Sega Saturn, PR victim or actually a bit crap? *spawn

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Akumajou, Jul 23, 2016.

Tags:
  1. Akumajou

    Regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    64
    Besides competition coming from then relative new challenger in Sony, it is rather foolish to assume that the Saturn even in its final form was a bad design.

    You're looking at tech hardware being designed in 1992-94 when polygon graphics hardware like the Model 1 and Model 2 were insanely expensive.

    You have to sit down and read up on Sega System 32 Arcade hardware which used sprites to do 3d like games like Rad Mobile, Out Runners (the sequel variation to Out Run of the time) and G-Loc and others of the early 90s.

    Keeping in mind that Nintendo was only able to release something in 1996 after already knowing the cards on the table.

    Although on paper the PlayStation design seems to beat the Saturn, it also isn't a good design either...because they are both alternate designs of their time.

    There's youtube footage of the Arcade games I mentioned and from an engineering and software design point of view (no matter how wrong we think it could be) there are reasons why Sega's devs and hardware people may have made the Saturn design for that time given that making polygons look as "exciting as what was possible in those System 32 games" was definitely not possible even on PlayStation.

    A more open mind is required to understand the hardware design choices of the time and also experience playing those games as well.

    Virtua Fighter 1 was definitely impressive for a home reprogrammed conversion that used the Saturn hardware by top programmer devs at Sega AM2...even Daytona USA in it's rushed form is and contains some impressive qualities not seen or duplicated on PlayStation even with those early dev tools and knowledge in 1995.

    Virtua Fighter Remix which was really a native ST-V Arcade hardware board game variation to Vitual Fighter 1 as a lower cost solution to get more affordable arcade cabinets out was a pure Saturn game and set up to what we eventually got with Virtua Fighter II.

    Also do keep in mind that Sega Saturn was extremely successful in Japan due mainly in part to the Virtua Fighter phenomenon which thanks to an excellent home version, helped keep the momentumin sales.

    The Sega of America launch being jumped up, plus rushed software (Daytona USA) plus somehow giving too much credibility to the mainly U.S. print magazine mandate that 3d polygon graphics were good and 2d graphics was bad was not helping things hence lacking some larger number of 2d games and Japanese localizations.

    The 32X did indeed cause a lot of previous damage and yet that again is mainly a Sega of America initiative and problem.

    Not to mention the lack of a focused monthly Sega print magazine (Sega Visions was quarterly and only available if you had a subscription as opposed to Nintendo Power which shows a lack of strategy in Sega of America's part)

    Hence had Sega Saturn as it was even with the "hard to program for" (western media hype) label, still sold or had a proper launch in September with all retailers on board then there would have been less damages caused even if price was $400.00 because steady sales targets instead of desperate number bragging (a problem which helped sink the Dreamcast) would have resulted in a more stable sales amd software development ramp up.

    Causing that by 1998 a Saturn which wouldn't be dropped right away and software to truly make leaps.

    Tomb Raider is very telling and Core Design was making Tomb Raider 2 on Saturn even before any deals with Sony hence even as a timed exclusive it still would have come out and discussion would have been different as it is if you look at it from a Japanese developer and gamer point of view.

    There's a youtube video that compares the graphical effects on Saturn versus PlayStation and the lack of PlayStation not being able to deliver a duplicate.
     
    egoless likes this.
  2. Akumajou

    Regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    64
    Also there's the matter that 3d polygon graphics hardware didn't start to make incredible leaps in design until around 1994-95 and 1996 when all of a sudden you had various companies selling 3d only Accelerator cards on PC-Wintel machines.

    These companies eventually condensed a bit by late 1996 timeframe.

    This is why when speculation on what is a perceived "bad design or hard to program for" is misinformation because there's limitations of the time...

    Another issue is that let's say Sega would have held off making Saturn in 1996 where both Sega and Nintendo would launch their consoles:

    The big problem is that there's a potential for other companies to rise in the "early adopter market" by then so the speculation becomes a bit harder.
     
    turkey likes this.
  3. bunge

    Regular Newcomer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2014
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    513
    I remember an interview with Core back in the day when they stated they were pleased to move to PS only because of the limitations of the Saturn. Maybe they were just stating that because of the deal, but I remember being excited that they could focus on the one hardware platform.
     
  4. Akumajou

    Regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    64
    Sonic Jam was truly amazing and shocking for it's time despite being a small level.

    Crash Bandicoot however impressive does use tricks too mainly camera angles.

