Unfortunately for my review, the top 50-41 games on Retro Sanctuary are mostly multiplayer focused games. With a regular fighting game, a tank fighting game (that's more like Worms than anything else), and two puzzlers. Other than that, there are two Shmups, a PC port of a simulator, and a Lightgun Rail Shooter.
Of these games, I only extensively played and reviewed the JRPG, Albert Odyssey. As for the rest, I gave the games that were not Japan-exclusive a spin to check them out and wrote a brief report on each one.
50- Croc: Legend of the Gobbos (1997):
Originally pitched as a 3D Yoshi game for Nintendo, Croc eventually became its own IP when the pitch fell through. This game is actually a well-known game on the PSOne. It served as one of the few 3D platformer games on that console, and by virtue of the success and reputation of Super Mario 64 and the lack of anything like it on that console, Croc became a considerable success on that platform.
Little known is the fact that the game was also released on the Saturn. That's probably because the game sold a fraction of its sales on that console. Also, the game suffers from a myriad of control issues and the 3D isn't as good.
Regardless of its Saturn specific shortcomings, Croc is really one of the weakest titles in the 3D mascot platformers of the era. It does not compare favorably to Nintendo's or Rare's output at all and is outclassed by others on the PSOne. Yet, by virtue of being one of the very few games of that genre on the Saturn, it probably is the best one.
49-The House of the Dead (1998):
There are no two ways about it, The House of the Dead was a brilliant comeback of the Lightgun genre back in the arcades, and that's really the best place to experience it. Home ports such as the Saturn version do not have the same magic, and cannot be enjoyed today without having access to a CRT TV and a light gun.
Still, this is the place to talk about how the cheesy B-Movie plot of the game makes it such a good game. With its plot of a mad scientist gone rogue and the main characters who include a character named "G", it just makes for a hilarious set-up. Especially because everyone is so damn serious about the whole thing.
I already mentioned it in my review of the game, but this game looked and sounded like it could have been a classic. Yet, its basic gameplay structure, serious loading issues, and lack of any side quests, all compiled to make this a very middling game. Coupled with a localization the is, to say the least, misguided at every point, gave me a very bad impression.
Sure, the 2D sprites look great, with some cool animation. Hell, the backgrounds and even the city designs were all very good. Musically, there are even some orchestrated songs that I like listening to even now. Yet, the sum of the game is less than its parts, even relegating an otherwise good if basic story into a cliched mess.
47- Magical Drop 3 (1997):
At a glance, the Magical Drop series does not look different from other match-the-color puzzler games like the Bust a Move series. However, once you get into the mechanics, it shows itself as a completely different beast. Unlike many puzzlers, where you introduce new elements into the field, you use the elements already in the field here.
For example, as the colored orbs go down the screen, you attract same-colored orbs down and throw them back up again to make some connections. It makes for some fast and furious puzzle action that the West has rarely encountered.
That's because games like Magical Drop 3 on the Saturn never got ported west. Outside of its unique mechanics, this game also had more content than the usual puzzler, even though a lot of it is just cosmetic. For instance, there are many "characters" to choose from, but that's only a cosmetic change on the puzzle background.
46- Sexy Parodius (1996):
The title of the game might give it away, but Sexy Parodius is not a very serious game. Made by Konami as a parody of their own famous Gradius series, this is a Shmup that takes place in a crazy surrealistic world that is focused on being, well, sexy.
That's not to say that the game ever gets into AE territory. It's all a bunch of fan-service material with some risque appeal, not outright nudity. Between levels, you are "rewarded" with a still image that has the slightest hint of an exposed breast or something, but always something that isn't even softcore.
As for the game itself, this is simply Gradius with a different skin. Meaning that the Shmup mechanics are well-tested, and is considered a classic of the genre. However, the style of this parody may turn even fans of the genre off, as the sights and sounds can get really annoying. Needless to say, this game was not ported West.
45- Theme Park (1995):
Does anyone think that a Sim game like the famous Theme Park would play any better on consoles rather than PC? No, then good.
44- Samurai Shodown IV (1997):
Here is another excellent fighting game released on the Saturn but never ported west. The Samurai Shodown series is known for its tactical and deadly weapon-based fighting system, and the fourth entry in the series was considered a return to form after the disappointing third game.
With its beautiful 2D artwork, from its excellent 2D sprites and expressive animations to absolutely lovely backgrounds, this game showcases the good work of SNK and the capability of the Saturn in rendering 2D graphics.
Unfortunately, such an excellent fighting game was not released West at the time.
43- Death Tank Zwei (1997):
Of all the games on this list, Death Tank Zwei is unique in the fact that it is not actually a full retail release. It is actually released as a bonus game with the Saturn version of PowerSlave. Yet, anyone who bought that game would probably have enjoyed DTZ more. Even though it has very rough-looking graphics and little to no soundtrack.
This is actually a fun game to play with friends. Each with their own tank, you play in a 2D field and throw artillery shells like in a Worms game, but in real-time. Also like Worms, the field gets destroyed with everyone's attacks.
Of course, the game has little in terms of story or any extra modes, and without friends, it is not worth looking into. A newer, more polished version of the game was released in Xbox Live Arcade as well.
42- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996):
As you can guess from the name, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (SPFII) is a puzzler parody of the famous fighting game. Based on Capcom's well-known Baku Baku Animal puzzler games, this is a simpler spin-off with Street Fighter II fighting game aesthetic plastered on it. There is little to the Street Fighter influence other than the chibi versions of well-known characters like Ryu and Chun-Li, and the cute fighting moves they perform when you pull off some cool puzzle combos.
For fans of the genre, this has always been considered a really good multiplayer Puzzler, but I don't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed other match-the-color games like the ubiquitous Bust a Move series. Here, you drop a pair of colored tiles trying to match tiles with the same color. However, they only break when they connect with a special "crash" piece that causes the entire connected series to break. The emphasis here is in carefully arranging your "crash" pieces and tiles in order to form a long chain, all the while dealing with your competition that is sending junk pieces to your court.
This, in my opinion, leads to a lot of luck based gameplay, as you can never predict what color "crash" pieces you are getting next, and that leaves much of the strategy that you would otherwise employ in a game like Tetris out of the window.
41- DoDonPachi (1997):
This is exactly the type of game that I know I can never get really good at. Just looking at it in action is very cool, with bullets covering all parts of the screen while you desperately try to thread your way through hell. It is just too stressful for me, as bullet hell shooters are a huge step ahead of regular Shmups which I am already bad at.
For fans of the genre, DoDonPachi is a well-known title with some fast and action-packed gameplay in top of some impressive 2D visuals and a killer soundtrack. With three ships to choose from, each with two different shooting styles, as well as the multiple difficulty levels, the race for that high score will be different every time.
This report is a consolidated review of the top 100 list by Retro Sanctuary. It features the reviews I made for the list but also has a brief paragraph about each game in the list that I didn't review. For games without an official review, the opinions I express are purely based on some little playing time and general research about the game and its reception at the time.