Sega Saturn 2D Fighters Library

 While the Saturn might not have been able to keep up with the Sony Playstation in terms of 3D gameplay, Sega’s 32-bit powerhouse cleaned house with it’s 2D muscle. The 2D fighter genre is essentially the best demonstration of the Saturn’s 2D capabilities.

The Saturn’s raw power was shown off by the likes of Capcom classics such as Darkstalkers and Street Fighter Alpha 2, but when you combined the stock machine with the 1MB/4MB RAM expansion cartridge, you bascially had some amazing arcade-accurate fighters such as X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Street Fighter Zero 3, and Vampire Hunter that the Playstation couldn’t even dream of touching.

The Sega Saturn is truly one of the best systems to own for fighting fans, but when you combine it with Sega’s next console, the Dreamcast, and its jaw-dropping fighter library, you will find yourself in brawler heaven. But for now, lets see what Sega’s 32-bit machine has to offer…

 Darkstalkers, Vampire Hunter, Vampire Savior
After Capcom re-ignited arcade fever with Street Fighter 2, they created a entirely new fighting franchise with a completely re-built engine. This new series went by “Vampire” in Japan, but is better known as Darkstalkers here in the US. It featured a number of diverse characters that are inspired by every vampire and monster movie you could imagine. The fighting is also fast, furious, easy to control, and loaded with both color and splashy visual effects.

It was the largest leap of gameplay and graphic innovation that Capcom ever made in fighting games since Street Fighter II. It featured very fluid animation, exotic normal and special moves, a variety of dashes, ex-moves, and more. It was also the first fighting game that allowed air blocking. It never became as popular in the US as it did in Japan, however.

Under the cosmetic surface, however, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the Darkstalkers games and the Street Fighter Alpha series. If you analyze the moves  carefully, you will see that many of the characters are basically Street Fighter characters with new sprites. This doesn’t make Darkstalkers a bad game, but if you’re looking some something completely different from your traditional Capcom fighters, you may want to keep reading down this list.

However, if you do want to build up a solid 2D fighter library, you should not miss this series. The gameplay is tight and does include some tweaks to give it some variety. Its also nice to have a completely different character style.

While the original Darkstalkers was the only one of the series to make it to the US, Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior are definately worth tracking down. Vampire Savior was a late Saturn release and utilized the 4MB RAM cart to boost up the animation quality and deliver a breath-taking 2D experience.
Review of Darkstalkers
Review of Vampire Savior

 Street Fighter Alpha, Alpha 2, Zero 3
After the success of the multiple incarnations of Street Fighter 2, Capcom had a hard time devloping a proper follow-up. They finally took style and gameplay elements that worked for them in their new Darkstalkers franchise and combined it with a storyline that pre-dated Street Fighter 2.

The fighting system of Street Fighter Alpha is based on those of previous Street Fighter games, with a different super combo gauge from that of Super Turbo. The super combo gauge, similar to Darkstalkers, was divided into three levels. The amount of super combo gauge that was required to perform a super combo depended on the number of buttons pressed, and later on, the strength of the button.

The original Alpha game was greeted with mixed feelings for various reasons. Personally, I was initially thrown off because many of the characters I grew to love in Street Fighter 2 were missing. (Eventually as the series continued, more characters from Street Fighter II, Final Fight, and the original Street Fighter were re-introduced) Other fans were disappointed that Street Fighter Alpha did not feature nearly as fluid animation as Darkstalkers and it seemed rushed because of its low number of characters and stages.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 polished the animation a bit and included some slight story revisions. The Saturn version of Alpha 2 brought back every character from Alpha, including the hidden characters Dan, Akuma, and M. Bison. It also brought in Gen, Zangief, and Dhalsim from previous Street Fighter games, as well as Rolento from the Final Fight series. Sakura also made her first appearance in this game. The “Custom Combo” meter made it’s appearance here as well, enabling the character to execute a rush attack. Combined with quick button tapping and special moves you could string a very large combo together before the meter ran out. This would later be known as the V-Ism in Street Fighter Alpha (Zero) 3.

 Street Fighter Alpha 3 came on the scene with updated graphics and a boost to the character roster. Nearly every character from Street Fighter 2 in addition to more Final Fight characters and some completely new fighters were brought to Alpha 3 as well. The Saturn port (released only in Japan, as one of the last games for the system) is notoriously hard to find but is often considered to be superior, surpassing even the Sega Dreamcast version. The Saturn version does, however, require a 4MB RAM cart to play. This helps increase the animation quality and keep the load times down.

Personally, I think Street Fighter Alpha 2 is the most solid game because of the more balanced gameplay, tigher controls, and, in my opinion, better stage backgrounds. Many others enjoy Alpha 3/Zero 3 because of the larger character roster. It all depends what you think is most important. However, the Alpha series as a whole remains one of the most solid fighting game series ever and its almost a required aquisition for anybody interested in fighting games.
Review of Street Fighter Alpha
Review of Street Fighter Alpha 2
Review of Street Fighter Zero 3

 X-Men: Children of the Atom,
Marvel Super Heroes
About the same time as the release of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Capcom partnered with Marvel Comics to develop X-Men: Children of the Atom, which was widely praised for its faithfulness in capturing the spirit of its namesake comics via colorful animation and voice actors from the X-Men animated series.

