LGR – Sega PC Games: A Retrospective

February 10, 2020

Greetings and welcome to an LGR thing!
Today I would like to talk about SEGA! More specifically the Sega PC games that were
released throughout the late 80s and into the 90s and early 2000s. This is
somewhat inspired by having played through Sonic Mania recently a couple
times and I just frigging love that game and I was happy to see it on PC. I’m
always happy to see Sega stuff on PC which is why I’ve collected a good
amount of it, so let’s take a look at a good amount of it. This is not going to
be a comprehensive video of everything Sega’s released on PC or anything like
that, just a selection of my collection. And when I say PC throughout this video
I’m going to be referring to the IBM PC and compatibles even though Sega
released their games on all sorts of personal computing systems. Wspecially
during the 80s like this one right here the official Zaxxon by Sega. Rhis is from
Data Soft Incorporated for the Atari 8-bit line of computers. Although this is
just sort of a generic box they used for all of their releases, as far as I can
tell, here in the US from 1983 to about 1985. But let’s take a look at the PC
version from 1984! Well you can kind of tell this is pretty
early on in the PCs life I mean it was still using four color CGA for one thing.
The low intensity cyan and magenta color palette which is just not very appealing
at all to me. I prefer the higher intensity one or even the warmer colors
to this. Not to mention that horrible sound, oh my word, it’s just a cacophony of
noise and… NOISE. But you know, the PC didn’t really have any kind of good
sound at that point. It’s also one of those games that expects a 4.77 MHz 8088 CPU so running it on anything faster is gonna
make the game completely unplayable. Not that it’s very playable anyway but you
know, this is just an early arcade conversion for the PC, and really most of
the conversions weren’t very good at the time. PCs weren’t up to snuff yet. Let’s
skip ahead a bit here to 1989 with Afterburner here, which is released by
Sega. Right here they had their Arcade Hits brand going on at the time. This one
is the Amiga box but again we’ll be looking at the PC version. And yeah they
actually put some screenshots on the back here that are pretty representative
of the actual game that you’re gonna get on a home computer. They a lot of times
would put fake ones on here like just photographs of the arcade machines
screen and say “ah you know your mileage may vary depending on your
computer” but yeah. This one they were actually trying to represent it pretty
well so let’s take a look at what you got on the PC in 1989 from Sega. This is definitely an improvement. For
one thing you’ve got 16 color VGA graphics —
yeah that’s *16* color VGA. It’s kind of a weird choice but I mean. I don’t know, I
guess they just wanted to do it that way. Maybe it had to do with speed because
Afterburner is something you want to run quickly. Although unfortunately they
didn’t get it to run very quickly as you can see here the framerate is kind of a
mess. It’s just not fast enough or smooth enough to make it a very fun version of
Afterburner. Or Afterburner 2 in this case which is
the arcade update that they’re basing it on. It does feature a fascinating remix
of the original levels though, you can tell what they’re supposed to be if
you’ve played the arcade game to any degree. But this is sort of, you know, still
kind of messed with to make them work. And as you probably notice there were no
sound effects here whatsoever you just have more awful PC speaker music. It’s
really repetitive and shrill but hey at least it’s better than Zaxxon. Well
that’s all I’m gonna show in this video from the 80s because I really want to
get ahead to the stuff I really remember. And that is the 1990s! Sega PC games like
Daytona USA Deluxe here from 1997. And yeah I know I’m skipping ahead a bit
here here because there were a lot of things in between like ’89 and ’97 that Sega
did. For instance they ported games like Altered Beast in 1990 to MS-DOS and then
Ecco the Dolphin and Comix Zone in 1995 or ’94 for Windows 3.1. But
yeah, 1997 is where they really started diving into the PC world once again. And
this is the deluxe version of Daytona USA which it’s based on the arcade one
and the Saturn one and you know just the things that they had released up to that
point. However the ‘Deluxe’ really does mean that
it’s a different game. It was also known as Daytona USA Evolution in Japan and
this is a Windows exclusive update. Really a re-imagining. It’s got new cars, a
new course, and a completely new soundtrack, and eight player multiplayer.
Yeah just take a look at this! For one thing it runs in 640×480.
