Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Old Shenmue Articles and Reviews

Hey guys, it's sure been a long time since I've updated this blog. Apologies about that. I haven't forgoten this place at all. Far from it. The problem is, I've been mighty busy recently and haven't had much time at all to play many Sega games, write reviews or write articles. In addition, in the free time I have had, I've been playing on my brand new toy, a Nintendo Gamecube (I know, I know *boo* *hiss* :P)

I've decided however, that now is the time to add a new post to Sega Ages. Admittedly, it's a bit of a lazy post, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

I present to you some scans from my own Magazines collection. These scans are of Shenmue articles and reviews covered in the UK's GamesMaster magazine. All of these date from between 1999 to 2001. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Segafans.com and a quick update

I was checking out some other Sega sites, and was brought to the attention of this particular site. Segafans is a great website for all you die hard Sega fans out there, so I thoroughly suggest you check it out. It's full of great infomation about all of Sega's consoles and games.

Check it out here: http://segafans.com

In addition, a quick update to you guys. I'm working on some reviews soon for you. Hopefully I should have reviews for D2 (Dreamcast), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Megadrive), Soul Calibur (Dreamcast) and Guardian Heroes (Saturn) coming in the next month. So look out for those soon!

Next week though I should have some more retro articles from UK games magazines for you.

Until next time guys, take care.

- Reprise

Dark Savior [PAL-E] Saturn Review

My God, this review has been a struggle and a half to finish.  Currently my feelings towards this game are not good, as I will go into in a little bit, but I shall try to be objective as possible.   I’ve owned this game for years and years, and when I decided to choose it for my next review I decided to play it all the way through again from start to finish.  That didn’t quite happen... Frustration has taken the best of me and I will not waste any more of my time on this game.   I did actually get right to the end of the game, but a glitch left me trapped and unable to finish the game properly RIGHT AT THE END! Not good is it Climax?... 
I've fully completed this game before, so I will try not to let the glitch taint this review as I'm sure it's a rare occurance.

For those that don’t know, Dark Savior is an action adventure (RPG-ish) game made by Climax Entertainment, the developers responsible for famed Mega Drive RPG, Landstalker.  This game is often mistaken for a sequel (or spiritual sequel if you will) to Landstalker, but in reality Dark Savior is a very different game.  A real sequel to Landstalker was actually released as Lady Stalker for the Super Nintendo and was only released in Japan.

Dark Savior is played from an isometric viewpoint and in that respect plays similarly to Landstalkers.  You play as Garian, a bounty hunter sent to escort the evil Bilan to Jailers Island to be Carbon Frozen.  When the monser escapes, you must run as fast you can to find Bilan and stop him.  From this moment a timer appears on the screen.  Dark Savior is unique in that there are actually 4 different versions of the game to be played (known as parallels).  Depending on how long it takes for you to reach the captain’s cabin, a different outcome will occur.  The game will then take a different route.  When you’ve completed the parallel, the game will save and restart to back to the ship in which Garian will awake from a dream.  The aim is to complete all 3 parallels and then the final 4th parallel will commence straight after the third parallel.  This makes the game very interesting to play, especially since references will be made between the 4 parallels, but you won’t get the full story until you play them all.  It’s definitely quite an original concept and adds replay value to the gamer.  Each parallel differs slightly in length, but none are more than about 4 or 5 hours.  In total the game is about 12 – 15 hours long, so unfortunately isn’t too long despite the multiple stories.

In terms of the gameplay, as previously stated, this is an isometric 3D action adventure game.  Isometric games can be quite an acquired taste.  Those who find them frustrating will most likely find this game suffers from the same problems.  Dark Savior is heavily platform oriented and often you will be jumping from platform to platform.  This can be incredibly annoying as one wrong move can lead  to you falling to your death.  With an isometric viewpoint it can be difficult to calculate exactly how to jump to next platform, especially if you’re on one of those pesky platforms that will quickly collapse under your feet unless you move fast.  Luckily, with this being a 32-bit era game, Climax did consider this issue and added a camera control feature.  Dark Savior makes good use of the 3D controller, with the analogue stick being used to move the camera around the player.  The L and R triggers are also used to move the camera.  This does help the problems at times, but it by no means solves them.

Unlike many similar games that preceded this, Dark Savior has a unique combat mode.  It may be unique, but it’s not particularly good.  Instead of engaging in combat similar to that of Landstalker, Light Crusader or Zelda, when you are approached by an enemy, you enter a fighting mode.  This has the camera zoomed in on the players and you must fight the enemy much like how you would in a beat ‘em up.  Whilst this is a novel concept, it doesn’t really work too well in practice.  It’s not terrible, but it could have been put to better use.  The main problem is it’s incredibly easy and very simple.  Basically you have A as your attack button, B is jump and you use the direction button to move.  If you hold down A your special bar will gradually fill and once full you will be able to perform a special attack.  This makes battles both repetitive and a chore.  Variety is added by the ability to capture enemies to later use in battle (think Pokemon), but the simple control system really does let the combat down.

