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Remake Request: Burning Rangers

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

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It’s 1998. The Saturn, my beloved NiGHTS-playing machine, is undeniably on its last legs here in the UK but with the trusty Sega Saturn Magazine as my guide and the likes of Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Street Fighter Alpha 2 to play I didn't care so long as there was something to look forward to. Sonic Team could do no wrong, and their final Saturn title merged their flair for character design with an unexpected premise: futuristic firefighting.

The game has two main playable characters, Shou and Tillis, with the rest of the team available to play through the use of special passwords given out by certain survivors once the main game’s been cleared. There are three main missions to play and while that doesn't seem like much at first glance the game benefits from a randomised layout system much like their later Dreamcast classic Phantasy Star Online, meaning that while key rooms and events always play out in the same way, survivors will more than likely be another person entirely (if they're even there at all) and doors may be locked, forcing players to take alternative routes.

But it’s not just about leaping through flames and navigating collapsing walkways to rescue school children and space station workers (Sonic Team members too, if you're lucky) – there’s the tricky business of putting out fires to consider as well.

In the future this is apparently done by shooting at fires with the Burning Rangers’ sort-of-water-pistols-but-not equipment – a handgun for Shou and a wrist mounted shot for Tillis. Normal shots take longer to put out fires, but when doused they release crystals which are needed to safely transport survivors away from the disaster zone. Charge shots are great for taking out the automated robots that wander around and larger fires quickly, but these blasts always shatter nearby crystals as well as any that would have been released from the fire. These crystals also work exactly like Sonic’s rings, keeping characters safe from harm so long as they have at least one in their possession and scattering if they get hit.

Luckily fires in Burning Rangers are all colour coded, so even in the tightest spots when hazardous barrels are on the verge of exploding and the pressure’s just peaked and unleashed jets of flames through the floor, it’s still easy to tell at a glance which fires need to be prioritised. Red fires are the most common, green are the really dangerous ones as they spit flames in the player's direction, and blue flames don't do much but they do take more shots to subdue. This ease of understanding — coupled with the game’s constantly shifting surroundings and unpredictable behaviour — makes for a pitch-perfect balance of stress and skill. The rules are simple and consistent, and give players who take the time to learn them an edge — while the distinctive locations with their shifting layouts keep even experienced players on their toes.

But there is a problem with Sonic Team’s unique and ambitious approach to firefighting - they pushed the Saturn to the limit with dynamic environments, fancy coloured light sources and transparencies (all of which were a big deal at the time) and the hardware really can't cope with the strain, meaning floors and walls frequently flicker in and out of existence, transparencies are often visible in front of objects that they should be hidden behind and fires sometimes break out inside walls where the player can't reach them. It’s completely understandable how someone could look at the game almost sixteen years after its release and not see what all the fuss is about.

Which leads us to the point of this feature; Burning Rangers deserves another shot on more powerful hardware so that it can live up to its original potential. Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed gave us a tantalising glimpse of what a next-gen Burning Rangers could look like and it was fantastic – any chance of treating us to the rest of the game, Sega?

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User Comments (36)

SheldonRandoms

#3

SheldonRandoms said:

"Sight of night I cheer to embrace a magic"

Take the first letter of each word, put them together, and yeah, it's true, THEY ARE ANGELS WITH BURNING HEARTS! (song lyrics in the game btw)

SuperKMx

#6

SuperKMx said:

I'd be a day one buyer if they remade this. My favourite Saturn game by FAR.

MarceloKamui

#7

MarceloKamui said:

I still have my copy! I really like this game! Would be great to have a remake, a hd version or a sequel.

Jellyscare

#10

Jellyscare said:

I spent most of the Dreamcast era waiting for a sequel to this. Still waiting...

Would love a 4-player co-op version with voice chat.

Luigifan141

#11

Luigifan141 said:

I wish the American version was cheaper, like most American Saturn games. I just got the Japanese version and called it a day, and it's still really fun. It's just confusing on where you're supposed to go sometimes.

santaglause

#12

santaglause said:

Burning rangers go! now were talking! i still rack this out once a year for a play through! i remenber getting this duke nukem and house of the dead for 20 buck on the same day great times.

ericwithcheese2

#13

ericwithcheese2 said:

I really regret not buying this back in the day because I had given up on Saturn by that point and refused to buy any more games for it by then. I should've known better!

