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The Gaming Flashback - A Retro Gaming Periodical

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Introducing
An ongoing blog about, you guessed it, retro gaming. New articles will be posted periodically. Please avoid going off topic and stick to the current content when adding to the discussion. If you feel the need to discuss something that is off topic, however still retro gaming related, we highly encourage that you post in the Official OCN Retro - The Overclock.net Retrogaming Club.

Current article:

Redeeming the Sega CD
Guest column by neurotix





Remember the Sega CD? If you grew up in the 90s, you probably do. Most people remember it not for it's games, but for it's price ($299, $514 adjusted for inflation as of March 2017). It was firmly positioned as a luxury console, and with the new CD-ROM format, it was touted as the wave of the future. FMV (full-motion video) was all the rage, and was not possible without the addition of a CD unit due to the comparatively small size of ROM cartridges of the day.

The Sega CD (aka Mega CD in Europe and Japan) required a Sega Genesis base unit to work. Because of the price tag, nearly every kid with a Genesis wanted one, but couldn't afford it. And 8-year old me (who had a Super Nintendo) wanted a Genesis/CD combo upon hearing of great RPGs like the Lunar series and Vay from friends who had one.

The Sega CD adds a faster Motorola 68000 clocked at 12.5Mhz (the Genesis has a 68000 at 8Mhz), 10 more channels of sound, and support for hardware rotation and scrolling, something the Genesis lacked. However, the main feature of the unit was the greatly expanded capacity of a CD, holding much more data than could ever be held on a ROM cartridge, allowing for bigger games. Additionally, it added support for many more forms of audio, including Redbook Audio, improving the fidelity of game music and mostly removing the limitations of the Genesis' built in synthesizer (YM2612). Full specs of the system here.

So it all sounds very good on paper, yet in retrospect people really hate this system, and in my opinion it is unjustified. Game reviewers like Angry Video Game Nerd and others have blown this thing to pieces, and claim it is worthless, as a system that only plays crappy FMV games. This isn't the case though, if you know what to look for, there are actually many high quality games for the system that make it worth owning. So the purpose of this is to enlighten people of some of the better games of the system, because no matter how powerful a console is, it is meaningless unless the software released for the system is good!


Lunar: The Silver Star and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue.





Excellent 16-bit RPGs with great gameplay, music, and anime FMV cutscenes. To anyone who had a Sega CD and played these back then, it was probably their first exposure to anime-style RPGs with animated cutscenes. These games were also totally remade for the Playstation.

Vay.

Another 16-bit anime RPG. Not as good as Lunar but still a good game in it's own right.

Panic!

A bizarre, surreal button pushing simulator. The goal of the game is to figure out why the buttons you push cause weird things to happen (including destroying the whole world, ending the game.) The point is to make it through all the button-pushing and get to the end without destroying everything biggrin.gif I've never really seen another game like this, it is very unique.

Keio Flying Squadron.





An anime themed horizontal shoot-em-up translated and released by Working Designs. This one is also really bizarre (the enemies are flying raccoons and other animals. The first boss is a big fortress on a cart pulled by a cow. You can shoot the cow and it moos.) The difficulty is not too bad. This one is really fun and quite the experience. Tip: Stop shooting constantly and idle and you will spawn multiple mini dragon options. Having these makes the game much easier.

Lords of Thunder.

The sequel to Gate of Thunder on Turbografx-CD. A horizontal shooter with great gameplay. It has a fantastic instrumental metal soundtrack that is worth listening to outside the game. The game also has some light RPG elements in using the crystals you collect in each stage to power up your weapons and health in a shop before each stage. Tip: if the first stage gives you trouble, just try to play as far in it and collect gems (red ones are worth more), then die, and then power yourself up with the money before attempting the stage again.

Android Assault Bari-Arm.





Another horizontal shooter with an excellent soundtrack. The weapon selection is great. The gimmick in this one is that if you stop shooting, a gauge will fill up at the top of the screen, it charges to different levels of strength if you wait longer, and when you press fire you will launch a super attack. This attack varies depending on what weapon you pick up. Oh, and when you fully power up your ship turns into a robot. Of course.

