Sonic might be so fast that he could collect the rings around Saturn, but we’re only concerned with the best Sega Saturn games today.
Was that ‘planet-themed’ link as bad as I thought it was? Yes? Ok, let’s move on.
Take A Trip To Saturn – Sega Style
What Is The Sega Saturn?
The Sega Saturn is approaching its 25th birthday. It was released in 1995 in North American and Europe and the successor to the madly popular Sega Genesis (Sega Mega Drive for us Europeans).
The Saturn is part of the fifth gen console family, uses CDs rather than cartridges, and came in two colours; black or white.
Alas, like the Dreamcast and the Sega CD, the Sega Saturn was a commercial flop. Unable to keep up with the N64, it was discontinued in 1998. It sold just over 9-million copies, and although it had all of the latest CPU and VDP technology in order to compete with the PlayStation, it just couldn’t stay afloat.
That and the fact that they never released a new Sonic game for it. What were they thinking!
Still, as with all failed consoles, they instil a sense of wonder with retro game enthusiasts. Like a sunken ship filled with buried treasure, we’re on a mission to discover the best Sega Saturn games.
How Have We Picked The Best Sega Saturn Games?
If you’re a Sega fan, then you’ll know many of these titles already. We’ve listed our favourites from playing this console in our early gaming years and also titles that we’ve gone back to discover while kicking back in Retro Dodo towers.
There were over 1,000 titles released for the console including arcade ports of some of our favourite titles. We’ve whittled it down to 10 of the very best Sega Saturn games available today. How many do you have?
10. Sonic Jam
It wouldn’t be a list of the best Sega Saturn games without a Sonic title. The trouble is that the Sega Saturn didn’t actually have a new one to boast about. It’s a major fail in our opinion, but it’s not unlike Sega to drop a move like this.
Still, if you’re a fan of the blue speedster and want the ability to be able to play all of your favourite Sonic games on the same console, then Sonic Jam should be on your Saturn wish list.
Sonic Jam features true ports of the first four Sonic The Hedgehog games – 1, 2, 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Some of the levels have been altered and you can both play as Tails in Sonic & Knuckles and Knuckles in Sonic 2.
Apart from that, the games are the same.
Sonic Jam does have a cool 3D mode where you can run around a 3D world as Sonic. ‘Sonic World’ is basically an interactive museum. The blue peril must interact with objects to unlock original artwork, marketing advertisements, manuals, and music. There are also some cool missions to complete too.
It’s not a new game, but it does just enough to put Sonic Jam into our list of the best Sega Saturn games.
9. Clockwork Knight
The first new character in our list of the best Sega Saturn games is a pint-sized mechanical warrior with a thirst for adventure.
Clockwork Knight is a side-scrolling platform game that was available at the console’s launch. Loved by gaming fans across the globe, it went on to spawn a sequel, Clockwork Knight 2
Players control a love-struck knight names Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III, though most people call him Pepper. He’s on a mission to save the clockwork fairy, Princess Chelsea. Her voice usually wakes up all the toys at midnight, Buzz and Woody style. Without her, the toys can never come to life again.
Pepper can attack using his sword, which coincidentally looks like a wind-up clock key. Clever, huh? Throw enemies, swing your mighty sword, and open up passages to different rooms as your progress.
There are 13 levels in total. If the time runs out or you lose all of your health, you have to start the level over from the beginning. This is a challenging but satisfying game to play.
8. Saturn Bomberman
Hudson Soft have made some of my favourite ever video games, including this, the twelfth instalment in the Bomberman series.
Ok, so it’s not that different to many of the other Bomberman titles.
The gameplay is very similar. There is a story and a battle mode, and players can take part in a brand new Master Mode in which they have to race to the end of a level.
Instead of riding around on Kangaroos, players can get hold of Dino helpers from eggs. There are a host of new powerups available as well as all of the usual block-smashing explosive action.
Up to 10-people can take part in a Bomberman Royal Rumble-style battle with two Sega Saturn multitaps, or you can play 2-player if you don’t have that many friends. The graphics are colourful and fun, and the age-old Bomberman formula works a charm.
7. Guardian Heroes
If you’re a fan of games like Golden Axe and more recent 2D beat ’em ups like Viewtiful Joe, then you’ll love this next entry on our list of the best Sega Saturn games.
Guardian Heroes is the first fighting RPG that I’ve come across for the Sega Saturn. Like Fable and other morality-based games, the path that your character travels down can be changed by actions that you complete during the game. How you act will trigger a host of alternative endings and outcomes as well as changes in your all-important Karma meter,
I loved the crazy characters and enemies in this game. The weapons were always huge and the backgrounds are all perfectly detailed.
The storyline is rife with wizards, evil spirits, and magic swords. Play through the story mode in single-player mode or battle with up to 6-friends with a multi tap. Gain experience points for your character, unlock new characters and bosses, and defeat everyone in sight.
6. Die Hard Arcade
The cover character might not look anything like John McClane, but Die Hard Arcade is still one of the best beat ’em up/fighting combos for any console. This game was way ahead of its time with a complicated move set that puts my knowledge of the secret controls on Mortal Kombat 3 to shame.
