In the late 1990s, a great push was made by a formerly beloved underdog of video game hardware manufacturing, after bad decisions across a variety of fronts lead to gaming's greatest collapse since the fabled crash of '83. The only player that lost significant ground was Sega, which had always managed to have a bright market in some part of the globe at different points of its history. The Master System's greatest success was in Europe, with the Brazilian market pulling off a surprise punch as well. The Genesis managed to expand the hold to North America, and really tapped into the consumer mainstream, but both consoles lagged behind in Sega's homeland of Japan. All that flipped with the Saturn, when Japan took the spotlight at the expense of everybody else. The Dreamcast was Sega's last gasp, and despite a critically short life, it managed to grab hold of a chunk of North America once again.
Part of the reason for this collapse was the marketing. Sega was poised to grab a chunk of mainstream gamers after pushing their sports games boldly on cable advertisements. This failure in marketing was that it didn't show the true breadth of titles available for the Dreamcast. The commercials showcased more TV friendly and higher quality renderings of Dreamcast game assets, but only really named individual game titles in their commercials. Gone were the sort of list commercials from the Genesis days that showcased both in-game footage, and the actual title of the game on top of it. A prime example of this advertising misstep was with the main character of Jet Grind Radio, Beat. He was spotted in multiple Dreamcast commercials, even getting a solo shot in one, but not once was the name of the game ever dropped. Everything was spliced on top of live footage, and Jet Grind Radio did not get its own commercial to show off anything beyond the style of one character's design in a most inauthentic way.
Continue reading Jet Set Radio
This article was authored and submitted by RF Generation's own SirPsycho.
Our seasoned writer has been having computer issues as of late. Best of luck on a full recovery good sir.
Boy are my hands getting tired....
For my return to reviewing, I wanted to talk about something special. You will get a review of two games for the price of one! We will journey to the dark lands of Sega's Master System and look at the Hang-On/Astro Warrior combo cartridge for a dual review.
Continue reading Combo Cartridge Review: Hang-On & Astro Warrior
Recently, there has been talk between Sony and Microsoft about implementing cross-platform gaming. Though no sort of agreement has been reached yet, and there is only speculation as to what these talks have consisted of, even the slightest notion that these two video game giants have taken the idea into consideration is HUGE! The climate for console developers has drastically changed over the course of time, and while Nintendo still goes its own way, it does so without feeling the need to get into squabbles or spend millions in advertising to inflict insult upon its competition. But, as we all know, this hasn't always been the case.
As a child of the 80's, I remember these targeting ads well and can look back today and see their overt influence over the console choices made by my classmates and I. The feud that Nintendo and Sega started was hotly contested and equally debated on the playground in my day. Nintendo's dominance in my community was so pronounced that no one dared to admit to owning a Sega console for fear of ridicule. What gaming system you owned or didn't own could have socially ruined you among your peers. If you owned a Sega, no one wanted to come over to your house because they couldn't bring their games over, and there wasn't a chance that you could swap games for a few weeks (...sometimes to never have your games returned, but that's another matter all together). In reality, it was a somewhat milder form of bullying, and let's be honest, it still exists among some fanboys/fangirls today.
Continue reading Call Me Traitor
Sorry guys, you won't be getting a Top Games of 2015 list from me. For one, I don't own a current generation console to play games released this year on, and secondly, my list of my favorite games I played it 2015 will be available early next year when you listen to the RF Generation Playcast (http://rfgenplaycast.podbean.com/) .....shameless plug!! Instead, I'll be focusing on a topic that has baffled and frustrated me (and probably you) for years and that is, "What import games can I play on my North American consoles without having to import systems?" I certainly won't be able to cover every system, but I'll try to cover the more well-known and most-owned consoles. I understand that some imported games can be burned or pirated for play on North American systems; however, since this method is frowned upon by a large majority of the community, I will not be covering or suggesting this method for any system here. I hope many of you will find this article useful and please think of it and my research as my holiday gift to you!
**DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that I have not tried several of these methods myself and that the great majority of the information that I have assembled here has been compiled through research. I have verified as much of the information as possible, but some of it may be incorrect. If you find that something is incorrect, please send me a PM and I can verify and edit this post. Thank you!**
Continue reading Is it Region-Locked or Region-Free?
