Retro Game Consoles – Sega Saturn

Sega Saturn

The Sega Saturn, a fifth generation console, is a 32-bit video game console released in Japan on November 22, 1994. It was released to North America on May 11, 1995 and in Europe on July 8, 1995.

The Sega Saturn was popular in Japan, but was unable to get enough sales in North America for several reasons.

Sega Saturn game console.jpg

Above: Sega Saturn game console

The Sega Saturn, although the technically more advanced console, suffered from poor marketing and comparatively limited third-party support. Sega’s decision to use dual processors has been roundly criticized and some wrongly believe the second CPU was added as a “panic” response to the PlayStation’s specifications.

Sega Saturn controller.jpg

Above: Sega Saturn controller

It has been said that only Sega’s first-party developers were ever able to use the second CPU effectively.

The Sega Saturn was the more difficult console to program for, and therefore the 3D graphics on its 3rd party games often lacked the luster of the PlayStation or Nintendo 64 (N64), a severe disadvantage at the dawn of 3D games.

Sega was also hurt by the plan to have a surprise four month early US launch of their console.

Sega Saturn motherboard.jpg

Above: Sega Saturn motherboard

This head start failed for several reasons. One of the major reasons being there were few software titles ready. Also, the fact that the Sega Saturn was $100 more expensive than the PlayStation at launch put the buying public off, and they went for the cheaper PlayStation. Also, the Sega Saturn was only available at four retailers, of which Wal-Mart was not one.


When a console is first produced, it is expensive and often and the game console loses money on every unit sold. Howeverm as the years go by, component prices drop and many are consolidated achieving savings an d generating revenue off every unit sold. However, the Sega Saturn was complex and difficult to consolidate making it more expensive to produce than competitor products.


Sega of America, Bernie Stolar, was quoted as saying, “I believe if we look at [the Sega] Saturn, it was a system that shouldn’t have been launched. It was too difficult to develop for therefore the games were not fun and the games weren’t there. This isn’t a matter about hardware, this is about software. Software has always driven hardware. You don’t have the software, the hardware will fail.”

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