It’s the 25th anniversary of the Sega Saturn’s launch in the US, today. I have a small mental list of “game things” that happened first on the Saturn, as far as I can tell. Not hardware stuff like netplay or similar - I’m talking about genre or theme firsts that one might not expect!
First full-3D RTS: Pup Breeder.
I haven’t been able to find any evidence to the contrary, so Pup Breeder, a pretty obscure Saturn game with terrible cover art, may be the first fully 3D real-time strategy game ever made.
As RTS games go, it’s rather simple – you can tell your pups a direction to go in (to search for treasure or seek out enemies), you can equip them with (or make them use) items, and you can have them call out for help from nearby units. You can also just leave them to their own devices and see what happens (not the best idea).
Pup Breeder was developed and published by Sai-Mate, a bizarrely ambitious company that released two Saturn games (one of which, Elan Doree, first came out on the Saturn’s sister-arcade board, the ST-V. It was an early “all directional” flying 3D fighting game), before renaming themselves and just making hentai visual novels from then on.
But anyway, Pup Breeder is a fully 3D RTS, in 1996, on a home console (and one that “can’t do 3D well” at that, not that this game disproves that theory). It has a world minimap and everything. In my research and discussions with others, people pointed either to Total Annihilation (1997), or Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat (1995) as the first 3D RTS, but neither of those are actually full 3D. They either have 3D units, or a 3D map, but not both. Pup Breeder had both a 3D map and units.
This is extra fun since Herzog Zwei on the genesis is in the conversation as the first RTS. If this all adds up, it would mean the first true 2D RTS, and the first true 3D RTS would both be on Sega consoles, not on PC. How curious would that be? Feel free to prove me wrong!
First black protagonist in an FPS
I was playing Congo The Movie: The Lost City of Zinj on the Saturn - which is an unusual game all by itself, as a Saturn-exclusive licensed game FPS. Someone told me it also had randomly generated levels, but I can’t find any evidence that’s true.
Anyway, it starts out like this:
Another researcher is out in the forest of the Congo when disaster strikes. I will admit - years of 90s movies (including Congo itself) had me prepared for this guy to get immediately killed, and for the hero to show up. But no - at the end of the cutscene, turns out the man you see on camera, that’s you. I am preeeeeetty sure this makes him the first black FPS protagonist?? This was 1996. Frankly there haven’t been that many SINCE 1996 either.
First 3D fighter on home consoles
Boring, but I guess this is technically probably true? Virtua Fighter came out in 1994, and Tekken didn’t hit PSX til 1995. Were there even any serious attempts (on home consoles) prior to Virtua Fighter? Maybe on PC?
Well that’s the three I’ve got. Help me think of more things!