I know that some of you are probably disappointed that this isn't a glowing review of Crackdown on the XBox 360. I'm sure that's a great game, but having never played it, I'd like to talk about another game of the same name released on the Sega Mega Drive & Genesis by Sage's Creation in 1990 & 1991 respectively. Crack Down is a port of the original 1989 arcade title of the same name that was developed by Sega for their Sega System 24 arcade board. The game was also ported to the Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum, the Wii Virtual Console (PAL & Japan only), and most recently (2010), the Genesis/Mega Drive version was made available on Steam.
Continue reading Banana's Rotten Reviews: Crack Down
Welcome back to a world of horror and fright. You may remember last year when I did a review of a game (Thief: The Dark Project [http://www.rfgeneration.c...The-Dark-Project-2639.php]) that many would not consider when pondering their options to step into a good atmosphere that sends chills down your spine and squeals up your throat. The real "horror" came from the masterpiece's years spent in "Development Hell" where its focus was changed about a half dozen times. In contrast to a jumbled mess of juxtaposed design and experimentation that somehow worked brilliantly, this year I bring you D. Just "D." The letter "D." No more. No less. "D."
Continue reading Spooky Plays: D
Dear RFGeneration Members, as you might have noticed over the past few months, one of our long-time (since 2009) and active members on the site, bombatomba, has had a few of his most recent blog posts promoted to our front page. Our staff has enjoyed reading his work, has followed his blog closely, and used his posts to fill in dates at times when more content was needed. We are happy to announce that bombatomba has accepted our offer to join the blog writing staff and you will be seeing more of his work in the future. Please join our staff in congratulating him and welcoming him to the RFGeneration staff!
Three Dirty Dwarves is a side-scrolling, action game, somewhat in the vein of Golden Axe/Streets of Rage, that was released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn and PC. On the surface, it has lots of great animation, especially for the main characters, a goofy visual aesthetic, amusing sound effects, and co-op for up to three players. However, underneath beats the heart of an arcade game that never was. Be it good or bad, at the end of the day we are left with this somewhat amusing game that remains fun (with a group) yet is nonetheless flawed. So let's go ahead and roll in the dirt a bit and explore Three Dirty Dwarves for the Sega Saturn.
Continue reading Three Dirty Dwarves: A Review
Pre-owned Madden football games are everywhere. When you have a series that has been churning out a title every year for twenty years, there are a lot of discarded games to be peddled at flea markets or garage sales. With a massive supply built across almost every console for gaming generations now, the previous editions of Madden football have an almost nonexistent resell value. Outside of this mass production, there is one title that is not common and is one of a number of sports titles that hold value for collectors. John Madden Football Championship Edition was a rental store exclusive released in 1992 for the Sega Genesis and it is the Holy Grail of Madden Football games.
Continue reading The Holy Grail of Madden Football Games
Beyond Oasis is an action/adventure game developed by Ancient for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. It was released quite late in the system's lifecycle, late 1994 for Japan and 1995 everywhere else. Since Ancient was founded by Yuzo Koshiro, it also includes a soundtrack composed by him. This is most likely Sega's answer to The Legend of Zelda mixed with some Mana series, since there are many similarities in gameplay design, puzzle solving, and progression.
Continue reading Psychotic Reviews: Beyond Oasis
Magic Knight Rayearth is an action/adventure based on a popular manga and anime series of the same name. Come to the Sega Saturn where we get going back down the Working Designs road!
Working Designs and Sega had quite a close relationship at first. Sega could make some money by licensing the rights to a game out to Working Designs that they themselves did not want to localize and release. Looking at the lineup of Working Designs Saturn games a staggering 4 of their 6 games for the Saturn were actually developed by Sega (5 if you count Camelot's Shining Wisdom since the company was founded by Sega, but they had broken away from them the same year it was released in Japan) including our game this week.
Continue reading Psychotic Reviews: Magic Knight Rayearth
I know I've talked on this blog more than once about how Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 was my first introduction to the Dreamcast more than a decade ago. In fact I was so enamored with that game that when my college roommate moved out (and took his Dreamcast with him) I had to get my own copy along with its prequel. Though at the time I had a PlayStation 2 rather than a Dreamcast of my own, so although I was more than familiar with the original Pro Skater, it would be quite a few years before I got to play this particular version. And just recently I decided I was due for another race to the end-credits.