Which I believe maybe the arcade one did, but the Saturn one didn’t, so it’s
at least an increase over those home conversions. It also has a higher draw
distance and a higher polygon count available for the cars. Unfortunately it
also runs a kind of a low framerate even on the lowest settings on a Pentium 3 and
all sorts of faster things like that. It just didn’t really matter, this game does
not run very well, at least with the version I have. I know there was a
Direct3D version later on, maybe it was a patch, I don’t know I haven’t
actually looked into it yet because I plan to review this in the future. I’m sure that one made it run a little bit better, but the one that they
actually sold in stores it doesn’t run terribly well. And personally, I don’t
know, I’m just not a fan of this because of the things like the different
soundtrack and the different way that the game plays because of that lower
frame rate. It doesn’t feel very “Daytona USA-y” to me but I guess it’s nice to have
a couple of extra features thrown in there. Around 1996-97 though Sega started
releasing a lot of their games through Expert Ssoftware like Virtua Fighter PC
here. “Distributed exclusively by Expert,” they say, at least here in the US for a
time. This is their PC Collection as most of them were branded, and yeah this
is a version of Virtua Fighter that has been updated and optimized for the PC in
a number of ways. Now this one in particular is just I think the Direct3D
version — actually it might not even be that, I think this might just be software
rendering still. However, there was another version of this that they
released that I have talked about before which was optimized for this beast right
here. This is a Diamond Edge 3D 2120 video card using the Nvidia NV1 chip.
So this is actually Nvidia’s first video card, or the first video chipset,
that they sold in retail. And yeah the Sega had their branding and everything
on this you could actually plug in an adapter here for real Sega Saturn
controllers to work on your PC. It had sound as well which is quite interesting,
and yeah there you go! It’s a thing that lets you have your own specific
video acceleration for games like Virtua Fighter on PC. Not this one, but there was
an Edge 3D version. Again I’ve talked about this in the past,
if you’d like to see my Oddware episode on that you can see that by clicking the
little card there or there’s gonna be a link at the end of the video. While I
think that’s super fascinating though let’s just take a look at this first one
that they’ve released on PC here again Again you get up to 640×480 resolution
which is a nice little increase, and the framerate is pretty good. It’s probably, I
don’t know, on-par from what I remember the Saturn being. Same goes for the rest
of these games, pretty much all of them have some sort of upscaling to 640×480 and usually 16-bit color graphics as well. Yeah overall this is just a pretty
solid port. It has some speed inconsistencies if you play this on a
faster CPU — sometimes a fight will start off too fast and kind of increase or
slow down here and there as it kind of readjusts. I’m not really sure what
that’s about, but for the most part, yeah it’s totally playable and having Virtua
Fighter and the PC is just neat. Or at least it was at the time.
Sega loved their ‘virtua’ games like this one right here also released in ’97. This
is Virtua Squad from Expert and Sega and yep — this is a conversion of Virtua Cop
the arcade game, and I don’t know why they called a Virtua Squad when they
brought it over to PC but they did. And yeah this is what you ended up getting.
And you can actually see right there that it’s supporting the Diamond Edge 3D
card right there in the back. So this one also had the Diamond Edge support but
this was included out of the box instead of needing a patch or a separate version
for it. Anyway let’s take a look at some gameplay! Out of all these games I’m showing here
today this is the one that I spent the most time replaying to get this footage.
I just like this game. I like Virtua Cop in the arcades, I like the arcade
simplicity of Virtua Squad here, which is really just the same basic game. In
fact it’s really on-par with the Saturn version just with higher resolution and
color depth once again, and some texture smoothing and other things like that.
This is looking pretty good on a computer that’s fast enough to run it.
Again I don’t think it’s actually 3D accelerated unless you have the Diamond
Edge but still, it’s very nice on a Pentium 3. And playing lightgun games
like this with a mouse I quite enjoy. The only problem is it kind of makes it a
little too easy. I don’t know if that’s just me but I find that playing these
with a mouse is almost trivial to a point. At least during the first half of
the game, the last half is still a little bit tough. But anyway that’s Virtua Squad,
I quite like this one. Now here’s one that many people seem to
be rather surprised when I show them that it appeared on the PC officially.
This is Panzer Dragoon, a very much cult classic from the Sega Saturn. “Blast
through mystical surreal worlds” yeah I would say so, it’s a pretty mystical
surreal game. I like it a lot, it’s optimized for the Pentium processor and
Windows 95 mmm, real time texture mapped graphics, ooh.
