Nine out of 10 gamers agree--NiGHTS is a fantastic game. Yet it faced a monumental obstacle when released--namely, Super Mario 64, which stole the spotlight from NiGHTS' novel gameplay. Burning Rangers, the next big thing from Sonic the Hedgehog papa Yuji Naka, doesn't have that problem. It's coming at a time when Saturn owners are desperate for great games.
The game's set in a doomed space station where everything's being consumed by seemingly intelligent fire, which blasts out of walls Backdraft style and darts at the player like a living thing. You play a member of the Burning Rangers, a futuristic rescue squad charged with battling the blaze while saving the station's scattered personnel.
An automap keeps you on track, as does the occasional radio chatter from other Burning Rangers team members. Besides Boss monsters and the flames themselves, you'll battle robots and other unfriendly station residents. Your ranger can wield five types of firefighting weapons, such as foam cannons and gas grenades, which you can power up by holding the Fire button. Numerous traps--including collapsing floors and exploding canisters--pop up throughout the station, as well. To complicate matters, hostage locations are randomized each time you play.
Burning Rangers uses a supercharged NiGHTS engine, so it looks and plays a little like the ground-based portions of NiGHTS. Yet Burning Rangers has the Saturn performing tricks through software that the system's hardware was never designed to do. The game's packed with transparency effects and dynamic lighting. In fact, some levels have you groping in the dark, with nothing but the greenish glow of your suit's flashlights to push back the darkness.
Burning Rangers may not look as cutesy as Naka and his Sonic Team's previous efforts, but it does pack all the trademark touches. You collect the apparently mandatory rings, and--just as in NiGHTS--you receive a grade for your rescue and firefighting efforts at the end of each level. Fans of Naka's other titles certainly won't be disappointed.
It turns out that one of the Saturn's final games to hit the United States is also one of the system's slickest. Recently released in Japan, Burning Rangers oozes high-production values. The intro anime, high-res front-end menus and pop soundtrack (which sounds like something you'd hear from one of Sega's arcade racing games) are all top-notch. And the game's visuals--based on a highly modified NiGHTS engine--are among the most spectacular ever pumped out by the Saturn.
You play one of two futuristic firefighters on a mission to collect crystals and rescue trapped people. The game's set on four maze-like levels, which in turn are made up of individual stages and a Boss stage. The first level is a burning building that's home to dangerous tanks that explode if you let the fire burn around them too long. The second level takes place in an underwater base, which contains sections that you must swim through (you'll even come across a helpful dolphin, although we're not sure if it's Ecco).
The third and fourth stages--both set on a doomed space station--are especially spectacular. Here you'll find areas with zero gravity, forcing you to float your character carefully through burning hallways. All of the levels are home to enemy robots, as well as end-Bosses, which range from fire-breathing flowers to giant robotic fish. As in NiGHTS, you're given a letter grade for your performance after you complete each stage.
Burning Rangers is heavy with Japanese voice-overs. You hear other members of the team chime in constantly with status updates, and you can request radio messages that help guide you to the next fire victim. As cool as this feature is, it's extremely unlikely that Sega will rerecord all the game's dialogue in English. Instead, the game will probably be subtitled.
Set to ship on May 12, Burning Rangers is the last Saturn game that Sega will release in the United States. Sega has stated that its final lineup (which also includes The House of the Dead, Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III) will only be available in limited quantities. No more than 5,000 copies of each are expected to hit stores, so Saturn fans looking to get in on the system's last hurrah may not want to sit idly by while the games sell out.
MANUFACTURER - Sonic Team
THEME - ACTION
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Processor: PC compatible, P-200
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Burning Rangers Screenshots
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