The Sega Saturn might not have been the greatest console ever released, nor was it popular among the developers. Still, it has a remarkable library of games, including some exclusive titles. The following 20 best Sega Saturn games should be enough to start your Saturn journey.
Even though its library is not as impressive as that of the PlayStation or even the Sega Genesis, it has aged quite well. With the use of emulators, most Saturn games can be played with near-perfect emulation and performance.
Developer: Traveller’s Tales/Sonic Team
Sonic the Hedgehog has to be Sega’s most popular character and mascot. Sonic racing games had to start somewhere, and this was the beginning of 3D racing games. It was the only Sonic game developed for the Saturn directly, the rest being ports.
The game features racing on new stages, as well as popular ones from previous Sonic games. There are multiple playable characters from the universe, each with their own special power and perk. Tracks can be raced in the opposite direction.
Developer: Sonic Team
The greatest hits of Sonic were released on the Saturn in 1997. The first three games, as well as Sonic and Knuckles, are bundled in one package for Saturn fans. These are the best Sega Saturn games, even though they were initially released for other consoles.
Go through the games numerically, or just play any game that you prefer. Sonic games are fun and often have amazing soundtracks. The soundtracks alone make the games worth it, though the gameplay is also far from uninteresting.
Sonic 3D Blast
Developer: Traveller’s Tales/Sonic Team
Calling this game 3D is a bit far-fetched, though when you present people with an isometric perspective, something which is in two dimensions can appear 3D. This was the first collaboration between Traveller’s Tales and Sonic Team.
The gameplay is more complex than in standard platformer games. The objective is very similar, as always, defeating Robotnik while saving various indigenous inhabitants and obtaining Chaos Emeralds.
Developer: Ubi Pictures
The original Rayman is a great platformer not just for the action alone, but also for its art and puzzles. There are six levels, but each level has multiple maps. Your goal is to save Electoons, small creatures trapped in cages. You also have to confront the aptly named Mr Dark.
As you progress through the story, you gain power-ups, from the basic telescopic fist to helicopter hair gliding. Some power-ups are available only in select levels, and others are permanent.
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Butoden
Developer: TOSE Software Co.
There were four Butoden games in the series, and this was the last of them, released only for the Sega Saturn. Multiple fan-favorite characters are in the game, from Goku, Vegeta, to Cell, Frieza, and Captain Ginyu.
There are multiple game modes, the standard one being battle, where two players fight one another. Story mode features the story between the Android and the Cell saga. You can also enter the famous World Martial Arts Tournament.
Daytona USA: Championship Circuit Edition
Developer: Sega AM3
The original Daytona USA was a popular title released for the arcade, PC, and Sega Saturn. Since it was one of the best Sega Saturn games at the time, it was reworked and updated for the Saturn and PC.
The Championship Circuit Edition brings new tracks, new cars, a two-player mode, and better graphics. The Saturn release got some hardware improvements which made the game smoother and a better choice between the two releases.
Racing doesn’t have to be realistic to be enjoyable. Travel to the future, to 2052, and compete in the F3600 anti-gravity league, in races that are slightly more dangerous. Choose one of the two crafts out of four racing teams, each with its own characteristics.
The racing is fast-paced and dangerous. You can take out your opponents using weapons that you pick up on the track. Other power-ups give you speed or shields. Be careful; the opponents tend to shoot back.
Contra: Legacy of War
Developer: Appaloosa Interactive
Publisher: Konami of America
Quasi-3D games were very popular in the mid-1990s, and Contra: Legacy of War is a perfect example of this. Add an isometric perspective to a difficult series, and you get a challenge. In the Contra series, one interaction with the enemy or their projectile takes one life.
The story is a classic; you have to free people from an oppressive dictator. Things turn out to be more complicated after you defeat the “final” boss. Run, gun, avoid projectiles, is a classic title that is often underappreciated due to its popular predecessors.
Die Hard Arcade
Developer: Sega AM1/Sega Technical Institute
Die Hard Arcade was a project which wanted to use the success of the movies, and to an extent, it did. There are two stories, depending on the version of the game, Japanese or Western. With that in mind, the stories and endings differ quite a lot, but the gameplay is the same.
In the US and European versions, you can play as John McClane or Kris Thompsen, and you have to save the President’s daughter. It had 3D graphics, sort of, making it stand out in an otherwise populated genre of beat-em-ups.
Earthworm Jim 2
Developer: Shiny Entertainment/Screaming Pink
Publisher: Playmates Interactive/Virgin Interactive/Takara
The second game in the series looks almost the same as the first one but has more variety in the gameplay. The goal of the game is simple, tongue-in-cheek, even. You have to save a princess, in this case, What’s-Her-Name, from an evildoer, Psy-Crow.
