Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Share Your Saturn Stories with the Junkyard Community

Fellow Junkies and Saturnites --

There's a brilliant Sega Saturn episode of My Retro Life in which Tyler from iretrogamer offers a rare and deeply insightful glimpse into his early memories with "Sega's most underrated console." Beyond an exercise in mere nostalgia, it wonderfully preserves the joyous enthusiasm that a boy and his father shared for the Saturn, not for what it could or should have been but for what it was. I'd encourage everyone to watch it (embedded below) -- so there's a quick Schlub plug for y'all.

Of course the Sega Saturn meant, and continues to mean, a great deal to us. Many of us had the opportunity to grow up with the console, with our memories inextricably linked to the highest highs and dramatic twists of its mid-to-late 90's lifespan. Others of us joined the party later on, acquainting ourselves with Sega's 32-bit system through a retrospective lens. Yet, we've all arrived here, with a shared appreciation for a beloved, if misunderstood console which continues to delight and surprise us decades onward.

So with that, we pose this to all of you in the community: What are your early memories of the Sega Saturn? How did you discover Sega's fifth generation console and what did it mean to you? Share your Saturn stories in the comments below.


Hugues (from The Retro League Podcast) said...

I've written about this on my personal site too much already and the short version is.. in 1995 I was working at an Electronics Boutique store. There was a lot of hype for the Saturn even in 1994. A few shoppers had this weird misconception that buying a 32X+Sega CD meant you'd have a system you could play these upcoming Saturn games on. Yeah, I know. Anyway, Sega was still a strong brand when it came to arcade games so people were genuinely excited for the system.

We were expecting it to launch in the fall of 1995 and I remember the surprise launch well. We didn't have email so the daily newsletter, or news from home office printed out on the register on a strip of paper. One day out of the blue there was an urgent note that Saturns would arrive in a couple hours. We frantically called the reserve list (pre-orders didn't start yet) to see who could make it in that day. We only received about 10, probably less, and they were gone before the end of the day.

Everything looked great at first. The system sold out regularly for the first month and the launch lineup had some solid titles. As weeks passed with no new games though people starting getting skeptical. The early buyers were getting frustrated at seeing the same 4-5 games on the shelf every day. Worse, it seemed like 9/10 people who bought a launch console broke their controller within a month. It was now apparent that the Saturn just wasn't ready for a May 1995 launch.

By xmas 1995 it was becoming clear that the PlayStation was going to be the winner of this generation. Many of us never gave it a chance since it was Sony's first system and consoles by other electronics giants (Philips, Panasonic, NEC) all failed. Hindsight, eh. Sega managed to fix their controller and library issues by that December but it seemed too late already. I think people had just given up on Sega.

So that's how I discovered the system - by seeing it launch and quickly run into problems. Despite being a huge Genesis and Sega CD fan I didn't buy one in 1995 because, well, working at Electronics Boutique was hardly a path to riches. I didn't really start collecting for it until after it was long dead in the early zeroes. Luckily that was before the game prices were through the roof. Since then it's become my favorite system for arcade ports. Well, maybe not Mortal Kombat II. Games like NBA Jam, Virtua Fighter 2, and Daytona USA are still an amazing amount of fun on it today. In the past year I've also been getting into the Panzer Dragoon games which I missed out on back in the day.

fatherkrishna said...

A great memory Hugues! I'd love to hear more of your Saturn memoriess and opinions! We need to discuss getting you a regular writing gig! 😎