Posts Tagged ‘sega saturn’

Landing on Saturn – Panzer Dragoon Saga: Forgotten Treasure

January 27, 2011

Panzer Dragoon Saga may not have much cachet with gamers these days (what does, besides Call of Duty? olol), but make no mistake: the name used to be whispered amongst gamers beyond just the hardest of the hardcore. Sega’s last hurrah for their doomed Saturn game console. The bizarre RPG follow-up to a rail-shooting franchise. The pathetically small print run which ultimately led to its infamy. Panzer Dragoon Saga was critically acclaimed when it released, but its legacy afterward became the stuff of myths, due to the fact that it printed only 6,000 copies initially, with the final units shipped at the end of its production run totaling 30,000. Keep in mind that most games these days have to sell through at least more than 100,000 units in order to be considered successful. Panzer Dragoon Saga is something of a holy grail amongst video game collectors, a unicorn. One rarely spots a copy in the wild, and if one does, one must be ready to pay dearly for it.

I never, ever thought I would come across a copy outside of, say, eBay. But one day, I found myself on the end of an offer to sell me the game for a price which, while still quite high, I knew I would never beat. I grimaced, forked over the change, and waited for the copy to arrive in the mail. You readers already know full-well the joyous bounty of the package I received, but the question still remained: Is Panzer Dragoon Saga all it’s cracked up to be?

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Grump Talk: Horny Nun and Summer Fun

July 22, 2010

Hello, grumpeteers! How’s your summer going? Mine is like grains of sand slipping through my bony fingers. While I still go to graduate school in the summer, it’s a lighter season for me, so I’m trying hard to make headway in my various hobbies while I still have the (guilt-free) spare time.

I haven’t forgotten about Saturn! I’ve been playing Panzer Dragoon Saga for a while and hope to finish it up and post my thoughts on it within a month. It’s not that it’s a particularly long game, but its graphics are migraine-inducing and it still has some of those pesky hallmarks of a late-90s JRPG, such as inconvenient save point placement and boss gauntlets that make me want to punch someone. I also allowed myself to become distracted by other games whose graphics don’t cause me to get headaches, such as FFXIII and Demon’s Souls. Enough digital ink has been spilled describing both of them, so I doubt they’ll ever get a proper treatment here. I’ll just say that FFXIII is the huge disappointment I thought it would probably be and that Demon’s Souls is engrossing and totally Vagrant Story 2.

On another front, I saw Micmacs in the theater and was totally planning on writing it up when Inception came and jizzed all over my face. So plans changed! Really, Micmacs is charming if you like the sort of quirky, old-school humor that Jean Pierre Jeunet, director of Amélie and City of the Lost Children, specializes in. It almost channels silent comedy of old at some points. It wears a bit thin in the middle, but the climax is pretty satisfying, so I don’t feel anyone inclined toward such an experience would leave feeling their time was wasted. If you like movies about misfits banding together to destroy arms manufacturers, you should check it out!

I also saw a vintage flick that survived through the decades to still engross, mesmerize and thrill. Black Narcissus is a story about a group of nuns who take on the task of renovating an Indian general’s old palace into a school/medical clinic for the poor, farming villagers. The atmosphere of the valley the movie is set in seems to start affecting them, however, and soon all manner of crises, both physical and metaphysical, envelope them. If I’m not mistaken, the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography back in the day, and it’s totally deserved. The film starts out relatively demurely, but soon vivid Technicolor threatens to overwhelm the drab habits of the nuns and the final half an hour of the film is some top-notch suspense that even Hitchcock could envy. Black Narcissus also has some of the best non-horror (or is it?!) makeup I’ve ever seen. If you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. And no, I’m not talking about all the white people they painted brown. Criterion Collection recently put out a new, remastered version on DVD and Blu-Ray and I’m considering picking it up, but I also went a little spend-crazy over the weekend with some other Criterion titles since they were all on sale. So we’ll see! At any rate, if you love furtive stares from nuns you won’t want to miss this one!

Grump Talk – Saturn Setback

June 10, 2010

So after I actually started trying to play my pile of Sega, I ran into some problems. Panzer Dragoon Saga would either not boot up at all or boot up and then crash randomly. The low point was when I finally figured out how to defeat a tricky boss, then the game froze and crashed at the victory screen.

