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

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Saturn

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?

 

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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