Unlike previous X-Men video games, Children of the Atom also allowed players to helm popular X-Men villains such as the menacing Sentinel (which I wish was in later Capcom fighters) and Silver Samurai. (It also featured SF’s Akuma as a hidden final boss). COTA also helped introduce many modern fighting concepts that are now commonplace.

Capcom followed up X-Men: Children of the Atom with Marvel Super Heroes. MSH is very similar to COTA, but modified the character roster to include other Marvel chracters such as Spiderman and The Hulk. It didn’t get much larger, but instead kicked out some X-Men in order to diversify the roster a bit.

The quality of both games on the Saturn were quite good and destroy the Playstation ports in terms of animation and overall arcade accuracy. However, Marvel Super Heroes has a MUCH more noticable load time that COTA. Supposedly, the option 4MB RAM cart helps with this issue.

Both COTA and MSH were precursors to the Marvel vs. Capcom series, with elements and characters from this game having been combined with Street Fighter Alpha to create X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs Street Fighter.
Review of X-Men: Children of the Atom
Review of Marvel Super Heroes

 X-Men vs. Street Fighter
Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter
As mentioned above, these two “Vs” fighters were the result of combining the character sprites and moves from X-Men Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes, and the Street Fighter Alpha series. Mix that in with inspriration from SNK’s King of Fighters series, and you have a dream match of the original Street Fighter gang versus the best of Marvel’s comic book world.

X-Men vs Street Fighter was the first entry into what we now know of as the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Compared the the later entries in the series, X-Men vs Street Fighter has a relatively limited character roster, but it makes up for it in overall quality. The controls for the game are very tight and it is an absolute joy to play. However, due to flawed beta testing, every character in X-Men vs Street Fighter has at least one infinite combo; ironically, it is nevertheless praised by some Street Fighter fans as being the most “fun” entry of the four Marvel vs. Capcom games for precisely this reason.

In an attempt to balance XMvSF “problems”, the game engine was altered for Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, although it remained aesthetically the same. It also swapped out some of the characters for different fighters. Almost all of the X-Men  characters other than Wolverine and Cyclops were removed and replaced with other Marvel characters such as Spiderman, captain America, and the Hulk. While I don’t mind these other Marvel characters, I enjoyed the X-Men characters more, so I tend to recommend X-Men vs Street Fighter more often. However, to MSHvSF’s credit, it does have a few cool hidden characters like “Dark” Sakura and Metal Zangief.

Teamed with the required 4MB RAM cart, these two games are some of the best examples of why the Saturn was superior for 2D games over the Sony Playstation. Between the Playstation’s poor sprite capabilities and its low system RAM, the PSOne versions had to make a number of sacrifices for the games to work such as cutting several frames of animation for each character and removing true tag-team gameplay. Basically, if you want an arcade-accurate experience for these fighters, you need to go with the Saturn.
Review of X-Men vs Street Fighter
Review of Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter

 Street Fighter Collection, Capcom Generations 5
Try not to confuse this collection with the Capcom Generations 5 Street Fighter Collection. THIS Collection features two discs that contain Super Street Fighter 2 and Super Street Fighter 2X on disc one and Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold on disc two.

Both of the Street Fighter 2 variants were arcade perfect apart from the loading screens which don’t last very long. Other than the Dreamcast version of 2X, these are best home versions of Street Fighter 2.

Street Fighters Alpha 2 Gold is essentially an update of Alpha 2 (Zero 2 in Japan) that was released in Japanese arcades and known as Street Fighter Zero 2 ‘(Dash/Alpha). It added classic versions (which played like SF2) of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, Dhalsim, Zangief and M. Bison and also brought in Cammy (who was wearing the same outfit and had the same moveset she had in X-Men vs. Street Fighter). Also, selecting Shin (True) Akuma (Gouki), Evil Ryu , and Sailer Sakura (Different Color pallet plus the addition of the Sakura Otoshi special move) was easier in that you only has to press the start button a certain amount of times.

If you’re looking for a nice compilation to get your collection started, the Street Fighter Collection is definately looking into. Not only does it have two great versions of 2 of the greatest fighters of all time, but the box art is also great 🙂

If you do want a slightly less exciting Street Fighter collection, you can checkout the Japan-only Capcom Generations 5: Street Fighter Collection which includes the first three incarnations of the genre standard, Street Fighter II. The original World Warriors, Champion Edition, and Turbo Hyper Fighting are all represented in this arcade perfect port compilation.

Overall, these may be the best fighting titles you could pick up that don’t require the RAM cart. Its some of the best fighting action for a stock Saturn.

 Fatal Fury 3 , Real Bout: Fatal Fury, Real Bout: Fatal Fury Special
Fatal Fury (Garou Densetsu in Japan) was SNKs first major success in the 2D fighting genre, it introduced us to many of its most famous charaters, such as Terry Bogard and Mai Shiranui and also brought the two-plane system in order to differenciate itself from the Street Fighter games. The two-plane system allowed characters to step between the plane and dodge attacks.

