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Conducted in issue #28 (February 1998), two things to keep in mind while going through this list:

  • All games ranked are PAL releases, so there are no JP titles (e.g. Soukyugurentai)

  • List was compiled in December of '97, hence titles such as Panzer Dragoon Saga, Shining Force III and Burning Rangers are missing for obvious reasons

I originally posted this awesome SSM feature at a message board way back in October 2003. Posting 2 entries each day, it became a HUGE hit. On random odd nights during 2004, 2005, even 2006 -- I'd check my topic for a quick trip down memory lane, and what would I see at the very bottom of the topic, on several different occasions?

  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 3 (1 members and 2 guests)

Are you kidding me?!  A thread that was made waaay back in 2003, which still got hits in late 2006, and wasn't a sticky topic?  Now that's amazing. It was only a matter of time before I'd transfer the whole she-bang over, with updates and refurbishing here and there. Replicated just for you, I proudly present... Sega Saturn Magazine's Top 50

"Because you demanded it -- the Top 50 Sega Saturn games available on the shelves now! The entire team have been involved in compiling, writing and checking (and indeed arguing about) this feature... So, have we got it right or have we messed up big time? Send in your comments
to Virtua Writer..."


Best described as Return Fire meets Soviet Strike, the unambiguously titled Mass Destruction is a technically outstanding blaster.
"Yeah, there's a loose mission structure to follow, but the meat and bones of Mass Destruction is just that -- Mass Destruction. Running at a super-smooth 60 fps and featuring some of the most incredible pyrotechnics we've ever seen, it's just a shame they missed out the all-important two-player mode." -Lee Nutter


                   Check out
                   that lovely

#49: KING OF FIGHTERS '95 -89%

SNK's greatest fighters from their legendary beat 'em ups mass in this one 2D battling megagame! Action-packed fighting action guaranteed!

"Capcom have virtually owned the 2D fighting genre on Saturn, but this one SNK release shows that when it comes to true hardcore fighting games, the underdog are in a class of their own. KoF 95 is probably the most lastable fighting game on the system...
if you're into SNK of course."
-Editor Rich Leadbetter

                         Only KoF title that
                         got a PAL release
                         on the Saturn

#48: SHINING WISDOM (oddly, never rated)

The last 2D game in the Shining Force series. Explore a fantasy realm and undertake a quest to save your homeland from destruction.
"Sega have always produced quality RPGs and Sonic Software Planning's epic is no exception. While the visuals may look pretty basic, Shining Wisdom's playability and grand scale are second-to-none. There are literally hundreds of characters to meet and magical spells to master. A deserved addition to the RPG fan's library." -Matt Yeo

                A real mixed
                bag among
                Saturn fans

#47: ENEMY ZERO -88%

The best attempt yet at
an 'Interactive Movie', programmed by legendary Japanese nutters Warp. The 11th best selling Saturn game EVER in Japan!
"The Japanese loved it. We quite liked it as well, come to think of it, as the smooth sci-fi action and top quality rendered FMV makes for an enjoyable and deep experience, with a pretty tough challenge for all you Saturn-owning adventure fans." -Gary Cutlack

              Be forewarned,
              this IS NOT as
              as other first
              person games

#46: ACTUA GOLF -90%

Golf -- hitting a ball
around a field with a
stick. Sounds crap, but
it actually makes for a
decent videogame

"To convince your dad that games aren't just about shooting and fighting, it's essential to own a golf game. And you might as well buy a good one while you're at it -- Actua Golf scored 90% for its attention to detail, smooth 3D graphics and great control." -Gary Cutlack

                                       VR Golf '97

                                       in the US

#45: PANDEMONIUM! -90%

Resurrecting the neglected platform genre from its 16-bit glory days, Pandemonium! is the finest example of its kind on the Saturn. [AMEN! This genre was sorely lacking on the Saturn, but this game helped to make amends for that -Me]

"Incorporating classic 2D gameplay into a luscious 3D environment, Pandemonium! is a speedy and visually astounding platformer." -Lee Nutter

               This game is


One of the first games to be produced for the Saturn-based ST-V arcade board, and probably one of the best, featuring gorgeously smooth hi-res visuals.... It's AM3 magic!
"Tasty athletic girls in high-cut lycra gear... lovely! Of course we're only interested in the gameplay, and the button-bashing action made for an excellent sports game. It's not the biggest game ever made, but beating your personal (and buddies') bests presents a decent challenge that can last ages." -Gary Cutlack

                      If you liked this
                      be sure to check
                      out Winter Heat

#43: DARK SAVIOR -92%

Years in the making, this adventure has the same class and style as the epochal LandStalker on MegaDrive. Stunning adventuring, although RPG masters may find it too easy...

