SEGA Saturn Classic WHAT?

With rumours of a SNES Classic, with built in games similar to the madly successful NES Classic, in production, it’s time to ask the important question: why isn’t there a SEGA Saturn Classic? 

No, wait! Don’t leave! It’s been over 20 years since the ill-dated Saturn’s release. The console, which was notoriously difficult to program for, is one of the few retro consoles not to be revisited through remasters or collections. Saturn did have a few PC ports back in the day though only a couple – like Nights – popped up on modern consoles. Despite its bad rep and overshadowed by its similarly fated younger sibling Dreamcast, the Saturn had a solid line up. I remember trading in my original PS1 for one in 1997 and have fond memories of SEGA’s 32bit powerhouse. Here are my picks for a retro re-release (in no particular order):

  1. Virtua Fighter
  2. Virtua Fighter 2
  3. Fighters Megamix
  4. Fighting Vipers
  5. Daytona USA
  6. SEGA Rally
  7. Manx TT
  8. Nights
  9. Sonic 3D 
  10. Sonic Jam
  11. Tomb Raider
  12. Panzer Dragoon
  13. Panzer Dragoon Zwei
  14. Panzer Dragoon Saga
  15. Burning Rangers 
  16. Radiant Silvergun
  17. Virtua Cop
  18. Virtua Cop 2
  19. Exhumed
  20. Resident Evil
  21. Street Fighter Alpha
  22. Street Fighter Alpha 2
  23. Street Fighter Alpha 3
  24. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  25. Clockwork Knight
  26. Clockwork Knight 2
  27. Croc
  28. Wipeout
  29. Marvel vs Streetfighter
  30. Xmas Nights

A few years ago, I bought a Saturn and built up a solid little collection (Fighters Magamix and the Hoky Grail – PD Saga) but sold it again (alas, this would not be called penniless dads if I still owned SAGA!). The cases and the SEGA-blockiness of the accessories evoke tactile memories of a solid albeit clunky machine.

 This was the first ‘next gen’ console I heard about and changed my mind to and fro between this and PlayStation before eventually being swung by a certain Namco racing game – before switching mid generation to Saturn. If not a classic console – complete with light gun, racing wheel and Nights controller please – then a collection akin to Rare Replay would not go amiss. Some of these games are difficult to play in 2017, finding working memory cards and wrestling to make the Saturn talk to modern TVs. It would be a shame if Saturn was lost into space forever. 

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Dear Nintendo

As E3 looms near, the house of Mario is expected to be finalising plans for the ‘virtual console’ (Nintendo Classics?) feature on the newly launched Switch. We know its coming; the paid online service is due to launch later this year with a monthly pair of rental retro games. What are the possibilities for this service and which will we likely see? 

iNintendo 

Without doubt, the most consumer friendly model would be to transfer all existing digital purchases to Switch. Not. Going. To. Happen. Nintendo already set a precedent for this with Wii U, charging to ‘upgrade’ Wii virtual console purchases to Wii U. I have dozens of virtual console purchases across Wii, Wii U and 3DS. It would be a massive incentive to keep consumers in the Nintendo ecosystem if ones shiny, new Switch had all of these games ready to download as soon as you log into your account. There’s a reason people swear by their iPhones or androids; we are invested. Years of apps, games and media tied to our accounts. Reasons for us to carry on with the same family of devices. The lack of this on Nintendo’s part gives consumers an excuse every generation to not buy the latest machine. The ‘Apple’ model is unlikely but would go some way to drawing back in lapsed fans.

Nintendflix

On other console families, streaming of AAA data intensive games is a reality. Realistically Nintendo could stream NES, SNES, N64 or even GameCube games wirelessly for a monthly subscription. The obvious downfall of this model would be the Switch’s portability although there are possible workarounds. Steaming may actually be counter effective as the data these games would take to simply download would be minimal. Microsoft are close to launching a similar attractive service one Xbox One; this would again soften the blow of all those existing virtual console purchases out in the ether. This does seem at odds with what we already know but may be a possibility.

Nintendo Allstars

Last generation, the ‘HD Collection’ was born. Packages of PS2 era games upscaled for modern consoles. This trend has continued over to this generation. Bundles of games now running at 60fps and has 1080p. Other than Metroid Prime Trilogy, Nintendo has shied away from bundling its games together. Perhaps under the label ‘Nintendo Classics’ we might see some of these appear on Switch. Paying for Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask or Twilight Princess remasters again may feel unfair but as a collection, coughing up again seems an easier pill to swallow. If you compare the value in a collection like Rare Replay to the Wii U’s virtual console, Nintendo’s current model does not fare well in comparison.

21st Century Nintendo

Without a doubt, my favourite option. What if Nintendo updated their retro library? Imagine a classic like Super Mario Bros 3 where you could choose which graphical options you wanted (NES or SNES). Imagine online leaderboards for speed run times or scores. Imagine every game in Nintendo’s library having these options. Give Mario Kart 64 online modes (battle!). Give us all the bells and whistles we expect from 21st Century games. The Wii release of Pokemon Snap included an additional photo share feature not found in the original so we know Nintendo is prepared to to do this to an extent. 

