Sega's Segata Sanshiro just teased Saturn Mini — and something even better
A new tease from Sega indicates that a Sega Saturn or Virtua Fighter related announcement is coming next week.
Sega is teasing some kind of major announcement for late March, and it's making fans of an oft-forgotten system and franchise very excited.
Could we be getting a Sega Saturn Mini? And is it possible that a widely beloved and long-dormant fighting game franchise might make its grand return?
A new Japanese website — 60th.sega.com/segashiro — and series of tweets popped up Thursday night, teasing some sort of announcement related to the Sega Saturn console, which was popular from 1994 to 2000.
The teasers in question center this new website celebrating Sega's 60th birthday, and it teases some kind of major announcement for March 25. One page of the website features a silhouette of a fighter with the message "5 days until dramatic birth” in Japanese, as translated by DualShockers. While the site doesn't show much else, fans are expecting a big Sega Saturn related announcement next week.
The speculation involves two things: the return of Segata Shanshiro with the Sega Saturn Mini or Virtua Fighter 6. Perhaps even both.
The argument for the Sega Saturn Mini
The Sega Saturn ultimately proved to be a failure for Sega, but the weird system is oddly charming and has a strong cult following. It has some hidden gems like Nights into Dreams that could find a new audience if a Sega Genesis Mini was released. We can also tell that the announcement Sega has planned is Saturn themed thanks to the references towards Segata Sanshiro, the charming mascot of the Sega Saturn.
In Japan, Segata Shanshiro was featured in most Sega Saturn ads and found himself in a variety of wacky situations in order to promote various Saturn games. The most notable ad was his grand finelae, which ended with Sanshiro sacrificing himself to prevent a missile from hitting Sega headquarters. He rides it into space, where it explodes, officially killing and retiring the character.
Since then, Sanshiro has only made a couple of cameo appearances in games like Project X Zone 2. The silhouette on the website and URL are both clearly referencing Segata Sanshiro, while the official Japanese Sega account tweeted out the following to ask "Uh? Why is there judo wear here…" according to DualShockers. A Saturn-related announcement with Segata Sanshiro is clearly coming soon, so it's very likely that a Sega Saturn Mini is on the way.
The argument for Virtua Fighter 6
Another likely possibility, if you believe the Segata Shanshiro references are purely in jest, is that Sega is bringing back the Virtua Fighter franchise. It began on the Saturn as a trailblazer for the 3D fighting game genre but has fallen into obscurity in recent years. Virtua Fighter 5, the last game in the series, first hit arcades all the way back in 2006, and its last "Final Showdown" update was launched in Japanese arcades back in 2015.
More recently, the arcade version of Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown has been playable in Yakuza 6 and Judgment, and its main character Akira appears as an assist trophy and Mii Fighter costume in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Outside of those references, Sega has ignored this classic fighting game franchise for years, but some kind of fighter taking center stage on the new website may finally indicate that Sega is ready to return to the series.
The Inverse Analysis
Normally, Sega would hold a Sega FES event in late March where the company would announce upcoming games and products like Sakura Wars and the Sega Genesis Mini. Such events won't be happening any time soon due to the coronavirus pandemic, so this announcement is likely taking place in its stead. The Sega Saturn is a system that doesn't get enough love, but with the recent Panzer Dragoon announcements and now this tease, Sega may be giving one of its least popular consoles ever a second chance. If that's true, then you should give it a second chance two.