Tagged "Sega"

Jan 11
By Matt Gander In Our Pixilated Past No Comments

Released: 1998 (Japan), 1999 (US and Europe)
Format: Dreamcast

Sega were determined not the repeat the mistakes from their past with the Dreamcast. Unlike the Sega Saturn they had a Sonic game ready for launch, third-party support was strong, it was easy to develop for and the system had well over 20 games ready to ship alongside it.

Dynamite Cop was a launch title, and although it wasn’t bad you did feel that Sega only converted it from arcade to Dreamcast to get the software numbers up. It could be beaten in less than half an hour making it very poor value for money. Just think, you could have picked it up during a midnight Dreamcast launch and have it done and dusted before turning in for the night.

There’s a hint of Die Hard Arcade about it as this scrolling beat ’em up is actually the unofficial sequel; the original was known as Dynamite Deka which Sega reskinned with the Die Hard license for Europe and America.

The game kicked off on a luxury cruise liner – where the president’s daughter is being held by modern day machine gun carrying pirates – and then after a short swimming mini-game the story then concluded on an tropical island. Dress sense was not this band of pirates’ forte – most looked like they were wearing fancy dress, appearing in brightly coloured outfits. One was even dressed up like a Ninja Turtle.

Three playable characters were on offer – two male cops and a female cop. On the character select screen one of the males had a monkey on his shoulder, but the simian didn’t appear in the game at all. If we were reviewing this we’d knock a point off for that.

Fights took place in small rectangular rooms with short QTE events linking the locations together. Mess up a QTE event and you’d have to fight off extra bad guys. Every location had weapons to pick up and use, with the most ridiculous being a cannon that fired a nuke, creating a giant mushroom cloud.

The last section featured a boss that was clearly designed to make people pump cash into the coin-op – his attacks were both unfair and devastating. There’s also a twist near the end, although it’s not really worth playing through the game for. There is something worth seeing though – one of the beasts from Golden Axe made an appearance towards the end, seen trapped inside a cage.

Despite having a pleasingly silly streak, back in 1998 Sega should have really charged £19.99 for this and not full price. Or better still – not bothered at all and instead used their resources to turn the infamous Scud Race tech demo into a full game.

Dec 15
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic 1 Comment

Usually our eBay round-ups are distinctly retro flavoured, but we’re kicking this month’s run down off with some new games.

The Sonic Generations Collector’s Edition is highly sought after, especially seeing it wasn’t released in the US. This big box pack, which comes with a Sonic statue and a ‘gold’ ring, has been selling from everything from £94 to £230. It goes without saying that if you see one of these in Cash Converters, snap it up.

America did though get Metal Gear Solid HD Collection before us Europeans and as the PS3 version is region free a lot of people have turned to eBay. A limited edition version also exists which comes with an art book. One of these sets went for £101 after 20 bids. Zavvi has the rights to the UK limited edition of which only 10,000 copies are being made – 6,000 on PS3 and 4,000 on Xbox 360. At the time of typing you can still pre-order it for £69.99 yet that hasn’t stopped people from bidding on this auction which ended at £240 after 25 bids.

Limited edition packs are nothing new. A seller has been trying to get shot of three very rare limited edition sets for the Mega Drive – Primal Rage, Phantom 2040 and Batman Forever – for £1,249.99 a pop but had no luck. He did later however sell the Phantom 2040 set for £376 (19 bids).

A seller also bagged £570 (24 bids) for the rare Sega 32X PAL version of Primal Rage. Just to show how common the US version is in comparison, a US version sold for £25.

On the SNES an apparently new copy of Titus’ Wild Guns fetched £537 (27 bids) while a new copy of Puzzle Bobble: Bust A Move went for £144 after 14 bids. How about a new SNES to play them on? A new Killer Instinct bundle sold for £195 (19 bids).

An Amstrad GX4000 console won’t set you back much. We’ve even heard of people struggling to sell them. A few games for it though are now worth a pretty penny – Panza Kick Boxing, Plotting and TinTin on the Moon sold for €134 (£114), €75 (£64) and €36 (£31) respectively. You have to feel sorry for any child that was given one of these for Xmas instead of a Mega Drive. It did though have a very good version of Pang.

Finally, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one that always sells for a packet but this auction ended higher than most – €369 (£315) from 15 bids. We’re quite amazed it has held its value seeing it has been on Xbox Live Arcade for a couple of years now.

Dec 04
By Adam Philbin In Mobile Round Up No Comments

The last week has been a bit quiet for the various app stores, although Infinity Blade II, the sequel to the massively successful original, was a fairly noteworthy release. We haven’t bothered reviewing that though, as we’d probably just write “it’s almost exactly the same as the original, only better”. I suppose you could call that our review then.

