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Burning Rangers (SEGA Saturn)

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Written by  :  yprbest (128)
Written on  :  Jul 17, 2003
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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A game about firemen? How can that be any good?

The Good

The presentation throughout is great, filled with cheesy Anime clips of the Burning Rangers, even cheesier J-Pop, badly translated text (you've got to love the Japanese touch) and some nice looking menus. However, the best thing to do with the presentation has to be the "emails" you receive from the people you manage to rescue. These are really a great touch, and make you feel a lot more involved with the game world; indeed, if it wasn't for these emails I probably wouldn't have replayed the game so many times. It's with these emails that the world of Burning Rangers is opened up to you, and you start to get a view of how you have changed things. A wonderful touch, and the emails can be more than just a way to involve you with the game... I won't give away any details, as it might spoil the surprise(s), but there quite a few extra features and Easter Eggs within the game, which can only be unlocked with the help of the emails you receive. The only downer is the fact that on the main title screen there are three buttons, Story Mode, Options and Email. The "Story Mode" option suggests there were more ideas in development; indeed, with a little scrounging around I found details of a planned 2-player competitive mode (a mini-game, similar to the one in NiGHTS) which never made it into fruition. Ah well, maybe in a remake, eh Sega? ;) Graphically, this game uses some nice effects some people may claim the Saturn can't cope with, including transparency and lighting effects. Indeed, the lighting is actually important to the game, especially on levels in pitch black, where you have to rely on the green light projected from your suit to get around, and also in order to detect fires... but more on that below. The aurals of the game are quite important, as they not only let you receive instructions from Chris, your navigator, they also warn you of impending explosions/backdrafts. If you open a door/walk past a piece of the environment which is about to explode, you will here an inrush of air as the flames consume it, giving you 0.5 - 1 seconds warning to get out of the way with a quick jump. This ties in with the graphics aiding you, as mentioned above, because when you hear the sound you will probably also notice the area where the explosion is about to take place glow red as it superheats. This lets you know which way to jump, and together they help the game keep you on your toes, as you always have to be ready to dive out of the way of danger. Finally, onto the most important factor of the game - the gameplay! The premise; putting out fires and rescuing people, is pulled off with aplomb as you race around, putting out fires manically to keep your Limit down (a gauge which is constantly rising, and can only be dropped by putting out fires. If it reaches 100% you're done for, as you will be barraged by non-stop explosions) and hunting for survivors. The gameplay is great, with frequent changes in pace; one moment you'll be exploring, trying to find your way around to the next objective, the next you'll be racing through a rapidly collapsing and exploding room. The shield system is very similar to the ring system used in Sonic: you pick up crystals which power your shield. However, hit a fire (or other hazard) and the crystals are knocked out of you, and you have to grab them back to protect yourself again. Also, you need at least 5 crystals to teleport survivors out... you'll have to be careful! With only four levels and two characters (who share each level) you may be excused for expecting this game to have little or no lastability. However, you couldn't be further from the truth. Some people found NiGHTS: Into Dreams very replayable, as they attempted to increase ratings. I must admit that I was not one of these people. As such, the fact a similar grading system is used in Burning Rangers adds nothing to the lastability for me. What does is the great emails you receive, which help to increase your understanding of the world the Burning Rangers inhabit, and, as I found out, occasionally let you in on secrets (such as extra characters). This really addded to the game, and to this day I haven't received every email that you can get! So, for all those completists out there this game will be heaven. I myself don't normally even finish most games, and the fact that I have stuck by this game for so long is the highest praise that I can give.

The Bad

I know that only 5,000 units were created for the US; I'm not sure of the amount created in Europe, but I doubt it's any higher. Due to this fact it's one of the harder games to find for the Saturn, but I found a copy in a local shop! Lucky break, huh! However, most of you aren't going to be so lucky, so I realise that very few people are going to have the pleasure of playing this game, and that fact does sadden me greatly. Enough about manufacturing though - of course this game has flaws as well.all is not perfect. There are, unfortunately a number of graphical glitches, and while I have never experienced pop-up (due mainly to the fact that most of the game is set in enclosed spaces) there are other graphical problems. One is the annoying "see-through walls" problem, where from certain angles you can see objects which are actually behind a wall your facing. A little annoying, certainly. However, more annoying is that sometimes you will come across fires *in* the wall, which you can't put out. Not terrible, but annoying and it can waste precious seconds as you try to extinguish it. However, the worst problem (though, thankfully, it's not too common) is the terrible problem of slowdown. While preferable to dropping frames but maintaining the same game speed, slowdown is still highly problematic. It mostly occurs when a large amount of fires are on screen at the same time and the Saturn struggles to process all the textures and lighting effects. This can have some dire consequences, and has been responsible for me walking into a fire I could normally have avoided/extinguished with ease on several occasions. Ah well. Sound-wise, the navigation advice you are given isn't flawless. This much vaunted technology (well, much vaunted on the box at least) is exceedingly useful... when it works. What happens is you press the X or Z button, and your navigator tells you where you need to go (assuming you're in an area she has the map of). However, approximately 1/3 of the time you will end up with hard to follow advice, and occasionally you will receive advice which is impossible to follow (e.g being told to turn right when you are in a corridor with only turns to the left). This can often confuse the player and spoils the game somewhat, but when it works it can be a god-send.

The Bottom Line

The great gameplay exceeded my already-high expectations for the game; while it didn't "blow me away" the first time I played it, it quickly grew on me and became one of my favourite Saturn games. If you're after an action game with a twist and with real longeivity, this is the game you're looking for. Do expect high-octane action and some nerve-wracking gameplay - but don't expect blood and gore!