We are back again with the ODROID-XU4/XU4 and Sega Saturn games. This time I want to look into games starting with the letter “S” like in Saturn, or as in “shmup”. There are so many great games for the Sega Saturn that start with the letter “S” that I enjoy playing, that I had to make this into its own section of this series.
Samurai Spirits IV – Amakusa Kourin
Samurai Spirits IV is a very nice “beat em up” game similar to King of Fighter, or Street Fighter, but offers the addition of weapons similar to Last Blade.
This game requires a 1MB memory expansion to work properly, so make sure you have the correct cartridge selected. I really enjoy this game. It’s one of the best 2D fighting games I have played. The blinking health bars and shadows are the only elements I don’t like about this game, but the rest is just perfect.
The game is very interesting, since the different characters are not just different in graphics but also in fighting styles. Moves are easy to pull off, and even button smashing can work fine for you if you figure out what moves you need to combine.
You can even disarm your enemy and weaken them until they pick up their weapons again. The music is nice, there is a lot of animation going on both for the characters as well as the background. I’m not a too big fan of fighting games, but I spends quite a few hours playing this one and will continue playing it too.
I don’t think Bomberman needs to be introduced, but some say the Sega Saturn version of Bomberman is the best version in existence, and that each version after this version was compared with the Sega Saturn version.
Saturn Bomberman is really a gem, with nice anime cut-scenes, wonderful bright colors, all kinds of power-ups and an all so familiar gameplay. If you like Bomberman, you should definitely play the Sega Saturn version! Oh and did I mention it supports up to 10 players on one screen?
This shooter is similar to Parodius which I showcased last time, and is a Gradius-Parody-Series kinda “Cute ‘em up”.
It has a slight twist at the end of a section where you kill a couple of bosses in a row, and if you beat them, a “sexy picture” is slowly revealed, but if you run out of lives it’s over. You have an unlimited amount of continues, so you can still be playing the next level, but the picture level will be over.
Aside from that, the game is a nice “cute ‘em up” but actually rather hard and you might die quite often, but as I said, luckily there are unlimited continues.
Shienryu is another shoot ‘em up. It’s a little bit simpler in its game mechanics, as you can’t choose different crafts, and there are only three different types of weapons.
You either can use a spread shot, a lightning attack that auto aims at all targets and jumps from one enemy to the next, or a rocket attack which is a combination of self aiming missiles and straight forward rockets. Each of the weapons can be increased in fire-power multiple times by collecting power-ups. Aside from that, you have “bombs” which are special attacks designed to deal a lot of damage on a large section of the screen, as found in many other games as well. The game plays very well on the ODROID-XU3/XU4. The graphics are probably the most impressive part of the game, with plenty of details and animations, transparent clouds, as well as a good amount of parallax scrolling. It’s one of the best looking “shmups” for the system.
If you like “shmups” this is definitely one you should try out. The game is also available for MAME and PS1, but the Saturn version is probably the best.
Shinrei Jusaishi Taroumaru
This game is kinda unique, it looks and feels a little like the Shinobi series. However, instead if throwing knifes or hitting the enemy with your fists, you’re using your inner energy to shoot them with lightning bolts.
In this game, you walk from left to right fighting off hordes of enemies ranging from moving flames, then to ninjas and demon creatures, and every so often you fight off different boss monster which vary much in strength and ways to kill them. The game is a little bit hard to control in my opinion. You have an auto aiming feature that only locks on if an enemy is in front of you. If an enemy is behind you, you have to turn around, but also if an enemy is right above you, you won’t lock on him either.
The variety of enemies, especially the bosses, is quite impressive, and the different levels and scenes you are fighting in are very good. You won’t get bored with seeing the same background over and over again. The game can be quite hard though, but is still very fun to play. You can even “capture” some of the enemies and let them fight for you. You can also reflect some attacks or make projectiles aimed at you disappear that way. The game is quite fun to play, but has no save feature or anything, it’s probably meant to be played in one session and can be finished in about an hour or so.
Sonic Wings Special
It seems that "S" does not only stand for Saturn but also for “shmup”, as this is yet again another “shoot ‘em up” game for the Sega Saturn. Once again, the gameplay is rather simplistic in this game. There are no different weapons to collect, and there is no charged attack or anything similar; just your standard attack and a “bomb” special attack.
The lack of different weapons is handled by a vast amount of aircrafts you can command: you can select between 10 different aircrafts, each with their own weapons and special attacks. Another nice addition is that your C button acts as turbo fire button. This means you don’t have to press fire over and over again yourself.
Even if you don’t die, your weapons will lose their power level if you do not pick up more power-ups over time, and once you get hit, you lose your power-ups and are normally just left stranding with one power-up from your destroyed aircraft. Sometimes it’s good to just let the power-ups fly around on the screen for a while before you collect them.
Here is yet another shoot ‘em up for the Sega Saturn. Steam Hearts is once again a rather good looking Shmup on the Saturn, with some level of parallax scrolling and very nice animations.