"The sheer quest in Dark Savior is one that all die-hard adventurers will savour -- it's quality. I completed the Japanese import, then played it through again when it came out here. Excellent." -Editor Rich Leadbetter

                   One of the
                   US RPG's
                   on Saturn
                   ($ cheap)

But before we get to #42, check out this awesome bit written by one of 'em SSM boys...

A long time ago, when man reached a state of civilization comfortable enough to make hunting a more mechanical and effortless process, he decided to celebrate the fact by eulogising the various hunting methods and turning them into a show of strength and superiority over every other species. Rather than running at pace after a pig, he decided to run after nothing, rather than throwing a spear at galloping elk he decided to throw a spear at nothing. OK, so it seems a bit stupid but then athletics, like all sports when you get to thinking about them, is a bit strange anyway.

Sega Saturn Magazine -- a hell of a fine magazine indeed! Back to the countdown!

#42: DAYTONA CCE -90%

The Rally conversion team try their hand at recreating the awesome Daytona USA coin-op on the Saturn with mixed results.
"The highly anticipated update of the often maligned Daytona conversion is a mixed bag really. The myriad of improvements (two-player mode, new tracks and improved graphics) is commendable, but somehow the superlative gameplay has been lost in the conversion. It's not really Daytona anymore, but a cool arcade racer nonetheless." -Lee Nutter

            Pretty shot eh?

#41: SPACE HULK -90%

A corridor shoot 'em up that tries to include more of a strategy element, with players responsible for positioning their troops as well as shooting.
"Do we want strategy in our shoot 'em ups? Well, if you're looking for something that's a bit tougher and durable than most games, Space Hulk's very complex levels and massive alien sprites should do the trick. But don't worry, there's still plenty of mindless blasting for you shooter fans." -Gary Cutlack

               Like E0, this
               isn't high in
               action so do
               not be fooled
               by this shot


The inevitable 32-bit update of EA's established Strike series arrives to much critical acclaim.

"Soviet Strike adheres to the same basic gameplay principles of the previous Strike games, but running on Sega's powerhouse console, everything is done far better. More weapons, FMV clips, photo-realistic landscapes and a greater variety in the missions culminate in an awesome addition to the series." -Lee Nutter

                   I love the
                   smell of...


The only authentic rugby simulation on the Saturn. Codemasters' sporting star recreates the sights, sounds and smells of the big lads' game. It's a bit difficult to find in the shops, but the effort is more than worth it.
"As the world goes soccer crazy, Codemasters take a stab at one of the world's roughest sports. Actual team stats, spot-on gameplay and bone-crunching matches ensure Jonah's reputation (and tackle) remain intact. A welcome alternative to all those footie games." -Matt Yeo

Matt Yeo takes us all back...

So there I was, 13 years old, as skinny as a rake, decked out in my brand new PE kit, soaked to the bone and absolutely scared stupid. It was a freezing cold Wednesday afternoon and me and my fellow classmates were lined up on the rain-soaked bog that used to be the school playing fields. If the hypothermia-inducing weather didn't kill us, our fearsome teacher would. Mr. Bunigar was every school kid's worst nightmare -- big, scary and Welsh. Now, whereas previous sport sessions had been taken up with football, athletics and softball, today was our first introduction to that most gentle of sports -- rugby. Giving us the kind of look Lions use when stalking prey, Mr. Bunigar gave us our first, and allegedly, most important rugby lesson: "Fall face down!" he shouted. And with that God-like commandment still ringing in our ears, Class 3C closed their eyes and took the mud bath plunge...

It's a true story and one that still makes me cringe at the very mention of rugby. But rugby is, if anything, one of the most misunderstood sports in the world. Think rugby, think broken noses, cauliflower ears, communal baths and endless songs about miners

Thank you, Matt Yeo, for sharing that with us... back to our regularly scheduled program

I played rugby once... it's by far the most grueling sport I've ever played. It makes everything else look bush league!  The constant running, weaving, turning, dodging and throwing motions really beats on your body. I commend anyone who plays reugby in real life regularly...


