After two decades, the SEGA Saturn’s DRM has finally been cracked

3 min read


It’s been possible to play pirated copies of games on SEGA’s second-to-last console, The Saturn, for years now – but its copy protection system has never really been cracked. Instead, it’s been bypassed using modchips or little devices like Pro Action Replays and other after-market peripherals that attached to the notoriously flimsy expansion cart slot.

For the average Joe, this means nothing, but for those who want to preserve the system’s games a way to run those games even when the Saturn’s disc drive has failed or the disc media itself stops functioning a way to run games without having to deal with DRM is a godsend. And there finally is a proper one. The SEGA Saturn’s DRM has now been cracked, not just bypassed.

22 Years after release the Saturn has been cracked. James Laird-Wah, known on the internet as Dr Abrasive has reverse engineered the infamous hardware based DRM in the Saturn’s physical media; a physical wobble on manufactured discs that’s a little hard to bypass. Laird-Wah has developed a USB-0based loader that plugs in through the system’s Video CD card slot; a less finicky slot for peripherals, originally there to give the system white book compatibility allowing for full motion video to be rendered.

It’s not a commercial product as yet, and is still being tweaked – but it will eventually allow for homebrew and running games off of a USB drive. While this sort of thing is usually just a means to piracy, in this case it’s about preservation. It’s not like it’s going to drive SEGA out of the console hardware business, now is it?

Read  GOG launches FCKDRM initiative to highlight providers of DRM-free games, music, books, and video


Last Updated: July 12, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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