Wow, thank you so much, @◉◉maru and @exodus. Thanks to you and everyone else who’s responded in this thread, I will be occupied with Saturn deep-diving for at least the next few months.
We’ve started delving into what has always made the Saturn such a compelling and mysterious console for me. Whereas the Genesis, SNES, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were all well-known quantities for me growing up, the Saturn existed somewhere in between all of them, delivering something all its own, but from an outsider 12-year-old’s perspective, it was never exactly clear what that something was. It was vaguely intimidating for me, at that age, and so remained that way for decades.
Since purchasing my Saturn, I’ve sort of been reflecting on the fact that this new console (in my life) provides me with far more excitement than either of the actual new consoles (PS5 and Xbox whatever) that the industry is trying to get me interested in. At first, I chalked it up solely to nostalgia, but you’ve helped me figure out that there’s more at play: hardware in the 16 and 32 bit eras genuinely did have distinct personality. Because development for each machine was so different, and there were such limitations in place on what could be accomplished, each console really did have its own flavour, or personality. People who’ve been around long enough to remember when this was the case seem desperate to apply that sense of personality to the new consoles, but Sony and Microsoft are really both just bringing affordable PCs to people who don’t want to buy an actual PC, for whatever reason. There’s very little to distinguish those two machines from each other, and if the Switch didn’t have portability, it would also feel basically the same, except less powerful and with a hilariously hard-to-navigate eShop.
Plugging in my Saturn for the first time and watching its logo materialize out of what appeared to be broken glass, I knew I was in for a defined aesthetic. I like what Sega printed on the console’s box, in 1994, for Japanese consumers: “SEGASATURN represents a leap into the new age of entertainment. Its launch is a new step for SEGA, too. Let’s go forward together.” Sure, that’s just catch copy, but with 26 years of distance between it and now, we’ve got a crystalized understanding of what that new step ultimately became for Sega, and it sure is cool to be able to pull the lid off of four years’ worth of hard-won game design victories (and compromises) and see what it looks and feels like.
In 2020, digging into a library this old, with this distinct a flavour, feels like discovering a band you never knew existed, or even a whole new genre of music. That’s not something anyone will be able to say in the year 2040, if they were to purchase a vintage PlayStation 4 and dig into its back catalogue.
As a game liker, I can’t imagine a more exciting proposition than this, is how I feel.