15 Best Games for Sega Saturn
Not as famous as Mega Drive, Sega Saturn hit the market in 1994, almost along with Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Though the latter two have outrun Sega on the console market, Saturn left its trace in the gaming industry and became a place for a lot of epic titles still remembered. Here are some of them, still worth your attention if you like retro games of the 1990s.
Duke Nukem 3D
Back in LA, Duke Nukem is at his job again. The city is almost taken over by aggressive aliens, and he’s the one to stop them all. It will take a lot of shooting and shewing gum! Well, now this game is a default classical piece, but back in 1996, it was a breakthrough, the next level of what Doom and Heretic offered. Its influence is still around when you play virtually any 3D FPS.
The Sega Saturn version is now considered the best FPS for this platform. As we’ve said, it was initially optimized for 2D gaming, so introducing 3D in that spectacular way was somewhere between magic and revolution. Highly detailed graphics may seem pixelized now, but remember what most games looked like in 1996, and appreciate how different Duke Nukem 3D still is.
Die Hard Arcade
And this is a 2D arcade fighting game, one of those kept in mind when developing the console. No wonder it works perfect, though it may seem hard to recognize the original characters’ appearance. Yet we have the story of a cool McClane saving his wife in the Nakatomi skyscraper, though it takes place right after the third movie ending. You stop thinking of any logic as soon as you enter the action whirlpool.
The skyscraper has been selected as a stage because it can be logically interpreted as a platformer. The game reminds of genre classics, from Double Dragon to Final Fight. Though the graphical part is quite rough, movements are made precisely, and fighting people look quite real. Action-packed piece can be played alone or together with a friend, though multiplayer mode is limited by 2 players.
Sega Rally Championship
A racing game with simple controls, complicated tracks, and stunning graphics, and first of all – speed! Though you’re not offered rich car selection like in modern racing games, and all you can unlock is new tracks, the game has what it really needs: the atmosphere. When you drive, it really makes you hold your breath.
The designers did their best to reveal Saturn’s potential in 3D racing, with switching camera mode, curvy tracks and instant reaction to your moves. Still, it’s a great racing game, though it looks just as dated as it should 23 years later. Especially when it comes to your opponents AI, too predictable for today and easy to beat. But it doesn’t affect the drive!
Shining Force 3
Control the band of explorers living between two kingdoms balancing on the edge of wat. Now it seems that the equilibrium has been broken, and the war is inevitable. It won’t be easy to prevent it: you need to find the kidnapped Emperor of Destonia and steer the Aspinian king clear of accusations of that act. That will include a lot of adventures.
Your command includes up to 12 characters with different abilities - knights, archers and mages (like it usually happens in RPGs and tactical adventures), and you select who will fulfill any certain part of your mission.
A long story combined with anime-styled graphics makes this game look great, and due to simplified tactical mechanics, it’s much more playable than analogues of the time.
Yes, Sega Saturn had Worms! This game can now be described as a fusion of physical puzzles and tactical games. Saturn version features the very game style we still love: the two terrains inhabited by aggressive and armed worms that throw missiles at each other. Worm parties are full of different types of worms, and they have rich armory developed with wild unleashed fantasy. The game is turn-based, so you have your time to think over your moves.
The only thing Saturn version ails is the multiplayer mode. Being a PC game initially, Worms doesn’t support multiplayer mode with two pads, so you’d have to pass it to each other for each move. It’s OK when you play against an AI, but it’s not that kind of fun.
Everyone has heard of that cute archeologist Lara Croft, an adventure girl with all the looks and the skills. Tomb Raider almost became the second name of adventure games, and it was released for any platform. Here is the first installment, introducing you to Lara and all the magical, mystical, and dangerous stuff around her.
Well, Saturn hardware wasn’t the best platform for such a graphically rich 3D game, so if you’re here to enjoy the beautiful shapes of that 1990s’ Lara Croft, you may be disappointed. But the gameplay is still adventure-packed and exciting, and the controls fit the gameplay perfectly.
Sega Ages Vol. 1
This is a collection of the games that were already retro when Sega Saturn hit the markets. The pack includes classical titles like Outrun, Space Harrier and After Burner II, all released in 1986-1987. Outrun is one of the most unusual racing games ever, Space Harrier is a space shoot’em-up classical installment, and After Burner 3 is something similar, but with Earth atmosphere as a battlefield.
Meant for devoted players even when it was released, now this pack is even more interesting, because it takes you deeper onto gaming history, and it’s easier to play now due to a selection of emulators (if you don’t own the original console). Recommended for nostalgic old school gamers and Ready Player One fans.
A classical arcade combining logic and action takes to you to a labyrinth you need to go through. Some of its walls are destroyable, some are built to last. There are also moving enemies searching to destroy you. Well, we have seen some of this in the most classical game of all time (we mean Pacman), but Bomberman is just as classic when we look back from 2018, and it’s much more complicated and tricky.
