Why the Saturn was the worst major console of all time

Don Reisinger told you what the greatest console of all time was last week and now he wants to tell you why the Sega Saturn was the worst.

Sega Saturn
Yuck. Gamespot

Last week, I told you all why the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the greatest console of all time. And although I caught some flak from the misinformed, it seems all too obvious now that it really was the greatest gaming device ever created.

But what about the worst console of all time? Surely, we can pick from a number of systems like the 3DO, 32X, Sega CD and a host of others, but what about major consoles? Even though these were released to the masses, the 3DO was nothing more than an overpriced proof-of-concept that never had a chance and the two Sega add-ons were a bridge to the Saturn.

And while I think there were a slew of crappy consoles that easily eclipse the Sega Saturn in pure crappiness, what other major console sucked as bad as Sega's Playstation competitor? Further, what other major console contributed so heavily to the downfall of one of the world's greatest hardware manufacturers?

As far as I'm concerned, the decision to call the Saturn the world's worst major console isn't difficult at all.

So what made the Saturn so bad? Well, why not start at the beginning? Does anyone remember its release?

Originally scheduled to launch "Saturnday" September 2, 1995 -- a week before the Playstation -- the Saturn was one of the most anticipated consoles of the time. Almost everyone was wondering if the console manufacturer's biggest console release since the Genesis would be something special. But then disaster struck.

At the very first E3 in May 1995, Sega's President Tom Kalinske committed a blunder of epic proportions long before Steve Jobs made it cool -- he announced that the "Saturnday" was a ruse and it was available that very day in select retailers. Of course, this announcement caught most major retailers off guard (Wal-mart for one) and aside from availability in those few stores, the console was scarce.

In one fell swoop, the video game industry and retailers were shocked at Sega's ridiculous move. And to make matters worse, third-party developers didn't know about Sega's real launch date, meaning games weren't ready, and the Saturn's pricepoint -- $399 -- was $100 more expensive than the Playstation.

After trying to rebuild relationships with KB Toys and other retailers who refused to even launch the Saturn, Sega's console quickly become the also-ran in the industry, trailing far behind the Nintendo 64 and Playstation.

Believing the console was dead in the water, Sega abandoned the Saturn far too early and by 1998, the company released its last game for the system -- one year after third-party support dried up.

Did any good come out of the Saturn?

When we look back on the Saturn, there's not much to like. Aside from some neat first-party arcade games that Sega had become known for, the chances of finding a stellar title amongst the garbage were slim, at best.

Amazingly, only two Saturn games sold over 1 million copies -- Virtua Fighter 2 and Grandia. Aside from those, the Saturn quickly became the cesspool of gaming. After all, can anyone actually name 30 great games they played on the console?

The main reason the Saturn was the worst console of all time

More than anything else, the Sega Saturn should be considered the worst major console of all time for one reason -- it was the catalyst that ultimately led to a series of events that brought one of the foremost hardware companies to its knees.

After the Genesis competed admirably against the SNES, Sega made a slew of mistakes before the Saturn. And while they proved to be damning internally, most people expected the company's next major console to save the day. But through poor management and even worse games, the Saturn solidified Sega as the next company to join the pantheon of also-rans.

And even though the Dreamcast was a valiant effort that I consider to be one of the best consoles of all time, the damage was already done and the days of Sega manufacturing consoles were numbered.

Suffice it to say, the Saturn was the greatest blunder in gaming hardware and the worst major console of all time. It's as simple as that.

 

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