Sega Saturn
Type Console Developer Sega
Release Date 1994-Nov-22 Region(s) Japan, North America, Europe, Australia, Brazil
Initial Price $399 USD Games Released 540
     by Dark Watcher
In development for 2 to 3 years by Sega of Japan, the project known merely as GigaDrive (a word play for a more powerful Mega Drive) began with a goal of being the most powerful 2D console to date with 3D capability based on their arcade Model 1 hardware.
Initially the goal was to surpass another CD-based console called the 3DO.  In November of 1993, technical specs for 32-bit CD-based console by Sony had surfaced.  Not being pleased with the projects 3D capability (compared to Sony's), Sega of Japan's engineers scrambled to improve on the design.

Using planet-naming conventions used for their other projects (like Mars and Neptune), the new console was called the Sega Saturn.  It was released in Japan on November 22, 1994 and was an immediate success.  Sega had finally made a serious mark in Japan by even surpassing their long-term rival Nintendo (Sega consoles were more successful in the US markets in the past).  They would however have to face a new contender to the market.
Sony finally released the PlayStation and used their financial stability (deep ass pockets) to produce a strong marketing campaign, garner the attention of third party developers and purchase exclusive rights to game titles.  Sony ambitiously cornered popular game genres in Japan, but Sega countered with impressive 2D shooters, fighting games and hentai titles (those Japanese...hahaha).  The Saturn still sold remarkably well and they set their eyes on other markets.

The original scheduled release for the US Saturn was supposed to be "Saturnday", September 2, 1995.  However with the Sony PlayStation US premier looming over the horizon, Sega chose to release their console four months sooner (May 11, 1995).  They got the jump on the market that they needed, but caught developers off guard.  The console was released with a high $399 price tag, but unfortunately without many third party software titles.
Even after the stinging failure of the 32X, the Saturn still managed to sell pretty well initially.  However, the Sony PlayStation was eventually released for $100 cheaper and eventually took over the US market.  The Saturn failed to capture the success it garnered in Japan.  So what happened?
The Saturn boasted an amazing amount of processors including its dual Hitachi CPU processors.  However, this caused problems in game development.  Apparently the two CPUs did not run in tandem and could not access memory at the same time.  This complexity either caused developers to shy away from the Saturn or develop games in a manner that didn't fully utilize the systems capabilities (third party developers initially designed games only using a single processor).  Eventually developers found away around Saturn's complexity, but not soon enough.
Another contributing factor to Saturn's struggle in America was Sega of America's management.  The mishandling and eventual abandonment of 32X had already damaged their credibility.  The early release left some retail stores without Saturn stock and the initial high price did not help sales.  Also, Sega of America did a piss poor job of advertising its console.  They also made the mistake of not bringing many quality Japanese Saturn game titles over to the United States.  Eventually the market grew more hostile with the release of the Nintendo 64 'next-gen' system.

The Saturn may not have done well in the American market, but in Japan the system was a hot item.  The console saw amazing game titles, which also became hot imports in America and Europe.  The hardware specs were also licensed out to component manufacturers allowing them the ability to build their own model Saturns and spread the console out further.  These models were available in Japan only.
All in all the Saturn was an amazing console that produced beautiful 2D gaming and brilliant 3D titles toward the end of its life cycle.  The system was supported in the US until 1998 and in Japan until 2000.

FACT:  One of the more innovative concepts of the Saturn was the cartridge slot.  The slot itself was not meant for gaming, but could be used in a variety of ways.  The more common uses were for an external memory cart for save game portability and for cheat devices such as the 'Game Shark'.  However the slot was also used for Sega Netlink.  This was a 28.8k modem built in a cart that could be used to access the web, check email, and even play someone online who also has Netlink.  Another use that was never seen outside of Japan were RAM carts.  These carts provided the Saturn with up to 4Mb additional RAM for better and more fluid sprite animation in certain select games.  Goes to show some of the things we missed out on in America.
     Officially licensed releases
The Sega Saturn had a number of Limited \ Special Editions released, but most of these models were only released in Japan.  One of the main differences between the various models was Sega changing the button shape from Oval (original) to Round.  Overall most of the variances deal with cosmetic changes to the console chassis and lighting schemes.  Hitachi and Victor (JVC) were granted licensing rights due to their contributions to the base machine (Hitachi - CPU, Victor - CD Drive).  Samsung was also an authorized manufacturer for the South Korean market.  Below are just a sampling of the various models.

