1996 is nearly over so UK:R thought we'd look back at the year and see how
things have progressed for Sega's machine.
Things couldn't have got off to a better start really as the first release was arguably the biggest. Virtua Fighter 2 took the gaming world by storm. We'd all seen the screenshots and read the glowing reviews, but it wasn't until you stuck the game in your Saturn and switched it on that you could fully appreciate it. There aren't many games that can be described as 'jaw-dropping', but VF2 is definitely one of them. Remember how all those cynics reckoned the Saturn would never be able to do it? Well they were totally silenced and the rest just took a knife and fork and ate their words. I think 'Landmark' is the word that best describes this game.
From there it was only a matter of weeks before things got even better. An equally stunning conversion of an arcade classic Sega Rally hit the shelves. This has to be the most realistic and playable race game ever released. I simply can't see anything beating it in the near future. Not until Sega Rally 2 anyway.
I have to admit from then on things got a little too quiet. There weren't really any big releases for quite a while. An average conversion of WipEout, Euro 96, Panzer Dragoon Zwei, Alien trilogy but nothing spectacular (although XMEN COTA kept Gary happy).
Towards the end of summer though things started to hot up. I like Athlete Kings quite a lot. Nice smooth hi-res graphics and better than any Playstation equivalent. Then amongst all the furore over Mario 64, Sega came up with NiGHTS , a truly amazingly innovative game. I still don't know how they thought it up. How do you come up with the idea of throwing a balloon like female opera singer through walls? (illicit substances maybe?). Exhumed by Lobotomy impressed me as well. An excellent 3D engine (again better than any PS equivalent) marred only slightly by the save facility and the lack of violence.
It was around this time that Daytona CCE was announced. Despite the hours of fun most people had from the original this was still a major release to look forward to and the rumour mill began in earnest. Hi-Res graphics and a track editor being amongst the most ambitious. It was clear that Sega were going to have a run up to christmas with a whole host of big name software, the first of which was Worldwide Soccer 97 coupled with a new ad campaign that actually showed the game in action at last.
Two weeks later came Fighting Vipers. I don't think this game sold
as much as Sega would have liked but it was still an extremely good conversion
once again, especially the implementation of the walled arenas.
It was fast approaching Daytona CCE time and amazingly Europe was going to be first to get the game but then...... disaster. Unfavourable reviews began to appear only days before it's release and peoples feelings turned from excitement to disappointment. Eventually what was one of the most anticipated games of the year left many buyers feeling cold. Ok, it was still a good game (as the UK:R poll proved) but no one can say it's everything they wanted it to be.
The top titles didn't stop coming though, Tomb Raider was the number one selling Saturn game and a personal favourite of mine. AM2 did the business yet again with Virtua Cop 2, a flawless rendition of the arcade title. With two weeks to go before Christmas Virtual On has made it in to the shops along with PC smash Command and Conquer. Unfortunately, Sega UK decided to spoil things a bit with their Christmas NiGHTS policy of only giving away the title when you purchase a Saturn or TWO games prompting Miffed Saturn owners to voice their displeasure to UK:R.
When you look back at the list of games above though, you can honestly say the Saturn has matched the Playstation for quality throughout the year and when it comes to playability, Sega's machine wins hands down. Anyway, why not tell us what you think and vote for your game of the year in our latest poll.
jon m UK:R