Sega Saturn Love

Especially but not limited to pre-2000 titles
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greg
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Sega Saturn Love

Post by greg »

So who here has a Saturn? When it first came out, I didn't think much of it because Sega management seemed hell-bent on making the console suck. I bought a Playstation instead. It wasn't until around 1997 when I discovered a shmup called Gunbird in the arcade. I played that and Power Instinct 2 that night in the arcade, both distributed by Jaleco. I e-mailed the company and asked their customer relations department if they were ever going to release those two games on the Playstation. The man who replied said that Jaleco only released the coin-op versions of these games in the USA, and that both had already been published by Atlus in Japan. He said that Power Instinct 2 was released on the Playstation in Japan and was not going to be released in the US. He said the same for Gunbird on the Saturn. He told me that if I am into such games, he recommended me to get a Saturn and start importing games for it. He was the first to tell me that the Japanese Saturn is a veritable treasure trove of fantastic 2D games.

Around that time, the game store chain Software Etc (which had been owned by Waldenbooks and was bought out by EB Games and then finally Game Stop, IIRC) had given up on Saturn and started carrying import Saturn games. People were fed up with Sega's lamebrain decisions at the time by keeping all sorts of fantastic games in Japan and assuming that all we cared about were sports games. You could get games like X-Men vs Street Fighter at their store in the mall... for a very expensive price.

In Gilbert, AZ, there is (was?) a store called Game Zone that specialized in imports. There I saw some fantastic games like Elevator Action Returns. In the summer of 1998, They had the Macross: DYRL shmup for only about $20, so I snagged it. I joked with the owner of the store, "Gee, all I need now is a Saturn to play it on!" He asked if I cared to buy one, but I said that I would soon be going to Japan for a month and couldn't afford one. So he offered me a killer deal on a used Saturn, and I ended up buying it, along with an ST-Key cartridge to play imports. Then a bit later when I left for Japan in July, I bought Gunbird and some other Saturn games, such as Puzzle Bobble 3 and Strikers 1945.

Like the SNES, the Saturn was so easy to play imports on! By using a cartridge, you can bypass the region lockout code and play imports. Eventually, after I had lived in Japan for a while, I went ahead and just got a white Japanese Saturn because I only owned a few US games for the console. Several years ago, I gave my black American Saturn to my friend for his birthday as well as some of the games for it.

My most recent Saturn purchase was the controller for Densha De Go. I'd bought the game for only a hundred yen several months back, but I waited until I had the controller to play it. While it is fun, the graphics are pretty terrible. The train tracks flicker off and on, revealing the ground texture instead. The gameplay is good, but unfortunately the port wasn't handled by Taito themselves, but instead Takara (not known for good video game programming). It's pretty fun, if you're a train maniac. I've actually learned the basics of how to control a train, with the throttle and brakes. You get bonus points for sounding the horn before entering tunnels (and crossing bridges, I think). My daughter likes screeching to a sudden stop because a window pops up, showing a woman passenger lose grip of the rings and fall over, legs up. Just keeping with your schedule is demanding enough, let alone bringing the train to a stop right at the mark and not going past it.

So what are your favorite Saturn games and memories? For me, after that first trip to Japan in 1998, I would have my girlfriend (who had been my pen pal before that trip, and later became my wife) buy Saturn games for me. I think it was the summer of 1999 when she sent me some games I'd asked her to buy for me. One was Radiant Silvergun, which she bought for only 3,000 yen in used-but-mint condition! Another was Asuka 120%, a fun all-female fighting game. I had her mail them to my friend's place in San Diego where I was staying for a couple of weeks. My friend and I played those games like crazy that trip. (I used to vist him each summer and we would attend the San Diego Comic Con together).

There's a YouTube channel called Game Sack that covers various retro gaming topics. Their video on the Saturn was pretty great, and their "Left In Japan" series covers some other great Saturn games. If you look up "100 import-only Saturn games in 10 minutes", you can find the video I made.
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ParaParaJMo
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by ParaParaJMo »

My brother got a Saturn for like $50 back in 1997 at Best Buy. They were slowly dying out in America. I used to live walking distance near GameZone back in high school. That store is still around. The first import games I bought for Saturn were Dragon Ball Z Legends and X-Men vs Street Fighter. Man, I played those games to death. And when I first moved to Japan in 06, I stocked up on Saturn games like crazy, mostly especially getting Burning Rangers and Panzer Dragoon RPG.

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greg
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by greg »

When I first moved to Japan in 2000, there was a chain of stores in Himeji that was liquidating their Saturn games for 1000 yen each. ALL of them were a thousand yen. I bought so many games that way, but I wish I knew then what I know now! Some of those games are extremely expensive now. I passed up Sengoku Blade at the time, not knowing what to expect from it. I didn't buy it until much later, and it cost a lot more. I could be mistaken, but it's possible that the very expensive Hyper Duel was there, too. I didn't even know what it was at the time.