Once Fatal Fury 3 arrived, the game feautured three planes in which to do battle. Fatal Fury 3 was one of the better installments of the early Fatal Fury games.

Real Bout: Fatal Fury follows up on the story of Fatal Fury and although the game shares mostly the same characters as FF3 (albeit with some new additions), the game play has been changed around in some areas with a few nice extras. In addition to some slight control changes, the characters don’t float in the air for as long when you jump. Also, there are “ring-outs”, where a character loses the round if the character is thrown into the edges of the fighting backdrop.

In Real Bout: Fatal Fury Special, the planes of movement have been changed again and are reduced from 3 back to 2. The ring outs have also been removed — instead of defeating your opponent with ringouts, they are only temporarily stunned.. Also some moves that were way too powerful in the previous version have been removed or tweaked.

Overall, these Fatal Fury games are good examples of old-school SNK fighters and between the three, you can easily see how SNK likes to experiment and tweak the gameplay in order to find what works best and keep the fighting fresh. Like other SNK games, both titles translated well to the Saturn and utilize the 1MB RAM cart.
Review of Fatal Fury 3 (NeoGeo version)
Review of Real Bout: Fatal Fury (NeoGeo version)
Review of Real Bout: Fatal Fury Special

 World Heroes Perfect
Created soon after the release of Street Fighter 2, the World Heroes series was released in the arcades and the Neo-Geo, many gamers (including myself) wrote off World Heroes as another a blatent Street Fighter ripoff. While some gamers did enjoy World Heroes, it had a number of characters that had extremely similar moves and abilities. While it still made for a decent
game, it would have been nice to see some more originality.

Though it did have a few promising concepts, clunky controls and its “ripoff” reputation preceded it. Due to this, when the series was ready to take off into its own unique style of gameplay, people simply weren’t interested, and the series decontiued with World Heroes Perfect.

In World Heroes Perfect, every character has an ABC Special Move that can be activated by pressing the A, B, and C buttons at the same time. Moves vary by character, though they all require strategic use and are easy to activate, allowing for more tactical battles.

While World Heroes Perfect hasn’t aged wonderfully, it does have its positive elements and is worth a try if you are an old-school fighting fan.
Review of World Heroes Perfect

 King of Fighters ’95, KOF ’96, and KOF ’97
While Capcom may have brought one-on-one fighting to the masses, SNK popularized the idea of team-based fighting with their King of Fighters series. KOF also introduced some interesting fighting elements such as “attack deflector” (dodging), “emergency escape” (rolling), running, short jumps, “super desperation moves”, and autoguarding attacks — each of which eventually got popularized by other fighting franchises.

Beginning in 1994, SNK released a new installment of the series every year (at least until recently). While the Saturn did not receive a port of King of Fighters ’94, it was fortunate enough to receive the next three games in the series.

The original King of Fighters game combined characters from two of its existing fighting game franchises (Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting) and reintroduced characters from games predating the Neo-Geo (such as Ikari Warriors and Psycho Soldier). This format obviously inspired the likes of Marvel vs. Capcom and even other SNK titles such as SNK vs Capcom and Neo-Geo Battle Colliseum.

 As with most SNK fighting series, each installment of King of Fighter experimented with the fighting engine, tweaked the graphics, and made other slight adjustments to not only offer fans some variety, but try to achieve the “perfect” fighting game. Since I don’t consider myself an expert on the KOF series, here’s a simplified rundown of these episodes of the King of Fighters series, via Wikipedia.org

The King of Fighters ’95 (Episode 2)
“Introduces the team edit feature which allows players to create their own 3-character team. Iori Yagami, Kyo Kusanagi’s mortal enemy, makes his first appearance… The Saturn port requires a memory expansion cartridge to run. It contains the ability to play as Saisyu and Omega Rugal using a code. ” King of Fighters ’95 actually requires its own custom RAM cart which contains many of the sprites used on the game in order to keep load times at a minimum. Because of this, you will basically need to have original copy of the game to play it (unless you have a backup AND the original KOF ’95 RAM cart)

The King of Fighters ’96 (Episode 3)
“The first edition to achieve KOF’s distinct look; its graphics and sound better resemble even KOF’s latest edition than they do those of KOF ’95. Chizuru Kagura appears for the first time. Leona Heidern replaces adopted fath er Heidern on the Ikari Warriors Team. Fan favorite Boss Team (Geese Howard, Wolfgang Krauser, and Mr. Big) makes its first and only appearance… It contains the ability to play as Chizuru and Goenitz using a code.” A 1MB RAM cart is required to play this Saturn verion.

The King of Fighters ’97 (Episode 4)
“Climax of the Orochi Saga. It still has the longest endgame battle sequence of all the KOF games. Shermie, Chris, and Yashiro Nanakase make their debut and form the Orochi Team. Shingo Yabuki, Orochi Iori, and Orochi Leona also make their debut…. [The Saturn version] contains a special art gallery feature as well as the ability to play as Orochi using a code.” A 1MB RAM cart is required to play this Saturn verion.

