The Sega Saturn

I didnt grow up on the console. I wasnt even born yet. However, it always fascinated me. However, because emulation for the system was ideal, I never touched much of the system. And because Sega was kinda fucking stupid when they launched the console, purchasing games for the system(at least for NTSC, we'll get to imports in a sec) was kinda fucking expensive. Seriously look at this shit.

Im not one of those gatekeepy assholes who are like "HURR DURR YOU NEED TO PLEY ON ORINGINAL HAARDWARE". Fuck that, I emulate most of my shit Emulation is a great tool and great way to play most out of print, unsupported, and not legally available games. However it does sometimes come at a cost. Emulation is hard. Really Hard. I dont mean in an accesibility sense(although once you get to mame, you can fuck right off), but in accuracy. Sega Saturn emulation does come with alot of hiccups Its one of the reasons why I always wanted to get an actual Saturn. And also because original hardware is kinda cool.

"Leave me and my son alone"

Fast foward to mid Febuary of 2023. After a somewhat depressive episode where I keep thinking about Burning Rangers, I say fuck it and order one. Come few days later and it arrives(see above nerds). Its a 20 Pin Japanese Model. I spent around $50 for it as it was non working. The system has a CD error. I hit up my homie Heretic(Hello You!) as she is the only person who is equally interested in the Saturn. She says normally when a Saturn has a CD error, its because of the spindle. Apparently its common for them to be pressed down and be close to the laser. Since I would have to open it anyway, I figure its probably worth a shot. I planned on putting an ODE in it anyway, but I do need to see if its just the CD drive not working and not anything else. I purchased exactly one game, and its the only Saturn game I own at the moment.

This Is A Game CD For Sega Saturn System. Track 1 Contains Game Data, So Please Dont Play The Track

And maybe the last. Yeah so one of the inital reasons I got a japanese saturn unit despite living in the US is because MONEY. Sega Saturn games are expensive. Because the Saturn was essentially dead on arrival in the States, most of the games that did come out in the US didnt sell too well, causing many of the more sought after games to be crazy expensive these days. Comparatively However, the Sega Saturn was doing great in Japan. Had lots of third and first party support and had a larger library compared to the US. Because of this, most Japanese Saturn games and hardware tends to be on the cheaper side. US releases of Burning Rangers tends to sell for at least $500. I got mine complete in box for $50. All because it was a Japanese release. There are a few caveats to going this route, mainly just the fact that if you dont know moon runes, you may have difficulty playing text heavy games like many of the JRPGs released on the saturn.

When I got my Saturn, the first thing I did was clean it up.

Afterwards, there wasnt much to do other than to wait for my controller, video cables, game and ODE.Lets talk about that.

The Sega Saturn was one of the first major consoles to come out with a CD Drive. However, its also a CD Drive from 1994. Hardware that old tends to fail. So to save money on games and to just get rid one more failure point, I decided to get an Optical Disc Emulator, or an ODE. There is a few options on the market for the saturn.

  • The Satiator
  • The Pheobe/Rheas
  • TerraOnion MODE
  • Fenrir
  • I refered to my friend Heretic for any pointers. She said she went with the Satiator. The Satiator is neat since its the only ODE for the Saturn that still has the CD Drive installed, as the other options replace them entirely. Instead the Satiator sits where the Video CD Card sits, a barely used slot outside of Japan. It was mainly used to improve FMVs in certain games. But barely anything supported it so nothing of value was lost. She said its probably the best option, especially if you like using the actual games. But Sega Saturn games are expensive, and so is the Satiator. It will cost you around $200. Still a fantastic product but not as much as I wanted to spend on it. The next options were the Pheobe/Rhea. Its made by the same guy who makes the GDEmu which is an ODE for the Sega Dreamcast. I heard good things about the Phobe/Rhea. Theyre essentially the same thing, but for 20 and 21 pin model systems respectively. It was much more affordable, around $140. The next option was the TerraOnion Mode. This one was neat since it supported the Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, and the Dreamcast, all consoles I own. You can fairly easily remove it from one system. Arguably the Rolls Royce when it comes to ODEs supporting those consoles. Its also insanely expensive, going for $240. So yeah no Im good. Honestly I ended up going with the Fenrir Duo. Not for any reason in particular other than it was simple and fairly cheap compared to all of those, coming at $140 with shipping.

    The cables, controller, and Burning Ranger arrived at this point and wouldnt you know, the Saturn disc drive still didnt work. After a couple hours of tinkering, I kinda gave up on it. I got the ODE coming, and maybe eventually I'll get it working, but for now, the Fenrir shall come. Fast forward a few days, and it arrives! It was a simple install and I got it running fairly quickly.

    Theres still work to done however much down the line. Eventually I would like to see about doing an FRAM Mod to completely get rid of the shitty CMOS battery. I did get my hands on an action replay cart with 4MB, but I havent exactly gotten it work. Would like to try the Castlevania SOTN 4MB hack for the saturn port of that game and the several other different games that support the 4MB

    For Now, To Be Continued.....