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Hardware Classics: Sega Saturn

Posted by Damien McFerran

Out of this world

Following their epic tussle for supremacy during the early part of the decade, the remainder of the '90s were difficult times for rivals Sega and Nintendo. The arrival of hardware newcomer Sony — and its phenomenally successful 32-bit PlayStation system — totally changed the landscape of the video games industry. Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit battle may have taken interactive entertainment to a whole new level, but neither company was able to convincingly exploit this new-found popularity when the next console generation came along.

Nintendo's powerful N64 system got to market after its rivals, and its reliance on expensive cartridges dissuaded third-party publishers from committing themselves to it fully. However, Sega went head-to-head with Sony with its Saturn system, a console which had its specifications tinkered with extensively prior to release, largely in response to the fearsome 3D power boasted by its 32-bit opponent. The Saturn struggled in a competitive marketplace and would ultimately be sacrificed in 1998 so that Sega could focus on the 128-bit Dreamcast — the company's final throw of the hardware dice, and another tragic failure.

Despite its commercial troubles, the Saturn is one of Sega's most fondly-remembered platforms, and hosted some surprisingly faithful coin-op conversions at a time when the company well and truly ruled the arcades. It may have lacked a Sonic outing to challenge Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot, but it certainly wasn't short of groundbreaking exclusives, such as the cult Panzer Dragoon series, Nights Into Dreams and Burning Rangers.

According to Sega project manager Hideki Okamura, the Saturn story began way back in 1992, two years prior to its Japanese debut at the Tokyo Game Show. Keen to leverage its growing stable of impressive 3D coin-op titles, Sega knew that it needed to create a system which could generate convincing three dimensional images and handle conversions of franchises such as Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing. Systems such as Commodore's CD32, Atari's Jaguar and the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer had begun to emerge, leading many to speculate that Nintendo and Sega would be left in the dust. Some within Sega pinpointed the 3DO as the system to beat, and made confident noises regarding the power of Saturn, the firm's own "3DO beater".

However, the end of 1993 heralded an unexpected announcement which shook the industry to its core — Sony lifted the lid on the PlayStation, the gaming console it had silently been working on since its failed deal with Nintendo a short time before. Sony had intended to produce the PlayStation as a SNES with a CD drive, and even went as far as creating mock-up hardware. In one of the most infamous double-crossings in video game history, Nintendo betrayed Sony just as the company was about to go public with its plans, and tied up an agreement with Dutch firm Philips instead, which was attempting to improve the ailing fortunes of its own CD-i entertainment platform. Sony would skulk away to lick its wounds and plan revenge — a revenge which involved turning its PlayStation concept into a powerful rival to Nintendo and Sega's proposed hardware.

It is said that when Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama saw the impressive specifications for the PlayStation at the end of 1993, he confronted his engineering team and demanded to know how an upstart like Sony had been able to create a system which was more powerful than the Saturn. Nakayama's harsh words resulted in some last-minute tinkering and the console was redesigned to make use of a dual-CPU architecture. Two SH-2 processors now formed the heart of the system, alongside twin Video Display Processors. This move was intended to bolster the graphical muscle of the console, but it the long term it made the Saturn very hard to work with — few developers could get all of the processors to work in tandem effectively, and this would have serious ramifications for the platform's chances of robust third-party support.

It may have had a troubled birth, but the Saturn's Japanese launch in 1994 was a success, with 250,000 consoles sold in two days. Arcade port Virtua Fighter was reported to have retailed at a ratio of almost 1:1 with the hardware, illustrating just how important Sega's position in the coin-op industry was to its domestic fortunes. Sadly, titles like Panzer Dragoon and Daytona USA were delayed, the latter proving to be graphically inferior to the PlayStation's Ridge Racer when it eventually did hit store shelves. The North American launch of the console was undermined by Sony pricing the PlayStation a full $100 cheaper than the Saturn's $399 price tag. Early releases seemed to indicate that Sony's console enjoyed a distinct technical advantage over the Saturn, and while Sega was able to claw back some respectively with ports of Sega Rally and the stunning Virtua Fighter 2 — the most popular arcade title of the period — the PlayStation soon began to pull away and consequently attracted more support from publishers, developers and the gaming public.

When the Nintendo 64 hit the market in 1996, the Saturn was pushed from second place to third. Support from developers declined further, and eventually Sega found itself in the position of being the main source of software for the struggling system. In the west, focus on the console was reduced dramatically, but in Japan — where the Saturn ultimately sold 6 million consoles compared to the 2 million in North America and less than one million in Europe — it clung on for longer. Support from companies such as SNK, Atlus and Capcom made the Saturn the format of choice for seasoned coin-op players; combat franchises such as King of Fighters, Street Fighter and Samurai Shodown all arrived on the console in near arcade-perfect form. The Saturn's talent for handling 2D graphics gave it the edge over the PlayStation in this regard; Sega's console had more RAM and this allowed for fluid animation and shorter loading times. Another bonus was the console's cartridge slot, which permitted the use of RAM and ROM cartridges to further augment the system's 2D prowess.