ChuChu Rocket

A new release for Android at least, although the iPhone version came out last year, with the Dreamcast original now twelve years old. Jake actually covered ChuChu Rocket earlier this year, where he grumbled a bit that it wasn’t free like the Dreamcast version. It’s hard to complain at 69p though.

We may have reviewed ChuChu Rocket more than any other game on this site, come to think of it (on the Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, iPhone, and now Android, if you’re interested). So for that reason, long live ChuChu Rocket!

iOS (£1.99) / Android (£0.69)

Jelly Defense

Possibly one of the most overdone genres on the iPhone, this tower defense game does at least exude buckets of charm and simple yet beautiful graphics. The limitations on placing your towers make it a little more strategic than simply building a vast array of giant lasers. Even when the action gets quite hectic, with your base about to be overrun by bouncing jelly blobs, it still all feels quite calm and relaxing. That’s both a strength and weakness of the game – it’s thoroughly likeable, yet doesn’t always manage to suck you in.

iOS (£1.99) / Android (£1.99)

Traffic Panic 3D

Traffic Panic 3D

Another bit of self-promotion here, as one of the GA writers (this one) worked on the graphic and interface design. It’s still rather good on its own merits though, a deceptively simple game where you stop and start the traffic lights, to either flow the traffic through or cause big collisions, earning credits to unlock better and more explosive vehicles.

Matt said it was a bit like Burnout Crash for iPhone, which isn’t totally inaccurate, although it plays completely differently (you’re not driving a car, for starters). It’s out now on iOS, with the Android version following in the next week.

iOS (£0.69)

Nov 01
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Publishers tend to be a predictable bunch, releasing sequels and yearly sports updates, snapping up cartoon and movie licenses, and occasionally setting up new studios while closing down older ones.

It’s a little odd, then, that when a publisher does something out of the ordinary it often goes unnoticed. A little research into the subject reveals a whole host of games published by very unlikely candidates.

Only recently Sega announced that they’re publishing a few EA games in Japan including FIFA 12, Shadows of the Damned and Battlefield 3. You may wonder what the point of releasing a FPS in Japan is, seeing as the nation isn’t fond of first person games, but there is a rather unknown cult following out there who purchase western titles much like the way certain UK gamers will buy every Japanese RPG that comes along.

It’s this reason that we assume Capcom took up the chance to release Grand Theft Auto in Japan. They must have done well as they ended up publishing four of them – GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas and GTA IV.

Square-Enix even managed to find solace in publishing Activision’s James Bond: Quantum of Solace. Again, this must have done rather well as they more recently released James Bond: Blood Stone.

Going several years back, EA released a 2D shooter Soukyugurentai on Sega Saturn in Japan. If only they had been so brave with their western Sega Saturn games – all we saw were multi-format releases.

Microsoft’s publishing past is curious too. The Game Boy Color saw the dully titled The Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack which contained dozens of games which were first released on Windows including SkiFree and FreeCell.

Sony meanwhile got their gaming feet wet prior to PlayStation with a range of games on the generation before under the moniker of Sony Imagesoft. Some of these were pretty good, like Mickey Madness, but others such as The Last Action Hero and Cliffhanger weren’t so great.

Especially when it comes to Japanese outputs, perhaps publishers aren’t quite as predictable after all.

Sep 28
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic No Comments

If you follow the retro scene you must have heard of TecToy at some point. They’re the company who handled all things Sega in Brazil, not just publishing their games but also developing new ones and even managing to release a few unpublished games that Europe never saw.

Just about anything with TecToy on it sells for a handsome amount – like this copy of Buggy Run on Master System that went for £56 (6 bids) and this wireless Super Compact Master System which bagged £84 on a Buy It Now.

The Tectoy website is a source of fascination – they’ve recently released a Guitar Hero style-music game for the Mega Drive called Guitar Idol, while their latest iteration of the Master System is actually pretty darn sexy. Does it really need six-button joypads though?

From Master System, to GameGear. A brand new pale blue Japanese system – which comes with Ninkuu, a game based on an anime – sold for £132 (23 bids).

A boxed copy of Mortal Kombat 3, which was in fact a European exclusive, went for £70 due to its rarity. I hope the seller realises how bad a game it is – it plays like the developer made it during their lunch break.