My 100 Saturn games video is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhmhqZZGlIU

I've done one other Saturn video. It's a translation of cut scenes from Sengoku Blade:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA8-3qNLdqY
Not all of them, but just the ones between two characters I found to be rather funny.
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ParaParaJMo
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by ParaParaJMo »

Great video.

Speaking of the gamezone owner and an old family friend, Trevor, he actually passed away back in 2010. He was having some major legal issues, disappeared back in 09, found him six months later in Flagstaff and took his life.

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greg
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by greg »

Yes, I heard about that. I know exactly the legal problem he was guilty of, and he got himself into the situation by his own poor judgment. So he was a family friend of yours? His poor ol' mom kept the store going long after he was incarcerated.

There was another Game Zone, located in North Phoenix, that was only loosely affiliated with the original store. It was fun while it lasted. They had plenty of nice retro gaming stuff there.

My sister and her husband always appreciated Trevor for the way he would kick the stupid little parasitic punkass kids from his store. It's not like those types of kids ever buy anything anyway.
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ParaParaJMo
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by ParaParaJMo »

I also remember buying the English version to Magic Knight Rayearth at Gamezone at the end of 1998 when it came out. I was told it was the last official US released Saturn game ever so I had to get it. It was supposed to come out in 1995, but the data got all fucked up and had to start from scratch again which royally sucks. I also remember buying the Japanese version of Dragon Ball Final Bout there. I remember one of the old workers there laughed at people who bought the English version for like $350 or so on ebay when they gold the Japanese version for like $35. Plus, the Japanese version had the lyrical version to "The Biggest Fight."

Anyway, I also have the Sailor Moon saturn game. It was also on PSX, but the Saturn version has animated cut scenes. I have bought countless 1,000 yen game packs with like 50 games but haven't had a chance to play them yet. I usually binge shop around holiday season, bring the games home with me, and play what I can. I intend on staying in japan for a long time, but I move around a lot and I like to pack and bring as little as possible.

The next game I want is Hayate and Time Gal. Sengoku Blade I will also get. After that, I feel my Saturn collection is more or less complete.


The North Phoenix wasn't loosely affiliated with the main store. Trevor owned it too and worked there from time to time.

Joanne, Trevor's mom and some other people are still running the store. Last time I went home, some black guy was working there from what I recall. As for what Trevor did, knowing him for so long, I just couldn't imagine he did what he did and shortly after they found him, his father died as well.

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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by greg »

Wow, you're sure Trevor owned the North Phoenix Game Zone location? I never saw him there. There were these two guys who were always there, and from talking to them, I took it that they were the owners. They tried distancing themselves from the Gilbert location when I brought up that subject.

So how is the Sailor Moon game on the Saturn? I know that the 3DO game really sucks. The Sailor Moon fighting games on the SFC weren't too bad, but the first two (the Final Fight-type brawlers) were better. It's a shame that the Sailor Moon brawler game for the arcade was never released on the Saturn. It was pretty awesome.

The one expensive Saturn purchase I wish to make next is Stellar Assault SS. It seems to play like a Colony Wars/Rogue Squadron-type of space shooter. It typically goes for about 8,000 yen on both YAJ and Akihabara. A local game shop in the next town over has Sonic Council for 5,000 yen, and that is tempting.
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ParaParaJMo
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by ParaParaJMo »

Yeah, Trevor and his family did own it from what I remember. Joanne sometimes worked there and so did my friend Sean. That store was only open for a small number of years but they closed it down because they upped the rent on it. I heard that is why a lot of stores in Superstition Springs mall were also closing because they were upping the rent a lot.

The Saturn Sailor Moon game is just like the ps1 game. Very stiff but a novelty item for fans for the most part. I also own the beat em up games for Super Famicom and for Megadrive.

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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by greg »

I understand that the Sailor Moon game on the MD is the same as the first one on the SFC, and that while it looks better and sounds better, there is no two player option as with the SFC version.

I think my friend had the Sailor Moon game for the PS1 and I thought it looked pretty awful. Another turd was the Ranma 1/2 game for the PS1, which tried to be like Tekken and failed. I understand that the Dragonball Z fighting games for the Saturn and PS1 were not as nice as the SFC ones either. I've seen screens of these, and even though the characters are floating in the sky, their legs look like they're standing on invisible ground.

An incredible flying fighting game is Astra Superstars on the Saturn. It is very frantic and easy to play.
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Re: Sega Saturn Love

Post by usamimi »

I always wanted a Saturn, but could never afford it. They had so many cool Japanese/anime/RPG/etc games for it! I had a friend who had one, she'd let me come over and we'd take turns playing the Rayearth game. XD

Someone brought the Sailor Moon game to one of my HS anime club meetings back in the day...it was ok for it's time, but making everyone 3D was a huge mistake--it made everyone look really awkward and clunky. :lol: But things like that, so I guess that's what everyone expected? I much preferred the SNES games, or even the PC-Engine ones, because they looked more like the actual anime.
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