Saturn FAQ for newbies version 1.4, compiled by Lucan Duran ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) Last compiled and updated January 1, 2000 ____________________________________________ ----- Notes ----- WARNING: IF YOU COME ACROSS ANY PROBLEMS NOT COVERED IN THIS FAQ, E- MAIL ME AND I WILL GLADLY HELP YOU. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM IS ALWAYS WELCOME. HOWEVER, INSULTING/FLAMING ME OR ASKING ME A QUESTION ALREADY ANSWERED IN THIS FAQ WILL RESULT IN YOU BEING IGNORED. IN ADDITION, *DO NOT* GIVE ME INFORMATION AS TO HOW TO PLAY CDR GAMES. *DO NOT* ASK ME HOW TO PLAY CDR GAMES. I DETEST PIRACY. This is a FAQ based on the many messages I read in newsgroups. I can't say that I am the "author" of this FAQ because most of the information in this file did not come from me. I'm only a guy that compiled the information in a text file. This FAQ is the result of the contributions made by many people. There are too many so I can't credit everyone (in addition, I don't have everyone's names and e-mail addresses). If you've been a contributor of useful information in the Sega newsgroups, consider yourself thanked because this would not exist without your contributions and the contributions of those just like you. Some people have also e-mailed me with some questions and I have incorporated some of them into this FAQ as well. If you're a newbie trying to understand the ins and outs of owning a Saturn, then I hope that this file is useful. ____________________________________________ ----- History ----- Version 1.4 (January 1, 2000) - Added one all-caps paragraph in the "Notes" section above. Updated the "Street Fighter Zero 3 will probable be the last game to utilize the cart (4MB)" sentence. (Final Fight Revenge may take its place as the "last 4MB cart" game.) Updated the "Satcast" answer. Version 1.3 (October 4, 1999) - Added information regarding playing Genesis/Megadrive games, 32X games, and Sega CD games on a Saturn. Added information regarding playing Saturn games on a Dreamcast. Some changes in the "notes" section above have been made as well. Added a list of games the VCD/MPEG card is compatible with. Version 1.2 (August 8, 1999) - Added information regarding third party cartridges' circuit board thickness. Version 1.1 (??/??/??) - Corrected the mistake of saying that the official 1MB cartridge was a grey cartridge. The cartridge is black with a red label. Added the additional Q&A regarding the Sega Satellite and Turbokey 4M. Added some compatibility issues of the 4-in-1 with Panzer Dragoon Saga (PDS for short). Also added my own personal story with third party cartridges. Version 1.0 (??/??/??) - Answers very frequently asked questions in Usenet (newsgroup) messages. ____________________________________________ Q: Can I play Genesis/Megadrive cartridges, 32X games, or Sega CD games on a Saturn? A: No. The Saturn is not backwards compatible with the previous generations of Sega's video game systems. The Saturn's cartridge slot was not built to play 16-bit (or 8-bit Master System) cartridge games. Any attempts to play those games on a Saturn can result in damaging your cartridges and/or your Saturn. As for Sega CD games, just because the Saturn is a CD-based system, that does not mean that the system can play Sega CD games - it can't. If you want to play the old Sega games, you'll need the old Sega systems. ____________________________________________ Q: Can I play Saturn games on a Dreamcast? A: No. Saturn games are not forward compatible with the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast is not backward compatible with the Saturn. ____________________________________________ Q: I heard that Sega was going to make a "Satcast" to allow Saturn games to be played on a Dreamcast. Is this true? A: No. It's a lie/rumor started by a video game web site as an April Fool's joke. Sadly, many people were gullible and swallowed this joke as the real thing. All stories of backwards compatibility on the Dreamcast are false. There is no such thing as a Satcast, there will never be such a thing as a Satcast, and anyone who believes or hopes in such a program or hardware will only wait in vain. ____________________________________________ Q: My Saturn doesn't save any game data and I always have to input the date to get the game to boot. What's wrong with my system? A: The battery in your Saturn is dead. There's a panel on the back of your Saturn you can open. Open it and there should be a round battery inside (there should be a ribbon you can pull). The battery will say something like, "xx2032." The "xx" varies by the manufacturer. It's the same type of battery used in most PCs for CMOS backup and clock data. (For some reason, people don't seem to read this information in the manual. A lot of people must have bought used Saturns without the manual.) ____________________________________________ Q: Where can I buy a new battery? A: Try Wal-mart or computer stores. ____________________________________________ Q: Can I play import games on my US Saturn? A: Without doing something first, no. In order to play import games, you need to do one of the following: 1.) Buy a converter cartridge (ST Key or a 4-in-1 cartridge) 2.) Have someone install a territory joggle switch (See http://www.ncsx.com/constant/satmod.htm for better information.) 