Best Sega Saturn Games - That Hold Up Today!
Sega's entry into the 32-bit console market and was designed to compete with the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 in 1995. The Saturn was known for its hardware capabilities, including the dual CPUs that powered the little machine that could!
The Sega Saturn produced such high-quality 3D graphics for the time, as well as its extensive library of games (especially in Japan), this gave us a mix of original titles and arcade ports. It was truly the first time us as gamers were fully able to replicate the arcade experience on a home console!
Despite its technical capabilities, the Saturn struggled to gain a foothold in the market and ultimately wasn't able to compete with the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. The short lifespan of the Sega Saturn ended in 1998, but there are so many great games that the console had to offer. With so many classic games to choose from, we will be covering the best Sega Saturn games that absolutely hold up today.
For more retro gaming goodness, check out our other best of lists here:
Best Sega CD Games of All Time! | Best Commodore 64 Games of All Time!
Best Wii Games of All Time! | Best Neo Geo Games of All Time!
Best PS2 Games of All Time | Best SNES Games of All Time! | Best PSP Games!
Table of Contents
- Die Hard Arcade
- House of the Dead
- Duke Nukem 3D
- Shining Force 3
- Hyper Duel
- Princess Crown
- Sega Rally Championship
- Burning Rangers
- X-Men Vs. Street Fighter
- Nights Into Dreams
- Virtua Fighter 2
- Bulk Slash
- Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei
- Super Puzzle Fighter 2
- Saturn Bomberman
- Guardian Heroes
- Radiant Silvergun
- Dragon Force
- Panzer Dragoon Saga
20. Die Hard Arcade
Rounding off our list is the spectacular beat 'em up based on the Arcade smash hit, Die Hard Arcade. It follows the Die Hard film closely as you get to play as John McClane making your way through the skyscraper filled with hostages and terrorists.
Climbing the skyscraper in true holiday fashion isn't an easy task. You'll have to pick up a variety of weapons or use your fists to take them out one at a time.
If you're feeling really adventurous, grab a friend and attempt it. Die Hard Arcade makes for a great coop multiplayer experience. It's no wonder that the creation team behind the likes of Golden Axe and Alien Storm made another break through hit.
19. House of the Dead
While the polygonal zombies may not be as easy on the eyes, this rails light gun game is totally not only still playable but extremely fun. Brought to you by Sega themselves, House of the Dead was so good it was also brought to later platforms such as the Dreamcast, PS2 and even PC!
The Saturn release gave you some special options such as a boss rush mode that lets you practice each the number of hits it takes to end certain areas of the game. Who would have thought navigating throughout the mansion taking out zombies while branching paths was so much fun. Bust out that Sega Stunner and CRT and go to town firing away!
18. Duke Nukem 3D
The wisecracking, lack of censorship hero off to fight the alien invasion was brought to the Sega Saturn perfectly over other ports of the PC classic title.
Brought to you in 1997 giving you improved graphics and sound thanks to the SlaveDriver engine.
We loved the Sega Saturn port because of the additional levels and Dukematch mode that lets you fight it off in a multiplayer mode.
Sure, there were numerous sequels spawned throughout future console releases but Duke Nukem will always be a first person shooter staple in our eyes!
If you're looking for an alternative to Saturn Bomberman as a Saturn multiplayer game.
17. Shining Force 3
The realm of tactical role-playing games on the Saturn were far and few in between. Luckily on our list of the best Sega Saturn games, number 17 on the list fits the bill in Shining Force 3.
Considering we only got Shining Force 3 here in North America. Yes, fan translations of the Japanese only releases do exist if you're into patching the files and finding a way to play them on your Saturn.
With an enjoyable set of characters and a great combat system, you'll be glad to pick up Shining Force 3 to keep you glued to the television screen.
16. Hyper Duel
North American Saturn owners got ripped off from some of the best shmups of all time. Hyper Duel is no exception with its crisp visuals and impressive soundtrack that will keep you energized the moment you put it on and until you run out of credits.
We loved Technosoft's other releases in the Thunder Force franchise and can see why you would mistaken Hyper Duel as just another entity in the franchise. Under the hood you've got an all new control scheme only for the Saturn.
