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The Sega Saturn was a popular home video game console released by Sega in 1994. While it did not achieve the mainstream success of some of its competitors like the Sony PlayStation, the Saturn boasted an excellent library of games. Many of the top Saturn games went on to become classics and are still fondly remembered by gamers today.
This article will take a look at the 15 best selling Sega Saturn games of all time. We’ll explore what made these titles so popular and influential during the Saturn’s lifespan. Whether you’re a retro gaming fan looking to dive into the Saturn’s catalogue, or just feeling nostalgic about 90s gaming, this list will highlight some of the must-play titles on the console.
- Virtua Fighter 2 is the Saturn’s best selling game at over 2 million copies sold.
- Fighting and racing games dominate the list of top sellers, like Fighters Megamix and Sega Rally Championship.
- RPGs like Shining Force III and Dragon Force II also sold very well on the system.
- Sequels to popular Genesis franchises like Virtua Cop 2 and Virtua Fighter Kids performed well.
- Despite limited mainstream success, the Saturn boasted strong game sales from Sega’s core franchises and genres.
- Later cult classics like Panzer Dragoon Saga and Radiant Silvergun have become highly valued collectibles.
Top 15 Best Selling Sega Saturn Games
1. Virtua Fighter 2 (2.2 Million Copies Sold)
As one of Sega’s flagship franchises, Virtua Fighter 2 was an essential release for the new Saturn console. It built on the massive success of the original Virtua Fighter with enhanced graphics, new 3D arenas, and two more playable fighters.
VF2 quickly became a popular title and remained the most played fighting game in Japanese arcades for years. It cemented Virtua Fighter’s reputation for technical combat and introduced concepts that would become genre standards. The Saturn port was nearly arcade perfect and would go on to sell over 2 million copies.
2. Virtua Cop 2 (1.2 Million Copies Sold)
As a sequel to one of the most popular Saturn launch titles, Virtua Cop 2 had big shoes to fill. Luckily it delivered the same addictive 3D light-gun shooter action along with great looking visuals and set pieces that showcased the Saturn’s capabilities.
The game featured the same cheesy voice acting and B-movie plot as the original. But fans kept coming back for the satisfying shooting mechanics and well-designed stages. It sold extremely well as a pack-in title and the Saturn’s light-gun remained popular thanks to Virtua Cop 2.
3. Fighters Megamix (1.1 Million Copies Sold)
Fighters Megamix took the crossover concept to new heights by combining characters from Virtua Fighter and Fighting Vipers into one ultimate 2D fighting game. With 21 fighters to choose from and strange modes like racing and dodgeball, it featured an unparalleled amount of variety.
The game allowed for wildly unbalanced yet entertaining matchups like a boxing kangaroo versus a jeet kune do master. Each fighter retained their distinctive movesets, resulting in an incredibly comprehensive fighting system. Fighters Megamix became a popular party title and the ultimate 2D fighter on the Saturn.
4. Sega Rally Championship (1 Million Copies Sold)
Although not quite as successful as the legendary Daytona USA, Sega Rally Championship quickly became the Saturn’s premier rally racing game. It was a technical showcase that really emphasized the sensation of speed, with realistic driving physics and graphics.
The responsive controls made power sliding around corners immensely satisfying. It also featured a variety of courses and multiplayer modes for intense head-to-head racing. Sega Rally was a popular arcade port that proved the Saturn could produce great looking racers.
5. Virtua Fighter Kids (1 Million Copies Sold)
Virtua Fighter Kids took the acclaimed fighting game franchise in a more lighthearted direction with super deformed characters and wacky new moves. By shrinking down the polygon models, the game achieved an impressively smooth 60fps frame rate.
Underneath the cute exterior was complex combat replicating the adult counterpart. VF Kids would appeal to younger fighting game fans turned off by the more mature aesthetic of Virtua Fighter 2. It succeeded in making the series accessible while retaining rewarding technical gameplay.
6. Astal (950,000 Copies Sold)
Astal was a 2D platformer reminiscent of the 16-bit era, featuring large beautifully animated sprites and colorful fantasy environments. Players took control of Astal and used his stretching arms to fight enemies and traverse the levels.
While quite short, the game featured very responsive controls and avoided punishing difficulty spikes. The striking visuals, characterized by pastel colors and warped geometry, made Astal one of the most graphically impressive 2D titles on Saturn. It became a cult classic that showed the Saturn could deliver great traditional side-scrolling experiences.
7. Shining Force III (950,000 Copies Sold)
After two highly regarded Genesis entries, fans were eager for a new Shining Force RPG on the Saturn. The third game expanded the turn-based tactical gameplay in every way with larger grids, more job classes, and quality of life improvements.
Visually it showcased some of the most detailed spritework and environments ever seen in a 2D RPG. Although only the first of three story scenarios was released outside Japan, Shining Force III was still a suitably epic and content rich strategy RPG for Saturn owners.
8. Virtual On: Cyber Troopers (950,000 Copies Sold)
This unique 1 on 1 mech fighting game developed a devoted fanbase thanks to its fast paced robotic combat. It used a twin-stick control scheme where one stick moved the mech and the other aimed its weapons. Matches required quick reflexes and mastery of each mech’s abilities.
Cyber Troopers featured distinct mechanics like jump dashing and limb damage. The console port closely matched the arcade experience while adding new mechs and gameplay modes. Overall, Virtual On established itself as one of the most intense mech combat games around.
