Of course, the Sega Saturn has always been one of the consoles that has never been especially cheap — especially if you want complete copies of your games. And while we saw a solid amount of appreciation in Saturn game values over the past decade, unsurprisingly, most of the bigger increases have been in those pesky NTSC jewel cases and longbox-style manuals (check our our Rare and Valuable Saturn guide in case you’re curious).
Many of those collectors that didn’t pick up a lot of Saturn titles early on are even seeing some of the more common games get pricey in complete condition. 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 need to shop tactfully to score it for $35 or less.
Anyway, because of the premiums on complete games, I’m going to go with a hybrid pricing criteria (like I recently did with the Cheap Sega Genesis/Megadrive guide) where I shoot for games that are under $35 loose (crazy, I know) and under $60 complete (well, $62 for the iconic Panzer Dragoon)
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: $19 / $30
This crown jewel of the Sega Saturn used to be one of the most affordable 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.
Like Panzer Dragoon, Nights into Dreams received a PS2 port. However, it also got an excellent HD remaster on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 as a digital download. (It would be really nice if somebody created a new physical version).
Panzer Dragoon: $30 / $62
Sega has some of the most iconic on-rails shooters franchises under its belt but Panzer Dragoon may be the most underrated of its peers. Perhaps, with the original game being an early launch title for the Saturn, Panzer Dragoon was a bit ahead of its time. (It is also worth mentioning that much of Panzer Dragoon’s original development team went onto develop, Rez for the Dreamcast and PS2)
Of course, there is also the follow-up/prequel, Panzer Dragoon Zwei that is, as you might expect, a bit more refined. For a short while, Zwei could be found cheaper than the original, but it falls just a bit out of the range for this guide at $40 loose/$70 complete.
Panzer Dragoon has been a bit of a NTSC console exclusive for the Saturn so far. Other than a Japanese PS2 release and it being unlockable bonus on Panzer Dragoon Orta on the Xbox, most of us have only played it on the Saturn.
Earlier this year, it was announced that an HD remake was underway for the original Panzer Dragoon, so it will be interesting to see what impact there is on the Saturn original’s value.
Virtual On: Cyber Troopers: $18 / $30
This excellent conversion of the one-on-one mech fighter is one of the most innovative bargains 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.
The Dreamcast eventually got an enhanced sequel and we’ve seen a few more visits to the franchise on modern platforms, but its hard to pass on this original for a decent price. It also happens to be one of those Defining games for the Saturn that every owner of the console should look into.
Daytona USA: $6 / $15
Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition: $15 / $25
As 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 thrown in as game or system bundles on eBay. You can also find the original full-case version for a quick reasonable price. 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 (using a modified version of the Sega Rally engine), check out the Championship Circuit Edition. It has better graphical performance in addition to more cars and tracks — these improvements are definitely worth the modest price jump.
Shop for Daytona USA Series on eBay
Shop for Daytona USA on Amazon
Shop for Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition on Amazon
Sega Rally Championship: $13 / $18
Sega Rally is the essential complement to Daytona USA if you are a racing fan. It isn’t quite as mainstream-friendly as Daytona, but this drifting-filled racer truly is an essential and dirt-cheap classic. Many of the initial blockbuster arcade ports on the Saturn, such as Daytona and Virtua Fighter had some rough edges, but Sega Rally is perhaps one of the finest ports and holds up quite well today (which is one of the reasons Daytona CCE utilized its engine — see above).
Much like Daytona, we’ve seen enhanced followups of Sega Rally on the Dreamcast and some modern systems, but this Saturn version is a classic that is affordable and still shines with classic charm.
Virtua Fighter 2: $6 / $17
Just like Daytona USA, you can find the plain disk or sleeved (pack-in) version for next to nothing. But collectors will most likely be willing to pay for a modestly-priced full-case retail version.
Even thought VF 4 & 5 are great, modern fighters, Virtua Fighter 2 is still a strong favorite in the Sega crowd. Virtua Fighter 2 also 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 and was a strong upgrade from the original Virtua Fighter.
Clockwork Knight: $17 / $32
As many of us know, the Sega Saturn wasn’t designed to be a pure 3D powerhouse. As a Saturn launch title, Clockwork Knight played it safe by making essentially a 2D platform with 3D elements and pre-rendered sprites.
Clockwork Knight isn’t an an especially innovative game (however, its more-expensive sequel is better) but its a decent platformer that remains exclusive to the Saturn.
Street Fighter Alpha 2: $23 / $41
As 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 — especially now that there are modern Street Fighter Alpha compilations out there that are a better value.
