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Thread: What if Saturn had lasted one more year in the U.S.?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lync View Post
    I would have loved to have Stellar Assault SS - but even in Japan that is a very difficult game to find. Which is a great example of a genre I think that has done well in the West, but in Japan - were plane/space ship simulators popular? That is my question in regards to appeal and why I have the impression of the Saturn becoming this island. By 1998 developers no longer needed to care about anyone but the Japanese gamer.

    The game was easy to get on its release and it was pretty cheap too.

    Also I can't help but feel you're missing the point this isn't about the Saturn doing better for sales, but more the point that if SEGA West had looked to supported the Saturn for a little bit longer they could have cherry-picked the better Saturn software from Japan. I think its rather sad that the likes of Gun Griffon II and Stellar Assault were never translated
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    The game was easy to get on its release and it was pretty cheap too.

    Also I can't help but feel you're missing the point this isn't about the Saturn doing better for sales, but more the point that if SEGA West had looked to supported the Saturn for a little bit longer they could have cherry-picked the better Saturn software from Japan. I think its rather sad that the likes of Gun Griffon II and Stellar Assault were never translated
    Why would Sega provide deeper support for the Saturn into '98 for any other reason but for sales.

    But that clearly was not going to happen with it faltering, so perhaps they would just want to see how much more time and money they could exhaust before preparing for the Dreamcast then? Or maybe for love?

    I just don't see why Sega would have needed to wait until they were on their last leg with the Saturn to then begin cherry-picking titles. Did they figure laying off half their American branch that year would be the right time to step up publishing efforts?

    No - and I'm honestly convinced it's because they didn't have a grasp on the market from the get. Hindsight is not 20/20 either in this case with advertising like this. I mean, what the f#ck did they think they were selling.

    A lot of this however does not interest me though. The entire SOJ vs SOA debate, complex hardware architecture, all of the 'what-ifs', etc. As the saying goes:
    "The train has left the station."

    What I was really interested in trying to illustrate before was how I felt the gaming pool for the Saturn in '98 had shifted toward Japanese-tastes and with titles with larger appeal like Symphony of the Night, Thunder Force V, or Grandia making the jump to the Playstation just the year before, there wasn't much to look forward to other than the prospect of starting fresh with the Dreamcast.

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    This thread is just a what if, Not what SEGA could or should have done better or sensible business plans. This is just a fun thread on. What If SEGA did support the Saturn longer and what sort of software the Saturn could it have enjoyed in late 97 and early 98 in the west.

    ALSO Stellar Assault wasn't hard to find on its release, Most import shops in the UK carried it and it was fairly cheap too (UK import shops) . Its since gone up in vaule thanks to ebay and the likes of YouTube
    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 01-20-2019 at 04:16 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lync View Post
    One thing about the Sega Saturn I never totally recognized myself and I think is misunderstood about the system is how vastly different a gaming machine it was in Japan than the rest of the world.

    And I mean that by how seemingly insulated it became as Sega fumbled marketing it everywhere did Japanese developers find themselves free to just design and produce games according to the Japanese audience.

    That probably reads as minor because of the typical imports that come to mind like "Radiant Silvergun" or "Dead or Alive", etc., but I feel this was the beginning in a separation in game culture where Japanese tastes both in genre and aesthetics were becoming polarizing.

    When you see titles like "Pia Carrot", "Culdcept", or "Eve Burst Error", topping the lists while "Guardian Heroes" barely cutting top 100 or not listing other games altogether like "Astal" - Supporting the Saturn another year wouldn't have yielded anything in terms of titles worth the localization effort, or already niche import market.



    I look at the Saturn here as a console that pioneered the concepts and mechanics of 3D gameplay, developed upon in stride the arcade-at-home experience, and is the last house to truly celebrate 2D games both at their peak and at a time when they were being discarded.

    I look at the Saturn in Japan as NEC's PC-FX but popular. Really popular. But only in Japan because it found itself catering to Japan.

    One more year would have been for naught.
    I think you might be a bit off the mark here.

    First, I wouldn't say the Saturn was ever successful in Japan. It's more that Virtua Fighter was successful. A huge number of people were buying Saturns to ONLY play Virtua Fighter, and Sega was not easily recouping manufacturing costs.

