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Sega Saturn
SegaSaturn.png
A Japanese Sega Saturn unit, with games and a controller
Manufacturer Sega
Type Video game console
Generation Fifth generation era
Retail availability JP November 22, 1994
NA May 11, 1995
EU July 8, 1995
AUS July 8, 1995
Discontinued NA April 3, 1999
EU 1998
AUS 1998
JP January 5, 2001
Units sold Worldwide: 17 million/9 million
Media CD-ROM, CD+G
CPU 2 x Hitachi SH-2 32-bit RISC (28.6 MHz)
Storage capacity Internal RAM, cartridge
Graphics VDP1 & VDP2
Online services Sega NetLink, SegaNet (XBAND spin-off)
Best-selling game Virtua Fighter 2 (1.7 million in Japan)[1]
Predecessor Mega Drive/Genesis
Successor Dreamcast
North American/European "Round Button" Saturn (black)

The Sega Saturn (セガサターン?) is a 32-bit video game console that was first released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The system was discontinued in Europe and Australia in 1998, April 1999 in North America, and in 2000 in Japan.[2]

While the system was popular in Japan due to its successful marketing such as with the character Segata Sanshiro, it failed to gain a similar market share in North America and Europe against its competitors PlayStation and Nintendo 64.

According to a July 2007 GamePro article, the Saturn had sold 9.5 million units.[2] However in Invisible Engines: How Software Platforms Drive Innovation and Transform Industries (on p. 131) it was stated that the console had sold 17 million units.

Contents

Development

Sega's 27-member Away Team, comprising employees from hardware engineering, product development and marketing, worked for two years to design the Sega Saturn's hardware. The Saturn was a powerful machine for the time, but its design, with two CPUs and six other processors, made harnessing this power extremely difficult. Also, many of the ancillary chips in the system were "off the shelf" components, increasing the complexity of the system because the components were not specifically designed to work together. Rumors suggest that the original design called for a single central processor, but upon hearing of the PlayStation's capabilities, a second processor was added late in development to increase potential performance.

One very fast central processor would be preferable. I don't think all programmers have the ability to program two CPUs—most can only get about one-and-a-half times the speed you can get from one SH-2. I think that only 1 in 100 programmers are good enough to get this kind of speed [nearly double] out of the Saturn.

Yu Suzuki reflecting upon Saturn Virtua Fighter development.[3]

Third-party development was initially hindered by the lack of useful software libraries and development tools, requiring developers to write in assembly language to achieve good performance. At least during early Saturn development, programming in assembly could offer a two to fivefold speed increase over the C language.[3] To save development costs and time, some programmers would utilize only one CPU. One such case was with Alien Trilogy.

The implementation of dual CPUs within the Saturn was not ideal. The biggest disadvantage of the architecture was that both processors shared the same bus and had problems accessing the main system RAM at the same time. The 4 KB of cache memory in each CPU was critical to maintaining performance. In general, very careful division of processing, in addition to the already-challenging task of parallelizing the code, was required to get the most out of the Saturn. One example of how the Saturn was utilized was with Virtua Fighter's use of one CPU for each character.[3]

Compared to the PlayStation, the Saturn's hardware was difficult to work with because of its more complex graphics hardware and lesser overall performance, as noted by Lobotomy Software programmer Ezra Dreisbach.[4] In order to bring Duke Nukem 3D and PowerSlave/Exhumed to the Saturn, Lobotomy Software had to almost entirely rewrite the Build engine to get adequate performance from the Saturn.[4] Also, during testing of an unreleased Quake port for the PlayStation, the Saturn's performance was found to be notably inferior for the game.[4]

The Saturn version of Shenmue.

Unlike the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 which used triangles as its basic geometric primitive, the Saturn rendered quadrilaterals. This proved to be a hindrance because most of the industry's standard design tools were based around triangles. One of the challenges brought forth by quadrilateral-based rendering was problems with making some shapes, notably triangular objects. This can be seen in the Saturn version of Tomb Raider, in which triangular rocks are not rendered as well as other systems' versions of the game.[4] The hardware also lacked light sourcing and hardware video decompression support, the latter being a major disadvantage during a time when full-motion video was quite popular.

Still, if used correctly, the quadrilateral rendering of the Saturn had advantages. It could potentially show less texture distortion than was common with PlayStation titles, as demonstrated by several cross-platform titles such as Wipeout and Destruction Derby. The quadrilateral-focused hardware and a 50% greater amount of video memory also gave the Saturn an advantage for 2D game engines and attracted many developers of RPGs, arcade games and traditional 2D fighting games. With creative programming, later games like Burning Rangers were able to achieve true transparency effects on hardware that used simple polygon stipples as a replacement for transparency effects in the past.

