Comparing Resident Evil: Saturn vs Playstation

Classic Re-Publication Presented by Mozgus & Racketboy

While it may not have rivaled the console wars between Sega and Nintendo’s 16-bit platforms, there was always a strong debate between the technical strengths and weaknesses of the new-kid-on-the-block Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn.

BTW, we dove heavily into the technical comparisons in our PS1 Strengths and Weaknesses vs N64 and Sega Saturn article.

This 32-bit era was a bit of a preadolescent stage of 3D gaming and Resident Evil was one of the hot new multi-platform franchises that attempted to make the most of the new technical capabilities.

Most retro gamers know that the Playstation was built for 3D graphics, while 3D processing was a bit of afterthought on the Sega Saturn. However, every now and then gamers stumble across an instance where the Saturn holds its own in the 3D department.

There has been some debate over the years as to whether the Saturn version of the original Resident Evil does a better job than the Playstation version. All the way back in 2006, OG Racketboy community member, Mozgus (aka Steve), developed an in-depth analysis of both the Saturn version (eBay / Amazon) and the Playstation Director’s Cut Dual Shock Edition (eBay / Amazon). (The Director’s Cut came after the Saturn version, but I’m not sure if any graphical enhancements were made from the original PSX version).

Steve was kind enough to let me republish this classic write-up and I’m curious if any of you die-hard Resident Evil fans have anything to add to this discussion. It does seem, however, that he put a lot of time and thought into this comparison.

He played through each version of Resident Evil running on the original console hardware instead of emulation and used S-Video connection on each to ensure accurate comparisons. Many screenshots are provided to make some great graphical comparisons.

Not only does Steve document each RE port’s strengths and weaknesses in technical aspects such as Backgrounds, 3D Models, Textures, Lighting , and Transparency, but he also analyzes gameplay elements such Saving, Costumes, and Replay Value.

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Let me begin by saying that my introduction to the Resident Evil series began with the Sega Saturn port of RE1. It really changed the way I looked at games at the time. Recently I’ve been getting back into the series, reading into it, trying to grasp the storyline, become familiar with all the weapons and enemies, etc. Something I’ve noticed during a lot of my online studying of the games, is that the Saturn RE1 takes a lot of unjust trash talk. Everywhere I looked I saw phrases like “It looks nasty”, “It’s slow”, and my personal favorite “OMGROFL SATURN GOT PWNED SONY4LIFE!”. My main complaint about this is they never explain why they say that. No details. Nothing. Maybe they are correct. We’re here to find out.

This leads me to believe that none of these people even played the Saturn version, or that the initial shine of the game in their minds had already worn dull, so they were just disappointed that it turned out to be…just the same game. I mean they DID play through the game on Playstation about a year before it hit the Saturn. So I’m here to place both versions in a head to head match up. I’ll try to cover all aspects of the game and give an unbiased conclusion, with visual representation of course.

Also note that there is a Windows PC version of Resident Evil. I have never been able to try it myself, so I will not be covering it here. I have read that it is mostly the same as the PS1 Director’s Cut, except that it has 2 bonus weapons, and I’m told the intro FMV is uncut and in full color, unlike all other USA versions of the game.

Exclusive Features

Playstation Exclusives

  • Training Mode, plays just like the Original Mode, but with double ammo and less damage.
  • Arrange Mode, with new item locations, scenes, and camera angles.
  • Vibration and Analog support, but playing this using analog is ridiculous.
  • Unlockable Colt Python with infinite ammo, on Arrange Mode.

Saturn Exclusives

  • Battle mode, most similar to RE: Code Veronica’s Battle Mode, except there is no infinite ammo or first-person view.
  • New variation of the Hunter, known as the “Tick”.
  • An optional bonus Tyrant fight (in Battle Mode), where he is golden colored and has insane health.
  • A Zombie Wesker (in Battle Mode) in one of the lab rooms.

