In their top 100 Saturn games, Retro Sanctuary didn't have much quality in the 80s. There were a couple of sport games competing against other console's titles, and there was an ambitious port of an early PC FPS. That was generally the case for some of the games, with inferior ports of Arcade or PC games. Also, at 81, there is Camelot's first game on the Saturn. Shining Wisdom could have been a much better game if not for some wierd design choices.
Astral Superstars looked like an interesting fighting game though.
90- Grid Runner (1996):
Grid Runner is one of those early Saturn/PS1 games that crafted an entire game out of a single idea. Something that now would be an exciting, although a rather non-essential mini-game in the latest Mario Party game. It’s basically a grid-based game of digital tag. To be fair, tag has always been a fun a game to play with friends, which is something I tried to convince my younger cousins with their faces glued to the iPad screens.
The central limitation of the game is that it is simply not fun against the AI, so human opponents are advised. The second biggest limitation is that only two players can be involved, which makes for one boring game of tag.
Beats being an only kid though.
89- Crusader: No Remorse (1997):
The advertisement for this game proclaimed: “Nonstop actin from a different perspective”, the perspective being an isometric view. It is difficult imagining this being said today, although the isometric style is being revived with some good indie games.
Regardless of the style’s pros and cons, the console port of this originally PC game did not translate the critically acclaimed title well. Which is a bummer, because Crusader seems like a genuinely interesting game.
Set in a dystopian society with supersoldier and stuff, the player character eventually joins the rebels against the World Economic Consortium. Heavy stuff. Maybe I will give it a try someday on steam or something.
I tried playing AMOK, but I couldn’t enjoy it. This is a poor port of a PC release, and it shows in the difficult FPS controls. That alone could kill a game with a good concept
This is not such a game. Even with better controls, the environments are drab, the story uninteresting, and the game an utter drag.
It’s basically nothing to run AMOK about.
I am here all week.
87- Astra Superstars (1998):
Astral Superstars is a strange 2D fighting game. It is perhaps the only fighting game that exclusively features two air-borne fighters wailing at each other. Yes, you read that right, there is no ground in the game.
This means that you can “jump” over your opponent, or dive under them. Hits propel players like pinballs all over the screen, and movement is significantly floatier. This makes for some uniquely chaotic fights, especially with the game’s focus on elaborate combos and use of a special meter.
Never making to the West, this means few players were ever introduced to its excellent 2D animations and unique character designs. Still, outside its unique fighting style, the game failed to make any lasting legacy for itself. In the crowded fighting market, Sunsoft simply could not fly over the competition.
86- Mass Destruction (1997):
In actual warfare, Tanks are either escorted by an infantry squadron, or by lighter vehicles. That is because Tanks, while ultimately devastating, are some pretty dumb machine that require ton of recon support to be effective.
That is why tank games like Mass Destruction are a puzzle to me. It is no my idea of fun to go an entire mission controlling a tank, not without the complicated gizmos of a game like Armored Core.
Here, only one shoulder button works to change the direction of the cannon, meaning that in order to return it to its previous location, you will need a 360 turn to do so. That is only one control issue that makes Mass Destruction an unplayable archaic mess.
85- Alien Trilogy (1996):
Early FPS games somehow melt into each other, especially out of the PC. The generic mazes of Doom can easily be the layout of the ship in Alien Trilogy. Likewise, the Xenomorph can double as a generic enemy on Doom, sine this is how he is treated in the game.
To be fair, Alien Trilogy is probably one of the better FPS games on the Saturn, and anyone playing it at the time would have probably enjoyed it a great deal. Still, the FPS is one genre that kept progressing forward in many ways, and its earlier days did not age as well as platformers or JRPGs.
84- Tempest 2000 (1996):
Tempest 2000 is not one of the Shmups the Saturn is known for. Instead of the gorgeous 2D visuals and ridiculous bullet hell parades, this a Tube shoot featuring vector graphics. That in itself is not a bad thing. There are excellent indie shooters utilizing the same style, and Tempest 2000 is still a challenging Tube shooter in its own way.
Of course, it also has some rad disco tunes (I need to use more 90’s lingo in these reports), and some ridiculous explosions of color and sound.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it has anything on the indie games that utilize the same style today but with better production and replay value.
83- World Series Baseball (1995):
The first time I understood Baseball was on the Wii Sports Baseball game on the, you guessed it, the Wii. I didn’t understand it immediately. In fact, I had no idea how the score was kept, or why I was hitting the ball. Then, like an epiphany, I just understood nearly everything. As if all the Baseball movie information I ever watched all converged at one moment, fully explaining the game to my subconscious brain.
No such epiphany will happen with 5th generation Baseball game.
This sport series is simply the Baseball placeholder for the Sega consoles. It looks to be a well-made game, with many teams, some voice commentary, and a number of cool modes. Reportedly, it was considered a good Baseball game at the time.
82- Steep Slope Sliders (1997):
My experience with snow sport games begin and ends with SkiFree on Windows 95. I never managed to get past the Yeti for more than a minute, and I never saw snow until 20 or something years into my life.
Steep Slope Sliders is a snowboarding game ported to the Saturn from the Arcades. The port job downgraded the graphics, lost some of the nuances of control, but kept all the characters and environments otherwise intact.
Generally, this is not a Snowboarding game that is much talked about, but it looks par the course for its time.
81- Shining Wisdom (1995): Check my Review
After finishing my review of this game, I realized that the localization that I enjoyed so much was actually panned by critics, who did not like the references liberally strewn about. Many said those references would cease to be funny later. I disagree, as I think the localization added a lot of character to the game, and that’s one of the game’s few saving graces.
This would have been a very good answer to Zelda by Sega if they didn’t complicate things too much. With a very poor dashing mechanic that spills misery on every other aspect of the game, the game fails to reach the potential it indicated through its story, music, and very good 16bit visuals.
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 is purely based on some little playing time and general research about the game and its reception at the time.