The Game Gear was pretty bulky, but if for some reason you wanted to make it bigger there was a Handy Gear plastic case that offered extra protection for clumsy gamers. One of these sold for £17 (12 bids). A boxed bootleg cart also went for £50.51 (10 bids). The box claims it contains 68 games but chances are it only has 10 or so games repeated with different names. We took a look at the murky world of bootleg carts a few months ago.

A brand new Game Boy Advance fetched £102 (16 bids), but this was no ordinary GBA – it was a Boktai limited edition with a coffin shaped carry case. Very popular with emo collectors, we’d wager. Boktai, for the uninformed, was a very unique game from Konami which had a solar panel built into the cartridge. This had to be used to charge the main character’s weapon to destroy his vampire adversaries. A million times cooler than Twilight. The buyer could have even displayed his new purchase in this incredibly retro looking Nintendo display case, which sold for £75.89 (8 bids).

Speaking of vampires, the desirable Castlevania: Syphony of the Night continues to sell for a packet even though it has been on XBLA for some time. This one went for £108 (16 bids).

Meanwhile a full set of Namco Museum disks with a Namco joystick zapped £175 out of somebody. These didn’t review too well back in the day containing a mere five games on each disk but still retailing at almost full price. They’re popular with collectors though as the cases spell out NAMCO once lined up.

Nobody wanted this copy of One Piece: Grand Battle on PS1 for £100. If you’re wondering why that price is steep it’s because it was only released in Spain.

This 36” Spyro plush did sell though – for £149.99 on Buy It Now.

The One Piece Ultimate Cruise games on Wii are worth keeping an eye out for, selling at increasingly high amounts. The rare double pack containing both parts went for £70 while One Piece Ultimate Cruise Part 2 sold for £47.49 on its own. If you want to see how high your eyebrows can go, take a look at the prices on Amazon Marketplace.

Sep 09
By Matt Gander In We've Got Issues No Comments

Every month Matt pulls a magazine out for under his bed and gives it a fine going over. Stop giggling at the back there – we’re talking about video game magazines. This month: issue 9 of The Official Dreamcast Magazine from July 2000.

Official magazines are dubious things. There was the time that the Official PlayStation Magazine gave the dire Star Wars: The Phantom Menace a 9/10, much to the bemusement of the entire gaming industry. Bemused, that is, until it later emerged that the magazine staff were treated to a trip to Skywalker Ranch in the US.

And how can we forget the Official Xbox Magazine thoroughly praising the mediocre Blinx: The Time Sweeper before dishing out 9.3?

The Official Nintendo Magazine isn’t innocent here either, recently giving the entire 3DS line-up good reviews – including the terrible Asphalt 3D – and calling Super Mario Bros. 25th All-Stars Anniversary Collection “lovingly presented”. It was just Super Mario All-Stars on a Wii disk, for pity’s sake. It even still said “Nintendo -1993” when booting it up.

The Official Dreamcast Magazine, however, was incredibly trustworthy. As early as the first issue they dished out a 3/10 (for WWF Attitude) prompting readers to write in and commend their honesty.

In actual fact, the magazine was perhaps a bit too harsh when it came to reviews. MDK 2, which was both good looking and innovative, was given a 6 when the majority of other Dreamcast magazines were handing out 8s and 9s for it. Even games published by Sega themselves were given negative reviews – Buggy Heat scored 4 while Red Dog got a 5. Like MDK 2, review scores for these two were a lot higher in other magazines.

But let’s just rewind for a second. According to internet folklore, when Sega were looking to hand out the official Dreamcast license to magazine publishers they were each asked to make a mock up of how their publication would look. Future was apparently nearly awarded the official moniker for use on DC-UK but it ended up going to Dennis.

Their effort turned out to be a very easy to read publication with some nice features (although perhaps a few too many interviews with video game musicians) while reviews had large screenshots that often took up half the page. A lot of the writers were ex-CVG, including Ed Lomas and Alex Huhtala, so rest assured that they knew their gaming onions. Towards the back of the magazine two pages were dedicated to reader reviews, while readers could also pitch their questions to Sega themselves on the letters page.

Unlike the Official Sega Saturn magazine, which only came with a demo disc every three or four issues, a disc was given away with every issue of ODM. These were referred to as ‘DreamOn’ discs and on two occasions full games were given away. The first of these was Sega Swirl – a puzzle game similar to Bejewelled – while the second was Planet Ring, an “online theme park” containing four mini-games.

When Sega made the rather surprise announcement that they were dropping the Dreamcast, games were canned left, right and indeed centre. With the release schedule starting to look barren it was announced that the magazine was to go from monthly to bi-monthly. Somebody at Dennis Publishing must have changed their mind shortly after this decision, as the magazine was axed completely shortly after the bi-monthly announcement was made. The last DreamOn disc contained no new demos but rather a round-up of the best games the Dreamcast had to offer.