Just like the movies, Die Hard Arcade has ridiculously large explosions and that ‘Goldeneye’ level of violence that was gore-free but still pretty brutal. You’re on a mission to save the President’s daughter (just like all the best action movies), and you can either play solo or team up with a friend.
Breath of the Wild isn’t the only game where you can wield a mop to fend off enemies, you know. The weapons in Die Hard Arcade vary from household items to rapid-fire machine guns. Pistols can be carried through to new levels, but you’re going to have to leave the salt shaker behind when you’ve reached the end.
Reviews for Die Hard Arcade were positive. Critics praised the likeness to the Arcade game and the exciting revival of a dying game genre. The gameplay was a little sluggish here and there, but the fact that you’re controlling John freakin’ McClane more than makes up for it. Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother…ahem. Let’s continue.
5. Virtua Cop
If you’re a fan of arcade classics like Time Crisis, then Virtua Cop will be right up your street.
Like Time Crisis, Virtua Cop is a light-gun shooter game. It works with CRT TVs and monitors and can be used with both the Virtua gun and the Saturn Mouse. I know which one I’d rather wield in a fight against armed robbers!
It uses the same-style real-time polygonal graphics as House of the Dead. The ‘Virtua’ style is ever present, as it is with Number 4 on our list. It’s an iconic arcade look that has become synonymous with the Sega Saturn.
Virtua Cop was one of the first computer games ever to allow players to shoot through glass. That might not seem like a big deal now, but it added another new dimension to games back in the 90s.
Enemies also had multiple reactions and death styles depending on where you shot them. Can you help Michael ‘Rage’ Hardy and James ‘Smarty’ Cools to take down E.V.I.L Inc. and rid the streets of filth?
4. Virtua Fighter 2
Notice the similar arcade-style graphics as Virtua Cop? This title used Sega’s Model 2 Arcade Hardware and ran at 60fps. 3D characters and motion capture animation helped to drive this game to successful heights.
The series is still incredibly popular today, with the 2012 release of Virtua Fighter 5 available for PS3 and Xbox 360.
So what’s so special about Virtua fighter? It has no in-depth storyline, finishing moves, or character development. Are the gameplay and the graphics really good enough to make this one of the best Sega Saturn games of all time?
Yes, they certainly are.
There’s something about Virtua Fighter that keeps us, and many other games, coming back for more. There was a time where the number of copies of this game matched the number of Saturn consoles sold in Japan. It’s one of the most popular titles for the console in terms of sales, and a simple button masher that just works!
Critics raved over this game when it came out, especially the smooth frame rate and the addition of a team battle mode. If you’re a fan of the Street Fighter series, them give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Sega Rally Championship
Speeding into the Number 3 spot on our list of the best Sega Saturn games is Sega Rally Championship. This game was one of the first Rally games to give you variety of different driving surfaces to tear around. Unlike racing games that came before it, the road surface affected the cars handling, giving you a more realistic experience.
Sega Rally Championship is considered by many critics to be one of the pivotal racing titles in video gaming history. The graphics were spot on, and the custom-created soundtrack had a way of sticking in your head as though it was a Top 40 tune.
The World Championship was set it three world areas – Desert, Forest, and Mountain. I always assumed that these were Middle-East, American, and Europe (Monaco), though I guess that’s up to each players imagination.
Choose from three different cars and try to get to the head of the pack at the end of each level. Your end position dictates where you start off in the next round, just like every racing game from Formula 1 to Mario Kart.
Everyone loves a mindless racing game, and Sega Rally Championships is one of the first and the best.
2. Panzer Dragoon Saga
Number 2 on our list of the best Sega Saturn Games is an absolute corker! Not only is Panzer Dragoon Saga one of the most critically acclaimed games that Sega ever made for one of their consoles, but it’s also one of the most exciting RPGs of all time too!
You play as a mercenary named Edge who rides about on a dragon… I think that’s all I need to know!
Panzer Dragoon incorporates both real-time and turn-based battles, along with all of the side-quests, object collecting, and interaction that you would expect from a solid RPG.
The worlds are amazing, and once more, you ride about on a dragon! I don’t think I could ever get bored of writing that sentence.
1. Nights Into Dreams
That means that the Number 1 spot goes to the ever-popular Nights into Dreams. Sonic Team might not have been able to get their act together to make a new Sonic title for the Sega Saturn, but they really excelled themselves with this game.
The concept, the worlds, the colours; everything about Nights into Dreams is incredible, and it’s considered by many (not just us) to be the best game on the console. I guarantee that you’ll have trouble putting your controller down!
So what is Nights into Dreams? A little like 40 Winks for the N64, you follow two teenagers who enter a dreamworld called Nightopia. You team up with an androgynous character named Nights and must stop an evil villain named Wizeman from causing havoc.
What is it with Sega and their terrible villain names!
Time limits on every level give you that same nail-biting pressure that you feel while playing Sonic titles. Instead of collecting rings, you have to fly through them, and the atmosphere of each dream level is simply breathtaking.