If you are an old-school SNK fan, these are essentials for your collection. Even though they are a decade old, they really hold up to the current games pretty well.
Review of King of Fighters ’95 (NeoGeo version)
Review of King of Fighters ’96
Review of King of Fighters ’97

 Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness
In another attempt to cash in on their ability to create great 2D fighters, Capcom developed another (short-lived) arcade franchise. with Cyberbots, Capcom maintained the overall control scheme, but successful branched off into a different “feel” for this game and brought some new ideas to the table.

While this fighter is centered about robots (The mecha in this game are a mix of the mecha parts used in the scrolling fighter Armored Warriors), it is highly superior to other robots fighters from the era such as Rise of the Robots and Zero Divide. Cyberbots oozes the best of Capcom’s style and features incredible moves with multi-hit combos, spectacular character design, and a comprehensible storyline associated with all the characters. The robots do all the fighting in this game, but the storyline is purely influenced by the pilots (you may recognize Jin Saotome from Marvel vs Capcom and Tech Romancer), human or otherwise.

Cyberbots is another import fighter which uses the 4MB RAM Cart, but it isn’t required. However, if you do use it, you will be treated to some smooth animation for both character movements and backgrounds. Either way, the game features colorful and large character sprites, impressive special attacks, and highly-detailed artwork.

 There are a lot of choices in Cyberbots in terms of selecting your fighter. You begin the arcade mode by choosing a pilot, but Capcom allows you to choose the pilot and robot independantly from each other. Most pilots can then choose a particular robot to use for battle, however a select few use only their own personal robot. There are multiple classes of robots and each has their strengths and weaknesses. This aspect helps adds some depth and strategy to the fighter.

Since you’re fighing with robots, the character’s combos and moves take some time to figure out. But once you get into it, it is a lot of fun. Cyberbots has a unique weapon system in which if you use a certain weapon or your booster jets too much, they can overheat and fall off (they can also be torn off by opponents). This limits the character to certain moves until they can pick up their weapon again.

Similar to the Armored Core series, different legs (which affect movement abilities), arms (which affect reach and melee capabilities) and weapons can be mixed and matched between the selectable robots.

Capcom also included Cyber Akuma as a hidden character for the Saturn version to round out an already impressive title. if you enjoy Capcom fighters and are looking for a somewhat hidden gem, Cyberbots it worth a try.
Review of Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness

 Waku Waku 7
Back in December of ’96, SunSoft released a wacky and insane 2D fighter for the Neo Geo titled “Waku Waku 7” (which is supposedly the sequel to their ’95 title, “Galaxy Fight”). It can be described as a Vampire Hunter-esque 2D fighter with wacky characters and over-the-top super moves.

One of the first things you will notice about Waku Waku 7 is that all the graphics are large, creative and extremely colorful (and this is reflected in the requirement of the 4MB RAM cart). Just as good as the graphics themselves, everything you want is there to convey the action as smoothly as can be imagined, very few corners have been cut here and I can’t fault the animation in any way.

Like any good game, Waku Waku 7 is easy to learn, and nearly impossible to master. With so many special moves, super moves, and other secret attacks -it will keep you busy and coming back for more. There may only be 7 characters to choose from but each of these is so unique you’ll come back for more again and again. There isn’t a weak character in the game and each one requires a very different style of play to be learnt, you won’t want to put this one down for a long time.

Waku Waku 7 is not very well-known game in the mainstream market, but it is truely a masterpiece and one of the best Neo-Geo games even and, consequently, one of the best Saturn fighters you could import.
Review of Waku Waku 7

 Astra Superstars
As a bit of a follow-up to Waku Waku 7, Sunsoft created a more anime-styled fighter with the same Darkstalkers-inspired gameplay. However, instead of designed for the aging Neo-Geo, Astra Superstars was developed for the STV arcade hardware, which brought it some great 2D capabilies and an easy port to the Saturn.

Astra Superstar also supports the 4MB RAM Cart
which brings along some beautiful and smootly-animated 2D characters, giant sprites, and incredible special effects.

Another thing that makes Astra Superstar a bit different is that the fighting all takes place in the air. Both characters are floating for the entire match. Also, in addition to pushing up on the joystick to jump up, you can also press down to jump down. This different dynamic forces veteran fighting fans to think differently when playing in order to fight effectively. Anyway, if you’re looking for something different to try, Astra Superstars is a good place to start.
Review of Astra Superstars

 Pocket Fighter
If you have played Super Puzzle Fighter 2X, you are probably familiar with the pint-sized sprites of everybody’s favorite Street Fighter and Darkstalkers characters. Pocket Fighters (aka Super Gem Fighters) takes those character sprites and actually uses them in a fighting game. While the result isn’t exactly a deep gameplay experience, you can’t help but have a bit of fun with the game. Personally, it’s one of my guilty pleasures on the Saturn and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as well.

The game still uses the gems from Puzzle Fighter but this time they are used to make your special moves stronger. Unfornately, the combos are also very dummed down, consisting of simple button mashing. However each special move produces some comical animations and costume changes.