What I like about this game is, that a single hit does not necessarily mean you’re out of the game. Your craft can take a couple of hits until you go down, which is quite nice for a change.
You have a couple of different primary and secondary weapons you can collect and up to three secondary weapons which all have different styles. This gives you a very wide range of options to combine your powers. These secondary weapons are also used for your special attack and will be “used” for this, which means you’ll lose that secondary weapon after you use your special attack. Special attacks are normally stronger forms of your primary attack and not like in many other games a huge screen filling extremely powerful attack. For example, if you have self-aiming laser as a secondary attack and activate the special attack, your rate and strength of these self-aiming laser will increase for a short while, and the Sword will increase its size to fill the entire screen. Things like this can be extremely helpful, but not overpowering, like in other games where you can kill an boss with just one or two special attacks.
All in all, it’s a pretty solid shooter. You can select between a male and female main character and either a blue or red craft.
Strikers 1945 is the last shoot ‘em up for this series. It came out for many different systems, and there’s even a PSP port of the game.
The game as such is not so special, since it has no parallax scrolling, although graphics and animations are quite good, but nothing that has not be seen in other games. Still, the gameplay is quite fun, the level are short, and you face a new boss on each stage which are randomly thrown at you. No run is the same, as the order of the level changes each time which gives it a very good replay value. The levels are interesting and the planes are different enough that you want to try them all. Strikers 1945 might not be the best shmup, but it does everything right. The gameplay is fast and challenging, but not unfair. The graphics are nice even if it doesn’t use parallax scrolling. You have great music, an intro video, unlimited continues, auto-fire on the right shoulder button, and more. Overall, Strikers 1945 is a very solid shooter and it runs very good on the ODROID-XU4/XU3. If you like shoot ‘em ups, you should definitely try this one.
Saturn Bomberman Fight!!
This game is kinda interesting when it comes to Bomberman style games. You do not die on the first bomb that explodes next to you, but you have a health-bar. You can throw bombs, jump over boxes, you ride animals, and more. The game is quite different from the original Bomberman, but is rather fun to play. It also brings Bomberman and his friends into the 3D world which also gives the game a nice little twist.
Shichisei Toushin Guyferd - Crown Kaimetsu Sakusen
The first time you see the intro, you’re instantly reminded of an old TV show called Power Rangers, but no, this is Guyferd, which is similar but still different. Unfortunately, I don’t understand a word of what is spoken, which is a shame, as the game offers many, many video cutscenes probably from the TV show itself (and I mean A LOT of em!). It plays like a dungeon crawler, where you walk around from the first-person perspective and turn left or right and walk back and forth, until you find items or an enemy, which is when you start to fight. The game is very interesting, so it’s a shame that I understand so little about it.
Shining Force III
If you want to play this game for the Sega Saturn, you’d better insert a Memory Backup Card to save your game progress, since the internal memory of the Saturn will probably not be sufficient. I don’t really enjoy pre-rendered graphics like in Donkey Kong for SNES or like here in Shining Force III. Still, the game is a very interesting RPG game using a lot of 3D elements and effects, and is one of the better 3D games for the Saturn. It’s huge, and from what I heard, the game is suppose to be very “epic” and the best in the series. It plays a little slowly, with lots of text and only little action at the start, and I haven’t had time to really play it seriously to give a good review. It’s been praised a lot, so I guess it’s safe to recommend it.
Silhouette Mirage is a very interesting game which I do not fully understand yet. You can run, jump, and shoot energy balls from your fingers, and have to defeat Mirages and Silhouettes. There is a lot of shooting, bashing and such that you can do. It includes a tutorial that I never finished, as it takes a long time, and just shows you the different attack combos you can do. The graphics are nice, and the music is catchy. It’s a nice game, although I don’t understand what I’m really doing.
Street Fighter Alpha – Warrior’s Dream
This game might also require you to use a backup memory card as well if you want to keep your high scores, or you have to make sure the system memory has at least 32 free blocks. The game is what you expect from a Street Fighter game. It has nice graphics, good animations, and is good overall, but not extraordinary.
Street Fighter Zero
I couldn’t get Street Fighter Zero 3 to work, but it’s a better version than the Zero version, and with the 4MB memory expansion, it offers a lot more animations. Still, Street Fighter Zero is an excellent fighting game in the Street Fighter series with nice graphics and animations. There are lots of special moves, and it runs very well on the ODROID XU3/XU4. If you are a fan of the Street Fighter series, you should definitely check this one out.
Street Racer is a nice and interesting little racing game with funny cartoon graphics similar to Mario Kart. It has some graphical issues as it seems that the sky is actually on the ground, and it looks like you drive on it. This makes it hard to see the actual track, but not impossible, and you can still enjoy the game a lot. Another bonus is that you can manage your system memory and backup memory save states with this game.
Striker 1945 2
Striker 1945 2 is the second installment in the 1945 series. It is a very nice shoot ‘em up, but is unfortunately a little bit too laggy. The frame skipping feels very jumpy, and deactivating frameskipping will make you play in slow motion, which is tolerable but not as fun.