I admit the last version was a little inaccurate with regards to the Jupiter, however the more that contact me with extra information the more definitative this FAQ will become. The FAQ has also become expanded to cover some 32x/Mars information - though the main topic of the FAQ will still be the Saturn. If somebody else is willing to start a separate 32X/Mars FAQ I'll be glad to transfer the relevent information to them. Changes are marked with a <> next to them. +——– - - || _ _ || / / / \| || || || \ | \ | | | | / // / \ \ || || || \ \ | \| | \ \| | | | | || || / | \ \ | | / / /| || | | | | || |\ \ | |\ | | \_/ |||| || \/|| \\|| \_| | | Frequently Asked Questions || Version 1.15 || - - - ———+ Maintained by email@example.com Since its getting closer to release, and other 32 bit machines now have their own FAQ's – why not cover one of the hottest of them all? the Sega Saturn… . What the heck is the Saturn? . So what is this Jupiter I have heard of? . Okay then, so what is the 32X? . So what is the Mars being talked about? . Who is supporting the Saturn/32X? . How does Sega Channel fit into this? . What titles are in production? . Where/when will it be available? . How much will it cost? . Will the Saturn be compatible with the Genesis/SegaCD? . What are the specifications for the Saturn? . What are the specifications for the 32X? . So which 32bit+ system should I choose? . Acknowledgements . Other Q: What the heck is the Saturn? A: The Saturn is the latest video game console that is currently in production by Sega Enterprises. Development on the Saturn has been continuing for approximately the last 6-12 months, for a release some time later this year (1994). Sega has provided the Saturn as the next step up in its range of highly popular games consoles that began with the 8 bit Master System, and most recently the 16 bit Genesis and Sega-CD. Each of these systems has sold many millions of games and units across the world, making Sega currently the second biggest, if not the biggest video game manufacturer world-wide. Saturn is aimed to provide a direct competition with new consoles such as the 3DO, Atari Jaguar, and Commodore (now in liquidation) CD32. It also aims to compete against other upcoming consoles such as the Sony Playstation-X (or PS-X, also due late 1994), and eventually against Sega's main rival, Nintendo. Nintendo, who in cooperation with Silicon Graphics are to produce a 64 bit games console containing much of the technology now implemented in SGI's Onyx workstations for release in <> mid 1995.
In technical terms, the Saturn will be a fully 32 bit console that will offer specialised multi-media capabilities many times greater than most computer systems at a much cheaper price. Sprite and rendered graphics will be a natural function of the hardware, and handled with ease. <**> Sega is also looking into the Saturn being compatible with MPEG1 as standard if costs permit, allowing the playing of movies on CD. Software that will be available ranges from sports to highly frantic arcade games, or anything else you can dream up. <**> Saturn is also aims to be one of the few consoles to specifically plan and take into account the integration into online interactive networks.
Q: So what is the Jupiter I have head of?
A: <> (just about everything changed). In April it was announced by many magazines that Sega would be releasing a Jupiter console, a cartridge only, and slightly lesser version of the Saturn. Recently plans for the Jupiter were shelved (if in fact we were going to see a Jupiter at all), probably due to production costs which would have pushed the machine past what Sega was aiming to sell it for. In order to be able to release a cheaper system, their current plans are for the 32X/Mars system. Q: Okay then, so what is the 32X? A: It is now official that the 32X is going to be the 'lesser' of Sega's two new machines, for release at about the same time as the Saturn. What the 32X will be is an add on for existing Genesis/Megadrive owners, which when plugged into the general expansion port will provide extra processing power and other enhancements to your old machine. 32X will be cartridge only, and not expected to be upgradeable to the Saturn (which was first planned with the Jupiter). The 32X will also include only two specially designed processors, whereas the Saturn will contain a predicted seven. For those who own a SegaCD the 32X will take advantage of this to provide 32X CD games. Basically if you have a SegaCD it will use the extra capabilities of the machine, in addition to that of the Genesis itself and 32X. Several of these 32X/CD games are already in production. The reason for this seems to be so that Sega can boost sales of the largely flailing SegaCD, while also cutting prices on the 32X by not having to include a CD-drive. It is expected that prices for the SegaCD will drop to increase sales for the 32X/CD combination. How did this come about? Most believe that Sega initially was at work on a cartridge only machine, however due to the market pressure of CD becoming standard, Sega was persuaded to integrate CD storage into their machine. Rather than waste this technology, they opted to use some of the technology in a cheaper, less powerful console. <> Q: So what is the Mars also talked about?