DamoAdmin

#16

Damo said:

@Luigifan141 Agreed, without the speech telling you where to go, the Japanese version isn't as much fun. I used to have the UK edition but sold it years ago, and have now settled for the import edition (which comes in nicer packaging and has a music CD, at least).

sdelfin

#19

sdelfin said:

I was fortunate enough to obtain this and Shining Force 3 in the last days of the Saturn here in the US, though I think both games went "missing" a while back which is unfortunate considering their rarity and quality. I tried to find Panzer Dragoon Saga, but that didn't work out so well. I always wondered how many units of those late games even existed as they were very hard for me to find. As for Burning Rangers, I really liked the concept at the time and liked the game itself. The game would be a very good candidate for a remake because, as stated in the column, the hardware wasn't quite up to the task of making the game's idea into reality fully.

unrandomsam

#21

unrandomsam said:

@Technosphile I think Nights is great I have played through it more than once. (Even Mario 64 once and only once was enough). Only first got it with the latest (2011?) port as well. (Cannot have nostalgia for something you never played).

unrandomsam

#22

unrandomsam said:

The Burning Rangers track in All Stars Racing Transformed is definitely one the best - no way to be successful without learning how to do it right. I wish there were more like that.

ecco6t9

#23

ecco6t9 said:

A 3DS version would be fantastic. Burning Rangers like a number of Saturn games is a lost classic.

p_rez4prez

#24

p_rez4prez said:

Nintendo should buy Sega and start releasing all of the Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, Sega CD, and 32X classics on the virtual 3DS and WiiU virtual consoles. There are so many awesome 2d figthers(especially from Capcom) that came out on the Saturn and Dreamcast. There are a few hidden gems on the 32X and Sega CD that hardly anyone got the chance to play, like Snatcher for Sega CD and Virtua Racing Deluxe and Mortal Kombat II on 32X. Of course there are tons of classics on the Genesis and Dreamcast that plenty of us old school gamers have enjoyed. I wish I had more time and space to dust off and hook up my old consoles to play some of those awesome games, but it just doesn't happen for me much any more. I would be more than willing to drop loot on having those games on my 3DS and would probably buy a WiiU if Nintendo could make that happen.

accc

#26

accc said:

It needs a sequel, not a remake. The game is so short that a remake wouldn't really do it any good. It can be completed in under an hour on your first playthrough.

meppi

#28

meppi said:

Oh wow, when first seeing the iconic image pop up combined with the word "remake", I thought it was actually being done.
Feel a bit sad now. Such a wonderful game.
Only thing that let it down a little was that it pushed the Saturn a little bit too hard on certain fronts. Still a pure classic through and through.

unrandomsam

#29

unrandomsam said:

@meppi I thought they were going to do something with all the games they put effort in to add to All Stars Racing Transformed at one point. (Now I don't - The focus only on Sonic / Total War / Mobile / Aliens (?) / Football Manager seems to be working well for them financially).

KimimiStaff

#30

Kimimi said:

@accc Just as with NiGHTS, Burning Rangers is one of those games designed to be replayed over and over for rank/survivors rather than a game who's main "point" is to be played until the staff credits roll.

Tender_Cutlet

#33

Tender_Cutlet said:

Would be AMAZING! Sonic Team will no doubt listen to the clamour online, consult the SEGA board and then start work on another Sonic game... :-/

AshFoxX

#34

AshFoxX said:

I never had a Saturn, but this game always came across me whenever my friends talked about owning one. I have played this game on an emulator, but as expected it is not a very good experience without proper hardware.

If this game got a remake, or even a PORT, I would dive in day one. Everything about this title seems intriguing, and it's unfair that it had to die on a system that not many people had the pleasure of owning. (I have one but I have never figured out if it works.)

vonseux

#35

vonseux said:

I love your posts Kerry ! I had this game back then and it was very special. Much fun for multiple playtroughs and a huge Sega feel.

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