Nights: HD Release

nightsintodreams

Nights: HD Release

Fans of the classic Sega Saturn game have something to celebrate as HD release of Nights into Dream will be coming this fall. About 16 years ago, July 5th, 1996, Knights was released for the Sega Saturn featuring a unique gameplay style, beautiful graphics and an awesome soundtrack. The HD release will feature updated graphics and features such as trophies/achievements, and leaderboards.

nightsintodreams

Chris Olson, Vice President of Digital Business at SEGA, said in the official announcement: ”The SEGA Saturn offered many unique gaming experiences, and NiGHTS into dreams… stands out as one of the most recognizable titles that found a home on the system. We’ve gotten a lot of requests about this game over the years, and are very happy to be able to give both former Saturn owners and new players a chance to play it in its most beautiful form to date this fall.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSHcbnu49lI[/youtube]

Currently we only know that the game will be released in the fall for the PC, PSN and XBLA. As we get a firm date, we will bring it to you. The retro releases continue out of Sega HQ as word of a HD release of Jet Set Radio is slated to be released around the game time.

Red Parsley’s Favorite Games: Part 7

Fighters Megamix – Saturn (1997)

Fighters Remix - Sega

Rarely have I looked forward to a release like I did this one! Unlike many gamers, I never really warmed to the Virtua Fighter style of combat, but it had its good points, and I did like Fighting Vipers a lot, so imagine my excitement at receiving news of this! The extensive roster of combatants includes all of those from both VF2 and FV and let you fight in the style of either game, and also included a dozen or so secret unlockable characters and multiple play modes, so for its day it was a beat ’em up with a lot of longevity. Despite being fond of Candy (for the obvious reasons), I usually fought as Raxel – who wouldn’t enjoy smashing people through walls with a Flying V guitar?! Until Soul Calibur came along, this was the most feature-laden fighting game I’d played and it’s still immensely enjoyable.

Arkanoid – Spectrum (1987)

Arkanoid

Back in the days of game compilations, the 8-bit computers were the systems of choice, and thanks to Taito Coin-Op Hits I had some great games to occupy my time. Using up most of it was this ultra-addictive Breakout clone. Despite the weird controls which made the bat move faster in one direction than the other, I couldn’t get enough of this. I even managed to finish it with the help of a lives cheat (enter ‘PBRAIN’ as a highscore name)! Taking the Breakout concept and adding power-ups and more varied stages was a masterstroke and the game was perfectly suited to the Speccy. Nice crisp, colourful graphics and a well-graded difficulty level made this a great conversion of a fantastic game that hasn’t aged at all. Round three still gives me nightmares though!

Golden Axe – MegaDrive (1989)

Golden Axe

Christmas morning, 1990… finally I got my hands on Sega’s 16-bit powerhouse. I played each game as I unwrapped them and the first one was… Golden Axe! Famously billed by Mean Machines magazine as ‘arcade perfect’ (it’s not), this was one of the best of a decent selection of launch titles for the MD and, after Revenge of Shinobi, my favourite. Not only was it a top conversion of their hit arcade game but Sega also kindly included an extra level and a new play mode called ‘Duel Mode’, which saw the player take on a succession of ever-tougher enemies, to prolong the admittedly short hacking action. A superbly playable game with a great soundtrack, and immense fun for one or two players.

After Burner 2 – Arcade (1987)

After Burner 2

This Super-Scaler classic has its critics, but they usually relate to the home conversions. After Burner belongs in the arcade and in this specially equipped environment I don’t think too many people could argue that it’s an experience to behold! Clambering into the sizable cockpit, grabbing the yoke, and blasting off from the Sega Enterprises carrier is something that can be experienced all too rarely these days but it’s never ceases to thrill. I’ve never been particularly good at this game (those pesky varmints that attack from behind – grrrr!) but it’s always a pleasure to let fly a few missiles, nearly get lost in the smoke trails, perform a barrel-roll to get out the way, shoot down a few jets, etc, repeat often!

