Top: Western and Eastern Sega Saturn logos
Middle: Model 1 "Oval Button" NA console with model 1 controller
Bottom: Model 2 "Round Button" JP console and controller
|Type||Home video game console|
|Generation||Fifth generation era|
|Units sold||9.5 million|
|Media||CD-ROM, CD+G, CD+EG, Video CD, Mini CD, Photo CD, Electronic Book|
|CPU||2× Hitachi SH-2 (32-bit) RISC (28.6 MHz)|
|Storage||Internal RAM, cartridge|
|Graphics||VDP1 (32-bit) video display processor,
VDP2 (32-bit) background and scroll plane video display processor
|Online services||Sega NetLink|
The Sega Saturn (セガサターン Sega Satān?, sometimes abbreviated SS or SAT) is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, May 11, 1995 in North America and July 8, 1995 in Europe as the successor to the successful Sega Genesis. At the center of the Saturn is a dual-CPU architecture and a total of eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains a number of arcade ports as well as original titles.
Development of the Saturn began in 1992, the same year Sega's groundbreaking 3D Model 1 arcade hardware debuted. Designed around a new CPU from Japanese electronics company Hitachi, an additional video display processor was incorporated into the system's design in early 1994 to counter the capabilities of Sony's forthcoming PlayStation. The Saturn was initially successful in Japan, but failed to sell in large numbers in the United States following a surprise May 1995 launch, which occurred four months before its scheduled release date. After the launch of the Nintendo 64 in late 1996, the Saturn began rapidly losing market share in the U.S., where it was discontinued in early 1998. Selling 9.5 million units worldwide, the Saturn is considered a commercial failure. The failure of Sega's development teams to finish and release a game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, known in development as Sonic X-treme, has been attributed as a factor in the console's poor performance.
Although the system is remembered for several well-regarded games, including Nights into Dreams..., the Panzer Dragoon series, and the Virtua Fighter series, the Saturn's reception is mixed due its complex hardware design and limited third-party support. Sega's management has been criticized for its decision-making during the system's development and cancellation.
Released in Japan in 1988, the Sega Genesis (known as the Sega "Mega Drive" in Europe and Japan) was Sega's entry into the fourth generation of video game consoles. In mid-1990, Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama hired Tom Kalinske as President and CEO of Sega of America. Kalinske developed a four-point plan for sales of the Genesis: lower the price of the console, create a U.S.-based team to develop games targeted at the American market, continue aggressive advertising campaigns, and sell Sonic the Hedgehog with the console. The Japanese board of directors initially disapproved of the plan, but all four points were approved by Nakayama, who told Kalinske, "I hired you to make the decisions for Europe and the Americas, so go ahead and do it." Magazines praised Sonic as one of the greatest games yet made, and Sega's console finally took off as customers who had been waiting for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) decided to purchase a Genesis instead. However, the release of a CD-based add-on for the Genesis, the Sega CD (known as Mega-CD outside of North America), had been commercially disappointing.
Sega also experienced success with arcade games. In 1992 and 1993, the company's new Sega Model 1 arcade system board showcased Sega AM2's Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter, which played a crucial role in popularizing 3D polygonal graphics. The Model 1 was an expensive system board, and bringing home releases of its games to the Genesis required more than its hardware could handle. Several alternatives helped to bring Sega's newest arcade games to the console, such as the Sega Virtua Processor chip used for Virtua Racing, and eventually the Sega 32X add-on.
Development of the Saturn was supervised by Hideki Sato, Sega's director and deputy general manager of research and development. According to Sega project manager Hideki Okamura, the Saturn project started over two years before the system was showcased at the Tokyo Game Show in June 1994. The name "Saturn" was initially the system's codename during development in Japan, but was eventually chosen as the official product name. In 1993, Sega and Japanese electronics company Hitachi formed a joint venture to develop a new CPU for the Saturn, which resulted in the creation of the "SuperH RISC Engine" (or SH-2) later that year. The Saturn was ultimately designed around a dual-SH2 configuration. According to Saturn section chief Kazuhiro Hamada, "the SH-2 was chosen for reasons of cost and efficiency. The chip has a calculation system similar to a DSP [digital signal processor], but we realized that a single CPU would not be enough to calculate a 3D world." Although the Saturn's design was largely finished before the end of 1993, reports in early 1994 of the technical capabilities of Sony's upcoming PlayStation console prompted Sega to include an additional video display processor (VDP) to improve the system's 2D performance and texture-mapping. CD-ROM-based and cartridge-only versions of the Saturn hardware were considered for simultaneous release at one point during the system's development, but this idea was discarded due to concerns over the lower quality and higher price of cartridge-based games.
According to Kalinske, Sega of America "fought against the architecture of Saturn for quite some time". Seeking an alternative graphics chip for the Saturn, Kalinske attempted to broker a deal with Silicon Graphics, but Sega of Japan rejected the proposal. Silicon Graphics subsequently collaborated with Nintendo on the Nintendo 64. Kalinske, Sony Electronic Publishing's Olaf Olafsson, and Sony America's Micky Schulhof had previously discussed development of a joint "Sega/Sony hardware system", a plan that also faced opposition from Sega of Japan. Publicly, however, Kalinske defended the Saturn's design: "Our people feel that they need the multiprocessing to be able to bring to the home what we're doing next year in the arcades."
In 1993, Sega restructured its internal studios in preparation for the Saturn's launch. To ensure high-quality 3D games would be available early in the Saturn's life, and to create a more energetic working environment, developers from Sega's arcade division were instructed to create console games. New teams, such as Panzer Dragoon developer Team Andromeda, were formed during this time.
In January 1994, Sega began to develop an add-on for the Genesis, the Sega 32X, which would serve as a less-expensive entry into the 32-bit era. The decision to create the add-on was made by Nakayama and widely supported by Sega of America employees. According to former Sega of America producer Scot Bayless, Nakayama was worried that the Saturn would not be available until after 1994 and that the recently released Atari Jaguar would reduce Sega's hardware sales. As a result, Nakayama ordered his engineers to have the system ready for launch by the end of the year. The 32X would not be compatible with the Saturn, but Sega executive Richard Brudvik-Lindner pointed out that the 32X would play Genesis titles, and had the same system architecture as the Saturn. This was justified by Sega's statement that both platforms would run at the same time, and that the 32X would be aimed at players who could not afford the more expensive Saturn. According to Sega of America research and development head Joe Miller, the 32X served a role in assisting development teams to familiarize themselves with the dual SH-2 architecture also used in the Saturn. Because both machines shared many of the same parts and were preparing to launch around the same time, tensions emerged between Sega of America and Sega of Japan when the Saturn was given priority.
Sega released the Saturn in Japan on November 22, 1994, at a price of JP¥44,800. Virtua Fighter, a nearly indistinguishable port of the popular arcade game, sold at a nearly one-to-one ratio with the Saturn hardware at launch and was crucial to the system's early success in Japan. In addition to Virtua Fighter, Sega had wanted the launch to include both Clockwork Knight and Panzer Dragoon, but the latter was not ready in time. Fueled by the popularity of Virtua Fighter, Sega's initial shipment of 200,000 Saturn units sold out on the first day. Sega waited until the December 3 launch of the PlayStation to ship more units; when both were sold side-by-side, the Saturn proved to be the more popular system. Meanwhile, the 32X was released on November 21, 1994 in North America, December 3, 1994 in Japan, and January 1995 in PAL territories, and was sold at less than half of the Saturn's launch price. After the holiday season, however, interest in the 32X rapidly declined. Between 400,000 and 500,000 Saturn units were sold in Japan within its first month on the market (compared to 300,000 PlayStation units sold within its first 30 days), and sales exceeded 1 million within the following six months. However, there were conflicting reports that the PlayStation enjoyed a higher sell-through rate, and the system gradually began to overtake the Saturn in sales during 1995.
