Retro Recon – The Sega Saturn, Part I



First, a caveat. Technically, I have played Die Hard Trilogy before. I owned it on the PC. But I’ve obviously never played it on the Saturn, so this is still relatively new to me.

I put the Die Hard Trilogy disc in the system and close the door. The system takes a second or so to read it, and pleasantly, I find I now have the option of starting the game, or listening to the on-disc soundtrack. I take a minute to listen to the first track, and I’m instantly reminded of how much I enjoyed some of the music in this game. With a smile on my face, I select “Start Application” and press A to get this game started!

After the intro screens, I’m shown three options on a rotating disc – Die Hard, Die Harder, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance. Each is a different game type, I recall. I check the options real quick – bumping up the music volume so I can enjoy it properly – and then I press Start to play.

Nothing happens.

I press Start again. I press Start harder. I press Start 10 times rapidly.


I take the system and the controller back to where I bought it. They exchange the controller, testing it properly this time. I bring it all back home, set everything up all over again, get myself to the title screen, and press Start.

Nothing happens.

I press Start again. I press Start harder. I press Start 20 times rapidly.

Broken Sega Saturns make Sonic cry.

I’m not sure how to respond this time, I’m torn between crying like a little girl or making myself a rum and coke. Mindlessly, I keep pressing Start in the hope that they didn’t accidentally send me home with the same controller I brought back – and amazingly, the game finally registers my pressing Start. Apparently, you have to press the button down and slightly to the side in order for it to register. I REALLY need to get my hands on one of those other controllers, but I can at least work around this for now.

I’ve chosen to start with Die Hard. The game starts up the opening cinematic, and requests I press Start again, which I haven’t gotten down yet, so it takes two or three presses. This brings up a menu, which I can thankfully navigate using the A button. After checking the controls, I start the game proper.

The graphics are about what I expected – on par or worse than the Playstation. Everything is recognizable for what it’s representing, the mobile pile of colored blocks I’m controlling is vaguely John-McClane-shaped, and the terrorists and hostages all look mostly humanoid. Having said that, it’s all really rather hideous to look at.

Those ARE people, right? Yeah. Maybe.

How on earth did we ever play 3D games without dual analog sticks? The controls, while surprisingly fluid, aren’t perfect. Turning around is irritatingly slow at times, and more than once, I found myself stuck on a door trying to get around it, but it never renders the game unplayable. And I was genuinely having fun blasting the bad guys and rescuing hostages.

I get to the third level and finally get killed. This is par for the course as far as I’m concerned, I don’t ever remember getting very far in Die Hard without cheating. But I made the high score table, so I put my initials in. Then the high score table shows up, and some game characters run around in the background, some of them having what appear to be impressively severe seizures.

I load up Die Harder, the rail shooter. It’s still fun and satisfying, but ye gods, the controls! It is near impossible to get the crosshairs where I want them – I always seem to undershoot or overshoot the target. It’s as if John McClane was hungover – which I thought was the third movie. I hear Die Harder is playable with the Sega Stunner light gun, but I don’t have one.

Not that it would’ve saved this civilian from turning into a blood explosion.

I wind up dying at the boss of the first level. So I put in my initials again, and this time, the characters in the background all group together. One of them counts to three by shaking his fist up and down, and they all scatter….are they playing hide and seek?

The third game, Die Hard With A Vengeance, is a timed car race to several bombs hidden around town. I don’t know how hitting them with a car somehow makes the explosions less explosive – instead of nuking the entire city, your car bounces off the bomb, it flies high in the air, and when it hits the ground, there’s a large non-nuclear explosion. Gotta love video game logic.

Oh, and civilians are still just as squishy.

The driving is fun, for the most part, but it occasionally gets frustrating, like when one gets their car stuck on a building, or when you’re chasing the final bomb car and you’re out of turbo boosts. Otherwise, like the other two games, it’s enjoyably decent. I’m not very good at it, though, it took seven tries to nail that bomb car at the end of the first level. Screw it.

Stay tuned to Leviathyn to see Part II, where I’ll share my first impressions of the remaining three games: Shellshock, Virtual Hydlide, and NHL All-Star Hockey!

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