Dragon’s Fury – MegaDrive (1992)

Dragons Fury

My appreciation of this pinball classic is well-known! It’s inclusion in the list of My Favourite Games goes without saying, the only point of contention is which version to include. Both the PC Engine original and this MegaDrive conversion are amazingly playable games, but they have their differences. Based purely on how much time I’ve spent playing each version though, I’d have to plump for the MD version, plus it’s a bit easier! Smacking a pinball around a table infested with all manner of demonic minions and horrific creatures of unimaginable horror would be entertaining to start with but when you include flawless ball physics, an extensive and intricate scoring system, bonus tables, and a superb soundtrack, pinball videogames simply do not get any better than this!

 

My Favourite Games: VI

Gran Turismo – PlayStation (1998)

Gran Turismo - PlayStation

There’s been a few landmark driving games over the years but I can’t remember any that had the impact that Gran Turismo had. Much of the adulation it received initially was earned by the near photo-realistic quality of its action replays, although this always confused me – sure they look good, but it’s the game that counts, isn’t it? Luckily, this aspect of the game was also ground-breaking in many ways. Featuring masses of real cars, numerous testing circuit-based courses, extensive car customisation options, and lots and lots of competitions, this was a driving game fan’s dream come true, and is still the series others aspire to. Many prefer one of the various sequels but this original is the one I always return to, mainly because I’ve never been too good at ‘simulation’ driving games but this game lets you keep boosting the power of your car until you’re more powerful than your rivals (the sequels brought in BHP limits for races)! My trusty Honda Prelude destroys all!

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

Super Metroid - SNES

I can still remember buying this game second-hand in my local game/music store. I had little knowledge of it and, thanks to my prior Sega allegiance, I had never played the earlier Metroid games, but I had heard that it was supposedly something special. I really didn’t know what to expect so, upon playing it for the first time, proceeded with caution. What followed was one of greatest awakenings of my gaming life! I was initially wondering what was going on (no one reads instruction books unless they get stuck!) but was quickly immersed in the atmospheric, haunting world of Brinstar and all the other amazingly designed areas of Super Metroid’s world. Not many games have hooked me like this one did – I spent hours, days, weeks trying to uncover all the secrets and explore every square inch of its fascinating game world. In fact, given my love of this game, it’s nothing short of insane that I have yet to get around to playing the subsequent Metroid games!

Exhumed – Saturn (1997)

Exhumed - Saturn

Due to my lack of interest in modern gaming and PC gaming generally, there’s very few first-person shooters I’ve actually played – something which perhaps needs to be rectified – but this is one of the few exceptions, and a damn fine one it is too. Its set in and around Egypt which gives it the potential for a great story and lots of secret passages and traps, not to mention a fantastic atmosphere! It strikes the perfect balance between puzzles, exploration, and shooting and features a huge game world to play through, with new parts of older levels being continually opened up after the acquisition of new items and abilities. A superbly programmed game by the now sadly defunct Lobotomy Software which did things on the Saturn that supposedly weren’t possible.

Psycho Fox – Master System (1989)

Psycho Fox - Master System

My affection for the Master System has been well documented in these pages and this is one of my very favourite games for it. Sure, in mere screenshots it probably just looks like every other 8/16-bit platformer going – grass, desert, ice stages, formulaic characters, cute graphics, etc, but take the time to play it and you’ll find that it’s a lot more than that. Featuring four playable characters with unique abilities that you can switch between using ‘transformation sticks’, large stages with multiple routes, a perfectly-graded difficulty level, and lots of secrets, there’s plenty here to keep any fan of platformers happy for a good while. It is also home to several features that I hadn’t seen before, but which would later become commonplace in the genre, so for it’s time it was pretty original too. On top of all that, it has springy poles that can fling you halfway across the stage! Great fun and addictive as hell!

Ocarina of Time – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Ocarina of Time - Nintendo 64

To my shame this remains the only Zelda I’ve played properly (yes, I know!) – as much as I have enjoyed the few RPG’s I’ve played, I guess my attention span isn’t up to it! However, this game was one of the few I’ve actually bought full price on the day of release and it was worth every penny. Like Super Metroid, Link’s first 3D adventure draws you into its world completely and hours pass by without you noticing. Featuring lots of large areas and dungeons, many of which reveal new secrets every time you return to them, countless side-quests, dozens of characters to interact with, and a whole host of items and equipment to collect, some new, some old, this is about as immersive as videogames get for me. Now, I must get around to playing A Link To The Past!