In March 1995, Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske announced that the Saturn would be released in the U.S. on "Saturnday" (Saturday) September 2, 1995. However, Sega of Japan mandated an early launch to give the Saturn an advantage over the PlayStation. Therefore, at the first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles on May 11, 1995, Kalinske gave a keynote presentation for the upcoming Saturn in which he revealed the release price at US$399 (including a bundled copy of Virtua Fighter), and described the features of the console. Kalinske also revealed that, due to "high consumer demand", Sega had already shipped 30,000 Saturns to Toys "R" Us, Babbage's, Electronics Boutique, and Software Etc. for immediate release. This announcement upset retailers who were not informed of the surprise release; KB Toys responded by dropping Sega from its lineup. Sony subsequently unveiled the retail price for the PlayStation: Sony Computer Entertainment America president Steve Race took the stage, said "$299", and then walked away to applause. The Saturn's release in Europe also came before the previously announced North American date, on July 8, 1995, at a price of GB₤399.99. Due to the surprise launch, European retailers and press did not have time to promote the system or its games, leading to poor sales upon its European release.
The Saturn's U.S. launch was accompanied by a reported $50 million advertising campaign that included coverage in publications such as Wired and Playboy. However, because of the early launch, the Saturn had only six games (all published by Sega) available to start as most third-party games were slated to be released around the original launch date. Virtua Fighter's relative lack of popularity in the West, combined with a release schedule of only two games between the surprise launch and September 1995, prevented Sega from capitalizing on the Saturn's early timing. Within two days of its September 9, 1995 launch in North America, the PlayStation (backed by a large marketing campaign) sold more units than the Saturn had in the five months following its surprise launch, with 100,000 units presold in advance and sell-outs reported throughout the U.S. In addition, Sony's liberal $10 licensing fee and excellent development tools attracted many third-party developers to the PlayStation. A high-quality port of the Namco arcade game Ridge Racer contributed to the PlayStation's early success, and garnered favorable comparisons in the media to the Saturn version of Sega's Daytona USA, which was considered inferior to its arcade counterpart. By the end of the year, retailers were reporting that a Saturn price reduction to $299 (which resulted in significant financial losses for Sega) and high-quality Saturn ports of the Sega Model 2 arcade hits Sega Rally Championship, Virtua Cop, and Virtua Fighter 2 had increased demand for the system but failed to reverse the PlayStation's decisive lead. By 1996, the PlayStation had a considerably larger library than the Saturn, although Sega hoped to generate increased interest in the Saturn with upcoming exclusives such as Nights into Dreams.... Within its first year, the PlayStation secured over 20% of the entire U.S. video game market. At the May 1996 E3 show, Sony announced a PlayStation price reduction to $199, and shortly afterwards Sega decided to match this price, although Saturn hardware was more expensive to manufacture.
Changes at Sega
Despite the launch of the PlayStation and the Saturn, sales of 16-bit hardware/software continued to account for 64% of the video game market in 1995. However, Sega underestimated the continued popularity of the Genesis, and did not have the inventory to meet demand for the product. Sega was able to capture 43% of the dollar share of the U.S. video game market and sell more than 2 million Genesis units in 1995, but Kalinske estimated that "we could have sold another 300,000 Genesis systems in the November/December timeframe." Nakayama's decision to focus on the Saturn over the Genesis, based on the systems' relative performance in Japan, has been cited as the major contributing factor in this miscalculation.
Due to long-standing disagreements with Sega of Japan, Kalinske became increasingly disinterested in his work as CEO of Sega of America. By the spring of 1996, rumors were circulating that Kalinske planned to leave Sega, and a July 13 article in the press reported speculation that Sega of Japan was planning significant changes to Sega of America's management team. On July 16, 1996 Sega announced that Shoichiro Irimajiri had been appointed chairman and CEO of Sega of America, while Kalinske would be leaving Sega after September 30 of that year. A former Honda executive, Irimajiri had been actively involved with Sega of America since joining Sega in 1993. Sega also announced that David Rosen and Nakayama had resigned from their positions as chairman and co-chairman of Sega of America, though both men remained with the company. Bernie Stolar, a former executive at Sony Computer Entertainment of America, was named Sega of America's executive vice president in charge of product development and third-party relations. Stolar, who had arranged a six-month PlayStation exclusivity deal for Mortal Kombat 3 and helped build close relations with Electronic Arts while at Sony, was perceived as a major asset by Sega officials. Finally, Sega of America made plans to expand its PC software business.
Stolar was not supportive of the Saturn due to his belief that the hardware was poorly designed, and publicly announced at E3 1997 that "The Saturn is not our future." While Stolar had "no interest in lying to people" about the Saturn's prospects, he continued to emphasize quality games for the system, and subsequently reflected that "we tried to wind it down as cleanly as we could for the consumer." At Sony, Stolar opposed the localization of certain Japanese PlayStation titles that he felt would not represent the system well in North America, and he advocated a similar policy for the Saturn during his time at Sega. These changes were accompanied by a softer image that Sega was beginning to portray in its advertising, including removing the "Sega" scream and holding press events for the education industry. Marketing for the Saturn in Japan also changed with the introduction of "Segata Sanshiro" (played by Hiroshi Fujioka) as a character in a series of TV advertisements starting in 1997; the character would eventually star in a Saturn video game.
Temporarily abandoning arcade development, Sega AM2 head Yu Suzuki began developing several Saturn-exclusive games, including a role-playing game in the Virtua Fighter series. Suzuki hoped the latter, "a revenge epic in the tradition of Chinese cinema", would be the Saturn's killer app. Development was eventually shifted to the Saturn's successor, the Dreamcast, as Virtua Fighter RPG evolved into Shenmue.
Cancellation of Sonic X-treme
Sega tasked the U.S.-based Sega Technical Institute (STI) with developing what would have been the first fully 3D entry in its popular Sonic the Hedgehog series. The game, known as Sonic X-treme, was moved to the Saturn after several prototypes were discarded. Featuring a fisheye lens camera system that caused levels to rotate with Sonic's movement, the project was set back after Sonic creator Yuji Naka refused to allow the developers access to the engine he created for Nights into Dreams.... Sega of Japan executives who visited STI in March 1996 were unimpressed by X-treme's progress, so Nakayama ordered that the entire game be reworked around the engine created specifically for its boss battles, and employees worked between 16 and 20 hours a day in an attempt to meet their December 1996 deadline. After programmer Ofer Alon quit and designer Chris Senn caught pneumonia, the project was cancelled in early 1997. Sonic Team started work on an original 3D Sonic title for the Saturn (which eventually became Sonic Adventure), but development was shifted to the Dreamcast. STI was officially disbanded in 1996 as a result of changes in management at Sega of America.
Journalists and fans have speculated about the impact a completed X-treme might have had on the market. David Houghton of GamesRadar described the prospect of "a good 3D Sonic game" on the Saturn as "a 'What if...' situation on a par with the dinosaurs not becoming extinct." IGN's Tavis Fahs called X-treme "the turning point not only for SEGA's mascot and their 32-bit console, but for the entire company", although he also noted that the game served as "an empty vessel for SEGA's ambitions and the hopes of their fans". Dave Zdyrko, who operated a prominent website for Saturn fans during the system's lifespan, offered a more nuanced perspective: "I don't know if [X-treme] could've saved the Saturn, but ... Sonic helped make the Genesis and it made absolutely no sense why there wasn't a great new Sonic title ready at or near the launch of the [Saturn]". In a 2013 retrospective, producer Mike Wallis maintained that X-treme "definitely would have been competitive" with Nintendo's Super Mario 64.