Sonic CD.


One of the best 2D classic Sonic games ever made. Some people even think it IS the best 2D Sonic. It's pretty good and worth checking out.

Game no Kanzume vol. 1 and vol. 2.


You will either need a BIOS modded Sega CD or a region patched ISO (burn it) to play these, but they are worth it. Both are basically a collection of small games that were available on a Japanese only download service for the Genesis. Most are totally playable with no knowledge of Japanese, and some are even totally in English. Penguin Land is the best.

Dark Wizard.

A hex based strategy RPG with a monster hiring mechanic. Anime styling. It's quite good and kind of similar to Fire Emblem.

Popful Mail.





A Falcom (Ys) developed action RPG, with very heavy anime influence, that was translated and released by Working Designs. As usual for Working Designs, it has a great sense of humor and many references to American pop culture.

Robo Aleste.

Basically the sequel to Musha, the uber rare and expensive Genesis crown jewel. Musha was originally called Aleste in Japan. If you like Musha a lot, you'll like this, as it's essentially more of the same.

Sol Feace.

The launch game for the system. A horizontal (primarily space-based) shooter with high difficulty. It was made by Wolf Team and the music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba. A lot of people hate this game, but I enjoy it even if I can't clear it.

Dungeon Explorer.

Essentially Gauntlet. I think it supports 2 player co-op.

Earnest Evans.

You'll have to import this and BIOS mod your Sega CD, or get a region patched version and burn it, but it's worth the effort because it is the most unintentionally hilarious game ever due to the way the titular character is animated. It is basically QWOP the game. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5igTT0Z2tro

Silpheed.


A popular vertical shmup with some unique systems and design, blending FMV backgrounds with 2D shooter gameplay. It was ported from Japanese home computers of the time.

Snatcher.

The crown jewel of Sega CD collecting, expect to pay a small fortune for this. A cyberpunk detective mystery done in anime style with heavy influence from Blade Runner. It is essentially a text adventure accompanied by graphics. Done by Hideo Kojima. If you're reading this article you probably already know what this game is. I think it's sort of overrated, it has little replay value, and is quite short. If you're looking for an epic adventure, go with Lunar or Vay instead.

Final Fight CD.




The best home console port of Final Fight. Period. It may in fact be the best version of Final Fight available to this day, even better than the arcade, due to it's rearranged CD soundtrack.

Shining Force CD.





A ridiculously long version of Shining Force. There are two main stories comprising about 20 battles each, followed by a hidden final story if the game detects clear files from the first two present. Requires the expansion RAM cart to hold all it's data. It's a beast. This one will keep you busy for a long time.

Fatal Fury Special and Samurai Shodown.

Sega CD:



compared to SNES:






Get your 6-button pads out. Solid home ports of the arcade fighting games. I believe SamSho is missing a character though. Still, these versions stomp all over the SNES ports of these games, with much better sprites, more frames of animation, better music, etc.

Afterburner 3.

An exclusive sequel to Afterburner II (the arcade game everyone remembers). It's not very good but it's playable, and at least the console has an Afterburner game. I'm only putting it here since it is not an FMV game.


And that about sums it up, more than enough games to keep you busy for a while if you get a Sega CD. And none of them are the dreaded FMV games the system is most remembered for. There ARE actually some decent, playable FMV classics on the system such as Space Ace, Dragon's Lair, Road Avenger, and a few others.

As far as the hardware goes, Sega CDs are going up in price. I have both the model 1 (tray loader) and the model 2 (top loader). I would NOT recommend the model 1, yes I know it looks best with the model 1 Genesis, but they are notorious for breaking down, difficult to repair, and overall just terrible. They are also much harder to find and more expensive when you do. Instead, I would recommend picking up a model 2 Sega CD, as they are cheaper and more reliable.

That's it for me. I hope you enjoyed the article and are considering the Sega CD more seriously now if you don't have one.