So of course I wanted to find out if the problem lay with the disc or with the system’s laser lens. All of the games I initially bought worked well… mostly. D had a little bit of trouble booting up the first time I popped it in and Albert Odyssey froze once at the beginning of a random battle, but I thought those were flukes since I couldn’t repeat it. But now, I saw a more sinister pattern. So I popped in my other games. The Legend of Oasis started up just fine, but Shining Force III couldn’t even make it to the title screen.

So the only choice left to me was to attempt emulation to see if the problem was in the Saturn’s laser lens. I went shopping around for one that would let me boot up from the CD and it seems that 99% of Saturn emulators are abandoned at the alpha stage or emulate the CPU but not necessarily the games(?!). I FINALLY found one that seemed to fit the bill and popped in Panzer Dragoon Saga. Flawlessly booted up, several times. Popped in Shining Force III. Booted up just fine.

I’m lookin’ at youuuuuuuuuuu, Saturn.

So thankfully this still falls within the 30 day return policy the store had on the console, so I’m gonna return it (and ask to keep the friggin’ battery) and hunt for a Saturn that actually… y’know… works. There’s gonna be a delay in further landings on Saturn~

Grump Talk – SEGA PILE

June 9, 2010

D: Dial D for Distinct

June 3, 2010

There were several reasons why I decided to get a Sega Saturn, and one of them was to experience the unpredictable mind of Kenji Eno, founder of the dearly departed developer Warp. Never heard of Warp? I wouldn’t be surprised. Their reputation has faded into nothing more than a piece of video game trivia  from the mid-to-late 1990s. An esoteric Japanese game developer, Warp was helmed by Eno and taken in some rather interesting directions. Their first stateside release was Puyo Puyo rip-off Trip’d on the 3DO, which I guarantee no one here has heard of or played. Their second, however, was D.

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Grump Talk – Landing on Saturn

May 28, 2010

If you’ve been a loyal reader the past year or so, you’ve no doubt recognized a streak of retro gaming in me. I’ve been living in the past with games, the best ones I’ve played recently being at least a year old, if not more. I devoted a large chunk of time and effort into rediscovering the Phantasy Star series.

As such, you might’ve realized I have a somewhat unhealthy and abusive Sega fanboy streak in me, too. Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is the gift that keeps on giving. So many classic franchises I missed out on during the heady 16-bit days and almost all the games I remember loving. Seriously, if you’ve ever been curious about the Genesis or have fond memories of that console, snatch it up on the next-gen console of your choice. Although it’s odd I can’t find a better word than “next-gen” when we’re already 4 years into this generation of consoles. Ummm… current-gen?

Anyways, this post isn’t about Genesis. It’s about Sega’s redheaded stepchild (no, the other redheaded stepchild… no, the other, other redheaded stepchild): Saturn. What a sad story that console has to tell. It launched as an E3 surprise to the sound of confused and irritated retailers and Sony simply undercutting it by $100 dollars and leaving it at that. The poor thing wasn’t a very powerful 3D machine and it had a bizarre dual-processor thingie that apparently made development on it strange and difficult to port. Sega had bet the farm on the trend that was still going strong during the 16-bit era: luscious 2D graphics. And wow, could Saturn pump out some awesome sprites, also helped by the fact that you could add up to 4 megs of RAM through the cartridge slot.

The reason I’m bringing up the Saturn at all is because I found one being sold at a used video game store near me along with a couple semi-rare games to go with it. After hemming and hawing for a weekend over whether or not I should make the investment, I finally decided to take the plunge… only to find the game I wanted most had already been sold off! But I took the system anyways and have been scouring eBay ever since, looking for games to help round out my collection. I must say, I’ve managed to gather some gems so far, but not for cheap. In one of those ironic twists of fate, Saturns are pretty common and cheap, but the worthwhile games are exceedingly expensive and rare.

Anyways, I just thought I’d let all you readers in on what my latest hobby was, so that any upcoming Saturn video game reviews could be taken in context. I’m excited about this new journey!