A: The Mars is simply a PAL version of the 32X for release in places
such as Australia, some parts of Asia, and Europe. Take the Genesis and Megadrive as a similar situation, pretty much the same system, but with a different name. It is expected that neither systems will be compatible with each other, to prevent uncontrolled 'grey' importing.
Q: Who is supporting the Saturn/32X?
A: The Saturn is essentially a product of Sega's own inguinuity, and
most of the machine as in fact designed and built by Sega singularly. Apparently a British firm was involved in one or more of the chip design, however most dedicated components such as main processor, co-processor, etc were designed by Japanese firms (such as Hitachi). These companies have nothing more to do with the Saturn than actual chip design and production. The other big news is that Microsoft have made a commitment to Saturn by developing the software for the machine. It is expected that this revolves around Microsoft's GUI Windows operating system, though how active this becomes part of the system to the end-user is unsure. Microsoft is also interesting in extending its market interests by helping to develop the Sega Channel and its ultimate aim of becoming the main player in a future global interactive network. Major software developers keen on producing Saturn titles include Sony, Bandia, Konami, <**> ID software (not as big, but everbody will still be interested!), Namco, plus too many more to mention here.
Q: How does the Sega channel fit into this?
A: Sega Channel is a venture undertaken by Sega to provide an expansive
and large online network for game players of Saturn, and possibly other machines (though unlikely). <**> It seems unlikely that the 32X will be SegaChannel compatible due to the speed of the internal bus. The system is currently undergoing trials in the United States and Japan to investigate its viability. When in place the Sega Channel which operate much like your standard cable television provider, except rather than offering programs it offers games and other services. Some of these services include the possibility of online shopping, a gamers database, game related message facilities, and probably more to be announced.
The main aim of the Sega Channel however is to provide games on demand. For an monthly access fee of $20-$30 (plus the possibility of online charges), subscribers are continously sent game data for a game of their choice to their Saturn or possibly 32X. Playing a Sega Channel game would be similar to the game being in the player's own machine, except the game is erased from memory after the game is completed. Such a network also allows the exciting possibility of country-wide (or even worldwide) games with many different players.
Q: What titles are in production?
A: Here is a list of the more popular known titles that are in
production at the present time <**> FOR THE SATURN. Approximately 40 other titles will be going into production in the next few months, so this is just a small sample.
* Virtua Racing Deluxe (Sega) - An _exact_ (everything) conversion of the
extremely popular arcade driving game. Saturn can easily replicate what the arcade machine (called Model 1 by Sega) does, so that may give you a further indication of the Saturn's capabilities. Virtua Racing includes multiple viewpoints, multiple courses and will allow the linking of machines for multi-player races. <**> A 32X version is also planned.
* Virtua Soccer (Sega) - A polygon/texture-mapped sports game including
multi camera views, different teams plus multi-player support. <**> This maybe become an officially licensed Soccer game for the World Cup.
* <> Virtua Fighter (Sega) - Another _exact_ conversion of the popular arcade fighting game using polygon created fighters. SF2 like game with multiple characters and moves plus a number of different endings. * Daytona Racing (Sega) - Another driving/racing game which is based on production cars. Includes Goudrad shaded graphics, truly three dimensional tracks, multiple courses plus many different car options. This uses a newer board (Model 2) to Virtua Racing & Fighting, and what what you will see from this game is coming up to par on what the Saturn can do near its best. Screen shots of all these titles have been witnessed. Q: How much will it cost? A: While costs of these machines have yet to be exactly formalised, estimates put the Saturn at $450US and the 32X at $150US. This is expected to include at least one software title, possibly Virtua Racing or a new Sonic title ;) Software is expected to be in the region of $70-$100. How this will vary between the Saturn and 32X is unknown. Q: When/Where will it be available? A: The Saturn will first be released in Japan in November this year. <> United States release is expected to in early 1995, and
definitely "before the release of Project Reality" according to Sega. European/Australian/Canada/elsewhere release is likely to be in about June-July next year.
<**> United States release of the 32X is expected to be in mid-November, or at least before Christmas. It is not expected that the 32X will even be released in Japan, due to the Genesis' relative lack of popularity. Europe/Australia/Canada/elsewhere release of 32X is likely to be in December-January at the end of the year.
No dates have really been finalised or confirmed for either machines.
Q: Will the Saturn be compatible with the Genesis or SegaCD?
A: No. The Saturn will not be able to play Genesis or SegaCD software,
and there are no plans for an optional plug-in convertor. Very initially the plan was to remain backward compatible with these machines, however this plan was soon shelved.