For example, King of Fighters '95 shipped with a ROM cartridge which contained game data which could be quickly loaded into the Saturn's memory, reducing the need to access the information from the CD. Later SNK games would make use of a 1MB RAM cart, while Capcom's X-Men vs. Street Fighter would be bundled with a 4MB variant — the result was an arcade-perfect conversion, and Capcom would follow this with Vampire Savior, Dungeons & Dragons Collection and Street Fighter Zero 3. With the exception of some early releases — the aforementioned King of Fighters '95 being one — most of these gems remained exclusive to Japan.

By the time 1998 rolled around there was already talk of Sega's next console, and it was clear that the Saturn was about to be put out to pasture earlier than planned. The arrival of the Dreamcast was the final nail in the coffin for Sega's 32-bit challenger, and the company switched its focus to its new console. During its lifespan the Saturn sold less than 10 million units worldwide to the PlayStation's 102 million and the N64's 32 million, and this dire commercial performance resulted in Sega posting a loss of over $300 million in 1998. The Saturn wasn't wholly responsible for the company's withdrawal from the hardware arena — the failures of the Mega CD, 32X and Dreamcast all contributed as well — but for many, the 32-bit console is seen as the beginning of the end for the firm which only a few years earlier had bloodied Nintendo's nose in the west.

That isn't to say that the console was a flop with all gamers, though — quite the opposite. When PlayStation fever gripped the globe, owning a Saturn was considered a badge of honour by many dedicated players, especially fans of arcade fighters and shooters. Import gamers also flocked to the system thanks to the superior support it received in its native Japan — titles such as Princess Crown, Radiant Silvergun, Strikers 1945, DoDonPachi, Batsugun, Metal Slug and Elevator Action Returns never made it to the west, yet they attracted a considerable amount of attention from North American and European press and players alike. Although western Saturn owners were denied many amazing releases, they were still lucky enough to get some of the best titles of the 32-bit period; the epic RPG Panzer Dragoon Saga was seen as the console's answer to Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation, while late arrivals Shining Force III, Burning Rangers and House of the Dead all ensured that the Saturn didn't go without a fight.

If you're looking to pick up a Saturn today, then it's highly recommended that you opt for a Japanese system, purely because it grants access to the widest selection of software. Two hardware iterations are available — the launch machine had oval Power and Reset buttons and a disc access light, while the subtly redesigned Mark II system had circle buttons. It's also worth noting that early models of the North American and European Saturn shipped with larger controllers, but these were replaced with the original Japanese pads when the remodelled console appeared. The Japanese pad is arguably one of the best controllers ever made; its rolling D-pad and six-button layout make it ideal for the many 2D fighters which fill the Saturn's library. Sega released an analogue controller alongside Nights Into Dreams, and an official light gun was produced to support the likes of Virtua Cop and House of the Dead. There's even a twin-stick controller available which makes robot battling title Virtual On feel more faithful to its arcade parent.

Collecting for the Saturn isn't a cheap affair, though. The low sales of the console meant that software was produced in small quantities, and as a result second-hand prices have rocketed in recent years. Radiant Silvergun's release on Xbox Live Arcade hasn't put a dent in its resell value on the Saturn, and it has been changing hands for around $160 / £100 for the past decade. The western version of Panzer Dragoon Saga was released in such limited numbers that demand has consistently outstripped supply since its 1998 release, and the game can often fetch as much as $250 / £150 to $330 / £200, depending on overall condition. The last Saturn game ever made — Capcom's Japan-only Final Fight Revenge — is another title which sells for astronomical values, despite the fact that it's not actually very good. However, the prize for most sought-after Saturn title goes to Psychic Assassin Taromaru, of which only 7,500 copies were ever made. Expect to part with as much as $400 / £240 to secure a copy.

The Sega of today may be different to the one which entertained and enraptured millions back in the '90s, but there will be many players out there — Nintendo fans included — who have fond memories of both the firm and its systems. The Saturn may have been a commercial failure and a pain in the backside to develop for, but it was also home to some amazing games, many of which felt all the more special because they were import-only and required significant investment and effort to appreciate. Sony and Nintendo may have chased the mainstream market at the time with their respective machines, but it felt as if Sega was aiming for the hardcore sector — so it's little wonder that the Saturn still holds so much respect among gaming veterans.

Screenshots courtesy of The Video Game Museum.

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User Comments (91)

luke88

#1

luke88 said:

it was a great system, strangely my granddad got one; depsite never having played games before.

