Sonic might be so fast that he could collect the rings around Saturn, but we’re only concerned with the best Sega Saturn games today.
Was that ‘planet-themed’ link as bad as I thought it was? Yes? Ok, let’s move on.
The Sega Saturn sometimes gets forgotten about in the hype of the Mega Drive and the best Master System games. While it’s true that the console had the mighty PS1 to compete with, it still garnered some commercial success with around 9.6 million units sold.
That’s 92.9 million less than the PS1, but at least it sold more than the Dreamcast, ey?
Sadly, the Sega Saturn was a little too ahead of its time, just like the Dreamcast. And, even if the third-party companies had been ready for it, the rifts between Sega’s Japanese and American arms were already starting. Poor decisions hampered the Saturn, but there are still some incredible games that cement it’s place in retro gaming history.
Check out the best Sega Saturn games ever made below, along with a little bit of info on Sega’s penultimate home console at the end of the article.
N.B – Don’t get excited about an immersive, Saturn-only Sonic adventure; there never was one!
Sonic R is quite unique for being a racing game where some of the platers don’t even drive cars.
Still, I suppose super fast animals who spend all day running around anyway won’t really mind taking three laps around a circuit to show Robotnik who’s boss!
This is the first 3D Sonic racing game produced and the only original Sonic title for the Sega Saturn. Can you believe that, from a Sega console!!
Sonic R feels more like Diddy Kong Racing than Mario Kart. Coming in first position is still the aim of the game, though there are certain collectibles to find while racing that make getting ‘the perfect lap’ more desirable.
By collecting items, new characters can be unlocked, so keep an eye out for things lurking in the scenery.
The game score by Richard Jacques was very catchy too. It gave a simple racing game an epic, almost legendary feel to it and really got me humming along.
Looking for a bonafide Saturn Sonic game? This is your best bet!
Fighting Vipers marks the first in a long list of epic fighting games for the Sega Saturn. Its simple move list and gameplay mechanics make for good-old-fashioned arcade gaming without any extra distractions.
Basically, it’s punch, kick, and guard, without any swords, powers, or K.O hammers in sight.
Fighting Vipers comes from a time when timing and clever combos were everything. Characters wear armour that falls off through the fight as its broken, so guarding from attacks and striking well positioned hits against your opponents is the key to all-out victory.
Fans of Tekken and the popular Sega series Virtua Fighter will feel right at home with Fighting Vipers. With nine characters and exciting walled levels that can either aid or prove a hinderance (depending on if you’ve just been smashed through one), it’s an action packed title that is sure to get your blood pumping.
Play through saved fights or learn a characters moves inside out before trying your skills in the main tournament. How many fighters do you know of that could kick ass while wearing roller blades?
Some of the characters also feature in a crossover title in the list below, but you’ll have to read on to find out which!
Astal takes the 20th spot on this list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time!
I’m a huge fan of games that use hand drawn graphics. They have a certain timeless quality to them, a look that doesn’t look super dated because it’s a conscious design choice.
The worlds in Astal look great, and this side-scrolling title is simple to play, albeit a little short in game play value.
Astal reminds me of a cross between Hephaestus and Kirby. He’s a strong dude that can throw trees and other bits of scenery at enemies in his way, though he can also blow bad guys off the screen by inhaling and exhaling huge amounts of air.
The bird plays a big part too, with players charging up a meter and letting it loose to collect items and pick off enemies.
Astal breaks free from a moon prison to return to Quartilla, a world created on a jewel. He must search for his charge, Leda, a girl who can create life, and protect her at all costs. The game is superb, and it’s worth playing just to find out what the purple bird’s deal is!
X-Men: Children of the Atom is a pretty big deal when it comes to the best Sega Saturn games.
For starters, this was the first game to use officially licensed Marvel Characters. It’s based on the comic series and features all of the X-Men battling it out against Magneto. It even has the voice actors from the cartoon series!
Like most fighting games, players battle every character before squaring up against boss characters. In this case, that’s Juggernaut and Magneto!
Children of the Atom had some incredible combo moves to pull off. Gamers destroyed each other using complicated button patterns that even worked while jumping through the air!
This game introduced interactive battle arenas too, with pieces falling down and fighters battling in different areas of the same stage.