Graphically, Dark Savior is quite attractive.  The game is made up of a mixture of 2D sprites and 3D polygons.  Most of the time the mixture of the 2D and 3D animation works tremendously well together considering the mixture of graphics, but at times it can be fairly ugly.  When you are engaged in combat, the camera zooms in and the character sprites are particularly jagged and ugly.  In addition, the mine cart scene in the game doesn’t look the best.  When Dark Savior does it well though, it does it well.  For example, the Silver Castle level features numerous platforms in the sky and the depth is phenomenal.  You have to see it to believe it.  It’s definitely one of the best parts of the game.  Adding to the mood of the game, the music and sound is also above average.  Although it is nothing groundbreaking, the sound is never bad and at times can work really well.

Overall, Dark Savior is a good adventure game, but it is let down by frustrating controls and awkward combat.  The story, despite being cheesy at times (in particular the dialogue), is generally very good.  Although one of the redeeming features of the game is the story, unfortunately some of the parallel endings are a little naff.  There's also a bonus (secret) 5th parallel that can be unlocked, but it's just a simple fighting game (which can also be played 2 player).  In my opinion Dark Savior is worth playing (especially if you’re a fan of Climax Entertainment’s other games), but you might want to try it before you buy it to see if you can put up with the game’s shortcomings.

Gameplay:          7/10
Graphics:             7/10
Sound:                  7.5/10
Longevity:           7/10
Originality:          7.5/10

OVERALL:            7/10

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sega Ages on Twitter

Hey hey, I officially have a Twitter account now for the site.

Please follow me and I promise not to spam you. The Twitter will be used to keep people updated with the site.



UK Official Sega Magazine #2 February 1994 Sonic 3 Showcase and Review

Well this week I have something very special for the Sonic 3 fans out there. I was hoping to make use of my scanner for the first time in ages this week, but I'm very sorry to inform you that it no longer works. I decided to go ahead with this post regardless and instead made do with photographs. I'm sorry about the quality, but luckily you should still be able to read it well as the quality is good considering.

I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Dreamcast’s Top Hidden Gems - Segagaga

When it comes to consoles, there are always a lot of well known “must have” titles that gain a lot of hype.  In the case of the Dreamcast, some of these titles you might often here repeatedly are games like Shenmue, Soul Calibur, Virtua Tennis, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure, and Skies of Arcadia just for example...  but what about the more obscure games?  What about those hidden gems that don’t always get quite the recognition they deserve? Well this article is dedicated to just that. This is a top list of Dreamcast games with a difference.  If you’re not a hardcore Dreamcast nut you may not have heard much about many of these games, so it’s time to promote these gems.  The first game I will discuss is Segagaga.


Segagaga was released in Japan towards the end of the Dreamcast’s life (available only on Sega’s online store).  What the game proved to be was a fantastic farewell to the Dreamcast and a brilliant gift to the Sega fans that had supported the company through its history  It is unfortunate that the game was never released outside of Japan as it presents both an incredible game and a nostalgic trip through Sega’s history.  The game is text heavy and therefore it is difficult for those that do not speak Japanese to understand quite what is happening in the game.  Despite this, it is a fairly simple game and is a lot of fun regardless of whether you know the language or not.  There are translation guides and walkthroughs out there to help those that need help.

Segagaga is a RPG with a difference... Instead of being set in the past with an ancient fantasy theme, the game is actually set in 2025.  Segagaga's storyline actually parodies the commercial failure of the Dreamcast and the console battles between Sega and Sony that were happening at the time.  It was great to see Sega still having a sense of humour and ability to laugh at themselves, all whilst making subtle jabs at the games industry.  You play as a child recruited by Sega in a last-ditch effort to stop the evil DOGMA (*cough* Sony *wink wink*) Company from taking over the console market.

The game plays like a typical console RPG, with an overhead view and bright detailed 2D visuals.  The player must make their way through Sega’s development studios (Dungeons) and battle various employees.  Employees can be hired in order to make games once you reach the later stage of the game.  The cut scenes are beautifully animated visuals and are a real treat to watch.  Within the game there are also numerous cameos by characters from previous Sega games that bring joy to any Sega fan lucky enough to play this game.  Some characters that make cameos for example are Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex Kidd, just to name a few.  Seeing Alex Kidd working in a games shop apparently moaning about being fired as a mascot by Sega was particularly entertaining. 

If you own a Dreamcast, you owe yourself to play this game.  Do it.  Do it now!

The Dreamcast Channel

The Dreamcast Channel is a site run by @KellyStanford_ chock-full of interesting Dreamcast related articles. Kelly was kind enough to feature my review of Alien Front Online on her site.

Check out the site here: The Dreamcast Channel