Crusader No Remorse (Sega Saturn)

It’s been another long wait between posts. My absence this time can be mainly blamed on the Mass Effect series which I decided was long overdue for a playthrough. As fun as that was, the unfortunate truth is that I really haven’t got the time to play games that long these days and I’ve had to catch up on all the things I should have been doing since finishing them. Also, the now infamous ending put me off gaming for a while which may have been just as well.

I’m likely to be a little more active now as my IIGS is fixed and on its way back. A big thank you to Ian at Mutant Caterpillar Games for sorting it out. I’m still missing the vital memory expansion I’ll need to play Ultima I which will probably be in the country in a day or two but take another 3 weeks to clear customs going on recent experience. While I wait, I thought I would have a go at Crusader No Remorse on the Sega Saturn.

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This port was released back in 1996, a year after the PC original. Crusader was, in my eyes at least, one of the better games to come out of Origin. I always liked the combination of strategy, action and exploration and I’ve certainly never come across anything else since that plays the same. The formula probably didn’t offer enough variety to justify too many clones but with that never happening this still stands up well today. Ancient DOS games did an episode on it a month or so back which is well worth a look. I think Kris was overly harsh on the controls myself as they work fine once you are used to them but I can definitely accept that can take some time.

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A new port possibly offers a chance to make those controls more user friendly and the Saturn offers 3 preset control schemes which admittedly don’t look all that simple at first glance. I opt to start with the default of these since I don’t know any better. All these schemes can operate using either relative controls to rotate the silencer around the spot and run backwards/forward or in an alternate mode where I can run in the direction I choose on the d-pad. That would be easier in some ways but only offer 8 compass points to face so I’ve stuck with the former throughout.

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Things start out with the regular intro and FMV segments and I would be hard pushed to spot the difference to the PC game. The controls also prove to be every bit as tricky to get my head around. My silencer spends the whole first level unable to run straight down a corridor and instead weaves around drunkenly crashing into every wall. Luckily the auto-aim is extremely forgiving so I can still make progress without too much difficulty.

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The graphics are perhaps not quite as sharp as on the PC, at least on the old TV I’m using, but this port does have the advantage of relatively smooth scrolling of the screen. The PC original just centred the screen every time you got to the edge. This is similar but scrolls instead of flicking. I’d love to have seen a version of the game with the silencer always centre of the screen but the scrolling isn’t smooth enough for that to be desirable here so I’ll settle for this.

The audio uses the same MOD tunes as the PC but they definitely don’t sound quite the same. I suspect they may have been converted to streaming audio instead. I think the PC music edges it for me but I almost always feel like that with the version I heard first in games. It’s still a great soundtrack whichever version you pick.

The biggest changes in this port become apparent towards the end of the first level. When Wizard contacts me the little video showing him talking is reduced to a couple of static images and a voiceover. Other sections of the game just show the character walking around in the game engine with audio and skip the FMV entirely.

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On the PC, the player got to walk around the rebel base inbetween missions talking to all the rebels in delightfully cheesy FMV sequences. It was a typical Origin touch and the sort of thing they did in many of their games once the formula premiered in Wing Commander. These are almost entirely gone now and the rebel base is just a static screen where I can pick a room to read email, buy weapons (but with no appearance of Weasel) or get my next mission briefing.

The email does add a new element not previously seen in the game. Some of the emails are substitutes for the missing FMV but others are entirely original including a long running spam thread about a joke involving a butcher beating chicken to make it weigh more. I have definitely seen this before somewhere outside of the game but I can’t remember where for the life of me. I’m not so sure it wasn’t a real thread from one of the Ultima groups back then. At any rate, this must be one of the earlier games to even include email.

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After struggling through that first level, I did find that I was in far more control of my Silencer in level 2. It’s just a case of getting the timing off to be able to turn the right amount without having to think too much about it. I still wouldn’t say I’m using the roll commands as much as on the PC, tending to prefer charging straight into most situations. Despite this I’m finding progress quite easy on the Weekend Warrior difficulty level. I’m not so sure this isn’t a bit easier than the PC but having not played it in about 5 years I’d have to go back and check.

