Newly Discovered SEGA Saturn Game Prototype Was Ahead Of Its Time
these SaturnAlthough the console was a commercial failure, it still has a loyal following. The technically stunning turning RangersOne such game is “Firefighter,” which features unique and intense firefighting gameplay. A recent writeup revealed that it would have been far more successful if more content had been included.
Burning Rangers is a Sega Saturn game developed by Sonic Team, and it is set in the far future where fires are still a common threat in major cities. The original Saturn game was released in 1998. It follows the Burning Rangers, a team of firefighters dedicated to extinguishing fires and saving anyone trapped within.
The Hidden Palace is a community group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of video game history. They published a write-up today on Burning Rangers that shows the original goal of the game. It turns out that the original title featured a cooperative two-player mode. This is a rare feature in 3D games on the platform. The networking mode was perhaps the most innovative feature of the title. An early build included a local networked multiplayer mode that allowed two Sega Saturn systems to run simultaneously. This would have been an unprecedented feature for consoles at the time and closely mirrors how Xbox System Link worked in the next generation.
The Burning Rangers prototype’s first level is not playable from beginning to end, but it offers an interesting glimpse into early development. To save RAM, the final version loads only half the levels at once, which means that the game requires a simplified set of assets to run correctly. This resource-saving strategy is necessary because Burning Rangers is one of the longest Sega Saturn games.
Many of the original developers of Burning Rangers worked on the Phantasy Online series. This brought back, at least in part, the missing networking features of Burning Rangers. Despite being a highly-regarded title, Burning Rangers has not been re-released or remade. It is also referenced in Sonic And All-Stars Racing Transformed. Its launch was less than one year after Sega’s next console, Dreamcast. This is a remarkable feat.
Burning Rangers, a Sega Saturn game canceled before its final year, is an iconic and strange Sega Saturn game. The game’s unique premise of firefighters being played is rarely explored in games, and the technical achievements made it a fitting send-off for Saturn. Oddly, Sonic Team has not revisited this series beyond a passing reference.