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30 Retro Rumors
Sega Saturn Will Be Downwardly Compatible (Retro Rumor #12)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 07, 2015   |   Episode 12 (Show Archive)  

   
Welcome to 30 Ridiculous Retro Rumors, a brand new series that will run daily between November 26 and December 25, 2015. This is a series where we debunk some of the craziest rumors and predictions of all time. Today we're taking a look at the rumors circulating around the Sega Saturn's launch. Will it or won't it be backwards compatible? Quartermann answers that question and picks a fight with the Brits in today's episode of 30 Ridiculous Retro Rumors.


This is a real rumor taken directly from the October 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly ...


I hate to admit it, but sometimes the Brits know best.

Thanks to Sonic the Hedgehog and a line-up of high-quality sports games, the Genesis was riding high in 1993. Sega was still supporting their CD add-on and we were still a year away from the ill-fated 32X. With everybody still on Sega's side, Quartermann spent a lot of 1993 gossiping about the future 32-bit super system.

For whatever reason, Quartermann was absolutely adamant that the Saturn would play Genesis cartridges and retail at around $400. What's more, the system would have an on-screen color calibration tool and a "code card" that would be part of Sega's television domination.

Some of these rumors had already been knocked down by British journalists, which forced Electronic Gaming Monthly's gossip hound to double down. But he should have listened, because most of Quartermann's information was wrong. Although the Saturn came with a cartridge slot, it was not used to play older Genesis games. In fact, the system was not "downwardly compatible" in any way.

Quartermann did nail the price, though the $400 starting point comes with a giant asterisk. Instead of launching alongside the PlayStation during the competitive holiday season, Sega surprised everybody by releasing the Saturn in the summer at an inflated price of $400. This limited launch only involved four retailers and a handful of games, saving almost everything for the full-scale rollout a few months later. Once the preview period expired, the Saturn dropped down to $300 in order to compete with Sony's console.

Oh, and Sega never conquered cable television.
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