Category: Features

The SEGA Saturn: A 2×12-Year Retrospective

The Sega Saturn was an important chapter in the history of game consoles, mostly for not doing much of anything right. Though it was a technically sound piece of hardware that theoretically should (and could) have gone toe to toe with Sony's disruptive PlayStation, a series of monumental errors on the part of Sega caused the Saturn to wither and die a tragic and somewhat untimely death at retail. Since that time, it has been all but forgotten by the majority of gaming culture but it's worth remembering for the lessons that can be learned from its various associated blunders, as well as for the few things the console did have going for it.

Sega's failures with the Saturn were manifold and they arguably began before the system was even conceived of. In the early part of the '90s, in order to compete with NEC's recently released TurboGrafx CD (as well as Nintendo's rumored upcoming Super Nintendo CD add-on (which is what essentially went on to become the PlayStation) Sega decided to develop and release their own CD drive for their popular Genesis console. Later, Sega would also release an additional, more powerful, cartridge-based add-on for the Genesis - the 32X. Both of these peripherals were largely over-priced failures that mainly served to fragment and frustrate Sega's previously growing fan base.

Despite the fact that backwards compatibility has never been much of an industry standard, the lack of it in the Saturn's case certainly didn't win it any supporters. Sega's newest console included a CD drive and a cartridge slot, yet could play neither Sega CD discs, nor any of the two previous generations worth of Master System, Genesis, or 32X cartridges. Adding insult to injury, the Saturn was announced at a price point of $399, $100 more than Sony's PlayStation. Many fans balked at the prospect of having to pay more for Sega's hardware, after having already shelled out for supefluous add-ons and media that were no longer being supported.

Finally, Sega had initially indicated that the Saturn would launch on Satur[n]day, September 2nd, 1995. However, they decided to be clever and try to get a jump on the competition. At the (very first) Electronic Entertainment Expo on May 11th of that year, they surprised everyone by announcing that it was already available, that very day, at select stores. Unfortunately, the plan backfired. Key retailers that were not let in on the surprise were more than a little upset with Sega. One store chain even responded by dropping Sega's wares altogether. To make matters worse, most of the launch games were still scheduled for release in September, leaving the Saturn with few titles to choose from during the first several months of its life. By the time the PlayStation was released, not a great deal of gamers had opted to pick up a Saturn and Sony's console quickly and easily surpassed the sales of Sega's offering.

Sega may have inadvertently sealed the Saturn's fate before (and even on) the date it came out, but that doesn't mean the console was totally worthless. To the Sega loyalists who were still willing to buy one when it launched, or the more cost-conscious fans who waited for the price reductions that followed soon after, the Saturn was still the best place to play fantastic new titles that could only be found in the arcades (if anywhere else). The games are the biggest reason why, despite all of its numerous failings, the Saturn is still viewed with a modicum of respect, and a good bit of nostalgia in certain circles. So, as a way to honor it on its 24th birthday today, we would like to present you with 12 such examples of the Sega Saturn's said sole saving grace.

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Scroo’s Completed #4if

Well...

...I thought I had picked the right set of games to fix this #4if's wagon. But it got the better of me anyway. In retrospect I should have probably played in a different order than I did. But you know, I still made great progress and three out of four is nothing to sneeze at. This year's challenge was, in all likelyhood, perfectly reasonable to complete. However with the release of Apex Legends at the beginning of the month... Well lets just say that I spent a lot more time in there than I should have in order to get a #4if win this year. Am I disappointed in myself? One word - No I'm not, I certainly feel like I did pretty well all things considered. I have a life after all! get off my back Gary!

Check out how I did below. Read more

AJ’s 4 In February: 4th In February

Once more, with feeling! It's time for another 4 in February. By now you probably know what that means (though you'd certainly be forgiven if you didn't) - the forswearing of all games, save a select 4, all of which must be completed entirely within the confines of the double-fortnight that is February. This being my 4th 4 in February, I feel like it may be the year that fortune finally smiles upon my attempt. True, that I cannot foresee whatever results may be in store for me, but perhaps I can forestall my typical lack of success this time around through sheer force of will and just a little extra effort. Failure is not a foregone conclusion! Oh, and perhaps I should mention the games I will be playing, before I forget. Read more

Scroo’s 4if

Last year I didn't play a #4if because I was a busy mofo and I just didn't have the time or motivation to play 4 games at one time during all of that. This year though, I'm not quite as busy of a mofo and I plan on putting up to four titles in thier place. It's a fun challenge that we, and many other outlets, do each year where we each pick some games from our backlog that need finishing and... finish them. We also usually summarize them after our completion whether we make it through all four or not. Now the key here is not necessarily to play four games from beginning to end, but it is to finish four games. Here are my choices this year.... Read more

