The SEGA SATURN was unveiled to the public at the Tokyo Toy Show on June 2, 1994 alongside other systems like the NEC「PC-FX」, the BANDAI「BA-X」(later officially renamed「PLAYDIA」), and the「NEO●GEO CD」.
Although now we all know that the system ended up performing very poorly on the western markets, I think it can be interesting for people who weren't still into gaming at the time to get a little perspective about how SEGA and the game media viewed the system before its release. It's certainly quite different from what most people think of the system and also of SEGA nowadays.
These are the scans of a SPECIAL FEATURE coverage the「EGM²」magazine did on its premier July 1994 issue about the unveiling of the SS at the Tokyo Toy Show :
As you probably figured out after reading the article, the show wasn't that hot, and most magazines of the time seem to agree with that. DAYTONA USA was the biggest hit game SEGA had at that time, and thus it was the killer app everyone wanted for the SS. In fact, it was the only SS game the media cared about, but hence the game was nowhere near complete. The only SS game that was near complete was CLOCKWORK KNIGHT which didn't impressed anyone.
■EGM Interviews SEGA SATURN Product Manager HIDEKI OKAMURA
The following is a transcription from the same article of an interview EGM had with HIDEKI OKAMURA.
The interview is very interesting and really gives a lot of perspective about how SEGA was viewing the SEGA SATURN, SUPER 32X, and even SONIC.
EGM: Written on Sega Saturn's CD cover is 'High Performance CD-ROM and Cartridge Entertainment System.' What software formats will be available for it?
OKAMURA: The software currently in development is all CD-ROM. There is the possibility of developing application software that use a CD-ROM and cartridge together.
EGM: So the cartridge port can be used to for accepting game software?
OKAMURA: Of course.
EGM: Can Super 32X carts be used on the Sega Saturn?
OKAMURA: That's not possible. There's no compatibility between the two systems.
EGM: So that naturally means Mega Drive/Genesis software cannot be used with Sega Saturn?
EGM: Does that mean the Jupiter is dead?
OKAMURA: You mean a cartridge-only version of Saturn? No, there's no such thing.
EGM: Even in the future?
OKAMURA: ¥49,800 ($500) or under.
EGM: When is the release date?
OKAMURA: The planned rollout is November 1994.
EGM: When will the Super 32X be released?
OKAMURA: We haven't reached a formal decision on it, but we'll decide very shortly. The releases of the two systems will be close.
EGM: Will Sega Saturn be released after Super 32X?
OKAMURA: We're not sure yet.
EGM: If Sony's Playstation is released at the rumored price of ¥40,000 ($400) or under, will that affect Sega Saturn?
OKAMURA: If that were to happen, we will be affected. Of course, that rumor about Playstation being priced below ¥40,000 is strictly a rumor.
EGM: If Sony does manage to release Playstation at that price, how will Sega react?
OKAMURA: We really can't make a comment on that. But whatever happens we feel we have the software resources to face any competition.
EGM: What software will be released simultaneously with the Sega Saturn system?
OKAMURA: Virtua Fighters, a 3-D soccer game, Clockwork Knight, among others Perhaps not precisely on the date of release but we will have about 20 titles ready for the launching period.
EGM: Daytona U.S.A. as well?
OKAMURA: It won't be ready on time. There's no firm release date on it.
EGM: We've heard the name Saturn was proposed by Tom Kalinske.
OKAMURA: The name was just a development code name for hardware that was adopted by the Japanese development staff. The name has become common knowledge and it has a nice ring to it.
EGM: Was the development of the system undertaken in Japan?
OKAMURA: Yes, of course we obtained the cooperation of our overseas staff.
EGM: When did development of the system begin?
OKAMURA: Including concept planning, over two years ago.
EGM: Is the system ready to go into mass production?
EGM: Are the demonstration systems (at the Tokyo Toy Show) complete? Or are they merely exposed circuit boards and CD drives behind the booth walls?
OKAMURA: No. They are in special boxes, but they aren't the production units yet.
EGM: Will production start soon?
EGM: Have development systems gone out to third parties?
OKAMURA: We're supplying them successively. Not all third parties have them yet, but only because they are increasing in numbers so rapidly.
EGM: Are you going to do a Sonic arcade game?
OKAMURA: That's under consideration.
EGM: Sonic was the mascot that led Mega Drive to success. Are you considering a mascot like him for Sega Saturn?
OKAMURA: Well Sonic isn't merely a mascot for MD, but for the entire Sega brand. So it wouldn't be inappropiate for him to serve as a mascot for SS. Of course, there is the possibility of developing mascots specifically for SS.
EGM: Any official mascot game you can tell us?
OKAMURA: No. (Laughs)
EGM: We saw an MD game called Ristar that looked good. Is there any possibility it will be translated for SS?
OKAMURA: Well it would be possible to translate games over from MD, but we won't just make an easy conversion, it would have to be something that properly uses SS's vastly superior capabilities.
EGM: Will MD's pad be usable with SS?
OKAMURA: That's not possible. It's an entirely new controller.
EGM: Daytona U.S.A. is a complex arcade game, do you envision it looking different, or will there be data loading problems?
OKAMURA: Well, it's in development, so we can't really comment on it. But we, of course, are aiming for a 100 percent complete translation of the arcade version.
EGM: Will the immerse amount of graphics data pose a problem for the system's RAM?
OKAMURA:That's something up to the programmers. It's not just an issue concerning RAM, but overall processing power. You have to remember, Daytona is still under development.
EGM: How far along in development is Daytona in percents?
OKAMURA: It's not anything we can express in percentage, really. As you can see from the demos, it's not even a playable game yet. There's only one car and your car move it around but that's about it.
EGM: What about Virtua Fighters?
OKAMURA: That's about 30 percent done. The number of polygons used for characters is still low, and more need to be added for details. The speed and movements of the characters are on par with the arcade version, but one of the characters have hit checks yet.
EGM: Will games be exclusive to systems? For instance, will Virtua Fighters be released for Super 32X?
So sad how it turned out to be a fail. :( Well at least we've got ebay. I also find it funny how video games used to be considered more of a kid thing, and now look at the type of people who play Modern Warfare 2 and World of Warcraft. Nice interview, but may I ask what's the Jupiter?