Tuesday 11 November 2014

American Saturn Software package review. Albert Odyssey

I’d been eyeing off this game on and off for a while, umming and arr-ing about actually getting it or not.  I finally dropped the cash and ended up with my very first American Sega Saturn game.  Odd really since I have had the facilities to play them for a while but have just never bought any.  So now I own the highly regarded Albert Odyssey. 

While I am excited about Albert Odyssey, I am not so excited at the style of packaging the American games come in.  I thought the PAL (Australian/European) cases were annoying, but these US ones appear to be worse.
It starts out well enough with some nice artwork on the cover, but its interesting to see that they adopted a CD style case, but elongated.  It’s rectangular much like the PAL cases, but made of the same plastic that CDs are made of.  The cover of the case is the cover of the instruction manual, much like the ‘book’ of a CD is the cover for the case.

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The back of the case has a lot of screen shots advertising the look that you are in for and the blurb gives hints about the story, and idea of the world and the type of game it is.  There’s no doubt about what type of game you’re in for when you buy this one, that’s for sure. 
I really wish there was this amount of detail on game cases now.  Half the time if I look at a game in the shops now that I know nothing about, the back just has a few screen shots, minimal blurb and I am left none the wiser.

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Nice isn’t it?

The instructions form the cover of the case and come out like a book.  They are nice and cover a fair bit in detail of how to play and types of attacks/magic and characters.  Once again a little taster, but not so much as to ruin the game.  What I really like about this packaging for this game in particular is there is a “Translation” section where Working Designs talk about the differences between American release and the Japanese release of the game (aside from it not being in Japanese).
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Now onto my whingey bits for American Saturn cases…..

The instruction manual fits into the fairly thin space close to the case window (held by a couple of tabs), yet the case on the whole is rather thick, in fact it is 2 cm thick.  Annoyingly there is no padding in there as the instruction manual is well away from the place that holds the CD allowing for the CD to come loose and move around within the package as it sees fit.

If one opens the case and has a look, you can see how insecure the CD really is in there.  Compare the open picture with the closed no instruction picture and you can plainly see how much room there is for the CD to jump about in.

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This seems to have been the case with my copy.  Must admit that I do like the artwork on the CD. 

I find it really incredible that the case was designed as such.  I know that the PAL cases are pretty awful in their design, especially the early paper ones.  They did get slightly better over time with some nicely shaped plastic ones later one, but even then,  didn’t really like how loosely they sometimes held the CD in place. 

This US packaging style takes the cake in crapness.  There is so much space around the CD it’s ridiculous.  I guess perhaps when the games were new it was designed like this so they could hold pamphlets and and posters and whatnot.  If someone could verify this for me I’d appreciate it.

So while I am happy with the game and look forward to getting a chance to play it, I am not happy with the style of case that houses the US releases of Saturn games.  Dayum, they suck!

Boo.  If I buy a US Saturn game again, I’ll be asking the seller to pad the inside of the case before posting it it.


  1. Working Designs created some excellent packages for the games they converted/translated - full colour everything, sparkly foil effects occasionally, and some cool extras in their premium sets (their Lunar series 'Complete' boxes for the PlayStation were phenomenal) - but those US Saturn disc cases were a joke. I get the appeal of a jewel case, but those oversized things were even more prone to breaking, and I don't think any game released ever made full use of all that space, either with a huge manual or bonus materials.

    One of the best things about WD is that they tended to localise the games to the extent of using idioms that the US audience could relate to, rather than just doing a straight translation of the text. So many games could have benefited from their enthusiasm and attention to detail.

    Albert Odyssey is pretty cool, so I hope you get to play it soon. Decent voice acting, if I remember correctly, and an engaging story.

    1. That's good to hear. Thanks Gord. It's a shame that the extra space in the cases wasn't used to full effect.

      I noticed the Albert Odyssey cover has a bit of sparkle and embossing on it as well. Makes it looks super special! I have a region cart in the mail as I type and as soon as it comes, I'll be getting my retro JRPG fill! I can't wait!!

    2. If Working Designs had tackled Lunar/Lunar 2 for the Saturn as well as the Playstation, the oversized US jewel cases might have been justified by the masses of extras...

      Been looking into some of the other Saturn games localised by WD. I knew their final Saturn game was Magic Knight Rayearth (and own an import copy with its gorgeous packaging), but they also worked on Dragon Force, Shining Wisdom and - believe it or not - Sega Ages (Out Run/Space Harrier/After Burner) with their usual extravagance. Not remembering anything special about their European packaging, I pulled them off the shelf to have another look. Sure enough, it's the usual cut-down monochrome multi-lingual rubbish...

      It's baffling that, when all that effort had already been put into the US versions, the European releases didn't take full advantage of it... but Sega of Europe weren't exactly great at marketing and really didn't seem to care about their products.

  2. I loathe the Sega CD and Sega Saturn US cases. So much that I started making my own DVD style cases for my collection. They are sturdier and they take up less space on my shelves!

    1. That's a pretty good idea!
      I think SEGA adopted a crappy case for the EU DC cases tbh. A step back for PAL. I am pretty certain all mine are broken in some form or another....

  3. It was a hold-over from the Sega/Mega-CD days. Those four "posts" near the platter were to hold the foam block that would immobilize the disc. This was also used by PlayStation in it's first year run, they bought the cases from Sega.
    The reason for the size and shape is, due to the era it was created for, was similar to why they used long-boxes for CDs - store security. CD cases as we know them now were too easy to hide in clothing and walk out of the store. They didn't have the RFID tags they do now.

    And they look nice next to the previous generations Sega-CD cases. They use the same striping in the design as the Genesis/32X/Sega-CD design.


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