Usually, when you get a new-to-you console, you can usually find or remember the major games to check out. But what happens when you need something different to play? This is where the “Hidden Gems” come in.
Read More About My Criteria For Hidden Gems
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This will be a bit of a work-in-progress. I may add to these as I go along and find new games.
If you have some recommendations to add, please do so in the comments section below.
Featured Game: Featured Game: Astal
“”I was expecting Astal to be a dull, generic side-scroller, and the corny, overwrought intro didn’t help matters. But once I started playing, I was captivated. The scenery is a pastel-colored fantasy world, and the hand-drawn graphics are wonderfully artistic. Beautiful, tranquil background music compliments the visuals perfectly. The characters are large and colorful, most ranging from fantastic and bizarre. Just wait until you see the bosses – these 3D monstrosities are simply amazing. Of course, the fancy presentation wouldn’t mean squat if the gameplay wasn’t any good, but it is. The side scrolling action is slow and deliberate, but there are some innovative attacks that spice things up. You can smash the ground, toss enemies, throw things down from the air, and use a devastating breath attack. Best of all, you have a bird companion that can perform special attacks, gather items, and occasionally save your life. It’s possible for a second player to take control of the bird, which is a nice touch. Astal provides a few continues, but unfortunately there’s no password feature. It takes a while to master the controls, but it’s worth the effort. Astal is an attractive, underrated side-scroller.”
Videogame Critic’s Review of Astal
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Featured Game: Mr Bones
“”Mr. Bones’ story is of a voodoo-esque wizard who has amassed an undead army of skeletons to take over the world. One skeleton in particular, Mr. Bones, is resurrected but does not possess the evil tendencies of his cohorts… Mr. Bones then finds a blind blues musician in the woods who teaches him to play the ol’ GitBox and sends him on the soul-crushing path of professional musicianship — or world saving hero. Which ever.
The game begins as a standard side-scroller but quickly progresses into a hodgepodge of many different genres; it’s almost more an assortment of mini-games than one cohesive style. Many of the more memorable games involve music or rhythm in some fashion. The game will have you rocking out on the guitar to convert the skeletons to good, or playing the drums, or even pressing buttons in a correct order to tell jokes and … laugh the hell out of your attackers. Yeah!…”
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Featured Game: Policenauts
“The game was created by Hideo Kojima, who also created Snatcher, as well as Metal Gear, but aside from that and a few small references to Snatcher, the game is a totally independent one… and a masterpiece of a game at that.
From the incredible graphics and soundtrack, to the compelling story, Policenauts is a true classic. The only shame is that this great game was never released stateside. Even though it is obviously in Japanese and all of the nuances of the story can’t be found by non-Japanese readers, it still tells an incredible story just by sheer visual presentaton alone. If you are a fan of Snatcher, or are just looking for a game that you can fully immerse yourself in, look no further than Policenauts.”
RPGFan’s Review of Policenauts
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3D Mech Action
Featured Game: Bulk Slash
“When Sonic Team’s Burning Rangers was released on the Saturn, proclaimed to “push the system to its limits” but Bulk Slash still surpasses. With very large areas, multiple enemies, and having the ability to take battles to the sky, yet no slowdowns. Utilizing all Sega Saturn’s power having real 3D polygons unlike many other 3D titles that were released, which preferred to use layers instead…
Bulk Slash [has a] Neo-Tokyo feel ala Neon Genesis Evangelion persona to it. You start off on mission based objectives; having them explained using 3D maps of the areas. Your mech is equipped with machine guns, grenades, a laser sword for close combat, and the ability to transform into a jet. The jet has twin machine guns and can launch six homing missiles at a time reflecting Panzer Dragoon type gameplay. With a true full-360 degree range of movement – you can go anywhere on foot, and you can fly anywhere in jet mode. Powerups are everywhere, from flamethrowers, homing lasers and electric bolt grenades. Each objective is different; from destroying main targets, to protecting a ship from being destroyed. But every level has a boss encounter. Most bosses are huge, and take up most of the screen.