9. Sakura Wars (950,000 Copies Sold)
Sakura Wars blended dating sim elements with strategic turn-based combat between steam-powered mech suits. This genre mash-up was set during a fantastical version of the Taishō period, with anime-inspired characters and steampunk technology.
The game contained hours of reading with adventure game style branching dialogue trees and extensive voice acting. Battles played out via short tactical scenarios involving the player’s party members. With its distinctive setting and characters, Sakura Wars kicked off a popular multimedia franchise in Japan.
10. Dark Savior (920,000 Copies Sold)
Clifftop Games and Sega collaborated on this action RPG which unfolded across multiple unique gameplay styles. It alternated between isometric dungeon crawling, side-scrolling platforming, and one-on-one fighting sequences.
The story followed a prison escapee falsely accused of theft on a journey to clear his name. Dark Savior encouraged replayability with branching story paths and five different endings. With its variety and engrossing combat, it provided an unconventional RPG experience.
11. Dragon Force II (910,000 Copies Sold)
The sequel to Sega’s beloved Genesis strategy RPG expanded the kingdom management systems while keeping the distinctive gameplay intact. Players moved units around a map in real time before pausing for turn-based tactical fights when units engaged.
Dragon Force II built on the original with even larger-scale battles involving hundreds of soldiers. It also introduced more RPG mechanics between battles like weapons crafting. The epic world conquest storyline coupled with deep strategic combat resulted in a quintessential Saturn RPG.
12. Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition (900,000 Copies Sold)
Although delayed compared to the PlayStation, Saturn owners eventually got an excellent port of Daytona USA. It included the graphics and soundtrack that made the original iconic, with slightly downgraded textures. This version also introduced new courses and cars beyond what was available in arcades.
The Saturn’s racing controller allowed for precise handling of Daytona’s drifting mechanic. Racing fans may have opted for Ridge Racer on PlayStation early on, but Daytona USA became the premier arcade racer on Saturn.
13. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei (850,000 Copies Sold)
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei built on the beautifully realized post-apocalyptic world of the Saturn’s premier rail shooter. The dragon could now be steered in 360 degrees, adding new depth to aerial combat encounters. Zwei also added RPG elements, allowing players to customize the dragon with power-ups gained from experience points.
With its cinematic presentation and sweeping vistas, Zwei further showcased the artistic potential of 3D graphics on the Saturn. It would maintain the Panzer Dragoon series’ reputation for its immersive atmosphere and action.
14. Galactic Attack/Layer Section II (800,000 Copies Sold)
Galactic Attack delivered a fun on-rails shooter experience, putting players in control of the RVA-818 X-LAY starfighter. It was rendered with detailed 3D graphics and featured a rocking synth-heavy soundtrack. Gameplay involved shooting down waves of enemy fighters while avoiding environmental hazards and bosses.
With its simple, accessible mechanics layered onto fast-paced air combat, Galactic Attack joined titles like Panzer Dragoon in showing off the Saturn’s graphical muscle. It was later renamed Layer Section II for its Western release.
15. DecAthlete/Athlete Kings (700,000 Copies Sold)
This sports minigame collection was considered one of the Saturn’s most addictive titles due to its variety and multiplayer focus. It featured track and field-style button mashing events, target shooting, and more wacky competitions across ten events.
Up to four players could compete simultaneously, leading to chaotic fun at home or parties. While it lacked licensing or career modes, DecAthlete’s pick up and play minigames shone on Saturn as a party game. It was later rebranded Athlete Kings for its Western release.
The Saturn may not have won the 90s console war, but it still boasted an excellent library of both arcade ports and exclusives that appealed to Sega fans. As this list shows, Sega delivered especially compelling titles in the fighting, racing, RPG, and shooter genres that really showed off the system’s capabilities.
Cult classics like Guardian Heroes, Nights Into Dreams, and Saturn Bomberman also saw strong sales and critical acclaim on the console. While the Saturn inevitably fell behind the PlayStation’s mainstream popularity and the Nintendo 64’s groundbreaking 3D platformers, it carved out a niche with some of the decade’s most beloved games. For retro collectors and Sega diehards, the Saturn’s best titles remain worth revisiting.
What were the best selling games on Sega Saturn in Japan?
In Japan, the Saturn’s top sellers were Virtua Fighter 2 (2.2 million), Sakura Wars (1.15 million), and Virtua Cop 2 (1 million). RPGs like Shining Force III and Dragon Force II and fighters like Fighters Megamix and Virtual On were also very popular there.
How well did the Saturn sell compared to PlayStation and Nintendo 64?
The Saturn sold around 9.5 million units worldwide compared to the PlayStation at 102.5 million and Nintendo 64 at 32.9 million. So while the Saturn lagged far behind its competitors, it still had a substantial user base.
What made the Saturn less successful than other 5th gen consoles?
The Saturn was criticized for being difficult to develop for, launching early, and having a high price. Sega struggled with dev relations and strategic decisions, especially after their success with the Genesis. The PlayStation’s strong marketing and developer support gave it an edge.
Does the Saturn have any rare or valuable games today?
Saturn games like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Burning Rangers, and Radiant Silvergun are considered highly valuable collector’s items today due to low print runs. These titles can sell for over $100 on the secondary market.
Is the Saturn still worth collecting for today?
For fans of 2D fighters, shooters, and Sega franchises, the Saturn has an excellent library worth revisiting. The system can be pricey to collect for, but common games are still affordable. Saturn emulation is also improving, making many titles more accessible.