8 July 1995 saw the Saturn launch in PAL territories, including the UK. Happy birthday to one of my favourite consoles. The Saturn though for me was a little like John Carpenter’s The Thing, unappreciated at the time but in hindsight great. It launched ahead of the Playstation but a price that’s the equivalent of over £700 in today’s money. Eat that Xbox One X!
I’m now on my second Saturn and don’t have my original any more- I gave it to a charity youth club in the late 90’s. Altruistic but a mistake and I remedied it by buying a white Japanese Saturn a few years later.
Time has been kind to the Saturn. Kinder in a sense than it has been to the Playstation because the Saturn had pretty awesome 2D chops and the games that reflected it, while the Playstation was all about the fancy 3D and transparency effects. I had a Playstation some months before a Saturn and was able to trade a stack of already second hand PS games to get a second hand Saturn in early 1996. I wasn’t about to pay the £399 launch price!
The launch games were a bit rushed, no better example of this being the bundled Virtua Fighter. It looked so poor, they released Virtua Fighter Remix shortly afterwards (and gave it away free to owners in America), followed quickly by Virtua Fighter 2:
There were only 14 months between Virtua Fighter and Virtua Fighter 2 on Saturn but the difference is amazing. Importantly, Virtua Fighter didn’t look anywhere near as impressive as Tekken or Battle Arena Toshinden on the Playstation did.
The Saturn always struck me as a console built for power 2D gaming with 3D tacked on, while the Playstation seemed built as a 3D machine from the ground up. Whether this was just my perception at the time I don’t know but the Playstation really ushered in the era of 3D gaming in a way that the Saturn somehow failed to do.
As a retro gamer I’m now much more likely to fire my Saturn up than my Playstation. Rage Racer and Wipeout 2097, Micro Machines V3 are the only Playstation games that I really still play but the Saturn has so much to give- the best version of Bomberman, loads of great 2D beat em ups, shooters, platformers and even games like Nights into Dreams or Burning Rangers that the hardware shouldn’t be able to cope with are still good fun to play.
So happy birthday Sega Saturn!
We’re getting there with our Atari ST play through, please bear with us, normal service is almost about to resume!