Virtua Fighter Remix (1995, Sega AM2 for Sega Saturn) Like many Western gamers, I discovered Virtua Fighter in the arcades but struggled to understand its mechanics, which were far closer to true martial arts than the antics of Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. When I bought a Sega Saturn in the summer of 1995, … Continue Reading

Pebble Beach Golf Links (1995, T&E Soft for Sega Saturn) I think Pebble Beach Golf Links was the very first Sega Saturn game that I saw in action, at the Richfield, Minnesota Funcoland where I had frequently visited and even worked for a short spell (to this day, I cannot remember if I’m still technically … Continue Reading

Mass Destruction (1997, NMS Software for Sega Saturn) Mass Destruction is perfectly named: a pure sugar rush of Pepsi and Pop Rocks, a dizzying assault of thrills and massive explosions. It is a pure arcade videogame from an era when kids suddenly wanted nothing to do with arcade games. Whatever. It’s their loss. The premise … Continue Reading

Bug! (1995, Realtime Associates for Sega Saturn) I bought a Sega Saturn in the summer of 1995, despite my best intentions never to do so. Like many gamers at that time, I was highly frustrated with Sega for their many bizarre and terrible hardware decisions in short succession, including Sega CD, Game Gear, CD-X, Nomad, … Continue Reading

Decathlete (1996, Sega AM3 for Sega Saturn) Decathlete is vintage Sega: cheerful, full of energy and packed with irreverent humor. It reminds me of the glory days of the Genesis as well as the triumphant revival with Dreamcast. It was a rare moment of confidence for the famously troubled Saturn, like a rare moment of … Continue Reading

Last Bronx (1997, Sega AM3 for Saturn) Of Sega’s 3D arcade fighting videogames — Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, Fighters Megamix — Last Bronx is the weakest title of the bunch. Only the original Virtua Fighter, notoriously plagued with programming growing pains, would rank lower in my opinion. This isn’t to say … Continue Reading

Fighting Vipers (1996, Sega AM2 for Sega Saturn) Fighting Vipers is the Motley Crue of videogames: flashy, trashy, wild and out of control. It’s similar in many ways to its sober cousin, Virtua Fighter 2, and welcomes new fans with familiar controls and promises of martial arts action. Then it quickly raids the liquor cabinet, … Continue Reading

Dead or Alive (1997, Tecmo and Team Ninja for Saturn) Every Sega Saturn fan knows about Dead or Alive. We were absolutely thrilled by the 1996 arcade game, which used Sega’s Model 2 hardware board, and were doubly thrilled to learn it was coming home the following year. Then we were left hanging by Sega … Continue Reading

Baroque (1998, Sting Entertainment) Baroque is a magnificent work of dark surrealism, horror and existential dread. It’s scarier than Resident Evil, more gothic than Quake. This game is like peering into a long nightmare from the depths of the unconscious, like peering into Purgatory or something worse. I dare you to play at night, sitting … Continue Reading

Savaki (1998, Cygnus for Saturn) Savaki appeared in the final months of the Sega Saturn in Japan in April of 1998, and it’s a highly polished title that demonstrates a great mastery of the hardware. It is a 3D polygon fighting game that leans heavily towards “simulation,” focusing on real-world martial arts while avoiding anything … Continue Reading