The cartridge slot was useful for adding extra RAM or storage devices for saving games to the system. One ROM cartridge was released with King of Fighters '95. which contained part of the game data because not enough RAM was available. Two different RAM cartridges were released for the system; a 1 MB RAM cart by SNK for King of Fighters '96 and a 4 MB RAM cart by Capcom for X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. Both companies were known for their sprite-based 2D competitive fighting games and many of their subsequent games utilized their respective cartridges.

Performance in the marketplace

The optional analog controller (North American and European version) that came packaged with Nights into Dreams...

Japan

The Japanese Saturn was released in November 1994, just a few weeks ahead of its rival, Sony's PlayStation.[5] Approximately 170,000 machines were sold the first day the console went on sale.

Many of the games that made the Saturn popular in Japan, such as the Sakura Taisen series and various console role-playing games, or even most Japanese games in general, were never released in foreign territories as it was assumed at Sega of America and Sega of Europe that they were not appealing to a Western audience.

The last commercial licensed release in Japan and last official game for the system was Yuukyuu Gensoukyoku Hozonban Perpetual Collection, released by MediaWorks on December 4, 2000.

North America

By the end of 1994, the 16-bit video game era was in twilight in North America and gamers were eagerly anticipating the new 32-bit machines from Japan. In early 1995, Sega president Tom Kalinske announced that the Saturn would launch in the U.S. on "Saturnday", (Saturday) September 2, 1995. This date was greatly anticipated by gamers and the media. It also allowed Sony to announce that the PlayStation release date would be one week later on September 9, 1995.

However, at the first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in May 1995, Kalinske announced that the "Saturnday" date was a ruse and that the system was being released nationwide by a few select retailers immediately (May 11, 1995). It appeared that Sega had a real opportunity to take a commanding 4-month lead in the 32-bit race by beating the PlayStation to the market.

The "surprise attack" launch backfired on Sega for several reasons. The Saturn was released at a high price point of US$399, while Sony announced a US$299 price for the PlayStation at E3 itself, as a response to the Saturn's earlier release.[6]

The early launch also meant that the Saturn had only a handful of games available at the moment, as most third party games were slated to be completed and rolled out around the original September 2 launch date, and as many successful Japanese titles were not imported. Third party publishers, particularly these based in North America, were angered as the surprise launch prevented them from capitalizing on the momentum inherent in an anticipated, planned release. Essentially the only software available on the shelves at launch was software released by Sega. Many within the gaming industry viewed the early launch as a calculated move to give Sega larger sales of Saturn software at the expense of independent developers.

In addition, the retailers who were not included in the early launch (most notably Wal-Mart and KB Toys) felt betrayed, with some retaliating by supporting Sega's rivals. This resulted in Sega having difficulties with these distributors for the Saturn (and also for its successor, the Dreamcast). For example, Sega's actions so angered KB Toys that they refused to release the Saturn at all, and actually went as far as having some retailers remove anything Sega-related in stores to provide more retail space for the Saturn's competition instead.

By the time of the PlayStation's release on September 9, 1995, the Saturn had sold approximately 80,000 systems. The PlayStation sold over 100,000 units upon release in the U.S., and Sega's dreams of early domination of the new generation of hardware were quickly forgotten.

From 1995–1997 the Saturn became the "other" system, running a distant third behind the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation. However, it was the preferred system for many arcade and import gamers . These gamers eagerly anticipated having Sega's arcade games ported to the system, and many of the popular and most preferred games were available in Japan only. Sales of the Saturn would generally spike as new arcade ports were released, but would die off again shortly after. By the end of 1997, Sega had announced that it would develop a successor (the Dreamcast), causing console sales and game releases to drop dramatically.

The Saturn's commercial failure caused Sega to lose US$267.9 million and lay off 30% of its workforce.[7]

Europe

Despite the success of Sega's previous consoles in Europe and although the Sega Saturn was launched in Europe in July 1995—a few months before the newcomer PlayStation's release—the momentum for Sony's console amongst consumers began to build rapidly, stalling Saturn sales in the region. As a result, the Sega Saturn never enjoyed the success it achieved in Japan or even the post-launch hype the machine was awarded in North America, leaving the market almost solely in the competition's hands. By the time that the Nintendo 64 hit European shelves in early 1997, the Saturn's sales had long since stagnated.

The last commercial licensed release in Europe was a survival horror game called Deep Fear, released by Sega Europe in November 1998.

However, support for the Sega Saturn in the UK was bolstered by the successful publication of Sega Saturn Magazine.

End of an era

As price drops continued throughout the 32-bit era, the system board design of the Saturn was not as easy to condense in a cost-saving manner and Sega fell behind after price drops offered by Nintendo and Sony. As a marketing strategy, Sega bundled three of its best selling games (Daytona USA, Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter 2) with the system in order to keep the more expensive Saturn competitive with its rivals. This gave the console a boost in sales, but it was too little, too late.

The Saturn's motherboard was complex and difficult to consolidate, making it expensive to produce.

