Hackers have tapped into the Switch's excellent Saturn emulator

City Connection, a Japanese publisher focused on remasters for modern consoles has exploitable emulation software.

A photo of the Sega Saturn

The remastered video game space, whether for true retro titles or more modern classics, has been enjoying somewhat of a moment over the last couple of years. From Sony’s acquisition of Blue Point games to the general availability of emulators, a lot of focus is being put into maintaining the ability to play older games. It’s a way to preserve history. Towards the end of September, City Connection, a Japanese video game publisher known for porting games to modern systems, brought back a trio of Sega Saturn classics. Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang, and Guardian Force were released for both the Nintendo Switch and PS4.

As first reported by Kotaku’s Alexandra Hall, Switch hackers over at the GBAtemp forums have figured out how to take advantage of City Connection’s powerful emulator technology to add even more Saturn games into the fold. City Connection makes use of an emulator technology called ZebraEngine, which has been exploited by “injecting arbitrary Sega Saturn ROM images into the emulator, with results that are good to great.”

Each of the aforementioned trio of Cotton games was released both individually and through a bundle deal known as the Cotton Guardian Force Saturn Tribute. The packaging for each deal was also drawn by Toshihisa Kogi, the original designer of Cotton 2. While the games look fantastic, the actual functionality has suffered from input lag, which has been addressed by the publisher:

We have confirmed that there is an input delay (time lag until the operation by the controller is reflected on the monitor) in the following titles currently on sale on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4: Cotton Guardian Force Saturn Tribute (Package version); Cotton 2 Saturn Tribute (download version); Cotton Boomerang Saturn Tribute (download version); Guardian Force Saturn Tribute (download version). We are currently investigating this matter, and plan to update the input lag improvement for each title of each model in the future.

What games have they managed to port?— While some games have supposedly suffered from the same input lag problems that the Cotton bundle has experienced there are also plenty of titles that run almost to perfection. NiGHTS Into Dreams, Radiant Silvergun, Panzer Dragoon / Zwei, Guardian Heroes, Burning Rangers, Dark Savior, Clockwork Knight, Astal, Dragon Force, and Elevator Action Returns are all included in the list.

The long-term vision for the Switch enthusiasts is now about extracting the ZebraMagic emulator so that Sega Saturn games can be standalone options on the Switch’s main menu. With emulator technology being pushed to new heights along with a plethora of developers specializing in remastering, the history of gaming may yet survive.