Dark-Link73

#2

Dark-Link73 said:

I never really appreciated the Saturn. A friend of mine had it and we had lots of hours of fun playing with it. However, I was more immerse on my N64 so I never accepted the Saturn for how great it was. It was the middle of the Sega/Nintendo console war. I had picked sides. I couldn't bring myself to be disloyal to Nintendo.

Superryanworld

#3

Superryanworld said:

Good read! I still have my us&japanese Saturn systems.I still enjoy a few rounds of x-men vs streetfighter from time to time.If you loved fighters the Saturn didn't disappoint.

BinaryFragger

#4

BinaryFragger said:

I remember playing a rented Saturn at a friend's house and it was an impressive console (I especially enjoyed Daytona USA), but it was overshadowed by the PlayStation just a few months later. Once the PlayStation came out, I pretty much forgot about the Saturn.

GuitarAnthony

#5

GuitarAnthony said:

I wish people would stop referring to Dreamcast as a "failure". I have 250+ games that prove otherwise.

Kirk

#6

Kirk said:

I really loved playing Sega Rally Championship on this.

There were actually a lot of really good games, like the entire Panzer Dragoon series, Virtual Fighter II and Guardian Heroes to name a few more.

I wish Nintendo would get this system on the Virtual Console OR that Sega would bring these games to the Wii U and 3DS as 3D Classics or something.

Mind you, if it's going to bring Sega Rally Championship or Virtua Fighter II to the Wii U then it should obviously bring the superior looking Arcade versions (with a few little extra options and stuff as per the 3D Classics norm).

LittleFuryThing

#7

LittleFuryThing said:

hugs copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga and Radiant Silvergun
I don't want to sell them, but I will have to sometime. :'(

The one game I always wanted to play on the Saturn was Dragon Force. That game looked pretty awesome.

Shiryu

#8

Shiryu said:

Never had one, had to choose so I went with the PSX, no way I could afford both system back then. But my cousin did have one so I played quite a lot of it's exclusives. Loved "Guardian Heroes" and "Dragon Force".

Buduski

#9

Buduski said:

Does anybody remember three dirty dwarves for the saturn? I remember burning lots of hours on that game xD

unrandomsam

#10

unrandomsam said:

@Damo How can you get a Japanese Saturn to output RGB ? (I was lead to believe it used a different pinout to the PAL one).

The mod to the PAL one to get it region free and outputting 60hz looks like an absolute nightmare.

What about a PAL system with one of those Action Replay Ram + Region Free devices.

It is a total minefield (Which is why I haven't bought one yet).

Mrclaycoat

#11

Mrclaycoat said:

I was a nintendo kid growing up but switched to sege when the Saturn came out and never regretted it once. Sure it didn't have some of the classic N64 games, but Burning Rangers and Shining Force 3 were enough to keep me coming back time and time again to this day. I still have mine and will never part from it

Luigifan141

#12

Luigifan141 said:

I got my Saturn a couple years ago, and it's a really underrated system. With games like Radiant Silvergun, Burning Rangers, NiGHTS, and many others, it's one of the most "hardcore" systems out there. Plus, the Action Replay is a must; not because I'm horrendous at games and need an infinite lives code for Astal, but because it makes your console region-free, as well as letting you back up your saves in case the internal battery runs out. I still love my Nintendo 64, and I'll always feel like it's my favorite console of all time, but if I knew how expensive the Saturn overall could be by today's standards, I would have jumped the shark and bought a Saturn instead of a Nintendo 64 when I was younger.

rjejr

#14

rjejr said:

Wow, that top picture really looks like a Dreamcast, I only remember the black version in the US, though my video gaming kind of skipped a decade from late 80's to late 90's when I finally got a PS. I do remember playing a Saturn at a friends place though, mostly Nights and Virtua Cop, good times.

Peach64

#15

Peach64 said:

I can look back fondly on the Saturn and it's library now, but at the time, it was really disheartening for me. That was the last generation I stuck to a single console. It had some gems, and while we got the first iteration in series such as Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and Wipeout, we then had to watch as the sequels never returned. I remember being so jealous of friends who were picking up titles like Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo and Metal Gear Solid.

MuchoMochi

#16

MuchoMochi said:

@GuitarAnthony financially it was a failure, SEGA was in a bad position and it could have sold well given time but it didn't sell well enough to support the company. A commercial failure doesn't necessarily mean it was a failure to those that enjoyed it, I think the Dreamcast was a great system.

ricklongo

#17

ricklongo said:

It's funny, I don't think I ever touched a Saturn (or a Dreamcast, for that matter).

I was torn between Nintendo and SEGA during the 8-bit days, as an owner of both a NES and a Master System. I remember afterwards when the Mega Drive was all the rage, and everybody wanted one... until the SNES hit. That console made me stick with Nintendo and never look back, thanks to all the amazing exclusives. I forgot all about the Mega Drive then, and didn't even bat an eye when the next SEGA console was released.