By early 1997, the Saturn was trailing the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation in both North America and Europe to such an extent that senior management began planning a new platform and, by E3 in 1997, had begun talk of the system called the Katana (which would later be named the Dreamcast). Sega of America President Bernie Stolar, who was strongly in favor of the upcoming console, announced "The Saturn is not our [SEGA's] future."[8][9]

As Sega began public discussion about their next generation system, barely two years after having launched the Saturn, it became a self-defeating prophecy, some citing it as an example of the Osborne effect. This move, combined with Sega's recent history of short-lived consoles, particularly the Sega CD and 32X which were considered ill-conceived "stopgaps" that turned off gamers and developers alike, led to a chain reaction that quickly caused the Saturn's future to collapse. Immediately following the announcement, sales of the console and software substantially tapered off in the second half of 1997, while many planned games were canceled, causing the console's life expectancy to shorten substantially.[citation needed] While this let Sega focus on bringing out its successor, premature demise of the Saturn caused them financial problems. Even though the Dreamcast did address many of the problems with the Saturn, Sega's bad reputation caused customers and publishers to be skeptical and holdout to see how it would fare against Sony's PlayStation 2.[citation needed]

The aggressive move to replace the Saturn resulted in a rift between Sega and many of their third-party developers and publishers. North American developers were already hostile to the Saturn because it was difficult to program for, and because they were left out by its early release, so the future project alienated what remaining support Sega had in that region.[citation needed] However, many Japanese developers had strongly supported the Saturn in its homeland and saw little reason for Sega to rush another platform to market. The announcement caused a substantial drop in software sales, causing frustrated third parties to cancel many planned releases.[citation needed] The early abandonment of the Saturn hurt third party software support not only for that system, but also for Sega in general. Several major publishers such as Electronic Arts declined to support the upcoming Dreamcast, which played a part in its discontinuation as well.[citation needed]

Several games intended for release in North America or Europe were canceled. These titles include Sonic X-treme, Policenauts and Lunar: Silver Star Story, the latter two remaining as Japanese market exclusives. Further cancellations in 1998 followed cutting the western release lists down to titles such as Steep Slope Sliders, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Burning Rangers, The House of the Dead, Shining Force III (One part in a 3 part series), Magic Knight Rayearth (North America) and Deep Fear (Europe).

The Saturn was discontinued in 1998 in most countries, on April 3, 1999 in North America, and in 2000 in Japan.[citation needed]

Saturn models

Asian models

In Japan, Sega licensed the rights to produce Saturns to their hardware partners – Hitachi, who provided the CPUs and several other chips, and JVC who produced the CD drives for most models, although functionally identical Sanyo drives were sometimes used. SunSeibu released a model with a 7-CD changer for use in hotels. The concept of a multi-game player for hotel use is very common in Japan.

Manufacturer and model Case color Button color Type of buttons Notes
Sega HST-3200 Gray Blue Oval The original Japanese Saturn. This model had a black cartridge flap and came in a box labeled HST-0001. The power cord is un-notched and this machine has a drive access light.
Sega HST-3210 Gray Blue Oval Second model. It looks the same as the HST-3200 but the inside layout is similar to the early model HST-3220. Production was ended in favor of the White Saturn.
Sega HST-3220 White Gray/Pink Round Sega switched from blue to gray & pink buttons during the production run. This controller was a matching white with multi-colored buttons similar to a Super Famicom controller with the bottom row buttons colored green, yellow, and blue. The 'white' plastic is a very light gray and shares its color with the later Dreamcast. The cartridge flap is visibly gray. Limited models of the Saturn had oval buttons. Later units have some compatibility problems.
Sega Skeleton Saturn (HST-3220) Translucent black Black Round Included a matching translucent black controller. Both controller and system had "This is cool" printed on them. Only around 50,000 were produced. Has some compatibility problems, notably with Metal Slug, Out Run, and Space Harrier.
Sega Derby Saturn (HST-3220) Translucent blue Black Round Released on March 25, 1999, this model was only available as part of a promotion with ASCII's popular horse racing sim, Derby Stallion. It came with the same translucent black controller as the Skeleton Saturn but did not have "This is cool" printed on the system. After limited supplies of the Skeleton Saturn, the Derby Saturn was quickly bought in bulk by exporters and for a time was easier to find outside Japan than inside. Shares the compatibility problems of the Skeleton Saturn.

Uses BIOS 1.0.1.