<> Q: Will the Saturn be compatible with the 32X? A: It is pretty unlikely that this will be the case. While the 32X implements some Saturn technology, the wide technological difference between the two means this is not really possible (or probably desirable). 32X relies on Genesis capabilities that the Saturn simply doesn't include, so the answer is basically no. Q: What are the specifications of the Saturn? A: Here is what Sega will let on currently: PROCESSOR: Twin Hitachi SH2 32 bit RISC Chip - Clock speed of 27Mhz CO-PROCESSORS: Hitachi SH1 CISC 24 bit DSP Motorola 68000 Video processor - 900,000 polygons/sec display - Gouraud shading - texture mapping - five levels of hardware scrolling - sprite rotation, scaling, etc - four hardware sprite planes - two sprite manipulation planes VIDEO: - 16.8 million colours - 720x576 (?) resolution - MPEG decompression/playback - 16:9 (wide screen) compatible MEMORY: 2 megabytes main RAM 1.54 megabytes VRAM 540 kilobytes audio RAM 540 kilobytes CD-ROM cache AUDIO: 16 bit 68000 - 32 PCM channels (pulse-code modulation) - 8 FM channels - 44.1khz sampling rate I/O: High speed transfer port - Sega Channel compatible - Multi-link compatible (link two or more Saturn machines) PAL or NTSC RF signal (depending on location) SVHS output HDTV output RGB output (?) Analog control pad input/output STORAGE: CD-ROM - 320kb/sec - Audio CD, CD&G, Karokee CD, MPEG-1 compatible Cartridge (no longer certain) - System upgradable <> Q: What are the specifications of the 32X?
A: This is even less known that that of the Saturn at the present time.
What is believed at present is the following:
PROCESSOR: Twin Hitachi 32 bit RISC processors - clock speed of 23 MHZ - 40 MIPS
CO-PROCESSOR(s): Existing Genesis 68000, SegaCD and other chips Video processor - 50,000 polygons/sec - texture mapping - scaling and rotation
VIDEO: - 32,768 colours on screen - (Genesis resolution?) - Overlaying over existing Genesis/SegaCD video
MEMORY: 512k (4 mbit) additional RAM to Genesis/SegaCD memory
AUDIO: Stereo PCM chip - audio mixing with Genesis sound - additional 2 channels (therefore 14 all together?)
STORAGE: CD-ROM if you have a SegaCD - speed same as SegaCD - compatible with audio CD, CD&G, SegaCD
Cartridge - compatible with Genesis
Q: So which 32 bit system is the more powerful?
A: At the present, without a working model to benchmark it is a little
hard to tell which system really is the most powerful. Even when a working model is demonstrated, due to highly different architecture, comparing simply specifications will not really give you an indication of which system is the most powerful. Depending on the type of software and complexity, this will vary between systems. For computer addicts, a rough indication is that Saturn in raw processing power is likely to be as powerful as a 486dx33 - though of course with specialised capability to manipulate graphics, many times more efficiency.
Q: So which 32 bit+ system should I choose?
A: That is a question which ultimately has to be left up to the
individual player. However, the Saturn/32X offers a system which is supported by one the biggest video game companies, that being Sega -- meaning a wealth of software and retail support. For more mature players (that is open to interprutation) the Saturn may not provide enough mature titles to make a purchase worthwhile. While it will provide a lot more variety than some might otherwise be used to with the Genesis and Sega-CD machines, Sega has really aimed these machines at the younger/family market. Bang for buck, the Saturn offers a lot more power than equivelent machines at pretty much equal price. What may ultimately be the difference to many is price of software -- while some companies are now selling latest releases at $50-$70, it is expected that Saturn releases could be in the region of $70-$100.
* Myself :) (firstname.lastname@example.org) * Kelly Bradley (email@example.com) * David Aldride (firstname.lastname@example.org) * Others who have help add information to this FAQ * YOUR name could be here if you can provide some more/updated information!
.: Please do not ask for me to send you a personal copy via email – this FAQ will be posted _once_ monthly (and probably in between for updates). Permission is granted to post this FAQ freely by other users as long as it remains in its original form and without modification.
.: Just a short plug for my console magazine - Frontier magazine is a fairly new magazine (3 issues so far) that aims to provide a more complete and more intellectual coverage of consoles _only_. If you liked this FAQ, you will probably find Frontier equally as interesting, check out the magazine at
ftp.digex.net in pub/access/spatton/frontier_magazine/
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