Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Jul 26th 2015 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Game Arts, action, adventure, arcade, sega, saturn, 3d

In the mid-90s, it seemed that every company that had not already done so built a 3-D engine to enter the new world of gaming. With 3-D arcade games wowing audiences worldwide, it was natural that everyone was excited to see this new dimension ported to the next generation of home consoles. Gungriffon started off as one such project at Game Arts, and began its development with the vague working title 3-D Polygon. The game released exclusively on Sega's Saturn worldwide in 1996. The game's events take place in 2015 (what???); so when you play it, make sure the right side wins this mech war!

Gungriffon is a game that would feel right at home as an upright cabinet in an arcade. It really has that feel to it. It is a mech combat game, with a fairly limited set of controls built around the Saturn's controller. This actually helps the game keep a simple design while still giving the player tools to easily navigate the levels. There are only six levels in the game, and each one is essentially a box that you can openly move around in. Most levels last less than ten or fifteen minutes.

Star Wars Battle Pod should have had open levels like this to fly around in!

Gungriffon is a popular import. It requires little knowledge of Japanese, and the only text you have to worry about are mission briefings before each level and the alerts in the game. The first batch of levels involve you killing every enemy in the level, but the objectives of later levels vary and may include destroying a specific target or protecting your allies. As a result, this language barrier could confuse those who opt for a cheaper Japanese copy and wonder why they keep failing some of the levels.

By virtue of being a mech combat game, the controls do take some getting used to, but once you do, its quite easy to maneuver and quickly make your way from one end of a stage to the other. The music in the game is excellent and I found myself just relaxing at the mission select screen for a few minutes between every stage. Gungriffon has a more realistic atmosphere when you're on the ground stomping around and blowing up enemy tanks, transports, air support, and mechs. You hear a lot of radio chatter and the sounds of your mech whirring as it walks around like the giant robot it is.

Gungriffon has some of the best 3-D on the Saturn; all enemy designs are very clear and detailed for its time. It even looks better and runs smoother on the Saturn than the Mechwarrior ports to the Playstation! Game Arts always manages to pull the most out of the systems they work for, and its quite surprising to see this run so smoothly on a Saturn. A common thread I've noticed in games for the system is that there are small areas in them that weren't fully optimized, and slowdown occurs as a result. I never encountered any slowdown in Gungriffon, and it's more detailed than some 2-D Saturn games I've played that have this slowdown problem!

If you're looking for a great game to add to your Saturn collection, then consider Gungriffon. It's a joy to play and it doesn't take a big bite out of your wallet. North American copies are around $25 right now, with import copies from Japan running around half of that after shipping. Gungriffon is easy to pick up and you can play in short or long bursts; it may help to satisfy an itch to fire up the Saturn if you're not in the mood for a fighter, racer, or shooter, but still want arcade action.

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Wow, talk about a flashback.  Somehow I managed to not ever play this game, despite being heavily into the Saturn import scene back in the late nineties.  This games looks great!  I love the look and sound of the ballistics.  Now I know it is an earlier game, but how do you rate the gameplay in this game to Gungriffon Blaze?
@bombatomba: Blaze's controls are lightning fast in comparison. Blaze's controls also suck to go back to these days, right stick is movement while left stick controls the first person camera. Its totally backwards if you're used to modern shooters. This first one plays exactly like an arcade game, with all six buttons on the Saturn pad being used, and the D-pad controlling your camera.
I didn't even realize Gungriffon received a North American Saturn release, so I'll have to look at up.  You're right, the game still looks REALLY good!  I picked up Gungriffon Blaze for PS2 a short while back - might have to fire it up soon!

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