The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit video game console produced by Sega as the fifth generation in a line of game consoles. It was released in Japan on November 22, 1994, North American on May 11, 1995 and on July 8, 1995 in Europe. In the United States only 2 million units were sold compared to over 6 million in Japan. The system was discontinued on August 10, 1998. Its successor was the Dreamcast.
The original unit was going to have a single central processor, but the PlayStation’s performance forced Sega to add a second processor late in the development of the system. The disadvantage of this is they shared the same bus and was unable to access the memory registers at the same time. The complexity of the system made it difficult for developers to make software for it. Sega rewrote the graphics library within the system in response to the criticism to make software development easier.
Certain games that were developed needed more memory than the system had, so expansion cartridges with 1MB and 4MB of memory were released. The last official game released was Yuukyuu Gensoukyoku Hozonban Perpetual Collection on December 7, 2000. Several game titles scheduled for release were canceled when Sega discontinued the Saturn.
There were nine different models released in Asia, three in North America, and three in Europe.
The unit has two CPUs at 28.63 Mhz, 1 MB SDRAM, 1 MB DRAM, 512 kb SDRAM for graphics, 512 kb DRAM for sound, and 32 kb SRAM with battery back up for data retention.
It has two controller ports, high speed serial port, cartridge connector, an internal expansion slot, audio / video composite, RF modulator port, S-Video, RGB, and EDTV compatible. The system is VGA capable but with no existing software or cables that uses this connection, the port is not used.
Two Sega Saturns could be hooked together by a direct link cable for multi-player games. A connection to two televisions as well as two copies of the same game were also needed. Only eight games used the direct link cable. The unit uses AC power, 120 volts in the US, 240 volts in EU and Asia, and 100 volts in Japan and Taiwan.
The Sega Saturn plays CD-ROM games, CDs, CD+G, and CD+EG discs. A software disc that plays Photo CDs is also available. Sega released an MPEG decoding hardware module to allow VideoCD playback.
Some accessories for the Saturn include an Action Replay for accessing hidden features to advance further into a game or using cheats. It was also capable of importing games from any region without any modifications to the system. An arcade racer is a joystick with a steering wheel designed for use with racing games. A 3D pad which was a modified controller for 3D game play. But it also could be used with numerous other games. Light guns were used with games like Area 51, Virtua Cop and Die Hard Trilogy. Storage cards were used for storing game information. NetLink was a modem for multi-player games using the direct dial service. Only five games were compatible with the NetLink. This service could also be used for web browsing.
There were 596 games released for the Sega Saturn.
Image Caption: First Generation Sega Saturn. Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia