Author Topic: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did

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Rucks

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The 20th anniversary of the Saturn's surprise U.S. launch was in May and for some reason I'm just now getting around to reading some of the (rather glowing) retrospective on the device. 

For those interested, here are two that stood out http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/14/sega-saturn-how-one-decision-destroyed-playstations-greatest-rival and http://www.usgamer.net/articles/the-lost-child-of-a-house-divided-a-sega-saturn-retrospective

Reading these posts got me wondering about why I chose one system (The PS1) over the other back when I was young (and didn't have the disposable income to buy both).  My progression of systems as a pre-independent adult went something like this SNES->PS1->PS2->360.  I am certain that the reason I bought a PS1 instead of a Saturn was because I wanted to play Square games.  And I am certain that the reason I initially bought a 360 instead of a PS3 was because of that time that the playstation network got hacked and everyone completely lost their minds.  BUT, what I'm REALLY interested in is hearing why other people on this forum chose to go the gaming route they did.

This doesn't matter so much now that most of us are grown and can afford to play games on multiple fronts.  But as a broke youth, the choice you made could mean a whole hell of a lot more than just being out a few hundred bucks.  So, fanners, why did you all choose to buy that Saturn/Dreamcast/NGage (looking at you Mike...) way back when?

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Aeolus

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2015, 05:27:34 PM »
That first article is lol-clickbait-y. Nice that it completely ignores Nintendo's presence during that era, even if its own draconian practices wound up taking it out of the race. The second isn't much better either given that the Saturn wasn't the only Sega machine to suffer during that era (hello 32X, welcome to abandonware-ville).
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Dincrest

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 05:41:49 PM »
Sega made an obscene amount of bad business decisions over those console generations and shot themselves in the foot many times over.  That's common knowledge.

As for why I chose the systems I did during my elementary, middle, high school, and college years, I merely chose the ones that more of my friends had, so that way we could trade and borrow each others' games.  

I never had a Saturn.  The only Sega consoles I had were the Genesis and Dreamcast.  I still posit that the Dreamcast was one of the best consoles for fighting games. 
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 07:39:15 PM by Dincrest »
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Hidoshi

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2015, 10:42:52 AM »
I actually owned a Saturn (still do, same machine no less) and a PlayStation concurrently (yay for birthday/Christmas and aunts & uncles who know you like videogames), so I never had to make a severe choice. I played a LOT of Virtua Fighter 2, Shining Force III, and Dragon Force back in the day, but I was always kind of aware that the PSX had a larger library and better graphics. I think it was around the time that FFVIII came out that I really started to see my Saturn gaming drop off, largely because of how many new things the PSX had to offer. It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

Daggerstrike

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2015, 06:33:37 PM »
I actually owned a Saturn (still do, same machine no less) and a PlayStation concurrently (yay for birthday/Christmas and aunts & uncles who know you like videogames), so I never had to make a severe choice. I played a LOT of Virtua Fighter 2, Shining Force III, and Dragon Force back in the day, but I was always kind of aware that the PSX had a larger library and better graphics. I think it was around the time that FFVIII came out that I really started to see my Saturn gaming drop off, largely because of how many new things the PSX had to offer. It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

HOLY SHIT. IT'S HIDOSHI. It's only been about 3 years since you posted....


I had a Saturn and a PS as well. I mainly bought the Saturn for Shining Force....then we only got the first part and I was sad.
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Chronix112

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2015, 07:02:18 PM »
I owned a Saturn. The biggest problem the thing had was it was so expensive at the time. It also did not have that many great games available for quite a while and by then most of the people I knew wrote it off, or were soundly in the PS1 camp.  The original controller that came with the thing was also god awful.

Edit:The reason why I chose to eventually buy  it  was because I was a Sega fanboy. The System having games like Guardian Heroes, Nights, Panzer Dragon...Etc  made the choice easier, despite the flaws the system had.  I also had a PS1 and N64.  PS1 was king, while the Saturn solidly remained my #2 system for that generation.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 09:02:24 PM by Chronix112 »

Rucks

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2015, 07:23:04 PM »
It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

This is kind of what I was trying to get at. Retrospectives are constantly gushing about how much they loved the Saturn and Dreamcast, yet contemporary money and public interest largely went elsewhere.  The Saturn finished 3rd (like 100 million units behind the PS1), and the Dreamcast 4th (even behind the much shallower Xbox).  So I thought it would be interesting to hear why specific people sort of bucked the trend and still went with Sega.

"This goes way beyond pumpkin spice" "Whale oil beef hooked"

Aeolus

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2015, 07:52:47 PM »
It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

This is kind of what I was trying to get at. Retrospectives are constantly gushing about how much they loved the Saturn and Dreamcast, yet contemporary money and public interest largely went elsewhere.  The Saturn finished 3rd (like 100 million units behind the PS1), and the Dreamcast 4th (even behind the much shallower Xbox).  So I thought it would be interesting to hear why specific people sort of bucked the trend and still went with Sega.