Setup

The way I see things, you can either get the last version of RE1 they made for PS1, which is Resident Evil: Director’s Cut – Dual Shock Edition (With the green Greatest Hits tag), or you can get the only version they made for the Saturn, a port of the first version from PS1. I mean if you’re ganna get the game, you might as well get the final version they made for your system, right? I guess that’s debatable, but I’m simplifying this feature to just these 2 versions.

Both my PS1 and my Saturn were equipped with S-Video cords, to ensure fair and good quality image comparisons. I did not rely on any emulation for these screenshots, because as we all know, PS1 has been mostly emulated, while Saturn emulation is still very rough. I did rely on Adobe Photoshop’s auto-contrast feature though, so that the graphics would be shown much better. Just keep in mind that both games show relatively identical brightness and contrast themselves, despite
what these screenshots may indicate.

Category Comparison

This is where I examine the different areas of each version. I will state the winner to the right of the subject, after the “~” sign.

Backgrounds ~ Saturn

It has come to my attention that the Saturn may have an edge over the Playstation in this area. Initially, I assumed that my Saturn S-Video cable was a little weird because all the Saturn backgrounds seemed to have stronger color. Just this once, I decided to use emulation to verify. Not only does it seem true, but it also seems like the Saturn backgrounds have a higher color count than the Playstation ones. You can see an emulated comparison shot of this for Saturn and Playstation. Below, you will find comparison shots coming from the actual console hardware.

3D Models ~ Saturn

At first I thought PS1 had the lead in this area, but I’ve been looking closely at the character models, and while both systems would seem to have roughly the same amount of polygons, Saturn’s characters do appear to have an overall better shape to them. Perhaps Capcom was a bit more experienced in 3D construction 1 year later, or perhaps Saturn’s 3D architecture doesn’t have the severe clipping which you can clearly see in the joints of the characters on PS1. So in terms of overall shape, I am going to have to give it to Saturn. I wish I could find a model viewer app for both games in order to prove all this, but for now the screenshots will do. You be the judge.

Textures ~ Saturn

It seems pretty much all 3D models on Saturn are re-textured, for better or for worse. For instance, in my opinion, the characters have much better texture on Saturn. Much more depth to them, and I think that more than makes up for slightly blockier models. PS1 tends to do away with texture on certain areas like skin, and substitute with bland color shading. However, a few objects seem to look nasty on Saturn, like the clock in the dining room.

Lighting ~ Playstation

PS1 seems to have better lighting on 3D models. In fact I am having a hard time seeing if Saturn even has a light engine, or if it’s just faked on the textures themselves.

Transparency ~ Playstation

Saturn has always had trouble doing transparency and this game is no exception. All the smoke, fire, water, or glass in this will look quite odd, like a speckled pattern. And on regular TV’s, this tends to come across with a rainbow color. PS1 can handle it however. It’s like you would expect. You can see through things you are meant to see through, and it doesn’t look odd.

Full Motion Video Quality ~ Playstation

PS1 wins this by quite a bit. Saturn always struggled handling FMVs, especially full screen ones. Saturn plays the videos at the same frame rate, however there are many more jagged artifacts on screen.

Music ~ Draw

100% different. No doubt about it. Between these 2 versions of the game, I don’t think there is a single song that’s the same. When Capcom put out the Dual Shock version of Director’s Cut on PS1, they replaced the entire soundtrack with a newly recorded one. It has no relation to the old tunes. It’s like a completely different take on the atmosphere of the game. Most people absolutely hate the new OST, but it has kind of grown on me. I actually think it accompanies the cheesiness of the actors well. It also has higher production value than the old album. But when it comes to catchy and memorable tracks, it falls flat. I recommend you listen to both thoroughly. I can’t
chose.

Sound Effects ~ Playstation

Sound effects on Saturn are quite weak. In a variety of ways. It can’t seem to handle more then maybe 2-3 sounds occurring at once. Like in the cutscene where Barry shoots the head off the zombie, the first shot you don’t even hear, because Barry was finishing his line, and maybe the zombie’s footstep sound was playing. Other sound effects are weak as well. The fade off is way too steep, based on varying degrees of distance. On Saturn, the sounds fade out of hearing very easily. I had Jill maybe 10 feet from the camera in a hallway and I could barely
hear her gun. I’m pretty sure sound quality itself is also downgraded on Saturn. All sound effects are about half as clear as they are on PS1. Overall, the PS1 sounds just seem to be much more sharp and loud.
Voice acting seems equal on both systems though.