Special Attack’s Review of Bulk Slash
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More Great Games:
Gun Griffon 2
Featured Game: Powerslave/Exhumed
“Even if this version is a bit similar to the playstation version, the fact that it accomplished True3D to the fullest extent on the Saturn is truly outstanding! Saturn, unless harnessed by Sega, usually couldn’t do True3D very well, with few exceptions. This is one of them. I’ll never forget playing it the first time too, it was just mind blowing, even today!…
[In the game] All you start with is a Machete. From here on you have to work your way up. As you work your way through the levels, you’ll gain more weapons, and you’ll also gain artifacts that aid you in your quest. The weapons are quite mixed. You have both conventional firearms such as the pistol, M60 flamethrower and what not along with ancient weapons like the Cobra Staff and Ring of Ra. Excellent weaponry that spices up the gameplay. Many maps also have multiple exits to different worlds but only one exit will be apparent at first. As you gain artifacts as a reward from Ramses and the Gods for your bravery, you’ll find some of the levels have more accessible exits. This results in expanding more access around your world and thus getting you closer to your goal.”
BlooditeDrakan Review of Powerslave
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Shooting Action Platformers
Featured Game: Assault Suit Leynos 2
“One of my first impressions of this game was ‘Mechs meets Metal Slug’. It’s an impressive but very tough 2D Mech shooter with some spectacular graphics and gameplay… The graphics are very sharp and look superb for a 2-D side scroller. The bosses are HUGE and the explosions are top notch. The mechs look good and have the detail of the weapon they are carrying… Your Assault Suit can fire in any direction, which can be kind of annoying when you’re trying to target a specific enemy. There is also an auto-aiming mode, however, which makes targeting significantly easier. The game initially takes a bit of time to get used to, but eventually you will find that the controls are very tight and responsive.
ASL2 also has a grading system — the better a grade you get on a level, the more stuff you get, like weapons, armor, devices — and hopefully a new machine. Similar to many RPGs, you can equip your devices to your mech and they modify it in some way, like make it faster, more power, or better stats.”
Racketboy’s Review of Assault Suit Leynos 2
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3D On-Rails Shooter
Featured Game: Tempest 2000
“Fifteen years after its Atari debut, the classic Tempest makes a strong comeback on the Saturn. Tempest fans will be pleased to know that all the graphics, levels, and enemies from the original arcade game have been faithfully ported over…
The graphics are of basic vector design – no fancy texture mapping here. The playing boards vary in shape and size, and all are true to the arcade. However, the colors are not as crisp as they could be, and the shading of the boards tends to cause distortion and become more of a hindrance than eye-candy. The sound and music also make an impact on the Saturn: The thumping techno music only helps players to jam and blast their way through the levels. The addition of speech also adds a new dimension to gameplay. The only downside of the game is centered around control. Moving your shooter around the different levels takes some getting used to – the Saturn control pad does not come close to the action provided by the spinning knob found on the arcade machine.
Tempest 2000 is a challenging shooter. The game’s difficulty advances smoothly, and the play is extremely well balanced. The game combines the old, simplistic graphics with some particularly nice, new touches, namely music and voices. Gamers are in store for a solid, nostalgic gaming experience.”
GameSpot’s Review of Tempest 2000
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More Great Games:
Radiant Silvergun, Thunderforce V, Darius Gaiden, Konami’s Deluxe Packs (Gradius, Salamander, Parodius and Twinbee), Gunbird, Sexy Parodius, Thunderforce Gold Pack 1, Thunderforce Gold Pack 2
Featured Game: Battle Garegga
“You’ve probably never seen so much going on the screen at one time(at least I haven’t!!!) The Saturn handles this arcade conversion flawlessly; although, of course I’ve never seen the arcade game. But still 2D is the Saturn and it is the KING!!!
So, what’s it all about? Well, first of all, there are eight different ships to use. Although I use “ships” lightly…Each of the different ships have different standard weapons and super weapons.
SHMUPS! Review of Battle Garegga
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More Great Games:
Layer Section II
In The Hunt
Twinkle Star Sprites
Strikers 1945 II
Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men: COTA, Street Fighter Alpha series, X-Men vs StreetFighter, Night Warriors/Darkstalkers series, Marvel vs StreetFighter, Fatal Fury series, King of Fighters series, Samurai Shodown series, Mortal Kombat series
Featured Game: Waku Waku 7
“Big, colorful cartoony graphics saturate the world of Waku Waku 7. The characters are well drawn and their respective backgrounds are equally animated and creative. No ultra-serious martial arts masters in this one. If you’ve never seen a giant monster-bunny and a little girl go toe-to-toe with a pair of midgets in a walking tank, then you’re in for a treat!
Like any good game (video game or otherwise), 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. It’s even more fun with friends.