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Anyways, I went with the PSX namely because it became painfully obvious to me at the time that they only person I knew who was into videogames was myself and thus figured that RPGs were more my speed. Then I went for the one console that really offered any (yet I still went for a GameCube during the PS2 years). The End.
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Aurian

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2015, 08:19:33 PM »
I pretty much just followed Square back then since they had so many quality games.

SNES --> PS1 / N64 --> PS2 --> XBOX360 / Wii ---> Ps4 / WiiU

Plus all handhelds.

N64 had so little. I never bothered with GameCube. I went Xbox because at the time many games were coming out for both but Xbox had the edge with Mass Effect and Lost Odyssey.

Went PS4 because that seems to be the RPG console,

Hidoshi

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2015, 12:14:43 AM »
It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

This is kind of what I was trying to get at. Retrospectives are constantly gushing about how much they loved the Saturn and Dreamcast, yet contemporary money and public interest largely went elsewhere.  The Saturn finished 3rd (like 100 million units behind the PS1), and the Dreamcast 4th (even behind the much shallower Xbox).  So I thought it would be interesting to hear why specific people sort of bucked the trend and still went with Sega.

Sadly, hardware isn't much of a market for an underdog. If you go small, you tend to go home. The Saturn and Dreamcast were good consoles, perhaps not great, but they did feature some excellent software that you couldn't get anywhere else. In a weird way, Sega did the Nintendo thing: Offer strong first-party content that strongly promotes your brand and iconic properties. Where they went wrong was, with the Saturn, leaving Wal-Mart and other retailers out in the cold with their surprise launch date, and with the Dreamcast, not giving the consumer a deeper reason to care.

Unlike Nintendo, who had years of credibility -- tyrannical policies or not -- Sega had only just made it with the Genesis/MegaDrive. The Master System had sold a pittance compared with the NES/Famicom and was quite obscure. The Genesis was a runaway success on the other hand and I think that newfound power went to their heads. If you look at the way Sega of Japan fought with Sega of America, it's clear there was some kind of strange, dysfunctional power struggle at work that ultimately culminated in the false start of the Saturn. Between the offensive posturing against their rivals, the high pricetag, developer-hostile hardware environment, and -- to cap it all off -- the insane "let's surprise-announce when the Saturn is being released without letting retailers in on it" bullshit... Well yeah, of course the Saturn tanked.

On the other hand, I think the Dreamcast could have been a real contender if not for two things: First, Sega was suffering from the Saturn's absolutely miserable reputation and probably had to court retailers back with lowered profit deals and a whole lot of begging. The history at work likely made quite a few retailers less willing to work for Sega as for their rivals, and that's just unhealthy. Second, the Dreamcast had a hard time reaching beyond the invested audience. If you were already a Sega fan or part of the core demographic, you likely got a Dreamcast or at least knew a fair deal about it. But new attachment? Low. Glib marketing like "It's thinking" tells the consumer nothing about your product, and there wasn't a real plan to explain the console to potential new buyers.

The Dreamcast is a landmark for quality software, just on a system that wasn't destined for greatness thanks to what had come before. For me, it was easy to love back then and it's easy to love it now, but it's definitely not the class favourite. Microsoft and Sony were simply better at pushing their systems to the fore in an era where the target demographic had moved out of being children and were hung up on being "cool" teenagers. No matter how good your product is, it won't matter if you can't explain it to the public and make them care.

Aeolus

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2015, 01:44:54 AM »
It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

This is kind of what I was trying to get at. Retrospectives are constantly gushing about how much they loved the Saturn and Dreamcast, yet contemporary money and public interest largely went elsewhere.  The Saturn finished 3rd (like 100 million units behind the PS1), and the Dreamcast 4th (even behind the much shallower Xbox).  So I thought it would be interesting to hear why specific people sort of bucked the trend and still went with Sega.

Sadly, hardware isn't much of a market for an underdog. If you go small, you tend to go home. The Saturn and Dreamcast were good consoles, perhaps not great, but they did feature some excellent software that you couldn't get anywhere else. In a weird way, Sega did the Nintendo thing: Offer strong first-party content that strongly promotes your brand and iconic properties. Where they went wrong was, with the Saturn, leaving Wal-Mart and other retailers out in the cold with their surprise launch date, and with the Dreamcast, not giving the consumer a deeper reason to care.

Unlike Nintendo, who had years of credibility -- tyrannical policies or not -- Sega had only just made it with the Genesis/MegaDrive. The Master System had sold a pittance compared with the NES/Famicom and was quite obscure. The Genesis was a runaway success on the other hand and I think that newfound power went to their heads. If you look at the way Sega of Japan fought with Sega of America, it's clear there was some kind of strange, dysfunctional power struggle at work that ultimately culminated in the false start of the Saturn. Between the offensive posturing against their rivals, the high pricetag, developer-hostile hardware environment, and -- to cap it all off -- the insane "let's surprise-announce when the Saturn is being released without letting retailers in on it" bullshit... Well yeah, of course the Saturn tanked.

