Differences Between the Saturn and PlayStation 2 Sega Ages Phantasy Star Collections

Last year, I wrote about the Sega Ages Phantasy Star Complete Collection for PS2 (which had recently been made available on the Japanese PSN for PS3). After years of pining for the Saturn Phantasy Star Collection, I recently, while on my honeymoon in Japan, found a complete copy for a cool 1300 yen…

IMG_2429[1]Turns out, there are a few differences between the Saturn and PS2 collections. First off, the obvious- the PS2 collection is far more fully-featured. The options M2 added are simply staggering. Take Phantasy Star I for example. On Saturn, your options are, well, hiragana or katakana text.

IMG_2422[1]On PS2 however, you can choose the Mark III (Japanese) or Master System (English) version, and tweak the difficulty, gameplay, and performance. Continue reading

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Japanese Phantasy Star II Futabasha Hint Book

photo 1 (10)

Purchased at Super Potato in Akihabara for 880 yen last week, this hint book/mini strategy guide is one of the coolest Phantasy Star items I own. Continue reading

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Shopping for Sega Saturn Games in Japan

The Sega Saturn was a great system with an incredible library of games. Unfortunately, many of the best games never made it to the west, or were released in limited quantities and are now prohibitively expensive. In Japan however, it’s a different story. In its prime, while the Saturn couldn’t compete directly with the Playstation, it had a solid amount of retail presence thanks to its somewhat niche library of arcade, fighting, and dating games.

And now, those games are available in used stores, and the majority of them are dirt cheap. For example, yesterday in Akihabara, I spent 6000 yen (roughly $60 USD) solely on Saturn games, and this is the haul I walked away with:

photo 1 (8) Continue reading

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The Hazuki Diaries Part Four – Let’s Get Sweaty

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here.

After asking around a bit, I learned that Charlie often hung out at a tattoo parlor in an apartment complex (and that Charlie was a total low-life). I tracked down the location of the tattoo parlor, but it wasn’t open yet, so I decided to train to kill some time.

I found an abandoned parking lot and “got sweaty.”

IMG_1243[1] Continue reading

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The Hazuki Diaries Part Three – Kickin’ Ass and Feedin’ Cats

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here and part two here.

If the previous day was one of sloth and distraction (paralleling my own real-life Sundays), I made up for it today.

Upon learning that the men in suits and Lan Di were Chinese, I sought out other Chinese people in Dobuita for clues. Kinda weird to assume that every person of Chinese descent knew all the other Chinese folks, but everyone seemed to be cool with it.

I was pointed in the direction of a 2nd generation Chinese barber…


Continue reading

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Dangerous Business

I randomly stumbled across this Amazon.com review of Bust-A-Move 4 on Dreamcast:


…which inspired me to create this, in the style of Jack Chick Publication tracts:

chicktractIt’s important to be able to amuse yourself, I think.


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The Hazuki Diaries Part Two – I’ll Find Lan Di, Just Hang-On

“The Hazuki Diaries” is a project in which I chronicle my replay of the original Shenmue on the Dreamcast. Check out part one here.

I left my home in search of anyone who knew anything about the people involved with the incident at the Hauzki Dojo on “that day.” I followed the timeless RPG adage of “talk to everyone” and gathered some clues about the “men in suits” who “drove a black car” and set off towards Sakuragaoka with vengeance on the brain. My mind was racing with thoughts of the sweet roundhouse kicks I would use on those suited suckers when…



I entered the shrine to find a little girl hovering over a cardboard box. The girl’s name was Megumi, and she was caring for the sick kitten inside the box, whose mother was run over by the black car. Another orphan from that day…

Continue reading

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The Hazuki Diaries Part One – December 3, 1986


I had a lot of fun documenting my replay of Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 on the Dreamcast, so I decided to do it again, but this time with Shenmue! I’m calling it “The Hazuki Diaries” and it’s going to follow the same format of as the Phantasy Star Offline project. I still don’t have a capture card, so all the screens will be taken with my iPhone 4, BUT I recently purchased a VGA cable for my Dreamcast, so the visual quality should be a bit better.

