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

Anonymous says:

Fly Plaything Fly

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.

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.

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.

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

dobot says:

do you want to see a pic

dobot says:

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

Anonymous says:

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

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.

aaron says:

the comments on this article are hilarious.

racketboy says:

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

John says:

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

racketboy says:

Try GameFAQs.com

Tom says:

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

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.

ristar says:

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

racketboy says:

But its not playable, and probably never will be.

Perez says:

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

jcags says:

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

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™

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.

Saturnalian says:

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

jacobstevens says:

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

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.

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