Top Ten Favorite Horror-Themed Sega Saturn Games


published on October 31, 2020

NOTE: This article here and the accompanying video are both sort of an experiment I wanted to tinker with. I wanted to put together a video just for funsies and in doing so, I wrote a script that I was able to more or less use as the article content here. There's very little reason to watch the video AND read the article since they're almost verbatim...not that anyone would actually do that, but consider yourself warned :P Anyways, I have no idea if I'll try this again, but I'm certainly open to any feedback you may have!

#10 - Loaded

Okay, so this game is really pushing the definition of a "horror game", but hear me out. While it lacks a lot of the thematic and gameplay elements that you would find in something like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, Loaded features a variety of over-the-top comic book-style villains as its playable characters. These characters are certainly not your typical video game heroes and are twisted or downright murderous in their own ways.

The gameplay itself is a simplistic, but non-stop overhead shooter that doesn't evolve much beyond you mowing down legions of enemies and leaving blood splatters all over the place. You also hunt down colored keycards, a la Doom, but that's merely a way of providing a short breather in between all of the carnage.

I've always enjoyed this game because it's just mindless fun within a gory, sci-fi world with just a pinch of horror added to the mix. Truth be told, I much prefer this one over some of the other entries on this list, but since it just barely made the cut for being "horror themed", I'm gonna leave it at #10.

#9 - The Mansion of Hidden Souls

Despite having a nearly identical name to Mansion of Hidden Souls on Sega CD, The Mansion of Hidden Souls for Saturn is in fact a sequel. But don't worry, the stories are fairly independent from one another so playing the first one isn't necessarily a requirement. Both of the games have you exploring the same creepy mansion, though the rooms and the characters you find in them do vary between each game. The Saturn game benefits from its superior hardware, which provides faster video sequences and movement speed as you explore the mansion.

And that's pretty much all you do in this game is explore a mansion. You walk around, search for objects and talk to floating heads, which will eventually progress the story. The gameplay itself is quite slow and can be a little difficult to get into if you’re not familiar with FMV adventure games. There's not a lot of horror in the game and it certainly doesn't try to scare you at all, but it does have a little mystery to solve to go along with some supernatural story elements.

It's also worth mentioning that the same team that developed the two Mansion games also created Lunacy for the Saturn, which is known as Torico outside of North America. This is my personal favorite of the three games and improves greatly on the foundation laid out in the first two titles, but really doesn't have much in the way of horror, so I decided to exclude it from this list.

#8 - Corpse Killer: Graveyard Edition

Corpse Killer was originally released in 1994 for the Sega CD, 32X, and 3DO. At its core, it's an FMV lightgun shooter similar to Lethal Enforcers and Mad Dog McCree, but it also pulls in elements from other interactive movie games by Digital Pictures, such as Night Trap and Double Switch. The Saturn version was released a year later in 1995 and tacks on the Graveyard Edition subtitle. This release improved the video quality and added some new difficulty options into the mix. Additionally, Digital Pictures tweaked the shooting segments and introduced “in-your-face” jump-scare zombies. But it also inexplicably removed lightgun support as this game is not compatible with the Stunner.

The film sequences are very campy, so if you like B-movies, you might get some enjoyment out of that portion. The shooting sequences are short and fairly basic, though there is some strategy when using the various ammo types. The gameplay can be a mixed bag overall, especially without having the option to use the Stunner, but the game does have a strong horror theme and might be worth a look if you enjoy FMV games.

#7 - Crypt Killer

Next up we have another lightgun shooter, but unlike Corpse Killer, Crypt Killer does support the Stunner. This is an arcade port from Konami and although it does contain monsters like skeletons, gargoyles, giant bugs, mummies, and so on, the theme feels more like something you'd find in Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider. The gameplay is fairly standard for a '90s lightgun shooter and while fun, it doesn't really do anything special to stand out amongst the crowd.

Like some of its contemporaries, Crypt Killer gives you the option of selecting the order you want to play each level, plus there are multiple endings you can find, all of which can help extend the replay value a bit. All in all, it's a little light on horror and not exactly the greatest lightgun shooter around, but it has a fun theme, Stunner support, 2 player co-op, and lots of things to shoot.