3.) Buy an import Saturn console (this doesn't apply to you if you have a US Saturn) 1.) The cartridge known as the ST-Key has one purpose: to defeat territory lockouts. It does nothing else. The 4-in-1 cartridge does the followig things: a.) Provides 4MB (or 1MB) of additional RAM for games that require them. (Mostly fighting games.) b.) Provides 1 megabit (not "byte"; 128KB to put it another way) of flash RAM to save game data. c.) You can enter cheat codes and connect it to a Datel communication card to directly transfer codes from your PC. d.) Acts as a converter cartridge. The 4-in-1 card is a very popular item among Saturn owners who play imports. These converter cartridges "trick" the Saturn into thinking that the disc is not outside the territory that it was intended for. This does have a minor issue in terms of taking a little longer to load a game when you turn on the power. 2.) The territory joggle switch frees up the cartridge port so if you happen to run out of space on your 4-in-1 cart, having the open slot will enable you to use another cartridge. http://www.ncsx.com installs switches for a reasonable price. (Highly recommended. They installed the switch in my Saturn.) If you prefer to have a store local to you install the switch for you, try asking various vendors to see if they provide such a service. With the switch, the loading of the game is direct and there is no "tricking" of the system to make it think that an import disc is a US disc. 3.) This is the least cost effective method but you don't have to worry about mods or converter cartridges at all. ____________________________________________ Q: What's a 5-in-1 cart? A: It's a 4-in-1 cart. There are currently two explanations for how the "5-in-1" came into existence. (See http://www.ncsx.com/constant/4in1.htm for a better explanation.) 1.) The older 4-in-1 carts had 4MB of RAM but didn't have a 1MB mode for games that required a 1MB cartridge. Some games became glitchy with the 4MB cart (Samurai Spirits IV is such a game). The newer 4-in-1 carts have a switch you can toggle (so I'm told) between 4MB and 1MB. Some people (and game dealers) then started calling the cartridge a "5 in 1" but there are still only FOUR components inside. 2.) Some games that required a 4MB cartridge (Vampire Savior, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Dungeons and Dragons Collection) were not compatible with the 4-in-1 as is. With minor soldiering modification to the cart, the games do work. The "modification" does not add another component to the cartridge but some people call the 4- in-1 a 5-in-1 because of the modification. Just as additional information, the 4-in-1 carts should not be assumed to be forward compatible with future games that require or take advantage of the 4MB cart. (Street Fighter Zero 3 will probably the last Saturn game that requires the 4MB cart. Final Fight Revenge may take its place as the "last" game if Capcom actually does release it. Final Fight Revenge's release date is TBA 2000.) ____________________________________________ Q: What's with all these cartridges? A: The ST-Key and the 4-in-1 were explained. They are non-official cartridges. There are four types of official cartridges. 1.) 1MB cartridge: Provides the Saturn with 1MB of additional RAM for games that require them (mostly fighting games). (Black cartridge, red label.) 2.) 4MB cartridge: Provides the Saturn with 4MB of additional RAM for games that require them (mostly fighting games). (Transparent black cartridge, blue label.) 3.) Power memory cartridge: Provides 512KB (4 megabits) of flash RAM for saving game data. (Grey cartridge, white label.) 