It’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have the Marvel vs Capcom series without Children of the Atom. If that doesn’t secure it’s place in our list of the best Sega Saturn games, then I don’t know what will!
Darkstalkers 3 has a feel of Street Fighter, Children of the Atom, and Killer Instinct all rolled into one.
Some of the characters in this game are out of this world and super fun to play with, battling through weird and wonderful ghoulish levels with a heavy gothic vibe.
The general gameplay format bears great similarities to Street Fighter and Children of the Atom, though all fights take place in a single round. Rather than having three bouts and a single health line, characters have a health bar with two lines in it; green and red.
The winning player’s health doesn’t reset, making for closer rounds and the ability for the underdog to strike back at the last moment. This was one of the features that I loved most about Killer Instinct. Fulgore was the best!
The Sega Saturn version is considered to be the best by many critics, with a bigger roster of characters and nicer graphics compared to other ports. It’s the best for recreating those original arcade vibes, and that’s what fighting games are all about.
The Mummy meets Goldeneye in PowerSlave, the next title in our list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time!
This is a great game for any Egyptian history buffs out there. While investigating a disturbance in Karnak, the Egyptian city where the story is based, the main character is shot down. He must fight back the evil forces who damaged his helicopter while beating back hordes of undead creatures and ghouls.
Sounds like he needs Doom Guy to lend a hand!
PowerSlave is jam-packed with referenced to Ancient Egyptian culture. Heck, in the good ending, the player becomes Pharaoh of the entire Earth after pleasing King Ramses’ ghost.
Talk about spooky!
Games with multiple endings are always the best as they provide twice the fun. I won’t tell you what happens if you fail to find all of the radio pieces, but it’s not pretty.
First-person shooters never get boring, and PowerSlave is one of the best of the best. Check it out and let us know your thoughts!
It wouldn’t be a list of the best Sega Saturn games without a Sonic title like Sonic Jam. The trouble is that the Sega Saturn didn’t actually have a new one to boast about. It’s a major fail in our opinion, but it’s not unlike Sega to drop a move like this.
Still, if you’re a fan of the blue speedster and want the ability to be able to play all of your favourite Sonic games on the same console, then Sonic Jam should be on your Saturn wish list.
Sonic Jam features true ports of the first four Sonic The Hedgehog games – 1, 2, 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Some of the levels have been altered and you can both play as Tails in Sonic & Knuckles and Knuckles in Sonic 2.
Apart from that, the games are the same.
Sonic Jam does have a cool 3D mode where you can run around a 3D world as Sonic. ‘Sonic World’ is basically an interactive museum. The blue peril must interact with objects to unlock original artwork, marketing advertisements, manuals, and music. There are also some cool missions to complete too.
It’s not a new game, but it does just enough to put Sonic Jam into our list of the best Sega Saturn games.
Fighters Megamix is probably the only game where a car can fight a green duck.
That’s a sentence I never thought I’d end up writing…
Think of Fighters Megamix as an early Smash Bros title. It brought characters from lots of different Sega franchises into one game. That included all the playable and boss characters from Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers, and cars from Daytona USA.
Yeah, it looks as stupid as you might imagine!
Fighters Megamix splits the one player mode into nine different sections highlighting specific characters. Work through all of the Fighting Vipers, all of the female fighters, and pit yourself against hidden bosses amongst other categories.
What other game can you see Mr Meat fight against Bark the Polar Bear? Until you read this article I bet the idea never even came into your head!
This game is worth paying for just to see a car fighting a green bean. Honestly, it’s one of the maddest fighting games I’ve ever played!
Clockwork Knight is the next main character in our list of the best Sega Saturn games, a pint-sized mechanical warrior with a thirst for adventure.
This is a side-scrolling platform game that was available at the console’s launch. Loved by gaming fans across the globe, it went on to spawn a sequel, Clockwork Knight 2
Players control a love-struck knight names Sir Tongara de Pepperouchau III, though most people call him Pepper. He’s on a mission to save the clockwork fairy, Princess Chelsea. Her voice usually wakes up all the toys at midnight, Buzz and Woody style. Without her, the toys can never come to life again.