I hope we see some Saturn games on the Wii U Virtual Console eventually. I would really like to get to experience its classics now.

MegaAdam

#18

MegaAdam said:

I would love for these to get released on a Virtual Console eventually. I doubt it will ever happen on Wii U, though.

sdelfin

#19

sdelfin said:

@LittleFuryThing I planned on getting Radiant Silvergun when it was fairly new, but never got around to it. I actively tried to find Panzer Dragoon Saga when it was released and simply could not find a place that carried it. I always wondered how many units they released of that game. I don't even recall how exactly I got my hands on Shining Force 3(part 1) and Burning Rangers. I think a friend of mine found them for me. I was lucky and smart enough to get Dragon Force(twice actually, the second was a gift for a friend of mine), which became one of my favorite Saturn games and is a game I still get urges to play and will revisit from time to time.

TheWhiteFalcon

#20

TheWhiteFalcon said:

I just wish prices for consoles weren't sky high. Hard to find one with cords and a controller for less than $70 on eBay. Even just a few years ago for that price you were getting several games and both controllers (good games too).

Meaty-cheeky

#21

Meaty-cheeky said:

Growing up I had SEGA Genensis and a Super Nintendo both were awesome systems, I remember when SEGA Saturn was released in the US and I played Nights into Dream at my Local Target Store, I remember walking away from playing the Night's Demo thinking the game was nice, but I was not impressed nor did I ever feel the need of owning a Saturn. Now when Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 I was blown away when my eyes first saw Super Mario 64, the N64 was a must own console in my book at the time, SEGA Saturn never had that effect on me back then.

Tasuki

#22

Tasuki said:

Ah Saturn the nail that was put into Sega's coffin console wise. I honestly believe that if Sega didn't screw over the stores, and developers with the who launch date of the Saturn the Dreamcast would have brought Sega back. AH well we live and learn.

I honestly didn't play much of the Saturn, I rented one but honestly wasn't impressed with it like I was the Playstation.

LJay

#23

LJay said:

I bought a ps1 after getting fed up waiting for the "ultra64" but i got fed up with the ps1 and sold up for the Saturn and never regretted it-what a console! Soo many exclusive hard core games,i loved dark saviour,nights,panzer dragoon-i could go on and i still maintain that Sega rally is the greatest racing game ever-my Saturn is always hooked up!

Tender_Cutlet

#24

Tender_Cutlet said:

Saturn stood for everything the gaming industry today does not. Risky, adventurous, shameless displays of technological power and opulence with a firm middle finger salute to the statusquo. With the Saturn died the golden age of gaming to be replaced with the sterile industry we tolerate today.

Ristar42

#25

Ristar42 said:

@Kirk I still put Sega Rally up there as one of the best racing games ever, Japan got Sega Rally plus which added analogue support which I play to this day!

I collect Saturn games and a modded console is probably the best option, with multi region and 50/60Hz switch. So many good games were left in Japan, its a console you need to read up on to see the best of.

Nice to see Soukyugurentai in the main picture, one game that doesnt get mentioned much and I wish had a translation is Dungeon Master Nexus...Used to play the original on my friends Atari ST .

DamoAdmin

#26

Damo said:

@unrandomsam You just need the right SCART cable - no internal modification is required. I'm actually using the SCART I got with a second hand PAL Saturn, and it outputs glorious RGB on my LCD TV.

You could mod a PAL system for imports, which means you get the best of both worlds (well, three worlds - PAL, NTSC US and NTSC Jap). I've never done it myself but there are plenty of modded second hand consoles out there.

The Action Replay style cartridges are pointless IMO, if you play NTSC games they will still run at 50hz.

Hope this helps! I'd personally recommend a Japanese system, you'd need a stepdown converter too, though.

DamoAdmin

#27

Damo said:

@GuitarAnthony Commercially, it was a failure. Being a commercial failure and being a critical failure are two totally different things.

LJay

#28

LJay said:

Actually the Saturn made me really get into Sega and i bought the Dreamcast after it,while everyone was buying up ps2/xbox and even though i bought the Gamecube after it and consider myself a Nintendo guy the Dreamcast remained my main console till the Wii came out,i find a lot of the Sat/DC games have a old school timeless charm that a lot of ps1/2/xbox games just dont have-maybe bacuase they were not always just developed to be the the"in thing" at the time,i miss Sega as a hardware manufacturer

Ristar42

#30

Ristar42 said:

@Damo The Saturn shiped with a SCART cable in the UK and the output looked so much clearer than the output on the PAL N64, which is murky at best.
Saturn also had 3 great PAL optimised releases with Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally and Virtua Cop having their speed corrected and running full screen.

sdelfin

#32

sdelfin said:

I was reading an interview with former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske in which he talked about how Sony and Sega had a pretty close working partnership on the Sega CD. Sega of America and Sony of America talked about collaborating on a 32-bit console. Kalinske said that Sony was cool with the idea, but Sega of Japan was not interested.

