The Sega Saturn Swap Trick

 There are a number of people who are looking for an ultra-cheap method that will allow you to play burned copies of Saturn games or homebrew games without having to install a modchip. Your only other option is what is known as the swap trick.

This guide is based off of an anonymous writing from the glory days of SegaXtreme and I have re-written a number of parts and added parts of my own. Please make sure that you read this entire document before you attempt anything. I take no responsibility what-so-ever for anything you do to your Sega Saturn.

An additional disclaimer: The Swap Trick will eventually wear down the motor of your CD drive which may lead to a premature death of your Saturn. However, if you are really good at swapping quickly, you may be fine. In that case you should look into becoming a magician because your slight of hand skills are top-notch 🙂

Anyway, on with the guide…

Fooling Your Saturn Into Thinking The CD Lid Is Always Closed

Identify Your Saturn Model: The first thing you need to do is quite simple, and it really
helps out when you start swapping CDs. Take a look at your Saturn’s “Power” and “Reset” buttons. Are they shaped exactly like a circle? If not, you own a model 1 Saturn. If so,
you possess a model 2 Saturn.

Open Up The Saturn’s Case
There’s are only four screws you need to un-do with a Philips-style screwdriver (or not a flat-tipped screwdriver). You’ll see the screws, so I think a diagram is unnecassary. Put the screws in a place where you’ll remember them and won’t lose them. Once unscrewed, flip your Saturn right-side up and lift the top section of the case off. Be careful not to drop the bottom half of the Saturn, as that’s the important part and any damage is bad. The back compartment cover that holds the battery will probably fall out, set it to the side.

Duct Tape Fixes Everything
This step is pretty simple, but extremely important. It will fool your Saturn into thinking that the cd lid is closed all the time. Don’t worry, it will not damage your Saturn in any manner.

Look at the CD drive where the game discs go. Off to the left just a little bit is a little device. It looks somewhat plastic on my Model 2. But you’ll notice that it has a little lever that can be pushed in. Once you’re sure you know where it is, get the tape out. Any tape that’ll stick will do, but I love duct tape and it stays on forever. Tape the switch completey around in a circle. Make sure it holds the switch in. Once it’s taped, it’s time to put the case back together. It should be pretty easy to do. Don’t forget the back compartment lid.

Test Your Saturn
As long as you haven’t done anything I haven’t told you to, or hit something, it should work just fine. You should be able to play a game with the lid open or closed, as your switch you taped now fools your Saturn into thinking the lid is down.

If it worked, congratulations, your ready to swap cds! If not, well, take your Saturn case off and remove the tape.
You can attempt this again, just follow the instructions more closely. 🙂

Swap The Discs
Remember when you identified what model your Saturn was? Well, here’s where it comes in handy. If you own a Model 1 Sega Saturn, you’re in for a good ride. Us model 2 owners are in for nights of cursing and throwing controllers around. It isn’t impossible, it’s just a major pain to do at first. With enough practice, you may just master the Swap Trick.

Model 1 Sega Saturns

  • Put in the CDR of the game you want to play.
  • Turn on your Saturn.
  • Watch the drivelight – It will blink a few times. when it stops blinking,
    put in an original Saturn CD (any will do).
  • Wait until the drivelight flashes 3x quickly, then put in the CDR again.
  • The game should boot up fine and work.

Model Two Sega Saturns

  • Put in the CDR of the game you want to play.
  • Turn on your Saturn.
  • Watch the drivelight – It will blink a few times. when it stops blinking,
    put in an original Saturn CD (any will do).
  • Wait for the Sega logo to assemble and listen to the CD laser move.
  • Here you have to remove your copied CD and insert an official game CD.
  • Now wait and listen to the drive slow down
  • When you hear it moving again and speeding up, quickly remove the official CD and insert the copied CD.
  • As with the Model 1 swapping, the game should now work perfectly.

If it worked for you on your first time, congratulations! However, if it didn’t work for you, join the club. It’s a a real pain — especially for Model 2 owners, just keep trying. You’ll eventually get the hang of it. If you are frustrated beyond belief, a Modchip may be the ideal solution.

More Swap Trick Info:
Additional Info for Model 2 Saturn
Swap with Pro Action Replay
Swap with Model 2 Video (divx)

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matt says:

Your Model 2 directions don’t make sense.

AJ says:

Success! I have a model 1 and directions worked fine… except it depends on which game is the original for me, for example… I boot Radiant Silvergun with an original of Daytona USA, and I boot Mr. Bones Disk 2 with an original of Mr. Bones Disk 1… Try different originals if anybody’s having trouble.

Mikep says:

I have the saturn model 1 with the little black lever that Cameron mentioned. I taped it so it wouldn’t pop out. When I boot the saturn with the burnt disk, the red light is constantly beeping, it doesn’t beep 3 times and stop. Is there something I’m doing wrong?

Mikep says:

Do I need to unscrew anything then try and tape it again?

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