With all the hullabaloo regarding the Sega Megadrive turning 30 and the associated mini, another Sega console celebrated an anniversary at Segafes 2019, the Sega Saturn turned 25.
Yes, the first console to fight Sony’s PlayStation head to head, one on one all the way back in 1994. With Nintendo in the locker room prepping its N64 for another two years, Sega took on Tekken with Virtua Fighter, Ridge Racer with Daytona USA, Jumping Flash with Clockwork Knight and Bug!. What a match, the winner of the 16 bit generation vs the newcomer itching for the title. Time will forget that Tomb Raider was a timed exclusive for Saturn, time will forget that Resident Evil had Saturn exclusive enemies. Time may have even forgotten Segata Sanshiro, until Segafes 2019.
That is because to celebrate the anniversary of Sega Saturn, Segata Sanshiro re appeared to remind everyone to play Sega Saturn or die. Yes, although in the west the Saturn was pinned 1-2-3 by Sony’s Playstation. It was not the case in Japan, in fact in the holy land of video games the Saturn held its own, outselling the N64 and stayed neck and neck with PSX.
It was the gamers machine and it was supported by Segata Sanshiro. Someone one day may ask who is Segata Sanshiro? Well, he was a character created by Sega to front the Sega Saturn in ad campaigns in Japan. Based off a legendary character from Akira Kurosawa’s film Sanshiro Sugata he was portrayed in advertisements by Hiroshi Fujioka and well. Check out the video.
Depending if you watch A Current Affair or not, depending on your attitude toward video games he is a hero or an anti-hero. Just when you think you might get some fresh air, do something active or social; regardless of your age. Segata Sanshiro appears to remind you, in no uncertain terms, that you should have stayed at home to play your Saturn. Yep, whether you were heading to the park to play ball, hanging in a night club, if he finds you than you shall pay for making the wrong decisions in life. Despite his preference for Saturn over life, he did appear for the launch of the Dreamcast, in issue 269 of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic and even Sonic Racing Transformed. Then at Segafes 2019 to celebrate the Sega Saturn, he appeared to sing his theme with an awkward Sonic.
As the resident Checkpoint historian and known Sega fanboy, I think its great that Sega took the time to celebrate the anniversary of a very controversial console. The Sega Saturn is a console that had an eclectic collection of games that was also a pivotal moment for Sega. It marks the end of their dominance and drove its console business into the ground globally. But in other ways it made the video game world a better place. It’s short life brought the world the Dreamcast which pioneered online console gaming, 3D Sonic and those memory cards with screens that no console has since attempted. The brand damage the Saturn caused resulted in Sega becoming a multi platform software developer, so now you can play Sega games on all major consoles, minor consoles, your computer and for free on your phone.
Aside from Segata Sanshiro, who is looking great for his age by the way. Segafes also featured giant Saturn control pads and Saturn games to play such as the famous console version of Virtua Fighter 2. No matter which way you cut it, the Sega Saturn was a unique console for a variety of reasons both good and bad. Consoles come and go for sure but some just have more heart than others and the Saturn will always have a place in mine.