While some levels are simple and you can whip and gun enemies down, you also have multiple weapons at your disposal. You can also swing and use a parachute. Some levels are completely different and change the gameplay drastically.
Golden Axe: The Duel
Developer: Sega AM1
Golden Axe titles rarely fail to deliver, and this one is no different. It is a fighter game in the Golden Axe universe. The story revolves around the Golden Axe being rediscovered and fighters popping up to claim it.
The gameplay is what you expect from a fighting game, from simple attacks to combos and super moves. The classic potion imps return, running through the stage, giving the players a chance to heal.
Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter
The second Marvel Vs Capcom game, featuring only Street Fighter characters on the Capcom side, this game was very popular on both the arcade and the Saturn. In fact, it might be one of the best Sega Saturn games, with its stunning graphics and gameplay.
Choose two fighters and battle another pair; use both to execute amazing combos and defeat your opponents. With a high jump, aerial and ground combat, super moves, and super combo moves, it is a must-play title.
Developer: Nazca Corporation/SNK
Metal Slug is one of those games that brought back life to a genre that was very saturated. It is a run-and-gun game that was very fluid for its time. Metal Slug features two soldiers, Marco and Tarma, who shoot, throw grenades, ride in tanks, save prisoners, and beat bosses.
Levels change, but the basic principle is the same, you have a basic gun, some grenades, a knife, and many upgrades. There are also tanks and other vehicles which give you durability and firepower. Every level has a boss, as you would expect from this genre.
Shining Force III
Developer: Camelot Software Planning and Sonic! Software Planning
Shining Force III did not have a standard release as you would expect from such a game. Firstly, it is three different games packed under one name. The game has three scenarios, the first of which was released worldwide, and the second and third in Japan only.
Fan translations have fixed that issue. Given the three different scenarios, you assume the role of three different heroes and build your party in each of them, battling different enemies and bosses. Like most Shining games, combat is turn-based.
Virtua Cop 2
Developer: Sega AM2
Light gun games were not that frequent on consoles, but this one was released on the Saturn. It is a follow-up to the first Virtua Cop title. Your goal is to shoot enemies as they appear on the screen, hopefully, prior to them shooting back.
The route of the game is predetermined, much like in the first game, but at some points, the player can choose which of the paths to take. The story revolves around Michael and James, two cops who want to shut down E.V.I.L., an evil corporation.
The House of the Dead
Developer: Sega AM1
Another light gun title, The House of the Dead is the first game in a successful series. The gameplay revolves around you moving around a predetermined path and shooting zombies, for the most part.
The story is a bit more complicated. A doctor who wanted to discover the secrets of life and death became a tad bit obsessed and unleashed a zombie outbreak. Agent Thomas Rogan is sent to investigate and, in the process, stop the scientist and save the girl.
Resident Evil needs no introduction, as a series, at least. The first title in the series was released on a plethora of platforms, including the Saturn. It is one of the best Sega Saturn games and a great game in general.
Trapped in a mansion, you choose between Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, two agents with different perks. Uncover clues, battle various creatures, and find your way out of the first hell hole you will find these characters in.
Developer: Hudson Soft and Eleven
Publisher: Hudson Soft/Sega
The Bomberman series of games was very popular in the 1990s and is still popular today, with games being made regularly. The Saturn Bomberman is an exclusive title, which can be inferred from the name.
Like most Bomberman titles, you place bombs and work your way out of a maze. Your goal is to destroy Zarfs to find an exit out of a level, while also avoiding or destroying enemies. Be careful. Your own bombs can damage you.
Dungeons & Dragons Collection
Why have one D&D game when you can have two of them, arguably the best two D&D games released for the arcade. Play Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara on the Saturn and relive some of the greatest D&D adventures.
With multiple classes, endings, and various approaches to gameplay depending on the character, these two games are RPGs disguised as beat-em-up games or platformers. The games go in order, so it is recommended to play Tower of Doom first.
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Developer: Avalanche Software/Point of View
Publisher: Midway Games/GT Interactive
The Mortal Kombat series is one of the most popular series when it comes to fighting games. Known for its gruesome fatalities and brutalities, the Trilogy game is a combination of Mortal Kombat 1, 2, 3, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.
As the final update to Mortal Kombat 3, it features the most characters out of all the games, as well as new stages, animations, and finishers. It is arguably one of the best Sega Saturn games, despite some initial problems during its port from the PlayStation.
The Sega Saturn is still remembered, by some as an unsuccessful console, by others as an underrated device with an interesting library of games. These were the 20 best Sega Saturn games that you should play at some point.
Whether through the original console or by using emulators, these titles should give you a clear picture of what it was like to own a Saturn at the time, and what kind of gameplay and stories were considered good and industry-leading.
From Sonic titles to horror games like Resident Evil and The House of the Dead to classic platformers like Earthworm Jim 2, and Rayman, these are the best Saturn games that are still relevant.