There's a lot to love about Pro Skater. It's got an excellent soundtrack (I really wish an official soundtrack had been released), it's got a pick-up-and-play quality to it, and plays great. That said, it's always slightly tough to go back to the original game because it's easy to forget that manuals weren't introduced until the second game. This means that chaining combos together was actually a far more difficult affair back then. But once you get over this small snag, it's easy to see that the first game was already pretty close to perfection.
The original Pro Skater is also the hardest game of the series, at least as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps it's because there are actually less goals per level, and they can often be tough ones. Take for instance the Downhill Jam. This level is probably the one I'd consider the hardest of the entire series. But of course some of that could be my own personal play style. But what was fun about my recent playthrough of the game was that I purposely forced myself to patiently complete every single goal in the Downhill Jam. That definitely made it feel like a bigger accomplishment than just coasting to the final tournament by completing goals in other levels instead.
Hi. My name's noise. And I'm a PSO addict.
I'll be completely honest here: I never thought I'd see the allure of Phantasy Star Online. In the past I'd heard fellow gamers refer to the game as "video game crack," in which every session left you wanting just a tiny taste more. But to me it just sounded pretty unappealing. For one thing I'm not a fan of extremely long games. So something like PSO with its online world which makes it something of a never-ending game was a turn-off. I'm also not all that interested in hack-n-slash battle systems within RPG settings. Nor have I ever found myself drawn to games that focus on hoarding loot. So while I was certainly a fan of the Phantasy Star brand, I just couldn't see myself interested in an MMO.
But one night several months ago while browsing the Dreamcast-Talk forums I thought it might be fun to get my console online and test it out with PSO. After spending some time Googling for free dial-up ISP's in my area, I was able to configure my conole's modem and get connected to the Sylverant private server. Of course I had never played Phantasy Star Online before, so once connected I hadn't the foggiest clue what I was supposed to be doing. So I just sort of walked around and marveled at the excellent graphics and music.
And then soon enough I noticed two characters just standing and talking to each other. Right away I realized that I was seeing actual players since everything they were saying was being typed into word-bubbles above their heads. I admit that for a moment I was severely intimidated. But i approached, introduced myself and warned them that I was a total n00b. "Wait... right now is your first time playing PSO? You mean, like ever?" And these guys were nice enough to then spend the next hour or so giving me a crash-course in the basics. They had my back with monomates to heal me and watched me hit level 2 while playing the game online.
All in all the experience was fun, but I knew I'd need to spend some time offline with the game to really grasp how things worked and try to get myself to at least a respectable level before attempting to seriously play online. So basically the game sat untouched on my shelf for the next several months. Sure I had a good time messing around with it online that night, but it would be a serious committment to play a game so demanding. Hell, you can't even pause PSO!
A few months later we got hit with a pretty impressive snow storm, and I found myself with one of those lazy snow days that gives you an excuse to dive into a game you normally wouldn't have the time for. Immediately I thought of PSO and popped in my copy. The version of I've been playing by the way is Ver. 2, which is (as I understand it) the same exact game as the original Dreamcast release, but with some bug-fixes and some additional quests.
And so I spent that afternoon going back and forth between shoveling and and exploring Ragol. At first my progress seemed slow and I'd find myself consulting the manual often to try to figure out what all the buttons did and what my objectives were to begin with. But once the ball started rolling I was making my way through quests and getting myself familiar with the Forest and genuinely having a great time to my own surprise. In fact I was having so much fun with the game that as my wife and I packed up all of our belongings to prepare to move into our new house, I spent most of February with Phantasy Star Online being one of only two games I left accessible (the other being Sega Smash Pack).
Which reminds me, I should take a moment to point out that over the months I've spent with PSO, it became a big enough part of my gaming habits to actually justify some further purchases. Perhaps the most obvious is the official Versus Books strategy guide. This book is definitely very handy to have around for reference on such confusing matters such as what to feed your Mag, and of course maps are excellent to have around if you don't want to tie up a big chunk of your screen with the in-game map. PSO also make my decision to obtain a large lot consisting of both the Dreamcast VGA box and Broadband Adapter a much easier one to make. Let me just say that this game looks stunning in VGA mode (though in fairness, so don't most Dreamcast games that take advantage). And although I haven't had the time to hook up the pricey BBA yet, it's certainly nice to have the option to do so.