From 1993 to early 1996, although Sega's revenue declined as part of an industry-wide slowdown, the company retained control of 38% of the U.S. video game market (compared to Nintendo's 30% and Sony's 24%). 800,000 PlayStation units were sold in the U.S. by the end of 1995, compared to 400,000 Saturn units. In part due to an aggressive price war, the PlayStation outsold the Saturn by two-to-one in 1996, while Sega's 16-bit sales declined markedly. By the end of 1996, the PlayStation had sold 2.9 million units in the U.S., more than twice the 1.2 million units sold by the Saturn. After the launch of the Nintendo 64 in 1996, sales of the Saturn and Sega's 32-bit software were sharply reduced, while the PlayStation outsold the Saturn by three-to-one in the U.S. market in 1997. The 1997 release of Final Fantasy VII significantly increased the PlayStation's popularity in Japan. As of August 1997, Sony controlled 47% of the console market, Nintendo controlled 40%, and Sega controlled only 12%. Neither price cuts nor high-profile game releases were proving helpful to the Saturn's success. Due to the Saturn's poor performance in North America, 60 of Sega of America's 200 employees were laid off in the fall of 1997. Sega announced its final games for the North American market on March 14, 1998, and by the time the Saturn was discontinued had sold 2 million consoles in the region, compared to 10.75 million PlayStation consoles sold by Sony at that time. The Saturn would last longer in Japan and Europe. In Japan, the console sold 5 million units, compared to the 3.5 million Genesis units Sega sold in the country. 971,000 consoles were sold in Europe by the beginning of 1998.
Selling an estimated 9.5 million units worldwide, the Saturn is considered a commercial failure. Lack of distribution has been cited as a significant factor contributing to the Saturn's limited installed base. Conversely, Nintendo's long delay in releasing a 3D console and damage caused to Sega's reputation by poorly supported add-ons for the Genesis are considered major factors allowing Sony to gain a foothold in the market. By March 1998, Sega reported losses of $309 million on the Saturn, and had begun to focus on a successor, the Dreamcast. During 1998, Sega took an additional $450 million loss. According to Stolar, his decision to abandon the Saturn was due to Sega's losses and his desire to rebuild with a new team. The decision to abandon the Saturn effectively left the Western market without Sega games for over a year. Rumors about the upcoming Dreamcast were leaked to the public before the last Saturn games were released. The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan and on September 9, 1999 in North America.
Featuring a total of eight processors, the Saturn's main central processing units are two Hitachi SH-2 microprocessors clocked at 28.6 MHz. The system contains a Motorola 68EC000 running at 11.3 MHz as a sound controller, a custom SCSP sound processor with an integrated DSP running at 22.6 MHz capable of up to 32 sound channels with both FM synthesis and 16-bit PCM sampling at a maximum rate of 44.1 kHz, and two video display processors, the VDP1 (which handles sprites, textures and polygons) and the VDP2 (which handles backgrounds). Its double-speed CD-ROM drive is controlled by a dedicated Hitachi SH-1 processor to reduce load times. The Saturn's System Control Unit (SCU), which controls all buses and functions as a co-processor of the main SH-2 CPU, has an internal DSP running at 14.3 MHz. In addition, the Saturn contains a cartridge slot for memory expansion, 16 Mbit (2 MB) of work RAM (random-access memory), 12 Mbit (1.5 MB) of video RAM, 4 Mbit (512 KB) of RAM for sound functions, 4 Mbit (512 KB) of CD buffer RAM and 256 Kbit (32 KB) of battery backup RAM. Its video output, provided by a stereo AV cable, displays at resolutions from 320×224 to 704×480 pixels, and is capable of displaying up to 16.77 million colors simultaneously. Physically, the Saturn measures 260 × 230 × 83 mm (10.2 × 9.1 × 3.3 in). The Saturn was sold packaged with an instruction manual, one control pad, a stereo AV cable, and its 100V AC power supply, with a power consumption of approximately 15W.
The Saturn had technically impressive hardware at the time of its release, but its complexity made harnessing this power difficult for developers accustomed to conventional programming. The greatest disadvantage was that both CPUs shared the same bus and were unable to access system memory at the same time. Making full use of the 4 kB of cache memory in each CPU was critical to maintaining performance. For example, Virtua Fighter used one CPU for each character, while Nights used one CPU for 3D environments and the other for 2D objects. The Saturn's Visual Display Processor 2 (VDP2), which can generate and manipulate backgrounds, has also been cited as one of the system's most important features.
The Saturn's design elicited mixed commentary among game developers and journalists. Developers quoted by Next Generation in December 1995 described the Saturn as "a real coder's machine" for "those who love to get their teeth into assembly and really hack the hardware", with "more flexibility" and "more calculating power than the PlayStation". In addition, the Saturn's sound board was widely praised. By contrast, Lobotomy Software programmer Ezra Dreisbach described the Saturn as significantly slower than the PlayStation, whereas Kenji Eno of WARP observed little difference between the two systems. In particular, Dreisbach criticized the Saturn's use of quadrilaterals as its basic geometric primitive, in contrast to the triangles rendered by the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. 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. During early Saturn development, programming in assembly could offer a two-to-fivefold speed increase over C language. Sega responded to these criticisms by writing new graphics libraries which were claimed to make development easier. Sega of America also purchased a United Kingdom-based development firm, Cross Products, to produce the Saturn's official development system. Despite these challenges, Treasure CEO Masato Maegawa stated that the Nintendo 64 was more difficult to develop for than the Saturn. The Saturn hardware is considered extremely difficult to emulate. Both the PlayStation and the Saturn used 2D sprites to generate polygons and simulate 3D space, but the PlayStation featured a dedicated "Geometry Transfer Engine" that rendered additional polygons, while the Saturn was described as an "essentially" 2D system by some analysts.
Several different models of the Saturn were produced in Japan. An updated model in a recolored light gray was released in Japan at a price of ¥20,000 in order to reduce the system's cost. Two models were released by third parties: Hitachi released a model known as the "Hi-Saturn" (a smaller Saturn model equipped with a car navigation function), while JVC released the "V-Saturn".
A number of accessories were created for the Saturn. Its controller came in various color schemes to match each model of the console. A wireless version powered by AA batteries utilizes infrared signal to connect to the console. Designed to work with Nights, the 3D Pad is a fully functional controller that includes both a control pad and an analog stick for directional input. Sega also released several versions of arcade sticks as peripherals, including the Virtua Stick, the Virtua Stick Pro, the Mission Analog Stick, and the Twin Stick. Sega also created a light gun peripheral known as the "Virtua Gun" for use with shooting games such as Virtua Cop and The Guardian, as well as the Arcade Racer, a wheel for racing games. The Play Cable allows for two Saturn consoles to be connected for multiplayer gaming across two screens, while a multitap allows up to six players to play games on the same console. RAM cartridges expand the amount of memory in the system. Other accessories include a keyboard, mouse, floppy disk drive, and movie card.
Like the Genesis, the Saturn also had an Internet-based gaming service. The Sega NetLink was a 28.8k modem that fit into the cartridge slot in the Saturn for direct dial multiplayer. In Japan, a now defunct pay-to-play service was used. It could also be used for web browsing and sending email. Because the NetLink was released before the Saturn keyboard, Sega produced a series of CDs containing hundreds of website addresses so that Saturn owners could browse with the joypad. The NetLink functioned with five games: Daytona USA, Duke Nukem 3D, Saturn Bomberman, Sega Rally, and Cyber Troopers Virtual-On: Operation Moongate. Sega allegedly developed a variant of the Saturn featuring a built-in NetLink modem under the code name Sega Pluto, but it was never released.
