Video output options for a Japanese Sega Saturn
October 7, 2008 8:51 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way to get the best video output for my Japanese Sega Saturn?

I recently bought a Japanese white/maroon Sega Saturn. It came with a standard composite video cable. I'm really enjoying it, but unsurprisingly, it looks like crap on my big LCD TV. I know the purist thing to do would be to drag out my old CRT and hook it up to that, but I don't really have the space in my apartment...

So is there anything I reasonably can do to improve the video quality? I've found S-Video cables for sale, but I haven't been able to figure out whether they're interchangeable between all regions. And are there any better methods out there?

posted by brett to Technology (4 answers total)
Best answer: I used to run a Saturn through a converter into a CRT monitor and the best method always seemed to vary between games. Sometimes the S-Video was so sharp it would turn the game ugly (Radiant Silvergun, I think!), and you'd have to switch back to composite. I really really doubt the S-Video hookup varies by region, and the cables cost all of $8 - I say it's worth the risk.

Good lord I miss 10-player Bomberman.
posted by soma lkzx at 9:42 PM on October 7, 2008

You should have no trouble using the cables. To the best of my knowledge, the only difference in the Saturn (and many other systems) that forces region lockout is in the BIOS.

RGB is likely your best option, although S-Video will do quite fine as well. I can't say as if I've tried enough games on the Saturn, but I do know a handful of original PlayStation games look unforgivably bad on HDTV. Note that you're looking at 480i resolution for Saturn games, as opposed to the 720/1080 you can get used to for HDTV and current-gen consoles.

I suggest getting whatever cable you know will work with your CRT just in case you can't get things to your liking on HDTV. Either way you look at it, you're getting an improvement.
posted by Saydur at 1:10 AM on October 8, 2008

If you're in Europe, an RGB SCART cable & CRT television will give the best possible output. If you're elsewhere though, RGB can be a pain unless you have a dedicated monitor or one of those XRGB-style convertor boxes (which are a solid option if you can stomach the cost)

S-Video cables are universal, and probably your cheapest & easiest option for improved quality, but in general, older consoles will never look as good on an LCD TV as on a decent CRT.

Oh, and there are a handful of Saturn games that offer a higher resolution than 480. Can't remember which ones off-hand though.
posted by anagrama at 4:39 AM on October 8, 2008

Response by poster: I've marked soma lkzx as best answer, because I live in the USA and have never seen an RGB cable in my life, but all the suggestions were useful.

I did end up buying a cheap S-Video on eBay, and yes, it works fine. I think I prefer the sharp, pixelated look the S-Video cable provides to the composite cable's extreme fuzziness (thin lines on the screen would look sort of like they were flashing, because of wandering dots I guess). It's still not ideal, but I'm much happier.

Thanks again everyone.
posted by brett at 7:13 AM on November 29, 2008

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