At any rate, I'm currently making my way through The Mines. I'm now at level 19, and have put about just as many hours into the game. And yet my addiction shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps the absolute sickest part of it is that I keep thinking that once I get through Offline Mode, I can actually start to play Online. And hey, perhaps I can start a second character when I pick up a copy of Ver. 1...
When I was in Junior High I had a neighborhood friend who had the NES port of Bubble Bobble. And it had remained pretty much my sole exposure to the game until just recently. In February the Together Retro game club over at Racketboy.com had Bubble Bobble on their calendar. I was actually pretty excited to delve back into this one. The NES game was a really solid puzzle-platformer that offered an excellent co-op experience. Indeed I remember spending many hours as either Bub or Bob and capturing enemies and bursting their bubbles as my friend Jason and I traversed our way through those hundred levels. But this time out Iíd be delving into the Saturn port which promised to be much closer to the original arcade experience.
Hereís what I found out: Bubble Bobble is really hard you guys. Compared to the NES version the computer AI was extremely aggressive. And though I didnít spend a massive amount of time playing, I did put a fair share of effort. No matter how much I tried I could never seem to beat level 15 by myself. Although ďby myselfĒ probably illustrates the biggest issue I took with this game. Bubble Bobble is the sort of game that begs for co-op. Unfortunately my wife and I were gearing up for a big move, which meant we had pretty limited time for things like video games. And never once did we get to give this game a go together considering I wasnít even sure which box my spare Saturn controller had ended up in. So more than anything I just found Bubble Bobble really frustrating. Though you canít hate on the music which is still stuck in my head a month later.
Luckily enough the Saturn release of Bubble Bobble also includes the sequel Rainbow Islands. I had actually never played this one before, and was actually pleasantly surprised by this one. Instead of dragons you play as little humans (who I think Iíve read are actually Bub and Bob in human formÖ or something?) who have the power to make little rainbows. The rainbows can be used to contain enemies much like the bubbles were used in Bubble Bobble, but they can also create little platforms for you to ascend each stage. The whole thing is really colorful and bright and just a whole lot of fun. Though I didnít have as much time as I would have liked to spend on it this month, Iíd gladly re-visit Rainbow Islands again in the near future.
This disc also contains a third game. But the third game is also my major complaint about this particular release. Bubble Bobble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands includes a sort of remake of Rainbow Islands. But why? Why bother with such a superfluous inclusion when the compilation could have been made totally amazing by adding in Parasol Stars? For those who arenít familiar, Parasol Stars was the third game in the Bubble Bobble series, and to this day my favorite of the trilogy. Parasol Stars was one of the few TurboGrafx-16 games I owned back in the day and it sort of combined all the good stuff from both Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands into one incredibly awesome game. Sadly, itís nowhere to be seen here though. Oh well
There was a time when I thought that the shoot-em-up was the dullest video game genre out there. I'm serious. I'm not afraid to admit my ignorance. It's totally true. But there was a chain of events that led me to discover three very important games (at least to my own gamer development). Games that caused me to fall deeply in love with the genre. Not surprisingly all three games were very different from each other -- but those differences caused me to realize that shmups were not the boring "everything is just Space Invaders with different sprites" that I had originally thought.
The first game that led me to this conclusion was Galaga and I was introduced to it as part of Racketboy.com's Together Retro game club back in early 2009. I remember dreading the thought of playing such a game for a full month, but then getting completely sucked into it for 30 days. To this day I consider Galaga one of my favorite games of all time. It's the one game that I seek out the second I find myself inside an arcade. I love the rare chance to get to play this masterpiece on original hardware. And I've since purchased way more Namco Museum collections than I care to admit.
The second game was Chaos Field -- introduced to me here on RFGeneration all those years back when Crabmaster2000 was still doing his "Unloved" series of blog posts. I remember him comparing it to Shadow of the Colossus in space -- a description so odd that I had to look into it. And really the game is odd, or rather unique in that it's basically just a boss rush with stunning music, incredible visuals and a solid dual-field mechanic that is addictive as all get-out.
But the third game I discovered totally on my own.