The RAM cart is not required, but it does increase the fluidity of the animation for the Saturn version. Again, this is not a very deep fighter in any regard, but it is a simple pleasure that most die-hard Street Fighter fans will get a kick out of.
Review of Pocket Fighter (Playstation version)

 Asuka 120% Burning Fest Limited
The graphics are very nice: just what you’d expect of a 2d Saturn fighting game. The sprites are large and the animation is very smooth and blow away all three Playstation versions of the game away (including the latest “Final” game). The only quibble I have with the graphics is the fact that all the backgrounds are static; even the earlier PSX incarnations had animated backgrounds. Still, the backgrounds are rather nicely drawn compared to the PSX games, where the backgrounds were a bit pale.

The control and gameplay is where this game really shines. The controls are much like any other fighting game — except that it’s only two buttons. Even with its simple controls, you can achieve a variety of attacks that can be chained together for combos of more than a dozen hits. Don’t think that this means repeatedly tapping a button. Instead these combos actually require a bit of skill. The veteran player knows how to cancel out projectiles with attacks, dash attack a character, and juggle the opponents. This really is a game that rewards those with skill, in spite of the series’ reputation as a combo happy fighter.

 Samurai Shodown III and IV
As SNK’s premier weapons-based fighter, Samurai Shodown has not only seen a growing fan following, but the franchise has also seen its share of gameplay changes.

With Samurai Shodown III (aka Samurai Spirits: Zankurou Musouken), SNK wiped the slate clean and start fresh in order to start of a bold new direction for the franchise. The most obvious difference between this game and the earlier games in the series is the notably darker aesthetic. All of the characters have been completely redrawn, and impressively so. The animation is surprisingly smooth for all characters.

Along with the aesthetic overhaul came significant changes in the gameplay. The most obvious was the addition of two selectable versions of each character. The Slash mode tended to be the closest in style and moves to the Samurai Shodown II version of the character. Bust mode, on the other hand, implied a rule breaking version of the character. This version typically differed considerably from its Slash counterpart in gameplay and the button layout was changed, mapping the first three of the four available buttons to weak, medium and strong slash attacks, respectively. The fourth button was used for kick attacks, presumably to de-emphasize kicks in favor of the sword strikes.

The pace of the game had shifted somewhat, as many basic attacks could now be cancelled into special moves, something which was extremely rare in the first two installments. Most of SS2’s movement options had been removed, in favor of the ability to dodge attacks in addition to some other defensive abilities. The amount of damage from attacks was also greatly increased. As a result of all of these factors, matches were either very quick (just a few hits could take care of an opponent) or drawn out because of defense.

 Even though Samurai Shodown III has some bugs and balancing issues, it is usually seen as a broken-but-fun gaming experience. However, after Samurai Shodown III’s lackluster acceptance, SNK again went back to address SSIII’s complaints with Samurai Shodown IV (aka Samurai Spirits: Amakusa Kourin), and deliver a follow-up that would hopefully regain some of the magic that had made SS2 such a hit.

The most obvious change with Samurai Shodown IV is visual, with dramatically adjusted colors and larger sprites for the individual characters in order to make the game more cartoon-ish. Aerial blocking and some of III’s other new defensive abilities were removed completely from Shodown IV.

Overall, the game plays fairly similar to SSIII, but the feel is considerably different. Control has been loosened and more accurately modified, controller motions have been improved, overall damage has been reduced, the inner-frame has been added which brings visual affect realistically and one can no longer charge his/her own POW gauge. The biggest addition is probably the “CD Combo,” wherein a player can press the C and D buttons together, triggering a strike that can be followed up by a sequence of button taps.

Though the game is better balanced, the flow of it is still often regarded as lopsided for certain characters. Unfortunately, Samurai Shodown IV also has a few flaws in comparison to III such as missing frames of animation, lack of individual music themes for each character, and missing moves. To me, it’s a bit of a toss-up when it comes to whether Samurai Shodown III or IV is superior, but both games would be excellent additions to a Saturn collection. Both are excellent ports from the Neo-Geo and fully utilize the 1MB RAM cart.

 Golden Axe: The Duel
The original Golden Axe game was one of Sega’s most popular brawler series for the Genesis and in the arcades. Instead of keeping with the standard Golden Axe format for its new Saturn game, Sega turned Golden Axe into a one-on-one 2D fighter, resulting in Golden Axe: The Duel.

The Duel features characters who appear to be descendants of some of the characters in the original game. The title was released for both the arcades and the Sega Saturn console. It had a poor reception in both markets; Golden Axe fans shirked from its Street Fighter-like combo moves, but fans of the more popular fighters didn’t think it had enough combos.

I would not consider Golden Axe: The Duel an essential purchase by any means, but you may want to pick it up if you’re simply looking to round out your collection with some obscure titles.
Review of Golden Axe: The Duel

 Mortal Kombat 2, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
As one of the main competitors to Street Fighter 2 in on both home consoles and the arcades, Mortal Kombat brought more realistic characters and lots of bloody action to the 2D fighting genre. Mortal Kombat 2 is usually regarded as the best in the series, as it took everything that worked on the original and enhanced it in a number of ways. Midway increased the resolution of their characters and stages and improved the character designs. The series’ story begins to flesh out in Mortal Kombat 2 as well. In addition to more of the trademarked Fatalities, MKII also introduced the Babality and Friendship finishers.

