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Saturn, The King of 2D

March 1, 1999

Now that Saturn software development is just about done in Japan, it is a good time to reflect in one of the aspects where the Saturn really excelled: its 2D capabilities. Of course, it's kind of funny that one of the reasons why this happened was that Sega didn't know 3D games where going to take off the way they did, which allowed Sony to make a console with better 3D. But if you enjoy 2D games, like me, you can take advantage of Sega's decision.

Why do I like 2D games so much, you ask? First, on my opinion, the art is more detailed on 2D than on 3D. People always say when I tell them this that as technology improves this will no longer be the case. We'll see. Nevertheless, 2D games are easier to control. On 2D games you only move up, down, left, and right. On 3D games, you also move in and out. And since the camera angle changes as the game progresses, it's easier to press the wrong button at times.

Even from the beginning, I knew the Saturn was good at 2D games. Astal was one of the very first games released for the Saturn, and I always found it very beautiful and fun, even after all these years. Since then, several other excellent 2D games have been released for the Saturn, like the Street Fighter Alpha series and Darkstalkers 2. I thank Capcom for sticking to 2D for their fighting games. While I enjoy 3D games which were 3D from the beginning (like Panzer Dragoon and Virtua Fighter), I also prefer it when new versions of games which were in 2D at first are still made on 2D. Of course, there are exceptions, like Shining Force III, which was better on 3D.

If you buy Japanese games, you will see that many of the best 2D games for the Saturn stayed in Japan. You can blame it on Bernie Stolar if you want, but at least I could buy the ones where the language is not a barrier. Shooters like Soukyugurentai and Battle Garegga are some of the best shooters ever made for any system. They use the Saturn's highest resolution, have luscious backgrounds, and display countless objects on the screen. Metal Slug, an adaptation of SNK's action game, looks great. The graphics are very detailed, and it is a lot of fun to kill the enemy soldiers and vehicles. The fact that it is both very violent and very cartoonish is another nice touch.

The King of Fighters series is another SNK franchise that made its way to the Saturn. I'm glad that it did, since I liked these games since I saw them at the arcade. So far I have played King of Fighters 96, and it's great. It feels good to control again the characters that I loved so much on Fatal Fury 2, together with the ones from Art of Fighting, and other new ones.

There are still other great 2D Saturn games that I want to buy, like X-Men vs. Street Fighter , where the best version of this game on any console is on the Saturn. These games will keep me busy until the Dreamcast comes to the U.S., and even after that, since I will play them from time to time even several years from now.

By the way, if you want to buy Japanese Saturn games, buy them now. The Saturn is dying, even in Japan, and these games are now becoming increasingly difficult to find.


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