I feel like Shenmue was on my radar since the late-90s when it began showing up in western game magazines as “Virtua Fighter RPG.” I was a day-one Dreamcast owner and I followed the development very closely- from early screens to hands-on impressions to the 10-out-of-10 Official Dreamcast Magazine review, all the way up to the point when I arrived at a Target fifteen minutes before they opened on November 8, 2000 to purchase the game. Continue reading

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Top Five Sega Games That I Love But Am Totally Terrible At

Video games, being an interactive medium, make certain demands of the player. Most require a time commitment, patience, and a degree of skill. Here are five Sega games that I’ve given near infinite time and patience, but could never develop the skill needed to become competent at them. I love all of these titles due to their concepts, aesthetics, and controls, so maybe if I just keep trying…

Space Channel 5


I think Ulala is just the coolest. Seriously- her outfit, personality, movement, EVERYTHING just oozes style and effortless radness. I love the idea of playing as a space-reporter within the game’s Jetsons-chic vision of the future, I just wish I could see more of Ulala and this world beyond the second stage. As I confessed in my review of Space Channel 5 Part 2, I have no rhythm- like at all, which makes music games kinda tough for me. I may never see Ulala through her adventures, but at least I have the soundtrack… Continue reading

Posted in Chu Chu Rocket, Dreamcast, F-Zero GX, Sega Rally, Space Channel 5, Virtual On | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Phantasy Star Offline Project – FINAL WEEK

Phantasy Star Offline is a project where my goal is to complete Ver.2 on Dreamcast solo. Read about why here, week one here, week two here, and week three here.


When we last left off, I was EXTREMELY PUMPED about a cool weapon I found called the AGITO, a super rare samurai sword that had me convinced I was going to be able to breeze through the final area of the game.

Yeah, no. Turns out despite its crazy stats, the AGITO was significantly weaker than my current weapon (a Shock Buster, strong against Dark enemies) in the Ruins. I re-equipped my trusty pink lightsaber and headed deeper into the zone, determined to finish my quest.

I made it to the end of Ruins 3, and was met with a foreboding-yet-inspiring message from our girl Red Ring Rico. Continue reading

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Thoughts – Tomee Dreamcast HD VGA Cable


This Dreamcast VGA cable is relatively new to the market (according to Amazon, it was released in December of 2013) and acts as a lower-priced alternative to the increasingly costly Dreamcast VGA boxes. Continue reading

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The Phantasy Star Offline Project – Belated Week Three

Phantasy Star Offline is a project where my goal is to complete Ver.2 on Dreamcast solo. Read about why here, week one here, and week two here.

When I last left off at the end of January, I had just reached the Ruins and was utterly defeated and broken by the difficulty. I took a PSO hiatus for a few months, but found myself compelled to return to it this weekend. Continue reading

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Thoughts – Shining Soul


Originally Released: 2002 (Japan) / 2003 (NA)

Version Played: Game Boy Advance

I’ve never really been able to enjoy games on consoles or portables with an isometric perspective. From Q*bert to Crusader: No Remorse to The Immortal, something about the angle and dpad controls never clicked with me (the perspective seems to work far better on PC games where you use a mouse, like Diablo). On the contrary, I love action-RPGs and the Shining series, so Shining Soul has always been on my radar. Thanks to my recently renewed interest in Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games, I finally took the first awkward diagonal step with Shining Soul. Continue reading

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Late Thoughts – Sonic Lost World


Originally Released: 2013

Version Played: Wii U

When Sonic Lost World launched last October, reviews were… mixed. While some appreciated the soundtrack, creative stage design, and game play variety, others found the story lacking, the game too frustrating, or the new controls flawed.

I passed on Sonic Lost World when it launched, but thanks to a recent sale, I decided to pick up a copy. Since launch and the moment I slid the disc into my Wii U, a lot had happened in the Lost World. The game received a significant update, fixing some of the issues reviewers chided it for, and there has been some free DLC (with more on the way). My thoughts here are based on the post-3.0.0-patch version of the game, so keep in mind that my experience is significantly improved over that of initial reviewers. Continue reading

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The Phantasy Star Offline Project – Week Two

Phantasy Star Offline is a project where my goal is to complete Ver.2 on Dreamcast solo. Read about why here and week one here.


Hit my first somewhat frustrating point in the game so far. There is a quest where I had to escort a robot through the caves to reach a computer. Unfortunately, this robot has a tendency to wander off and get killed. When it gets killed, you are taken out of the caves, back to the Hunter’s Guild, and forced to restart the quest. So far, this has happened to me twice, once after about 15 minutes, and again at around 20 minutes. I was still getting items and experience, but it was still frustrating regardless. Continue reading

Posted in Dreamcast, Phantasy Star, Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Team | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Electronica or Buttrock- What is Sega’s Musical Legacy?

As I listened to the final episode of Saturday Night Sega (RIP) recently, I was struck by the sheer variety of the tunes played during the show. Despite all the disparate styles of songs played, two genres were most prevalent: electronica and buttrock. This got me wondering, what is the musical legacy of Sega games? Is it Yuzo Koshiro’s bassy techno?


