FAQ: Can You Play Sega Saturn Games on the Dreamcast?

 On occassion I take some time to answer some questions that many new retro gamers ask. This time I will address a popular question about Sega’s potential backwards compatability — will a Dreamcast play Sega Saturn games?

Unfortuantely, the answer is no. The Saturn and Dreamcast are actually very different machines in terms of their processors. This makes backwards compatability quite a challenge.

The Saturn had a very complex architecture which includes two main processors. This is the main reason why there aren’t any Saturn emulators that have high compatabilty and run smoothly on older PCs. For this same reason it would have been very expensive and difficult for Sega to implement backwards compatability into the Dreamcast.

It’s quite a shame as it would have given games that invested in the Saturn a newer machine to play their favorites on and it would have given the Dreamcast a much better chance of surviving against the PS2 (which does play PSOne games).

If Dreamcasts did play Saturn games, there would be no questions that the Dreamcast would be the ultimate system for retro gamers — as the combined library of the Saturn and Dreamcast features almost every major 2D fighter and shooter in addition to hundreds of other old school games and great emulator support.

32 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fly Plaything Fly

  2. What if Bleem! decided to try and port Saturn games rather than PSone games? Maybe they wouldn’t of been sued into bankruptcy, unless Sega didn’t like the idea, although I don’t see why they wouldn’t have. This also makes the possibility of a Saturn emulator rather slim. A real shame, really.

  3. Anonymous says:

    No way, Saturn may have no psx 3d power, but instead it’s harder to do a dcbleem for SS.

    Saturn has 2xSH2, Dc has 1 SH4, but they’re not very compatible either, it’s not a matter of power also, only a matter of circuitery.

  4. dobot says:

    is there a chip or chips i can put in my psx or ps2 slim to play saturn or dreamcast on them they alredy have nes, snes, game boy, sega game gear, sega ginesis and,pc emu chips soldered to the mbord. i also have a mod chip for both.

  5. racketboy says:

    A mod chip can’t do stuff like that.
    You would need an emulator and there is no way a PS1 or PS2 could handle emulating those systems

  6. dobot says:

    do you want to see a pic

  7. dobot says:

    there not normal playstations they have alot of things upgraded by me

  8. Anonymous says:

    i have a ps2 that plays saturn with a duel bio port and ram increse and a bio and dsp togle switch

  9. dobot says:

    i use a 5 way bio but i added a duel bio port it was hard thoa
    and i tryed to use satarn bios but it slowed the ps2 alot. and when i did put the disc in it spun supper fast and i just got a black screen.

  10. aaron says:

    the comments on this article are hilarious.

  11. racketboy says:

    hehe — yeah, after a certain point, I just give up ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. John says:

    do you know any sonic 3d blast cheats for the saturn?

  13. racketboy says:

    Try GameFAQs.com

  14. Tom says:

    What changing the game itself to work on a ps2? they have done it with one or two games for the saturn.

  15. trlkly says:

    Well, porting games takes a lot of time, and people without a commercial interest in the project (or a limited one) are unlikely to commit to that.

  16. ristar says:

    There actually is a saturn emulator for the DC: YabauseDC.

  17. racketboy says:

    But its not playable, and probably never will be.

  18. Perez says:

    imagine if it did play saturn and sega cd games… and eventually oficial dreamcast GDยดs with genesis and master system games collection…

  19. jcags says:

    Actually there is an emulator for that, it’s called Yabause but it’s horribly slow

  20. gallean says:

    there were a satcast project lauched by sega itself (see wilkipedia) maybe if we may find any beta or something it could renew the saturn dc scene…but i seriously someone may do it ๐Ÿ™

  21. Saturnalian says:

    @dobot & anonymous

    So let me get this straight, because I’m fairly sure my head is about to explode, you are using your ps1 (a 32-bit console) to emulate a pc (most often a 32-bit computing device, and I’m not even going to ask about the specs of the hardware you are emulating) and several other devices with varying degrees of NOTHING when it comes to hardware similarity. Above all this, you intend to use either a ps1 (a 32-bit console) or a ps2 (a console with a 64-bit cpu and gpu ) to emulate a Sega Saturn (a console with 5 32 bit processors, count ’em, 5) and a Sega Dreamcast (which is in possession of a 164-bit GPU)? Wow. Just so you know, I DO WANT PICS.

  22. Saturnalian says:

    as to the hardware specs, that’s if memory serves, and all too often, it does not.