A lot of Sega's problems seemed to come from SoA and SoJ not being on the same page. SoJ needed the Saturn on the market a lot more than SoA did. The hardware ultimately was not well designed in terms of software development. Obviously, the marketing was botched as well. Sega went from having a successful machine in territories outside Japan to having a machine that found success only in Japan.

All that aside, the Saturn was, and still is, a great game machine thanks to its library containing many high-quality games, many of which were simply not possible on the Playstation, which wasn't as capable for 2D games as the Saturn. Some of Capcom's CPS2 games are a good example of that. Unfortunately for Sega, what the Saturn was good at wasn't enough to make it a mainstream hit. I got my Saturn pretty early on it its lifespan and I enjoyed the system a lot when it was current and still go back to play some of the games. Very nice feature on the system. I think these Hardware Classics pieces are quite well done, @Damo.

Rawk_Hawk

#33

Rawk_Hawk said:

I loved the Saturn. Especially the Sega and Capcom games. If you want a system with good fighters this is it

danjohnson141

#34

danjohnson141 said:

My Saturn is sitting in my loft somewhere only ever had 2 games for it Virtual fighter and alien trilogy, there the only 2 i ever needed! I missed out on ps1 so the Saturn also introduced me to demo discs. Good times!!

Ryno

#35

Ryno said:

I never played that much Saturn outside of Virtua Fighter. I was to busy playing Squaresoft games on my Playstation.

TruenoGT

#36

TruenoGT said:

Last fall I met a guy to sell him something on Craiglist, and as we got to talking, he mentioned that on the way to meet, he had just sold his Sega Saturn to a used game shop (not thinking I would have any idea what that was). I was like, "oh man, I would have traded for that!" :) We got to talking about classic Treasure games and Japanese imports... our transaction had nothing to do with video games so to have that conversation was such a surprise!

mike_intellivision

#37

mike_intellivision said:

Releases were so sparse in the US that mainline shops (i.e., Gamestop) started selling imports — both JP and EU — as well as the tools to play them.

I wish I had gotten Elevator Action Returns. (Did nab Radiant Silvergun).

technotreegrass

#38

technotreegrass said:

From a pure aesthetic standpoint, I think the Saturn is the most beautiful console design I've ever seen. The only thing even comes close is a PS4.

DamoAdmin

#39

Damo said:

@Ristar42 Yep, it was one of the first - if not the first - UK systems to ship with a SCART. My dad owned a store which sold video games (as well as rented VHS movies) and you would not believe the number of people we had coming in complaining that the Saturn shipped without an (inferior) RF cable. I guess this was a period when a lot of people still didn't own TVs with SCART sockets! The irony is that the PlayStation didn't ship with SCART in the UK, and we sold loads of official Sony SCART cables as it really was the only way to play the console (or any other console of that era, in fact).

GN004Nadleeh

#40

GN004Nadleeh said:

i found one in a dumpster at my apartment building it had everything but a power cord so i just used my original playstation 1 cord and it booted right up. had some decent rpgs for its time

MJKOP

#41

MJKOP said:

Loved my Saturn, and my Dreamcast too for that matter. Good times

unrandomsam

#42

unrandomsam said:

@Damo Thanks somehow I thought it was going to be much harder than it seems to be. (Think I attributed changing the Dreamcast battery to the Saturn as well.)

Also speaking of SCART cables do you know anywhere that still sells the proper SNES SCART cables. (I expect 3rd party but with the resistors to stop it looking washed out like e.g the 60hz NES Games on the PAL Wii). Doing that mod to a Gamecube scart cable is what made my ability to do the same sort of mod to a Saturn cable. (Stuff like the SNES or Megadrive switchless mod's I have done fine).

Do you know a place that does mod's for a reasonable price. (TV repair places probably would have done it before the legal status of modchips now I think if they don't know what they are doing they won't do it. The poorer parts of my city used to have places that installed modchips while you wait but they are all gone now obviously).

sdelfin

#44

sdelfin said:

@unrandomsam looks like you are right about the different AV pinouts. I was not aware of that. SCART cables for NTSC Saturns are available, though.

ReigningSemtex

#47

ReigningSemtex said:

I own 2 Saturn's. A pal model 1 and a ntsc u model 2 and it is easily up one of my favourite consoles. Sega did make amazing hardware and software it's easy to forget sometimes just how great Sega were back in the day.

Luna-Harmony

#48

Luna-Harmony said:

They don't make em solid like they used o i got a ps4 and when in standby it makes od sounds and so does many peoples. Consoles mower days are almost disposable consoles like iPads and everything else :( in ps1 & snes days consoles where solid and built to last.

