aid Bug the movie star like a zap attack through his antennas which drains with each usage, an unlimited spew attack to spit out projectiles at your foes, and a blue helmet which will summon a stunt bug and momentarily render you impervious to enemy attack. Getting one hundred-plus crystals in all three scenes will take you to a dragonfly round after defeating the present movie set's boss and should you find a coin after a thorough search and give it to Daddy-O Longlegs you'll be given access to a bonus stage (each different from the last, most entailing collecting as many Bug-like statuettes as you can in the allotted time you're given) and once it's over it acts as your current checkpoint.
And in that Sega Technical Institute Sonic the Hedgehog 3 sprite design I was never fond of, too, I might be mistaken but is this his first Saturn appearance?
It's... sad when the best thing Bug! has got going for it is a random cameo from Sonic the Hedgehog as you race against him in one of its bonus segments.
For Realtime Associates' sake, I hope this was a case of them being rushed by Sega, because that is just unacceptable design without any feasible workaroundTell me if this sounds like fair game design: a ways in to the first level of Splot! you have to jump on a platform but there is a frog on the other end which is the only path forward, but the moment you land on it the frog will immediately hop towards you with no ample time to react therefore knocking you backwards (not just any annoying knockback effect, but the infuriating kind where you're rendered helpless and immobile until you fall towards the ground or out of bounds), and with no possible way to spew a projectile towards it without getting closer and risking falling down the gap because the controls are unpolished. ... Who play tested and considered this well thought-out design, hmm? 🤨 That's where I draw a line.
In the system memory it shows a save for Bug!, taking up two blocks, which makes it absolute madness to have to go through the trouble of inputting a code just to pick up your present progressThere is an area select code which helps (for what it's worth): on the title screen once you see "Start Game" and "Options" press B, A, B, Y, down, right, A, left shoulder button, down, then press Start to bring up this screen (and in the game to proceed to the next scene press the left shoulder button and up simultaneously). Honestly, I was hoping it wouldn't have to get to this, but it beats the prospect of having to play through the game in one sitting in the span of three to four hours...
I hope that with my recent review of The Illusions Gaming Company's Blazing Dragons I helped manage to raise peoples' awareness of it, such an endearing and underrated game 😃I wish that was hyperbole, from what I gathered it is not. 😔
To give it credit, I did like how each set had a differently designed checkpoint: like the blooming flower in Insectia, a flashy fish motif sign in Quaria, and the snowman in BurrbsI guess it stings because I kind of was aware what I was walking into but wanted to keep an open mind going in, and I still ended up disappointed. There have been plenty of video games I played where they had an overall polarizing reception which I ended up liking despite what problems they may have had and being aware of said problems not letting them affect my enjoyment on the whole, but Bug! was sadly not one of them.
As a showcase for the Saturn's technical capabilities, I guess it does its job fine. The prerendered spritework is okay, though I got more annoyed whenever I saw Bug's death animations due to their frequent nature given the game's lack of polish and balance in the proceedings, and the cutscenes look well-rendered enough (they're not all that exciting to watch, though, as Bug walks from one set to another without interacting with anyone as the camera follows him from differing angles, and in a later cutscene he even walks under a ladder which is ill-boding if he believes in superstitions). The less said about its game over screen, the better.
This game got a sequel... but Sega's own Ristar didn't? Sega genuinely thought this unpolished and unbalanced game had franchise potential? Steven Spielberg, the GOAT who's a great filmmaker as well as a great human being, endorsed this game to get people excited about the Sega Saturn console? ... *gives out a prolonged sigh as the world turns upside down, loses color, and time starts moving at a deliriously slow pace as I ponder these real, unironic scenarios* 😞But I want to be fair, I don't want to judge
Much like the back of Sega's Clockwork Knight's manual had an advert for Bug!, so too did the back of Bug!'s manual feature an advert for Clockwork Knight. The circle is now complete, only wish they didn't differ all that much in quality. "You won't believe these are just toys! ...especially when they kick your butt!" It's awfully cute of it to confuse itself for Traveller's Tales' Toy Story. ... 😏 Aw, I'm so mean.
Why bother putting in Super Game Boy support if you're only going to enhance the sound and colorize the logo screens without altering the color palette for each level as well?It's not that Toy Story is even a bad game--unless we're talking about Tiertex's Game Boy version (in which case yeah, it's all bad)--
it's just that compared to Puggsy and Mickey Mania it doesn't measure up in my opinion plus its high difficulty can be a bit much at points. But hey, at least there's more fun and charm to be had playing Toy Story than Realtime Associates' Bug! could ever provide.
Naturally, after the negative experience I've had with my eighth Saturn game, I wanted to follow it up with something that was going to have a positive effect and was hoping would be fun to play.
Sega release Team Andromeda's postapocalyptic fantasy rail shooter Panzer Dragoon, my ninth Saturn game which I received on August 26th, was something I found to be more satisfying and enjoyable. 😃 Not perfect, but it was definitely something I needed after ... the previous Saturn game I played. I am aware of MegaPixel Studio's 2020 remake, and under any other circumstance I would've probably downloaded it on the Nintendo Switch... if it wasn't for the fact that it wasn't received well (mostly due to performance issues, which I hear have since been patched) but something in the back of my head told me if I was going to have the best Panzer Dragoon experience it was probably going to be on the original system it came out in. It's a good day to be a Saturn owner. 😁
I apologize if the screenshots I took for this game aren't interesting, I took them all yesterday (9/9/22) and wanted to be on time for today's Random Saturnday upload (9/10/22) 😔
Panzer Dragoon has got fascinatingly conceived environments for its postapocalyptic setting (in particular the water submerged first episode and arid desert with the giant sandworms leaping and towering over you in the second episode), and as a showcase for the Saturn handling 3D landscapes it looks largely impressive for the time it came out. I love the animation of the blue dragon Keil Fluge rides on (whether it be on neutral camera mode, close camera mode, or distant camera mode) with the graceful way it flies, glides along, and flaps its wings, and there's a variety of enemies to contend with such as the creatively designed enemy fleets, the sandworms and leaping horrors inside the desert caves, laser firing enemies, and the Dark Dragon is huge, just to name some.