Having got about 2/3’s of the way through, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this version of the game. The box even mentions a couple of new weapons and deaths but I’ve not spotted these yet. I am missing those FMV segments but the extra email does go a large way toward making it up so I’m not really missing it. The Saturn is clearly capable of having all the FMV so I can only assume it got skipped for the sake of not having to pack in an extra CD-ROM which is a little stingy. Everything is there that needs to be though and I’m certainly been having a great time playing through it again. The Saturn port may not be better than the PC but it’s close enough for me not to care.

Crusader No Remorse – Rebel Outfit

Clothing week is going into overtime with one final item, an outfit from the FMV scenes in Crusader No Remorse. This would have been worn by one of the people the player got to meet in the rebel base between missions although I couldn’t tell you which one. In the FMV the costumes all had name badges which would have made this a lot easier to narrow down but it’s gone missing which doesn’t help me here. Going on the screenshots from earlier post, I have managed to narrow the candidates down to one (or maybe even both) of the following two characters:-

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Starting with the jacket, this looks to be entirely custom made but not exactly fully functional. The pockets only have the clasps on the flap with no stud underneath and are instead stuck shut with the aid of a glue gun. The buckles on the front are two blocks of wood that have been carved, glued together, painted then stuck on with a glue gun and are equally unfunctional. There are no fastenings of any sort that work in fact on the whole top. The sleeves are loose with a safety pin holding them slightly together suggesting that the actors were just pinned into their costumes:-

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The trousers that go with it are more practical and look to be a modified off-the-shelf pair with some added padding and pocket flaps. There is a section on one of the legs which probably isn’t all that visible in the photo with two slight holes + a slightly discoloured rectangular area. Something must have been attached there at one point, maybe just an extra pocket. We rarely get to see peoples legs in the No Remorse FMV from what I remember:-

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Finally, I found a curious looking RSVP card to Michelle Caddel (Richard Garriott’s PA) in one of the pockets:-

Crusader No Regret Costume - RSVP Card

That’s more than enough photo’s of clothing now that I’ve finally got round to the item that started me on them. The plan (which may change) is to have a go at Ultima 4 on the NES next.

A Crusader poster from a different perspective

It’s been coming for a while but my pile of gaming bits and pieces has officially reached the point where I have too much to fit into one small room. As it is, things have been slowly spreading into the spare room over this last year and with more on the way, I’ve given in to the inevitable and decided to get that set up as a second more communal gaming room with a big sofa, a tube TV and a retro console/computer or two.

I’ll have to fit some other things in there as well but this basically means I’m going to be dedicating the whole of my third floor to gaming. If I’m going to do that, I may as well go full hog so drawing some inspiration from Portalarium and Mythic’s displays, I’m filling up the walls on my stairwell with picture frames. I can hardly compete of course but let’s face it, I’m not short of choice for stuff to put up there. The main limitation is that I’m doing this on the cheap so professional framing is out of the question. It’s more a case of buying the frame and then seeing what I can fit into it.

Crusader No Remorse Poster

First on the wall, we have this giant frame with two game posters which are unrelated other than being two of my favourites, Crusader No Remorse and Monkey Island 2. Apologies for the angle of the photo but there isn’t a whole lot of room for taking pictures.

I should concentrate on Crusader for the purposes of this blog, not that there is a whole lot to say about it. It’s an original poster from 1995 and another one of the items I brought back from Austin. If you are getting the idea by now that I must have been carrying more items for the collection than regular luggage on the return leg, you would be right. As far as I know these posters were only made for promotional use and were never on general sale so they aren’t all that common. I now have a roll of about a dozen of them though so if anyone else feels the need to own one, make me an offer.

Crusader No Remorse Review – Edge

Courtesy of Escapade, here is a review of the first Crusader from the January 1996 Edge magazine. It was never my favourite gaming mag but they are very positive about Crusader describing it as proof that PC games can achieve a complexity and intelligence rarely matched on console:-

Edge Crusader Review - Page 1 Edge Crusader Review - Page 2