Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘saturn

Podcast: The History of CD-ROM Consoles, Part 2

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This week Fred sits down with Ali of 42 Level One to discuss the more popular 32-bit generation of CD-ROM consoles.  What started as a disaster with the 3DO Interactive Player gave way to the big releases of the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation.  While the Saturn may seem dead in the water for the West, it was a strong presence in the East.  Finally everything wraps up with the beloved console that lacked sales: the Sega Dreamcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 8, 2017 at 11:00 am

Dragon Force II English Fan Translation Releases

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df2_box

After nearly eight years of development (Verve Fanworks originally started the translation in 2007), anyone with a copy of Dragon Force II can now play the game fully translated in English (although still with Japanese voice dub) on an emulator or modded Sega Saturn.  If you head on over to Verve Fanworks site, you will find the handful of different patches depending on the version of the disc you own and instructions on how to patch and integrate into emulators.

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 6, 2015 at 1:25 pm

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Podcast: The Treasure Box

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treasurebox

This week Trees returns and we are talking about the Japanese developer Treasure, best known for some of the most impressive games on Sega’s consoles (Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, Guardian Heroes, and Ikaruga) as well as Nintendo’s later consoles (Bangai-O and Sin & Punishment).  We discuss the company origins, values, and of course the entire library of this impressive developer.


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Below is a video of an unreleased (canceled) title, Tiny Toons: Defenders of the Universe.  The beta that was presumably used as a trade show demo eventually leaked on the internet.  We have acquired it and played it on an original, modded, PS2.  Enjoy!

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Review: Christmas Nights Into Dreams (Saturn)

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christmas_nightsConsole: Saturn
Released: December 1996
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: It did not have one – manual of the original game should suffice
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $24.25 (used), $56.00 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – A Japan only PS2 remake of Nights Into Dreams includes the Christmas content
Digital Release? Yes – included in the HD remake of Nights Into Dreams on XBLA and PSN, certain content removed (see below)

Christmas Nights Into Dreams is significant for several reasons, but most of all it’s one of the only Christmas themed games to ever come out.  No, seriously, look through the vaults of retro console history, this is a holiday that is rarely celebrated save for games that focus on certain days (Animal Crossing, for example).  In the winter of 1996 Sega was already in big trouble with the Saturn.  At only about a year and a half old, Sony’s Playstation was killing it in terms of sales and there were few exclusive titles that generated any kind of buzz.  Even Sonic, the faithful hedgehog that always seemed to sweep in and save Sega’s butt, hadn’t released a real game yet.  Not only that, but this was the Christmas release of the Nintendo 64 and Mario 64 was selling out consoles nationwide.  Nights Into Dreams was the only recent release on the Saturn that appealed to the typical gamer and with its colorful aesthetic, roots in platforming, and Sonic Team developer it was Sega’s best bet for the holidays.  Under these circumstances Christmas Nights invaded the market in several forms from being a free pack-in with Christmas console bundles (that already included Nights), inside several magazines, a mail away/in store offer with certain game purchases, and even for rent at Blockbuster Video.  This “sampler” title was everywhere, but only for about 45 days, and now it’s one of the more rare and sought after pieces of a retro gamer’s collection.

xmas_nights_1

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

Supplemental: Remembering the Sega 32X

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In 1994, the 16-bit generation in America was dwindling and gamers were ready for the 32-bit generation to emerge.  With discussions of interactive CD-ROM consoles, the emergence of early 32-bit  CD consoles like CD-i and 3DO and everyone wanted to know what Sega and Sony had in store for the future.  Super Nintendo was only three years into its life and riding strong while the Genesis was having a tougher time competing.  Not only did its age (it’s two years older than the SNES) hinder it, but with the introduction of the failing Sega CD, the Genesis still didn’t have the kick it wanted.  In early January 1994, Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama wanted a 32-bit cartridge console to be released that Christmas, codenamed “Project Jupiter” (Sega used planets for its projects).  Sega shortly decided that CD-based technology would be better suited for this project and it was renamed to “Project Saturn” – it would later go on to be the Sega Saturn console that released in 1995.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Converts

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So now you want to import consoles and games, do you?  Well you’ll be happy to know that it is entirely possible on most consoles, however there are some things you’ll have to be aware of before you do it.  This article discusses the different things you have to do to both the electric and video signal of various imported consoles.  It will also briefly discuss how to get foreign games to play on US consoles, if possible.

Electricity Differences
No matter what console you are using, it’s important to know the differences between electricity in the US, Europe and Japan.

Japanese Consoles in the US
As you’ll see plenty of times in this article, Japan is quite similar to the United States in many ways, including power.  We use 120 volts as our standard for power.  Japan doesn’t appear to use a ground (or at least none of the Japanese consoles I’ve ever gotten do, never been to Japan itself), so all plugs from Japanese consoles will be two-pronged and fit in an US outlet.  Also fortunate is the fact that most consoles, especially retro ones, will use AC adaptors that work in the US.  Never interchange US power supplies into Japanese consoles, you could fry the console or worse.  For example, if you import a Famicom, use that console’s AC adaptor and not an US NES one.  For newer consoles like Japanese PS2s and PS3s, you may want to check the back of the console, but I think those are good for AC 100-240 volts for worldwide distribution, but I could be wrong.  Basically if it generates heat, be very careful and do a search for advice from a reputable source (no, Yahoo! Answers is not a reputable source).  Also if you want to be completely safe, there are Japanese voltage converters that allow use of Japanese products here.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Day 6

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On the sixth day of Christmas my memories gave to me…

Six Launch Games!

