A surprising discovery has been made, thanks to the gaming homebrew community and a recent retro games collection. It seems like Sega Saturn emulation, one of the more difficult 32-bit systems to emulate, is something the Switch can handle quite well. And for most games that don’t quite hit the mark, overclocking Nintendo’s handheld hybrid generally does the trick.
A caveat before we move on: the story here involves modded consoles. It is what it is. But even if you aren’t into homebrew, there is context here that applies to playing a couple games you can buy on the eShop. Okay, no more acknowledging emulation discourse.
The games are Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang and Guardian Force. These are all Sega Saturn games, and it just so happens that these releases (you can get ‘em as a bundle, limited release physical (from Stricktly Limited Games) or individual release) run via emulation. This seems to be the first of this sort of thing on the Switch, but either way it was unexpected.
As YouTuber/developer MVG points out, the Sega Saturn is still a big challenge to emulate. Even big brands like RetroArch struggle to run Sega’s doomed on arrival console, due to its complex innards. But these Switch games do it pretty well, albeit with some slight input lag.
On top of that, the folks at GBATemp discovered that these games are just booting up ROM files straight up, meaning that if people have their Switches modded it’s possible to inject whatever Sega Saturn game into the emulator. Most games run well even without using overclocking.
This just goes to show that, despite the Switch being underpowered compared to its current peers, there’s a lot going for it. Official developers and homebrewers alike are finding all kinds of cool stuff, and Sega Saturn is perhaps one of the more unexpected developments. Cool!