Super Classic Videogames




saturnWhy would you mod your Saturn?

The Sega Saturn was a wonderful piece of hardware that was greatly underappreciated, but still has a cult following. While it was not the commercial success that the Sony Playstation was, the Saturn was techincally superior for However, because of the Saturn’s commercial obscurity (especially outside of Japan) many of the most enjoyable games for the system are quite hard to find. There were some incredible games released for the Saturn in the United States, but the really good stuff’s in Japan

Some of the really tough finds, like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Radiant Silvergun, and Keio Yugekitai are being sold for over $200 on EBay. The original games are becoming more of a collectors item as sellers gouge buyers. Because of this, many Saturn owners are unable to enjoy many of the great gems of the system. ISOs and game copies are easily obtainable now and it can be quite fun to collect a lot. (I do encourage you to buy these games for newer systems if they ever become re-released though).

In order to play these ISOs and backups, however, you will need a modchip. The Sega Saturn modchip is very inexpensive and easy to install. Once it is installed, you can play burned games just like they were the real thing.

Modding your Saturn will also allow you to play homebrew games that are availible on the net. You can also make your own games and software. (Check out SegaXtreme for more info) In fact, I will soon be sponsering a Saturn Homebrew contest.

This modchip will not allow you to play anything you throw at it however. The security encryption in the Saturn is one of the most effective schemes, forcing you to do seperate modifications before you can play both copies of games and games from other countries. This guide will show you how to modify your system so it can play CD-Rs, but if you want to play imports - either copies or originals - you should read over a Modchip. A modchip will allow you to boot any Saturn game -- burnt or original -- as long as it has the region of your machine (if it's not, I'll get to playing imports in a bit). Once the chip is installed, you will be able to pop in burned Saturn CDs and play them just like the real thing -- no boot disk or anything. You will not have to do anything else from that point -- just play as many games as you want without breaking a sweat.

Sega Saturn Swap Trick
If you would like a way to start playing backups casually, the swap trick might be the way to go. If you have a Model 1 Saturn (usually with oval buttons), it isn't too terribly hard. The Model 1's have a light on the machine that signals you when to swap.

However, if you have a newer Model 2, the swap trick is significantly harder since there is not a light to signal you to success. When I had my first Saturn, I was reluctant to put a mod chip in my Model 2, so I tried the swap trick. I tried getting the thing to work many, many times with no success. I was ready to throw the machine across the room. I finally went with a modchip and I never regretted it.

There are two disadvantages to the swap trick, even if you can get it to work. First of all, it gets very tedious to do the swap over and over every time you want to play a Saturn game. If you only play one game every now and then, it's not that big of a deal. However, if you discover many of the great titles the Saturn has to offer, you may find yourself getting sick of swapping.

Not only does the swap trick get tedious, but it also leads your machine to a slow and painful death. Unless you are the ultimate magician-type, you will jerk the Saturn's CD spindle each time you swap a disk. This may not kill the Saturn right away, but it slowly damages it a bit each time. Since Saturns are becoming more limited and more expensive on eBay, you may not want to risk this.

For these reasons, I have tried to emphasize how beneficial a Saturn mod chip is. Even though it costs a small bit of money, time, and effort, it definately makes up for the money (for potential Saturn replacements), time and effort (of constantly swapping) over a longer course of time.

Playing Imports
Now that you have your backups booting, you may want to be able to play games that are not from your region. You may have a USA Saturn and want to play some great Japanese import. Or maybe you have a PAL Saturn and want to see what you're missing out on. unfortuanately, no modchip or swap trick can let you play imports automatically. However, there are multiple ways to get around this issue.

First of all, you can change the region code on your game ISO. If you have a ripped copy of a game (how do I rip a game?) on your hard drive, you can use a small, free utility to patch the region code on your game. Once your region code is patched, the game will plat just like it was made for your region. I find this method to be the easiest for both beginners and those that are looking for an inexpensive and easy method. This method requires a modchip.

If have some soldering skill and would like a more flexibility in your importing, you can modify the Saturn itself to play games of any region. Once this modification is performed, you can boot all games from all regions, including original copies. If you are booting backup imports, you will still need a modchip.

The last method of playing imports, is by using an Action Replay cartridge. These items usually cost about $20 online and can be a bit of a pain. Each time you start any game -- original or backup -- import or domestic -- you will have to navigate through a bunch of annoying menus. It works, but I find it to be too annoying for my taste. I used this method originally, but once I modded my system, I never went back.

Games That Require Extra RAM
The one other issue you might notice along the way of playing backups is that some games might bring up a message that mentions something about RAM. There are some very popular games like X-Men vs Street Fighter and Metal Slug that require an extra chunk of video RAM to bring that true-to-the-arcade quality. Below are some links that are helpful for these game


Best site for a Saturn Mod Chip. Check out Rackboy's Site. Its awesome!




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