The last couple of issues were very painful to read as it was all too apparent that they were struggling for content.

Their multi-page preview of Activision’s Spider-Man from the final issue (#21) is a perfect example, containing huge screenshots and blown-up artwork just to fill the pages. It wasn’t the last Dreamcast magazine on the market though – the lazily titled Dreamcast Magazine managed to survive for many months after the Official Dreamcast Magazine perished. Because they were an unofficial magazine they were able to review import games, giving them plenty of content to cover.

I’ve thrown away, lost and given away most of my Official Dreamcast magazines, but kept hold of issue 9 as it features mini previews of over 100 then upcoming Dreamcast games. Over 50 of these ended up either canned or denied a European release, including Half-Life, Black & White and System Shock 2. In this issue they also rather amusingly refer to Mr. Driller as Mr. Digger in their preview.

Issue 9 Highlights

  • Best feature: In the hot seat with Argonaut Software
  • Best quote from above article: “Q: What would you do if you were only five inches tall? A: Battle Action Man and mistreat Barbie.”
  • Lowest review score: Bust-A-Move 4, Fur Fighters, NHL 2K and Wacky Races all scored 7
  • Highest review score: Ecco the Dolphin and ChuChu Rocket both received a 9
  • Best quote from letters page: “We recently bought our DC and the first game we bought (NFL 2K) we purchased in America. However, our [UK] Dreamcast didn’t recognise the disk. I found this message ‘Warning: Operates only with NTSC televisions and Sega Dreamcasts purchased in North and South America.’ Another hiccup from Sega? I’ll go play on my mate’s PlayStation 2.”

Sweet dreams, Official Dreamcast Magazine.

Aug 31
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic No Comments

Loose copies of the lazily titled Sega Game Pack 4 in 1 on GameGear are just as easy to find as Sonic or Columns. Trying to find a boxed copy, however, is an incredibly tricky task as Sega produced only a small amount. When it does appear boxed on eBay bidding is always fierce – this copy ended up selling at almost £100 after 19 bids. Why is so hard to find boxed? I assume that because it was bundled as a loose cart with the GameGear, retailers were flooded with second hand copies – a la Altered Beast on Mega Drive – and so they didn’t bother ordering any boxed ones to stick on their shelves.

From Sega GameGear to Metal Gear Solid. One of the limited edition PlayStation Metal Gear Solid: Premium Pack boxsets went for £166 (25 bids) this month. Amazing, it sold for that amount even though it was missing both the T-shirt and dogtag. Somebody also bagged £137 (18 bids) for a promotional (read: review) copy of Metal Gear Solid 2 on PlayStation 2. A set of Metal Gear action figures ended at £99.99 (2 bids) too.

All of the above are nothing compared to a promotional “Metal Gear Solid 2 Sorter” which ended at $720 (£443.73) on a Buy It Now. This appears to be a Metal Gear Solid 2: Subsistance in fancy leather-style packaging, complete with a space for a memory card. The seller notes that it was a “price of a lottery”. I think he means lottery prize.

Incidentally, it would appear that people are selling their Zavvi-exclusive Metal Gear Solid Ultimate HD Collection pre-orders for vast amounts. By ‘vast’, I mean everything from £125 to £499.

Speaking of limited editions, a seller was able to bag £180 for a copy of the Crysis 2 Nano Suit Edition for Xbox 360. Anybody else amused that the backpack that comes with it is black and pink?

Over in the world of Nintendo, a limited edition Japanese Game Boy Advance with Mario and Luigi on the bezel ended at £43.55 (8 bids). That’s around four times the going rate for a standard Game Boy Advance. A copy of the rare shoot ’em up Syvalion on SNES ended at £450 on BIN while a boxed copy of Final Fight 3 sold for £699 also on a BIN auction. It would appear though that they’ve relisted it after it sold. Hmm. More reassuring is this copy of Mega Man X2 that ended at £250 (30 bids). Almost selling for that amount was this sealed copy of Mario Sunshine on GameCube that ended at £211 (21 bids).

Then on PlayStation a factory sealed copy of Resident Evil 2 shook £75 (16 bids) out of somebody while a sealed copy of Grandia went for £70 despite being the budget version. Unsurprisingly, nobody wanted this sealed copy of Hogs of War for £70.