On default Panzer Dragoon runs at 20 frames per second, but there is a code where you can increase it to 30 frames per second (I think) by enabling Wizard mode (left shoulder button, right shoulder button, left shoulder, right shoulder, up, down, up, down, left, right on the title screen), and the difference in speed is palpable!
The gameplay is good as you aim your reticle and fire at the targets, or to deal more damage at once you can hold down the firing button over more enemies at once and let go to amass the dragon's fire breath on all locked-on targets. This is the kind of rail shooter where your enemies will attempt to attack you from all sides, which makes it very handy that you can make Keil turn in any direction 360 degrees with the dragon radar being a very helpful indicator of the enemies' direction and vicinity in relation to you. Things do heat up the farther you go along, and on easy mode the game stops at the end of the fourth episode whereas the rest is accessed in the subsequent difficulties.
... of course, both speed settings have their own sets of pros and cons about them; sure, things are faster on Wizard (including the reticle moving) but it lacks the synchronization of the music as the normal speed and certain targets are hard to lock on because of this, which makes the normal speed the ideal one to play despite the comparative slownessThe late Yoshitaka Azuma's soundtrack perfectly complements each environment that you fly and battle your way through, and what makes it neat is that it's succinctly synchronized with the action and the pacing, also Panzer Dragoon is yet another game disc that doubles as a soundtrack CD which is always a plus. 😃 The standout track for me is the first episode theme as it blends together perfectly with the water-submerged area with a breathtakingly orchestral flair, and while everything else is well composed I'd be remiss if I didn't feel that they largely work best when heard in conjunction with the visuals as opposed to when listened to on their own. I even recognized a couple of sound effects that would be used in Sega's Astal, mainly the dragon's wail upon sustaining damage.
With this game I learned, by accident, that pressing the A, B, C, and Start buttons simultaneously will do a soft reset and take you back to the title screen, so I was very mindful of that whenever I rapid fired by tapping all three buttons in quick succession at once with all three fingers. Even though the rail shooter genre is not one I'm good at or excel at generally (except, maybe, HAL Laboratory's HyperZone but up to a point in a subsequent loop or two), Panzer Dragoon is a fun ride on the whole, but I will say it is very difficult to play (at least the North American version I own, place your bets on whether Sega of America was involved with that, they have a track record for this). As much as I try, there are certain times when I have a hard time evading enemy fire especially in the middle episodes (Episode 5 onward is when you're truly being tested), but I guess that's where some of its appeal stems from and I respect that. It's a good game and worthy of classic status, I'm glad I got to be acquainted with it. 😃 Bring on Panzer Dragoon II Zwei!
With Panzer Dragoon, Astal is no longer the highest amount of money I spent on a Saturn game on eBay (the copy I got of that one was roughly $60-something). Ever since I decided to embark on a journey with the Saturn, I have been a bit bolder with my purchases than I ever have been in the past, though I will admit... I was kinda desperate in this case because every other copy I saw was either incomplete or surpassed $100 (both of which were a no-no), so I got what I felt was one of the least costly copies of the first Panzer Dragoon in a repro case. Even so, it was way over my spending limit (more so than normal). It was worth it, but I think I'll wait until I get some eBay gift cards before spending that high amount on a game again.
My personal Sega Saturn ranking:
Tomb Raider > Astal > Croc: Legend of the Gobbos > Panzer Dragoon > Clockwork Knight 2 > Clockwork Knight > Sonic 3D Blast > Solar Eclipse > Bug!Check it out, guys, my Sega Saturn collection is growing! 😃 I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on the newest games I got for it since last time, it's nice to do these kinds of posts.
Eight hits, one miss, that's a good ratio I thinkRealtime Associates' Bug! notwithstanding, my Sega Saturn experience has been a positive one and I look forward to exploring more Saturn content little by little. Though some of the more expensive games I'll reserve for Christmas or my birthday.
Here's my present Saturn wish list (not all):
● Baku Baku - Sega's animal-themed falling block puzzler
● Fighting Vipers - Sega's 3D one-on-one tournament fighter
● Legend of Oasis, The - Ancient's top-down action adventure game, prequel to Beyond Oasis
● Off-World Interceptor Extreme - Crystal Dynamics' vehicular car combat game (I just have to know if it lives up to its M rating, because it seems too good to be true)
● Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Team Andromeda's second postapocalyptic fantasy rail shooter on account that I enjoyed the original
● Shining Wisdom - Camelot Software Planning's top-down action adventure game, I never played a Shining game so I'm curious about this one (I did play Climax Entertainment's Landstalker, but that doesn't count as a Shining game despite starting off development as an iteration of that series)
● Steep Slope Sliders - Cave's snowboarding game, I'm in the mood for video game snowboarding fun
● Virtua Fighter - Sega's 3D one-on-one tournament fighter, and the first of its kind
If you're a Saturn owner and/or connoisseur, if there are any games I've not listed that you recommend I look into, I might take it into consideration (no FPS games). What games will join my collection next? Until next time, everyone, take care! 👋
● Since I brought those games up, I'm in love with the fact that the two Discworld point-and-click graphic adventure games starring Rincewind and Interactive Studios' Glover share the same composer, Rob Lord. I just never expected that.
Thank you for reading my Random Saturnday post, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think (neither spam nor NSFW is allowed); hope you have a great day, be a nice human, and take care! 😃