Hitachi Hi-Saturn (MMP-11 and MMP-1) Charcoal Khaki Round/Oval This machine appears similar in color to the European and North American Saturn without close inspection. Hi-Saturn is printed on the CD drive lid. Controllers have the same color layout as the unit with pinkish-beige and dark bluish/gray buttons. The Hitachi logo appears on them. The machine was packaged in an almost all-black box with a light-gray/white border. Excepting some limited promotional bundles, the Hi-Saturn came packaged with an MPEG plug-in card allowing Video CD playback. The start-up screen differs slightly from other models – instead of a shower of pieces forming the Saturn logo, the word "Hi-Saturn" shoots out from the middle of the screen and then flips around until it is readable.
Hitachi Hi-Saturn Navi (MMP-1000NV) Charcoal Khaki Round This is the only consumer Saturn to differ in functionality or shape. It is much thinner, and is flat instead of curved on top, in order to accommodate a folding LCD monitor that clips to the rear. It includes GPS capability, and has a standard port on the rear for use with an included antenna. Navi-ken CDs are used for map data. Since Navi-ken was only available in Japan, only Japanese maps are available.
JVC/Victor V-Saturn RG-JX1 Gray Blue/Gray Oval Resembles the first Japanese Sega Saturn with oval buttons and access light. "V-Saturn" is printed on top of the machine. Features a V-Saturn logo in place of the Sega Saturn logo at boot-up.
JVC/Victor V-Saturn RG-JX2 Light Gray/Dark Gray Blue/Green/Pink Round Resembles the white Japanese Sega Saturn with round buttons. Case is light gray on top, with a darker gray base. Features a V-Saturn logo in place of the Sega Saturn logo at boot-up.
Samsung Saturn
(삼성새턴)
Black - Oval Intended only for South Korea, this machine combines the older style oval-button shell with the smaller and newer mainboard which normally comes with a round-button shell. The Japanese language option was removed from the setup screen on some models. These models also use the North American region code. Samsung later released a conversion kit for Japanese games.[10][11]

North American models

All North American models are black in color and were produced by Sega.

Model Type of Buttons Manufacturing Period Notes
MK-80000 Oval 6/95 – 4/96 Identical to the Grey Japanese Saturn except for color: the U.S. model is black. A few have been found with the backend molding of the MK-80000A and the notched power cord using the 1.00a BIOS version.
MK-80000A Round 4/96 – 10/96 Features a notched power cord, no drive access light and a 1.00a BIOS. Internal jumper locations are changed.
MK-80001 Round 7/96 – 98 Similar in appearance to the MK-80000A, this machine has some changed internal jumper locations.

Early models came packaged with a redesigned controller that was slightly bigger than the Japanese variant. Eventually the Japanese controller was adopted.

European/Australian models

Sega Saturn Start-up Screen (NA and PAL Version)

European and Australian Saturns are identical as both regions share the same AC voltage and TV standard. There is no internal variation between PAL and SÉCAM machines as all were shipped with SCART leads. All models are black and externally quite similar to the North American variations. PAL and SECAM machines will have "PAL" next to the BIOS revision number on the system settings screen instead of "NTSC".

Model Type of Buttons Notes
MK-08200-03 Oval Drive access LED and black buttons.
MK-80200-50 Oval Version 1.01a BIOS.
MK-80200A-50 Round Lacks a drive access LED. Buttons are grey.

Technical specifications

Processors

  • Two Hitachi SuperH-2 7604 32-bit RISC processors at 28.63 MHz (25 MIPS)—each has 4 kB on-chip cache, of which 2 kB can alternatively be used as directly addressable Scratchpad RAM
  • SH-1 32-bit RISC processor (controlling the CD-ROM) (originally this was going to be the only processor until Sega heard of the PlayStation specs)
  • Custom VDP 1 32-bit video display processor (running at 7.1590 MHz on NTSC Systems, 6.7116 MHz for PAL Systems)
  • Custom VDP 2 32-bit video display processor (running at 7.1590 MHz on NTSC Systems, 6.7116 MHz for PAL Systems)
  • Custom System Control Unit (SCU) with DSP for geometry processing and DMA controller (running at 14.3 MHz)
  • Motorola 68EC000 sound controller (running at 11.3 MHz / 1.5 MIPS)
  • Yamaha FH1 DSP sound processor, "Saturn Custom Sound Processor" (SCSP), running at 22.6 MHz
  • Hitachi 4-bit MCU, "System Manager & Peripheral Control" (SMPC)

Memory

  • 1 MB SDRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (faster)
  • 1 MB DRAM as work RAM for both SH-2 CPUs (slower)
  • 512K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Texture data for polygon/sprites and drawing command lists)
  • 2x 256K VDP1 SDRAM for 3D graphics (Two framebuffers for double-buffered polygon/sprite rendering)
  • 512K VDP2 SDRAM for 2D graphics (Texture data for the background layers and display lists)
  • 4 KB VDP2 SRAM for color palette data and rotation coefficient data (local, on-chip SRAM)
  • 512 KB DRAM for sound. (Multiplexed as sound CPU work RAM, SCSP DSP RAM, and SCSP wavetable RAM)
  • 512 KB DRAM as work RAM for the CD-ROM subsystem's SH-1 CPU
  • 32 KB SRAM with battery back-up for data retention.
  • 512 KB Mask ROM for the SH-2 BIOS

Audio

SCSP 1st version.

The Saturn Custom Sound Processor (SCSP) is manufactured by Yamaha and consists of several components.

