The Sega Saturn Mini


By now, you know that Sony is set to release the PlayStation Mini later this year. Following in the footsteps of Nintendo with the NES and SNES Mini, it'll feature a handful of pre-loaded games on a chibi version of an iconic console. Sony has announced five of the twenty games thus far, with the rest to be revealed in the build-up to Christmas.

By now, you also know which games every prick with a Twitter account wants to see on the PS Mini.

What you don't know, however, is which twenty+ games would belong on a Sega Saturn mini. This is because (a) it doesn't exist yet, and (b) the Saturn was a criminally overlooked system. Yes, Sega fucked it up, from the messy launch to the even messier system architecture, but there are plenty of gems on the Saturn that are worth playing today.

Trust me, I have lots of Saturn games and have played at least six of them.

If I were in charge of filling a Saturn Mini, these are the games I would choose. I've tried to include a mix of genres, and limit the number of entries to two per series. Some of these titles are more likely than others to appear on a Mini, if one were to be released. Licensing issues and missing source code would disqualify a couple, as would the need for peripherals two to three times larger than the actual console.

But lets not worry about the details. Here's my list.

Peak Saturn

  • Sega Rally Championship
  • Virtua Fighter 2
  • Virtua Cop 2
  • Nights Into Dreams

These are the games that come to mind first when I think about the Saturn. They are distinctly SEGA, and three of them are outstanding ports of arcade classics. The fourth, Nights, is the fill-in for the great Sonic game we never got on Sega's 32-bit machine. All but Virtua Cop 2 are guaranteed to be on a Mini, should one ever materialise. Virtua Cop 2 is my favourite Saturn game, and one of my all-time favourites on any console, so I'm insisting that the system comes with a mini, blue light-gun. Like those little pistols that prostitutes carry in Westerns, only bright blue. Sega, call me.

Critically Acclaimed Saturn

  • Panzer Dragoon
  • Panzer Dragoon Saga
  • Guardian Heroes
  • Radiant Silvergun
  • Burning Rangers

Now that's a sexy list! If I'm honest, Panzer Dragoon hasn't aged all that well - those polygons will take your eye out - but it's an important game nonetheless, and therefore belongs here. The presence of PD Saga, by most accounts one of the finest RPGs of its generation, would alone justify the existence of a Saturn Mini. PAL and NTSC copies cost an absolute fortune, thanks to a limited print run very late in the console's lifetime, so it's very difficult to get a hold of. However, I wouldn't get your hopes up. It's common knowledge that the original source code is missing, so it's highly unlikely that we'll ever be able to enjoy this game on anything other than original hardware.

Guardian Heroes is peak Treasure. They developed three games for the Saturn - GH, Silhouette Mirage and Radiant Silvergun - and they were all stunners. Radiant Silvergun is also on this list, though I must admit that I've never played it on the Saturn, due to its high price. Burning Rangers is the best game about futuristic firefighters that you've never played.

Hideo Kojima on the Saturn

  • Snatcher
  • Policenauts

While the Saturn wasn't the lead platform for either of Kojima's graphic adventures, I think of them both as Saturn games. Neither made it to the West on this platform, though Snatcher did make an appearance in English on the Mega CD and there's a excellent fan translation out there for Policenauts. We just need some industrious programmer to flip a few switches, then Bob's your uncle - localised Snatcher and Policenauts on the Saturn!

Also on the Saturn

  • Castlevania Symphony of the Night
  • Grandia

The Saturn got Grandia first, but didn't get Castlevania until a year and a bit after the PlayStation release. Still, they're great games, they were on the Saturn, so now they're on my Mini. I'd also accept Resident Evil and Tomb Raider for this category.

Fighting on the Saturn

  • Fighters Megamix
  • Street Fighter vs X-Men
  • Darkstalkers 3 (Vampire Savior)

When it comes to fighting games, the Saturn has an embarrassment of riches. You could quite easily fill an entire mini console with beat-em-ups from that era. Fighters Megamix is the best of the 3D offerings, featuring the cast of Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers.

While it often struggled to render 3D, the Saturn was THE home of superior 2D ports. Capcom had some great 2D beat-em-ups on the Saturn, making the most of the hardware capabilities and RAM cartridge expansion. Street Fighter vs. X-Men and Darkstalkers 3 are my personal favourites, though I could have gone with any number of Street Fighters and Vs. Fighting games. I'm shit at them all, but boy do they look pretty.

Bleeding Fingers on the Saturn

  • Decathlete
  • Winter Heat

Lead a collection of racial stereotypes through a series of summer and winter Olympic events by bashing 1-2 buttons as hard and as fast as you can. These games are much more fun than they sound, though excessive play will lead to thumb loss.

Games Beginning with D on the Saturn

  • Die Hard Arcade (Dynamite Deka)
  • Daytona USA

Two outstanding arcade ports. They are colourful, fun and over-the-top. There are other games beginning with "D" on the Saturn, of varying quality. Doom, for example.

More Unrealistic Peripherals (on the Saturn)

  • Virtual On
  • The House of the Dead

If we're going to the trouble of creating a mini light-gun, then we should have at least one other game that supports it, and The House of the Dead is the best non-Virtua Cop shooter available. Virtual On is loads of fun, especially when playing with the over-sized, double joystick. For the Mini, lets shrink it down to the size of a postage stamp.

The Sega Saturn Mini. $99 and it's out tomorrow!

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