Pepper can attack using his sword, which coincidentally looks like a wind-up clock key. Clever, huh? Throw enemies, swing your mighty sword, and open up passages to different rooms as your progress.
There are 13 levels in total. If the time runs out or you lose all of your health, you have to start the level over from the beginning. This is a challenging but satisfying game to play.
Hudson Soft have made some of my favourite ever video games, including Saturn Bomberman, the twelfth instalment in the Bomberman series.
Ok, so it’s not that different to many of the other Bomberman titles.
The gameplay is very similar. There is a story and a battle mode, and players can take part in a brand new Master Mode in which they have to race to the end of a level.
Instead of riding around on Kangaroos, players can get hold of Dino helpers from eggs. There are a host of new powerups available as well as all of the usual block-smashing explosive action.
Up to 10-people can take part in a Bomberman Royal Rumble-style battle with two Sega Saturn multitaps, or you can play 2-player if you don’t have that many friends. The graphics are colourful and fun, and the age-old Bomberman formula works a charm.
If you’re a fan of games like Golden Axe and more recent 2D beat ’em ups like Viewtiful Joe, then you’ll love Guardian Heroes, the 11th entry on our list of the best Sega Saturn games.
Guardian Heroes is the first fighting RPG that I’ve come across for the Sega Saturn. Like Fable and other morality-based games, the path that your character travels down can be changed by actions that you complete during the game. How you act will trigger a host of alternative endings and outcomes as well as changes in your all-important Karma meter,
I loved the crazy characters and enemies in this game. The weapons were always huge and the backgrounds are all perfectly detailed.
The storyline is rife with wizards, evil spirits, and magic swords. Play through the story mode in single-player mode or battle with up to 6-friends with a multi tap. Gain experience points for your character, unlock new characters and bosses, and defeat everyone in sight.
Last Bronx takes the 14th spot in our list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time. And guess what; it’s another fighting game!
The Saturn has some corkers for fans of the genre, and Last Bronx is certainly one of the most famous on the system. This game has produced comic books, a movie, and even a radio drama series since its conception.
We’re looking at gaming royalty right here!
Set in an alternative world where Tokyo’s youth fight in gangs in a dangerous underworld scene. the Last Bronx serves as the final fight to see which factions will rule Tokyo.
Unlike Fighting Vipers, weapons feature regularly in Last Bronx and replace the punch move when held by fighters.
Apart from that, the gameplay is very similar to Vipers and Virtua Fighter. The combos are pretty gnarly, with rolls and throws creating exciting action that can turn the tide of a battle in seconds.
CPU characters also taunt and goad fighters into attacking which is a rare feature on fighting games.
Listen, if you like fighting titles, then give this one a go. It’s not different enough from the others to be classed as 100% original, but it’s a great game to add to your collection of side-scrolling brawlers.
If X-Men: Children of the Atom brought about the idea of the Marvel vs Capcom series, then X-Men vs Street Fighter cemented it.
In 1997, just one year after the game hit arcades, players found themselves pitting Wolverine against Zangief, Juggernaut against Ryu, and Storm against Dhalsim, all from the comfort of their living rooms.
It’s a geeky gaming match made in heaven and one of the games that’s never out of the Retro Dodo Sega Saturn.
Unlike most Street Fighter titles, XMVSF (much easier to write) uses tag team battles and two-character teams. It feels much more frantic, which is just how I like it.
Look at how much room Juggernaut takes up on the screen for crying out loud! The guy’s ginormous!
Once again, critics praised the graphics in the Saturn offering and preferred it to the PlayStation port. Sega nailed transferring games from arcades to their home consoles, and XMVSF looks and plays like a dream.
A frightening dream filled with mutants, but a dream nonetheless.
The cover character might not look anything like John McClane, but Die Hard Arcade is still one of the best beat ’em up/fighting combos for any console.
This game was way ahead of its time with a complicated move set that puts my knowledge of the secret controls on Mortal Kombat 3 to shame.
Just like the movies, Die Hard Arcade has ridiculously large explosions and that ‘Goldeneye’ level of violence that was gore-free but still pretty brutal. You’re on a mission to save the President’s daughter (just like all the best action movies), and you can either play solo or team up with a friend.