    Second, a lot of those weird Japanese titles were very niche in Japan and did not sell much. There were a huge number of PC-98 adventure game ports and such, but that was nothing new in Japan (e.g. PC Engine).

    The fact is, as Hideki Sato said, people were just not buying Saturn games. This is very evident when you look at the top sales ranking:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081230...ts.com/sat.php

    Only 5 games broke 500,000 sales, and the vast majority of titles released were under 100,000 sales. Those niche titles don't appear much at the top. It's a lot of arcade ports.

    As an aside: Radiant Silvergun gets a lot of praise, but it sold the same number of copies in Japan as did Gunstar Heroes (50,000).

    In regards to catering to Japan: The only genre that has ever really mattered in Japan is the RPG. Sega lacked the know-how to develop their own strong RPGs (see the failure of Panzer Dragoon Saga) and they couldn't get the big 3rd parties (Square, Enix). It's no coincidence that the console that Square/Enix supported in Japan was always the one to be the most successful. If Sega had tried more to cater to Japan's demand for RPGs, the Saturn might have been more successful, but that was never really what Sega was going for or strong at.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    I think you might be a bit off the mark here.

    First, I wouldn't say the Saturn was ever successful in Japan. It's more that Virtua Fighter was successful. A huge number of people were buying Saturns to ONLY play Virtua Fighter, and Sega was not easily recouping manufacturing costs.

    Second, a lot of those weird Japanese titles were very niche in Japan and did not sell much. There were a huge number of PC-98 adventure game ports and such, but that was nothing new in Japan (e.g. PC Engine).

    The fact is, as Hideki Sato said, people were just not buying Saturn games. This is very evident when you look at the top sales ranking:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081230...ts.com/sat.php

    Only 5 games broke 500,000 sales, and the vast majority of titles released were under 100,000 sales. Those niche titles don't appear much at the top. It's a lot of arcade ports.

    As an aside: Radiant Silvergun gets a lot of praise, but it sold the same number of copies in Japan as did Gunstar Heroes (50,000).

    In regards to catering to Japan: The only genre that has ever really mattered in Japan is the RPG. Sega lacked the know-how to develop their own strong RPGs (see the failure of Panzer Dragoon Saga) and they couldn't get the big 3rd parties (Square, Enix). It's no coincidence that the console that Square/Enix supported in Japan was always the one to be the most successful. If Sega had tried more to cater to Japan's demand for RPGs, the Saturn might have been more successful, but that was never really what Sega was going for or strong at.
    Think you're going off topic, but people weren't just buying the Saturn for VF, the Saturn was selling well long after VF and VF2 it was really the demo of FF 7 that killed Saturn sales almost overnight. Also even with a Huge user base how many Mega Drive games sold over a million units in not that many titles considering , its not that many. And its not really fair to bring up Saga; It was the Team Andromeda team who lacked the know-how to make RPG's, not SEGA Japan it's self and indeed SEGA did draft in staff members who knew how to make RPG's from the other divsions to help with Saga . SEGA Japan long before Saga had made some quite brilliant RPG's on the Saturn with Sakura Wars (Red only did the art and helped with the story) , Magic Knight Rayearth, Dragon Force ect. The Saturn had loads of RPG's

    Also Treasure games always get hype, but don't sell in big numbers (other than on Nintendo systems) . Gunstar heroes always gets talked up but sold very little, much like all of Treasure 16Bit Mega Drive games. Gradius V will always be in most people's top PS2 shooter list and that game sold rubbish too
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    Think you're going off topic, but people weren't just buying the Saturn for VF, the Saturn was selling well long after VF and VF2 it was really the demo of FF 7 that killed Saturn sales almost overnight. Also even with a Huge user base how many Mega Drive games sold over a million units in not that many titles considering , its not that many. And its not really fair to bring up Saga; It was the Team Andromeda team who lacked the know-how to make RPG's, not SEGA Japan it's self and indeed SEGA did draft in staff members who knew how to make RPG's from the other divsions to help with Saga . SEGA Japan long before Saga had made some quite brilliant RPG's on the Saturn with Sakura Wars (Red only did the art and helped with the story) , Magic Knight Rayearth, Dragon Force ect. The Saturn had loads of RPG's

