At the top 30 games mark, the Retro Sanctuary Top Saturn games list must be expected to deliver some stellar games. Based on the three games I gave in-depth reviews off, I can say that all of these games may be historically important in one way, but not all of them are worth playing today. One of the best games I played on the system, Guardian Heroes, even has a modern remaster that unfortunately devalues playing the original game.
Maybe I am not qualified to write a report about these 10 games since the best of the lot are Japanese-only Shmups, but I can write enough about them for anyone interested in playing such ports. One clear thing is that many of the Saturn's best games were never ported west, especially many of the games that fans of the system still celebrate today.
30- Worms (1996):
At this stage, there is nothing new to say about Worms, a classic that appeared in nearly every console beginning with the Amiga and ending with the iOS; although it wouldn't surprise anyone if to continued being ported forward again and again. If you think about it, why not? The first Worms game, with its special humor and deep and exciting gameplay, is as iconic as the Lemmings games that inspired it.
The only thing that a Saturn owner would have wanted to know is how the port holds up on the system, and the answer is: it is a really good port.
The best thing I can say about Guardian Heroes is that I greatly enjoyed it despite not being a fan of Beat 'em Ups. Being one of the first games in the genre that introduced light RPG elements and an adventure with multiple paths, this game is another feather in Treasure's bonnet in that era. Truly, I enjoyed it enough that I finished it several times.
However, the elephant in the room is whether this version of the game is worth playing at al?
Since the game was remastered on Xbox Live, there exists an undoubtedly better version of the game. One that resolves some of the issues in the base game while building upon its best traits. Normally, I wouldn't even review a game that was remastered or fully remade; the only reason that I made this review is that I didn't know the remaster existed. Yet, I ended up enjoying the game, and I hope it gives anyone reading the review a slight push to try the Xbox Live version.
28- Darkstalker 3: Vampire Savior (1998): Japan Only
Again, the better Arcade port doesn't get a Western release. Like many of Capcom's other excellent 2D fighting games, Darkstalker 3 was only ported West on the PS1. It seems like the Saturn simply was not a priority for many Japanese developers as they saw its fortunes dwindling in North America.
Of course, the game itself is a well-known and respected 2D fighter. Even though the franchise never gained the critical or commercial acclaim of other Capcom fighters, it still had (and has) a dedicated fanbase both in consoles and in arcades.
27- Virtual On: Cyber Troopers (1996):
This is one of those strange one-off games that frequently showed up in all fifth-generation consoles, even requiring a special twin-stick controller for its unique gameplay (at the time). Basically, this is basically a tech-demo for your typical 3rd Person shooter, but with an emphasis on player vs. player action rather than player vs. enemies.
Originally made for the Arcades (where the one-off concept is par the course), the Saturn version deserves some credit for being as faithful as possible, even if the result is not something very fun to play these days.
26- Batsugun (1996): Japan Only
This is the kind of game that inspires Saturn enthusiasts; a Japanese import of a difficult as hell but smooth as butter Bullet Hell Shmup game that I wouldn't be able to beat if I went back in time 10 years to review it for this blog. Simply, this is a straight forward vertical shooter where bullets rain on you and the slightest mistake can end your run.
Where it excels is in its crisp visuals, excellent framerate, smooth gameplay, and some bloody good tunes.
25- Mega Man X4 (1997):
This game requires no introduction. Personally, it's my favorite Mega Man game and is exceptionally good wherever you end up playing it. Except, the debate between the PS1 and the Saturn version favors the PS1 version in an unlikely shift. Usually, 2D games look and perform better marginally better on the Saturn. However, in this case, Capcom clearly developed the game with the PS1 in mind and then ported it to Sega's console.
The result is not a vastly inferior port. After all, there is nothing inferior about Mega Man X4. With the introduction of Zero, this is game definitely worth playing twice as each protagonist offers a differing gameplay experience. It doesn't hurt that the game has an outstanding combination of excellent graphics, great music, challenging difficulty, and rocking boss battles.
Still, you wouldn't buy the Saturn for this game when the PS1 already has it.
24- Command & Conquer (1996):
Command & Conquer is a great RTS game that was pioneering in the genre and subsequently ported everywhere. No port is better than the original PC version or the updated PC version, as all of them suffered from the usual control shortcomings of using a controller in lieu of a mouse and keyboard.
The Sega Saturn's version was no different in that regard.
If I were a Saturn owner, I would have probably enjoyed Shining the Holy Ark. It is rich in content, and it looked new and amazing at the time. Yet now, there is little pushing me to finish it.
Even though it doesn't avoid the curse of early 3D RPGs, it is not incredibly ugly either. Somehow, the fact that it is a first-person RPG both contribute to its mediocrity and save us from what could have been an uglier and blander game.
Even with a story that isn't at all bad, it manages to push things very far with its poor pacing and very long dungeons, actively working against its best assets, concluding with a game that probably wasn't bad at the time but is surely not fun to play now.
Burning Rangers is an innovative game that hedged its bets on its unique setting and gameplay system carrying it beyond being a short game to be traded in at the first opportunity. I think that its reputation today proves Sega won that specific bet.
For the modern gamer, the short length is a blessing because it allows them to experience the best of the game without its shortcomings becoming too obvious.
31- Quake (1997):
It was, and still is to some extent, a surprise that the Saturn port of Quake managed to be this good. But then, "this good" is still worse than the PC version which is more readily available and more fun to play.
In the absence of original games, any top 100 Saturn list must, unfortunately, depend on ports of better games on other systems
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 on 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.