Saturn version of Bomberman offers the same set of features that is available on other platforms, but it also includes multiplayer with up to 10 persons playing on the same console. We don’t think it’s really actual now (except for retro freak parties), but still, it’s good to have this epic opportunity even if you’re not probably ever going to use it. As for the rest of the features, Saturn edition has all of the add-ons made in different installments, so it’s a kind of Ultimate Bomberman.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
One of the best fighting games in the golden era of the genre, this edition of Street Fighter has the best the game can offer. All the characters you love are here. The graphical part is perfect for its class (though it takes a little longer load time). The sounds are decent (though not incredibly great). But the greatest pleasure is the touch of the time. It’s the real fighting simulator of the XX century, and it’s alive and kicking.
You can fight either an AI-controlled character or your human opponent behind your game rival. The game is rich in modes, so, no matter whether you want to spend all day fighting virtual enemies, or only turn it on for ten minutes, you’ll find a suiting mode. By the way, Sega Saturn version is considered the most elaborate and the least buggy of all Street Fighter Zero/Alpha realizations.
Virtua Fighter 2
After the first installment that was a total disappointment, Virtua Fighter 2 was here to the rescue. And it’s really the game worth remembering even after two decades. In spite of so 1990s graphics, it still looks not as dated; it could have been a 2018 retro-styled game. Maybe that’s due to utilizing super smooth 60 FPS rate; maybe it’s just well-drawn. But it’s still considered the best looking game for Sega Saturn Ever.
When it comes to controls and moves, it feels perfect. Each character has its own fighting style, and you have to master it with all its highs and lows to know how to compete with any given rival. Moves are smooth, and the response is instant. The game offers both single player and multiplayer mode, including Team Battle 5 to 5.
The two-named game (Powerslave in the USA, Exhumed for the rest of the world) was a kind of shock. So Saturn can do 3D? Yes, it can. And it offers Doom-like games with FPV, a lot of big guns and infernal enemies. Your character is an archeologist in Karnak, Egypt, and he has just found an unknown tomb with numerous unknown curses. So he goes through levels, searching for artifacts and collecting parts of his broken radio (like Isis of Egyptian myths collecting Osiris). And meanwhile, he shoots enemies, from flying or crawling insects to human-like demons.
This is the game that combines both excellent graphics and a long story with multiple endings, and its bifurcations affecting the gameplay. New locations you can enter depend on the moves you unlock, and there’s more than one way to reach the ending, so the game is highly replayable even now.
Radiant is a classic vertical scrolling shoot’em up, probably the first game to recollect when speaking of the genre. You’re the pilot of a space fighter ship, flying up and shooting the enemies in front of you, that’s it. But the plot pays for that simplicity. You fly through different places and eras to find the Boss of the bosses: the Origin, the most dangerous creature for time and space. In this pursue you’ll have to master different weapons and use them right.
Like Virtua Fighter, Radiant Silvergun is considered the best vertical shoot’em up arcade of all times; it seems true, since the genre has gone retro irreversibly, and even new games of this sort made for mobile platforms are first of all of the nostalgic kind. So there’s no reason to keep from having it in your collection.
NiGHTS: into Dreams
One of the most unusual games for Saturn, it’s made by Sonic Team, so expect something wild and vivid. The characters are two teenagers that once appear in the country of their nightmares, and now they have to fight the King of Nightmares that sucks the dream energy out of dreamers.
The game isn’t easy to make out at first sight, but when you get involved deeper, it becomes something beyond any comparison to combat or shooter games. It’s something or its own kind, either to be loved or hated. It’s got its own dimension you either enter or do not, but to know that you need to try.
One of the best beat’em up games ever, and, as some say, the best title for Sega Saturn ever, Guardian Heroes is a 2D action piece set in hi-tech fantasy with both robots and mystic creatures. The game has its unique fighting methods, depth using system (the field is split into 3 lanes your characters can move between) and an easy way to use a controller, both for beginners and pros. The storyline is full of choices and options, and this adds moral dimension to the plot. Due to variable endings, the game has high replay value.
This is the game that Saturn has been made for: 2D, but rich in graphical details and actions. If you’re searching for something keeping the spirit of Saturn era, Guardian Heroes is what has been guarding it heroically through these decades.
Panzer Dragoon Saga
So, you work at a building site somewhere in the Empire, and here you find something special: an artifact that is a girl encased in stone. You escape as the rebellion arises throughout the Empire, and, suddenly saved by a dragon from inevitable end, you are on your quest in a rich fantasy world.
Starting as just a shooter, Panzer Dragoon series has developed to a 3D RPG filled with action, and the Saga is considered the best installment of the series. The incredible complicated storyline, variable dialogs, different viewpoints, and incredible graphics that revealed the hidden potential of Sega Saturn – it was all too late to breathe more life into the console, but quite in time to become a classical game. Some consider it the very top of Sega Saturn development; we won’t disagree.
Even if you don’t own the actual hardware console, you can easily find its emulators and download game disks images. You’ll need a special controller to enjoy them, but you cannot say you know all about the gaming if you ignore this layer. So Saturn is still seen.