Let’s take a look some gameplay. Well this is just an excellent port as
far as I’m concerned. Going from the Saturn to this feels very natural, there’s
nothing missing. In fact there’s only things added as far as I can tell. Again
you have 640×480 16-bit color, the pre-rendered full motion video scenes
look good, it controls very well with the keyboard, no problems there at all, and it
runs nicely! It doesn’t really slow down except for a
few scene transitions here and there and sometimes when things get really really
hectic even on a much faster CPU than it needs. It will slow down just a little
bit, but either way I’m really happy with this port. And it’s a great way to play
Panzer Dragoon, in fact I’ve played through it on the PC. And it’s just a rad
game anyway but it’s somehow even cooler to me on a Windows 95 PC. Alright
sticking with the Saturn conversions here we have Bug! A game that isn’t like
particularly great in my opinion, but hey it has real-time 3D action and a cute
mascot from the time when cute mascots were still a thing. This is a platformer
that is in 3D but kind of works in 2D. It’s interesting. I don’t know it’s
not like my favorite or anything as I said, but yeah they tailor the graphics
for PC performance with four resolutions and it has “incredible SGI rendered movie
sequences” ooh yeah. Let’s take a look at some gameplay for this one. Well once again there’s some increased
resolution, it runs very smoothly, runs great actually. It plays great, I really
don’t have any complaints. It’s pretty much just better in every way than the
Saturn version as far as I can tell. Not that I’ve played it a whole lot on the
Saturn but you know, like for the first few levels on each back-to-back, and the
PC game is a little bit better. It’s just too bad the *game* isn’t that great! I
don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with it it’s just like so average to me. But
anyway, that’s Bug! And I find that it’s fascinating that it was on the PC in a
full big box release, and not just a Saturn exclusive as I’ve heard it
referred to before. All right, time to move on to one of my absolute favorites
in the arcade, on the PC, and just really I don’t know, anywhere. It’s just a fun
game. This is The House of the Dead which was released on the PC in 1998. “It’s the
number one arcade hit!” That’s such a cool box, isn’t it? Like it’s got these
embossed shiny things going on, yeah. “One of the most popular arcade games ever,”
yep, I would say so. Let’s just dive into some gameplay here. Well that’s House of the Dead, you pretty
much know what to expect because chances are you have played this. Controlled with
the mouse which once again makes the gameplay just a little bit trivial if
you’re used to the lightgun or are very used to the mouse, whichever. But it’s
still fun! The only real problem I have is that the mouse does feel a little bit
floaty, I don’t know it’s not as precise feeling to move around. Almost like
there’s some smoothing or acceleration or something. just compared to something
like Virtua Squad which just felt dead on to me. It really is just like the
arcade game which is awesome, you play through the whole thing as far as I can
tell, all the content is there. It’s solid stuff. And it also has an exclusive PC
mode which lets you select your character to play if you want to do that.
Otherwise yeah it’s just House of the Dead as you would expect and it’s good
stuff if you like House of the Dead and who doesn’t! Also House of the Dead 2 was on PC which is also fantastic. This is the better
game in my opinion as well, they’re both on the PC and are pretty great. Look at that
box! I want to review these at some point but yeah, House of the Dead 1 & 2 released
by Sega on the PC and they’re solid man, solid. And I’ve almost forgot to
mention you might notice that it didn’t have any of the Expert Software
branding anymore which i think makes for a nicer, just better looking box. So I
guess Expert’s whatever they had going on — a
licensing agreement or something? — with Sega was over and they were actually
releasing their own things and their own Sega PC brand in 1998. Including the
curiously packaged Sonic & Garfield Pack from 1998. Yeah I get a lot of
questions about this one any time people see it in the background of my videos. So
yeah, you do get three games here: Sonic and Knuckles, Baku Baku Animal and
Garfield. It just says Garfield, doesn’t actually say what game it is. Even on the
back it just says Garfield. It does actually say right here that it is
“Caught in the Act” but we’ll get to that in a minute, that’s not quite right.