Hyper Duel is a fantastic shmup and is indeed one of those titles when you try it, you know you're onto one of the most underrated Sega Saturn games.
15. Princess Crown
With an engaging storyline, deep gameplay mechanics and wonderful graphics, Princess Crown is the definition of a great action role playing game.
The almost canvas style hand painted graphics make for a beautiful experience on the screen of your choosing no matter which way you slice it. We loved the beat em up gameplay that keeps it light as you level up Gradriel.
The character progression is fantastic as you make your way throughout each of the boss battles. Choose your items carefully as you'll need them in order to progress. We also loved the multiple endings based on decisions you make throughout the game.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to have a painting be revealed right before your eyes, that's exactly what you're getting in Sega's own Astal. With such fluid character animations and vibrant colors Astal is a wonderful platforming game on the Sega Saturn.
Sure, it doesn't offer a deep mechanic system that other platformers have going for them but Astal makes up for it in the looks and sound department. It's no wonder that we choose Astal as one of the best Sega Saturn games of all time.
13. Sega Rally Championship
We said it earlier that the Sega Saturn was the first time we saw the arcade experience be brought home at no cost to any of the areas you would typically see being downgraded on the Sega Genesis or even Sega CD.
Sega Rally Championship is exactly what we believe is the authentic arcade experience. As you race your way through forests, deserts or our absolute favorite snow covered mountains, you'll experience some of the best rally mechanics drifting your way around a corner.
With an incredible frame rate that never dips, this 3d racer is a wonderful showcase of what the Saturn had to offer!
12. Burning Rangers
We remember the E3 moment where the Sony PSX's major price difference sealed the fate of the Saturn in North America but one of the ultimate factors was the lack of a true Sonic release on the Sega Saturn.
It's a real shame that this never happened but we did get Burning Rangers from Sonic Team. As you set off and put out fires while rescuing civilians. We loved the challenging puzzles and extremely fast gameplay considering it's a matter of life or death. The unlockable skills and weapons were a bonus that puts Burning Rangers ahead of the competition.
A a classic of the action-adventure game genre and really showcases the true marvel of the Sega Saturn's technical abilities. We wish there were more games from Sonic Team on the Saturn.
11. X-Men Vs. Street Fighter
Our minds were blown the minute we saw Juggernaut on the Capcom Big Blue cabinet at our local mall. The minute we saw a Saturn port of the arcade classic, we were immediately drawn in.
Sure, today the gameplay is broken with the infinite combos as patching wasn't a thing back in the mid 90s. Games were more polished back then, knowing you wouldn't be able to go back on a release or add a day one patch.
The insane animations makes X-Men Vs Street Fighter worth playing today. It really feels like your favorite comic book is being brought to life. Coupled with the fact that the Saturn controller is the best one for fighting games, you owe it to yourself to give this fighting gem a go!
10. Nights Into Dreams
The mighty Sonic was destined to be Sega's mascot on the 32 bit console but sadly didn't make it to a home release. We did however get Nights Into Dreams as a consolidation prize and a good one to say the least.
We loved the on rail aspect of this 2.5d platformer where you're flying around collecting orbs, trying to score as many points as possible in order to make it to the next stage.
You may not be into the polygonal graphics anymore but the controls department is where Nights Into Dreams really shines bright. It's one of the best reasons to pick up a Sega Saturn to this day even though we do wish this was a Sonic game.
9. Virtua Fighter 2
We remember seeing the arcade experience of Virtua Fighter 2 right at our local mall. Having the arcade game right at our fingertips whenever we wanted was a great feeling on the Sega Saturn.
The second release in the franchise, gave us much better graphics and smoother animations. We also got new gameplay modes and added features on the Sega Saturn release.
The combo system was easy to pick up and learn but difficult to master, even though you only needed 3 buttons to play Virtua Fighter 2. You had to make sure you were aware of the way that the opponent and yourself were standing in order to make the most of the combo mechanics.
Virtua Fighter 2 has aged gracefully thanks to its frame rate and great graphics, something we couldn't consider over the predecessor.
