Month: February 2005

Opposite ends of the spectrum

Tenchu: Fatal Shadows is set for release tomorrow. I preordered my copy of the game (to get a free T-Shirt and free overnight shipping) so I’ll be sure to post my impressions of it as soon as I have a chance. Other major gaming websites have already posted reviews of the game and they have basically said that fans of Tenchu will probably still like this one, but nobody else.

Regardless of what reviewers say, I’ve found the bare bones stealth gameplay in Tenchu to be fun and amusing, and while I wasn’t pleased with the controls in the second one, the game itself was still good. The graphics do look terribly dated by today’s standards, but I’ve never cared much about graphics.

So starting from deadly ninjas, there’s really only one way for this news blurb to go if it’s to cover the whole spectrum.

That’s right. Silly Penguin Racing.

I’ve uploaded a couple of videos of Pen Pen TriIcelon for the Dreamcast. You can find them here. One is the game’s intro movie, and the other is a short gameplay video. Both of these were filmed about a week ago when the Baku Baku and Twinkle Star Sprites videos were filmed. So you won’t find them anywhere else on the internet.

In other news, it’s Valentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate than with Feel the Magic XY ♥ XX? I finally finished Hell difficulty, which unlocked quite a surprise. I was expecting a couple of new outfits, but I was not expecting them to be the lack of any outfit at all. That’s right – Sega has implemented nude mode in the game. You can see a picture or a brief video of it in the forums if you are so inclined. It’s really quite amusing.

-benstylus

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Delays due to a power outage

Sorry about the delay in providing an update here – I really meant to prepare it last night but unfortunately there was a power outage here that prevented me from doing so.

This power outage has prompted me to discuss the most useless feature of Nintendo’s DS. As you may know, the DS has an internal clock function that keeps track of the date and time. This is used in very few games (Feel the Magic is one of them), so it almost seems like an afterthought. However, even more of an afterthought is Nintendo’s decision to integrate an alarm clock feature into the DS.

The only problem is that unless you’ve got a fully charged system, the battery isn’t going to last long enough for you to use it overnight. I set the alarm for 6 AM after the power went out and decided to call it a night. I awoke on my own at 4 AM, and the system had already run out of juice.

So I just wanted to offer my thanks to Nintendo for trying to make me late for work this morning. I’d like to thank my body’s internal clock for waking me up ahead of time.

The DS seems like the perfect tool to integrate a scheduler or planner or something useful, but no, Nintendo decided that people would rather have an alarm clock that won’t work right.

At any rate, I promised videos of Senko no Ronde, the new NAOMI based shooter/fighter from G-Rev, and thanks to SEGAFan 3000DC, I am delivering on that promise.

Although the quality of the videos is far from perfect, it will at least give you an idea of how the game plays. Now let’s all hope for a Dreamcast port.

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Continued Shining News

As I promised yesterday, I’ve uploaded the new Shining Force Neo videos.

But being benstylus, I thought to myself, why stop there?

So instead of having 5 Shining Force Neo videos to download, I’ve added 17 videos from various Shining games (in addition to the two Shining Tears vids we already have) bringing us to 19 Shining movies. As usual, it’s all in the Vault.

No doubt you’ve got a lot to download now, so why don’t you get started?

SEGAFan 3000DC has been kind enough to donate some videos of G.Rev’s new Naomi arcade game Senko no Ronde. The game is a cross between a versus fighting game and a shooter, which would make it only the second game in history to fall under the category of “competitive shooter”. The first, of course, would be Twinkle Star Sprites, but that was more of a combination of a puzzle game and a shooter.

I’ll be uploading these videos later today – the game looks pretty cool and let’s hope we get a Dreamcast port of it. Hey, we got Border Down, so we might just get this one.

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Shining Force Neo

Sega has released a few more videos of their upcoming game Shining Force Neo. (They will be available to download here at SegaFans tomorrow – having some problems with my cable modem so I’m using dial-up for the moment until I get it fixed).

A departure from the traditional strategy RPG that Shining Force games (though not all Shining games) have all been in the past, Shining Force Neo seems to be more of a hack and slash action adventure more along the lines of Diablo than anything else. When I first heard that the a new Shining Force game was being developed, I was ecstatic. Shining Force 3 was the pinnacle of strategy RPGs in my book – not too complicated battlewise, yet still varied enough to provide incentive to play all the way through to the end.

Then it was announced that this new entry in the Shining Force series would not be a strategy game, and I was shocked and disappointed. It was at this time that they revealed the name – Shining Force Neo – to which I cringed and had to face palm, crying out to the Segods asking why they did this. In truth, I still don’t care for the name, but I’ve come to grips with the reality of what the game is going to be and it looks like it will be quite pleasant indeed.

That’s something you can look forward to tomorrow.