    It's one if those things that an expanded full game out of that Sonic Jam level would have been much more impressive than rushing out the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure and worse that for whatever reason they went along with what was and is mostly the western reviewers media ideology that 3d everything when Sega's dev teams should have at least tried making the ultimate 2d Saturn Sonic game based on sprites but again so much was going on in that game devs off all places were trying to make pre-rendered 2d games (coming off Donkey Kong Country sales) and 3d graphics everything most of which hasn't aged well.

    There was a lengthy amount of time before Core Design ever released any statement or interviews when they basically said the game would go to PlayStation.

    There was a bigger strategy going on...first Core Design targeted Saturn before Eidos became their publisher (revisionist history has tried claiming otherwise or that PC was the base platform when it never was)

    There's older print magazines showing only a Saturn version from trade shows as early as 1995 and possibly earlier.

    There was plenty of talking of a Tomb Raider 2 Saturn version with plenty of implied wording claiming that they had an upgrade of some sort...

    Perhaps Sega sent them the SDK 2 but back then the impression was that it was gonna use something that also powered the Virtua Fighter 3 Saturn...

    The speculation was an add in 3d chip that would plug into Saturn but later on everyone including Sega elite devs act like none of that was implied at all.

    The Saturn for SNK and Capcom 1MB Ram Cartridge did come out in 1996 in Japan mainly for 2d games followed up by the 4MB ram Cartridge in late 1997 both of which Sega of America refused to localize claiming it was gonna be "expensive" games (by then Sega's marketing PR America had stated no future for Saturn...they don't even make hardware and weren't trying to localize games from Japan cutting off and self gutting games support from within)

    Basically after screwing up the U.S. launch causing sales to stall...trying to give games out for free which helped people who knew about it and amazingly weren't much informed by print magazines.

    Just remember that Sega's hardware never failed...it got better and if you played the games you would know that and how impressive Nights into Dreams was in 1996 and even the non-rushed Daytona USA CCE Netlink Edition which again Sega of America made into a mail order affair cutting it out of retail stores.

    People who believe that the hardware design scared devs or that the price scared consumers or that the console was "hard to dev for" are still clinging to a lot of the negative hype by Western print magazines of the time who spun out quotes and never rectified their claims...it's still misinformation even to this day.

    Back then making games on Saturn was not a console parity affair like the joke of the last and current gen consoles that are "easier to dev for" with their massive 17GB patches required to download and play to fix framerate problems.

    Back then the idea was code specially to each console hardware and demonstrate the advantages of each one.

    This is why Konami made a shit version of Castlevania on Saturn, because they didn't try.

    As impressive as Dead or Alive PlayStation was, it didn't look as nearly Arcade representative like the Saturn version...it was just different and catered to PlayStation hardware.

    Unfortunately a lot of the misinformation and misquoted stuff from back then still gets regurgitated to this day by people unaware of what was going on in Japan and the full support by third parties there which was cut off by attempting to force a console generation jump that ended as failure which again many still don't comprehend because they blame other consoles.
     
    egoless likes this.
  5. Exophase

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    429
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    You've said this several times now and it's honestly kind of insulting to people who have carefully looked at the hardware at a technical level and decided based on the details of its design that it's extremely complex. There's no question that it was much harder to do decent 3D games on Saturn than on PS1. This has nothing to do with anything magazines did or didn't say 20 years ago.
     
    Grall, London-boy and bunge like this.
  6. bunge

    Regular Newcomer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2014
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    513
    Lazy Konami.
     
    London-boy likes this.
  7. Akumajou

    Regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    64
    Insulting isn't intended but it does get old that other than "hard to dev for" or "nightmare to program for" (which I can cite the 1995 print magazines that started this) sure as hell is in part misinformation or not telling all details and relying on a comparison to just PlayStation.

    Many of the early complaints were that most of the early documentation was in Japanese and that such documents were being slowly translated.

    There's the question of the date that Sega's SDK 2 was available as well as how Saturn reprogrammed conversions were to be made and how PlayStation would benefit from not having another console to dev for.

    When people question that then after a while it becomes suspect and a rather insulting to all those developer who DID program videogames on that platform and to the bystander who sees a long list of software and a lot of quality software even in 3d polygons which again just begs the question if there wasn't any bias or misinformation going on.

    More importantly than that is the fact that the console was successful in one very major region where a lot of videogames are actually developed hence big sales there translated into a lot of software and a lot of high quality software.

    It's also insulting to those who didn't own the console and don't know about stuff that happened and frankly it's getting old so I hope you can understand the frustration.

