The Top Hidden Gems of the Sega Saturn Era

 

Selecting the finest Sega Saturn obscure treasures is a challenging task due to the console’s lackluster performance in North America, which has resulted in most of its games being classified as hidden gems. Many gamers missed out on the Saturn’s offerings, making the compilation of this list rigorous. The focus is on showcasing games that have eluded even seasoned collectors, while avoiding obvious choices that have already gained prominence among enthusiasts. The selection criteria include games released in North America, excluding well-known titles like Guardian Heroes and Panzer Dragoon Saga. The list also bypasses games with extensive exposure and marketing, to highlight truly under-the-radar gems. The emphasis is on North American releases that have remained enigmatic, regardless of their success in Japan. Now, without further ado, let’s explore the top Sega Saturn hidden gems.

Dark Legend

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2D fighters took a backseat to 3D fighters during this era, with Sega’s Virtua Fighter contributing to this trend. However, the Sega Saturn had some standout 2D fighters, with Dark Legend being a hidden gem. This weapon-based fighting game has a unique Asian flair and introduces the concept of losing your weapon during combat, changing your attack style. This adds a strategic element not typically found in traditional fighters like Street Fighter II. The gameplay is fast-paced and exciting, with special moves and combos that are satisfying to execute. Overall, Dark Legend is a great game that stands out among the sea of fighting games from that time.

Dungeon Master Nexus

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In 1987, the iconic Dungeon Master burst onto the scene for the Atari ST, blazing trails as the forerunner of live 3D first-person role-playing games. The adventure involves creating a team of four brave adventurers and diving into the depths of a perilous dungeon, engaging in real-time strategic battles with all manner of creatures. Riding on the wave of its groundbreaking success, the game was given a gorgeous makeover with Dungeon Master Nexus, which debuted in Japan on the Sega Saturn. This revamp brought the classic gameplay we all loved, now enhanced with stunning 3D polygons and an enchanting orchestral score.

The Legend of Oasis

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Prior to jumping into this game, I was delightfully caught off guard by the fact that the hidden gem from the days of the Sega Genesis, Beyond Oasis, was succeeded by a sequel on the Sega Saturn. Much like its predecessor, The Legend of Oasis brings back that warm, fuzzy feeling of the classic top-down action RPG, reminiscent of the beloved Zelda series. What really makes The Legend of Oasis shine, even today, is its breathtaking 2D graphics, the depth and variety of its gameplay with cool special moves unique to each weapon, and its enchanting, pseudo-Persian universe that really sparks the imagination.

PowerSlave

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Saturn was the home turf for some pretty solid 3D shooters like Alien Trilogy, Duke Nukem 3D, and Quake. But despite taking gamers on a unique trek through ancient Egyptian ruins, PowerSlave often gets left in the dust. The devs at Lobotomy Software whipped up a wicked 3D engine they called SlaveDriver, which not only brought PowerSlave to life but also powered those sweet Duke Nukem 3D and Quake ports. PowerSlave made the jump to PS1 and MS-DOS later on, but there’s something about the original that just plays smoother and packs in more goodies.

F1 Challenge

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The Saturn‘s got a pretty sweet lineup of racing games – think Daytona USA CCE and Sega Rally Championship, for starters. Plus, there’s a bunch of cool, Japan-exclusive gems like Choro Q Park. Now, I’m usually not big on sim racers, you know? But then I stumbled onto F1 Challenge, this Saturn-only gem that’s basically a knockout when it comes to slick visuals and all-around eye candy. Had to give it a shoutout. It’s a solid showcase of what the Saturn can pull off graphically, and it’s still pretty impressive today, even if you have to squint past a few rough edges.

 

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