Door Loading Points ~ Playstation

Saturn’s door loading screens tend to have noticeable slowdown and pauses. It seems like when the Saturn emits a disc load noise, the door will stutter for a moment. They might be longer then PS1’s due to this. Also noteworthy is that the PS1 doors are displayed in what seems to be 640×480 resolution, while the Saturn doors are running at 320×240. Further, it seems like the actual textures of the doors are worse on Saturn. See all this in the screenshots below.

Saving ~ Saturn

Saving your game is about 50% faster on Saturn, due to the use of internal memory rather than memory card.

Documents ~ Playstation

Strangly on Saturn, between every two pages of a document there is about 1 full second of load time. For example, you open the document “Botany Book”, read page one, flip to page 2 and read it, and as you flip to page 3 it sits for 1 second. It’s not like Saturn doesn’t have enough RAM for text files…weird.

Auto-Aim ~ Playstation

Saturn does not have auto-aim. This ups the difficulty quite a bit. Auto-aim was a feature that was first added in the Director’s Cut (Non-Dual Shock), which came out a few months after the Saturn port.
It really makes all the combat twice as easy. On Saturn, be prepared to miss quite a few shots due to tricky camera angles. Some people are purists and are against the use of auto-aim, but the way I see it, if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. It’s optional, and a welcome addition.

Costumes ~ Playstation

PS1 has the default costumes, and 2 exclusives per character. Saturn has the defaults, although re-textured, and 1 exclusive costume per character. Personally, I think the Arrange Mode costumes for PS1 are dull and ugly, but the secret costumes that you get from the costume room are much better. On the Saturn side, I consider Chris’s Blue S.T.A.R.S. suit to be the best costume out of both games. The Saturn’s secret Jill outfit has an awful color scheme.

Replay Value ~ Playstation

Playstation’s Training mode is great for anyone new to the series, and it’s Arrange mode offers plenty of reason to beat the game another time. Saturn’s Battle Mode is handy if you just want to blast away at zombies for 10 minutes every once in a while, but it certainly won’t hold your attention as long as PS1’s Arrange Mode will.

Winner

Well if we add up the points…

  • Playstation got 9 points
  • Saturn got 4 points
  • And 1 area was a draw.

It seems the Playstation version was superior after all, but at least now we know why.
The Saturn port still has unique features which should interest the most hardcore fans of the series.
Considering how many times I beat the Saturn version as a kid, I’d still say it’s a quality title for that console.

Comparison Images

If two images are shown side by side in these category, the PS1 images will be to the left, and the Saturn images will be to the right.

Let’s begin with the title screens.

Next, option screens.

The Beretta. In the Director’s Cut, Arrange Mode grants you a more powerful handgun. Saturn only has the original gun.

Chris’s default outfit on both systems.

Jill’s default outfit on both systems.

Chris’s secret costume on both systems.

Jill’s secret costume on both systems.

The Dining Room Clock. For some reason it looks god awful on Saturn.

The Door Load Points. The PS1 Doors seem to have better texture and
are in higher resolution.

Comparing the background quality with zoomed in shots. Is there a
difference? Are Saturn’s slightly cleaner?

Miscellaneous Images

Chris’s Arrange Mode outfit on PS1.

Jill’s Arrange Mode outfit on PS1.

Saturn’s inability to do transparencies. Notice the checkered pattern.

The Golden Tyrant, in Saturn’s Battle Mode.

Zombie Wesker, in Saturn’s Battle Mode.

The “Tick” for Saturn, a Hunter variation. Taken from an emulator.
Submitted by Anders.

One of the new camera angles, on the Director’s Cut Arrange Mode.

