Twenty years ago today Sega’s 32-bit Saturn console was launched in Japan. I was living in Canada at the time, managing video game store, and my Japanese friend imported one as soon as he could. He guarded it with some understandably enthusiasm, but one day I talked him in to bringing it to the game store and hooking it up to the big 50-inch TV.
He was understandably upset when I tried to jam a Genesis RF adaptor into the Saturn’s video port, trying to use the store’s existing cabling rather than run new wires across the joint. They looked almost the same, surely if I just push harder… But no. Not a good plan.
Anyway, oh, the Saturn magic.
He had only one game for it: Virtua Fighter. He brought several enormous guidebooks for it, incomprehensible in Japanese, and he proceeded to spend the entire day annihilating everyone who dared play with him. The game was so fluid and sounded so good and was just so amazing – in our world of 16-bit Super NES and Genesis games – that no even thought to give up trying. It was fun having your ass handed to you in 60 fps 32 bit glory.
The Saturn was an ugly machine, with its weird brown hue that made me think Sega just wanted it to be cheap, so whatever colour’s cheapest to manufacture is fine thanks. The controller was sublime though, (see the NFG review) and we eagerly looked forward to the North American launch, which was to come earlier than we expected, and for which I have other stories to tell.
The Saturn was awesome.