For my next revision to the Cheapest Games series , I wanted to revisit the Sega Saturn. The values of the popular Saturn games have increased significantly over the last few years — especially for complete copies of the game. After the last few revisions of these “Cheapest Games” posts, I’ve found that it’s getting harder and harder to find quality vintage games in complete condition for a reasonable price.
In the case of the Sega Saturn, the perfect example is “NiGHTS into Dreams”. The game was a crown jewel of the Saturn library, but it sold relatively well and lots of copies were available. When I first created this guide back in 2007, a complete copy could easily be found for $20 (probably only about $10 or $15 just a few years earlier. In my 2009 revision, you could still find it for $19. However, now you’re lucky to find a complete copy for $40 or less. A game like Astal used to be a steal at $10 for a complete copy – now copies are going for $35 to $40. Now I fully understand why the sales of my Saturn Mod Chips have been taking off lately — even the once cheap and common games are getting pricey. I realize those big, non-standard plastic cases break easily and are becoming more and more of a rarity, but it’s making Saturn collecting quite an expensive hobby.
Anyway, because of this change in the market, I’m going to change the criteria for this guide to be disc-only games under $25. I will also list the complete price so you can be aware of the those prices as well.
Not only does this revised list reflect the changing values, but I’ve also expanded it and included a Japanese-exclusive list and a short list of popular Saturn games that are significantly cheaper as Japanese releases. Hopefully, this revised list of Saturn games will help you start or build up your collection without having to spend much.. (Prices listed are an average eBay price for US games, including shipping)
|NiGHTS into Dreams: $13
Complete Copy: $40This crown jewel of the Sega Saturn used to be one of the most afforable games on the system. Even with the general disappointment of the Wii sequel, the demand for Nights into Dreams for the Saturn has stayed strong. It’s not too hard to find a disc-only copy, but you will pay a premium if you want a complete copy in a large Saturn game case (there was another version that came in a standard CD-size jewel case) Until this fan favorite gets a solid port to another console, the demand for this otherwise common game should stay high.
Shop for NiGHTS Into Dreams on eBay
Shop for NiGHTS Into Dreams on Amazon.com
|Panzer Dragoon Zwei: $19
Complete Copy: $30Up until recently, Panzer Dragoon Zwei was always more expensive than the orginal title in the series. However, it is sometimes just a bit cheaper. Zwie is actually a prequel and is a more refined game, so I have no problem recommending this title over the original — especially for the price.
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|Panzer Dragoon: $21
Complete Copy: $30Of course, if you are a fan of on-rails shooters and want a well-rounded Saturn library, it’s not a bad idea to check out the original Panzer Dragoon either.
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|Virtual On: Cyber Troopers: $17
Complete Copy: $20This excellent conversion of the one-on-one mech fighter is one of the most innovative bargain out of the bunch. Virtual On is essentially a true 3D fighter with super-quick mechs trying to blow each other up while dodging and hiding behind obstacles in the course. However, once again, the Dreamcast also has an enhanced sequel, but this Saturn original passes the savings on to you.
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|Galactic Attack (Layer Section): $18
Complete Copy: $29The Sega Saturn is one of the best consoles for fans of 2D shoot-em-ups. Unfortunately, most of the best shmups on the system were only availible in Japan and usually sell for $60 or more (many time a LOT more). Fortunately, one of the most recommended shooters for the Saturn was actually released in the US and carries a rather reasonable price tag. Galactic Attack (also known as Layer Section, Rayforce, or Gunlock) is one of Taito’s best of the genre and had a number of gameplay innovations considering its release date.
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|Tempest 2000: $20
Complete Copy: $23The original Temptest started out in the early 80’s as a 3D version of Space Invaders that initially failed, but eventually became an icon of the vector age of gaming. Tempest 2000 was a remake by Jeff Minter that featured updates to the original game such as collectible powerups, more stages, and one amazing soundtrack. While the game saw a superior version on the Atari Jaguar, the Saturn version is still a relatively inexpensive and enjoyable addition to the library.
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|Three Dirty Dwarves: $18
Complete Copy: $37If you like beatemups, but want something that strays from the normal formula and supports up to three co-op players (Multi-tap needed), Three Dirty Dwarves is a wonderful gem of a game. Many of the hidden gems of the Saturn library have recieved a good amount of attention over the last decade, but this is one of the few that needs more attention (although it might easy rise in value after that happens)
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Shop for Three Dirty Dwarves on Amazon.com
|Darius Gaiden: $20
Complete Copy: $25If you are a Shmup fan on a budget, another US release to check out is Darius Gaiden. While it is in the middle of the pack when compared to the extensive Saturn shmup library (most of which are Japanese imports), it’s a solid release and a good challenge.
