The Sega Saturn and the Sega Dreamcast are still two of my favourite consoles of all time. Of course, the Megadrive holds a special place in my heart as it was the first machine I saved up for and bought for myself. But, when the Sega Saturn and the Sega Dreamcast launched, I fell in love with their gorgeous aesthetics, incredible arcade ports, and stellar original games. I can’t state enough how much I loved these machines. I still, to this day, do not regret choosing a Sega Saturn over a PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast over a PlayStation 2.
The way in which the Sega Saturn was launched and its reputation for being a nightmare to develop for not only stunted the Sega Saturn’s potential but also damaged the Sega Dreamcast’s, as some publishers decided not to release games on the system (EA, I’m looking at you!). But, despite the problems Sega inflicted upon themselves, we did manage to get some amazing, original games released for both systems. Some of those have been ported to the Nintendo Switch, and, as a fan of both machines, it is fantastic to see some games from these systems’ libraries get re-released, not only for people who were around for their first release but more importantly, for a whole new audience to discover. Unfortunately, due to both machines’ unpopularity at the time, not a lot of people realise what gems are waiting for them in the e-shop, which I hope to help with right now!
In this article, I go through four of my favourite ports from the Sega Saturn and the Sega Dreamcast that you can now play on the Nintendo Switch, from the recently released Radiant Silvergun to one of my favourite FPSs of all time. I hope this spurs you on to give these hidden gems a go, and if you do, hopefully, they will give you as much joy as they did me.
Originally released on the Sega Saturn in Japan in July 1998, we would not see this in the west until it was released on the Xbox 360 in 2011, and funnily enough this is a port that version! Created by the mighty Treasure, this would be succeeded by the fantastic shoot-em-up, Ikaruga (also available on the Switch and is highly recommended). With Treasure stepping out of their comfort zone from action/platformer games, they really felt they were onto a successful concept and decided to pursue it. The plot is an absolute classic Japanese story, which I won’t go into too much detail, but it involves a giant crystal set to destroy all humans, time travel, and much more craziness.
The complex gameplay sees you moving vertically through tight corridors filled with enemies that need destroying. Thankfully, your ship has a suitable arsenal to help, with three main weapons that can be combined to create new ones. The scoring mechanic complements the destruction nicely, building up combos by shooting three of the same coloured enemy ships in a row. Carry on shooting the same colour in three sets, and you will score big! I love the inclusion of giving the aircraft a sword, which really comes in handy during intense battles.
Radiant Silvergun is out now on the Switch for £15.29 and can be purchased HERE
Known as Powerslave in the United States, Seireki 1999: Pharaoh no Fukkatsu in Japan, and Exhumed in Europe. Released in September 1996 on the Saturn and PlayStation, you take control of a soldier who has been sent to curb the growing number of creatures and monsters invading the Egyptian city of Karnak. To complete the game, you must gain new abilities to be able to explore previously inaccessible areas in levels you have already visited. The abilities you earn are very original and a pleasant surprise, especially from a first-person shooter. You will come up against an array of enemies, including mummies, eagles, scorpions, piranhas, human-like cheetahs, and jumping crab-like creatures, who are all hell-bent on stopping you from achieving your goals, but luckily you will find an array of well-designed, interesting weaponry to take them all out with.
This game is so much fun to play and explore. You can see how much work the developers put into the story and the setting of the game. Throw in some sci-fi elements and one of the best soundtracks you will hear in a game, and it really makes this one special game! Nightdive studios have done an incredible job on the remaster, bringing widescreen support and a great graphic overall that doesn’t detract from the original look. Combining the differences between the Saturn and PlayStation versions too makes this a mighty fine package.
Powerslave/Exhumed is out now on the Switch for £15.89 and can be purchased HERE
Panzer Dragoon is a 3D on-rails shoot ’em up where you ride a dragon and have to shoot pretty much everything you see. Released on the Sega Saturn in August 1995, and created by Sega’s Team Andromeda studio and published by Sega, you control Keil Fluge, who is given access to a single-fire gun and a dragon with a multi-targeted laser to defend himself with. There are seven levels, which take around five minutes each to complete, with a boss battle at the end of each one. The one big feature of the game and remarkable to see back in 1995 was the ability to swivel the camera view 360°, so you can shoot enemies from the sides and from behind. Thankfully, a radar is included on the HUD, which shows you where oncoming enemies are approaching, so you are not constantly swivelling the camera in a blind panic. With its fun gameplay and 3D areas, Panzer Dragoon cemented itself as a classic.
The remake was released on the 23rd of March 2020 and features the usual updated HD graphics and improved controls, but I would like to point out the great work that Megapixel Studios have done with their intricate work, combing through and touching up every part of the game visually, and it shows, especially on the Switch OLED, which makes this remaster the best the game has ever looked.
Panzer Dragoon on the e-shop is usually £22.49, but it is currently 90% off at the measly price of £2.24 until the 12th of October 2022 and can be purchased HERE
Zero Gunner 2
The one Dreamcast pick here is an absolute corker. I know, it’s another shoot ’em up, but developers were experimenting with this genre at the time, and many people classify Zero Gunner 2 as one of the best. Zero Gunner 2 was only ever released in Japan in 2001, so the re-release on modern consoles is a boon for many in the west.
In Zero Gunner 2, you control one of three helicopters that must battle through hordes of ground and air enemies. Each helicopter has different weapons, firing patterns, and special attacks. As with Radiant Silvergun, you mostly move vertically through the stages, with the added benefit of being able to swivel your perspective 360 degrees, which is very helpful as you will be shot at from all sides. Along the way, you will encounter ways to power up your weapons, which help to turn you into one destructive machine. You really do start powering through the seven stages on offer. The visuals and sound in the original version are top-notch, showing exactly what the Dreamcast could do. With the remake pushing the visual standards higher with its high definition and widescreen offerings, it is one of the best-looking Dreamcast games on the Switch right now.
What’s interesting about this remake is that it was rebuilt from the ground up as the original files went missing, so there will be minor differences between the original and remake, and a small warning of a few minor bugs plaguing the remake. If you are looking for an original physical copy of Zero Gunner 2, be prepared to pay over £100 to add it to your Dreamcast collection, but thankfully it is now much more accessible to many more gamers.
Zero Gunner 2- is out now and priced at £6.99 on the e-shop. You can purchase it HERE
Can Sega Dreams Come True?
I dream that more incredible games from the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast library find their way to the Switch. It would be incredible to see the likes of Baku Baku Animal, Deep Fear, Illbleed, Headhunter, Virtua Cop, and Nights into Dreams make it across for a whole new generation to discover and for us oldies to grab another nostalgia hit!
I hope you found this article interesting and have been encouraged to give these games a go, but to also delve into the extensive library of Sega games on the Switch. From the Sega Ages collection through to Sega’s significant releases like the Sonic Origins collection or the Two Point series, there are many new experiences to be had. Now, please excuse me, but I’m off back to Karnak to help free the lands from evil once again!