The SCSP is a multi-function game sound generator LSI that consists of a PCM sound generator and DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). The SCSP creates and processes sound mixes. It contains a 32-slot sound generator and sound effect DSP, a 16-channel digital mixer and timer, and an interrupt controller. The Saturn's audio RAM is connected directly to the SCSP, and is used to store the sound programs (i.e. Cybersound) or raw waveform samples. The SCSP can support up to 32 channels for PCM playback, or eight channels for FM synthesis modulation. Maximum sample rate for PCM samples is 44.1 kHz (CD quality). The SCSP is MIDI compliant, and can be hooked up to external equipment (such as keyboards).

The 128 step DSP is capable of generating special effects such as reverberation and different room acoustics.

The entire SCSP is controlled by a single Motorola 68EC000 16-bit CPU running at 11.3 MHz. The MC68EC000 is essentially the same as (and compatible with) the M68000 used in the Mega Drive and several other consoles, but without the eight-bit MC6800 interface. The SCSP can be directly accessed by the MC68EC000 and both SH-2s.

The SCSP is limited by the small amount of RAM made available to it, and lack of hardware sample compression.

  • 22.6 MHz Yamaha FH1 digital signal processor
  • Any of 32 slots can be linked together for multiple operators per FM sound channel
  • Usually four operators used per slot for eight FM channels total
  • 44.1 kHz sampling rate

Video

VDP1 1st version

The Sega Saturn is equipped with dual custom VDP chips for graphics processing. The VDP1 chip is primarily responsible for sprite generation. Polygon generation is accomplished through manipulation of the sprite engine. Texture mapping and Gouraud shading is also handled by the VDP1.

The VDP1 renders primitives to two 256 kB frame buffers that can be configured as 512x512x8 or 512x256x16 (Virtua Fighter 2 was the first game to use high resolution, at 60 frame/s on Consoles). Having two frame buffers allows double buffering of the display and provides more time for rendering. The active framebuffer is read out to the display by the VDP2, which can apply data from a coefficient table to modify the scanning process, for effects like rotation, scaling, and general distortion of the entire frame buffer as a single entity.

The SCU (system bus control unit) provides DMA across a dedicated bus commonly labeled as the "B-bus" that the VDP2 and VDP1 are connected to, allowing transfer of data from them to and from main memory. Keep note that transferring data from and to the same bus is prohibited by all 3 SCU DMA levels.

  • Rendering engine for command tables: textured and non-textured polygons, untextured "polygons," "polylines," and lines along with command tables that controls the frame buffer.
  • "Sprites" are textured polygons with specific rendering modes:
  • Normal sprite (one point), shrunk/scaled sprite (two points), distorted sprite (four points)
  • Other rendering modes:
    • Overwrite (replace frame buffer contents)
    • Shadow (underlying frame buffer pixels rewritten with 1/2 brightness, primitive not drawn)
    • Half luminosity (primitive rendered with 1/2 brightness)
    • Half transparency (primitive and underlying framebuffer pixels averaged together)
    • Gouraud shading for RGB-format textures only
    • Dual 256KB frame buffers
    • Programmable frame buffer depth of 8 or 16 bits per pixel
    • Automatic erase feature to clear framebuffer with single color

Some commonly quoted specifications are highly dependent on the rendering modes for the polygons and other factors that burden the system load:

  • 200,000 texture-mapped polygons per second
  • 500,000 flat-shaded polygons per second
  • 60 frames of animation per second

In order to better understand the differences between the PS1 GPU and Saturn VDP1 rendering capabilities, here are some varying factors:

PS1 GPU

  • The GPU has a 2 kB texture cache.
  • The GPU has a unified 1 MB block of memory for the texture data and frame buffers. This allows for complex effects where the framebuffer is in turn applied as a texture again.
  • The framebuffer portion of the GPU RAM must be manually erased.
  • Commands are sent to the GPU via DMA, buffered in a FIFO, and executed in the order of being sent.

Saturn VDP1

  • The VDP1 has no texture cache.
  • VDP1 memory is split: 512 kB for texture data / command lists, 256 kB for one framebuffer and 256 kB for another.
  • The two frame buffers have a high-speed auto-erase feature.
  • Commands are stored in a linked list in RAM, multiple lists can be stored, the list can be processed by the VDP1 without wasting a DMA channel.
VDP2 1st version.

The VDP 2 serves as the Sega Saturn's background processor. Certain special effects such as texture transparency and playfield rotation and scrolling (up to five fields at any given time) are handled here.

Both the VDP2 and VDP1 32-bit video display processor have direct access to the both SH2s, as well as direct memory access (DMA) to both the main and video RAM.