Sega developed an arcade board based on the Saturn's hardware, called the Sega ST-V (or Titan), which was intended as an affordable alternative to Sega's Model 2 arcade board as well as a testing ground for upcoming Saturn software. The Titan was criticized for its comparatively weak performance by Sega AM2's Yu Suzuki and was overproduced by Sega's arcade division. Because Sega already possessed the Die Hard license, members of Sega AM1 working at the Sega Technical Institute developed Die Hard Arcade for the Titan, in order to clear out excess inventory. This goal was achieved, as Die Hard became the most successful Sega arcade game produced in the United States at that point. Other games released for the Titan include Golden Axe: The Duel and Virtua Fighter Kids.
Much of the Saturn's library comes from Sega's arcade ports, including Daytona USA, Die Hard Arcade, The House of the Dead, Last Bronx, Sega Rally, the Virtua Cop series, the Virtua Fighter series, and Virtual On. In addition, Saturn ports of 2D Capcom fighting games including Darkstalkers 3, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and Street Fighter Alpha 3 were noted for their faithfulness to their arcade counterparts. Fighters Megamix, a Saturn exclusive, combined characters from Fighting Vipers and Virtua Fighter to positive reviews. Other highly rated Saturn exclusives include Panzer Dragoon Saga, Dragon Force, Guardian Heroes, Nights, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, and Shining Force III. Although originally made for the PlayStation, games such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Resident Evil, and Wipeout 2097 received Saturn ports with mixed results. Tomb Raider was created with the Saturn in mind, but the PlayStation version ultimately became better known to the public. Lobotomy Software's PowerSlave featured some of the most impressive 3D graphics on the system, leading Sega to contract the developer to produce Saturn ports of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake. While Electronic Arts' limited support for the Saturn and Sega's failure to develop a football game for the 1996 fall season allowed Sony to take the lead in the sports genre, "Sega Sports" published Saturn sports games including the well-received World Series Baseball and Sega Worldwide Soccer series. By 1998, the Saturn had a significantly larger library than the Nintendo 64.
Due to the cancellation of Sonic X-treme, the Saturn lacks an exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog platformer, containing only the compilation Sonic Jam, a port of Sonic 3D Blast, and a racing game called Sonic R. Notable Saturn platformers include Bug!, whose eponymous main character was considered to be a potential mascot. Despite receiving generally positive reviews at the time (and being successful enough to receive a sequel), Bug! failed to catch on with audiences in the way Sonic had, and retrospective coverage of the game has been less positive. Sonic Team's Nights was praised for its originality, but did not have Sonic's mainstream appeal, and critics noted it was a mostly 2D experience. Sonic Team's Burning Rangers offered a fully 3D experience, but was released in limited quantities late in the Saturn's lifespan, and garnered criticism for its short length.
Some of the games that made the Saturn popular in Japan, such as Grandia and the Sakura Wars series never saw a Western release. Despite appearing first on the Saturn, games such as Dead or Alive, Grandia, and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete only saw a Western release on the PlayStation. Working Designs localized several Japanese Saturn games before a public feud between Sega of America's Bernie Stolar and Working Designs president Victor Ireland resulted in the company switching their support to the PlayStation.
Later ports of Saturn games including Guardian Heroes, Nights, and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers continued to garner positive reviews from critics. Partly due to rarity, Saturn titles such as Panzer Dragoon Saga and Radiant Silvergun have been noted for their cult following. Due to the system's commercial failure and hardware limitations, planned Saturn versions of games such as Resident Evil 2, Shenmue, Sonic Adventure, and Virtua Fighter 3 were cancelled and moved to the Dreamcast.
Reception and legacy
At the time of its release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Saturn console 24 out of 40 possible points, higher than the PlayStation's 19 out of 40. In December 1995, Next Generation scored the system with three and a half stars out of a possible five, highlighting Sega's marketing and arcade background as strengths but the system's complexity as a weakness. Electronic Gaming Monthly's December 1996 Buyer's Guide had four reviewers score the Saturn 8, 6, 7, and 8 out of 10; these scores were inferior to those of the PlayStation, which was scored 9, 10, 9, and 9 in the same review. By December 1998, Electronic Gaming Monthly's scores had diminished to more mixed reviews, with reviewers citing the lack of titles for the system as a major issue. According to EGM reviewer Crispin Boyer, "the Saturn is the only system that can thrill me one month and totally disappoint me the next."
Retrospective feedback of the Saturn is mixed, but generally praises its game library. According to Greg Sewart of 1UP.com, "the Saturn will go down in history as one of the most troubled, and greatest, systems of all time." In 2009, IGN chose the Saturn to be their 18th best video game console of all time, praising its unique game library. According to the reviewers, "While the Saturn ended up losing the popularity contest to both Sony and Nintendo it was host to a library of classic titles that epitomize the early days of SEGA's innovation in software. NiGHTS into Dreams, the Virtua Fighter and Panzer Dragoon series are all examples of exclusive titles that made the console a fan favorite." Retro Gamer's Damien McFerran has also praised the uniqueness of the game library, stating, "Even today, despite the widespread availability of sequels and re-releases on other formats, the Sega Saturn is still a worthwhile investment for those who appreciate the unique gameplay styles of the companies that supported it." Sewart praised the Saturn's first-party titles as "Sega's shining moment as a game developer", but also commented on the large number of Japan-exclusive Saturn releases, which he connected with a subsequent boom in the game import market. IGN's Travis Fahs was critical of the Saturn library's lack of "fresh ideas" and "precious few high-profile franchises", in contrast to what he described as Sega's more creative Dreamcast output.
Some criticism has befallen Sega's management regarding both the creation and handling of the Saturn. McFerran criticizes Sega's management at the time of the Saturn's development, claiming that they had "fallen out of touch with both the demands of the market and the industry". Bernie Stolar has also been criticized for his decision to end support for the Saturn. According to Fahs, "Stolar's decision to abandon the Saturn made him a villain to many SEGA fans, but he had more vision than most gave him credit for. SEGA had a lot of work to do before they'd be ready for the next battle, and it was better to regroup than to enter the next fight battered and bruised. Dreamcast would be Stolar's redemption." Stolar has defended his decision, stating, "I felt Saturn was hurting the company more than helping it. That was a battle that we weren't going to win." Sewart and IGN's Levi Buchanan cited the failure of the Saturn as the major reason for Sega's downfall as a hardware manufacturer. Douglass C. Perry of Gamasutra notes that, from its surprise launch to its ultimate failure, the Saturn "soured many gamers on Sega products". In contrast, former Working Designs president Victor Ireland described the Saturn as "the start of the future of console gaming", explaining that it "got the better developers thinking and designing with parallel-processing architecture in mind for the first time".
- "Movie card" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- Sczepaniak, John (2006). "Retroinspection: Mega Drive". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (27): 42–47.
- Kent 2001, p. 427.
- Kent 2001, p. 428.
- DeMaria & Wilson 2004, p. 247.
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- McFerran, Damien (2010). "Retroinspection: Sega 32X". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (77): 44–49. "Scot Bayless: The 32X call was made in early January  ... There's a part of me that wishes the Saturn had adopted the 32X graphics strategy, but that ship had sailed long before the greenlight call from Nakayama."