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge: $22 / $55
Even 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 its 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)
Fighters Megamix: $15 / $32
Before cross-over fighters were commonplace, Sega took the models from Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers (another good recommendation mentioned below) and threw in some of Virtua Fighter 3’s new moves (before the game’s port got moved to the Dreamcast) to create Fighters Megamix. Megamix looked good, but lacked Virtua Fighter 2’s high-resolution feature. You still won’t find as much depth and balance as some modern fighters, but it’s loads of fun you’re into 3D fighters and enjoy Sega’s franchises.
Baku Baku: $15 / $27
Good 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.
Galactic Attack (Layer Section): $31 / $55
The 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 available 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. While it used to be quite inexpensive, shmups in general have increased in value quite a bit. But this is still quite a solid value considering its quality and platform. If you’re looking to build a library of Saturn shooters and want to know what prices to expect and what the best values are, I did a sortable Saturn shmup price guide (with quality ratings as well) a couple years back. The values may have changed a bit over the last couple years, but the guide should still point you in the right range.
Darius Gaiden: $30 / $50
If 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) and not quite as impressive as Galactic Attack above, it’s a solid release and a good challenge.
Again, check our Shmup price+quality guide for a more complete picture.
Tempest 2000: $25 / $59
The original Tempest 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.
X-Men Children of the Atom: $27 / $55
This 2D fighter from Capcom essentially was the comic book genesis before evolving into the Marvel vs Capcom universe.
While it doesn’t have character switching and some of the over-the-top effects that arrived in the amazing X-Men vs Street Fighter (that was a Japanese Saturn exclusive that required the 4MB RAM cart), it is still a solid fighter with that trademark personality of the Capcom and Marvel alliance.
Alien Trilogy: $23 / $55
This first-person shooter got overlooked often by Saturn fans. It didn’t get the buzz of the Jaguar’s Aliens vs Predator and got lost in the shuffle of the Quake and some of the other impressive FPS games in the era. Alien Trilogy actually made good use of the Saturn hardware to create the great atmosphere you would expect from the franchise and was actually rather true to the films. It isn’t the best of the genre for the Saturn, but if you are a classic FPS fan or enjoy the Alien franchise, this is a decent value.
Virtua Cop $6/$30 & Virtua Cop 2 $15/$30
For another great arcade conversion, the Virtua Cop series are fine selections for Light Gun fans. Quite popular at the time of their release, the discs are super common. It’s a shame the series didn’t progress or get ported more on other platforms like the Rail-shooter haven, Nintendo Wii.
Anyway, as a console exclusive of the Saturn, these are great budget pickups if you have a display that supports light guns. Of course, if you want to pick these games up as complete in the larger boxes that included the light guns, you’ll need to invest quite a bit more.
Shop for Virtua Cop Series on eBay
Shop for Virtua Cop Series on Amazon
Affordable Japanese Exclusives
Since complete Japanese games are more affordable (and common for that matter vs loose discs), I will just quote the average complete copy (this typically doesn’t include spine cards, etc). If you don’t happen to have a Saturn modified to play imports, an Action Replay cartridge (eBay / Amazon) makes it really easy. They fit in the Saturn’s cartridge slot and also work as a RAM expansion and Memory card.
Assault Suit Leynos 2: $35
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.
Magical Drop III: $13
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 has a much different setup than typical falling-block type puzzlers, but feels like a natural fit for those that enjoy the genre. Magical Drop III also happens to be one of the best values in the puzzle genre for the Saturn.
King of Fighters ’95, ’96, or ’97: About $13 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
Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness: $33
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 🙂
Samurai Spirits III or IV: $18 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.
Vampire Savior: $25
Also known as Darkstalkers 3, this beautiful 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.
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. If you don’t happen to have a Saturn modified to play imports, an Action Replay cartridge (eBay / Amazon) makes it really easy.
Here’s the titles that are friendly to English Speakers
Saturn Bomberman: $28
Compared to $400 for US copy of Saturn Bomberman
Bomberman is Bomberman. And any Bomberman fan must play Saturn Bomberman. The legends of its multiplayer capabilities has been growing and now the US release is worth as much as Panzer Dragoon Saga was just a few years ago. So if you’re looking to score a real copy on the cheap, the Japan import is quite appealing. It is worth noting that the Japanese version lacks the Netlink option, but that’s only for those that want to figure out a way to play online through the dial-up modem add-on.
Shop for Saturn Bomberman on eBay
Guardian Heroes: $33
Compared to $157 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 noticeable. Note: you can play the HD remake of Guardian Heroes on XBLA and PSN for less of a financial investment, but if you want a physical version for the original release hardware, this is a great deal.
Burning Rangers: $39
Compare to $350 for US copy of Burning Rangers
Like Guardian Heroes, there is some text in the game, but it should be quite playable in Japanese. The vocal directions that you often get are in Japanese, so that will add to the challenge, however. The financial savings is far larger, however — mostly due to the fact that Burning Rangers is still a Saturn exclusive and the game was quite common in Japan.