  • Background engine
  • Four simultaneous scrolling backgrounds
  • Uses 8x8 or 16x16 tiles or bitmap display per background
  • Programmable memory access controller for VDP2 VRAM
  • Two simultaneous rotating playfields
  • VDP2 can rotate VDP1 framebuffer position while scanning out to display for rotation effects
  • Color RAM supports 15-bit (32768 colors) and 24-bit (16.7 million colors) display modes
  • Programmable priority at the per-background / per-tile / per-pixel levels
  • Background color tinting/fading, and transparency effects
  • Background blur effect (gradation) to simulate distance

Programmable display resolution:

  • Horizontal sizes of 320, 352, 640, 704 pixels
  • Vertical sizes of 224, 240, 256 scanlines, non-interlaced
  • Vertical sizes of 448, 480, 512 scanlines, interlaced (only PAL consoles support 256 and 512 scanline displays)
  • Hi-Vision (EDTV) and 31 kHz (VGA) display support:
  • 31 kHz: 320×480 or 640×480, non-interlaced (progressive scan)
  • Hi-Vision: 352×480 or 704×480, non-interlaced (progressive scan)

Storage

The Sega Saturn video game console features a double speed CD-ROM drive manufactured by JVC-Victor (some models may have been manufactured by Hitachi or Sanyo). The drive has a transfer rate of 320 KB/s, and a 512 KB data cache. Drive related functions are controlled via a single Hitachi SH1 32-bit RISC processor operating at 20 MHz.

Input/output

  • Two 7-bit bidirectional parallel I/O ports (controller ports)
  • High-speed serial communications port (Both SH2 SCI channels and SCSP MIDI, also used for the Serial port)
  • Cartridge connector
  • Internal expansion port for optional MPEG adapter card (different models available from Sega, JVC, and Hitachi)
  • Composite video/audio (standard)
  • NTSC/PAL RF (optional RF adapter required)
  • S-Video compatible (optional cable required)
  • RGB compatible (optional cable required)
  • EDTV/Hi-Vision compatible (custom cable required, not commonly available)

While the Saturn graphics hardware is capable of VGA (progressive/non-interlaced) video, no existing retail software ever used this mode and the system cannot force any such software to run in this mode. Moreover, neither Sega nor third-party manufacturers produced or sold the cables required to support such high-resolution modes on any type of display.

Power source

  • AC120 volts; 60 Hz (US)
  • AC240 volts; 50 Hz (EU)
  • AC100 volts; 60 Hz (JP)
  • 3 volt lithium battery to power non-volatile RAM and SMPC internal real-time clock
  • Power Consumption: 25 W
  • Power Consumption: 12 W (JP)

Dimensions (US/European model)

  • Width: 260 mm (10.2 in)
  • Length: 230 mm (9.0 in)
  • Height: 83 mm (3.2 in)

Errata

VDP1 transparency rendering quirk causes strips of pixels to be rewritten to framebuffer for 2-point (scaled) and 4-point (quadrangle) "sprites", applying the transparency effect multiple times. Rarely seen in commercial games (Robotica explosions), later titles implemented software transparency via direct framebuffer access to correctly render polygons (Dural in Virtua Fighter Kids).

Another technique developed for pseudo-hardware transparency was to rasterize polygons using one or two pixel tall sprites with transparency enabled to fill in horizontal spans. Because 2 of the 4 quadrangle points were identical, there was no framebuffer rewrite during rendering.

The Linux kernel contains code specifically designed for the Saturn; it is unclear if this effort was ever completed.[citation needed]

Compatibility

In addition to playing games, all of the Saturn models could play music CDs, CD+G, and CD+EG discs. A software disc was sold by Sega to allow the playing of PhotoCDs ('Photo CD Operating System'). An MPEG decoding hardware module was released by Sega, JVC and Hitachi, allowing VideoCD playback. JVC later released a VideoCD module that included the software for displaying PhotoCDs, eliminating the need for a software disc. However, these modules were releases in Japan only due to the popularity of the Video CD Format. In order to use one on a North American Saturn, a region converter must be used.

There were some titles that could be played on both North American and Japanese consoles. Street Fighter Alpha 2 was one of the titles that could be played on both regions systems without a converter. Scud: The Disposable Assassin, which was only released in the North America, was compatible with both European and Japanese Saturns, in addition to North American Saturns. It is one of the very few region-free Sega Saturn games.[12]

Marketing techniques

Segata Sanshiro

In 1996, Sega started a marketing campaign that featured a naked woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. It used screenshots from the games to cover her breasts and pubic area.[13] It was very successful, and Electronic Gaming Monthly selected the campaign as the best ad during the 1997 Buyer's Guide.

