I’ve always shied away from the topic of console mods. Perhaps because it’s the kind of discussion that can result in bannings from forums and websites, auctions being shut down on eBay, that sort of thing. It’s a legal grey area – not the act of modding itself, but what modding can allow for. At the risk of indicting myself, I’m writing about it here because I find it to be an interesting topic that I hear and read little about in mainstream circles. So to begin with, let’s talk about what modifications are out there, and why someone might want to modify their console in the first place, and then I’ll talk a bit about my modded Saturn and PlayStation. Continue reading
Soukyugurentai (aka Terra Diver) happens to be one of my all-time favourite games. Originally a 1996 Japan-only arcade shoot ’em up developed by Raizing, it was later ported to the Sega Saturn. Why do I love it so? Simply put, Soukyugurentai looks, sounds and plays like a dream. The gameplay is fast and furious, but not brainless; the game requires strategy and thought to master. Your ship handles great, with fluid and responsive controls. Last but not least, Soukyugurentai feels uniquely cinematic, with a dramatic musical score by Hitoshi Sakimoto and a striking visual style that holds up wonderfully to this day. Continue reading
It’s been a while, readers. But I’m back. That’s right, the PhD is over. Submitted and awaiting viva! Throughout these past few months, I haven’t stopped playing games entirely. Still, my enjoyment of life in general has increased dramatically now, and that extends to games too. After listening to a recent Retronauts episode about the Gradius series, I decided to dust off my copy of the expansively named Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the trusty Sega Saturn. I’d always been curious, so why not try these spin-offs of a beloved series?
Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a collection of three arcade games, namely Salamander, Life Force, and Salamander 2. The former two, which I’ll cover first, are variations on the same basic game released within a year of one another in 1986-7. Salamander 2, by comparison, released almost ten years later in 1996, and is a more modern iteration on the series formula. These games all riff on similar level themes, bosses and structure, many of these themselves nabbed from the Gradius series. For instance, every game alternates between horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and contains a mix of biological and sci-fi themed stages. Continue reading
What is Deep Fear, in a nutshell? It’s a Resident Evil knock-off released in Japan and Europe in 1998, and actually the final Sega Saturn game to be released here in Europe before Sega shut up shop. Set in an underwater military base, the core gameplay is extremely Resi-like – using tank controls you navigate complex environments, fend off monsters, manage your ammo and solve arcane puzzles. Deep Fear’s one unique twist is an oxygen meter which requires you to find computer terminals to re-oxygenate areas where the oxygen is low. It’s a simple but effective mechanic which adds extra tension to exploring.
I have a soft spot for horror games of the tank-control-survival variety, and Deep Fear is very good at what it does. It’s not the most riveting game; I picked up the game about a year ago and put in a few hours with it before getting distracted and moving on. But despite having played for a short time, and the game being rather generic, there are two specific aspects of Deep Fear that make it extremely memorable and almost endlessly fascinating (to me anyway). First is the beautifully produced and composed music, while the second is the utterly abominable voice acting. Continue reading
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Megadrive/Genesis was a childhood staple of mine. I played it every which way, learning the levels and special stages, even though I never owned the game personally till the Gamecube era courtesy of Sonic Mega Collection. I don’t have that kind of hyper-nostalgia for Sonic as I do for a game like Goldeneye on N64, say, and I am well aware of Sonic 2’s flaws. But on a recent gaming podcast I heard someone describe their first experience with Sonic 2 as an adult, and their picking apart the game’s issues bordered on painful listening. It was so incredibly different to my own time with Sonic – a long, long time, made up of lots of short bursts spread over years of my life, my entire childhood…!
I wish I had grown up with Burning Rangers in the same way. Or if that’s too much to ask, just chatting with someone who had had that experience would be really fascinating. For me, coming to this game now, it just doesn’t fit into with my wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am gaming style of late (see the GGTOW manifesto for more deets). Continue reading