Although massively overshadowed (particularly in the west) by the Sony Playstation, the Sega Saturn shouldn’t be dismissed by gamers. There were some big name releases, many of which were not released on other systems. Fortunately the Saturn is relatively inexpensive to get into – the system will set you back about £20-£30 and the most common games can be picked up for just a few pounds.
When buying a Saturn console, ensure that it includes the RF (or Scart) lead as these aren’t terribly common – also ensure that the cable is in good condition as they can be prone to missing pins. The power lead however, is easily replaced as it is a standard cable as used by the Playstation 1 & 2, Dreamcast and Xbox.
Quite often with second-hand Sega Saturn systems, the internal battery will need replacing. This is easy and inexpensive to do. The battery type required is a CR2032 and at the back of the machine, there is a cover that can be removed, revealing the battery compartment. Simply swap the battery out for the new one and then when you turn on the machine, you’ll be able to store the system date and time (helpful for games like NiGHTS which reveal extras depending on the system date) and use the console for game saves.
Essential Sega Saturn Hardware
- The Sega Saturn Console itself.
- A Scart Lead (failing that, an RF cable).
- A Power Lead
- A Joypad, ideally two. Most of the unofficial pads are nearly as good as the official controllers.
Other Saturn Hardware
- A Memory Cartridge. This slots into the port at the back of the console and provides extra game save space. Ideal if you’re running low on space on the Console’s in-built memory. Some models of memory cartridges also allow you to play Import games too so this can be a very cheap method for playing the vast catalogue of Saturn Imports too. However, if you do follow this route, bear in mind that you will not be able to play the Import games that come with a RAM cartridge for more memory as the slot will be in use! Again, some Cartridges cater for this too.
- The Official Steering Wheel. For that complete Sega Rally experience, the wheel is recommended. There are a few other good driving games too, such as Daytona USA that benefit from the better control of the wheel. Be wary when buying these online/mail order as they are quite heavy and will incur rather high postage
- The Sega Lightgun (also called the Stunner/Virtua Gun). Excellent for Virtua Cop 1 & 2 and The House of the Dead. All three games support two players too.
- The Sega Multi Tap – Not too many games utilised the multi tap, the most famous being Saturn Bomberman which, through the use of two taps, allowed up to ten players at once.
‘Luxury’ Saturn Hardware
- 3D Controller – This was released specifically for conjunction with NiGHTS. It basically provides 360 directional control.
- Twin Sticks. These were released in conjunction with Virtua On to provide arcade-perfect control of the robots in the game. They’ve since become rather rare
- Densha De Go! Controller – This controller was designed specifically for the train-driving game Densha De Go! (Not released outside Japan) so they’re rather a novelty
- Video CD Upgrade Card – This add-on enables the Saturn to play VCDs.
- Photo CD Operating System – This CD enable Kodak Photo CDs to be viewed on the Saturn.
There are other, more obscure items of Saturn hardware around, like the Pachinko controller but you will seldom come across these.
Personal Game Recommendations
RPG – Shining Force III, Shining the Holy Ark, Dark Savior
Driving – Sega Rally
Shoot-em-up – Radiant Silvergun (Japanese Import), Parodius, Panzer Dragoon II, Virtua Cop II
Platform – Sonic Jam
Puzzle – Magical Drop II & III (Japanese Import), Puzzle Bobble 2X
Sports – Athlete Kings
Other – NiGHTS, Sega Ages, Virtua Fighter 2