Wow, what more can I say? All that keeps this game from a perfect score is its limited amount of characters -a minor complaint indeed! Waku Waku 7 is like a really good movie you wish would never end. Unfortunately, its also a very hard game to come by, but if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a copy play it, play it, play it (you won’t be forcing yourself) -and by golly, make other play it too. You owe it to the world. ”
Neo-Geo.com’s Review of Waku Waku 7
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Featured Game: Elan Doree
“In a simple one sentence description, Elan Doree is where Panzer Dragoon meets Samurai Shodown in 3D glory. It’s a fighter, but one in which being on the ground is a disadvantage. You see, each character rides a dragon which means that you’re actually supposed to be flying at all times. Most of the fighting takes place on a 2D plane, but you do have complete freedom of 3D movement. Which means instead of merely dodging attacks, you can actually fly around and get behind your foe in a whole new way…
One neat thing about the gameplay is that you can actually knock an opponent off their dragon. Once this happens, they become momentarily stunned and you can pummel them with energy bursts from your dragon! Finally, the free flight isn’t a novelty… It’s a strategic necessity!”
ShinForce’s Review of Elan Doree
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Featured Game: Three Dirty Dwarves
“Taking control of three sports-crazy dwarves on a quest to save some children from the mysterious enemy, Three Dirty Dwarves can be played with one, two, or three players. An interesting aspect of this game is found in its not having a health meter, per se. While playing, if a character is hit by an enemy he becomes unconscious. Hitting the shoulder buttons cycles through your characters, and once you select a conscious player you simply whack the stricken character and you regain the ability to use him. I have found it much easier to play with a maximum of two people, as you always have at least one other person at the ready to smack your unconscious player back to life. This is a unique device, but in the midst of battle it’s hard to keep reviving your fallen characters…
The game does make use of some neat faux-3D elements. One of the first bosses is fought in an arena, where he stands in the center. Your characters run around him in circles while avoiding the junkyard dogs he constantly throws at you. You have to face the boss and fire your sporting paraphernalia for all your worth when you get the chance. Nothing is rendered in 3D here, it’s all hand-drawn 2D, but the sense of depth is conveyed fairly well.”
Defunct Games’ Review of Three Dirty Dwarves
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Featured Game: Albert Odyssey – Legend of Eldean
“Before Final Fantasy VII, RPGs were 2D, with hand-drawn graphics and animation, emphasizing storytelling over graphics. Albert Odyssey fits the description of the better 16-bit RPGs, complete with sprite-based graphics and a good story. Released as Albert Odyssey Gaiden in Japan, Working Designs has polished the game’s interface and translated the script to English for release in the US…
Working Designs has done a great job scripting the game, with the right amount of serious story development paced with the comic relief that an RPG needs. Sometimes, the comedy does seem a bit out of place during serious moments, but overall it’s done well and in the right places. One thing I noticed after playing parts of the game a second time is that the dialogue responses and choices you make don’t affect the course of the game at all. Many times dialogue choices are so obvious (usually the right answer is on the top), that they draw you away from the progressing storyline. Answering incorrectly may add some dialogue in spots, but the outcome is almost always going to be the same.”
