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Released unexpectedly on May 11th, 1995 to beat Sony's PlayStation to the market in the United States, the Sega Saturn seems to be Sega's attempt to shoot its foot completely off. This surprise launch was not announced to retailers like KB Toys and WalMart, which incensed the former to the point where they completely dropped the Saturn from their stores. With six systems on the market at the same time, Sega forced developers to make a quick decision as to which platform they would dedicate their limited development time to, and of course the Saturn would be that choice.

TECH
Sega Saturn
Manufacturer: Sega
Model: MK-80000
Type: TV game console


Processor: Twin Hitachi 32bit SH-2 RISC @ 28.6 MHz
Sound:Yamaha YMF292 DSP @ 22.6 MHz
Memory: 2 MB main memory
1.5 MB video memory
Dimensions: 260mm x 230mm x 83mm



With the Saturn launch, Sega of Japan ordered a halt to all Genesis and 32X development. With a limited set of launch titles available, the Saturn could definitely use more games, and more genres. Imagine what kind of JRPGs we could see on a system that can do arcade-quality sprite work, and amazing 3D work? Could we have a Final Fantasy 7 or a Dragon Quest 7? Phantasy Star 4? Shining Force 3? The only downside would be loading times. While the Saturn has a 2X CDROM drive and a good amount of memory, there's little doubt that games like Neo Geo and other big arcade ports would have long loading times between levels.


MPEG, 240x188, 01:48
6.67 MB
SPEC
Display: from 320x224 to 704x240 (progressive scan)
16.77M simultaneous colors

Audio: 32 channel stereo sound
PCM, FM, MIDI, LFO



The Saturn is based on Sega's Model 2 arcade hardware, made famous with games such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally, similar to how the Sega Genesis was based on the System 16 and System 18 arcade boards. This eases the conversion of many popular arcade titles to the Saturn, with a reduced need to cut features and details from games. Properly utilized, the power of the Saturn could make for a revolution in both 2D and 3D games, though some have speculated that the multiple processors in the system could prove difficult for all but the most seasoned programmers to tame.

Not just different in its multiple processor configuration, the Saturn is oriented around quad geometry for its 3D graphics. More traditionally, triangular polygons are used in 3D modeling, allowing for more complex shapes. While it is possible to assign the same point to two vertices of a quad to fake a triangular polygon, this can cause issues with z-fighting (where two objects in the same position have the same priority, and appear to flicker or jitter) and texture warping.

The forward thinking in the design of the Saturn lends itself to future expandability through its two expansion ports. This means that upgraded functionality can be added to the system, with the appropriate hardware add-ons. With any luck, these won't become another instance of the 32X, being all hardware, with no software to properly show its strengths.





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Saturn

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