First released in 1994, the Sega Saturn is the successor to the Sega Mega Drive.
It is the first full Sega console to utilise CD-ROM technology (the Mega CD is considered an add-on). The technical improvements over the Mega Drive are impressive. The Sega Saturn’s specifications include a dual CPU setup with 8 processors. The system also benefitted from some last-minute additions designed to compete with the Sony PlayStation specification.
Initially launched with success in Japan, the Sega Saturn did not get off to a good start in the US. The lack of strong launch titles is regarded as a significant factor in the Saturn’s slow start and demise. Unbelievably, Sega did not release a true Sonic the Hedgehog game on the Saturn. Only two Sonic titles were released on the Saturn. Firstly, Sonic R, is a 3D racing game that included Sonic and other franchise characters. Sonic R was not considered a strong game primarily due to its terrible control system. Secondly, Sonic 3D Blast is a port of the Mega Drive game but with minor graphical and audio improvements. Still a disappointment for users expecting a next-gen Sonic title.
A well-documented factor of the failure of the Saturn is the complex hardware design making development for the system very tough. This impacted the third-party support for the system. This resulted in a number of games that were released on rival platforms, not appearing on the Saturn.
The system sold just over c. 9 million units worldwide. Not a bad number, but in terms of losing further market share to Nintendo & Sony, this was a failure. Poor distribution resulting in damaged relationships with key retailers also was a contributing factor to the Saturn’s failure. At this time, both Sega & Nintendo were not capitalizing on their strong brand names and made multiple mistakes. This allowed Sony to get an edge on both companies, concreting their place in the home console market.
The system stopped retailing in Europe and the US in 1998, it stayed on sale in Japan until 2000 with it being more successful in that region. The Sega Saturn was succeeded by the Dreamcast.
Sega Saturn Emulation
Sega Saturn emulation is reasonably well catered for, we recommend taking a look at RetroArch if you are seeking an all-in-one solution. RetroArch emulates a large number of systems including the Sega Saturn. RetroArch is a front end that utilises emulator ‘cores’, it is reasonably easy to use and has lots of good supporting documentation on how to use it. RetroArch is available across a number of platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi and many consoles.
Take a look at our Retroarch set up guide for Sega Saturn as well as our guide to the Best Sega Saturn Emulators.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of experience in the field, so producing retro orientated content for How To Retro comes is second nature to him. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).