8. Bulk Slash
Coming in at number 8 of our list of the best Sega Saturn games is a wonderful 3D action game by the wonderful minds at Hudson Soft in 1997.
Similar to Virtua On, taking advantage of the moves and combos, the "Bulk" meter will fill up and allow you to unleash a special attack at large.
It really feels like you're dropped in an anime world in Bulk Slash. The over the top combat system and massive worlds are a joy to play through even to this day.
A solid entry to the mech fighting genre scene and we think that the 3d style gameplay make it a standout title in an otherwise 2d world of fantastic Saturn releases.
7. Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei
A standout title in the looks department, Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei and this time the story really takes a backseat to action. It's more complex and surely does come at a cost.
The branching level structure, giving you the option to choose different paths throughout, unlocking different endings depending on choices that you'll take on. The music department doesn't feel as fresh as the original game. It's also a much more difficult game than the original which is why it's ranked lower than Panzer Dragoon Saga.
It's without a doubt in our minds that Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei is one of the best 3d shooting games on a 32 bit console and is well deserving of a spot on our list of the best Sega Saturn games.
6. Super Puzzle Fighter 2
What do you get when you take the characters from Darkstalkers and Street Fighter and combine them into an addicting puzzle game where you smash jewels instead of each other? That's right, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 is a fantastic entry to the puzzle game genre.
Matching the same colored gems while using a shiny orb to smash the jewels to pieces. Simple concept and unbelievably difficult to master.
We loved the multiplayer experience and believe that Super Puzzle Fighter 2 is the go to as the best puzzle game on the Sega Saturn.
5. Saturn Bomberman
If you ever wondered what is the best Bomberman game, you'll be rewarded if you picked Saturn Bomberman. You might not fancy playing it against the somewhat cheap feeling computers in the battle mode as you blow up your opponents.
If you were able to grab two multitaps, you could play Saturn Bomberman with up to 10 players!
Talk about a wonderful way to blow up your friends in an arena filled with unlimited bombs and power ups!
4. Guardian Heroes
If you were to take Streets of Rage and combine it with the RPG elements of Final Fantasy, you'd get Guardian Heroes. The way you level up your character and unlock additional abilities is fantastic and really feels like as you progress you get stronger and have additional combos to learn and master.
The rich storyline and plethora of unique likable characters makes Guardian Heroes a blast to play through.
Couple that with multiple different branching paths unlocking new storylines and endings to choose from, there's plenty of meat on the bones here for beat 'em up fans.
3. Radiant Silvergun
Coming in at number 3 on our list of the best Sega Saturn games is Radiant Silvergun. Treasure brought us so many great games on the Sega Genesis like Gunstar Heroes, Alien Solder and Light Crusader. Their first attempt at an arcade game was a smash hit!
Radiant Silvergun is such an unique concept to the shmup genre as a whole. Using the variety of weapons like the standard laser gun, homing missiles, and a powerful sword were so much fun to find out what weapon to use in any particular situation.
Being able to chain multiple enemies based on the decisions that you make give Radiant Silvergun an added bit of complexity. The boss encounters are simply fantastic, areas of dismantling the bosses give you an added bonus if you're playing for score. Radiant Silvergun is the best shmup on the Sega Saturn by a long shot.
2. Dragon Force
The best real time strategy game on the Sega Saturn is hands down Dragon Force. Each of the epic battles with hundreds of units on the screen make for some challenging gameplay.
The music fits the gameplay perfect and the strategy elements are executed to perfection. Dragon Force offers RPG fans exactly what they were looking for on the Sega Saturn.
If you like strategy RPGs and overlooked Dragon Force, you'll want to consider giving it a go.
1. Panzer Dragoon Saga
What a legendary RPG to end off our list of the best Sega Saturn games with no other than Panzer Dragoon Saga. Slotting you in on the dragon by either travel method on foot or in the air as you take out waves of enemies on the screen.
With such a unique gameplay element and unbelievable atmospheric scenery to grasp your attention to, you'll be coming back for more and more on the Sega Saturn with this one.