    A lot of the blame so far implied is that the hardware was "bad design" hell even Wikipedia has has a quote that states that "Saturn cannot do 3d"

    We should inform and be informed properly and not be misled as neither Saturn nor Nintendo 64 nor PlayStation were easy do develop for however Sony's plans and funds (which were part of their strategy) was to have as well documented dev tools available and even those tools got heavily revised later on in fact Polyphony Digital turned to Saturn dev like programming tactics to make Gran Turismo 1.

    Those consoles were made independently with different plans but similar executions now again sales screw ups in the U.S. launch played a bigger role in what happened than programmers complaining about hardware nightmare.
     
  8. Exophase

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    2,406
    Likes Received:
    429
    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    All I can really say is that this thread has largely been a technical discussion about how the Saturn works and as far as I can see the one citing claims from 1990s gaming journalism is you. You're also making a lot of not particularly technical arguments yourself, and it's really hard to see it as being particularly impartial. I especially reject the notion that I had to have owned the console or knew anything about its place in gaming culture or politics to judge its technical merits now.

    You suggest that the games speak for themselves, showing that Saturn devs developing quality 3D software is enough to support a claim of relative ease of programming. But I'd claim that the results don't look that good at all, when so many cross-platform titles perform worse on Saturn than PS1. And besides that, even if developers do overcome technical challenges and get good results out of a system it doesn't mean that it wasn't harder to develop for or didn't have various flaws.

    There's also no real question that Saturn was always going to be a lot more expensive to manufacture than PS1, and if you really don't think that contributed to its downfall I'd like to hear your reasoning.

    I can pretty much flip the script on Sega vs Sony here and say that by many measures Dreamcast was easier to program for than PS2, even though both got a lot of quality games. Somehow I think you wouldn't have nearly as much of a problem with that comparison.
     
  9. Akumajou

    Regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    725
    Likes Received:
    64
    I understand that Castlevania SotN for PlayStation was developed specifically targeting that hardware but despite appearances iirc the game isn't a true 3d game as it used the 3d GPU chip's features to render a game in 2d.

    Being that Saturn is different hardware, Konami took a weird approach to making the Saturn version which came months after the PlayStation version and wasn't even localized.

    To their credit they did add playable characters but the load times are inexcusable. It's no secret that the way Saturn's hardware design works is what granted a lot of faster loading games even when it came to certain non-Ram Cart games as that information was outlined way back in early 1995 print media.

    Fast forward to 1998 and given the numbers it doesn't and never made sense as to why Konami didn't try properly so just calling Konami "lazy" isn't enough information to make the label stick but I recently just watched the Digital Foundry analysis video which revisited those versions.

    I could try debating what games Konami made on the three platforms and question why there wasn't an attempt at making Metal Gear Solid on Nintendo 64...but I also owned and rented many of the Konami games which many lacked being impressive at all with major framerate issues (Goemon was excellent however) back then and other than any timed exclusive deal it doesn't make sense at all that they would turn away potential profit...although the benefits of not giving competition support are very much considerable.
     
  10. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    40,737
    Likes Received:
    11,213
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    The technical design of the platform can be discussed independently from its success/failure as a commercial product and a form of entertainment. Was Saturn's strange design about the best that could be done in the time? Perhaps. That doesn't stop it being fundamentally crap though! From an objective viewpoint of how to draw geometry, the solution attempted by Saturn can be impartially evaluated and summarised as, "a bit shit, really." Then the lesson learned, "let's never, ever try something like this again."

    It's part of advancing any art to be able to criticise and praise past efforts. I see nothing wrong with criticising Saturn's design and implementation. It's wrong to immediately call the engineers crazy for going that route though, and maybe there's some discussion required to explain the circumstances and why this design was chosen, as you've done. That way we don't insult the creators out of hand - they may have been absolutely genii working with impossibly inadequate tech.

    Before polygon hardware existed, people were drawing polygons on CPU (1984, filled vectors in Elite. 1988, Zarch on Acorn Archimedes). That should have been the starting point for a hardware design for drawing 3D, rather than 2D sprites.
     
    #10 Shifty Geezer, Jul 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
    Picao84 and milk like this.
  11. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
    Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2002
    Messages:
    10,801
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    Location:
    La-la land
    There were some other early, noteworthy, pioneering vector games too; Geoff Crammond's "The Sentinel" (1986) for example, and even earlier proto-3D games like "Rescue on Fractalus!" (1984)

    The latter was interesting from the standpoint that it was perhaps the first home computer game to feature a 'jump scare' moment; in the game you were a rescue pilot with the mission to pick up downed fighter pilots before they perish in an alien planet's corrosive atmosphere. You set your craft down on the surface near the downed fighter and the pilot will run over to your ship. There's a brief moment where the pilot is out of view, then there's a knock at the airlock - which you have to manually open.