While the standard MK3 didn’t make it to the Saturn, the console was blessed with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, which is simply an upgraded version of the original Mortal Kombat 3. In addition to MK3’s new “Run” feature, chain combos, and 2-on-2 Kombat and Endurance modes, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 also includes a number of additions such as more characters, Kombat zones, and miscellaneous other touches.

Personally, I’m more of a Street Fighter/Capcom fan, but I know there are a number of you that enjoy the Mortal Kombat series tremendously. The Saturn will bring you a superior MK experience over most other consoles — as long as you don’t mind the longer load times compared to cartridges.

 Primal Rage
Riding on the popularity of Mortal Kombat, Midway created another fighter that had a similar style (and possibly used the same engine), but featured prehistoric creatures as the featured fighters.

Like MK, Primal Rage takes a bloody twist when you use the brutal finishing attacks known as Domination Moves. There are also a few nifty elements that gives Primal Rage some added character over some other fighters such as eating human beings in order to regain health and using cheap tactics to win the match. The combination system, however is rather lacking and requires good reflexes and timing in order to pull them all off smoothly.

The Saturn version is actually one of the best home versions you can get of this fighter, but it is not quite as good as the Atari Jaguar or 3DO ports. It does feature some interesting visual effects and excellent audio.

Overall, you will find that Primal Rage is a fighting game that is built with simplicity in mind and little else going for it until you start getting into the intense battles and have a hard time getting the more difficult special attacks off.

Other Not-So-Great Fighters:

  • Pretty Fighter X – It’s not a terrible game, but its a fairly generic all-girl fighter. It can be fun for a few minutes if you’re bored.
  • Rise of the Robots 2: Resurrection – The graphics of the original looked cool in the 16-bit era, but the gameplay is almost non-existant. Not sure why they even bothered with a sequel.
  • Street Fighter: The Movie – The style of the game is similar to Mortal Kombat, but the game is almost as bad as the movie.

I want to provide Wikipedia with a special thanks for much of the information found on this page

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44 Comments

  1. AMAZING! I want a Saturn now! Hehehe…

  2. Mozgus says:

    My god. Are you actually familiar with all these fighters? Where do you find the time? I see you got info from Wiki, but still…wow.

  3. racketboy says:

    I’ve played all of them at least a little bit. Mostly the SF-related ones.

    I had to pull some details from Wikipedia for specifics I was not educated in

  4. Tahir says:

    I loved Street Fighter Alpha 2. I use to love doing Akuma’s finishing move where the whole screen went white and you just saw flashes. I wish I had got Vampire Saviour, that looks awesome.

  5. marurun says:

    The original Darkstalkers was never released on the Saturn at all, actually. Night Warriors is the US version of Vampire Hunter and the only title to be released in the US on the Saturn. And the Saturn Vampire Savior is actually more of a port of Vampire Hunter 2, the immediate arcade sequel/upgrade to Vampire Savior. There was a later Vampire Savior 2 version released in Japan, but like Vampire Hunter 2, it changed little.

    Or so I have read 🙂 But I thought you could use the correction.

  6. marurun says:

    And before I forget, the “prequel” to Waku Waku 7, which you mention when writing about WW7, is also on the Saturn. Why didn’t it make your article?

  7. Saraph says:

    Its worth noting that Alpha 2’s Dhalsim and Zangief had no super moves and played like their original versions in the Street Fighter II series. (This would later be changed in the Street Fighter Collection).

    Yup, play it again, or even read your instruction manual. They have supers, you probably got the information from an early version of the game, or mixed up the fact that you can play as the Street Fighter II versions (Uncluding Chun-Li). You also left out Mortal Kombat Trilogy. If you needed help explaining some of these, check the forums, I’m sure there are a few SF experts in there (me).

  8. racketboy says:

    thanks guys! so many different versions and/or names to keep straight. I was a little foggy on some of it and I appreciate you helping me out.

    I’ll get the changes made to the main post once I get some time to straighten everthing out.

  9. Saraph says:

    Street Fighters Alpha 2 Gold is basically an update of Alpha 2 (Zero 2 in Japan) that was released in Japanese arcades and known as Street Fighter Zero 2 ‘(Dash/Alpha). It added classic versions (which played like SF2) of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Sagat, Dhalsim, Zangief and M. Bison and also brought in Cammy (who was wearing the same outfit and had the same moveset she had in X-Men vs. Street Fighter). Also, selecting Shin (True) Akuma (Gouki), Evil Ryu, and Sailer Sakura (Different Color pallet plus the addition of the Sakura Otoshi special move) was easier in that you only has to press the start button a certain amount of times.

  10. Saraph says:

    Street Fighter Alpha 2 polished the animation a bit and included some slight story revisions. The Saturn version of Alpha 2 brought back every character from Alpha, including the hidden characters Dan, Akuma, and M. Bison. It also brought in Gen, Zangief, and Dhalsim from previous Street Fighter games, as well as Rolento from the Final Fight series. Sakura also made her first appearance in this game. The “Custom Combo” meter made it’s appearance here as well, enabling the character to execute a rush attack. Combined with quick button tapping and special moves you could string a very large combo together before the meter ran out. This would later be known as the V-Ism in Street Fighter Alpha (Zero) 3.

