Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Deep Fear - Screens and First Impressions

One of my latest Saturn downloads is this late-era title from Sega themselves, a survival horror games called Deep Fear. It was released in Japan in 1998 and was ported to Europe, where it earned the notable prestige of being their final Saturn release.

Again, I don't want to sound like a broken record, since this refrain always keeps coming back. But why the hell didn't Sega of America bother with this game? A spooky, atmospheric game, ripped right off of Resident Evil...what exactly was the problem? Among videogamers, there are are few business suits who have become whipping boys for Whatever Went Wrong. The Tramiel family that owned Atari Corp (and oversaw the Atari 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar) are one example.

I'd say Bernie Stolar fits as a candidate. Here was the man in charge of Sega America, and handling the Sega console in the States. He infamously declared that 2D was out, that anything overtly Japanese was out - 3D was the wave of the future. Aggressive, macho, comic book types were the future. All of which really meant one thing - Playstation was the future. So, instead of presenting Saturn as a true alternative console, playing to its unique strengths, we were subjected to mediocre ports and lackluster attempts at 3D graphics from programmers who really weren't all that good. Saturn quickly established a reputation as a second-hand system, one that couldn't handle 3D, and the console race was practically finished at the starting line.

And across the ocean, back in Japan, lay entire warehouses full of top-quality games, games that pushed 2D graphics further than ever before, and games with 3D polygons that embarassed most of the Western studios. The console was a beast, a struggle to learn, yes. No denying that. But for those who possessed the skills and patience, Saturn paid some remarkable dividends.

Which brings us back to Deep Fear and Stolar's inability to know a good videogame when he saw it. Well, Deep Fear was released in 1998, the same year SOA's dear leader learned about the company's Dreamcast project. And like the smart businessman he was, he immediately scuttled Saturn in the US. And then he learned that Dreamcast was more than a year away from release.

I understand the man's working for Sony now. Interesting.

I've just started playing, so there isn't much I can contribute at this point, other than to say this is a game with real quality. The late-era Saturn games are among the best in the library, which only demonstrates that the system's greatest weakness was its learning curve. I can offer these screenshots, which should give you a good idea of what to expect.

1 comment:

fatherkrishna said...

This is now my NEXT "must have" game! I'm gonna post about this site, as it is a resource rivalled only by Racketboy...

Fucking great! :)