WRUP In #4if

Good day to you sirs and madammes. February is a time where four games shall fall to the weary eyes of the dogged player. I speak of the #4 in February. It looks like most of us at Twinstiq will be participating in this most honored of traditions. We have trained hard for this day and wear the war paint of the 4. The rules are simple and thus: Finish 4 games in the backlog in the month of February. A daunting task if there ever was one, and to the winners go no spoils. Only pride and public admiration for the accomplishment. Read more

AJ’s Picks: The 12 Best Games of 2018

Happy 2019, everyone! Is it just me or do the years feel like they are flying by these days? Before we get too far into the new year, let's not forget to take a look back at the one that's just passed and make note of all the truly great gaming experiences we got out of it. As it turns out, 2018 was a pretty fantastic year for video games - and I have quite a bit of praise to heap on some of them. So without further ado, here are the 12 best games of 2018 (as selected by me).

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Twinstiq Staff Picks for their Top Games of 2018

Hey everybody it's me, Scrooloose and the rest of us here at Twinstiq. How's it going? Good? You want a soda? No? Would you settle for a slap-dash list of games we liked from last year (and some prior) written in no particular order, some ranked and some not, hastily put together and edited in collaboration over the last few days with no real format? Yeah, we thought you'd like that. Read more

The PlayStation 3: A 12-Year Anniversary Retrospective

Well, it's another 12-year anniversary today and that means it's time once again for a retrospective of one of the great consoles of recent gaming history. This time around we have the distinct pleasure of taking a look back at the somewhat-remarkable run of Sony's PlayStation 3. Though news of its release came with lofty expectations, a series of unfortunate decisions over its lifetime (particularly at the start) did keep it from becoming the console titan it was meant to be. Despite this however, an extremely solid and varied library, along with a couple of strategically competitive moves allowed it to still finish out the generation neck and neck with the competition.

Coming off of the runaway successes that were the PS1 and PS2, it seemed as though Sony could do no wrong. Regrettably for them however, this was not the case. In the years and months leading up to the launch, Sony made a series of blunders that all contributed to a less-than-stellar start. For starters, they let Microsoft beat them to launch with the Xbox 360, a full year before the PlayStation 3 would be released. This gave the 360 plenty of time to carve out a decent foothold in the market and prove itself worthy of gamers hard-earned dollars. In addition, Sony selected the uniquely designed Cell processor for their system, which, while theoretically capable of delivering better graphics than the Xbox's more traditional Xenon processor, didn't really do so in practice. Making matters worse was the fact that the Cell's unorthodox design initially caused many third-party developers to struggle to deliver games that looked even as good as the 360 versions.

As if those two shortcomings weren't bad enough, there were two arguably even bigger issues with Sony's system. At the time Sony announced the PS3 to the world, they were in the midst of a legal dispute over the vibration technology in their controllers. As a result, the PS3 ended up having to launch without it. At that point in time, vibration had already been an industry standard for nearly two generations and was utilized with both the PS1 and PS2. More importantly, the previous year's Xbox 360 had it (and even the upcoming Nintendo Wii was advertising it). Sony was eventually able to settle the dispute and release a vibration controller for their new system, but not until almost a year and a half after the PS3 had already been released.

Finally, the most egregious error Sony made was with the price. Whereas the 360 was competitively priced, the PlayStation 3 was anything but. Questionable design decisions, such as their risky gamble to go with their expensive new (and not yet industry standard at the time) proprietary Blu-ray disc format, as well as the inclusion of additional internal hardware to enable backward compatibility for PlayStation 2 games, drove production costs through the roof. This resulted in a significant price disparity between the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, to the tune of 125 to 200%, depending on which models you were comparing. This means that in some cases Sony was asking for twice as much money as the competition, for a system that, to many gamers, was an arguably inferior offering.

Thankfully, despite these regrettable decisions, Sony was eventually able to turn the system's fortunes around. Shortly before correcting their embarrassing lack of a basic vibration controller, Sony pursued an aggressive (and costly) campaign to ensure that their Blu-ray technology did in fact become the industry standard. Then, starting in 2007, Sony also began selling PS3s with revised hardware configurations (such as the lack of an ability to read PS2 discs) in order to bring costs down. All of these measures together, in addition to the ever-increasing strength of exclusives available for the console, managed to change the PlayStation 3's reputation from a largely unnecessary exercise in extravagance to a genuinely compelling and competitive entertainment machine.

That library, in particular, is what we're here to talk about. And while it was a bit difficult to limit this list to just these 12, it's hard to argue that they're not all fantastic titles. So without further ado, here are 12 of the very best reasons to have owned a PlayStation 3:

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Yono and the Celestial Elephants: Review

As you play and as the world is revealed to you, you will discover that there’s a lot of depth to the plot – if not the characters – and that there’s a whole host of philosophical conundrums beating, like a steady counter-rhythm to the playful platforming.

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