Breath of the Wild isn’t the only game where you can wield a mop to fend off enemies, you know. The weapons in Die Hard Arcade vary from household items to rapid-fire machine guns. Pistols can be carried through to new levels, but you’re going to have to leave the salt shaker behind when you’ve reached the end.
Reviews for Die Hard Arcade were positive. Critics praised the likeness to the Arcade game and the exciting revival of a dying game genre. The gameplay was a little sluggish here and there, but the fact that you’re controlling John freakin’ McClane more than makes up for it. Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother…ahem. Let’s continue.
If you’re a fan of arcade classics like Time Crisis, then Virtua Cop will be right up your street.
Like Time Crisis, Virtua Cop is a light-gun shooter game. It works with CRT TVs and monitors and can be used with both the Virtua gun and the Saturn Mouse. I know which one I’d rather wield in a fight against armed robbers!
It uses the same-style real-time polygonal graphics as House of the Dead. The ‘Virtua’ style is ever present, as it is with Number 4 on our list. It’s an iconic arcade look that has become synonymous with the Sega Saturn.
Virtua Cop was one of the first computer games ever to allow players to shoot through glass. That might not seem like a big deal now, but it added another new dimension to games back in the 90s.
Enemies also had multiple reactions and death styles depending on where you shot them. Can you help Michael ‘Rage’ Hardy and James ‘Smarty’ Cools to take down E.V.I.L Inc. and rid the streets of filth?
Notice the similar arcade-style graphics as Virtua Cop? Virtua Fighter 2 used Sega’s Model 2 Arcade Hardware and ran at 60fps. 3D characters and motion capture animation helped to drive this game to successful heights.
The series is still incredibly popular today, with the 2012 release of Virtua Fighter 5 available for PS3 and Xbox 360.
So what’s so special about Virtua Fighter 2? It has no in-depth storyline, finishing moves, or character development. Are the gameplay and the graphics really good enough to make this one of the best Sega Saturn games of all time?
Yes, they certainly are.
There’s something about Virtua Fighter that keeps us, and many other games, coming back for more. There was a time where the number of copies of this game matched the number of Saturn consoles sold in Japan. It’s one of the most popular titles for the console in terms of sales, and a simple button masher that just works!
Critics raved over this game when it came out, especially the smooth frame rate and the addition of a team battle mode. If you’re a fan of the Street Fighter series, them give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.
ADK and SNK teamed up for World Heroes Perfect, the fourth and final title in the World Heroes series.
For the most part, the game follows the style and format of the previous three. All of the same characters return with the addition of a few new ones, and players can perform weak and strong special moves, as well as combo moves.
Each character now boasts a special ABC move, brought about by holding down A, B, and C simultaneously. These moves vary from counters and blocks to fakes, so pick characters wisely if you want the upper hand in a battle.
As if three tournaments to decide the ultimate fighter weren’t enough, a fourth and final battle to decide the ultimate champion has been organised. Zeus is determined to prove himself after a shocking defeat, though the fighters soon discover a new enemy from yesteryear approaching.
Gameplay follows the signature three-bout style made famous in Street Fighter and uses many fo the same features. The backgrounds contain interesting NPCs as audience members, and the settings are all well thought out and brimming with ‘background filler’.
World Heroes Perfect is quite honestly a perfect fighting game, a name choice the developers obviously felt proud of. Critics loved it, gamers loved it, and we still love it to this day. It’s pure ADK/SNK brilliance and well worth a play.
Radiant Silvergun continues to be one of the best Sega Saturn games that I go back to again and again. It’s one of my favourite forward-scrolling shoot-em-ups and features some insane explosions and huge space battles.
Those are two things that will instantly make any game 100% better!
This game only released in Japan, but it’s easy to get hold of a region converter or a Japanese Saturn console. It might end up being an expensive purchase, but it’s worth forgoing rent for a month just to experience this epic adventure!
Or you could get it on the Xbox, but where would the fun be in that!
So, what happens in Radiant Silvergun? Well, players control a fighter pilot protecting Earth. Some nosey explorer has dug up a weird crystal and it’s calling tonnes of aliens towards the planet.
Your job is to stop them from getting their hands on the crystal and destroying Earth in the process. Each craft has a variety of different weapons and a sword for close combat.
That’s right; flying sword battles in space!