    Also Treasure games always get hype, but don't sell in big numbers (other than on Nintendo systems) . Gunstar heroes always gets talked up but sold very little, much like all of Treasure 16Bit Mega Drive games. Gradius V will always be in most people's top PS2 shooter list and that game sold rubbish too
    I'm not speaking out of my ass - in 1995, when there was still a serious shortage of Saturns in Japan, people were buying them up prior to the release of VF2 and not buying a single game! They were just waiting for VF2. It created huge problems for Sega.

    Look at the sales numbers I just posted. VF2 and Fighters Megamix DOMINATED sales relative to everything else, especially the only two RPGs in the Top 20 (Grandia and Shin Megami Tensei).

    Anyway, what I'm saying is not my opinion, but a restatement of what Nakayama and Sato have already said: The Saturn was not selling enough games per console to succeed.

    Panzer Dragoon Saga was meant to be Sega's big blockbuster RPG, the first since Phantasy Star to compete with Square and Enix's games. Every press report from 1997 on has Nakayama touting Saga as the next big thing, the game to save the Saturn. It turned out to be a massive waste of money.

    Sakura Wars is not anywhere near an RPG, by the way. It's an adventure game with light strategy portions sprinkled in. Great game, but definitely not an RPG. Magic Knight Rayearth sold nothing. Dragon Force is a strategy game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    This thread is just a what if, Not what SEGA could or should have done better or sensible business plans. This is just a fun thread on. What If SEGA did support the Saturn longer and what sort of software the Saturn could it have enjoyed in late 97 and early 98 in the west.

    ALSO Stellar Assault wasn't hard to find on its release, Most import shops in the UK carried it and it was fairly cheap too (UK import shops) . Its since gone up in vaule thanks to ebay and the likes of YouTube
    Are you telling me you have a copy of Stellar Assault SS?

    That game is everything in a sequel I wanted from Shadow Squadron! It seems masterful...

    In '95 I only had Virtua Fighter and Knuckles Chaotix for my 32X, and I remember the night I went out and bought Shadow Squadron - it is still one of the best reasons to own a 32X. Watching videos of Stellar Assault SS gameplay, man, it has to be just as much fun to play...


    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    I think you might be a bit off the mark here.

    First, I wouldn't say the Saturn was ever successful in Japan. It's more that Virtua Fighter was successful. A huge number of people were buying Saturns to ONLY play Virtua Fighter, and Sega was not easily recouping manufacturing costs.

    Second, a lot of those weird Japanese titles were very niche in Japan and did not sell much. There were a huge number of PC-98 adventure game ports and such, but that was nothing new in Japan (e.g. PC Engine).

    The fact is, as Hideki Sato said, people were just not buying Saturn games. This is very evident when you look at the top sales ranking:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081230...ts.com/sat.php

    Only 5 games broke 500,000 sales, and the vast majority of titles released were under 100,000 sales. Those niche titles don't appear much at the top. It's a lot of arcade ports.

    As an aside: Radiant Silvergun gets a lot of praise, but it sold the same number of copies in Japan as did Gunstar Heroes (50,000).

    In regards to catering to Japan: The only genre that has ever really mattered in Japan is the RPG. Sega lacked the know-how to develop their own strong RPGs (see the failure of Panzer Dragoon Saga) and they couldn't get the big 3rd parties (Square, Enix). It's no coincidence that the console that Square/Enix supported in Japan was always the one to be the most successful. If Sega had tried more to cater to Japan's demand for RPGs, the Saturn might have been more successful, but that was never really what Sega was going for or strong at.
    Out of the gate Virtua Fighter might have been the reason to buy a Saturn, but in its entirety to say that the Saturn wasn't successful in Japan?

    It was without question Sega's only successful console in Japan. In the history of Japan's video game market: of course not. Compared to its generation: not really. As far as Sega's hardware: sure, it may not have swept the market, but if I recall the Saturn is nearly on par with the sales of the Master System, Genesis, and Dreamcast combined for Japan.