Mitsuko_Chan

#50

Mitsuko_Chan said:

The Saturn was actually more popular than the Playstation and N64 in Japan during it's time. In the US, it's the total opposite.

ecco6t9

#52

ecco6t9 said:

The mismanagement of the Saturn is the result of two Sega branches bickering back and forth with each other even though Sega of Japan was still going to have the final word at the end of the day.

Then they hired a tool by the name of Bernie Stolar...

BinaryFragger

#53

BinaryFragger said:

@ecco6t9

Ah yes, Bernie Stolar. Remember this gem of a quote at E3 1997?
"the Saturn is not our future"

Seriously, what kind of idiot says that TWO YEARS after a console's launch?

vonseux

#55

vonseux said:

Saturn had the same bad media, underporwered and "no games" argument back in the day as Wii U have today. The console everyone hyped out was the PSX. I had one, and I think it was an exeptional console with many many classics.

Game-Over

#56

Game-Over said:

Nice article, i never had a Sega Saturn but i did have a Dreamcast and like the Saturn it had some great 2D fighters. I'd love to see these consoles on the VC.

Thulfram

#57

Thulfram said:

I remember the Saturn primarily for Panzer Dragoon Saga. I keep hoping somehow it could be ported to anything. What a game! 5 disks of living in a truly alien world and battling by riding on deadly dragons. I finished it. Later I was hard up for money and sold it and now regret it. Lot of cool Saturn stuff, not so much for the Dreamcast, except for Skies of Arcadia, and lucky for all of us, that was redone on the Game Cube!

At least I have the music for Panzer Dragoon Saga, but why won't someone recreate it? I heard a rumor that someone had destroyed all the code/assets, but I can't believe that even Sega would allow that to happen. Heck, it would probably run great on a 3DS!

Spuratis

#58

Spuratis said:

@vonseux Agreed, Saturn will always hold a special place in my heart. Games like Bug (and it's sequel), Shining Force 3, Blazing Heroes (known as Mystaria to non-americans).. ALBERT ODYSSEY.. Those are just some really great exclusives to the Saturn. It also introduced me to Rayman which is honestly one of the most unique and challenging 2D platformers there is. I could go on, but won't. I'll just say I'd love to see some Saturn games come to VC.

WaveBoy

#60

WaveBoy said:

Bought the saturn on launch, played maybe about 20 games or so, and sold it as soon as the PS1 came out. :P Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Fighter and Myst I'll admit were pretty damn awesome for the time. I never gave the console a fair shake, part of me wishes i would of held on to it. But titles like Clockwork Knight, and Street Fighter: The Movie left a Yucky taste in my mega mouth, the dino dudes damage had already been done!

Titles like Mega Man 8, Resident Evil, Rayman(ect ect) were multiconsole so i never felt like i really missed out on anything 3rd party wise, seeing as how the PS1 was much more popular and all.

WaveBoy

#61

WaveBoy said:

@KnightRider666
Had the Dreamcast survived an entire generation, i think a lot of people would be singing a different tune. Probably not me though, I prefer 2D games over 3D by an enormous land slide. Looking back, i wish i would of put more focus on the SNES during the 16-bit generation istead of 50/50ing it. The nostalgia i have is strong for the mega drive, but eh...I'm just not a huge fan of it anymore...especially when you side it with the SNES. that little sleek black console just couldn't capture the brilliance, charm, magic and 'true' next gen vibe of Nintendo's new 16-bit machine. Sonic the Hedgehog was a pile of rotten DK bananas Vs Super Mario World...Deep down, my inner sega fanboy knew it. My friend got the SNES on launch and it was mindblowing. going back to my sega genesis felt like a pile of soggy sega left overs.

sdelfin

#62

sdelfin said:

@Thulfram the source code being lost or destroyed is apparently true. That obviously makes things more complicated, but they could still offer the Saturn version in emulated form on a service like the Virtual Console.

@WaveBoy I also find that I prefer 2D games after all these years. I get why you'd prefer the SNES now. I feel the opposite way about things. As I've revisited the old systems and old memories, I find I prefer the Genesis and the types of games it excelled at. I wish I focused on it more, back in the day. I enjoyed my SNES, but not as much as my Genesis. Both were great systems, though.

iLiveonSaturn

#64

iLiveonSaturn said:

My Saturn is my most cherished console, I play it more than anything else, I currently have 86 games for it. So many underrated games for it. Some of my favorites: Albert Odyssey, Baku Baku, Clockwork knight 1 & 2, Darius Gaiden, Die hard arcade, Dragonforce, Fighters megamix, Galactic Attack, Guardian Heroes, In the Hunt, Mass Destruction, Mr. Bones, Nights, Pandemonium, Pander dragoon series, Rayman, Road rash, Sega Rally, Saturn Bomberman, Scorcher, Shining the holy Ark, Solar Eclipse, Sonic Jam, Street fighter collection, Three dirty Dwarves.