In a weird twist, hitting enemies of the same colour awards bonus points. It can be hard to tell what’s what when aliens are flying all over the screen, so we won’t blame you for just shooting everything in sight and hoping for the best.
With epic boss fights and bad-ass spaceships, Radiant Silvergun feels like Ikaruga and R-Type rolled into one. We love it, and hopefully you will too!
Burning Rangers takes the 7th spot in this list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time!
No, these aren’t the guys that periodically burn parts of National Parks to keep the area under control, though they are firefighters.
The game sees players moving through a futuristic world where the main danger left to humankind is fire. Voice commands direct gamers through corridors and burning buildings as they save civilians, omitting the need for an in game map.
That might sound a little hard to follow, but it’s actually one of the defining characteristics of this game. Critics loved it, and Burning Rangers became somewhat of a Swan Song for the Saturn.
It was one of the last few games released for the console in the United States, and many avid Sega gamers believe it’s one of the best for the console.
It wouldn’t be in this list if it wasnt!
The game is essentially a shooting where fire is the only enemy. It’s a nice change from killing NPCs and makes me feel like a real hero every time I play. Nice one, Sonic Team, you nailed it with Burning Rangers!
Speeding into the Number 6 spot on our list of the best Sega Saturn games is Sega Rally Championship.
This game was one of the first Rally games to give you variety of different driving surfaces to tear around. Unlike racing games that came before it, the road surface affected the cars handling, giving you a more realistic experience.
Sega Rally Championship is considered by many critics to be one of the pivotal racing titles in video gaming history. The graphics were spot on, and the custom-created soundtrack had a way of sticking in your head as though it was a Top 40 tune.
The World Championship was set it three world areas – Desert, Forest, and Mountain. I always assumed that these were Middle-East, American, and Europe (Monaco), though I guess that’s up to each players imagination.
Choose from three different cars and try to get to the head of the pack at the end of each level. Your end position dictates where you start off in the next round, just like every racing game from Formula 1 to Mario Kart.
Everyone loves a mindless racing game, and Sega Rally Championships is one of the first and the best.
Don’t be put off by the name of the next title in our list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time. Albert Odyssey: Legend of Eldean might not be the most courageous name out there, but neither is Keith, and Keith Courage is a freakin’ legend!
This title is a good-old-fashioned RPG with top-down views, menu sub-screens, and turn-based battles a-plenty.
And the main character is called Pike, not Albert…
The story follows Pike, a teen whose parents were slaughtered by monsters. His sister turns to stone, he’s raised by Harpies, and he finds out that Wizards are trying to revive an ancient god named Vlag.
Talk about having a tough childhood.
Pike’s main companian is a talking sword named Cirrus. Both Terry Pratchett and the White Ranger taught me that talking swords = winning. What better way to take down an evil lord and villainous sorcerers!
Rather than putting emphasis on voice acting and cutscenes like many Final Fantasy titles or the popular Riviera GBA game, Albert Odyssey uses its soundtrack as the star of the show. It’s a phenomenal work of musicianship and is worth a listen even if you don’t buy the game!
How many titles can you say that about!
Number 4 on our list of the best Sega Saturn Games is an absolute corker! Not only is Panzer Dragoon Saga one of the most critically acclaimed games that Sega ever made for one of their consoles, but it’s also one of the most exciting RPGs of all time too!
You play as a mercenary named Edge who rides about on a dragon… I think that’s all I need to know!
Panzer Dragoon incorporates both real-time and turn-based battles, along with all of the side-quests, object collecting, and interaction that you would expect from a solid RPG.
The worlds are amazing, and once more, you ride about on a dragon! I don’t think I could ever get bored of writing that sentence.
Shining the Holy Ark whips up the bronze medal in this list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time. It’s an immersive RPG adventure with one of the largest swords I’ve seen out of a Final Fantasy game.
Just look at the size of that thing; I’d need a winch to help lift that thing up with my weak arms!
Everything about this game screams old-school RPG. Unlike it’s predecessor Shining Wisdom (which is also a great game), Holy Ark boasts classic turn-based fight sequences and explorative missions through dank and dingy dungeons.
It’s the stuff dreams are made of!