On the other hand, I think the Dreamcast could have been a real contender if not for two things: First, Sega was suffering from the Saturn's absolutely miserable reputation and probably had to court retailers back with lowered profit deals and a whole lot of begging. The history at work likely made quite a few retailers less willing to work for Sega as for their rivals, and that's just unhealthy. Second, the Dreamcast had a hard time reaching beyond the invested audience. If you were already a Sega fan or part of the core demographic, you likely got a Dreamcast or at least knew a fair deal about it. But new attachment? Low. Glib marketing like "It's thinking" tells the consumer nothing about your product, and there wasn't a real plan to explain the console to potential new buyers.

The Dreamcast is a landmark for quality software, just on a system that wasn't destined for greatness thanks to what had come before. For me, it was easy to love back then and it's easy to love it now, but it's definitely not the class favourite. Microsoft and Sony were simply better at pushing their systems to the fore in an era where the target demographic had moved out of being children and were hung up on being "cool" teenagers. No matter how good your product is, it won't matter if you can't explain it to the public and make them care.

Adding to this. The Genesis wasn't just a success at its zenith, but was actively making headways into parts of the world nobody even considered at the time like South America. Unfortunately, Sega of Japan held the belief that only Japan mattered and when they did their politiking, they pretty much cut everyone but Japan and the US out of the loop while having Sega of America's head step down to further cement their dominance. What didn't help the Saturn was the fact that the new guy they got running the show only really wanted to play up Sega's (specifically NA's Genesis era) strengths of namely sports and gritty style action titles and had little to no use for anything resembling anime or couldn't be whitewashed into looking like something more appealing to Gen Xers (anything 3D helped a lot), whereas SoJ literally doubled down on the anime which left more than 2/3rds of the Saturn's library stranded in Japan.

And still, even today Sega is very much a Japan or bust company, only allowing for Sonic as a means to continue tapping non-Japanese markets. Their Atlus acquisition both made it the only other Sega software channel available to non-JP regions but also has them constantly sitting under a hanging sword (that's most likely already slowly lowering) of Sega swallowing the division whole and shutting down Atlus, IPs and all.
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Hidoshi

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2015, 09:32:01 AM »
I actually owned a Saturn (still do, same machine no less) and a PlayStation concurrently (yay for birthday/Christmas and aunts & uncles who know you like videogames), so I never had to make a severe choice. I played a LOT of Virtua Fighter 2, Shining Force III, and Dragon Force back in the day, but I was always kind of aware that the PSX had a larger library and better graphics. I think it was around the time that FFVIII came out that I really started to see my Saturn gaming drop off, largely because of how many new things the PSX had to offer. It's sad that Sega constantly shat the bed with the Saturn, 'cause it wasn't a bad little machine, just ill-positioned to succeed in the market.

HOLY SHIT. IT'S HIDOSHI. It's only been about 3 years since you posted....


I had a Saturn and a PS as well. I mainly bought the Saturn for Shining Force....then we only got the first part and I was sad.

Also, hi! I think it may be like... 5 years since I posted here? Not even sure. Back now, I guess. OFF TOPIC OFF TOPIC OFF TOPIC INTO BANLAND I GO.

Morwan

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2015, 04:20:38 PM »
It's really been 20 years?

I remember we had a choice between a PSX and a Saturn. I chose the Saturn because I was a Sega loyalist at that point in time. I'm pretty sure I was the only person to make that choice where I grew up, further cementing my status as the kid who was into weird video games. That system turned me into the gamer I was today. I've owned or played pretty much every RPG on that platform, I imported Shining Force III Scenarios 2, 3, and even the premium disc. I camped out on the RPGFan boards and IRC channel because those were the only places I could discuss (and get hype) about upcoming Saturn games.

I ended up never buying a PSX, and instead played most of its games with emulators.

It's strange how such small decisions can change a large part of your life.

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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2015, 09:51:02 PM »
Saturn has Nanatsu Kaze, and that game means a lot to me.
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Re: The demise of the Sega Saturn and why we chose the consoles we did
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2015, 10:48:59 AM »
I bought a Saturn mainly because WD was my favorite publisher at the time (and there was still some hope of a Lunar 3), and they were talking about preferring that system. They did release a few good titles for it, but it's no secret the system's overall library didn't quite pan out in the long run. I ended up selling it privately after a few years, and got a PS1. Helloooo FF7 and Lunar remakes.
However, I sure do have some great memories of Guardian Heroes; Panzer Dragoon; Dragon Force; Dark Savior; etc. Damn shame Sonic X-treme was never officially released... Not that it would have been a saving grace, but for the time, it looked awesome.