In the early 90s, 2 companies ruled the video game console world Sega and Nintendo. Gamers eagerly waited for the 32-bit era to start around the turn of the mid 90s. So while up and comer Sony was busy creating the first Playstation, Sega was busy creating a successor to the Sega Genesis. In 1994, Sega released the Sega Saturn in Japan and it was a massive hit. The Saturn featured lots of arcade style games as arcades were at their apex in Japan at the time. Games like Virtua Fighter and King of Fighters were commercial successes.
After the announcement of the Sony Playstation, Sega announced at E3 1995 that the Sega Saturn would be released immediately in North America in order to capitalize on early sales before the Playstation was released. This turned out to be a huge backfire on Sega’s part as there were only 6 games that were completely finished at that time. Many game developers were still working on the games as the original release date for the console was on “Saturnday” which was in September. Many developers didn’t know how to fully utilize the Saturn’s capabilities as it used 2 CPU’s instead of 1.
Another downfall was the price. The Saturn cost $400 dollars, while the Playstation only cost $300. So basically you were paying $100 more for a less superior console. This caused many gamers to just wait the extra 4 months for the Playstation. These problems caused the Saturn to be discontinued in less than 3 years. Sega lost $260 Million and was forced to lay off a third of its workforce due to its failure in the States.
The console did have some memorable games. Virtua Cop, which was a shooting game that came with the console, changed the way people look at arcade shooting games. Virtua Cop has influenced many shooting games in general over the years like Call of Duty, and Halo. The console also had the debuts as well. The original Virtua Fighter was released and was the best-selling game on the Saturn, despite being exclusively in Japan. Other games were Nights Into Dreams, Sega Rally, Daytona USA, Clockwork Knight, Rayman, and Dead or Alive.
As being one of the only 1 million people in the states to own one of these consoles, I personally believe that the Sega Saturn is the most underrated console in video game history and unless you owned one, you probably don’t where I’m coming from. Still as part of Video Game History, the Saturn belongs, sadly, in the Gaming Graveyard.