In the meantime, Sega of America opted to pick up the publishing rights for Worms Forts Under Siege – and that will be released here on March 1 – the same day as Worms 3D. March is looking like a pretty big month for Sega so far, with both Worms Titles, Iron Phoenix, Sega Classics Collection, and of course The Matrix Online (currently scheduled for March 30).

Also, we’re just two weeks away from the next Sega No Hi, which promises to be yet another Sega No Hi. I can’t let slip any further details yet, except that it will be uploaded that morning instead of at ten o’clock that night.

Also I’m working on a new Game of the Moment entry, which should be ready later today or tomorrow. Please look forward to it!

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Odd Hours

Every now and then I work a closing shift at my store (usually leaving around midnight) followed directly by an opening shift (starting at 7:30 or 8:00 am), leaving me with about 8 hours between shifts. Factor in travel time, the time it takes to unwind before I go to bed, the time it takes to get ready in the morning, and it translates into about 3-4 hours of sleep at the most.

Needless to say, I am a tired stylus this morning.

It’s funny because even as I’m typing this, my fingers are hitting the wrong keys and I’m laughing at myself for how groggy I am. But work is work and I’m glad to have a decent job even if I have indecenet hours.

We’re now exactly one week away from the release of Tenchu Fatal Shadows, and I am eager to see if Sega handles their second release of the year better than the first. Without a doubt, Virtua Quest is a fun game, but never again do I want to go through such an ordeal just to find a video game. Satomi says he wants to make Sega Sammy the number one publisher of video games in the world, but in order to do that they’ll need to actually sell their games so they can stay in business.

It was pure dumb luck that I even found a copy at EB (their shipment had just arrived and was still waiting to be opened and sorted). Sega needs to get in line with other big publishers and do a few things differently if they ever want to be number one:

Marketing – I haven’t seen a commercial for a Sega game in ages. The last one I saw was for Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. What’s worse, it aired during WWE Smackdown (yes I enjoy watching professional wrestling from time to time, laugh if you must). That’s really not the demographic that’s going to find the game appealing. Sega of America’s marketing department is completely broken – they’d probably have more success if they just aired the Japanese commercials. Untranslated.

Street Date – A lot of publishers (including Nintendo, EA, Microsoft, Vivendi and more) have a Street Date program in place. This is essentially an arrangement with retail stores where the publisher ships their games a few days in advance in exchange for the store’s promise not to sell it before the street date. This allows them to heavily market their products, and when the release date arrives people can actually buy it.

There’s a lot more Sega could be doing, but I’ll leave that for another day. It’s time for work.

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SegaFans VS – A new wave in entertainment

Today I bring you several new videos on a brand new page – and I’m calling it SegaFans VS. The name makes perfect sense because these videos are matches between members of our fine community.

As you may remember, some time ago I posted a replay video of a Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution match between Skeearmon and myself. It was well received, and so I decided to make more videos of a similar theme. Turbos and I faced off over the weekend in fierce matches on two of our favourite Saturn games and some of those matchups have now been posted and await your download.

You’ll see 3 matches in Baku Baku and 4 bouts of Twinkle Star Sprites as well as the classic VF4:Evo match from many weeks ago.

At any rate, it was nice having a weekend off as that doesn’t happen often in retail. It was even nicer being able to spend it playing video games instead of having to run a whole bunch of errands & things.

In other news, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I heard the Patriots won.

While it’s not 100% Sega related, Robert’s Anime Corner Store is having a huge sale on a lot of their merchandise – clearing out some stuff for good it seems. There are some right fantastic deals there, including the original version Serial Experiments Lain boxset for a mere $37.98 insteadl of $97.98. If you’re only into Sega-based anime, fear not. They have a Sakura Wars DVD on sale for $5.98 instead of $19.98. Bob is the best in the business when it comes to customer service, and everything on his site is legit stuff, no bootlegs to be found. So check it out, you might find something that interests you.

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Comparison Videos

Here’s something fun for the weekend – I’ve put together three videos featuring various Game Boy Advance games compared to their console counterparts. All these videos are roughly 15 Megabytes in size.

Up first is a comparison of the GBA version of Crazy Taxi with the Dreamcast version (widely known to be the best home version).

DOWNLOAD IT!
fileplanet – segascream.com

As I’ve said before, everything about the Game Boy Advance version of the game is horrible. It’s got a bad framerate and lousy controls. Instead of fixing these problems, the developers decided to make the game extremely easy. If you were to watch the full version of that run, I ended up with over $8,000.00 and an easy S ranking, despite my frequent crashing due to the camera/controls. The Dreamcast video didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but that’s due to the bitrate restriction I put on the file. The game itself doesn’t have the framerate problems that the video does.

The second video is a comparison of the Game Boy Advance and Saturn versions of Sega Rally.

