SEGA Saturn copy protection cracked after 22 years

The SEGA Saturn has long been that one SEGA console that was near impossible to crack, and console owners could forget trying to easily play copied games (which currently relies on a mod chip and burning CDs). But now, thanks to electronics fellow and coder James Laird-Wah aka “Dr Abrasive”, the Saturn’s copy protection has finally been cracked.

Detailed in the extended video above is the process which Dr Abrasive took to achieve this. Essentially, games are loaded from USB via the expansion card port. The Saturn was so difficult to crack due to DRM requiring discs to have a physical mark on them (called a wobble) which was etched into the CD. Dr Abrasive got past this by figuring out how the disc drive worked and emulating it via USB. The project is still in the testing phase, but there are plans to make boards available for sale. The work will eventually open up doors to homebrew communities and preserve the console’s functionality years beyond the eventual death of the CD drive.

You can follow the project at Dr Abrasive’s Twitter account and at the official Assembler Games topic, and you can join the discussion at the SEGAbits forums.

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One response to “SEGA Saturn copy protection cracked after 22 years

  1. ChocoLand says:

    Some of these hardware hackers are geniuses. I’d love to play my Saturn sans-disc. What a time for Saturn scenesters

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