Tonight is a special night. Another Halloween Video Game review, covering the best horror-themed games the Sega Saturn has to offer.
During the 32-Bit era, early 90’s to the late 90’s, the Sega Saturn couldn’t shake the smell of death. It first had to compete with the Sony Playstation, then later the Nintendo 64 before being laid to rest as the Sega Dreamcast steam-rolled onto the scene.
Sega really pushed their arcade division in the 90’s with a series of 3D firsts, like Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighting and Virtua Racing.
Import Saturn Games for your Halloween Party
So the Sega Saturn has 5 different games that work for your next Halloween Party. These are Japanese titles that are totally playable without knowing the language. It’s a collection of arcade games available in PAL as well as NTSC. Except for Vampire Savior, which was a Japanese release exclusive.
House of the Dead
The essential on-rails light gun game for the Sega Saturn, and well, any Retro Halloween Horror Party. The original House of the Dead Arcade game was only ported to PC and Sega Saturn. So this stands as one of the best single-best ways to enjoy this arcade shooter.
Sega were super-invested in the art of the on-rail shooter, starting with Virtua Cop released in the arcades in 1994. The best thing about Sega’s arcade library finding a home on the Sega Saturn really is the hardware. The Sega Saturn Stunner. The light gun feels like it was pulled right from a cabinet and when you’ve got a friend over, it’s easy to see how House of the Dead made such an incredible impact. It’s campy, fun and beautifully short.
Sega also teamed up with Palisades to produce a range of action figures based off Sega franchises. House of the Dead got their own line with Strength, Johnny, Ken and Hierophant. Check out our review of Johnny below!
Battle Monsters – Scarab
A 2D fighting game in the same vein as Mortal Kombat. Digitized and claymation monsters go head-to-head in multiple stages. Complete with monstrous special moves and some unique stage deaths, the Battle Monsters (バトルモンスターズ) is a unique Sega Saturn fighting title developed by Scarab and published by Naxat Soft in Japan. A few years too late to be considered cutting edge, Battle Monsters is an incredibly rough game that uses a zooming camera and platforms within the levels to variety to the fighting. As well as plenty of terrible effects.
For Sony Playstation fans, Scarab returned to publish Killing Zone. A 3D fighting game with a bunch of returning monsters, as well as a few new characters. Again, Killing Zone is a raw title lacking a lot of polish. The 3D game engine doesn’t hold up well, especially compared to the previous 2D engine used in Battle Monsters. It may be simple, choppy and lackluster but Battle Monsters is a fun gem to pull on a weathered Sega Saturn enthusiast.
Henry’s Explorers (Crypt Killer) – Konami
A few years before House of the Dead bought the full haunted mansion experience to the arcades, Konami released Crypt Killer in 1995, also known as Henrys Explorers in Japan (ヘンリーエクスプローラーズ Henrī Ekusupurōrāzu). You need to navigate 8 different stages, filled with monsters, ghouls and demons to uncover treasure. Unlike House of the Dead, Crypt Killer uses 2D sprites in a 3D environment.
It’s an interesting snapshot of the era, moving away from titles like Corpse Killer (no relation), which has you scrolling from left to right on a pre-rendered background shooting sprites. The on-rail shooter genre was really a product of its time, and games like Crypt Killer and House of the Dead both provided an opportunity for the Sega Saturn to show off what it can do in a controlled environment.
And again, we need to consider the hardware. Crypt Killer is an amazing opportunity to use the Sega Saturn Stunner. Even though the game isn’t impressive on its own, think of the Saturn as an entertainment multiplayer. It turns any mediocre Saturn shooter into a fun party game.
Vampire Hunter & Vampire Savior (Darkstalkers) – Capcom
Capcom have been long considered the staple of 2D beat ’em ups, ruling the roost with their Street Fighter series since the 90’s. Thankfully for fans of their beat ’em up titles, we’ve seen Capcom adapt their amazing fighting engines to work with a few other franchises and IP’s. Games like Marvel Superheroes and my favourite, the Darkstalkers (ヴァンパイア Vanpaia) series.
Bringing that same level of detail, fun and imagination into a horror themed fighting title, Capcom have created a unique arcade experience that captures the spirit of Halloween and makes the ultimate multiplayer party game.
The Sega Saturn missed the first Darkstalkers game, The Night Warriors (which was a Playstation exclusive), but did recieve a port of the Second Title, Darkstalkers’ Revenge in 1996 (also known as Vampire Hunter in Japan). The biggest differences over the original title are the extra included characters.
Darkstalkers 3 (or in Japan, known as Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire (ヴァンパイア セイヴァー The Lord of Vampire Vanpaia Seivā Za Rōdo Obu Vanpaia) was originally released in arcades in 1997 and ported to both the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation in 1998. On the Sega Saturn, it requires the 4MB RAM expansion cartridge.
Vampire Savior brought a much more mature vibe to Capcom’s classic monster fighting IP. There’s a stage with a fetus in the background, bombers hovering above a WWII era city and a fight that takes place on the side of a skyscraper. Even some of the fighters, like Bulleta, don’t mess around with a machine gun stashed in her picnic basket.
Both Vampire Hunter and Vampire Savior provide an incredible fighting experience on the Sega Saturn. Fluid, maintaining that arcade quality game play and graphics. Both games are worth owning for the unique stages, beautiful artwork and that timeless 2D Capcom fighting engine from Street Fighter’s heyday.
So, ghouls and boils, I hope you don’t get nightmares.
But if you did want to dig deeper into the Leftover Culture Review rabbit hole, don’t hesitate to dig this grave a little deeper.