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Shop for Darius Gaiden on Amazon.com
|Daytona USA: $3
Complete Copy: $6Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition: $8
Complete Copy: $15As one of the biggest launch titles and eventual pack-in game, Daytona USA is one of the most common games in the Saturn library. You can get it dirt cheap in its pack-in form as it is commonly thown in as game or system bundles on eBay. You can also find the original full-case version for just a few dollars. This Saturn version obviously isn’t as polished as the new remakes on PSN and XBLA, but if want to get an inexpensive essential for a Saturn library, you can’t go wrong with the original console version of Daytona USA.If you enjoy the original and want a reworked and extended version that was designed specifically for the Saturn, check out the Championship Circuit Edition. It has better graphical performance in addtion to more cars and tracks — these improvements are definately worth the few extra dollars it will cost you.
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Shop for Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition on Amazon.com
|Sega Rally Championship: $3
Complete Copy: $15Sega Rally is the essential complement to Daytona USA if you are a racing fan. This drifting-filled racer truely is an essential and dirt-cheap classic. But just like Daytona USA, Sega Rally also has a graphically-enhanced sequel on the Dreamcast that is also pricier. But at $5 its hard to go wrong with the Saturn version.
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Shop for Sega Rally on Amazon.com
|Virtua Fighter 2: $3
Complete Copy: $9Just like Daytona USA, you can find the plain disk or sleaved (pack-in) version for next to nothing. But collectors will most likely be willing to pay just a few dollars for the full-case retail version. Virtua Fighter 2 actually serves as a great technical demo for the Saturn. The game maxed out the Saturn’s High Resolution 720×575 mode (highest for a console game at that time) while running at a smooth 60fps.
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|Street Fighter Alpha 2: $16
Complete Copy: $21As one of my favorite fighting games of all time, I can’t help but put Street Fighter Alpha 2 on this list. While some may prefer the larger character lineup of the more expensive Street Fighter Zero 3 (Alpha 3), I feel that Alpha 2 has more balanced gameplay and tighter control. Even though the Saturn version of the game is one of the best home ports, it isn’t the great bargain it used to be — epecially now that there are modern Street Fighter Alpha compilations out there that are a better value.
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|Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge: $19
Complete Copy: $22Even though the Darkstalkers series essentially uses the same engine as the Street Fighter Alpha series, it is still a blast to play due to is diverse cast of characters and it’s flashy style. If you are a fighting fan or even just like monster movie characters, Night Warriors is a must-play — especially for the price. (Also check in the imports section below for the sequel)
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|Fighters Megamix: $10
Complete Copy: $21Fighters Megamix took the models from Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers and threw in some of Virtua Fighter 3’s new moves. Megamix looked good, but lacked Virtua Fighter 2’s high-resolution feature. Of all of the non-pack-in games, Fighters Megamix is one of the best values today. You still won’t find as much depth as some modern fighters like Soul Calibur, but it’s a great game to give your Saturn some life.
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Shop for Fighters Megamix on Amazon.com
|Legend of Oasis: $18
Complete Copy: $40The Beyond Oasis/Legend of Thor series, which began on the Genesis and Game Gear, was supposed to be Sega’s answer to the Legend of Zelda series in the 16-bit era. The series was rather popular among action RPG enthusists, but never saw a big mainstream following. The series saw a third entry on the Saturn and it was a solid entry. Values have stayed quite steady over the last decade unlike other Saturn exclusives, so this is a pretty good value at this point in time considering the rest of the Saturn library.
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|Baku Baku: $12
Complete Copy: $16Good puzzle games don’t often go unnoticed, but Baku Baku is one that is a hidden gem for sure (the name might have something to do with it). In Baku Baku blocks come in two types, food and animal. Their may be five of each type of block, but they are still only food and animal. A simple paring mechanism is in place here, ie Dog and Bone, Panda and Bamboo. So when a dog block and a bone block touch, the dog block becomes a big dog head and eats the bone block, and all attached bone blocks. This, of course, leads to combos and endless bizarre gameplay concoctions.
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Affordable Japanese Exclusives
|Assault Suit Leynos 2: $22
One of my first impressions of this game was “Mechs meets Metal Slug“. It’s an impressive, but very tough 2D Mech shooter with some spectacular graphics and gameplay. It’s a wonderful exclusive for the Saturn and is definitely worth looking into if you are a shooter fan.
Shop for Assault Suit Leynos 2 on eBay
|Waku Waku 7: $25
As one of the best hidden gems in the Saturn fighting library, this quirky brawler from Sunsoft is a steal for just over $10. Try finding the Neo-Geo cart for that cheap.
Shop for Waku Waku 7 on eBay
|Magical Drop III: $20
The Magical Drop series is an essential for puzzle fans. It’s a shame the series never really got much exposure outside of Japan. It happens to be one of the best values in the puzzle genre for the Saturn.