For a time, Sega mailed out videotapes containing an infomercial advertising its system to potential customers. It ran roughly eight minutes long and featured gameplay footage and a collection of Saturn commercials. It has become somewhat infamous for its bizarre content (a bald woman with a ring around her head, a dancing slacker, etc).[14] The launch advertising campaign in the United States, titled "The Theater of the Eye", was also in this unusual style, describing psychological effects of playing the Saturn.[15]

One marketing technique used by Sega to promote the Sega Saturn was Segata Sanshiro (せがた三四郎 Segata Sanshirō?), a parody of Sanshiro Sugata portrayed by Hiroshi Fujioka.[16] He is a Judo master who tracks down and punishes those who do not play the Sega Saturn.[17] He uses two catch phrases, "You must play the Sega Saturn!" (セガサターン、シロ! Sega Satān, shiro!?) and "Sega Saturn, White" (セガサターン、白 Sega Satān, Shiro?), which sound similar to his name. Sanshiro lives as a hermit high on a mountain, devoting his life to intensive Sega Saturn training. He trains physically every day by carrying around a giant Sega Saturn on his back and punching buttons on its giant controller, as well as mentally by breaking stacks of Nintendo 64 cartridges with his head. The character dies in his final commercial, where he sacrifices himself to stop a missile launched at the Tokyo headquarters of Sega. He appears in the games Segata Sanshirō Shinken Yūgi and Rent-a-Hero No. 1 and was also considered for Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing[18]. He was received with critical acclaim in Japan.[19] The Sanshiro character was originally planned to be in the Dreamcast title Segagaga, but licensing issues prevented this from happening.

Another notable commercial was released right after the Nintendo 64's launch. It consisted of Nintendo 64's launched into the air like clay pigeons and then shot one at a time. It was referred to as a "Pretendo" and at the end of the commercial the narrator said, "Face it Pretendo, you weren't worth waiting for."

During the first year-and-a-half of the Saturn's US life, Sega also had a marketing campaign similar to the one used for the Sega Genesis in the early-90's, where they would directly attack the PlayStation through a series of aggressive MTV-styled ads. Typically, they would showcase a Saturn exclusive like Nights Into Dreams... and end with a reminder that such a game was "not on PlayStation." In some advertisements for the core Saturn system, Sega also boasted that the system had two 32-bit processors while the PlayStation only had one (ironically, the careless implementation of these "two 32-bit processors" would prove to be a key factor in the Saturn's demise).

A device resembling a Saturn appears briefly in Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 23, with a Sega-badged TV. Sega was a sponsor of the program and the movies.[citation needed] Another device resembling a Saturn also appears briefly in You're Under Arrest episode 48, with the case opened and being repaired by Miyuki.[citation needed] A Sega Saturn can be seen in the movies, Mallrats, First Kid, and Dead man on Campus.[citation needed] Also in the Jet Li movie Black Mask, Tracy Lee is playing a Sega Saturn with various games while she is being held hostage by Tsui Chik, with two of the games being Virtua Fighter and Darius Gaiden.[citation needed]

The Sega Saturn was also prominently featured atop Drew Carey's TV in The Drew Carey Show for some time, even after its discontinuation. Eventually, in Season 6, it was replaced with a Dreamcast.[citation needed] In Shenmue for the Dreamcast, a Sega Saturn can be seen in Ryo's TV Room in his house, which can be played on later in the game. (If you win the games in the ingame contest)[citation needed] In "Choukou Senshi Changerion" the main character owned a Sega Saturn that was prominently displayed on top of his TV, this was done also because the toys and show were sponsored by Sega.[citation needed] In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida are seen with a Sega Saturn and Asuka Langley Soryu is seen playing a video game with a Sega Saturn type controller.

Accessories

DirectLink

The DirectLink (also known as Link Cable) is a device that enables two Sega Saturns to connect to each other for multiplayer gameplay. The device requires two televisions and two copies of the same game.

Action Replay

The Action Replay can be used to change the code of certain games in order to gain access to features not meant to be accessed or to advance further into a game using cheats. Another feature of the Action Replay was the ability to back-up saved games for when the battery dies. It was also possible to play imported games from any region without any modification to the system.

Arcade Racer

Arcade Racer is a type of joystick designed after a steering wheel for the Sega Saturn. As the controller is an analog control mechanism, it possesses a smoother response and is considered ideal for a variety of Sega Saturn games, such as:

Storage Cards

Utilizing the cartridge slot behind the CD tray, portable storage cards are inserted to store game information such as high scores and saved game files. This was one of the few accessories for the Sega Saturn to be available to third-party manufacturers.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Japan Platinum Game Chart". The Magic Box. http://www.the-magicbox.com/topten2.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  2. ^ a b Blake Snow (2007-07-30). "The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time". GamePro. http://www.gamepro.com/gamepro/domestic/games/features/111822.shtml. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  3. ^ a b c "Sega Saturn." Next Generation magazine, February 1995: 43.
  4. ^ a b c d "Interview: Ezra Dreisbach". Curmudgeon Gamer. 2002-07-09. http://curmudgeongamer.com/article.php?story=20021008212903265. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  5. ^ "Saturn Release Information for Saturn - GameFAQs". GameFAQs. http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/saturn/data/916393.html. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  6. ^ Rudden, Dave. "Eight Extremely Embarrassing E3 Moments". http://www.gamepro.com/sony/ps3/games/features/199528.shtml. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  "at the same E3: Sony's keynote speaker went up on stage, said "Two hundred and Ninety-Nine Dollars" and walked off the stage."
  7. ^ "Sega Dreamcast". Game Makers. G4 (TV channel), Los Angeles. 2008-08-20. No. 302.
  8. ^ IGN Presents the History of SEGA
  9. ^ E3: Past, Present, and Future
  10. ^ "The Samsung Saturn Revisited". NFGgames.com. http://nfggames.com/neography/pivot/entry.php?id=217. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  11. ^ "Samsung Saturn – it does exist...". NFGgames.com. http://nfggames.com/games/grafx/samsat.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  12. ^ MULTIPLE REGION GAMES AND DEMOS[1]Satakore
  13. ^ Sega Saturn Advertisement (JPEG)
  14. ^ System - Infomercial
  15. ^ Press release
  16. ^ SEGATA SANSHIRO! Article
  17. ^ "Segata Sanshiro! commercials". http://synbios.net/segata/index.html. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  18. ^ http://www.tssznews.com/2009/12/02/segata-sanshiro-considered-for-asr-but-unlikely/
  19. ^ Sparrow X. "Segata Sanshiro! Article". http://retrojunk.com/details_articles/342/. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Sega Saturn article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Sega Saturn
The console image for Sega Saturn.
Manufacturer Sega
Active 19941998
Total Games 281 (78 present)
← Sega Genesis Sega Dreamcast →

Launched in Japan on November 22, 1994, the CD-based Sega Saturn was the second-last home console to be released by Sega before their departure from the market, and its commercial failure is largely blamed for the company's eventual separation from non-arcade hardware.

Although technically very advanced, the Saturn's complex architecture made developing games for the console extremely difficult, which caused most third-party developers to opt for the more straightforward PlayStation.

Difficulties which arose when attempting to condense (and therefore cheapen) the intricate hardware also caused problems for Sega when it came to price cuts, losing further consumer interest.

Notably, the Saturn was released in the US and Europe four months ahead of schedule, following a PR war between Sega's representatives and Sony's. Unfortunately, the Saturn's high $399 price didn't compare well with the announced PlayStation launch price of $299.

External links

  • "SegaSaturn.co.uk" – A very active online community and information point for all things Sega Saturn.

Pages in category "Sega Saturn"

The following 78 pages are in this category, out of 78 total.

A

B

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E

F

G

H

I

J

K

M

M cont.

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  • Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
  • Out Run

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R

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S cont.

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  • Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness
  • Worms

X


Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

Sega Saturn
Manufacturer Sega
Type Console
Release Date November 22, 1994 (JP)

May 11, 1995 (NA)
July 8, 1995 (EU)

Media CD-ROM
Save Format
Input Options Controller
Special Features
Units Sold 10 million worldwide
Top Selling Game Virtua Fighter 2
Variants
Competitor(s) PlayStation
Nintendo 64
Predecessor Sega Genesis, Sega CD
Successor Sega Dreamcast


The Sega Saturn was a console released by Sega in Japan on the November 22, 1994. It is generally seen as an (undeserved, in some eyes) failure, being totally outplayed in the market by the Sony Playstation. It was released in Japan on November 22 1994, in the United States on May 11 1995, and in Europe on July 8 1995. Though originally scheduled to be released in America in September 1995, Sega of America moved the release date earlier in the hopes of cashing in on sales that would have went to the purchase of a Sony PlayStation, which made its debut in America in September 1995.

The Saturn contained a 32-bit video card. Games were released on CD-ROMs. It is followed by the Dreamcast. The Saturn was the first Segas video game console which can display 3D graphics.

In Japan, advertising for the Saturn was frequently provided by cult-favorite Segata Sanshiro.

Stub
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This article uses material from the "Sega Saturn" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Sega Saturn
Manufacturer Sega
Type video game console
Generation Fifth generation
Storage capacity CD-ROMs
Predecessor Sega Mega Drive
Successor Dreamcast

The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit video game console made by Sega. It was released in Japan on November 22 1994, in the United States on May 11 1995, and in Europe on July 8 1995. Games were released on CD-ROMs. It is followed by the Dreamcast. The Saturn was the first Sega video game console which can display 3D graphics. Accessories were available for the Sega Saturn, including a gun controller which was used to play Virtua Cop, and an analog controller.

The console was called Saturn because it was Sega's sixth games console, and Saturn is the sixth planet of the solar system.

Japanese/French models

The Sega Saturn was quite popular in Japan and/or France, because of the commercial with Segata Sanshiro, a man who devoted his life to the Sega Saturn. The Japanese Sega Saturn was black, and it was later changed to gray.

European/North American models

In North America, the Saturn was not nearly as popular as it was in Japan and/or France. When it was first released, there were only a few games available. That caused the PlayStation to be more popular in Europe.

File:Saturn
North American/European Saturn (black)







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