Yuzo Koshiro

Or is it Crush 40’s 80s-style buttrock?

Crush 40

Crush 40

I think a case could be made for both. Let’s investigate. Continue reading

Posted in Crush 40, Game music, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, Space Channel 5, The House of the Dead, Victory Goal, Yu Suzuki, Yuzo Koshiro | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Phantasy Star Offline Project – Week One

Phantasy Star Offline is a project where my goal is to complete Ver.2 on Dreamcast solo. Read about why here.


APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE for the crappy “screenshot” quality. All pics were taken with my phone because I don’t have any capture equipm- I mean, I was channeling the feel of early game journalism to vibe with the semi-retro quality of um yeah OK I’m cheap and not very tech savvy. Whatever. Continue reading

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Phantasy Star Online – Knowing One’s Heart

IMG_0560“Knowing One’s Heart” is a PSO quest that I found absolutely fascinating. So much so that I decided to record the entire thing (in a decidedly lo-fi way- photographing my TV was my only real option). Here it is, in (WARNING!) 80+ screenshots, from beginning to end:

Continue reading

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Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed – Ryo Hazuki DLC

2014-01-14_00002One Ryo Hazuki DLC for Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PC Steam version), $1.59. I’ll try it. Continue reading

Posted in After Burner, Hang-On, OutRun, Shenmue, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, Space Harrier, Sumo Digital, Yu Suzuki | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Phantasy Star Memories Section from the Official Guide

img006The Phantasy Star Online Official Perfect Guide from Versus Books (by Casey Loe and Nick Rox) is my favorite guide of all time (I own two copies). So when Nick asked me if I could scan the “Phantasy Star Memories” section of the guide, I happily obliged. This retrospective blew me away in 2001- I had never seen screenshots of some of these games, let alone the original Japanese art. Phantasy Star Memories remains possibly the best English print tribute to the series in existence (those layouts!). Enjoy (click the images for larger versions)!

Continue reading

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The Phantasy Star Offline Project – Week Zero


Some of my greatest memories ever playing a game come from Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast. In 2001 when the game launched, I was (sometimes) attending an undemanding community college in the morning, three days a week, and working part-time at a video game store in the afternoon. My evenings were spent in Ragol, the world in which PSO takes place. I played online with co-workers, friends, and even customers of the store where I worked. It was one of the best time periods of my single life. Continue reading

Posted in Dreamcast, Phantasy Star, Phantasy Star Online, Sonic Team | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Two Hours With Aliens: Colonial Marines


Originally Released: 2013

Version Played: PC (Steam)

With the news today of Creative Assembly’s Alien: Isolation turning out to be a Pretty Cool Thing, I decided to give one of the Steam games in my collection a go: Aliens: Colonial Marines. OK, let me explain why I own Colonial Marines in the first place. At some point in the digital holiday sale daze, I purchased it from Amazon for $1.99. Just a few days ago I received a $5 Amazon promotional credit from the purchase, so essentially I’m being paid $3 to play the game. With that, alongside the game’s infamous reputation in the back of my mind, I dove in. Continue reading

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Thoughts – Shining in the Darkness

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Originally Released: 1991 (Sega Genesis)

Version Played: PC (Steam)

Shining in the Darkness is a first-person dungeon crawler that marks the start of the long-running, genre-spanning, Shining series. While the most famous Shining games on the Genesis are the strategy-RPG Shining Force duo, Darkness opts for a play style closer to the early Wizardry games or even the original Phantasy Star on the Master System. Continue reading

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Nickel-A-Play Arcade in Aurora, CO

IMG_0483[1]Nickel-A-Play is an arcade about ten minutes outside of Denver, Colorado. You pay a $3.50 entrance fee, then you can play any arcade game (except DDR) for free. It is totally awesome and offers a ton of rad games for Sega fans. Here are some of the games available for free-play: Continue reading

Posted in AM2, Arcades, Laser Ghost, Stadium Cross, Super GT, The House of the Dead, Top Skater, Toshihiro Nagoshi, Virtual On | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts – ESWAT: City Under Siege

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Originally Released: 1990

Version Reviewed: PC (Steam)

ESWAT starts innocuously enough: you begin the game playing as a police officer moving through a black and purple cityscape, mowing down thugs with your pistol in proper Rolling Thunder / Shinobi style. After a bit of light platforming, you reach a boss battle and some of the most kickass Genesis-soundchip synth-rock ever kicks in and you feel totally empowered as you take down a helicopter with nothing but your pistol and reflexes. Continue reading

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