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Are Sega Saturn Controllers Region Free?

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Do you have Sega Saturn controllers that you want to take with you to play on your trip, but you want to make sure they work? Maybe you found some cheap controllers, but they are coming from china, and you want to make sure they work. Either of those are great reasons, and we are here to help. 

So are Sega Saturn controllers region free?

The simple answer to the question is that there is no region protection on the Sega Saturn controllers. The only things that are region locked on the Sega Saturn are the games. 

Now that you know the answer about the controllers, you are going to need to know what controllers are the best to buy. Below we will go into the different controllers currently available for the Sega Saturn, and which are the best for you. Even though some are not able to used for some games with the Saturn, you will most likely be able to find your perfect controller for the game you love. 

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What is the Sega Saturn?

The Sega Saturn is a 32-bit fifth-generation home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994 in Japan. It was also released May 11, 1995, in North America, and July 8, 1995 in Europe. The Sega Saturn was the successor to the successful Sega Genesis and it has a dual-CPU architecture and eight processors. Its games are in CD-ROM format, and its game library contains several arcade ports as well as original games.

Looking back, it can be hard to believe there was ever a time where controllers weren’t just standardly built. It can also be hard to believe that there was ever a time where SEGA was a genuine competitor. When it came to unique controllers, SEGA has the competition beat in the most minor of ways. Innovation may not have saved SEGA like they may have hoped, but it did lead to some rather interesting controllers.

Saturn controllers came in various color schemes to match different models of the console.

In GamesRadar, Justin Towell wrote that the Saturn’s 3D Pad set the template for every successful controller that followed. It also had analog shoulder triggers and a left thumbstick. I don’t see any three-pronged controllers around the office these days.

A brief overview of controllers

A wireless controller powered by AA batteries uses infrared signal to connect. Designed to work with Nights, the Saturn 3D Pad includes both a control pad and an analog stick for directional input.

Sega also released several versions of arcade sticks as peripherals, including the Virtua Stick, the Virtua Stick Pro, the Mission Analog Stick, and the Twin Stick.

Sega also created a light gun peripheral, the Virtua Gun, for shooting games such as Virtua Cop and The Guardian. For the game Arcade Racer, they designed a wheel for this and other racing games.

The Play Cable allows two Saturn consoles to be connected for multiplayer gaming across two screens, while a multitap allows up to six players to play on the same console. The Saturn was designed to support up to 12 players on a single console, by using two multitaps and  RAM cartridges to expand the memory.

What controllers are available?

Controller 1: Standard Controller (First Gen)

Just like the with the Sega Genesis before it (and the Xbox that followed later), the Sega Saturn went through two major controller revisions. The original Saturn controller wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was a bit chunky. The designers seemed to want to make it more of an art piece for their pricey new console.

Controller 2: Standard Controller (Second Gen)

The second revision of the Saturn controller was a bit more like the 6-button Genesis controller with its lean, slimmer body, but with the shoulder buttons added. In the end, this second-generation Saturn controller is one of the favorite gamepads of all time among die-hard retro gamers. Assuming you don’t need an analog thumb stick, this controller is the peak of quality for a six-button layout controller – great for fighters if you don’t have the budget for a joystick.

A more modern example of this controller’s popularity is the USB remakes put out by Sega for the PS3 and PC that quickly sold out (and the cheaper replicas showing up on eBay).

Controller 3: 3D Controller

The summer of 1996 brought gamers both the Nintendo 64 (in Japan – fall release in the US) and the release of a hot new property on the Saturn: Nights into Dreams. Much like the new N64 controller, Nights into Dreams made use of an analog joystick on the controller. 

Since the standard Saturn controller wasn’t equipped with one, the game launched with the “3D Controller” bundled with it. The circular shape seems a bit odd when compared with its peers, but it was a fine controller. If you look at the layout, you can see that it is essentially the foundation for the Sega Dreamcast controller. All they did was just change the shape a bit, get rid of two of the face buttons and add a VMU slot. 

Controller 4: Virtua Stick

The Sega Saturn is one of the best consoles for 2D fighters and Sega was one of the few companies to make a first-party 6-button arcade-style joysticks. While it was a step up from its console predecessors like the NES Advantage and the Genesis arcade stick, the Virtua Stick isn’t quite up to the standards from the modern products from Hori. Even though it does not have arcade-quality components, it does the job for non-competitive gaming. Some might even say it is a nice step up from a standard controller.

Which one is the best Sega Saturn controller?

The 6 Button Arcade Pad (MK-1470)’s direct successor, the SEGA Saturn Control Pad is easily the best interpretation of the six-button SEGA structure the company ever saw. While it may lack analog support in a generation that was more or less defined by analog play, the SEGA Saturn Control Pad is nevertheless a comfortable take on an awkward concept. You can even purchase one right here


The main thing with all of the Sega controllers is that even as backward as they may seem, SEGA saw fit to refine their best ideas into something palatable. Sega was definitely not scared of producing something different than the competition, and that is probably one of the reasons so many people liked them. The other is because of the games that they created. 

More importantly, these ideas for the controllers only seem backward because modern controllers are so sleek and slim. The SEGA Saturn Control Pad manages to be one of the best D-Pad controllers out there without playing follow the leader.

No matter what your thoughts are on the different types of controllers, just remember it is the one that works best for you is the one you want. Since controllers are not zoned by regions, you can go ahead and other those controllers now, or pack your controllers for the trip. We hope we have helped you learn the differences between the different controllers, and what they do differently.