The Sega Saturn PAL Beginner’s Guide

Even a Baby can play Sega Saturn!Because 1995 was so long ago…

Writen by Nick Ellingworth.

This basic guide is aimed at those who are totally new to the Sega Saturn or those who may have had one in the past but remember very little about it. The aim is to show the reader how to start their Saturn collection.

The basic set up you need for any console is the system itself, a controller, the appropriate leads and a game to play and the Saturn is no different.

The Console:

There were several variants of the console on sale globally but only 2 are of interest to a PAL collector, the European Model 1 (OVAL ‘start’ and ‘reset’ buttons) and Model 2 (ROUND ‘start’ and ‘reset’ buttons) Saturns.
Both are in essence are the same so for a beginner the choice of console will simply come down to price and availability.

Try to ensure that the console you buy comes with a controller, power lead and at least an RF lead although SCART is preferable as the image produced will be of higher quality.

Controller:

There are two versions of the main Saturn controller, however the later smaller model, which was a European version of the Japanese controller, is generally recognised as being the better of the two.

Games:

There are many titles which make the Saturn an excellent system to own, in this section I will detail a few of the better games for a beginner. Experienced Saturn owners will notice that I have excluded some of the best games for the Saturn for the reason that they are often very expensive and hard to find.

  • Duke Nukem 3D: Stands out from the small crowd of Saturn FPS titles by being one of the funniest a first class port by Lobotomy.
    Others to consider: Exhumed, Quake.
  • Galactic Attack: Also known as Layer Section this is a classic 2D scrolling shooter, very few games in this genre these got a PAL release, hard to find but is generally quite cheap and very addictive.
    Others to consider: Darius II, Darius Gaiden.
  • Nights Into Dreams: Can only be described as unique, a must own. Easily the best platformer style game available on the Saturn, should ideally be played with the 3D controller.
    Others to consider: Sonic 3D, Sonic Jam.
  • Tomb Raider: The best early 3d action adventure game, play it on the console it was originally designed for.
    Others To Consider: does anything really compare?
  • Sega Rally: Possibly one of the biggest reasons to buy a Saturn is this excellent port of the arcade classic.
    Others to consider: Daytona USA, Manx TT, Sonic R.
  • Soviet Strike: The fourth game in the series that started with Desert Strike, a classic helicopter shooter.
    Others to consider: Thunderhawk 2: Firestorm.
  • Virtua Fighter 2: Not as revolutionary as Virtua Fighter but it plays and looks a lot better with some of the highest res’ game graphics the Saturn produced.
    Others to consider: Virtua Fighter, Last Bronx, Fighting Vipers.

Accessories:

Like all consoles the Saturn has a wide array of accessories designed to improve the game play experience or add new features, the most important of these are covered here.

3D Controller: An analogue controller designed primarily for use with Nights Into Dreams, however it also works well with many other games particularly FPS and racing titles.

Action Replay 4 in 1: This cartridge combines import adaptor, 1MB & 4MB RAM upgrades and memory cartridge into one handy package.
If there is one extra piece of hardware every Saturn owner should have it’s this, it is expensive (around £20) but worth investing in.

Arcade Racer: The official Saturn steering wheel highly recommended to those who enjoy racing games.

Memory Cartridge: Allows Saturn users to backup saved games from the on board memory, however I’d recommend using the Action Replay 4 in 1 (detailed above) over this as it has other uses.

Importing:

The Saturn has a wealth of import titles available, the easiest and only non-evasive method to allow playing of import titles is to buy a cartridge which has a import adaptor function, such as the previously mentioned Action Replay.

Importing is not recommended for a complete beginner, but once you’ve got a small PAL collection built up starting to collect Japanese games is highly recommended as many of the system’s best games never made it to the west.

Final Thought:

So there it is, my very quick beginners guide to the Sega Saturn, it barely scratches the surface of what is available for the Saturn so there’s plenty more to discover for new owners.

All the best for your future as a Saturn Gamer,

Nick Ellingworth
Veteran SS:UK Contributer