Anyway let’s take a look at the first one well that I want to look at in this
pack which is Baku Baku. Well I’ve always just assumed that it’s said
Baku Baku, or is it Bah-ku Bah-ku? I’ve never actually thought about it until
now but anyway. I’m gonna say Baku and it’s just a pretty solid port as
well. I mean it’s a puzzle game, there’s not really not a whole lot going on. It’s
got all sorts of extra features too in the menus for arcade operator options
for fine-tuning the difficulty and whatnot. And this was actually originally
Sega’s first network-playable PC game, according to them anyway, back in 1996,
when this was announced or launched or whatever. Yeah I know I’m covering it a
little bit later here but that’s because it was in a compilation, I don’t have the
original release. Originally it predated Daytona USA Deluxe by several months and was the first one with network support from Sega on the PC. It’s just a fun
little game. Moving on though to the real reason that I bought this specific
package which is the Garfield game. Specifically it is Garfield Caught in
the Act, or really Garfield in TV Land as they renamed it here for some reason.
Caught in the Act was the Genesis game that it was based on and then when they released
it on PC it was called In TV Land. I don’t know, branding. Like what they did
with Virtua Squad or something they just wanted to change crap around for the PC.
But anyway it’s a fantastic port so let’s take a look. Well right off the bat you might notice that
it has a new CD audio soundtrack, so gone are the Sega Genesis twangy tunes from its FM synthesis chip. Which i kind of miss but I don’t know, that CD soundtrack sounds
pretty good. It also has a new world to play that is exclusive to the PC version.
And in fact all of the levels period are reworked and reordered, and they just
kind of flow together better. You don’t start off in the dracula sort of
vampiric level anymore, instead you start off with the Cave Cat level and then
move on to Egypt and it’s just it’s all out of order compared to the Genesis one.
But I really do think that it’s paced a little better at least in the beginning
of the game. It’s not nearly as much of a difficulty spike early on. So maybe
that’s why they call it In TV Land, like, it’s different than being caught in the
act because the levels are a different land of levels. I’m not really sure I’m
just making crap up at this point, but anyway, I really like this game on the
Genesis and I definitely want to cover this at some point. I’m still looking for
its original big box before I review it. And lastly in this pack let’s take a
look at the Sonic and Knuckles Collection, and yeah, as the name implies
this is a collection of all of these Sega Genesis cartridge configurations
for Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. They’re all represented
here and they’re in one package! You can select them from a menu which is pretty
cool, so let’s take a look at how this plays. Well as you might expect Sega pretty
much knew what they were doing at this point the look and feel of it is spot-on
as far as I can tell. It just feels like a Sonic game except you’re playing it on
a PC, possibly with a keyboard, which is interesting. But in a way I kind of
prefer it because I always played platformers on the PC as a kid: Jazz
Jackrabbit, Commander Keen, Duke Nukem etc etc so I’m quite used to it and it feels
good to me. Unfortunately the audio is a mixed bag; the sound effects are pretty
low quality and the music is either FM generated or General MIDI depending on
what you choose in the options. While the FM can be kind of close to the
Genesis depending on the chip that’s on your sound card, the General MIDI music
is using a wavetable synth and that is MIDI Sonic music… I mean you know it’s
kind of strange that that is officially made by Sega at this point, it’s not just,
like, fans recreating it in MIDI format. Now these are actual MIDI tunes for
Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and whatnot. It’s interesting if nothing else. Alright
moving on to 1999 and *chuckles* well yeah this is a game. This is Sonic R and I
have a confession to make: I used to enjoy this. It was my first Sonic game on
the PC, I never had a Sonic game on PC, I knew there were some of them but
honestly I never saw the Sonic and Knuckles Collection in stores when
it was affordable. By the time it was affordable it was like, out of the stores
and this was in stores and was on discount. Anyway whatever, I played it and
I liked it because it was Sonic and it was 3D. Let’s take a look at some
gameplay! All right well other than some ugly
menus, like seriously I don’t know what happened with the scaling of the menus
they’re hideous, but other than that it’s a decent Saturn port of Sonic R. The
game isn’t great, it’s kind of horrible. In fact it makes me kind of sick to play
now but it’s a decent port. It’s got enhanced visuals the frame rate
is pretty smooth, I mean it runs at least as good as the Saturn, but definitely
better in most cases. Snd of course there is the soundtrack, mmm that CD audio
soundtrack. I hate it, I love it, yet I hate it and I hate to love it. I don’t
know. Nuh nuh nuh nuh super Sonic raciiiiing… All right that’s enough of that, let’s move on to more Sonic R from the Sonic
Action Pack here. This is, yeah, I’ve got more compilations in these later years
because the individual releases? They can be kind of hard to find nowadays, but
yeah this is one that I found at a Goodwill years ago. And yeah it comes
with Sonic R and the Sonic and Knuckles Collection once again so we won’t be
looking at those. We’re gonna be looking at Sonic CD here which was one of those
that, once again, it’s because it’s in a compilation. It was released many years
before this I’m not sure when exactly I think ’97? But yeah let’s take a look at
Sonic CD on the PC. Dude that is good stuff. This is the only
Sega CD port that I’m showing here today and I wish there were more of them on PC
if this is any indication. It’s just really good, it plays very well, I think
the sound effects are better than what was in the Sonic and Knuckles Collection,
and same goes for the music largely because it’s a CD audio soundtrack. So
you can get all the Sonic Boom that you want, they just left it the same. And it’s
good stuff man, it’s really good stuff. Plus you get faster load times; you don’t
have to deal with as slow of a CD drive as you had on the Sega CD, which is great.