Gamespot’s Review of Albert Odyssey
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More Great Games:
Magic Knight Rayearth
Legend of Oasis, Shining Wisdom
Featured Game: Princess Crown
“Princess Crown is one of many Saturn 2D gems. The Saturn’s mighty muscle clearly resides in this category, and I can’t think of a better game that the Saturn flexes that muscle in than Princess Crown. When you hear the words Action and RPG together you generally think about some super deformed little prince hacking little blobs on the screen, right? Well, if you’re tired of that, then Princess Crown is just the game you’ve been praying for. Princess Crown not only breaks the Action/RPG stereotype in gender (you play as a girl *gasp*) as well as graphics (tall, sleek characters, not superdeformed ones)…
I think the best part of PC’s gameplay is its battle scenes, they seem to give the game real action instead of your usual hack and slash action/RPG. PC’s fight scenes steal a page right out of Street Fighter’s play book; the battles take place on screen (doesn’t zoom in or change screens) and are 2D side scroll… PC has many other cool features other than just a unique fighting system. It also has cooking, temporary items that wear out, throwing weapons, such as daggers, and a vast assortment of magic items. The coolest thing out of that list is being able to cook your healing items. Don’t worry though, if you think cooking in an RPG is lame you don’t have to. You can buy healing items in stores; however, it’s really cool to be far away from a town and whip out a fry pan, some eggs, and toast and make a killer HP booster. Unlike the cooking items, which are cool, the magic items are kinda cruddy…
The graphics in Princess Crown are simply awe inspiring, putting many Playstation and N64 game to utter shame… Overall, Princess Crown is a video game masterpiece that has every aspect that a masterpiece must have: excellent gameplay, awesome graphics, and art that just plain hurts ya. I’m a very picky reviewer and most of the time I can pick out many things wrong with a game, but with Princess Crown there just aren’t enough to really bother me. If you are a Saturn owner you must add this game to your collection, it is a timeless classic that every gamer should play and it comes with my highest recommendation. ”
RPGFan’s Review of Princess Crown
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More Great Games:
Linkle Liver Story
Featured Game: Dragon Force
“Translated for American audiences by Working Designs, this strategy/RPG hybrid is constructed roughly along the same lines as the SNES title Ogre Battle. In Dragon Force, players find themselves in the magical land of Legendra, where they choose to lead one of eight different provinces in a united effort against the common threat of the “god of destruction,” Madruk. Players command armies composed of either soldier, samurai, archer, mage, harpy, dragon, or zombie forces in an effort to capture enemy castles and leaders. But acquiring land and accumulating power isn’t the only game in town: Players must also protect their territory and fend off the advances of the evil dark god.
Large scale battles often show the weakness of an RPG, but in Dragon Force they’re among the best moments. Gamers send forces of up to four generals (who, in turn, command up to 100 troops) out into the world to raid castles or take on roving bands of enemies…
Dragon Force balances role-playing and strategy elements perfectly, intermittently directing the war of the land through storyline segments. And the ending is a stunning and climactic spectacle to behold. The game also offers a great deal of replayability, since storylines differ, depending on which of the eight main leaders is chosen (each storyline takes roughly 40-50 hours to play through successfully). Admittedly, gamers may be considerably less motivated to set aside another large chunk of time after winning as the first character…but the play is addictive enough that they’ll probably be dragged back for another go-around.”
GameSpot’s Review of Dragon Force
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Featured Game: Baku Baku
“At first glance, Baku Baku is nothing more than your ordinary Columns clone. You have little blocks that fall down the screen and your job is to arrange them so that different animals get their favorite foods instead of the normal colors. Rabbits eat carrots, dogs eat bones, monkeys eat bananas, mice eat cheese, and pandas eat bamboo. When you line up any food next to its hungry animal, the animal’s head comes out of its block and eats all adjacent blocks that have its food on them.
Sounds pretty cute, huh? Well, that’s one of this game’s high points. Just watching the little dogs and mice munch their way across the screen is fun, and they make little munchie noises too. But seriously this game is extremely addictive. You are dealing with up to ten different blocks (five animals, five foods) and each comes down in random patterns of two. It’s not a rare occasion when you are pulling your hair out because your screen is filled with bones and the computer keeps giving you the wrong animal!”
Derilaan’s Review of Baku Baku
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Featured Game: Sega Touring Car Championship
“Sega Touring Car Championship was one of the last driving games for the Saturn, ported from the arcade original (which I have seen, but never played) with a few extras that make it quite a good racer.
At first the game may not seem so great, only 4 cars, 3 tracks, and a weak number of racing modes make it lack depth. In fact when I started playing the game, I thought I had wasted the cash I spent on it, the framerate is horrible, the graphics are bland, and the courses are somewhat boring. The turning is also a little too realistic, which may turn off the people expecting Sega Rally style turning…”
Viper’s Review of Sega Touring Car Championship
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More Great Games:
Manx TT Super Bike
Choro Q Park
Featured Game: Steep Slope Sliders
“Steep Slope Sliders is a straightforward game. You choose a boarder, choose a track, and off yah go rumbling through the snow. On the way to the finish line you are encouraged to leap off of anything and everything in order to score big air and big trick points. You are then ranked by both time and tricks…
What is pretty, however, is the killer control. To perform stunts, you simply press a button and the D-pad, even stacking moves in order to pull off some neat combinations. The triggers are used to rotate; this helps to slow down when things are getting a bit too wily and to add flash to tricks. The response is tight and accurate, the feel is dead on, and the moves are easy and fun to pull off. ”
GameRevolution’s Review of Steep Slope Sliders
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