TURN TO CHANNEL 3: Sonic Team’s ‘Burning Rangers’ is fiery fun, but hasn’t aged well
There are times when video game companies struggle to keep up with the Joneses of the industry, just as their own customers are trying to do; thus, their creations can sometimes become commercial failures.
This is the theme of June’s reviews here on Turn to Channel 3 as we take a look back at the Sega Saturn, a console that, despite some serious miscues in development and marketing, possesses games that are definitely worthy of praise and attention. Despite a stronger market in Asia and Europe, one could argue that the Sega Saturn was merely the first of two casualties of poor timing by Sega management that have since caused Sega to drop out of the console market entirely, but that’s not the debate we’re having here.
For today, we’re going back to May of 1998 to play “Burning Rangers,” a third person shooter developed by Sonic Team. With a mixed bag of criticism behind it, I’m strapping on my laser guns and jumping into the flames!
“Burning Rangers” (Sega Saturn)
Chances are, if you’re a fan of the soundtracks of games like “Sonic Adventure” and “Nights into Dreams,” your ears will surely enjoy what they find in “Burning Rangers,” as far as the music goes – upbeat, up-tempo tunes that fit right into that Sega-style music of the time, but not with the intense action of what feels like an old school anime come to life.
The problem I found was that, as helpful as the female voice that guides you along can be, as well as the voices of the colorful characters that are tying the story together, they got annoying quickly. Is any of this a deal breaker for enjoying this game? No, but it definitely cuts down on the replay value just a bit.
The issue here is what is advertised versus what you get. The visuals boasted on the cover are truly a well-thought-out but thoroughly messy polygon fest that gives a promising game a very unpolished look. For those unfamiliar with the world of polygons that once infested the gaming landscape, this can be problematic, both on your eyes and the ability to enjoy this game to the fullest.
Graciously, the female voice that is your navigation system comes in handy as you try to traverse this mess of tubes and tight spots you may need to get into to face off against bosses or to save people. Sure, the cut scenes are beautiful, but we’re not here to watch movies.
“Burning Rangers” tasks the player with putting out fires and rescuing civilians with the process of collecting crystals and getting shields that can be used in fighting off robots that shoot fire, as well as bosses that range from fire-breathing plants to robotic dragons. Should an enemy hit you, as in “Sonic the Hedgehog,” your crystals will scatter, leaving you vulnerable to death.
After you face a boss, you are awarded a score for the amount of success in putting out fires, with an “S” being the highest, and “D” being the lowest. Upon completing the game’s limited four stages, a random generator mode is unlocked, which mixes up the order of the corridors in these four stages, with a potential total of 3.125 unique routes.
As I often do, when I don’t own a game myself, I contact a gaming friend who does and, in this case, the huge reason I don’t own a copy of this game myself is because of the hefty – and let me stress that – hefty price tag on “Burning Rangers” – a complete copy of this game will run you somewhere in the $300-$400 price range! The insanity in that, to me, is in how short this game is.
“Burning Rangers,” unlike other Sonic Team games of the time, like “Sonic Adventure” and “Nights into Dreams,” has not aged well and, in my opinion, is more of a status symbol collector piece for someone who loves the Sega Saturn. Even if by some chance a copy of this game falls into your lap at a far less expensive price, this is not the stallion of the Sega Saturn library. Good only for short spurts of fun, there are far better games on the Saturn for far less pain to your wallet.
Join me next time as we play a game that’s fond to both moviegoers and gamers alike – Turn to Channel 3 blows up with “Die Hard Arcade” next week!
Take care, and remember to always game on!