    Now, after playing for a while, you find that not all downed pilots are actually pilots... Some are hostile green-skinned aliens, trying to break into your ship and smash it to bits, lol.
     
    DSoup likes this.
  12. DSoup

    DSoup meh
    Legend Veteran Subscriber

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Messages:
    10,979
    Likes Received:
    5,799
    Location:
    London, UK
    temesgen likes this.
  13. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
    Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2002
    Messages:
    10,801
    Likes Received:
    2,172
    Location:
    La-la land
    Never played The Eidolon myself, so I clicked through to the Wiki page about it, and this section made me LOL IRL:
    (Emphasis mine.)

    Peacenik hippie turned computer games reviewer in the 1980s detected... ;) If you wanted to, you could go the whole way, where you compare the vehicle The Eidolon to europeans invading north america. You're in a new strange land, there's scary dragons, so you slay everything in sight... :p
     
    DSoup likes this.
  14. Osamar

    Newcomer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Messages:
    194
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    40,00ºN - 00,00ºE
     
    Picao84 likes this.
  15. function

    function None functional
    Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    2,248
    Location:
    Wrong thread
    The Saturn had strengths and weaknesses like any other system, and both are interesting.

    Unfortunately, it's become both a a go-to bash system for fuckwits and a dream-boy totem phallus for the disenfranchised.

    The title shouldn't have a question mark as there's no conflict between the two options.

    A far better title would have been a statement rather than a question: "Sega Saturn: PR Victim, a bit crap, and a bit awesome".

    But then there'd have been nothing to add.
     
  16. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
    Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2005
    Messages:
    11,380
    Likes Received:
    1,820
    Even Sega was struggling to bring out awesome results on the Saturn. Awesome looking games on the Saturn were few and they came with cut backs and design choices that would have allowed the console to show some good looking results.

    The Saturn was not a victim of anyone but Sega themselves. The hardware was poorly designed economically and in terms of performance.

    This is why the Saturn was more expensive than the PS1 and Sega was losing a lot of money every time they were trying to compete with price.

    My friend had a Saturn and I had a PS1 and played lots of Sega's "awesome" games. All this about Saturn being more powerful, a victim blah blah are wishful thinking from faithful Sega fans who were reading articles in Sega Saturn Magazings which were trying to defend the console and fuel us with hyperbole.

    My friend would make lots of crazy claims based on what he was reading from the Saturn magazines which at the end were empty promises and baseless claims of Saturn's superior versions, untapped power, missed potential or even claims that the console was going to stay and games would be released that Sony's plaything will never match.

    Reading this thread just brings up memories of these old funny times and despair from the Sega fans
     
    bunge, Grall, milk and 1 other person like this.
  17. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    40,737
    Likes Received:
    11,213
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Which we hear to this day for various other platforms from their die-hard fans!
     
    milk likes this.
  18. tuna

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2002
    Messages:
    3,140
    Likes Received:
    359
    This is what Sega should have done in the beginning of 1994.

    1: Realize that Sony had killer HW in the PlayStation and totally reboot the Saturn project using everything they learned from developing Model 2 for a WW launch in the end of 1995. Have VF2, Sega Rally 1995, Virtua Cop, Sonic and kick-ass sports games as launch titles.

    2: Kill the 32X project.

    3: Keep the Mega CD as a side project. Try to make it cheaper and release JVCs combo world wide.
     
    milk likes this.
  19. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    40,737
    Likes Received:
    11,213
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Is anyone willing to challenge Akumajou's ideas that 3D of the time was primitive and there wasn't too much wrong with Sega's thinking? It's not an area I'm really sure of and only say that conventional rasterisation on CPU was already a known quantity. Is there good reason for Sega to want to do it differently, or were they just being naive/stubborn/ridiculous in their choice?
     
  20. dogen

    Regular Newcomer

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2014
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    259
    And make a sonic game for the saturn.

    Never mind you said that already.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Beyond3D has been around for over a decade and prides itself on being the best place on the web for in-depth, technically-driven discussion and analysis of 3D graphics hardware. If you love pixels and transistors, you've come to the right place!

    Beyond3D is proudly published by GPU Tools Ltd.
Loading...