 

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 1

Bubble Bobble (1986)
By: Taito Genre: Platform Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: Arcade First Day Score: 180,180
Also Available For: Master System, Game Gear, Saturn, PlayStation, X68000, NES, GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, FM Towns Marty, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, MSX, PC

What more can be said about this all-time great? Whilst perhaps not as well known as Mario or Sonic, the cute dinosaurs of Bubble Bobble are just as iconic to many gamers, myself included, and have now appeared in a lot of games on nearly every system ever created, in one guise or another. My first encounter with the bubble-blowing twins was in ‘Kwiki Meals’, the cafe near my college. It was here that I ventured every lunchtime to play Bubble Bobble (and eat a burger), and I was often late back to class! It was the game that first brought the great Taito to my attention and they’ve been one of my favourite companies since. Sadly, both Kwiki Meals and the arcade masterpiece it once housed are now long gone but I’ve had a regular fix of Bubble Bobble ever since.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 2

Most of you will know the drill by now – Bub and Bob have been turned into dragons by the evil Super Drunk who has also kidnapped their girlfriends! In order to get them back and be restored to Human form, they must battle their way through a hundred rounds of multi-platformed, monster-infested caves until they can face, and hopefully defeat, Super Drunk. Bub and Bob, who start each round in the bottom left and bottom right corners of the screen respectively, must clear each single-screen round of baddies in order to proceed to the next. To do this you must trap them in bubbles which both Bub and Bob can blow at will. The bubbles fly forward quickly, before floating up the screen being carried by the air currents in the caverns. Freshly-blown bubbles are surrounded by a shiny orange aura until they are a certain distance away and it is only during this brief period that enemies can be trapped in them.

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 3

Once an enemy is trapped in a bubble, it must be popped quickly to kill it, either by touching it with the spines on Bub and Bob’s head and back, by jumping on it, or by pushing it into a wall. If you fail to pop it quickly enough, it will pop by itself, and the re-released enemy will be angry and much faster. It’s also possible to bounce off bubbles instead of popping them when you jump on one or fall on one from above. This is an essential skill to learn as sometimes it’s the only way to escape from part of a level or reach some high platforms. Bubbles also stick together if they touch each other, whether they contain enemies or not, so if you time it right you can cause a mega-pon chain reaction meaning mega-points! There are eight different types of standard enemy altogether and each has his own movement patern. Learning these are obviously the key to success here, but don’t take too long – if you stay on one stage too long, the undefeatable Baron Von Blubba will appear and stalk you until there’s nowhere left to hide!

Bubble Bobble - Arcade Gameplay Screenshot 4

One of this game’s many memorable points is that it jointly holds the record with its own sequel as one of the most fruit laden game ever (this is a good thing)! Items are spilled on a platform somewhere in the level every time an enemy is vanquished and other items appear seemingly out of nowhere now and then. There is an enormous amount of them to be found, some of which are very useful, particularly the umbrella which skips several levels, and there are power-ups and various kinds of screen-clearing smart bombs too. Some other items are even available in different colours, varying their effect. Also appearing liberally are lots of different fruits, gems and foods which can be seized for bonus points. Additional bubbles sometimes get ‘blown’ onto the screen by the air currents running through the caverns, and included amongst these are ‘special’ bubbles which, when popped, unleash special powers. These include fire bubbles, which spill fire which scorches enemy’s, lightning bubbles which sends a enemy-killing lightning bolt across the screen, and water bubbles, which send a torrent of water cascading down the platforms killing all enemies in its path. The last kind of bubbles to be found contain letters. Collecting them will gradually spell out E-X-T-E-N-D down the side of the screen. Complete the word to clear the round and get an extra life!

There are many more little intricacies and nuances to this game and to be honest, I could go on all day about them, but discovering them for yourself is one of the things that makes Bubble Bobble as great as it is. Despite initially seeming random, almost everything you do has some sort of affect on the game, from how quickly you finish a round right down to a particular digit of your score when you reach a certain point. Many games have been called classics over the years. Whether they truly are or not depends on your definition of the term I suppose, but few are as genuinely timeless as Bubble Bobble.

