Skeleton Saturn – Sega gives everyone bones

Sega thinks the Skeleton Saturn is cool (as printed on the unit itself), and I’m inclined to agree. There is something about the clear/semi-clear consoles that really ring a bell with this old gamer.

Some may prefer the Navi, some may prefer the Hi-Saturn or V-Saturn, but I prefer the “coolest” Saturn of them all – the Skeleton Saturn. πŸ™‚


A few details:

  • Model – Sega Skeleton Saturn (HST-3220)
  • Production run – around 50,000
  • Released – 1998
  • Price then – 20,000yen
  • Price now – $50 to $200 (although prices seem to be on the rise)



An interesting fact about the Skeleton Saturn is that it actually had compatibility issues with some games – Metal Slug, Outrun, and Space Harrier (wiki). I haven’t actually tested this out yet, and if anyone reading has any idea why I’d love you to post a comment. When you look this good, of course some people/software companies are going to have problems with you though – they’re just jealous.

skeleton-saturn-sega-1 skeleton-saturn-sega-2

Everyone I know who sees this machine seems to agree with Sega (see picture bellow). 😎


skeleton-saturn-sega-7 skeleton-saturn-sega-8

There isn’t much else I can say about this machine that hasn’t been said already. In my opinion it’s the best looking Saturn out there, and even if it does have compatibility issues with some games (although I haven’t tested this first hand yet), I refuse to believe it’s the fault of this beautiful machine. πŸ˜€


An update regarding software incompatibility!

Well, after speaking with Sean from RetroOtaku I have given the Skeleton Saturn a test with MetalSlug – the only game I have that is meant to have trouble with this particular Saturn. For some reason in my collection of Saturn games I don’t seem to have Space Harrier or Outrun. This is weird though, as I could have sworn I had those at least Space Harrier…

Anyway, I’ll let the images tell the story. πŸ™‚

Step one:
Clean the memory expansion cart, open MetalSlug carefully and make all the connections necessary.

Step two:
Power on and take close up shot because it looks just too cool.

Step three:
Get completely sidetracked by the glowing LED. 😎

Step four:
Realise what I came here to do, pull my eyes away from the LED and………..
skeleton-saturn-metal-slug-3 skeleton-saturn-metal-slug-3

It works! So do I have a different revision of the Skeleton Saturn, or do I have a newer print run of MetalSlug? I wish I had the other titles that are meant to have trouble, so if any one would like to donate a few copies I would be more than happy to test them – of course returning them might be difficult. πŸ˜€


  1. Absolutely stunning find Hollo – in 1998 I desperately wanted one of these, but back then I didn’t have the financial means to grab one… so instead I looked at pictures and admired the machine from a distance πŸ˜€

    Not sure why that particular revisions break some games, though some speculated over on Assembler it’s either due to the BIOS revision (v1.01.1) or something was changed with the 68k CPU (the CPU assigned to the audio hardware).

    Interestingly, the problems seem inconsistent – some have skeleton Saturns that play those titles without a hitch, other have noted that later print runs of the aforementioned titles are fixed to work with Skeleton Saturns.

    You’ll have to let us know how your machine handles those titles πŸ˜€

    1. If time permits, I plan to get it out and test it with Metal Slug today.

      I guess it’s somewhat similar to having a beautiful girlfriend – a few incompatibilities can go unnoticed. πŸ™‚

    2. I have updated the Skeleton Saturn post with my findings regarding incompatibility. Take a look Sean. πŸ˜€

  2. The incompatibility is because they switched the 68k on later boards. Early boards use 68k + synth chip, later boards have both in one IC. You can find plenty of normal Saturns with later boards too, but skeletons were the last production models so they all have the single IC sound block.

    Outrun and Space Harrier got later revisions which worked fine in later machines. I don’t know about Metal Slug – it did have a later revision, but I’ve yet to find any real reports of the game not working on any Saturn. So it’s probably just a case of Wikipedia being full of shit. Either way, you can check the ring code of the game disc to see if its the later revision.

    Could you post a picture of the back of the console, of the serial number?

    1. A great comment, thanks Zyrobs – you seem to really know your stuff!

      Next time I have it out I will get a picture of the serial. Is there some sort of significance with serials on the Skeleton Saturns?

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