 It’s almost sad how poor Sega handled the Saturn launch in America.  Without delving too deep into the history of it, the console was supposed to release Saturday, September 2, 1995 – dubbed “Saturnday” by the various marketing items that hit toy and gaming stores in the Spring.  At E3 that summer, they announced in their press conference that Saturn would be releasing the same day, Thursday, May 11, instead.  Select retailers were let in on the event, but the many who weren’t, including my choice gaming store K.B. Toys, were so hurt they refused to carry the Saturn.  As usual none of us regular kids who dropped by the mall were let in on the elaborate fights and decisions being made behind the scenes, so it wasn’t until I walked into a Toys R Us and saw it on shelves that I even noticed it was out.  I was a Sega fan through and through back then, my devotion going so far as to keep me saving up paychecks from my crappy part-time job and even some Christmas money from a returned 32x.  Since Sega was the only developer that knew the Saturn was releasing early, it was only Sega games available at launch.

I purchased the console near the end of the summer for a whopping $400, my mother begging me not to waste my job earnings on it (I did save half my earnings for college, mind you).  Saturn came bundled with Virtua Fighter and 5 other Sega properties joined it to be the six launch titles: Daytona USA, Clockwork Knight, Panzer Dragoon, Worldwide Soccer and Pebble Beach Golf Links.  As a typical teenage gamer I couldn’t have cared less for the sports titles, leaving only three true titles available at launch.  It didn’t matter anyway because all the money I had spent on the console, which didn’t even leave enough for a second controller to fight people in Virtua Fighter, left me broke all the way up to Christmas.  By then there were supposed to be tons of launch titles from other 3rd party developers, Tomb Raider and X-Men: Children of the Atom were hyped, but the stores told a different tale.  Since I only trusted games I knew for the console I asked for Daytona USA and Virtua Cop because I hadn’t had time to read reviews or see anything else I liked.  Tomb Raider was supposed to be cool but full 3D titles still intimidated me and re-releases of FMV titles I already owned like Double Switch or Corpse Killer: Graveyard Edition couldn’t sell me.

For all intents and purposes, the list of launch titles I so very much desired just weren’t there.  I read in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly that there were some amazing Japanese Saturn titles, both launch and third-party, but almost none of them were coming stateside anytime soon.  Later on it would turn out that none of them were coming, and to import required both hardware modification and the high expense to get these games stateside.  Although Sega kept assuring us Saturn gamers that we would eventually be seeing non-launch Sega titles, the retail stores told a different story, especially for my Christmas shopping parents.  Not only that, but I had to make the switch to Babbage’s for my video games since K.B. Toys refused to carry Saturn games.

<- Go back to the fifth day                         Go on to the seventh day ->

Generation Gap Pt. 4: 32-bit (with a dash of 64)

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By the time the SNES was dominating and the Sega Genesis was locked in an endless sea of add-ons to save the dying console, electronics manufacturers began to step up and create many of their own consoles.  As a result, the market was flooded with overpriced horrendous hardware.  They seemed to have everything a gamer wanted: new media format (the cheaply priced cd was preferred by developers to reduce production cost and retail price), impressive graphics and processors, and lets not forget the large numbers like “32” and “64” prominantly displayed on the startup screens.  Unfortunately they lacked one important thing: good games.  Still, that didn’t prevent many manufacturers from creating a loose version of the video game crash of 1983.  Thankfully one lone electronics company entered the foray with the next step in gaming – that company was Sony.

Electronics Companies Go Bananas (or Pre 32-bit Gaming)

JVC’s Xeye

I’m guessing somewhere around the Sega CD, boasting the ability to play your new audio CDs through your television as an added feature, electronic companies started to take notice of gaming systems.  As you guide through the progression of consoles the consumer electronics market grows stronger with gamers – let’s face it, they’re the perfect early adoptors.  Quickly companies scrambled to enter the gaming market including JVC, Phillips, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony and even more.  Some of these companies licensed existing hardware, like JVC did with the X’Eye, a Sega Genesis/Sega CD hybrid that was re-branded with JVC’s logo.  On the other hand, Phillips, Panasonic and Pioneer – imagine keeping these companies straight as a consumer – released their own hardware with a (arguably) library of games.  In the end, they all sucked and had ridiculous price tags pushing back the concept of consumer electronics meeting gaming for at least another six years.  Below are the early disc-based consoles that failed so horribly.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Now & Then: Resident Evil

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

“You have once again entered the world of survival horror…”

Those famous words set up a genre that has undergone more definitions than probably any other in video games.  Depending on your personal taste in titles, survival horror can mean different things but it was used first and defined by Resident Evil¹.  This game was basically a haunted house brought to life and has spawned a series that many gamers, myself included, follow endlessly.  Despite the direction of the series not holding well with fans of the originals and a slew of poorly made films, Resident Evil lingers on, if only in our nostalgic minds.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 24, 2011 at 11:14 am