You might not believe it now, but Shining the Holy Ark was also one of the best looking RPGs of the time too. The combination of sprites and polygons created a visual feast for the eyes, sending critics and players into mind-melting overload.
With a long list of characters ready to step into your party of four or sit back as a reserve, there’s plenty of help at hand. All battles occur at random, so be prepared for a simple journey to take an absolute age.
Still, that’s what RPGs are all about, and every battle gives players the chance to up their skills and gain experience points.
Oh, and you can befriend Pixie’s to do your bidding… probably should mention that absolutely AWESOME fact before moving on!
It was a very close call, but The Legend Of Oasis takes second place in this list of the best Sega Saturn games of all time. It’s one of the most immersive adventures on the console and a classic sequel (actually a prequel) to one of the best Sega Genesis games ever!
European gamers like me may know this game better as The Story of Thor 2, though the NTSC title is much cooler. Players take a dude named Leon through a series of perilous levels in search of elemental spirits.
In true Sega fashion, the game’s antagonist has a rubbish name too. The wizard Agito tries to thwart Leon at every turn, though he often gets left ‘agitated’ over his defeats.
I really should get paid more for all these comedic quips…
Gameplay all happens in real time with Leon wielding a blade and summoning spirits to attack enemies if he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty.
Like the fairies in Zelda, these spirits also heal Leon when he’s about to bite the dust. I could do with one of these guys following me around to be fair too…
Critics loved the insane graphics on this title. Even though it’s a top-down title, the levels and background look rich and vibrant. The water even looks pretty believable too!
Ok, I’m just gonna say it. If you like the early Zelda games, then you’ll be all over The Legend of Oasis. Conquer dungeons and gather sacred items. It’s basically Link’s Awakening!
That means that the Number 1 spot goes to the ever-popular Nights into Dreams. Sonic Team might not have been able to get their act together to make a new Sonic title for the Sega Saturn, but they really excelled themselves with this game.
The concept, the worlds, the colours; everything about Nights into Dreams is incredible, and it’s considered by many (not just us) to be the best game on the console. I guarantee that you’ll have trouble putting your controller down!
So what is Nights into Dreams? A little like 40 Winks for the N64, you follow two teenagers who enter a dreamworld called Nightopia. You team up with an androgynous character named Nights and must stop an evil villain named Wizeman from causing havoc.
What is it with Sega and their terrible villain names!
Time limits on every level give you that same nail-biting pressure that you feel while playing Sonic titles. Instead of collecting rings, you have to fly through them, and the atmosphere of each dream level is simply breathtaking.
What Is The Sega Saturn?
The Sega Saturn is approaching its 25th birthday. It was released in 1995 in North American and Europe and the successor to the madly popular Sega Genesis (Sega Mega Drive for us Europeans).
The Saturn is part of the fifth gen console family, uses CDs rather than cartridges, and came in two colours; black or white.
Alas, like the Dreamcast and the Sega CD, the Sega Saturn was a commercial flop. Unable to keep up with the N64, it was discontinued in 1998. It sold just over 9-million copies, and although it had all of the latest CPU and VDP technology in order to compete with the PlayStation, it just couldn’t stay afloat.
That and the fact that they never released a new Sonic game for it. What were they thinking!
Still, as with all failed consoles, they instil a sense of wonder with retro game enthusiasts. Like a sunken ship filled with buried treasure, we’re on a mission to discover the best Sega Saturn games.
How Have We Picked The Best Sega Saturn Games?
If you’re a Sega fan, then you’ll know many of these titles already. We’ve listed our favourites from playing this console in our early gaming years and also titles that we’ve gone back to discover while kicking back in Retro Dodo towers.
There were over 1,000 titles released for the console including arcade ports of some of our favourite titles. We’ve whittled it down to 10 of the very best Sega Saturn games available today. How many do you have?
Where To Buy Sega Saturn Games?
Sega Saturn games are not hard to get hold of, but you may think that due to the rarity of some of them. The best place to buy Sega Saturn games is from eBay. New listings are popping up every day, and you can get some great deals if you watch them every couple of days.
If that’s not your thing, then go to your old retro games shops locally, you may find some gems there. But in all honesty, eBay is easy, fast shipping and you can always send it back if you’re not happy.