FJOJR

#66

FJOJR said:

During that time Sega was it's own worst enemy as the internal power struggles between the Japanese and American branches split the house in two.

TheAdza

#67

TheAdza said:

I had two Saturns, both PAL, but as I couldn't find anyone in Australia to mod my first one to play Japanese and American games, I sent it over to the UK to be done. Turnaround time? 6 weeks. 2 weeks into that, I went out and bought another one. I just couldn't be without it. Dark Saviour, NiGHTS, Sega Rally, Fighting Vipers and later Fighters Megamix, Burning Rangers, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Marvel Super Heroes, VF Kids, Virtua Cop 1 and 2, those games were amazing. I only ever ended up buying 2 Japanese games. X-Men vs Street Fighter, and Radiant Silvergun. Totally worth it. And to think, I still haven't had the pleasure of playing Panzer Dragoon Saga or any of the Shining games on the system, and I still rate it as my second most played system ever, the first being Dreamcast, although technically my PS3 has had a workout since I bought it, as it has been my main media player for the last 6 years and still is.

At the moment, my most used consoles of all time stand at:

Dreamcast (mainly because of PSO but I have 34 other awesome games for it, although it no longer works)

Saturn. I loved the arcades. So this system was awesome for me.

PS1. I have eclectic collection of popular and weird games for it from PaRappa and Bust a Groove, to Resident Evils and Spyro's and Tekkens. Soul Blade was epic. FFVII and IX were standouts.

Wii. Of course it is. Wii Sports alone stole many hours of fun as well as Mario Kart and the Galaxy games.

PS2, Megadrive, PS3 ( for actual gaming ) SNES, Master System, Xbox, Xbox360, N64 in that order round out my list of most played to least. I haven't worked out where Wii U is now. Still too early to tell. But it's already higher up than the PS2. Which is pretty high by my book. And I didn't include handhelds, which I really didn't get into until I got my DSlite. I had owned a GBC and GameGear, but I never played them a great deal so I missed out on the GBA era of games. But my 3DS is just about my most played handheld now, and I'm even contemplating getting a Vita because of its weirder and great games. Trying to get back that feeling of loving great games again, because I feel like I am growing out of it. I don't want to, but games these days generally aren't going where my love for them started out from. It's good to see a resurgence in platformers, but where are the big RPGs, the arcade racers, the fighting games? Everything seems to be open world this, or MMO that, or online only here and first person shooter there.

I miss the days of the Saturn. In fact, I might go play some Saturn now. Grab out the old big blue light gun and shoot some robbers in VC2. I bet I need another internal battery for it again. All save game data lost! Haha. The good old days.

xevious

#68

xevious said:

My favorite system of the 32-BIT generation. Panzer Dragoon Saga is right up there at the top of my list next to Zelda Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasy VI.

toejam78

#70

toejam78 said:

Ah the Sega Saturn......
I decided to make 2014 the year of the saturn back in January, and Ive been giving it a hammering ever since.
I bought one second hand about 12 years ago and have built up quiet a collection in that time. About 100 Jap imports and around 70 pal titles.
Im on disc 4 of Panzer dragoon Saga at present and Im playing it similatneously on a Jap and Pal Saturn just to maximise the enjoyment.
Played heaps of Nights too, finally got around to "A" ranking all the levels, and unlocking all the presents in Xmas nights.
I love Rayman on the saturn, it has got to be one of the prettiest platformers of all time.
I love the 4mg ram fighters, Norimaru has got to be the most politically incorrect fighter of all time.
The Saturn is an incredible machine and makes the playstation look like a piece of rubbish that the mainstream flocked to.
Long live the Sega Saturn.
Australia loves the Sega Saturn for ever!!!!!!

Kafei2006

#71

Kafei2006 said:

"the remainder of the '90s were difficult times for rivals Sega and Nintendo"

Not really, Nintendo had Pokémon by then and they were making more money than they ever did before. these were only really hard times for Sega, certainly not Nintendo, who only really struggled to churn out enough software for the N64 to drive sales forward. What little games they released for it though sold in the million copies!

EDIT: Also... no mention of Grandia? This was later ported to the Playstation of course but it was born on the Saturn!

Cobra

#72

Cobra said:

Countless hours of entertainment growing up. Love the Saturn, but how could I not, it had such a great game library.

FX102A

#73

FX102A said:

Never was too impressed with the PAL Saturn's offerings, but when my friend introduced me to the JPN Library I was blown away. Hyper Duel, Battle Garegga, Strikers, Metal Black, Thunder Force, Eolf Fang, Darius, the amount of quality shoot'em ups was damn amazing. The sheer cost and lack of space (and my dedication to RPG collecting) prevent me from pursuing this.

I'd gladly welcome them coming to the Wii I VC.