    As far as the Saturn's place as a Japanese-niche system that's pretty much what TA and I were getting at - the Saturn filled that role similar to the PCE for its generation. I don't know how well or not some of those Japanese-esque RPGs sold and the contribution to the Saturn sales as a whole, but I'm sure it didn't hurt the Saturn either. People in Japan seem to like some of those weird f#ckin' games. Give me Stellar Assault SS any day damnit!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    I'm not speaking out of my ass - in 1995, when there was still a serious shortage of Saturns in Japan, people were buying them up prior to the release of VF2 and not buying a single game! They were just waiting for VF2. It created huge problems for Sega.
    Never said you did. But to seem to forget how the White Saturn sold out of its 1st stock run of over 100,000 units in 2days,that had little to with VF or VF 2.

    And sorry Sakura Wars is more of a RPG than Zelda (but that's always classed as an RPG) and for added messure SEGA even class the series as an RPG on the game cases.

    Btw I'm not on about sales, but making the point that SEGA Produced and published a lot of RPGs for the Saturn and so what about Saga, Shenmue was meant to be the DC savour and a RPG killer and it flopped, lost SEGA millions and had a more troubled development than Saga.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lync View Post
    It was without question Sega's only successful console in Japan. In the history of Japan's video game market: of course not. Compared to its generation: not really. As far as Sega's hardware: sure, it may not have swept the market, but if I recall the Saturn is nearly on par with the sales of the Master System, Genesis, and Dreamcast combined for Japan.
    But how are you defining successful? If you mean the total number of consoles sold, then yes, it sold more than other Sega consoles. But that's deceptive. So much of the picture is lost by just looking at console sales numbers (not to mention that the industry was rapidly growing at the time).

    In terms of the business of actually making money, the Saturn was a disaster and brought one of the greatest gaming companies of the generation to its knees.

    Every one of Sega's consoles up to that point in Japan actually made money. They didn't sell many units, but they were cheap to make and cheap to develop for. They attracted small developers who could easily get by selling 20,000 copies of a game, and Sega would be in the black from sales of 2-3 games per console sold.

    Jump to the Saturn: Sega had to sell at least 8 games per console to break even due to incredibly high manufacturing costs. Developers could no longer get by with teams of 5 people, but now needed dozens. Development also took much longer. Selling 20,000 copies of a game was no longer enough to get by. Now they needed to sell 100,000.

    The Saturn did survive for its first two years in Japan, largely due to Virtua Fighter and its iterations and a few other arcade ports. But then it died a quick and brutal death once Sega's losses started to mount. Many of Sega's long-time development collaborators either closed or shifted to other consoles during this period.

    When you read the accounts of people on the Japanese side (such as this one), you will never find them praising the success of the Saturn in Japan. People in the West see only the somewhat high units sold and large number of games released and draw conclusions from that, but the truth is that the Saturn was too expensive to manufacture, games were too expensive to develop, and Sega did not have the resources to make it work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    And sorry Sakura Wars is more of a RPG than Zelda (but that's always classed as an RPG) and for added messure SEGA even class the series as an RPG on the game cases.
    Be honest: Have you ever played Sakura Wars? It's nowhere near an RPG. I don't know how anybody could call it that. It's an interactive novel / Japanese adventure game with a light strategy/tactics element.

    The back of the case on the first two Saturn titles in Japan identify the genre as "dramatic adventure". Where do you see it identified as an RPG?

    https://segaretro.org/images/thumb/2...P_Box_Back.jpg
    https://segaretro.org/images/thumb/3...P_Box_Back.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lync View Post
    Are you telling me you have a copy of Stellar Assault SS?
    Yes i am and I had more issues getting NBA action 98 to be honest at the time (since NBA is niche in the UK and the Saturn market was dying)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Be honest: Have you ever played Sakura Wars? It's nowhere near an RPG. I don't know how anybody could call it that. It's an interactive novel / Japanese adventure game with a light strategy/tactics element.
    Yes, I own the entire series have and its classed as an RPG by many even SEGA in stuff like the Saturn/DC software flyers . I wouldn't class Yakuza as an RPG myself, but that what it comes under that genre, same goes for the likes of Zelda, The Story of Thor or even Phantasy Star Online but they're seen has RPG's, very much the same for Shenmue too.