    There, if I see anything else that needs changing, I’ll add it in later.

  11. racketboy says:

    Thanks, Saraph.
    Changes have been made.
    Check the forums — I asked about that Waku Waku prequel. What game is it?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot, I’ll have to try some of these out! Think you could do one for dreamcast too? Jojo’s bizarre adventure is my favorite fighting game and I’m sure there’s other great 2D Dreamcast fighters

  13. RevQuixo says:

    Heya racket,

    Galaxy Fight is the closest thing you are going to get to a prequel to Waku Waku 7. They are both my Sunsoft and both on the Saturn..and Neo Geo. By the same token many people consider Astra Super Stars to be the sequel to Waku Waku 7 even though none of the games really has much (if anything) in common.

    Also, marvel Superheroes uses the 1 Meg Ram Cart..not the 4 Meg and the Cart that comes with KOF ’95 is a ROM cart (not RAM) that contains actually bits of the the game code and graphics.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What about Street Fighter 2 Animated Movie or SF2 Interactive Movie! for Saturn??? JAP

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think “Power Instinct 3: Groove on Fight” must be on the list.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I also have “Fighters’ History Dynamite”

  17. Tanman says:

    This is a fantastic guide, and it’s now made me want to hunt down these rare titles for my beloved Saturn.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hello,
    Great Games here!
    The most of it are owned and/or played by myself

    But i have a Problem

    can anybody scan a image(as jpg) of the backcover from Fatal Fury Real Bout(not Special)?
    I own the original game but these Cover is missing

    please send to
    Heino1980@gmx.de

    Thanx and Greetings from Germany

  19. nightcap says:

    Pretty good list, though I think Groove on Fight should be up there too.

  20. Hennessy says:

    I hate SF, soooo fucken lame and all.

  21. noor says:

    hi sir i want to know if u have golden axe revenage of death adder on sega mega drive and golden axe the duel

  22. O Soto says:

    there are few more 2D fighters
    like Rabbit http://www.segagagadomain.com/saturn12/rabbit.htm

    and Sonic Council http://www.segagagadomain.com/saturn13/soniccouncil.htm

    and Suiko Enbu – Fuuun Saiki http://www.segagagadomain.com/saturn12/funsaki.htm
    this is part 2 of Golden Axe: The Duel

    and Advanced V.G. , Dragonball Z Shinbutohden there is some others forgot the names

  23. racketboy says:

    Wow! Thanks for posting those links — I’ll have to look into those!

  24. spyder0080 says:

    great list!

    hey, do you know if you can enable english text for the import versions for these games? I know it was available for vampire saviour but how about the rest?

    thanks!

  25. Hey, about Vampire Savior or SF Zero3, Pocket Fighter. All gave an option:
    – Screen size: arcade, saturn
    – Monitor type: RGB, normal (VS: s-video or RGB).

    I test and I see no change. My saturn is connected using RGB wires to an RGB arcade monitor…

    thanks in advance.

  26. Spider:

    You can enable english text on Vampire Savior by ending the game on any difficulty level, then enter the options screen using L+R and START. The EX options menu will appear.

    Cheers,

    Robert.

  27. breakwind says:

    Though i don’t own the 3 MK Games(MK2,UMK3,MK Trilogy)on the Sega Saturn console,i like the fact that their near-arcade quality conversions,unlike the 8/16-bit versions of the former two.

  28. kazhunter says:

    Hello, I was just looking at the saturn version of MARVEL Super Heroes VS STREET FIGHTER and I noticed there are 2 different box art? Can anyone explain this?

  29. racketboy says:

    Do you have examples?

  30. racketboy says:

    Oh — it looks like one was the box outside of the package that came with a RAM cart, the other was just the cover of the game only.

  31. Nuku nuku says:

    Sonic Council is a great game, ok it´s not a street fighter or a king of fghters but i think it is a fantastic game.

  32. Jason Montgomery says:

    There is one fighting game you forgot, it was Japanese and was never released in the US.. I think it was made by Capcom and had a plkethora o\f lesser known characters.. I think one was called Hero for Hire or something?

  33. bojan4o says:

    well i dont like your post first you seems much more of a capcom fan for example me i dont really likecapcom fighter they are rubish enough said but this is just opinion dont be insulted by it or the truth

  34. masta says:

    wow this is old for the lad on the previous comment!
    but if the original author can review this article and update some stuff like galaxy fight! not awesome but good! and expand the comment on some games on how they aged!

    also notice that the title says 2D fighting games and the company that made the genera shine is capcom that is why all are capcom’s or capcom clones!

    in the Saturn era 3D fighters were in a experimental phase so back in the day 2D fighters were your only true option for a good match, consider 3D fighters like Toshinden Remix and URA or Criticom and you will see what I mean clearly, you can’t play them today but we couldn’t play them back then either and don’t forget the first version of virtua fighter it was unplayable, games that were good but not a great match were fighting Vipers, fighters megamix, and virtua figter 2 but really the choppy graphics some times are too much and camera angles were a bit of annoying, D.O.A. was cheap on the parry side so back to the 2D if you had friends over for a match your best bet was SF Alpha cause it was a fast loader way faster than the PSX version!

    in any case I hope the author revisits his post!