Previous articles: The God of Consoles that is the SNES - Wolfsbora (Click to show)
The God of Consoles that is the SNES
Image credit - Lawrence.com

Do you still remember when you bought your first console with your own money? I certainly can. It was 1992, I was 9 years old. We had had our Atari 2600 for years by this point, and our well-used Nintendo Entertainment System had provided hundreds of hours of fun (and frustration).

I had saved up $200 of my own money from doing chores, saving up birthday money, and straight up begging my parents for money. Once I collected all of the necessary funds, the time had come. I can still remember going to Kay Bee Toys at Riverside Mall and asking the store clerk for a brand new Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The box was so bright, shiny, and I swear it was glowing! The 30-minute drive home seemed like an eternity. It probably didn’t help that I was counting every mile marker that we passed. Once home, I carefully opened the box, removed the protective Styrofoam, and proceeded to gently remove the contents. There it was in all its gray, boxy goodness! I got it all hooked up, popped Super Mario World into its waiting cartridge slot, powered it on, and my oh my, such beautiful graphics and amazing colors started to warm my young eyes!
Image credit - emuparadise.me
So beautiful to a young Wolfy

Let’s face it, no other console during the life of the SNES, or before it, had the game lineup quite like Nintendo’s answer to the Sega Genesis. It had great first-party titles and incredible third-party support. Titles like Zelda: A Link to the Past, Mario Kart, Chrono Trigger, the Final Fantasy series, F-Zero, Secret of Mana, etc., etc., etc. The list of great titles goes on and on. One of those many amazing titles is Donkey Kong Country, a game that pushed the limits of the hardware and accomplished a look far greater than 16-bit processing can do. Beautiful, colorful, dimensional sprites along with incredibly crafted levels and challenges, make the game one of the all-time best titles for the console and quite possibly one of the best side-scrolling platformers ever made (the sequels just didn’t have quite the same magic as the first game, unfortunately).
Image credit - emuparadise.me
Ooo, that's gotta hurt!

One of the biggest differences of the Super Nintendo over other consoles of the time is the ability of hardware expansion through its game cartridges. That’s right, the game cartridges could contain more memory, added FX chips, and additional hardware to push the stock hardware of the SNES, thus making the Super Nintendo more than just another 16-bit console. One game that took full advantage of this feature is Star Fox. The game included an FX chip that allowed for 3D-style rendering, making Star Fox a true innovator in the field.
Image credit - Wikipedia.org
Such yummy polygons!

Lastly, let’s not forget that the very much beloved Sony PlayStation is a result of Nintendo’s idea of even further hardware expansion of the Super Nintendo. Without the SNES, we may never have had the PlayStation and its incredible catalog of 1000+ titles. Though the PlayStation ranks just below the Super Nintendo in my personal list of console favorites, it is still one of my all-time favorite consoles. So, thank you, SNES, for spawning another true gaming console classic!

What are your favorite Super Nintendo titles? Drop a post below to let us know!
An Underrated Console? My New Found Love of the Sega Saturn - Wolfsbora (Click to show)
An Underrated Console? My New Found Love of the Sega Saturn
Image credit - Sega Games Co., Ltd.

Growing up as a firm believer in Mario the Redeemer, Sega was always beneath me. The games seemed subpar and Sega always seemed to try too hard with their advertising; “Sega does what Nintendon’t”? I mean, come on! Was that really necessary, Sega? Now go over and apologize! Though, this smear campaign certainly worked. Sega had garnered quite the following with this aggressive-style advertising. I guess it never really reached me the way that Nintendo did with their more gentle advertising and bright, colorful games. And, who didn’t love hearing “It’sa me, Mario!” in that adorable Italian accent? I digress.
Image credit - Appszoom
A plumber fighting a hedgehog, it could happen in today's world

I will admit, I missed out on a lot of great gamesbecause I had my Nintendo branded blinders on. Talk about brand loyalty! Whether we’re talking about the Sega Master System (Sega’s answer to the NES) or Sega’s last console, the Dreamcast, there are a ton of great titles that I missed while hopping my way through the Mushroom Kingdom.