    Even if we take out Sakura Wars, SEGA had ready made or produced a high number of Saturn RPG and had a lot of RPG knowledge with the number of Mega Drive RPGs it had produced or developed.
    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 01-21-2019 at 09:37 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    I think you might be a bit off the mark here.

    First, I wouldn't say the Saturn was ever successful in Japan. It's more that Virtua Fighter was successful. A huge number of people were buying Saturns to ONLY play Virtua Fighter, and Sega was not easily recouping manufacturing costs.

    Second, a lot of those weird Japanese titles were very niche in Japan and did not sell much. There were a huge number of PC-98 adventure game ports and such, but that was nothing new in Japan (e.g. PC Engine).

    The fact is, as Hideki Sato said, people were just not buying Saturn games. This is very evident when you look at the top sales ranking:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081230...ts.com/sat.php

    Only 5 games broke 500,000 sales, and the vast majority of titles released were under 100,000 sales. Those niche titles don't appear much at the top. It's a lot of arcade ports.

    As an aside: Radiant Silvergun gets a lot of praise, but it sold the same number of copies in Japan as did Gunstar Heroes (50,000).

    In regards to catering to Japan: The only genre that has ever really mattered in Japan is the RPG. Sega lacked the know-how to develop their own strong RPGs (see the failure of Panzer Dragoon Saga) and they couldn't get the big 3rd parties (Square, Enix). It's no coincidence that the console that Square/Enix supported in Japan was always the one to be the most successful. If Sega had tried more to cater to Japan's demand for RPGs, the Saturn might have been more successful, but that was never really what Sega was going for or strong at.
    That list is completely off. several games missing as well like daytona usa which sold nearly a million and panzer dragoon. more than 15 games sold 500,000 in japan and virtua fighter 2 sold 1.75 million units alone in japan. that number in your link were the pre-orders. sega rally alone has been confirmed by it's developer to have sold 1.2 million units, of which nearly a million came from japan.
    Last edited by bultje112; 01-21-2019 at 06:59 AM.

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    urusei yatsura Master of Shinobi lumclaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lync View Post
    Why would Sega provide deeper support for the Saturn into '98 for any other reason but for sales.

    But that clearly was not going to happen with it faltering, so perhaps they would just want to see how much more time and money they could exhaust before preparing for the Dreamcast then? Or maybe for love?

    I just don't see why Sega would have needed to wait until they were on their last leg with the Saturn to then begin cherry-picking titles. Did they figure laying off half their American branch that year would be the right time to step up publishing efforts?

    No - and I'm honestly convinced it's because they didn't have a grasp on the market from the get. Hindsight is not 20/20 either in this case with advertising like this. I mean, what the f#ck did they think they were selling.

    A lot of this however does not interest me though. The entire SOJ vs SOA debate, complex hardware architecture, all of the 'what-ifs', etc. As the saying goes:
    "The train has left the station."

    What I was really interested in trying to illustrate before was how I felt the gaming pool for the Saturn in '98 had shifted toward Japanese-tastes and with titles with larger appeal like Symphony of the Night, Thunder Force V, or Grandia making the jump to the Playstation just the year before, there wasn't much to look forward to other than the prospect of starting fresh with the Dreamcast.
    The simplest, if not scrapped midway, localizations we didn't get intrigue me. Gradius Deluxe Pack was already in English.
    Various games like Vampire Savior, Bubble Symphony, or Soukyugurentai were translated elsewhere, and the Saturn versions make apparent they were attempted on some level.

    Working Designs fleetingly teased Iron Storm 2, never to be seen again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lumclaw View Post
    The simplest, if not scrapped midway, localizations we didn't get intrigue me. Gradius Deluxe Pack was already in English.
    Various games like Vampire Savior, Bubble Symphony, or Soukyugurentai were translated elsewhere, and the Saturn versions make apparent they were attempted on some level.

    Working Designs fleetingly teased Iron Storm 2, never to be seen again.
    Good points, lots of the SNK games either had their text already translated for the Western market on the Neo or some games had a English text option ready in the Saturn version.
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