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Sega Saturn Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Friday, 13 March 2009 14:53

   Last spring, I obtained a used Sega Saturn with nine games. I have owned many gaming consoles over the last decade, but this is one I had no experience with.

   Since, for some reason, I have a sort of respect and interest in the consoles that were known as "The other system" when they were new (Notably the Atari 5200 and 7800 consoles, as well as something called "Arcadia 2001" made by Emerson in '82), I had to have me some Saturn goodness in my collection.

   The Saturn, Sega's attempt at the 32-bit 3D console market in 1995, was released a full 4 months earlier than it's announced date in order to beat the original Sony Playstation to market (Sony had announced the release of the Playstation would take place exactly one week after the original planned date of the Saturn's
release, "Saturnday, September 2, 1995."

   While it was out for several months before the "PS One", it did not catch on for several reasons, like price ($399 at launch), and the early release betrayed retailers like Wal-Mart and KB Toys, who weren't prepared for the suprise launch.

   I could detail the further trials and tribulations of the Saturn, but I'll instead send you to the wikipedia article here if you'd like the detailed history, including sources. It's safe to say that the Saturn, even though the Sega Dreamcast console followed it, was the beginning of the end for home console development by Sega. The Genesis (Megadrive outside of the US) was their high point.

   My interest in the Saturn was stemmed from my love of the Sega arcade game, "Daytona USA". The only arcade version that I knew of from back in the day was the Saturn version. I understand there is also a Dreamcast version that I have not reviewed or played.

   Once I got the Saturn home, I got it hooked up and popped in Daytona. I was kind of put off by the low resolution of the playfield, but the music was Arcade identical (a plus to me.) The gameplay was fairly realistic to the arcade, but the way the background (and even the track) appears in what seems a late moment, just as you get around a curve especially,  kind of ruins the effect, especially when you've spent the years since 1994 playing the Arcade version. The lack of a 2 player version on this edition of the game is sad. I understand there were two more releases of Daytona for the Saturn that were improved. I haven't had a chance to obtain those yet.


    Of the other games I have, I would vote "Baku Baku Animal" as cool, but probably just because I get into puzzle games super easy.

    Would I endorse picking up a used Saturn? Maybe. I haven't found a game so good yet that I'd swear I have to have it in my collection, and as a matter of fact, I've considered selling the thing multiple times. But, sucker for games that I am, I chose to instead keep ahold of it. No viable saturn emulator has been released that I've found,or at least that will run on modest hardware. I have ran one (Yabause and Satourne) on a system as powerful as an AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-core 2.5GHZ processor with 4GB of RAM and a meaty Nvidia video card, and it was still sluggish, even when running games from ISO images instead of CDs. So, unless someone or some team steps up to the plate, I think Saturn emulation is in the same realm that Atari 7800 emulation was just a few short years ago.

   The hardcore game collector should have Saturn in their collection. The casual retro gamer would probably be better served with one of the more popular consoles from this generation (Playstation one or the Nintendo 64)...of course, that's a matter of opinion.