The House of the Dead: $18
Compared to $240 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. And even with all the text in the game (not that the gameplay is dependent on it), 99% of it is in English.
Mega Man X4 / Rockman X4: $29
Compared to $195 for US copy of Mega Man X4
Classic Mega Man games increasingly have been hot commodities on most platforms, but the Sega Saturn’s lower print run and delicate packaging have given it even more of a premium. This also happens to be a pretty great 2D game on a great 2D system. Just remember to shop for the Japanese name of the game to find them easily on eBay.
Sonic Jam: $24
Compared to $112 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.
Die Hard Arcade / Dynamite Deka: $24
Compared to $93 for a US copy of Die Hard Arcade
This port of Sega’s arcade brawler is classic that is one of the best of the 32-bit era. Sega paid up for the rights to the Die Hard license outside of Japan, but had to treat the game as an original property (like it did for the game’s sequel Dynamite Cop, which received a Dreamcast port), so they changed up the name to Dynamite Deka — even though the cover art features more of a Bruce Willis likeness than the American version.
Super Puzzle Fighter II: $25
Compared to $90 for the US copy of Super Puzzle Fighter II
This is one of my favorite puzzle games (although I’m partial to the Street Fighter artwork) and the Saturn version is wonderful. You can find Puzzle Fighter cheaper on the Playstation and Game Boy Advance, but for Sega fans, this is a nice collectors piece.
Shop for Super Puzzle Fighter II on eBay
Panzer Dragoon: $16 / Panzer Dragoon Zwei: $20
Compared to $62 and $75 respectively for US copies
Even though I had the original Panzer Dragoon listed above as an “affordable” game, it does happen to be the most expensive game on the list and its sequel is significantly more expensive — especially if you want nice complete copies. If you’re diving into the Japanese games, the Panzer Dragoon series might be worthwhile for you as they are pretty cheap. The only Japanese is for the text of the cutscenes. The menus are even in English so you should have a pretty good experience on both games.
NiGHTS into Dreams: $13
Compared to $30 for the US copy of NiGHTS
Not a huge dollar savings here, but I thought I would include this one just because its one of the most important games for the system and a worthwhile mention and you’re thinking about simply building a Japanese collection and skipping NTSC releases.
Side note: if you want some recommendations of other Japanese Saturn games that are easily playable for English speakers, check out this Racketboy Forum thread.
Other Cheap North American Favorites
- Fighting Vipers: $9 / $16 (eBay / Amazon)
- Tomb Raider: $11 / $20 (eBay)
- D: $14 / $45 (eBay)
- Bug!: $12 / $27 (eBay / Amazon)
- Christmas Nights into Dreams: $28 / $40 (eBay)
- Myst: $7 / $14 (eBay)
- Gun Griffon: $14 / $30 (eBay)
- Road Rash: $16 / $35 (eBay / Amazon)
- Rayman: $23 / $46 (eBay)
- Virtua Fighter Remix: $7 / $12 (Note: Long Box Version is Rare / Valuable) (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Fighter Kids:$11 / $20 (eBay / Amazon)
- Virtua Racing: $9 / $18 (eBay)
- Wipeout: $12 / $24 (eBay / Amazon)
- Sega Touring Car Championship: $10 / $23 (eBay)
- Need for Speed: $10 / $15 (eBay)
- Doom: $27/ $50 (eBay / Amazon)
- Hexen: $14 / $32 (eBay / Amazon)
- Bust-A-Move 2: $12 / $19 (eBay / Amazon)
- Last Bronx: $17 / $28 (eBay)
- Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels: $16 / $23 (eBay)
- Solar Eclipse: $9 / $17 (eBay)
- Manx TT Super Bike: $13 / $22 (eBay)
- Steep Slope Sliders $17 / $50 (eBay / Amazon)
- Mansion of Hidden Souls: $9 / $20 (eBay)
- Dark Legend: $15 / $40 (eBay)
- Sim City 2000: $7 / $17 (eBay)
- Scud: The Disposable Assassin: $10 / $25 (eBay)
- Grid Runner: $8 / $20 (eBay)
- AMOK: $10 / $21 (eBay)
- Decathlete: $15 / $25 (eBay / Amazon)
- Pro Pinball: $5 / $17 (eBay / Amazon)
- Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3: $25 / $37 (eBay / Amazon)
- Cyber Speedway (Gran Chaser): $8 / $14 (eBay)
- F1 Challenge: $7 / $15 (eBay)
- FIFA Series: $5 / $9 (eBay)
- NBA Jam TE: $15 / $21 (eBay)
- Soviet Strike: $8 / $15 (eBay)