DOWNLOAD IT!
fileplanet – segascream.com

As you can see, the Game Boy Advance version plays pretty well. It’s not as good as the Saturn version, but it isn’t bad in any respect but the graphics. Perhaps it’s because the game doesn’t require split second reflexes to avoid cars, but the game just plays so much better than the GBA Crazy Taxi. From what I understand, Sega Rosso did the development for this title. It was wise of Sega not to turn the game over to a 3rd party in this case.

The final video for today is a brief look at the Game Boy Advance and Dreamcast versions of Space Channel 5. For the Dreamcast source material, I used the Japanese version of the game – mostly because it’s a lot harder to find footage of that version on the internet, and partly because I like the Japanese voices better.

DOWNLOAD IT!
fileplanet – segascream.com

It’s remarkable how well they’ve translated the game to the small screen. Yes, they ditched the FMV and most of the voices, and the character animations are a bit lacking, but they crammed the whole game onto the cartridge which is no small feat. Of course I still prefer the Dreamcast version, but for those times when there’s no Dreamcast or TV around, it’s comforting to know that I’ve got Ulala in my pants and that I can play with her just about anywhere.

I’ll probably end up doing more videos of this type (there are a few more games to cover) since they’re both entertaining and educational. When I do, they’ll be posted here.

-benstylus

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Club Saturn

Yesterday I received my Club Saturn CD from Wal-Mart and thought I’d share my impressions of it. If you don’t know what Club Saturn is, here’s a brief explanation. Back in 1996, Sega wanted to try and win over some of the gaming demographic that was also into the club scene. Obviously, this CD didn’t help, but as a fan of both Sega and dance/club music, I was very interested to see how the CD turned out.

After listening to it at length, I can understand why the CD didn’t do much for Sega or the club crowd in general. This CD is hands down some of the worst club music I’ve ever heard in my life. In fact, the only club CD I can think of that is worse than this is Anime Toonz, a collection of anime theme songs remixed so poorly that if a pregnant woman were to listen to them, her baby would abort itself to avoid the horror of being her child.

The brilliant minds behind Club Saturn decided that the songs (if you can call them that) didn’t really need to sound anything like the music from the games they’re named after – just as long as there were some sound samples taken from the games. Thus throughout the CD, you’ll hear lots of voice samples to continually remind you that it’s not real club music, it’s just video games trying to be hip.

I’ll take a bit about a few of the tracks to give you an idea.

Nights (Drum & Bass Mix) by Expressive Records – Generally, the best track is put at the top of the playlist on a CD, and this is no exception. This is in large part to the fact that it actually takes some of the music from NiGHTS and manages to remix it with a decent back beat and bassline to achieve better than mediocre results. It’s overall a pretty fast paced song, but pretty mellow, which makes it feel more like a chill-out groove than a dance song.

Daytona Racing (House Mix) by Duderella – this song actually sets the pace for the rest of the CD by incorporated the voice samples from the game rather than any actual music. The song itself isn’t terrible, but the voice samples make it cheesier than Velveeta. I don’t need to hear “Select Your Transmission,” “Time Bonus,” or “This is the Final Lap” anywhere at all when I’m listening to club music. Voice sampling done right can be appropriate, but it’s just garbage here. The Virtua Cop song is even worse, shouting “Reload” all over the place.

Baku Baku (Drum & Bass Mix) by Dream Team – Overall, a rather mediocre Drum & Bass song – it doesn’t really have any focus or much of anything to do with Baku Baku… I heard the game over sound effect and menu selection sounds in there a few times, but that was about it. Baku Baku’s music is all about plucky banjos and such, which makes me wonder why Dream Team chose to turn it into a bladder infection.

Virtua Fighter (House Mix) by Marshall Jefferson – This song makes me laugh out loud at how bad it is. Marshall Jefferson teaches us all how to ruin what might otherwise have been a catchy little house tune – take low quality Virtua Fighter scream samples and play them over and over during any part of the music that has a decent drum beat. You really have to hear it to believe it.

Nights (Ambient Trance Mix) by Richard Jacques – The only one of these so-called musicians to still be making music for Sega, Richard Jacques managed to avoid screwing things up too badly with his NiGHTS mix. There are some misplaced samples throughout the song, but they aren’t too bad until the end. Thankfully, Richard Jacques knows that a remix should feature music from the original, and he pushes the “NiGHTS flute” melody throughout the song.

Fighting Vipers (Avant-Garde Beats Mix) by Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson – The last song I’ll be mentioning here, it’s another case of voice samples gone wrong. ‘Trouble’ took as many voice samples as he could and peppered them throughout the song on top of repetitious back beats. There’s no real melody or song progression to speak of – just four and a half minutes of voice samples and boring beats.

So there’s a brief summary of the CD for you – I just hope it was enough to persuade you not to buy it. And while it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever listened to, it’s at right there at the bottom of the barrel.