  23. jacobstevens says:

    I play saturn games on my Dreamcast, I don’t know what you guys are talking about

  24. Nachtholm says:

    @Saturnalian: The SH4 is a 128 bit CPU. A 164 bit processor is impossible. The data bus would collapse.

    @dbot: Saturnalian is correct, the emulation/hardware hack you described IS impossible. A PS2 doesn’t have the horsepower. End of Story. Even a high-end gaming PC can’t emulate the Saturn right, even WITH appropriate BIOS and an ALT board to run it through. What on Gods green earth makes you think that a system with ONE 64 bit CPU running at 299 Mhz with only 32 MB of SYSTEM ram and 4 MB of Vram can run emulators of systems with either a) near equal (and sometimes superior) specs or b) a hardware setup so complicated that running an emulator of it would almost DOUBLE the system load such an emulator would produce.
    There is a good reason Yabause doesn’t run most of the Saturn library.

  25. The David says:

    Why do so many people make this mistake? SNES and SMD were 16 bit and easily, these days, emulated on a 32 bit system. S32X is a 32 bit system that is much more difficult to emulate because it is 32 bit.

    32x, Saturn, PS1, are all 32 bit systems but guess what, so are ps2, xbox, and DreamCast. What makes you guys want to call these 32 bit processors 64 bit. Only the N64 had a true 64bit processor.

    PS3, and Xbox360 don’t even qualify as true 64bit, they are just clustered 32bit processors. This means that a computer or server with a Xeon is technically more powerful though that of course does not show in reality because of the cluster.

    Also, the new systems are running of Power ach. (same as big servers).

    Maybe the next batch of systems will be true 64 bit but these aren’t but by the time they finally come out you all I am sure will be calling them 256 bit.

  26. Jakin says:

    I’m not even gonna comment on the PS2 running Saturn thing…. XD
    David is right, starting from 32x and up til last generation all consoles used 32bit processing and 128bit GPU. Only within the last 5 or so years have PCs made the technological jump to 64bit CPUs- but i want to point out that doesn’t make Dreamcast or Ps2 ect a “32bit console” the cpu in all these consoles are only crunching background data and telling what bits of it goto the GPU or SPU- these are whats doing the real processing, and the GPU of every console since the Dreamcast has been 128bit (it seems to be the magic number for real-time 3D/polygons- and though most people/sites claim they know the complete run down of systems GPU specs they are rarely spot-on) I dare say GPUs will never have to go much further than 128bit (and Dreamcast was the first! ๐Ÿ™‚
    But the point is the CPU doesn’t need to be more than 32bit it is exactly whats needed, and in a hypothetical situation there was a 64bit CPU in these consoles, it would be wasted- these only really benifit multitasking machines, which consoles are hardly that yet, but getting really close…
    Has everyone else noticed that all current gen consoles are using PPC architecture now?

    Just so i don’t seem like i helped spam this page- i love my Dreamcast and it is still my favorite console- had the Wii been able to do certain things it claimed it would do- it may have taken center stage, but thats another story.
    I also keep my Saturn out when i want to play that- so i don’t mind that they aren’t backwards compatible *sticks tongue out*

  27. Sleepy says:

    On a side note, I think what we need is a cheap — and licensed — Saturn, just like that newer Genesis released by AtGames. Actually they claim they currently make the Saturn and the Dreamcast, but I’ve never seen one… Only in China, perhaps? Wouldn’t that be nice? A new Saturn for say, 50 bucks? Maybe that would drive used consoles prices down. You can buy a decent PSone for 20 bucks, but only a junk Saturn for the same.

  28. Josh says:

    “i use a 5 way bio but i added a duel bio port it was hard thoa and i tryed to use satarn bios but it slowed the ps2 alot. and when i did put the disc in it spun supper fast and i just got a black screen.”

    I love it when tards show up acting like they know what they’re talking about, and spell 2 words right (cant even spell “saturn” correctly even though it’s in the title of the damn article) in an entire bullshit rant that is trying to make themselves out to accomplish the impossible. Hats off to you dumbass. ๐Ÿ˜€

  29. wet3eu67okg says:

    First of all, Saturn was hard to be emulated that time!

  30. darkm64 says:

    no you can’t bitch because you need a sega saturn u muther fucker

  31. segadream131 says:

    I know i play Saturn games all the time…..on MY FICKIN SATURN DUR….
    I don’t honestly know of ANY system that is harder to emulate than a Saturn hands down.
    And furthermore i don’t think any system, even in the far future save a pc will ever do it well…