- McFerran, Damien (February 22, 2012). "The Rise and Fall of Sega Enterprises". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
- "Virtua Racing – Arcade (1992)". 15 Most Influential Games of All Time. GameSpot. 2001. Retrieved 2014-06-06. cf. Leone, Matt (2010). "The Essential 50 Part 35: Virtua Fighter". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2014-04-21. cf. Feit, Daniel (2012-09-05). "How Virtua Fighter Saved PlayStation's Bacon". Wired. Retrieved 2014-10-09. "Ryoji Akagawa: If it wasn't for Virtua Fighter, the PlayStation probably would have had a completely different hardware concept."
- Mott 2013, p. 226, 250. "Virtua Racing ... was perhaps the first to treat polygons not as a graphical gimmick but as an opportunity to expand the boundaries of traditional driving games ... It's like witnessing the discovery of fire ... [Virtua Fighter] establish[ed] the template that future 3-D fighters would follow".
- McFerran, Damien. "Retroinspection: Sega Saturn". Retro Gamer (Imagine Publishing) (34): 44–49.
- Harris 2014, p. 386.
- "EGM Interviews SEGA SATURN Product Manager HIDEKI OKAMURA". EGM² (EGM Media, LLC.) 1 (1): 107. July 1994. "Hideki Okamura: [Saturn] was just a development code name for hardware that was adopted by the Japanese development staff. The name has become common knowledge and it has a nice ring to it."
- "Sega Saturn". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (2): 36–43. February 1995. "Sega's knee-jerk reaction was to delay it's Saturn development program for a few months to incorporate a new video processor into the system. Not only would this boost its 2D abilities considerably (something that Sony's machine was less proficient at), but it would also provide better texture mapping for 3D graphics ... Of course, Hitachi's link with the Saturn project goes much deeper. In 1993, the Japanese electronics company set up a joint venture with Sega to develop a CPU for the Saturn based on proprietary Hitachi technology. Several Hitachi staff were seconded to Sega's Saturn division (it's now believed that the same team is now working on preliminary 64-bit technology for Sega), and the result was the SH-2 ... As with most Sega hardware, Model 1 was basically an expensive assortment of bought-in chips. Its main CPU, an NEC V60 running at just 16 MHz, was simply too slow for the Saturn. And the bulk of Virtua Racing's number crunching was handled by four serial DSPs that were way too costly to be included in any home system. Sega's consequent development of the SH-2 meant that it could also produce a Saturn-compatible arcade system."
- Pollack, Andrew (September 22, 1993). "Sega to Use Hitachi Chip In Video Game Machine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-15. "Sega Enterprises said today that it would base its next-generation home video game machine, due in the fall of 1994, on a new chip being developed by Hitachi Ltd ... One Sega official said Hitachi's chip was attractively priced and would be designed with Sega's needs in mind ... Yamaha is expected to provide sound chips and JVC the circuitry for compressing video images." cf. "Sega to add 64-Bit Processor to New Saturn System!". Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM Media, LLC.) 5 (53): 68. December 1993. "There are reportedly seven different processors in the Saturn. The main processor will be a custom 32-Bit RISC chip under joint development by Sega and Hitachi."
- "NG Hardware: Saturn". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (12): 45–48. December 1995. "The early pictures and technical breakdowns have remained relatively close to the final system, perhaps because the system was completed far earlier than many people realize ... It was too late to make major alterations to the system, so, at the cost of pushing the launch schedule slightly, a video processor was added to the board to boost its 2D and 3D texture-mapping abilities. The real processing power of the Saturn comes from two Hitachi SH2 32-bit RISC processors running at 28 MHz. These processors were specially commissioned by Sega and are optimized for fast 3D graphics work."
- "NG Hardware: Saturn". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (1): 44–45. January 1995. "Sega has spent the last nine months or so playing catch-up with Sony after a publisher-friend tipped Sega off about the power of PlayStation."
- Sewart, Greg (August 5, 2005). "Sega Saturn: The Pleasure And The Pain". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- Fahs, Travis (April 21, 2009). "IGN Presents the History of Sega". IGN. p. 6. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
- Dring, Christopher (July 7, 2013). "A Tale of Two E3s - Xbox vs Sony vs Sega". MCVUK.com. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
- Harris 2014, p. 465.
- Harris 2014, p. 464.
- Horowitz, Ken (July 11, 2006). "Interview: Tom Kalinske". Sega-16. Retrieved 2014-04-11. "Tom Kalinske: I remember we had a document that Olaf and Mickey took to Sony that said they'd like to develop jointly the next hardware, the next game platform, with Sega, and here's what we think it ought to do. Sony apparently gave the green light to that ... Our proposal was that each of us would sell this joint Sega/Sony hardware platform; we'll share the loss on the hardware (whatever that is, we'll split it), combine our advertising and marketing, but we'll each be responsible for the software sales we'll generate. Now, at that particular point in time, Sega knew how to develop software a hell of a lot better than Sony did. They were just coming up the learning curve, so we would have benefited much more greatly ... I felt that we were rushing Saturn. We didn't have the software right, and we didn't have the pricing right, so I felt we should have stayed with Genesis for another year."
- Harris 2014, p. 452. "What it boiled gown to was that Sony's Ken Kutaragi wanted to create a machine that was 100 percent dedicated to 3-D graphics, whereas Sega's Hideki Sato wanted to build a machine that could also accommodate the typical 2-D sprite-based gaming".
- Kent 2001, p. 509.
- "The Making Of ... Panzer Dragoon Saga Part 1". Now Gamer. December 17, 2008. Retrieved 2014-03-20. "Kentaro Yoshida: We thought we'd have no problem making games that were superior to PlayStation games."
- Kent 2001, p. 494.
- Beuscher, David. "Sega Genesis 32X - Overview". Allgame. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- Horowitz, Ken (February 7, 2013). "Interview: Joe Miller". Sega-16. Retrieved 2014-05-25. "Joe Miller: I'd say that the rhetoric around the deteriorating relationship is probably overblown a little bit, based on what I've read. Nakayama-san and SOJ knew they had a strong, proven management team in place at SOA, and while everyone was concerned about growing the business, neither side lost confidence in the other."
- "Sega Saturn" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- Kent 2001, p. 501–502.
- "Sega and Sony Sell the Dream". Edge (Imagine Media) 3 (17): 6–9. February 1995. "The December 3 ship-out of 100,000 PlayStations to stores across Japan ... was not met with the same euphoria-charged reception that the Saturn received ... Saturn arrived to a rapturous reception in Japan on November 22. 200,000 units sold out instantly on day one ... Japanese gamers were beside themselves as they walked away with their prized possession and a near-perfect conversion of the Virtua Fighter coin-op ... Sega (and Sony) have proved that with dedicated processors handling the drive (the SH-1 in the Saturn's case), negligible access times are possible."
- cf. "Virtua Fighter Review". Edge. December 22, 1994. Retrieved 2014-03-07. "The Saturn version of Virtua Fighter is an exceptional game in many respects. It's arguably the first true 'next generation' console game, fusing the best aspects of combat gameplay with groundbreaking animation and gorgeous sound (CD music and clear samples). In the arcades, Virtua Fighter made people stop and look. On the Saturn, it will make many people stop, look at their bank balance and then fork out for Sega's new machine. Over to you, Sony."
- Fahs, Travis (April 21, 2009). "IGN Presents the History of Sega". IGN. p. 8. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
- Harris 2014, p. 536, gives a lower figure of 170,000.
- Kent 2001, p. 502.
- Buchanan, Levi (October 24, 2008). "32X Follies". IGN. Retrieved 2013-05-25.