A scene for Jill that is exclusive to the Director’s Cut Arrange Mode.
Notice the Zombie in the mirror.

Saturn’s Battle Mode Ranking Screen.

Battle Mode. Note the timer, measuring how long you take.

The Save File screen on Saturn.

Videos

  • The PS1 Director’s Cut – Dual Shock Intro FMV – It’s the USA version, which means it is censored. Notice the drastically different music near the end. This is because the Dual Shock edition has a completely different soundtrack throughout the whole game, whereas the original version, and the regular Director’s Cut, use the classic RE music.
  • The PS1 Director’s Cut Non-Dual Shock End Credits – This is included just because it’s so cool to see these Fly-By angles from the
    memorable scenes. Capcom removed it from the Dual Shock version for reasons unknown. The actual credits are not shown because they were not part of the video data. They are overlaid on top of the video, in the game. Here, you are watching simply the background video.

Music

The following music, which is exclusive to the Saturn version, is included here because it’s pretty much impossible to find anywhere else. These tracks are really not that special but perhaps some hardcore fans will appreciate them.

  • Battle Mode Stage  – Plays while you are blasting your way from room to room, except during boss fights.
  • Battle Mode Completed – After killing the Golden Tyrant, this song plays while the camera circles around the player.
  • Battle Mode Results – Plays while displaying Battle Mode’s high scores.

9 Comments

Mozgus says:

I’m trying to focus on doing a comparison of a game that came to two consoles, both in USA. It doesn’t seem fair to do a feature on a game where one version is Japanese only. Grandia is an example. That’s a very debated game, but obviously few people would want to play that in Japanese, no matter how superior it is to the PS1 version. I’ll try to pick my next game soon…

alonzobots says:

The battle game was kinda neat, but its not that amazing in the saturn….seriously the playstaiton version was way better. Its almost always the case that any game is better for the system it was originally designed for, its just a fact of life.

Mozgus says:

Agreed. The battle Mode was just so limited, and really freakin hard. I had to use the action replay 4-in-1 cart, which I believe Racketboy sold me long ago. With that thing, I was finally able to survive the whole battle mode and see tyrant and wesker. I dunno how I used to beat that mode as a kid…Where did all my skills go? I used to be able to beat any of the NES megamans without dying once.

Oh and I was just thinking about Castlevania SOTN. Has anyone done a good comparison of the PS1 and Saturn versions of that game? I have this faint memory of seeing a very thorough one on a CV fansite years ago…

walrus12 says:

I’m playing Saturn Res Evil for the first time right now. I have played the PS versions and it seems like a good comparison. The Saturn version is slightly inferior but nothing major that affects the enjoyment of the game.
I loved Code Veronica and all the remakes on Dreamcast.
Yeah, Castlevania is probably a harder one to call. What’s more important better transparencies or an extra playable character? Language isn’t a big deal in that one like in Grandia. The way I see it Saturn is superior in almost every 2D game and holds it’s own on a few 3D games to give it a slight edge overall in my book.

Mozgus says:

Well Castlevania SOTN on Saturn didn’t just have worse transparancies. There is major slowdown at dozens of points in the game. The load times are also longer, and there is a few more of them in some areas I believe.

walrus12 says:

This is a little juvenile but didn’t Castlevania on Saturn have some more risque looking creatures like topless syrens than the PS version? I can definately remember seeing topless female creatures in the manual. Not that it’s a big deal to me, just another possible difference.

Mozgus says:

kubevubin sent me the link to the SOTN comparison which I saw long ago. You need to use google or some other service to translate it, but this is still a great one.

http://www.quebecgamers.com/impressions/dracula_x/

racketboy says:

wow! that’s big 🙂

Any chance we could work on getting that translated? I’d love to be able to have it availible to the English-speaking public

Mozgus says:

http://www.google.com/translate
?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.quebecgamers
.com%2Fimpressions%2Fdracula_x%2
F&langpair=fr%7Cen&hl=en&ie=UTF8

Cut and paste each line individually, and make sure there are no spaces. Hope that works.

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