4.) KOF95 cartridge: I'll explain this one later. The official cartriges only have one purpose. ____________________________________________ Q: What's a "Sega Satellite" cartridge? Is it a Sega product? What is a Turbokey 4M? A: "Sega Satellite" is not a Sega product. It's basically the same cartridge as the ST-Key except it was made by a different manufacturer. The Turbokey 4M is basically a 4-in-1 cartridge made by a different company. Neither are affiliated with or endored by Sega. There may be other manufacturers' cartridges floating around here and there but it's almost impossible to list all the third party companies' products. ____________________________________________ Q: If I plug in the 4MB (or 1MB) cartridge and load a game that doesn't require it, will the game run faster from the additional RAM the system has? A: Unlike your PC, your Saturn will not perform any better just because you plug in a cartridge that provides additional RAM. A game that doesn't require the cartridge will just ignore the additional RAM. Although most games will ignore the RAM, some games may be affected by it in a negative way (there may be pauses, sudden glitches, or other inexplicable incidents). If a game doesn't require additional RAM, it's better not to insert the cartridge in the first place. Example: If I play Grandia with the 1MB cartridge plugged in, the game will pause for about 10-15 seconds in a battle scene, then resume. It's not that big a of a deal but I can't imagine that it's a good thing. If there's a cartridge plugged into my Saturn when I play Grandia, it'll be a game data backup cartridge and *NOT* a RAM cartridge used for (mostly) fighting games. ___________________________________________ Q: Same question, except what if I'm using the 4-in-1 cart? A: The 4-in-1 acts only as converter for games that don't require the additional RAM. No one to my knowledge has ever had a problem with glitches or pauses in the game because of the 4-in-1 cartridge providing more RAM than a game needs. NEVER pull out the 4-in-1 while the power is on. If you don't have a switch installed in your Saturn and if you're using a 4-in-1 to play imports, just leave the cartridge in until you turn the power off. Note: Someone in the newsgroups experienced some problems with Panzer Dragoon Saga (Panzer Dragoon Azel, if you playing an import copy) while using the 4-in-1 cart. Someone gave an explanation that PDS won't allow you do use cheat cartridges so the 4-in-1 will not work with it. ___________________________________________ Q: Can I swap cartridges while I'm playing a game? A: If you don't care about damaging your console and cartridges, yes. As a general rule, NEVER swap components while the power is on. ___________________________________________ Q: I found a third-party backup cartridge for $10. Is this a good deal? ----- old answer ----- A: Basically, you're gambling with a third party backup cartridges. Third party cartridges use a somewhat unreliable hardware compression to provide "twice" the space of official Sega cartridges. (Some generic cartridges have 16 times the capacity of official cartridges. You're *really* asking for trouble with that one.) Unlike Winzip (which is reliable), it is not compression by software. Although some people haven't had problems with third party cartridges, a large number of people that have bought them in the past have lost hundreds of hours of game data which resulted in tons of bickerings by e-mail and Usenet messages. Official cartridges have a significantly smaller number of defects compared to the third party backup cartridges - so if you can find an official one at $50 compared to the generic at $10, it's better to go with the official one if you cherish your game data. If you want to save the money and get the generic brand, then that's a calculated risk on your part. You may lose game data - you may not. Not all third party products are bad. This is only information for Saturn backup cartridges (not to be confused with CDR "backups"). My own personal story with a third party cartridge: Amazingly, I haven't lost any data on it yet. I never dropped the cartridge and always kept it in a cool, dry place. Even so, I don't use it as my primary backup cartridge after I read all of the problems people have had with them (I use the official Sega cartridge as my primary). Even so, I test the third party (Interact) cartridge once in a while to see if it still functions. It does - sometimes. As I said, I haven't lost any data on it yet but my Saturn won't always recognize the fact that the cartridge is plugged in. That's a big red flag right there... ----- old answer end ----- ----- new ----- Upon closer inspection, the Interact cartridge has a thicker circuit board than the official Sega cartridge. What does this mean? It means that using such a cartridge can widen the Saturn's Cartridge slot, making the pin connections with other cartridges difficult. Using such a cartridge basically damages your console. If you use such a cartridge and then use another cartridge, then the cartridge with the regular circuit board thickness will not have a proper pin connection with the console, thanks to the widening of the slot from the thicker circuit