- "Super 32X". Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
- "The Making Of: PlayStation". Edge. 2009-04-24. p. 4. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- "Sega Saturn: You've Watched the TV Commercials...Now Read the Facts". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (8): 26–32. August 1995.
- "History of the PlayStation". IGN. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Kent 2001, p. 516.
- "Let the games begin: Sega Saturn hits retail shelves across the nation Sept. 2; Japanese sales already put Sega on top of the charts.". Business Wire. March 9, 1995.
- Harris 2014, p. 536.
- "A Saturn Surprise!". GamePro 7 (73): 30. August 1995.
- Cifaldi, Frank (2010-05-11). "This Day in History: Sega Announces Surprise Saturn Launch". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2014-05-04.
- cf. "Is War hell for Sega?". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (13): 7. January 1996. "Tom Kalinske: We needed to do something shocking because we were $100 more than the other guy ... I still think [the surprise launch] was a good idea. If I had it to do over again would I do it a little differently? Yeah, definitely. I wouldn't take the risk of annoying retailers the way we did. I would clue them in and do an early launch in a region or three regions or something so we could include everybody."
- Harris 2014, p. 545.
- Kent 2001, pp. 505, 516.
- "Dear Saturn Mag, I've Heard the Saturn Couldn't Handle Alex Kidd... Is This True?". Sega Saturn Magazine (2) (Emap International Limited). December 1995. p. 51.
- Mäyrä, Frans (editor); Finn, Mark (2002). "Console Games in the Age of Convergence". Computer Games and Digital Cultures: Conference Proceedings: Proceedings of the Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference, June 6-8, 2002, Tampere, Finland. Tampere University Press. pp. 45–58. ISBN 9789514453717.
- Kato, Matthew (October 30, 2013). "Which Game Console Had The Best Launch Lineup?". Game Informer. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
- cf. Scary Larry (August 1995). "Pro Review: Virtua Fighter". GamePro 7 (73): 48. "The graphics were state-of-the-art when this game was released in the arcades a year ago. Other fighters—notably Tekken and Toh Shin Den—now make better use of the polygon engine."
- Kent 2001, p. 533.
- DeMaria & Wilson 2004, p. 282.
- Kent 2001, p. 504.
- Kent 2001, p. 519–520.
- 10- to 12-week lead times for cartridges were standard in the Japanese video game industry, but Sony introduced a 7- to 10-day order system that allowed publishers to meet demand more efficiently. See "The Making Of: PlayStation". Edge. 2009-04-24. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Parkin, Simon (2014-06-19). "A History of Videogame Hardware: Sony PlayStation". Edge. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- "Daytona USA". Edge (Imagine Media) 3 (21): 72–5. June 1995. "Although AM2 has managed to replicate the coin-op tolerably well, Saturn Daytona fails to capture the arcade experience that PlayStation Ridge Racer so convincingly delivers." cf. McNamara, Andy et al. (September 1995). "Prepare Yourself for the Ultimate Racing Experience". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 1997-11-20. Retrieved 2014-04-15. "Daytona rules the arcade, but I think Ridge Racer dominates the home systems." cf. Air Hendrix (August 1995). "Pro Review: Daytona USA". GamePro 7 (73): 50. "Daytona pales in comparison to Ridge Racer for the Japanese PlayStation, which takes an early lead with better features, gameplay, and graphics."
- Mott 2013, p. 239. "A disastrous home version [of Daytona USA] for the Sega Saturn in 1995 is reviled for its choppy frame rate and flickering polygons".
- A contributing factor in the high-quality of certain PlayStation arcade ports was the development of PlayStation-based arcade boards. See, e.g., "Tekken". Edge (Imagine Media) 3 (21): 66–70. June 1995. "Namco took a significant risk in basing its Tekken coin-op on raw PlayStation hardware, considering that it would be competing directly with Sega's Model 2-powered Virtua Fighter 2 ... For once, a home system can boast an identical conversion of a cutting-edge coin-op ... Namco's research section managing director, Shegeichi Nakamura ... explains: "When Sony came along we decided to go for a low-cost system—in short, we've left the big arcade stores to Sega and VF2 and Tekken has been sold to smaller arcade centres" ... Namco has a further four titles planned for System 11, all of which are likely to make the jump to the PlayStation." cf. "Tekken". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (2): 82. February 1995. cf. "Konami takes Namco route". Edge (Imagine Media) 3 (21): 12. June 1995. "Konami has finished development of its new PlayStation-based coin-op board, following the signing of a technology licensing agreement with Sony ... The chief advantage of such an arrangement lies in the ease of conversion of tried-and-tested coin-op material to the home."
- "Sega announces $299 Sega Saturn core pack; "Virtua Fighter Remix" pack-in available for $349.". Business Wire. October 2, 1995. "Sega of America Monday announced that, effective immediately, it will dramatically drop the price of its high-end Sega Saturn system to $299."
- cf. Reiner, Andrew et al. (January 1996). "Easy Left, Baby". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-09-16. "I'm far more impressed with this title than I was with Daytona." cf. "Top Gear". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (14): 160. February 1996.
- cf. Reiner, Andrew et al. (January 1996). "Rendered and Ready to Wear". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-09-16. cf. "Stunning". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (14): 162. February 1996. "Totally eliminates the hit or miss polarity of other light-gun games and adds a whole new level of detail to the genre."
- cf. "Platinum Pick: Virtua Fighter 2". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (13): 179. January 1996. "The ultimate arcade translation ... the best fighting game ever." cf. "Excellent!". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (14): 160. February 1996. "A general attention to detail that sets a new mark for quality game design."
- "Sony fights Sega on US streets". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 2 (13): 14–16. January 1996.
- Kent 2001, p. 532.
- Kent 2001, p. 531.
- Gallagher, Scott; Park, Seung Ho (February 2002). "Innovation and Competition in Standard-Based Industries: A Historical Analysis of the U.S. Home Video Game Market". IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 49 (1): 67–82.
- Kent 2001, p. 508.
- Kent 2001, p. 535. Michael Latham: "[Tom] would fall asleep on occasion in meetings. That is true. These were nine-hour meetings. Sega had a thing for meetings. You'd get there at 8:00 A.M. and then you'd get out of the meeting at, like, 4:00 P.M., so he wasn't the only person ... It wasn't the failure of the Saturn that made him lose interest; it was the inability to do something about it. He was not allowed to do anything. The U.S. side was basically no longer in control".
- Kent 2001, p. 534.
- "NEWSFLASH: Sega Planning Drastic Management Reshuffle - World Exclusive". Next Generation Online. 1996-07-13. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- "Sega of America appoints Shoichiro Irimajiri chairman/chief executive officer". M2PressWIRE (M2 Communications, Ltd.). July 16, 1996. "Sega of America Inc. (SOA) Monday announced that Shoichiro Irimajiri has been appointed chairman and chief executive officer. In addition, Sega announced that Bernard Stolar, previously of Sony Computer Entertainment America, has joined the company as executive vice president, responsible for product development and third-party business ... Sega also announced that Hayao Nakayama and David Rosen have resigned as chairman and co-chairman of Sega of America, respectively." (Subscription required.)
- "Kalinske Out - WORLD EXCLUSIVE". Next Generation Online. 1996-07-16. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
- Stephanie Strom (March 14, 1998). "Sega Enterprises Pulls Its Saturn Video Console From the U.S. Market". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- Kent 2001, p. 559.
- "Irimajiri Settles In At Sega". Next Generation Online. 1996-07-25. Retrieved 2014-05-06. "Although a familiar face at Sega of America, Shoichiro Irimajiri has spent his first week in charge re-meeting all the staff."
- Kent 2001, p. 535.
