Retro Review: Segata Sanshiro Shinkenyugi (Sega Saturn)

Segata Sanshiro was a man of many talents. He sold the Sega Saturn to Japan, impersonated Santa Claus, and sacrificed his life (by detonating a missile in space) so the Dreamcast could live. Honour his legacy by playing his mini game collection! Play Sega Saturn!

For those not in the know (and you call yourselves Sega fans!) Segata Sanshiro, played by Hiroshi Fujioka, was the Saturn's mascot in Japan and the star of their TV and radio adverts. The running theme of these adverts was Segata Sanshiro screaming at people to play the Sega Saturn, and giving them a good ol'throw to the ground if they didn't comply immediately. Zombies, disco-dancers, punk kids playing baseball, no-one was safe from the wrath of Sanshiro if they weren't playing the best Sega console ever. His extra-curricular activities included skating on ice using only his feet, breaking roof-tiles with his head, and mashing buttons on a giant Sega Saturn pad until he started to draw blood, which pretty much makes him the Rawest Dude Alive- a more in-depth chronicle of his achievements can be found here. He even sang his own dynamic theme song and in 1998, Sega released Segata Sanshiro Shinkenyugi, a compilation of 10 mini-games based (loosely) on the adverts, which was advertised at the end of his final commercial.

He'll Punish Those Who Don't Play Seriously

The goal is to finish or get the high score in each of the ten games to unlock the famous commercials, then watch them to learn from Segata's teachings. The mini-games can be neatly divided into two categories, so let's deal with the first set, the good ones. The best is a toss-up between the compulsive ice-skating game (where all you really do is get a rhythm going with the buttons, but you'll keep coming back because the timing is very difficult) and the towering inferno game (where Segata must make his way through a burning building and avoid fires, holes and leaky gas pipes). The others include a 'drop-the-presents-in-chimneys' Santa game, a 'smash-roof-tiles-with-your-head' game similar to one in WarioWare, and a bizarre game where Segata has to kick heavy objects (including what looks like a PS1) into a dumpster. Honestly, they're the sort of thing you'd play as a Flash game on the internet, but their pick-up-and-play nature make them a pleasant distraction, and the graphics- which switch from photorealistic to cartoony to a bizarre mixture of both- give the game an incredibly goofy charm. They're nice little time-wasters, really.

However, the remaining games are total filler. These include the bizarre minefield robot wrestling game that seems to make up the rules as it goes along, the counting game which is bizarre but really simple, and the completely pointless matching game. You might also want to lump the hastily-coded Columns clone and the remember-this-sequence-of-buttons dancing game into the 'crap' pile, although that last one has some truly spectacular poses from Sanshiro in it. With the exceptions of minefield wrestling and Not-Columns (which are both difficult to finish) you'll be done with these particular games very quickly, and you'll never play them ever again. I don't think even Mario Party would let mini-games like these in! The other problem, one that applies to most of the games here, is that they aren't Game & Watch-like affairs, where you can just keep going with the difficulty constantly rising- they all have a very definite 'end', and for the most part, when you've done, you're done with 'em for a good while.

He'll Tear Them Apart!

... But let's face it, you're not going to get this game for the mini-games. You're going to get it because you like Segata Sanshiro and want to watch his commercials without resorting to YouTube. In this respect, the game delivers, and is a very effective bit of fan-service for the slightly derranged Sega nut. As well as the unlockable commercials, which are full-screen and pretty good quality, including classics like Santa-san Shiro, Segata Vs. Zombies and Segata in love (sadly, not every advert is on here), a selection of his radio adverts are also included (in case you want to hear Segata scream "SEGA SATURN" a few more times). As well as clearing each mini-game/beating the high-score, some commercials are unlocked through other, more subtle ways (like leaving the game idle on the title screen, or getting a score of zero on a game) so getting the full set will divert your attention for a little while. It shouldn't surprise you when I say the commercials are the main reason to track this game down, rather than the quality of the mini-games.

Gameplay Footage:

Play Sega Saturn!

So in the end, what I'm saying is that Segata Sanshiro Shinkenyugi isn't really much of a game. It's got five simple and fun mini-games (seriously, the towering inferno game will keep your attention for a while), five boring ones, and more Segata Sanshiro than you can handle. It's less a game, more an amusing novelty, a game for those devoted to the way of Sanshiro, and if you want to revel in a bit of Segata-related amusement, then you already know if you're going to hunt this down or not. Especially since it comes with Segata's signature on a slip of paper in the box. All I have to add is if you're a dedicated Sanshiro acolyte and are determined to get your hands on it, don't pay too much for it! Oh, and play Sega Saturn. Play Sega Saturn until your fingers break

Please note: The entire game is in Japanese, but it's relatively easy to bluff your way through the menus, and the games themselves scarcely use any text. Also, Sanshiro's name is written as 'Sanshirou' on the box, and the title can be written as Shinken Yuugi and Shinkenyuugi, if you're looking for it on eBay...

Last Updated ( 06 June 2011 )  

Tepid Snake

Wait, what do I put in this box again? Oh, it's about me. I like playing weird and unusual games- the sort you're likely to forget about- and I hope you like reading about them because they're what I write about. And game trivia too. Please look forward to it!

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(Link to this comment) GuyFawkesRetro 2014-02-20 11:14
I must play this..

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