YoshiTails

#75

YoshiTails said:

I remember a friend in primary school telling me he had this thing called a saturn and it was the best thing ever. So I went round his house, played virtua fighter for abput 3 hours straight and ended up drenched in sweat to the point his dad made me stand outside for 20mins to keep his sofa in good nic! After that experience I never mentioned the saturn to my parents. A year later they surprised me at christmas with an n64 and mariokart. And it's for that very reason I'm here I guess!

Ristar42

#80

Ristar42 said:

@Damo That’s cool, you must've had good access to games! I had one tv which accepted SCART, and what a difference when I saw the improved picture quality.

I 2nd the 'Console Passion' recommendation by the way, got a switchless modded Megadrive 2 from that site with RGB output, its still working years later.

For those in London, there is also Retro Game Base who have an actual shop, I've only bought games there but I think they do retro mods too.

http://www.retrogamebase.co.uk/

vaino

#81

vaino said:

I bought saturn a while ago, and it turned out a great system. Controller is probably the best non-3d controller ever made. But those early PAL-cd cases are awful, so I put my discs into sturdy cd-case.
If I had discovered Satun back in the old days instead those bad PS1 games my friends had, I would be intrested in video games earlier. Panzer Dragoons, NiGHTS into Dreams, and Virtua Cop attracted me first. There's great fps-games on Saturn too, like Exhumed(Powerslave), and good ports of Duke 3D and Quake. Many Sega games had their distinctive arcade-feel, like Virtua Cop with the blue Virtua Gun.

Kirk

#82

Kirk said:

@Ristar42

"I still put Sega Rally up there as one of the best racing games ever"

Me too.

It's a pity the newer games in the series couldn't quite match the original for whatever reasons.

KnightRider666

#84

KnightRider666 said:

@WaveBoy: I didn't like the Dreamcast's controllers. That's what kept me away from it. I thought about buying one when they were down to $50 in stores new just before it was gone, but even then; I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I loved the Genesis, but the SNES was the undisputed 16-bit king. I didn't own a Genesis until much later when the Genesis 3 came out. I owned a Game Gear for a short period of time, but I ended up selling it b/c the games just didn't hold up to the Game Boy. I had the Master System for a short period of time as well, but I ended up selling that too for the same reason as it didn't hold a candle to the NES. I never bothered with the Saturn, period. What about you?

DESS-M-8

#85

DESS-M-8 said:

PLEASE bring Saturn To Virtual Console!!!!!!!
More wii units will move if Saturn Gamers finally get an outlet to download this untapped trove of videogames

BakaKnight

#86

BakaKnight said:

Interesting, never heard well the Saturn history, I barely noticed in stores when it came out ^_^; And I was still a kid loving his megadrive. so ironically I was still supporting Sega, but not has they needed >o>;

Anyway I'm kinda confused about the dreamcast be a "failure"... I remember I read it sold very well, but sadly not enough for cover the saturn failure (how to say... it would have been all fine for the dreamcast if it wasn't for the burden of the previous generation's lost).
Just curious if what I read long ago was correct or if actually the dreamcast was an overall failure even without considering Sega's situation after the Saturn.

sdelfin

#87

sdelfin said:

@TheAdza for me, it's not growing out of it. It's recognizing that modern games generally don't offer what I look for in games. I'm not into the typical open-world, MMO, or first-person shooter games. When I play on my old systems, I love a lot of those games more then I did back in the day.

FilmerNgameR

#88

FilmerNgameR said:

lol I have NiGHTS into Dreams on Xbox Live, I never owned a Saturn, I think it's one of the best games ever it's so AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

TheAdza

#89

TheAdza said:

@sdelfin Exactly how I feel. There are times when the spark is there. But it's not often enough anymore with modern games. Which is why these days I play Nintendo games and systems more so than Sony or Microsoft consoles. If there is going to be that magic moment, it's more commonly found on a Nintendo system in my opinion.

AkinaChan

#90

AkinaChan said:

The only Sega console I ever owned was a Dreamcast, though I did know many friends that owned a Saturn growing up in Japan. It seemed to be very popular for a time there. Of course, it had nothing on Nintendo and Sony once the N64 and PS1 came out, but I remember a lot of people really enjoying this console.

Blue-Thunder

#91

Blue-Thunder said:

I was watching TV back in the day, the program was talking about the Saturn and Playstation specifications. I knew after watching that programme the Saturn was finished and it hadn't even been released yet. Playstation specifications and Ridge Racer destroyed it. The specifications for Saturn were like '2 of this and 2 of that', it didn't look good.

When the N64 started to struggle Nintendo were able to cut the price by £100 to £150 but Sega were unable or unwilling to cut the price of Saturn from the humongous £400 asking price (remember this is mid nineties, that is a lot of dough).

Some other reasons the Sad-turn :) failed was Sega made bad business decisions during the 16bit era, Mega CD, 32X, pricey hardware that was not supported. Gamers had lost faith in them, you really could not trust them.

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