- Kent 2001, p. 558.
- Kent 2001, p. 506.
- Towell, Justin (June 23, 2012). "'Mr. Sega Saturn' lives on via amazing T-shirt". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "This Week in Japan". Edge. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Kolan, Patrick (August 7, 2007). "Shenmue: Through the Ages". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- "Top 100 Game Creators of All Time". IGN. p. 9. Archived from the original on 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
- "Shenmue, the History: Our look at Shenmue's history begins back in 1996". IGN. July 13, 1999. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- Mott 2013, p. 406.
- Horowitz, Ken (June 11, 2007). "Developer's Den: Sega Technical Institute". Sega-16. Retrieved 2014-04-16. "Roger Hector: When it became obvious that Sony was taking the lead, Sega's corporate personality changed. It became very political, with lots of finger-pointing around the company. Sega tried to get a handle on the situation, but they made a lot of mistakes, and ultimately STI was swallowed up in the corporate turmoil."
- Fahs, Travis (May 29, 2008). "Sonic X-Treme Revisited - Saturn Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- Houghton, David (April 24, 2008). "The greatest Sonic game we never got ...". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- "The Making Of: Sonic X-treme". Edge Online. 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
- Barnholt, Ray. "Yuji Naka Interview: Ivy the Kiwi and a Little Sega Time Traveling". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2014-09-07. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
- Towell, Justin (June 23, 2012). "Super-rare 1990 Sonic The Hedgehog prototype is missing". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-03-04. "Yuji Naka: The reason why there wasn't a Sonic game on Saturn was really because we were concentrating on NiGHTS. We were also working on Sonic Adventure—that was originally intended to be out on Saturn, but because Sega as a company was bringing out a new piece of hardware—the Dreamcast—we resorted to switching it over to the Dreamcast, which was the newest hardware at the time. So that's why there wasn't a Sonic game on Saturn. With regards to X-treme, I'm not really sure on the exact details of why it was cut short, but from looking at how it was going, it wasn't looking very good from my perspective. So I felt relief when I heard it was cancelled."
- Kent 2001, p. 500.
- Kent 2001, p. 520.
- McCarthy, Dave (2006-11-20). "PlayStation-The total history". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Schilling, Mellissa A. (Spring 2003). "Technological Leapfrogging: Lessons From the U.S. Video Game Console Industry". California Management Review (University of California, Berkeley) 45 (3): 12, 23.
- "The Making Of: Final Fantasy VII". Edge. 2012-08-26. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Mott 2013, p. 332.
- Kent 2001, p. 558–559.
- "Videospiel-Algebra". Man!ac Magazine (in German) (Cybermedia Verlagsgesellschaft mbH). May 1995.
- "Advanced Consoles". Screen Digest 1998. Screen Digest Ltd. July 1998.
- Lefton, Terry (1998). "Looking for a Sonic Boom". Brandweek (Nielsen Business Media) (39.9): 26–29.
- DeMaria & Wilson 2004, pp. 282-283.
- Beuscher, Dave. "Sega Saturn - Overview". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
- Fahs, Travis (September 9, 2010). "IGN Presents the History of Dreamcast". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
- Kent 2001, p. 563-564.
- "Saturn Overview Manual". Sega of America. 1994-06-06.
- "Sega Saturn various data" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
- "VDP1 User Manual". Sega of America. 1995-06-27.
- Kent 2001, p. 509. "In theory, Saturn, which featured two Hitachi SH2 32-bit central processing chips, was more powerful than PlayStation. The truth was that the SH2 chips were somewhat inferior to the chip Sony had selected ... and allotting different operations to both of the processing chips proved nearly impossible".
- "Retrospective: Nights Into Dreams". Edge Online. March 15, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-24. "One of the finest score-attack games ever crafted ... The 3D environments were drawn by one processor, while another handled the 2D enemies, hoops and trees, melding them seamlessly to create a smooth, surprisingly fast-moving game that still looks striking today."
- "Saturn Technical Specs". Next Generation Online. Archived from the original on 1996-12-20. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
- cf. "VIRTUA FIGHTER 2 IS HERE AT LAST!". Next Generation Online. Archived from the original on 1997-04-19. Retrieved 2014-04-12. "[The VDP2] can generate and manipulate 3D backgrounds. This leaves the twin processors free to deal with manipulating the fighters themselves. The result is swift, elegant animation at 60 frames a second—the same speed as the VF2 coin-op ... Sony's machine does not have an equivalent of the VDP2, so the demands for better animation and more realistic movement are placing greater and greater pressure on its central processor."
- "Interview: Ezra Dreisbach". Curmudgeon Gamer. July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-07-19. "Ezra Dreisbach: And really, if you couldn't tell from the games, the PSX is way better than the Saturn. It's way simpler and way faster. There are a lot of things about the Saturn that are totally dumb. Chief among these is that you can't draw triangles, only quadrilaterals."
- Bettenhausen, Shane; Mielke, James. "Kenji Eno: Reclusive Japanese Game Creator Breaks His Silence". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2014-03-22. "Kenji Eno: But, the PlayStation and the Saturn aren't that different, so moving it [Enemy Zero] to Saturn wasn't too difficult."
- "The official development system". Edge (Imagine Media) 3 (23): 55. August 1995.
- "Treasure Talks Yuke Yuke". IGN. 1997-04-14. Retrieved 2014-05-26.
- Moss, Richard (2014-06-02). "Life after Death: Meet the People Ensuring that Yesterday's Systems Will Never be Forgotten". Edge. Retrieved 2014-11-23.
- "Inside the PlayStation". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (6): 51. June 1995. cf. Mielke, James (2007-09-11). "Panzer Dragoon Zwei Retrospective". 1UP.com. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-11-16. "Yukio Futatsugi: The Sega Saturn couldn't do true 3D."
- "Sega Saturn HST-0014" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "On the Move!". Sega Saturn Magazine (4) (Emap International Limited). February 1996. p. 9.
- "Sega Saturn controller" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Sega Saturn wireless controller" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Sega Saturn Multi-controller" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Virtua Stick" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Virtua Stick Pro" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Mission analog stick" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Twin stick" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Virtua Gun" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Racing controller" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Sega's Saturn is off to the Races!". Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM Media, LLC.) 7 (73): 30. August 1995.
- "Play cable" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Multi-Terminal 6" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "RAM cartridge" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Sega Saturn keyboard" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Shuttle mouse" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Sega Saturn floppy disk drive" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Bring the Noise". Sega Saturn Magazine (1) (Emap International Limited). November 1995. pp. 56–57.
- "Sega Saturn modem" (in Japanese). Sega of Japan. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- "Saturn to Get Internet Connection Facilities in '96!". Sega Saturn Magazine (5) (Emap International Limited). March 1996. p. 8.
- Mott 2013, p. 309.
- Redsell, Adam (May 20, 2012). "SEGA: A Soothsayer of the Games Industry". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- Blagdon, Jeff (April 17, 2013). "Forgotten Sega Pluto console prototype surfaces online (update)". The Verge. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
- Tokyo Drifter (April 2002). "Virtua Fight Club: Lost in the Translations". GamePro 14 (163): 50.
- House, Michael L. "The House of the Dead Review". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
- Williamson, Colin. "Last Bronx Review". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
- "Best Saturn games of all time". GamesRadar. March 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-06. "But that doesn't mean it's a total bust. Numerous excellent games were released for the console, which was supported primarily in the mid-to-late 1990s, including a variety of original Sega classics and several stellar third-party releases. RPG and fighting game fans, in particular, enjoyed a healthy array of options on the platform."