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|King of Fighters ’95, ’96, or ’97: About $17 each
SNK was a strong supporter of the Saturn in Japan and blessed gamers with handful of King of Fighters titles for the 32-bit machine before continuing their support on the Dreamcast. Each game should come with a RAM cart for about $15 each. Not a bad price at all for such solid fighters. However, keep in mind, you could purchase The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga, which contains all three games for the same price
Shop for King of Fighters Series on eBay
|Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness: $25
This is one of Capcom’s lesser-known fighting gems and is a spiritual prequel to the Dreamcast game, Tech Romancer. Cyberbots is good change of pace for fighting fans and duking it out with large robots gives off a unique feeling of satisfaction 🙂
Shop for Cyberbots on eBay
|Samurai Spirits III or IV: $17 each
More SNK goodness. While many fans of the series prefer the original two installments of the series, part III and IV are still solid fighters and are quite affordable on the Saturn. However, you could purchase the Samurai Shodown Anthology on a newer platform for about the same price of one of these games.
Shop for Samurai Spirits Series on eBay
|Puyo Puyo Sun: $8
Yup, another puzzle game. But its a great version of the classic Puyo Puyo series and it’s easy to find for under $10. Might not sound like a great deal for those that aren’t hardcore puzzle fans, but it’s worth mentioning.
Shop for Puyo Puyo Sun on eBay
|Vampire Savior: $25
Also known as Darkstalkers 3, this fighter really takes advantage of the Saturn’s 2D capabilities and requires a RAM cart as well. Just be aware of some of the incompatibilities with many of the Action Replay Plus cartridges.
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Cheap Import Alternatives
I thought it would be interesting to list of few of the especially popular Saturn games that are quite expensive as US releases and see what the Japanese version sell for. If you have a way of playing imports, you might want to consider these if you want real copies of the games.
|Panzer Dragoon Azel: $23
Compared to $230+ for US copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga
Ok — so playing an RPG in Japanese can be quite a challenge, but look at the savings! Of course, there’s English FAQs out there if you want to brave this one.
Shop for Panzer Dragoon Azel on eBay
|Guardian Heroes: $25
Compared to $50 for US copy of Guardian Heroes
There is some text in Guardian Heroes since it has RPG elements, but its rather playable in Japanese. Plus, the savings is quite noticable.
Shop for Guardian Heroes on eBay
|Shining Force III: Scenario 1: $12
Compared to $100 for US copy of Shining Force III
Yeah, it’s another RPG, but $15 is dirt cheap for this game 🙂
Shop for Shining Force III on eBay
|Saturn Bomberman: $19
Compared to $100 for US copy of Saturn Bomberman
Bomberman is Bomberman. And any Bomberman fan must play Saturn Bomberman. So if you want this game, can play imports, and want to save money on a real copy of this game, this is an easy choice.
Shop for Saturn Bomberman on eBay
|The House of the Dead: $15
Compared to $100 for US copy of The House of the Dead
We’ve see re-releases of the House of the Dead 2 and 3 on a handful of platforms, but the original entry in the series remains exclusive to the Saturn (not including the arcade, Windows, and a mobile phone version). The US version remains a much sought-after release, but it is much more affordable as a Japanese release.Shop for The House of the Dead on eBay
|Burning Rangers: $23
Compare to $80 for US copy of Burning Rangers
Like Guardian Heroes, there is some text in the game, but it should be quite playable in Japanese.
Shop for Burning Rangers on eBay
|Sonic Jam: $16
Compared to $35 for US copy of Sonic Jam
This was one of the first solid Sonic the Hedgehog compilations and it remains a hot collectors item for Saturn enthusiasts. If you insist on playing the Sonic collection on the Saturn instead of the modern compilations, check out the Japanese release of Sonic Jam to save some serious money.
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Other Cheap Favorites
- X-Men: Children of the Atom: $20 (eBay / Amazon)
- Spot Goes to Hollywood: $9 (eBay / Amazon)
- Clockwork Knight: $12 (eBay / Amazon)
- Pandemonium!: $14 (eBay / Amazon)
- Quake: $16 (eBay / Amazon)
- Doom: $10 (eBay / Amazon)
- Hexen: $6 (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Fighter Remix: $4 (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Fighter Kids:$7 (eBay / Amazon)
- Bust-A-Move 2: $7 (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Cop : $4 (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Cop 2: (eBay / Amazon)
- Sega Touring Car Championship: $10 (eBay)
- Bug!: $13 (eBay / Amazon)
- Bug Too!: $19 (eBay / Amazon)
- Wipeout: $10 (eBay / Amazon)
- Fighting Vipers: $8 (eBay / Amazon)
- Steep Slope Sliders $12 (eBay / Amazon)
- Manx TT Super Bike: $5 (eBay)
- Road Rash: $10 (eBay / Amazon)
- Rampage World Tour: $12 (eBay / Amazon)
- Gex: $10 (eBay / Amazon)
- Decathlete: $3 (eBay / Amazon)
- Pro Pinball: $4 (eBay / Amazon)
- Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3: $9 (eBay / Amazon)