#6 - Alien Trilogy

Released in 1996, Alien Trilogy is a first-person shooter based on the Alien movie franchise and features a story that sort of pulls together elements from the first three movies, despite not being based directly on any of them. The game was developed by Probe Entertainment and they would later release Die Hard Trilogy, which was essentially three games each with a distinct gameplay style in one package, unlike Alien Trilogy which is solely focused on FPS action.

Anyways, this game is actually pretty solid, especially for a mid ‘90s game based on a movie franchise. Obviously given the source material, this game leans more heavily into sci-fi, but it does carry over some of the atmosphere and tension found in the movies. While you start out fighting lowly facehuggers, things will quickly escalate and you’ll be dealing with much larger and more threatening adversaries. With more than 30 levels, the game does suffer from a bit of repetition, but definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of the franchise.

#5 - Mr. Bones

Now this is a really unique game in the Saturn library. Mr. Bones features over 20 levels and aside from a few exceptions, they each have their own distinct style. Even slapping a genre on this game is difficult since it features action, platforming, interactive FMVs, rhythm games, and even a level where you…tell jokes to other skeletons by pressing buttons. Although it covers a lot of genres, Mr. Bones definitely isn’t just a minigame collection. Don’t get me wrong, I love minigames too, but this game isn’t built in the style of Mario Party or WarioWare. It’s structured in a traditional level by level format, it just constantly changes things up on you. This is a great game, but it almost has TOO much variety and the quality between levels can vary quite a bit.

The game is pretty challenging throughout, but there are a couple of levels that really make me want to throw my controller sometimes. On top of the highly varied gameplay, I should also mention that Mr. Bones has a unique blues-rock soundtrack composed by the late Ronnie Montrose and it fits the game perfectly. Overall, this is a bizarre game for sure, but one of my favorite Saturn exclusives.

#4 - The House of the Dead

The Saturn is home to a bunch of excellent arcade ports and The House of the Dead is one of my favorites. This is actually one of my favorite lightgun shooters of all time, regardless of platform. While it’s very similar to other games in the genre at the time, The House of the Dead cranks up the intensity a bit with its horror theme and breakneck pacing. You primarily blast through zombies, but there are some other enemies to deal with as well, including bosses that will require a bit more strategy than just pulling the trigger as fast as you can. Whether intentional or not, the game features some laughable B-movie style voice acting, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your preference.

The graphics are a mixed bag and while the game runs reasonably well, some of the textures are muddled and not particularly great, especially for what would become one of the final Saturn releases in North America. The other downside to the game is that there’s just not much to it. It might take you a few tries, but you can roll through this one in about 30 minutes or so. It does feature branching paths, multiple endings, 2 player co-op, and Stunner support, all of which can help extend the replay value a little.

It’s also worth mentioning that here in 2020, the game commands a rather hefty price, at least in North America, and often sells for over $200 for a complete copy, which can be a lot of money for a small amount of gameplay. But if you do happen to snag a copy or find an old arcade machine somewhere, it’s definitely worth checking out.

#3 - Enemy Zero

Next up we have Enemy Zero, which is probably the game that evokes a sense of dread greater than any other on this list. This game was released in North America in 1997 and is one of several unique games developed by Warp. Enemy Zero is a story-driven survival horror game that’s spread across four discs filled with FMV sequences. Without giving too much away, you control Laura Lewis, who wakes up from cryosleep on a space station and bad things start happening. The game features two distinct gameplay styles, both of which are presented from a first-person perspective. Whenever you’re in a room, you’re in the FMV / adventure / interactive movie mode. These portions of the game are similar to other adventure games where you collect items, talk with characters and solve puzzles. These areas also provide respite from enemies and allow you to save the game.