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Wait a moment… it’s good?

Yesterday I managed to acquire a copy of Sega Rally for the Game Boy Advance. My previous experience with a Sega driving game on the handheld was unpleasant to say the least. Who knew that Crazy Taxi could be butchered so badly?

Crazy Taxi is so bad it’s worth delaying my main point and going off on a tangent. It’s slow, the control is terrible, and you can’t see much of anything due to the spotty framerate and bad graphics. About the only thing the game has going for it is the fact that most people who play it will shortly commit suicide, thus sparing the game from receiving much negative press. In the words of the legendary Phil Hendrie, it’s like sitting down to a full diaper with chopsticks and all the trimmings.

To be quite honest, you’d probably have more fun pleasuring yourself with a cheese grater.

The game was developed by Graphic State. Their website was http://www.graphic-state.com/, but it seems to have expired sometime last month. Can’t say I’m sad to see an incompetent developer close their doors.

Anyway, back to Sega Rally. It’s tough to find a copy of this game now (indeed I had to resort to Wal-Mart, which I would consider to be a cardinal sin had it not been for the sole purpose of procuring Sega) and quite frankly, I think I recall seeing it in a retail store exactly one time. It was probably Gamestop or EB, but I don’t remember now. It was long ago. The search was worth it, as this game is quite a hidden gem.

The game looks pretty terrible if you were to base your assumptions on screenshots. The extremely pixelated and blocky backgrounds actually don’t look bad when they’re in motion – mostly because the game runs at a pretty fast clip. The controls are pretty good too – not quite as good as the Saturn or arcade versions, but still pretty good.

There are lots of extras in the game too accessible via a sort of in-game currency that is earned in one of two ways – you can place in one of the championship circuits or you can gamble some of your money on a couple of little minigames. The extras include additional tracks and circuits, additonal cars, and even promotional art.

The one thing the game is missing is a good way to tell when you’ve brushed against a wall. There aren’t any sound effects (although if you hit it too hard your navigator will comment), but it does slow you down significantly. Unfortunately by the time you notice that your speed has dropped, it’s hard to tell exactly where you hit the wall which makes it hard to correct your mistakes.

Besides, who doesn’t want to bring the now famous “Game over, yeah” with them wherever they go? With the possible exception of Condoleezza Rice, I can’t think of a single soul.

At any rate, the game reminds me a lot of the original Daytona USA on the Saturn. It don’t look like much, but it’s got it where it counts.

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Obscure Japanese Saturn Game of the Day

In a recent trade with a member of the Forums, I happened to become the owner of Wangan Dead Heat + Real Arrange for the Sega Saturn.

It had been sitting on my desk for about a week, and yesterday I finally found the time to pop it in and give it a try. I must say I’m quite pleasantly surprised with the racing gameplay. It’s very simple – you’re at the very back of the pack (and everyone else has a decent head start) and you have three laps to take the lead and get first place. The racing itself is all about powersliding through the tough corners, and it’s incredibly easy and fun to do. It almost reminded me of Out Run 2, but on a far more primitive (and slower) level.

The graphics suffer from a bit of clipping every now and then, but overall they look pretty good. Of course, this might be due to the fact that I’ve been playing a lot of Daytona USA (which as you know has horrible graphics compared to just about every other racing game on the system).

Wangan Dead Heat + Real Arrange has the yellow 18+ label on it, though so far I haven’t been able to figure out why. It seems like a standard racer with the addition of some fully clothed girls who reprimand or congratulate you depending on your performance in the race.

Today I received a few Dreamcast games in the mail that I didn’t yet have, mostly less common titles like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Sword of the Berserk, and Fatal Fury Mark of the Wolves. Rest assured these will be added to the Sega Buyer’s Guide in due time.

One more thing – Tenchu Fatal Shadows is getting released in just two weeks. I’m not a fan of preordering unless you get something for it. Well, EBGames is giving away free 1 day air shipping as well as a free Tenchu Fatal Shadows t-shirt to further enhance your Sega wardrobe. And though a T-Shirt hardly seems worthwhile (I’d rather have an art book like with Soul Calibur 2), it’s still an extra few bucks worth of stuff that I’m not paying for, and I know I’ll get use out of it. I hardly go out in public without wearing at least one article of Sega, whether it’s a Sonic the Hedgehog T-Shirt or my Sega Ages windbreaker.

On another note, I received a package from The Themis Group (the folks behind that Pocket Kingdom tournament I was in) that contained the full retail version of the Pocket Kingdom (which I already bought, so this copy’s going to Australia) as well as The Sims Busting Out.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with the game – I’m certainly not going to play it, as I can’t stand The Sims, and more importantly, it’s from EA.

I’m open to suggestions on how to get this game off my hands. Be creative, though. Just throwing it away seems too simple.

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