  35. Snkist says:

    @masta
    How in the seven hells is KoF or Samurai Spirits (Shodown) a Capcom clone? A clone of what? Capcom’s innovation was SFII, and that’s nearly it. Read the list. Darkstalkers introduced aerial blocking. KoF introduced the versus / team format and (I quote) >>”attack deflector” (dodging), “emergency escape” (rolling), running, short jumps, “super desperation moves”, and autoguarding attacks<<, while Garou Densetsu (Fatal Fury) had planes and ring-out. And how about Midway and Mortal Kombat? Featuring a completely different control scheme and unrelated gameplay – literally the only similarity is that both are fighting games (and they both had a bazillion of clones, of which there is one per franchise on this list (World Heroes and Primal Rage)). In this sense, SFII is a "clone" of the very first fighting game, and it wasn't a Capcom game, I assure you. And you should know Capcom got assured by a court of law on the matter. Google it.
    Further on, it's not really necessary for everyone to like Capcom's fighters. I actually much prefer their brawlers/beat 'em ups – almost all of those are good (Final Fight being the notable exception – its influence notwithstanding, I find it terribly boring). With that said, I personally like the fighters too – just not the ever-so-adored SFII. I fall asleep every time I play it. As a kid, I had Turbo and MK2. I still play MK2. Draw the conclusions yourself. I find the Alpha series to be best of the SF saga, with the quality dropping as the numbers go up, while the SFIII series is the opposite, but even its peak, the almost-as-loved-as-SFII 3rd Strike, with all it's beautiful animation, leaves something to be desired (for me it's probably better/more interesting characters – which is funny, because they sorta tried to do this, tried to break the mold, and then went back on it due to popular demand…guess you can never have too many shoto characters per SF game, eh?). And there was plenty of choice for 3D fighting, just not on the Saturn. Sure, VF and Toshinden were both terrible (and, to me, it was clear back then they were terrible), but Tekken wasn't, Rival Schools weren't (my favorite Capcom fighter ever, heh), MK4 wasn't, Bloody Roar wasn't, Kensei wasn't (well, I have a bit of a soft spot for that one, I loved the controls, and the characters were more detailed than Tekken, although they were even more generic, on pathetically bad backdrops), the SF EX series wasn't, nor was Thrill Kill (yeah, yeah, unreleased, god knows how we got this before the broadband age…my friend knew a decent pirate, I guess). I still play all of those today.

    @author
    What do you mean SF:The Movie:The Game was similar in style to MK? It was (is) nothing of the sort, unless you meant graphical style (digitized sprites), and that's really not a good point of comparison (since, you know, everything else is then similar to SFII or even better, Karate Champ). The gameplay was the usual SF fare, but the game was poorly made, and the controls were very sloppy. Not to mention the movie is really, really terrible.

  36. a gamer says:

    hey you for got about one!!!! http://www.killerinstinctonline.net/KISNES.jpg this one was fawkin awsome man o,..,o

  37. pakopako says:

    Always wondered how the image from MSH vs SF was taken. (I presume from a MAME of the arcade edition?)

    Probably should mention that some of these aren’t Japanese exclusives (e.g. X-Men: CotA) while some are (e.g. Pocket Fighter)

  38. CD ageS says:

    Agree with pakopako. But there are more pressing matters that need to be addressed in this guide.

    There should no question, no speculation that the 4MB cart helps shorten load times in MSH, because it simply does not! It’s actually the opposite really, increasing loading times by almost twice as long than what the game would normally load without the ram cart feature enabled.

    Now with regards to Super Turbo found in SF colletion, ST is not “arcade perfect” by any stretch. ST is littered with major framerate issues that aren’t even present in the PSone conversion.

  39. mikespizzadude says:

    @Hennessy
    You’re an idiot, go away.

  40. kerframil says:

    @Robert Hilliard – Setting the Screen Type to RGB changes some of the pseudo-transparency effects, such as the overlays containing the round number and displaying text such as “Round 1”, “Fight” and “KO”. If set to Normal, a crosshatch pattern is used. If set to RGB, the pattern appears less pixelated and comes closer to approximating an alpha-transparency effect. If you are unable to discern the difference, it’s probably because your monitor is not accurate enough for the difference to be apparent. I run my Saturn through an XRGB to a Sony KDL-55W905A so such nuances are crystal clear. I decided to stick with the Normal mode because it’s arcade accurate. Also, the overlays in RGB mode shimmer a little when the background is in motion.

    The Screen Size option has no effect on the screen dimensions. Instead, it allows for the character sprite boundaries to be positioned slightly off-screen in Arcade mode (at least, on the far left and right). This think that this is intended to emulate the effect of a high level of overscan exhibited by the monitor in the arcade cab. Setting to Original stops this from happening. If you’re running to a CRT monitor and want an an arcade accurate experience then using the latter mode might be best for you. The danger in using Arcade mode would be if your monitor already has a lot of overscan and the sprites end up drifting even further off-screen than they would visibly do so with the coin-op version. Ultimately, it’s a matter of preference.

  41. Patrick BBE says:

    You could of added “Battle Monsters” in the not so great section.