Vintage Consoles, Like Vintage Cars?


As I’m hunting around, looking for a deal on a Sega Saturn because I’m in that mindset again, and reading about all the things that can be done to play import games or fix some other things with the console, I’ve started feeling like it’s like one of those vintage cars, but probably much cheaper, since it’s a Saturn console I’m talking about and not the car brand. I have no idea where the Saturn car brand lies in the spectrum of car… stuff, anyway. I guess enthusiasts just follow similar routes, regardless of the actual thing they’re enthused about, and older game consoles can be like hot rods on a smaller scale, as people try to keep them in working order, and sometimes even looking just like new or giving them custom paint jobs with flames or whatever.

I’m certainly not a hot rod enthusiast, as my car serves as a car and I just like to keep it in working order as best as I can so I don’t have to get another one. Same goes for the consoles, because it just seems annoying to have to get a whole new console when most of it works but it’s just one thing that messes up. And especially if a fix can be done at home without getting too many parts, like say the disc drive calibration got messed up somehow and that could possibly be fixed with the right screwdriver-like implement, such as a screwdriver. Such was the case with my Dreamcast, where after it arrived, I had to fiddle around with something inside to get it reading games like it should. Perhaps later I’d consider replacing the battery with something more accessible, but of all things, I haven’t soldered anything before, so I need to learn that, ideally soon, and before I risk any expensive equipment.

I like to generally keep my consoles relatively unmodded for the sake of simplicity, but I’ve considered things such as a region bypass chip for the PS2 to be able to play anything on one system, given the vast weird library and its gaps in some regions, and how difficult it’s been to be able to achieve that via softmods, though there has been some significant progress at least. When it comes to the Saturn, a region bypass seems to exist in the form of some third-party cartridges, but there’s also the battery issue, since it has a battery attached to a real-time clock as well as maintaining save data. Essentially it’s like how Pokémon Gold and Silver and even Crystal were, since those games ran a real-time clock and held save data with the battery. The solution came later in the Game Boy Advance, where Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald used flash memory or something like it for saves and the battery could run out, but it would just mess with anything tied to the clock. And a similar solution exists for the Saturn, but requires a certain flash chip and rerouting some circuitry. Not the most complex hardmod by far, but still needs some level of knowing how to solder. There is also just using the memory backup cartridges to store saves long-term, but apparently not every game knows to look there, or can look there to save since it’s trying to use the slot as RAM or ROM instead, so it’s a bit of back and forth sometimes.

At the time, I don’t think I’d be replacing the disc drives with an SD slot like some consoles have, but it’s a consideration for further out in the future whenever discs are totally unreliable. There’s also the whole certain games are ultra-expensive and thus using burned copies or images would be appealing, but that’s a bridge for after I would get a console. For whatever reason, it seems like Sega’s later consoles are more fixer-uppers from what I’ve seen, and that sort of leads back into the car maintenance thing I was thinking about. And seeing how long the Genesis has managed to persist in whatever forms, and they’ve gone and done their mini console for it as well, while other consoles seem more like footnotes since they didn’t take off so much, I’m not sure that they would do a Saturn mini console, since emulation has only just been getting more usable and probably still has some way to go.

Still, I haven’t had any luck getting those emulators to run properly on whatever I have right now, so this whole thing of wanting to check out some games out of curiosity leads me to try to get an actual system working with anything. I feel that as long as I don’t end up spending more than a PS5 probably costs to get the whole thing rolling, I’m probably doing fine. And if they really do go ahead and announce a Saturn mini console after I’d go through all this, that’ll be funny. But I would wonder about the actual game selection, especially given the difference between regions is pretty significant in that case. There are several games that could be played fine without knowledge of any Japanese by a general Western audience, and excluding those from the collection wouldn’t be fun, especially if they’d want to highlight some of the more unique offerings on the system. I do doubt the possiblity of a Dreamcast mini console, but I feel like it’d be more likely than a Saturn one since the general public is probably not as aware of the Saturn, yet Sega is releasing random ports or whatever of Dreamcast games, or at least games originally from the Dreamcast that got altered in some way.

Likewise, I’d also wonder about the existence of an N64 mini console, given that a lot of the classics on there may be harder to license due to several being from Rare, among other random licenses depending on the games, and if people would really want to mess with a facsimile of the three-handled controller. However, I’ve had much better luck getting import games to run on Nintendo systems, as it will either just fit with possibly an adapter or removing some door, if that’s even needed, or I’ve happened upon an easy region-free software loader in my messing with everything else.