Aug 17
By Matt Gander In We've Got Issues 2 Comments

Every month Matt pulls a magazine out for under his bed and gives it a fine going over. Stop giggling at the back there – we’re talking about a video game magazine. This month: issue 7 of Future Publishing’s Saturn Power from December 1997.

When the Sega Saturn was breathing its final breaths, the Saturn magazine market was a two horse race – The Official Sega Saturn Magazine and Saturn Power. Saturn Power was something of a late comer to the Saturn scene – by the time it arrived in 1997 is was already clear that there was no way Saturn sales were going to catch up with those of the PlayStation.

When the magazine launched a very bold promise was made; one that the editor no doubt regretted making. That promise was that every issue would come with a playable demo disk. The official magazine only had demo disks when they had enough content to fill one; usually every three or four issues. But rather than fill the disks with games from all different developers, Saturn Power’s disks were going to showcase games from one developer at a time. The first offered the efforts of Core Design – Tomb Raider, Blam Machinehead, Swagman and a rolling demo of Fighting Force. The second showcased Gremlin, containing demos of Reloaded, Actua Soccer and Hardcore 4×4. Incidentally, both Fighting Force and Reloaded were canned before release thus making those disks nice items for Saturn collectors.

It quickly became apparent that they were struggling to get developers to produce these exclusive disks – the third issue came with a music CD simply to not let the readers down on their promise. The fourth issue came with no disk at all whereas the fifth issue did come with a disk but it contained just one demo – WipEout 2097. After this, the price was dropped from £4.99 to a rather appealing £2.50.

Although Saturn Power only lived for 10 issues it was around for long enough to rattle the cages of the writers of the official publication, often having a little dig here and there. The most memorable of these was when they pointed out that the magazine had based a multiple page preview of The House of The Dead on a demo (which they’d also been shown) that was so early in development that only the first level existed in an incomplete form.

One advantage that Saturn Power had over its rival was that they were able to review import titles. The official publication on the other hand could only preview imports via the means of rather ambitiously speculating that they’d get a European release. This lead to Saturn Power discovering what they believed to be the worst Saturn game ever released – a horrid looking Japanese light-gun game named Death Crimson.

When PAL releases came hard to find (only Sega, EA and GT Interactive thought the Saturn was worth bothering with during its final months) the last few issues featured around two or three PAL reviews and a handful of imports. The issue we’re looking at here is dated December – usually a very busy time for new releases – but it only has three reviews, two of which were sports updates. The other release was Bust-A-Move 3, which was hardly anything to get excited about.

Saturn-related news was so thin on the ground in the last few issues that the news section was more of a rumour round-up for what was to become the Dreamcast. Other regular features included an RPG section – complete with Wil Overton artwork – and a directory of the top 100 Saturn games that was updated monthly. Sega Rally took the top spot, if you’re wondering.

Issue 7 Highlights

  • Best feature: Fighting Force preview
  • Best quote from above article: “Fighting Force really is coming out on the Saturn. And Sega is the proud new publisher.”
  • Lowest review score: Bust-A-Move 3, 86%
  • Highest review score: Worldwide Soccer ’98, 90%
  • Best quote from letters page:“In Duke 3D will there be an option to switch off the comments the Duke makes after being hit, particularly those beginning with ‘F’. Just in case an unsuspecting family member walks into the room?”

Issue 10 – which featured Panzer Dragoon Saga on the cover – was the last to be published. But whereas most magazines simply disappear off the shelves after being axed by their publishers, Saturn Power was able to give their readers a goodbye message:

STOP PRESS!

I’m afraid I have the most saddest of news to report this month… this issue of Saturn Power will be the last one to be published. After many months of praying and hoping for a miraculous change of direction in the fate of the Saturn, we finally have to admit that there just isn’t a market for the machine and another magazine. This is obviously tragic as (speaking on behalf of the entire team) we’ve really enjoyed the past years on the mag and kept up the enthusiasm until the very last.

So, who’s to blame? You already know that the market’s drying up, the amount of software is virtually non-existent and that, coupled with the (to be perfectly honest) weak support by Sega themselves has done little to help our cause.

Sega Saturn Magazine will probably squawk like crows on E because of this news, but they were always going to be the best selling magazine. They had the support from Sega (and let’s face it, who else is producing games nowadays?) and a regular guaranteed CD; the official tag was never going to harm them, was it?

On behalf of the team, I’d like to thank everybody who’s helped us over the years and placing the cringy, beeery, yer’ me best mate honest hat on, you lot the readers for all your letters, feedback and support. Hey, it was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

Dean Mortlock – Editor, Saturn Power

RIP Saturn Power. You never really had a chance, but man alive, you gave it your bloody best shot.

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