Sega, I owe you an apology. As such, it is time for me to recognize a true hidden gem in the lost world of consoles: the Sega Saturn, quite possibly the best console in Sega’s entire lineup. I know a lot of you are going to ask “what about the Genesis/Mega Drive?!” or say “surely, you mean the Dreamcast!” Nope, I genuinely consider the Saturn to be an incredible console, one that was introduced poorly due to bad timing and too little advertising. A console that could have truly been a real competitor against the beast known as the Sony Playstation had it been delivered in a more competitive fashion.

With its, sexy, black, gently contoured case, and quiet operation, it truly was a stealthy console in many ways. Flying under the radar, the Sega Saturn had quite a few memorable titles that nearly slipped by without notice. The Panzer Dragoon series, for one, is considered one of the best games in the RPG genre, most notably Panzer Dragoon Saga (due to cost, a title I have yet to play). As usual, however, the Sonic games that were released on the Saturn are just as boring as any previous Sonic title. Go ahead and throw your rotten heads of lettuce and squishy tomatoes at me, Sonic just never appealed to me. However, let’s not stop there (please excuse me while I cleanse myself of spoiled vegetation).
Image credit - Sega Games Co., Ltd.
I'd trade my baby for this game

My personal favorite title for the Saturn is Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean, another costly, but worthwhile game. You play as Pike, a young, orphaned boy whom is tasked with saving his adopted sister by finding a cure that will turn her from stone back to normal. The game being turn-based, rather than the typical strategy-based gameplay of the time, makes for a fun playthrough that isn’t too challenging to a newcomer but still challenging enough to keep a veteran RPG player satisfied.
Image credit - Working Designs
Odd name, great game

A title that nearly every Saturn owner will mention is the 2.5D platformer, NiGHTS into Dreams. I consider this the game that shows the true capabilities of the console. It is fast and takes full advantage of the analog stick found on the Saturn’s 3D Control Pad. This controller gives the controversial Nintendo 64’s analog stick, M-shaped controller a run for its money. It has smooth action and good button placement.

There were other controllers and joysticks that were bundled with the Saturn. The first-generation non-3D Control Pad was cheaply made with brittle plastic and a concave D-Pad that was awkward to operate. The second-generation non-3D Control Pad fixed everything that was wrong with the first-generation controller. The D-pad is more traditional and has a great feel to it. The shoulder buttons are analog and add a great level of satisfaction when pressed.

Take it from me, a recovered Nintendo addict, the Sega Saturn is an all-around great console. You won’t hear me say that it is as good as a Sony PS2 or anywhere close to being as great as a Super Nintendo, but it is built well, has some great titles, and should definitely be added to your retro gaming collection!
Image credit - SEGAbits
I give my heart to thee, sweet Saturn

Agree? Disagree? We want to know what you have to say! Drop a post below. Either way, stay tuned for our next post!
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post #2 of 91
I'm going to disagree to be contrary. thumb.gif

(I didn't actually read it yet. I just wanted to be first and subscribe lol.)
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post #3 of 91
Subbed wheee.gif I did not have too much experience with the Saturn personally, I had a couple friends who owned one & did play some of the games mentioned. Although I never had one myself nor did I get to truly enjoy the games like I would've if I had owned a Saturn. I did want one back then but was still dependent on my parents to buy such expensive things at the time (I was 14 in 95). So I had to choose between the PS & Saturn that Christmas, I went with the PS. Can't say I regret that decision especially considering the PS eventually got Metal Gear Solid which was huge for me since I consider the original Metal Gear the game that made me a gamer. TBH though, after reading this blog it does make me want to play some the Saturn games I never got to finish or play at all. I wonder what emulation options exist for the Saturn?