The cute, colourful graphics which are full of character, that music by Zuntata which could just be the catchiest tune of all-time, the flawlessly structured gameplay, the fiendish stage design, the fantastic fun of jumping around the platforms trying to time an attack to perfection, playing the game with a friend, it goes on and on. It’s regularly sited as one of the greatest games of all-time, and it’s hard to argue. Bubble Bobble isn’t just a single screen platform game, for many it’s the single screen platform game! It’s certainly true that it’s among the most enduring platform games of all-time and that kind of lasting adulation can only be for one reason…

RKS Score: 10/10

Top 5 Planets

Venus
Venus
Its atmosphere has constant lightning and is so dense the first few Venera probes sent by the Russians were crushed before reaching the ground, and the ones that managed to land unscathed only lasted an hour or so before melting, there is sulphuric acid rain, the entire surface of the planet features evidence of volcanic activity, and the entire planet leaves a tail behind it in space, much like a comet, due to the Sun’s solar wind! Oh, and it looks like a really bright star from here…
Saturn
Saturn
Because it has rings, of course! Oh, and it’s got such a low density it would float in water (if there was a bowl big enough)…

Mars

Mars
One reason could be Olympus Mons, a volcano three times higher than Mount Everest, and over 500 km wide at its base. Another could be Valles Marineris (see picture), an immense canyon 4000 km long (compared with the Grand Canyon on Earth at 446 km). But let’s face it – the main reason is because it has Martians!
Earth
The largest and most diverse of the terrestrial planets, and home to many natural wonders of amazing beauty, and many species of plant and animal life. Unfortunately the dominant species is an ignorant, self-destructive, and irresponsible one which is slowly destroying the aforementioned natural beauty in the name of comfort and convenience. Would be in the number one spot were it not for them…

Jupiter

What else? The gargantuan Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all the other planets in the Solar System combined, has such immense gravity that it ‘squeezes’ its nearest large moon, Io, causing constant volcanic eruptions (and also stopped the asteroids inside its orbit from coelescing into a fifth terrestrial planet), has such an enormous magnetic field that, if visible from Earth, would make it appear as large as the Sun, despite being over five times further away, has a moon bigger than some planets (coughMercurycough), has its own (though lesser known) ring system, and of course… The Great Red Spot! A hurricane-like storm three times bigger than Earth that has already lasted for hundreds of years! Yeah!

Top Five Saturn Fighting Games

After revitalising the fighting game genre with Street Fighter 2, the mid-90’s saw a huge influx of titles. The 16-bit consoles got a lot of good (and not so good) ones and this continued with the 32-bit systems with the added bonus of some fancy new 3D ones too. Many franchises popular today were born during this period, with the Saturn as well as the PlayStation getting some top titles. Given the unfortunate lack of success for the Saturn outside its native territory, many of its best games never left Japan including a lot of fighting games. Consequently there’s still a lot I haven’t played, but of the ones I have played, these are my favourites:

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I’ve traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven’t played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. Vampire Saviour (1998)

This third (and so far, final) entry in the Darkstalkers series from the awesome Capcom was only released in Japan so I wasn’t really able to play it until I finally got my lovely Skeleton Saturn. My copy of the game unfortunately came without any instructions too, so I had to try and work out most of the moves myself, but it was worth the effort! This highly creative series never really seems to get the plaudits that Capcom’s other franchises do which is strange as its horror/monster themed character roster gives it huge potential which is largely realised with some outrageous combatants and special moves. The graphics and music are also of the usual Capcom high quality and there’s really no bad points to be found here. Another one please, Capcom!

Vampire Saviour

4. Marvel Super Heroes (1997)

Capcom and SNK were both great supporters of the Saturn but it was releases by the former that dominated mine. X-Men Children of the Atom was good but the game suffered somewhat during the PAL conversion process, as was often the case. Marvel Super Heroes, however, was also a fantastic game but also received a top-notch port too. Despite featuring some typically flawless play-mechanics, let’s face it – there’s one reason why this game has such appeal and that’s the opportunity to smack people up as Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man, Magneto, and all the rest! It’s a pretty short game, and pretty easy for Capcom standards, but the graphics and music are awesome and the moves given to these famous characters are supremely satisfying to execute.