20th Century Nintendo

Unfortunately, we as consumers have been part of the problem. How many times have I paid for Ocarina of Time? Once on N64, once on Wii, upgraded it for Wii U and I got the 3D remaster on 3DS. Times have changed though I fear Nintendo may not. It is still a realistic possibility we are expected to pay £5+ for a NES game for Switch –  albeit tied to My Nintendo accounts. This is clearly the worst case scenario but, again, a possible one.

Roll on E3…

Destined?

I’m going to buy Destiny 2. There are some games that I always want on my HDD ready to jump into. That’s Destiny. I’m going to buy it digitally – at full price. Not many games can demand that decisiveness of purchase. My modest gaming budget for September into October is going to Bungie. Judging by how many hours I spent on the original, it will be a wise investment. 

Last week, the first Destiny 2 gameplay was revealed. This footage wasn’t for me; this trailer would be to get new players in. My mind was made up already. What could they possibly show me? Then I watched it. The familiar sight of the Tower being decimated – loot and all – wipes the slate clean for new guardians to join the fight whilst at the same time drawing a line under Destiny 1 for existing players. The horrowing sight in the linking corridor to the Speaker’s area got me. This trailer was for me. The attention to detail of the robot I’d passed thousands of times (usually to find Xur, not the speaker) still sweeping diligently amid the chaos yanked on the memories of hundreds of hours of play. That’s Destiny. 

Before Destiny, games had hype and noise around them but I remember something being different about it. I had been very passive towards it in the build up. ‘Online’, ‘co-op’ and ‘shooter’ were not in my vocabulary. Although Halo had grabbed my attention briefly it had been more out of curiosity. September 2014 – I remember watching let’s plays of the game pre-release and something hooked me. It looked fun. I’d played Halo because I felt it was part of the rite of passage as an advocate of the medium but Destiny looked fun. I didn’t have any idea what I was watching until after I’d bought the game a few weeks after release. The footage was of a warlock sliding, shooting and – storming the moon. More and more footage was watched before I finally took the plunge. 

At this point in life, my first born was nearly one and although not as penniless as I am now (it really hits you after child number 2 FYI) time to play games was in decline. No longer could I get away with sneaky PS4 sessions whilst she slept on me. Now she could talk and wanted to do stuff. Destiny’s loop of short jump in, jump out missions, familiar strikes and I’ve-only-got-5-minutes-let’s-do-a-patrol fit my new lifestyle perfectly. It was comfort food. How many times did I – along with 2 other random guardians – take down Sepiks Prime? It was familiar, easy to slot into mid game – comfort food. Put any seasoned Destiny player into those original strikes and I guarantee they will know immediately what’s going on and what they need to do. That’s Destiny.

Destiny 1 and all it’s add ons sucked me back in twice again over the last 3 years. No other game has seen me return to it so often. My recent ‘lost weekend’ (read: month) with Zelda: Breath of the Wild reminded me of each time Destiny pulled me back, thrusting a rocket launcher into my hands. It will be interesting to see if Zelda: BotW has the longevity Destiny had. It never bothered me the complaints about the story or my robotic companion. Destiny is the best gun play in any game. Any FPS which doesn’t follow the control scheme or make that satisfying pop of sparks when you make a Fallen headshot seems wrong.

Hiding behind those boxes on Mars. Pegging it through the Dust palace. Bugging out as the last guardian standing. Geeking out over Firefly alumini voice actors. Sitting down when a mission’s complete. Having your phone next to you to figure out exactly how you get the things to make your things better. As Cade 6 told us in that first trailer, that’s all gone now…

I can’t wait to do it all over again. That’s Destiny. 

Virtually Over

Whilst perusing the PlayStation store – like a lost lamb – I’ve found myself scrolling, sorting and just staring at the PlayStation VR section. When announced, I remember saying it looked promising but I wouldn’t commit until there was a Batman game…Well after E3 2016, I made my commitment. Having played Arkham VR as well as a handful of other experiences (Battlefront, Rise of the Tomb Raider among them) I now find myself desperately seeking the next game to justify my expensive new purchase. 

Full disclosure; Resident Evil 7 was too scary in VR. The Killer Croc bit in Arkham VR led to a rapid removal of the headset and hiding behind the settee. Playing the Kitchen demo and the cat jumping on me was the last straw. The off screen benefits of PlayStation VR can not be ignored but what outweighs the minority of essential experiences and this facility is the growing noises  – or lack of – from Sony.

Now 6 months in, PlayStation VR – and VR in general – has already started to mimic the slow, undignified deaths of Wii U and PlayStation Vita. An initial sense of optimism, coupled with a smattering of launch curios has led to a worrying roadmap for my sleek, beautiful visor. Where are the first party offerings? Why aren’t lesser VR apps etc ported up to the PlayStation headset? There’s only so many Minecraft 360 degree videos one can watch on YouTube. 

Desperately trying to justify the purchase, the lack of anything of interest now or on the horizon, signifies what this ultimately always was; a tech experiment. Splintering user bases has never worked in the console space (32x, N64 expansion pak, Kinect etc). Nor, has sharing of development resources. Microsoft, Sony and now Nintendo have all had more optimal output with just one clear focal point. All of which has led me to a sad conclusion. PlayStation VR is done. The slapped on Move controllers already outdated with the lack of a z axis and chugging on the now 3 year old PS4 hardware. Couple this with shoddy Pro support, this was never going to be the next big thing. Just Sony not wanting to miss a trick. I backed the wrong horse so PlayStation VR, say hello to eBay…hashtag sad face