Anyways, glad to see this blog put up here on OCN for sure. Retro gaming is rarely discussed here (rightly so too, I mean it is OverClock.Net tongue.gif) & is something I think a lot of us will enjoy discussing. Looking forward to future blogs & great job with this 1st one @Wolfsbora! thumb.gif
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post #4 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

I'm going to disagree to be contrary. thumb.gif

(I didn't actually read it yet. I just wanted to be first and subscribe lol.)
Haha, way to go, Cynical... If your mother wasn't the angel that she is...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob27shred View Post

Subbed wheee.gif I did not have too much experience with the Saturn personally, I had a couple friends who owned one & did play some of the games mentioned. Although I never had one myself nor did I get to truly enjoy the games like I would've if I had owned a Saturn. I did want one back then but was still dependent on my parents to buy such expensive things at the time (I was 14 in 95). So I had to choose between the PS & Saturn that Christmas, I went with the PS. Can't say I regret that decision especially considering the PS eventually got Metal Gear Solid which was huge for me since I consider the original Metal Gear the game that made me a gamer. TBH though, after reading this blog it does make me want to play some the Saturn games I never got to finish or play at all. I wonder what emulation options exist for the Saturn?

Anyways, glad to see this blog put up here on OCN for sure. Retro gaming is rarely discussed here (rightly so too, I mean it is OverClock.Net tongue.gif) & is something I think a lot of us will enjoy discussing. Looking forward to future blogs & great job with this 1st one @Wolfsbora! thumb.gif
A fellow Pittsburgher and Metal Gear Solid fan. We are instant friends! I'm with you on that, the PS had such amazing titles (and a lot more to choose from), including Metal Gear Solid. I highly encourage you to check out some game footage of Albert Odyssey, Panzer Dragoon Saga, or any others mentioned above. Plus, I'm sure others have some good recommendations too.

And, thank you for the kind words! Keep checking back, we'll be updating the OP with new articles as they arrive.
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post #5 of 91
Subscribed for the tasty read-ables! (can't comment on this one since I never owned a saturn, although I did grow up with a genesis)
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post #6 of 91
Saturn = great console for SHMUPs and fighters (a trend that followed with the Dreamcast).
post #7 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by .theMetal View Post

Subscribed for the tasty read-ables! (can't comment on this one since I never owned a saturn, although I did grow up with a genesis)
I didn't own a Genesis until this past August! I'm in search of a copy of Phantasy Star IV. I hear that it is incredible!
Quote:
Originally Posted by madpossum View Post

Saturn = great console for SHMUPs and fighters (a trend that followed with the Dreamcast).
I have to say that the PC Engine Core Grafx (TurboGrafx in North America) is the best for SHMUPS, but the Saturn does really well there. However, I do agree that the Saturn is a beast for fighters, it's arcade ports are amazing (nothing beats the Neo Geo, though, in that realm biggrin.gif ).
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post #8 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfsbora View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by .theMetal View Post

Subscribed for the tasty read-ables! (can't comment on this one since I never owned a saturn, although I did grow up with a genesis)
I didn't own a Genesis until this past August! I'm in search of a copy of Phantasy Star IV. I hear that it is incredible!

Nice! And since I'm already pulling this off topic, I will spoiler this:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Be careful with the controller ports. Ours wore out over time, either with the controller plugs or the ports in the system. Eventually we had to rig rubber bands and set them up on blocks to pull/pull in the right direction to keep all the buttons working tongue.gif

Also my absolute favorite game for that system is Rocket Knight Adventures. It was one of the best side scrollers, I still go back and play it. Just great music and graphics, and fun level design and bosses. I highly suggest you manage a play through of that, even if you have to on an emulator.
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post #9 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by .theMetal View Post

Nice! And since I'm already pulling this off topic, I will spoiler this:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Be careful with the controller ports. Ours wore out over time, either with the controller plugs or the ports in the system. Eventually we had to rig rubber bands and set them up on blocks to pull/pull in the right direction to keep all the buttons working tongue.gif

Also my absolute favorite game for that system is Rocket Knight Adventures. It was one of the best side scrollers, I still go back and play it. Just great music and graphics, and fun level design and bosses. I highly suggest you manage a play through of that, even if you have to on an emulator.
I'll have to get my hands on Rocket Knight Adventures! I definitely don't have that one or I'm sure I would have played it by now.
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post #10 of 91
The Saturn was probably one of the reasons I got into gaming. I didn't own one, but me and my bro always went to the local internet cafe to play Need For Speed smile.gif
Ah good times... coolsmiley02.gif
    
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