Saturn….Ahead of its time?

Sega Saturn Ahead Of Its TimeThe new 32-Bit systems are on their way to the stores in Japan. As expected, both Sega and Sony waited until the very last minute to announce prices and available software. Sega, as predicted, was first to announce their system price (¥44,800 or about $465) and sure enough, just a few days later Sony announced the price of their PlayStation (¥39,800 or about $410). Surprise, surprise, it was about $50 cheaper than the Saturn’s. In addition, Sega could only muster up two games that will be available at launch (Virtua Fighter and Wan Chai Connection). Fortunately. the licensees were able to double that paltry number with a Mah Jong Tenjiku game from Chat Noir and Tama from Time-Warner Interactive. Sure sounds like the disastrous Mega CD launch all over again. Still. the Saturn presales are running at a record pace but these, we understand, are mostly from players who “have to be the first one on the block to own one” (including us!). Hopefully, Sega and their licensees will be able to get more software to the stores soon.

The first reports from the sales of Sony’s PlayStation show very strong presales, also. One disadvantage that Sony has is that they are not a strong software manufacturer. Fortunately they have lined up a fantastic list of big-name third-party licensees, and where Sega has four titles available at launch, Sony has eight, including great titles like Ridge Racer. Parodius Deluxe and Raiden Project.

So who’s on first? Kind of looks like a tie so far but Sony is hungry. Watch for a major price war after the “gotta have it” people have their systems.

Back in America, the people at Sega told me that they are going to watch the battle in Japan very carefully as it is highly probable that we will see the same thing happening here in 1995. They went on to say, though, that many of the games that are coming out in Japan will not make it out over here and they have a “huge” research and development staff already working on U.S. Saturn games in anticipation of amid-1995 Saturn launch.

When contacted, Sony Computer Entertainment of America would not comment on any date, price, etc., of their PlayStation launch over here.

Closer to reality, the 32X is now out in the stores along with five carts. Not a spectacular launch but enough to keep the players happy through Christmas. If Sega and its licensees can continue to bring out the new carts and discs, this budget 32-Bitter has a good chance of surviving through the next couple of years until the Saturn‘s price comes from out of the sky and down to Earth-—like around $200. And that ain’t gonna‘ happen very soon  like 1997 by Sega’s estimates. Until then it looks like the masses will just have to X it.
Ed Semrad

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