Things are a little more intense when you exit a room and enter the other part of the game, which is sort of like an FPS, but with a couple of twists. First off, almost all of the enemies in this game are invisible. And that really makes a difference when you’re trying to get from point A to point B without being brutally ripped a part. Since you can’t see your enemy, the game provides you with a device that you pick up at the very beginning that will allow you to hear your enemy. When something is close to you, you’ll hear a ping. If it’s right in front of you, it’s a high-pitched ping, if it’s behind you, it’s low-pitched, and if it’s to the left or right, it’s medium pitched. As you move around, the pings will change accordingly and you can use this to identify the enemy’s location. The pings will also speed up or slow down as you move further or closer to an enemy. This is a pretty cool mechanic and really helps with the immersion that the game tries to provide. You can even hit the shoulder buttons to turn your head left and right to get a quick sense of where enemies might be located. The other big difference between a normal FPS is that you don’t just find guns and ammo so you can start blasting away. The only guns you find have to be charged up and even then, you can only fire them a certain number of times before you have to go back to the charger. This can be a little tedious, especially early on since you’ll only be able to shoot one time before needing to recharge, but it sits nicely with the overall survival horror atmosphere the game strives for.

The graphics and sound are solid in this game and aside from some long and confusing maze-like areas in the FPS portion of the game, I really enjoy the whole package here. The story can be cliched at times and copies a little too much from a certain movie franchise that we’ve already talked about on this list, but it’s still enjoyable. The game did receive a PC port in 1998, but otherwise this is unique horror experience only available on the Saturn.

#2 - D

Ever since it was released in the mid ‘90s, D has been a somewhat polarizing game. On the one hand, it’s a slow-moving FMV interactive movie that’s completely devoid of any real-time action, aside from a single QTE sequence. But on the other hand, it’s loaded with great horror atmosphere, has a story that dabbles into controversial topics, at least for the time, and features a time limit that was fairly unique upon release. As far as I can recall, this was the very first true horror game I ever played. I had played games with horror themes, such as Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Castlevania, Gargoyle’s Quest, and so on, but D was the first game that truly tried to immerse me in a full-on horror experience. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Speaking of minutes, you have exactly 120 of them to complete this game. As part of the immersion, the game plays out in real-time and if you’re unable to finish within the time limit, the game will end.

As I mentioned before, D is an FMV interactive movie and it's quite similar to that portion of Enemy Zero. There’s a good reason for that since D was the game Warp developed just prior to Enemy Zero. Furthermore, you remember how I mentioned you control a character named Laura Lewis in Enemy Zero? Well, in this game you control Laura Harris, who is considered to be the same “digital” actress. This was an idea Warp started toying with in D and would continue through D2, which was released a few years later for the Dreamcast.

Anyways, back to the gameplay. D does move along at a slow pace, but while you’re exploring the castle, you’ll be treated to all sorts of cool areas and sequences that will appeal to horror fans. Despite having a terrific atmosphere, D isn’t a scary game by any means and the only real threat you have in the game is the time limit, which is mostly neutralized once you’re familiar with the game. The story isn’t the greatest thing ever, but I still find it enjoyable enough to play through the game every few years or so. And really, with its low difficulty and short playtime, I generally just consider D to be a horror movie I can revisit every so often and as long as you’re okay with the slower pace, I highly recommend checking it out.

#1 - Resident Evil

Well, this is a game that really needs no introduction. Resident Evil was a massive hit for the PlayStation in 1996 and the series has been going strong ever since. The Saturn port didn’t arrive until about a year and a half after the original PlayStation release, but better late than never, right? For the most part, this is a straight port of the game, but it does have a few changes that might make it worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series.

There are some minor additions like an alternate Hunter model and a second Tyrant to fight in the game. But the main addition is a bonus mode called Battle Game that unlocks when you finish the main game. As the name suggests, this mode has you battling all sorts of enemies across various areas from the main game. Not only will you fight standard enemies and bosses, this mode also throws a couple of exclusive enemies at you, including a zombified version of Wesker. Upon completion, you’ll receive a score and rank and can log your initials on a leaderboard, much like an arcade game. It only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to play through this mode, but it’s a fun little bonus that’s only available in the Saturn version.

The Saturn does a fine job in terms of graphics, but I will say the character models are a little different than the PlayStation version. They’re not necessarily inferior, just…different. Overall though, the original Resident Evil, regardless of platform, is a true classic in my view and without a doubt my favorite horror game for the Saturn.

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