Marvel Super Heroes

3. Last Bronx (1997)

Not many people seem to know about this one for some reason which is a bit odd considering it kicks arse! Converted from the arcade game of the previous year, Last Bronx is a weapon-based fighting game set in a alternate Tokyo run by vicious street gangs. There are eight selectable characters battling for supremacy as well as a final boss, and each uses his or her own weapon. Graphically this is among the Saturn’s best – it runs in high-res mode and with 60fps and the backgrounds are in full 3D. There’s even motion-blur on the weapon attacks! Yes, you could say it’s Virtua Fighter 2 with weapons but I much prefer this to the more well known game. Featuring a nice selection of characters, some superb moves, and a decent challenge, this violent brawler is well worth your time.

Last Bronx

2. Fighters Megamix (1997)

Virtua Fighter 2 or Fighting Vipers. Which do you prefer? For me it’s the latter, hands down. To be honest, I just can’t be arsed to spend months learning all the intricacies of the characters in VF2. Vipers is far more accessible for me with its amour-cracking, wall-smashing mayhem. Then again, Sega, if you’re going to give me both in the same game I certainly won’t complain! Celebrated upon its release as a possible saviour for the Saturn and still sited as one of its ‘killer apps’, Megamix truly was a treat for Sega’s loyal and long-suffering fans. It featured, what was at the time, a staggering array of characters, play modes, and secrets and remains without question one of the system’s most entertaining titles.

Fighters Megamix

1. Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)

Sorry, maybe it’s predictable and not terribly daring but the simple fact is, I’ve played this more than all the previous four games combined! I just love the Street Fighter ‘universe’ with all the distinctive characters and their back-stories and this is one of my favourites. The graphics are top-notch too with superbly drawn sprites and backgrounds and the energetic soundtrack really adds to the atmosphere. As is usually the case, I’m not sufficiently skilled to make the most of the highly intricate gameplay that is typical of the series but that doesn’t stop me from getting a lot of enjoyment from repeatedly playing through the game as Ryu, or even being daring and trying another character! A near-flawless fighting game, and probably my second favourite ever!

Street Fighter Alpha 2

Special Note: Apologies for the quality of the screenshots here, I haven’t yet worked out how to grab my own for Saturn games so I’ve had to rely on alternative techniques! P.S. if you’re one of the ones I borrowed a screen shot from, thanks for not being one of dicks who tags theirs!

Sexy Parodius

Sexy Parodius box

Sexy Parodius

I’ve played a lot of strange games in my time, but it has been a while since I have constantly yelled out WTF during gameplay. Sexy Parodius is an arcade shooter made by Konami and from the research I did is the fifth and last in the series. Sexy Parodius is a parody of the Gradius series with a lot of strange enemies, bosses, oh and sexual innuendo.

Sexy Parodius screenshot
Sexy Parodius screenshot

Now my version was not in English, but from what I was able to tell an evil octopus is taking items from different people and it is your job to get them back. You can choose from a team of characters including sexy bunny sisters Hikaru and Akane, Takosuke the Octopus, Koitsu the stickman.

Sexy Parodius screenshot
Sexy Parodius screenshot

Some characters have a normal looking ship while others, like stickman, ride a paper airplane. As stated this is a side-scrolling shooter so your main job is to avoid enemy incoming fire and take them down. However, the enemies can be everything from flying foxes to cows being flung out of a jar that says milk. At the end of each level you come up against a boss and once you defeat it you can move on.

Sexy Parodius screenshot

In the video I only completed the first level, but from there it get’s, uh, sexy. The enemies and bosses change to things like skimpily clad women and it makes me wonder why would you want to shoot that.

Sexy Parodius screenshot

Sexy Parodius is one of those games that would be even better drunk or perhaps that is how the game was imagined, I don’t know. Sexy Parodius was released to the arcades in 1996 and ported over to the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn. In 2007 it was ported to the PSP.