Shikigami No Shiro II (or Castle of Shikigami II as it's known in America) is a truly unique shmup. Rather than space ships you've got tiny little flying characters, all animated so impressively. The characters are definitely something that the developers Alfa Systems obviously cared a great deal about. Unlike most shmups which offer you three or so ships to choose from, Shikigami II gives you eight. And each character has an insane storyline to play through. Of course if you're playing the DC port it won't matter if you're an English speaker. But the translation (available on the PS2 port) proves that the story is so bat-poop insane that it doesn't even matter if you're following it or not. In fact, you have the option to turn off the dialogue which is often helpful as it can actually interrupt the flow of things.
What really matters is the game. And the game is just incredible to look at. Though the sprites are tiny they are well detailed. And the Dreamcast version does in fact offer a tate mode for those of you (like me) who are deranged enough to have monitors that you can rotate. And trust me it's totally worth it. This game looks incredible in its original vertical display mode. And audio-wise the game offers up one of my absolute favorite shmup soundtracks of all time.
The gameplay is incredible though, and that's why you're really reading this. You've got this tiny little character with an even tinier hit box. Each character (remember there's a lot of them) plays completely differently -- with different "Shikigami Attacks." Believe me when I say that each character can feel like you're playing completely different games. It's a very deep system. But what's even more intense is that you get far more points if you kill an enemy when grazing bullets. This alone adds an insanity to the game that is riveting. It's a truly unreal risk vs. rewards system where you must put yourself in constant danger in order to score higher. And this system alone means that once again, playing the game for score or playing the game for survival are two totally different games.
Though Shikigami No Shiro II is not the true bullet-hell that games (such as releases by Cave) would be later, they are also not quite as borderline old-school as say Psikyo's (Gunbird, etc.) would be. In this sense it's a similar bridge-game from old school and bullet hell though leaning far more toward the latter -- and of course you've got the crazy grazing dynamic to consider. This game is intense, and incredible and highly, highly recommended.
To call myself a "fan" of Puzzle Fighter would be a huge understatement. Since I first picked up the GBA port some years ago to quench a thirst for a portable puzzler, I have ranked it as my favorite puzzle game of all time. And though the gameplay remains the same for each of its various ports, I've for some reason felt compelled to seek out (and beat) almost every version released to date. To this day the only versions I've yet to make it through have been on the PSP and PC. With all that said, I feel like I'm a pretty good judge of the various releases. So let's how the Sega Saturn edition came out, shall we?
For those of you unfortunate enough to have never played the game, Super Puzzle Fighter II (there was no part I) has an extremely interesting premise. It's a puzzle game that emphasis a Vs. Mode. You will play against a human opponent or the computer. Each player selects from a roster of super-deformed versions of characters from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers universes. The goal is to match up colored gems that fall from above and build them up into bigger gems. Sporadically a glowing sphere will drop, and if it touches blocks of its own color it will destroy them -- sending junk blocks over to your opponent. The bigger the gems you create, the more junk you'll send over. This is where the real strategy of the game comes in however. Each character has a different pattern of junk blocks that they send over. Much like in a fighting game, it is just as important to know thy enemy as it is to learn to play well.
The Arcade Mode of Puzzle Fighter plays well on the Saturn. The gem explosions are a bit more pixelated than in other ports, though this certainly doesn't take away from the gameplay at all. The music is excellent -- which is usual across the board as far as the various ports go. There is some loading between rounds, though they're not terrible.
If you're playing this without a friend, the real meat and bones of this game is the Street Puzzle Mode. In this mode you must play single rounds with each character to unlock various 'Goodies.' Each character has five Goodies to unlock. These range from pallet-swaps, hidden characters, background music tracks (both original and remixed), art galleries and so on. These are the sorts of extras (especially the hidden characters) that really makes this game a blast to play in single player, and ultimately opens the game up even more. It is not only one of the only games I've cared enough to "100%," but I've done in it multiple times with multiple versions.
Although this review is meant to be about the Saturn edition, I suppose that it's worth mentioning some pluses about other versions for those curious. It is worth noting that the PSN and XBLA versions do look really nice in HD but more importantly allow for online play. The XBLA version was eventually released physically as part of the 360 Capcom Digital Collection if you're not a fan of downloadable games. The Dreamcast version was only available in Japan, however it does support the VGA cable if you wish to import it. Sadly, its online play option is no longer available. And of course the GBA and PSP versions are worth grabbing if you're a fan of portable puzzlers. However the truth is that any version of Puzzle Fighter is going to be recommended by me. And really, any version will give you a great game to play.