- "SEGA Saturn is number 18". IGN. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- "Fighters Megamix for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26. cf. McNamara, Andy et al. (May 1997). "Fighters Megamix - Saturn". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 1999-08-24. Retrieved 2014-03-19. "This has to be one of the finest fighters to ever grace consoles." cf. Williamson, Colin. "Fighters Megamix Review". Allgame. Retrieved 2014-05-10.
- "Panzer Dragoon Saga for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26. cf."Panzer Dragoon Saga". Game Informer. May 1998. Archived from the original on 1999-08-24. Retrieved 2014-03-26. "Only Final Fantasy VII tops it." cf. "Panzer Dragoon Saga Review". Edge. 1998-03-25. Retrieved 2014-11-14. "Adds a creative depth only SquareSoft games can currently rival."
- Mott 2013, p. 361.
- "Dragon Force for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- "Guardian Heroes for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- Mott 2013, p. 300.
- "NiGHTS Into Dreams... for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- Mott 2013, p. 302.
- "Panzer Dragoon II Zwei for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- "Shining Force III for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- Shining creators Hiroyuki Takahashi and Shugo Takahashi have named Shining the Holy Ark and Shining Force 3 their favorite games in the series. See "Power Profiles: Takahashi Brothers". Nintendo Power 21 (229): 80–83. August 2008.
- Mott 2013, p. 350.
- Blache III, Fabian; Fielder, Lauren. "The History of Tomb Raider: Series History". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- cf. "Sega Sports Does It One More Time". Game Informer. November 1995. Archived from the original on 1999-08-24. Retrieved 2014-03-19. "World Series Baseball is by far the smoothest baseball game ever made." cf. "Worldwide Soccer '98". Game Informer. January 1998. Archived from the original on 1999-09-30. Retrieved 2014-03-19. "The graphics are smooth, and the physics are perfect."
- Kent 2001, p. 539. "PlayStation and Saturn had hundreds of games, most of which sold for under $50. By comparison, there were merely dozens of games for N64, some of which sold for nearly $80, and rumors were that future third-party cartridges might cost as much as $100".
- Buchanan, Levi (February 2, 2009). "What Hath Sonic Wrought? Vol. 10". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-15. "Steven Spielberg, CES 1995: This is the character! This is the character that is going to do it for Saturn!"
- "Bug! for Saturn". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-03-15. cf. McNamara, Andy, et al. (September 1995). "Not To Be Denied!". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-03-15. cf. "Bug! (review)". Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM Media, LLC.) 7 (73): 38. August 1995. cf. "Bug!". Next Generation (Imagine Media) 1 (9): 88–89. September 1995.
- "Nights into Dreams (review)". Edge. 1996-08-02. Retrieved 2014-04-30. "There can be no doubt that the game is easily the most original and visually dazzling title seen on the Saturn to date ... Sonic was a very focused game a clear aim, making it easy to pick up and play. By contrast, a lot of the time Nights feels as if its gameplay has been made to fit within a set of technological displays of competence, with good 3D, excellent texture mapping, total freedom of movement for characters, fast polygon movement – selling points for the Saturn around which a game has been framed. Nights is an enigmatic game that the public might take to their hearts or might reject out of hand. Either way, it's not quite good enough to be a all-time classic." cf. Williamson, Alan (2013-12-22). "Christmas NiGHTS Into Dreams retrospective". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014-11-18. "Sega at its most creative—and, perhaps, its most commercially suicidal."
- Kent 2001, p. 533. "Naka may have established his reputation as a great designer with Sonic, but with NiGHTS he demonstrated his versatility ... NiGHTS showed the strengths and weaknesses of Saturn. The game's atmosphere and design were exceptional; but while the game had a free-flowing 3D feel, most of it actually took place in two dimensions".
- Harris 2014, p. 553.
- "Classic Reviews: Burning Rangers". Game Informer 12 (110): 104. June 2002. "This futuristic fire-fighting game was an instant cult classic ... The game has all the makings of a masterpiece, but is held back by both the Saturn's limited power and the fireman motif." cf. Buchanan, Levi (2008-09-03). "Burning Rangers Retro Review". IGN. Retrieved 2014-11-18. "A wholly competent (but somewhat workmanlike, as the Saturn was not as good at 3D as the PSone or N64) action-adventure game."
- Mott 2013, p. 353.
- cf. "Japan Votes on All Time Top 100". Edge Online. 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
- cf. "Catching up with Tecmo's Prince of Darkness". Game Informer 15 (140): 203. December 2004. "Tomonobu Itagaki: Saturn was a great machine, great system. If someone were to ask me if I want to make a game for PSone or Saturn I would—100 percent of the time—make games for the Saturn."
- Vore, Bryan (2011-10-12). "Guardian Heroes". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-03-17. "Even though some aspects of Guardian Heroes haven't aged well, the strength of the battle system, branching paths, and characters help this brawler retain its place near the top of the class." cf. Parkin, Simon (2011-10-12). "Guardian Heroes". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014-03-28. "One of the most satisfying combat games ever conceived."
- Robinson, Martin (2012-10-05). "NiGHTS Into Dreams HD review". Eurogamer. "[While] an incredibly odd game ... NiGHTS has exquisite handling ... its distinctiveness is something to be celebrated."
- Wallace, Kimberley (2013-04-16). "Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-03-17. "I still can't believe that a game that came out in 1997 feels so fresh and exciting over 15 years later."
- "Top 10 Cult Classics". 1UP.com. 2005-06-22. Archived from the original on 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
- "Panzer Dragoon Saga: The Sad Tale of the Saturn's Last Great Game". Game Informer 17 (176): 164–165. December 2007. "One of the greatest games ever crafted by human hands ... Critically, the game was a smash hit, lauded as one of the year's best, and generally considered the Saturn's finest title. But despite glowing reviews across the board, Saga was destined to fail. Sega had moved on—shifted its focus to developing its next console, the Dreamcast, and wasn't willing to risk any more money on a system that had already lost so much. Therefore, less than 20,000 retail copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga were even made, making it a very rare title and a prize for collectors."
- Hatfield, Daemon (2011-09-13). "Radiant Silvergun Review". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
- "Time Extend: Radiant Silvergun". Edge. 2013-01-12. Retrieved 2014-11-16.
- Ohbuchi, Yutaka (1998-10-21). "RE2 for Saturn Canceled". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-11-23.
- "Suzuki: 'Yes on VF3'". Next Generation Online. 1996-11-22. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- "The History of Sega Fighting Games, Page 18". GameSpot. 1997. Retrieved 2014-06-06. "Sega executives started to quietly state that Virtua Fighter 3 was not going to come out for the Saturn."
- "Game Machine Cross Review: セガサターン". Weekly Famicom Tsūshin (in Japanese) (Famitsu) (335): 166. May 12–19, 1995.
- "EGM rates the systems of 1996!". 1996 Video Game Buyer's Guide (EGM Media, LLC.). December 1996.
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- Buchanan, Levi (2008-07-29). "Top 10 SEGA Saturn Games". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- Perry, Douglass C. "The Rise and Fall of Dreamcast". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-03-03. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- Mott, Tony (2013). 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. New York, New York: Universe Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7893-2090-2.
- Harris, Blake J. (2014). Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation. New York, New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-227669-8.
- DeMaria, Rusel; Wilson, Johnny L. (2004). High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games. Emeryville, California: McGraw-Hill/Osborne. ISBN 0-07-223172-6.
- Kent, Steven L. (2001). The Ultimate History of Video Games: The Story Behind the Craze that Touched our Lives and Changed the World. Roseville, California: Prima Publishing. ISBN 0-7615-3643-4.