Sega Saturn (HST-0001)
Sega Saturn (HST-0001)
Hitachi Hi-Saturn (MMP-11)
Hitachi Hi-Saturn (MMP-11)
Hitachi Hi-Saturn Navi (MMP-1000NV)
Hitachi Hi-Saturn Navi (MMP-1000NV)
Victor V-Saturn (RG-JX1-S)
Victor V-Saturn (RG-JX1-S)
Sega Skeleton Saturn (HST-0021)
Sega Skeleton Saturn (HST-0021)
Sega Derby Saturn (HST-0022)
Sega Derby Saturn (HST-0022)
Samsung Saturn
Samsung Saturn
SunSeibu SGX (SGX HSG-0007)
SunSeibu SGX (SGX HSG-0007)
Sega Saturn PAL (MK-80200)
Sega Saturn PAL (MK-80200)
Tectoy Saturn
Tectoy Saturn - Virtual Fighter Bundle
Tectoy Saturn 3 Game Bundle

Sega Saturn Box & Contents

     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Sega Saturn was distributed in the CD format.

For some reason, Sega decided to package games for the North American market in virtually the same tall, cheap plastic casings utilized for their Sega CD line.  As you can image, these are very fragile and tend to crack very easily.  Games in Japan were released in standard jewel case.  As with any console, they are exceptions to these rules.

One of the truly unique offerings for the Saturn is Phantasm, a port of the PC game Phantasmagoria.  This FMV Horror title was a Japanese exclusive and contained a whopping eight (8) CDs!  Even though the game itself is rather lackluster, this beast truly stands out in your collection due to its pure girth.  You can usually snag this game CIB for around $40 USD.

applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation

Sega Saturn Game Boxes
Sega Saturn Games
     Captured in-game images
Alien Trilogy
Area 51
Area 51 Screenshot
Black Dawn
Blazing Heroes
Burning Rangers
Burning Rangers Screenshot
Darius Gaiden
Darius Gaiden Screenshot
Daytona USA
Daytona USA Screenshot
Dracula X
Dracula X Screenshot
Gun Griffon 2
Gun Griffon 2 Screenshot
Madden '97
Madden '97 Screenshot
Marvel Super Heroes
Marvel Super Heroes Screenshot
Night into Dreams
Panzer Dragoon 2
Panzer Dragoon 2 Screenshot
PGA Tour 97
PGA Tour 97 Screenshot
Radiant Silvergun
Shining Force III
Shining Force III Screenshot
Shinobi-X Screenshot
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic 3D Blast Screenshot
Street Fighter Alpha
Virtua Cop 2
Virtua Cop 2 Screenshot
World Series Baseball 2
World Series Baseball 2 Screenshot
     First and third party system emulators

Best emulator for the Saturn
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
2 Hitachi SH2 32-bit RISC CPUs 28.6 MHz 25 MIPS each Custom VDP1 (sprites\polygons)
Custom VDP2 (backgrounds)
2 MB \ 1.54 MB
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
320 x 224, 640 x 224, 720 x 576 16.7 M colors 200K Texture mapped \ 500K Flat Shaded Yamaha FH1 DSP (22.6 MHz)
Motorola 68EC000 sound processor
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
CD-ROM (2X) 650 MB 540 CD+G, CD+EG, Audio CD, Photo CD, Video CD (with optional MPEG card)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
32 KB Memory Cartridge (512 MB) D-Pad, 6 action / 2 shoulder buttons and Start Sega NetLink, Light Gun, Game
Shark, DirectLink, MPEG Card
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) Optional Sega NetLink Modem 32-Bit Serial Expansion Port
AV Expansion Port (for MPEG Card)
RF, Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC 120V 60 Hz None Optional cables required for RF, S-Video and RGB
Sega Saturn Owners Manual MK-8000A (PDF) - 4.31 MB
Sega Saturn Owners Manual MK-80200A-50 PAL (PDF) - 1.08 MB
Sega Saturn Owners Manual HST-3200 Japanese (PDF) - 7.46 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Sega Saturn Infomercial & Television Commercials

Sega Saturn Advertisements

Official Accessories for the Sega Saturn
Saturn Back Up RAM Expansion 
Sega Saturn Back Up RAM Expansion (Game Saves)
Saturn Virtua Gun 
Sega Saturn Virtua Gun
Saturn Controller 
Sega Saturn Controller
Saturn Extended RAM Expansion 
Sega Saturn Extended RAM Expansion
Saturn Modem 
Sega Saturn Modem
Saturn Multi-Controller 
Sega Saturn Multi-Controller
     Visitor insights and feedback
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