The stunning Model 2 arcade racer was converted to the Saturn by Australian coders Tantalus, and they did a pretty good job too. But can they match the power of a true AM conversion?
"The one complaint that stops Manx TT from being a bit higher in this listing is the ridiculous number of tracks -- just two. The graphics were the closest a racing game got to Sega Rally standards (at the time), and the racing action played bloody well too. Shame about the number of tracks." -Gary Cutlack

             Check out the
             monster in the
             clouds, ooooh


The perfect party game. Hudsonsoft's first Sega Bomberman outing offers loads of explosive fun with up to ten players trying to blow the living daylights out of each other. As Barry Norman would say: "And why not?"
"Bomberman's a hit on every system. Excellent long term playability, multiple weapons and battle arenas, multi-tap compatibility and replay value galore. Although let down by a weak one-player game variation, this is still an essential purchase and a great party game." -Matt Yeo

            If you don't like
            this game, you
            are bloody mad


"Even if you don't have any
friends, you can play the
CPU opponents in Battle
Mode. But really, you have
to experience this game
against real human beings.
Hey, even if that means
inviting a couple homeless
people over. Yeah. Sure!
Why not? They'll appreciate
the warmth of four walls and
a roof, they'll appreciate your
company, they'll appreciate
the goodness of the SEGA
Saturn, and you can
experience multi-player
Bomberman. Everyone's
a winner!"

[Note: SSM is not responsible
for any potential mishaps]


Take on the evil Baron Dante in this multi-level, 3D platformer. Croc is set to be a big star and his first outing is a real hoot!

"Owing a big thanks to Mario 64, Croc's adventures are perfectly pitched at both young and old players alike. Huge stages, tricky platforming action and hilarious bosses await intrepid players. Not an "amazing" Saturn game, but certainly in a league of its own." -Matt Yeo



Miniaturizing their cool Street Fighting characters (and others from DarkStalkers) and sticking them in a puzzle game made Capcom sound like they've gone mad...
"Fortunately Capcom's masterful coding skills ensured that another gameplay classic emerged. Super-cute versions of Ryu, Chun-Li and the gang battle it out for 2D supremacy, and the gem-dropping gameplay makes for one of the best puzzle games this side of Buckaroo and Connect 4." -Gary Cutlack



Not just another Tetris clone, as Sega's cutesy Baku Baku Animal is arguably the finest example of the puzzle game genre.

"I hate this game. Buying it was the single worst mistake I've ever made. Baku Baku has single-handedly ruined my sex life. My girlfriend loves it, more than she loves me if truth be known. Bitch. No, just kidding, honest." -Lee Nutter

                Not your your typical
                graphics as seen in
                other puzzlers...

#33: BUST-A-MOVE 3 -91%

Another great puzzle game. Converted from the classic Taito arcade series, this one sees cute cartoon characters shooting colored bubbles all over the place... Intriguing...
"Puzzle games are fun, aren't they? The graphics are always colorful and nice, and most contain simple gameplay that even Mom could understand. Bust-a-Move 3 would be especially popular with your mom because it's great fun, and contains one of the best head-to-head two-player games there is." -Gary Cutlack

              Taito threw in
              their old cats,
              like Sonic
              Blast Man


Tossing aside the realism of VF2, Sega's pseudo-sequel takes a more fantastical approach to the beat 'em up genre.
"Adding weapons, barriers and armor to the established VF formula, AM2's incredible Fighting Vipers conversion is a speedier and more brutal beat 'em up than the more graceful VF series. Add to this the fact that as a conversion it's virtually indistinguishable from the arcade, and we're left with yet another top Saturn beat 'em up. Ooh and you can watch AM2 play it too!" -Lee Nutter

             Graphically a
             TAD rough...

#31: SEGA AGES -91%

AM2's arcade classics
of the eighties: Space Harrier, Afterburner II and OutRun are gathered in one outstanding retro compilation.