So yeah you just get to go to the future and the past and zoom around and do all
the things really fast that you can with Sonic on the PC, with whatever controller
you want, at different resolutions, which scale quite nicely especially on a CRT. I
mean this is just brilliant and I played through the entirety of Sonic CD once on
the PC. It was great I had no problems, highly recommended.
All right one last one we’re gonna take a look at today and that is Crazy Taxi “hey hey hey!” released in 2002. This is very similar to the Sega Dreamcast port and I
have covered it before in review form, but let’s go over it just a little bit
here. Starting with some gameplay. Which as I mentioned in my review runs a
little bit slower. And it has a new soundtrack which I am not fond of, ha — you know, it mentions it as a selling point on the back of the box it’s like
“oh yeah look it’s a rockin soundtrack with brand new songs” you know. But I don’t
want brand new songs I wanted the friggin Offspring. It at least still has
the original licensed brands in-game all the stores and whatnot: KFC and Levi’s or
whatever. But it’s just not the same without The Offspring. Of course the
bigger problem is the shoddy performance. That really kills this version of the
game regardless of the hardware you run it on. It runs slower than that 60fps and
sometimes really slows down for seemingly no reason. And I don’t know, I
don’t get it. There is a version on Steam that runs a whole lot better but again
it’s got some remixed stuff: different soundtrack once again, all the
in-game branding is gone, there’s really no perfect port of Crazy Taxi to
the PC so you have to stick to the Dreamcast or surprisingly the mobile
phone version is better than this. So I don’t know man
what they were really doing it’s unfortunate because I love Crazy Taxi.
But that’s what you got in 2002! Well that’s all I’ve got for this particular
LGR episode on Sega PC conversions and ports and adaptations. Of course there
are more; once again, this is not a comprehensive video and I’m no expert on
everything Sega on the PC… or any other platform for that matter. But I just like
exploring these and I think they’re fascinating and they did a whole lot
more too, of course. Like the Smash Packs here this is Volume 2 that’s playing and
it released games like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the first time on the PC,
at least officially. And you know there were emulators of course that really did
a number I guess on certain companies in the late 90s and early 2000s. And then
you ended up seeing a lot of official emulations like these showing up on the
PC at that point. I think that’s a whole ‘nother fascinating topic to cover. Now of
course, Sega is still releasing emulated versions of their games on the PC today
through Steam and whatnot. And even iOS and Android.
But it’s a little different from what some of those were that I was showing
from the 90s which were like PC adaptations. Let me know what you think
though what are some of your favorite PC ports of Sega games and maybe let me
know some of the ones that I didn’t show here maybe you’d like to see in the
future. Or even if you like this kind of video at all, maybe you’d like to see
some other companies covered. I think Midway would be a fascinating one for
instance, they did a lot of really interesting arcade ports to the PC that
many people don’t even realize were a thing. But anyway if you did enjoy let me
know and thanks for watching! Well that ended up being longer than I
anticipated but I enjoyed making it so I hope that you enjoyed watching. And if
you did here are some others. I’ve got new videos going up every Monday and Friday
as well so you could, you know, do YouTube things if you want to. And as always
thank you very much for watching!

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