A look back at the 2006 release, Sonic Riders. A very polarizing things, we look at what the game excelled at, while noting how some of the flaws may have led the game to be overlooked.
Retro Recon – The Sega Saturn, Part II
If you missed out on Part I, Retro Recon is where I give my first impressions of older games and systems that I’ve never played before. You can read Part I if you like, but all you really need to know is that the start button on my controller doesn’t quite work, and the selection of Saturn games at my local game store is pretty crappy. We covered Die Hard Trilogy in Part I, now it’s on to the rest of the games I bought, Shellshock, Virtual Hydlide, and NHL All-Star Hockey. Let’s get it on.
Oh, wow. I just….I….I feel like I’m WAY too white to comment on this game. But in the game’s defense, I am extremely white.
The game opens with The Man – yes, that’s his name – telling the history of a mercenary group called The Wardens. They operate out of a converted correctional facility, and they consist of three black men and one latino. They have a single tank available to them, and an attack helicopter.
Once I manage to press Start (took two tries – I’m starting to get the hang of it), the game begins straightaway. You can visit the tank, the basketball court, the armory, or the briefing room, and each one has a member of the squad you can talk to.
Visiting the tank introduces us to D-Tour, who sounds like a white guy pretending to be black, even while insisting that I “gots ta freak” if I want to get the respect of the Wardens. Why do I feel like I’m playing as Neil Patrick Harris’ character Lance from Undercover Brother?
Checking out the basketball court introduces us to 9-1-1, who I’m guessing is the helicopter pilot. This voice actor’s blackness is not in question, but instead, this time I’m not sure if it’s a man or a woman. I check out the workshop and meet Props, the latino quartermaster who swears he can even get me “microwave ovens and VCR’s”…………….moving on.
Then there’s the briefing room, where we meet Dogg-Tag, who appears to be the second-in-command of the group. And his voice actor redeems everyone else by sounding a bit like Samuel L. Jackson. And Sammy makes everything better.
From here, I go to the briefing, where I get a surprising amount of detail about the situation in Madeupistan. And then, finally, the game begins.
It’s a tank combat simulation with an arcade feel to it. The tank is fairly fast for a tank, and maneuverable, and the D-pad is surprisingly not too much of a hindrance, although precise aiming can be a chore. The graphics are okay – they might be considered “good” for the Saturn, but I haven’t played enough games to be able to say. The music is sadly uninspired hip-hop beats for the most part, but it’s forgivable.
Unfortunately for me, the game did not come with a manual, so I’m not 100% positive of what I’m supposed to be doing. I basically just drive around and shoot things. There’s a main gun firing large shells, and dual machine guns, but I haven’t found a practical use for the machine guns yet.
I can destroy some buildings, but whether or not this is a good or bad thing, I have no idea. I can also pick up some things that look like piles of steel bars – what this is supposed to represent, I don’t know, but I’m thinking it’s extra money. You get paid at the end of the mission, and can then spend that money on upgrades for your tank, new weapons, and such. I pretty much had to blow my entire wad on repairing the damage that had been done to my tank in the first mission.
All of this uncertainty is a far cry from the games of today – this was back when game manuals actually served a purpose. While being without may have tempered my enjoyment of the game somewhat, I actually find it a refreshing change of pace from the endless hand-holding and explaining that we get from our games nowadays.
So, despite some hilarious 90’s stereotypes, this is actually a pretty fun game, I look forward to playing more of it. But now, on to the next game!