"Sega's graphics technology, coupled with AM2's gameplay prowess, have led the arcade field for over a decade. These games (although aged) are still great fun -- and OutRun in particular still ranks as one of the greats of the racing genre." -Editor Rich Leadbetter

              Space Harrier



              AfterBurner II

There you have it!  The first 20 games in the top 50 countdown

My quick thoughts on each game

  • Mass D- Played it a bit several years back. Fun but repetitive. I should give it a 2nd shot

  • KoF 95- Never played it. '97 was the last KoF on Saturn, and damn good I might add

  • Shining Wisdom- Own it since 2004, but still haven't played it. My buddy GAR3 loves this game, for sentimental reasons if nothing else. I bought a loose extra copy for dirt cheap at Game Crazy last year, which I gave to a friend for free (see Resurrection)

  • Enemy Zero- Invisible aliens, a beeping indicator, and lots of ZZZ's. Sorry, I just never liked this game. It's largely a mixed bag within the Saturn community. Seems you either love it or don't care for it

  • Actua Golf- Owned VR Golf '97 at one point. Meh. It was hard to enjoy it, after playing fun golf titles like Hot Shots Golf (PSX)

  • Pandemonium!- Ooh I love this game. I wished there were more platformers like this on Saturn. Lee Nutter was right... it's a throwback to the glory days of 16-bit gaming, but with a 32-bit coating

  • Athlete Kings- Meh. I never cared for it to be honest. I'm not a fan of games where you rely on button speed. Some people dig it... me, it's just not fun. Great graphics, though

  • Dark Savior- Also bought this for my friend along with Shining Wisdom. Also like SW, I've owned this since 2004 and have yet to pop it in once. Fo' shame I know...

  • Daytona USA: CCE- It's alright. Sure, it has more tracks than the original and a 2 player mode but it definitely doesn't feel 'right'... not to me anyhow

  • Space Hulk- Never played this, but 95% of people I've come across who did says this game blows. An odd choice to be on a top 50 best list, but SSM was right on the mark more times than not. Still, this one seems to be a bit of a head-scratcher

  • Soviet Strike... Meh, never gave this franchise a shake, though ironically I bought it after reading the praise given by SSM... never did pop it in for a go...

  • Jonah Lomu Rugby won Game of the Month honors from SSM in their August '97 issue. Was one of the PAL exclusives James helped procure for me (same bloke from The Super Play Drama)

  • Manx TT is nice. And for the $8.25 it cost me back in 2002, it was bang-for-the-buck. There's no denying the quality, but had I bought it for 50 bucks on release day... still, rock-solid, and with its going price these days, there's no excuse NOT have it in your collection

  • Saturn Bomberman is low-ranked in this countdown in my view. Should easily grace the top 10. One of the all-time best party games around... and personally my favorite Saturn game bar none

  • Croc is quite the looker, but plays so-so. Still, as a 3D action/adventure-y title on Saturn, it stands alone being pretty unique in that aspect...

  • Puzzle Fighter is cool, despite the flawed gameplay. One of my fondest memories was playing a 6-person tourney back in the summer of '02 when my cousins from Texas and theirs from Canada visited for a week

    Interesting note is that its 86% is the lowest rating on the Top 50 chart, even lower than #50's selection "Mass Destruction" (87%)... yet it placed 15 slots higher. Goes to show you -- don't always assume higher ratings = higher status. Another perfect example: Manx TT at 38 (91%) and Bomberman at 37 (90%)

    Yet another example: Dark Savior scored a lofty 92% yet it's way back in the 40's. The lowest rated game, Puzzle Fighter at 86%, laughs at DS while comfortably situating itself in the mid 30's

    Hmmm. Perhaps there IS life after the big 3-0  *rimshot*

  • Baku Baku is dope... the last game I bought in 2001. 1st game played in 2002 as well

  • Bust A Move 3 is cool, but gimme me part 2 any day

  • Fighting Vipers... never was a fan

  • SEGA AGES... AfterBurner II meh. Space Harrier is fun and OutRun is simply classic.
    I own the import standalone's of Saturn Space Harrier and OutRun. Both were actually given to me as gifts by a good friend. OutRun I believe I received on my 20th Birthday several years ago. You can't beat its pick-up-and-play factor. Something about flooring it in a hot car with a hot chick by your side against an orange backdrop rockin' to the tune
    of SPLASH WAVE... as EGM once said, that's what video games are all about

Next time we say good bye to the 30's and begin our march into the wonderful 20's...

Sega Saturn Magazine Top 50 Part 2