board. The fact that the console will not always recognize that a cartridge is plugged in can be attributed to the widening of the slot. Take note of the thickness of ALL third party cartridges, including the ST Key and 4-in-1 carts. If you plan on using one cartridge and only one cartridge, then that's another story; but it's still not a good idea to use a cartridge that has a thicker circuit board than the official Sega cartridge. ----- end new ----- ____________________________________________ Q: You said, "Third party cartridges use a somewhat unreliable hardware compression to provide 'twice' the space of official Sega cartridges." After doing the math, the 4-in-1 provides 1/4 the backup space of an official cart. Is the saved data on a 4-in-1 compressed as well? A: Yes. ____________________________________________ Q: I have an import KOF95 and my 4-in-1 can't play it! A: KOF '95 requires both the KOF95 cartridge and the CD. KOF95's cartridge is actually a ROM cartridge. ROMs are just like the Nintendo and Neo Geo cartridges. If you don't have the KOF95 cartridge and have only the CD, there's no way you can play the game. I hope the game CD came with the KOF95 cartridge when you bought it. This brings up another issue: You can't have a 4-in-1 cartridge plugged into your if you want to play KOF95. You need a modified console with a territory joggle switch or a Japanese console. You can "swap" the cartridges while the power is on, but that is not something that's recommended even for hardcore Saturn gamers (hardcore Saturn gamers would either buy a Japanese console or have a switch installed). ____________________________________________ Q: How do I play with Saturn CDRs/backups? A: Use them as frisbees. ^_^ ____________________________________________ Q: Come on, seriously. How do I get my Saturn to play CDR games? A: Seriously, if you're asking this question, you shouldn't bother with CDRs because it's not as easy to play CDRs on a Saturn as it is on a PSX. If you're asking this question, you're a newbie and clueless (I don't mean that in a negative way). CDRs are definitely not for you. ____________________________________________ Q: I only want to have and play backups for games I have. Help me out here, please? A: Based on what I read from the various sites on the internet, I can't recommend it. Although it's not the only thing you need to do, you need to use a "swap" method similar to (but not identical with) the PSX. You need to do this while the power is on AND while the CD is spinning. A "hot swap" such as this can damage the CDs (both the CD that you're loading with and the CDR) and/or damage the internal mechanisms of your Saturn. Legal issues aside, if you choose to play Saturn CDRs, you're taking a risk with your machine. If you insist on playing CDR games, then that's your risk to take. As for more specific and detailed instructions on how to play CDR games on a Saturn, you'll have to ask someone else. ____________________________________________ Q: Well, this is about that panel that can be removed so I can replace my battery. It looks like I can plug something else in there. What is it for? A: That's a place where you can plug in a Saturn video decoder card. If you have the video decoder card, you can play VCD movie discs on your Saturn. Some games can also use the video card to give you improved movie images. Not all games that have movies can take advantage of the card. Chances are, you'll never buy one and you won't need to worry about it unless you eventually become a hardcore Saturn fanatic. If you do become one, you'll know a lot more than what this FAQ explains about the video card. This topic probably doesn't belong in a newbie FAQ, but it's still a valid question. If you want to know more about the VCD card and what games take advantage of it, here's a list (it may not be complete): Lunar Silver Star Story complete MPEG version (the only game that requires the card) Sakura Taisen Hangumi Tsuushin Sakura Taisen Nekki Radio Show (a.k.a. Steam Radio Show) Vatlva Chisato Moritaka disc Moon Cradle Wangan Deadheat + Triangle Love Falcom Classics 1 (disc 2 of the limited edition) Gungriffon 1 ____________________________________________ Q: What's with the "communication port" in the back of my Saturn? A: That's where you can plug in a link cable. There are a few games (VERY few games) that take advantage of it. Gungriffon 2 (import only) is such a game. If you have 2 copies of such a game, 2 saturns, and 2 TVs, you can use one link cable to play a head-to-head game with a friend. (The great part is the fact that you don't have to deal with the "split screen" nonsense.) Again, this issue probably doesn't belong in a newbie FAQ but it's still a valid question.