Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DRM Security Software Youtube Games News Entertainment Hardware Technology

Sega Saturn's DRM Cracked Almost 23 Years After Launch ( 96

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gamasutra: The Sega Saturn's DRM has finally been cracked after it hit store shelves nearly 23 years ago in November 1994. Engineer James Laird-Wah first set forth to break through the console's copy protection in an attempt to harness its chiptune capabilities. Laird-Wah has, however, developed a way to run games and other software from a USB stick in the process. Since disc drive failure is a common fault with the game console, his method circumvents the disc drive altogether, instead reworking the Video CD Slot so it can take games stored on a USB stick and run them directly through the Saturn's CD Block. "This is now at the point where, not only can it boot and run games, I've finished just recently putting in audio support, so it can play audio tracks," explained Laird-Wah, speaking to YouTuber debuglive. "For the time being, I possess the only Saturn in the world that's capable of writing files to a USB stick. There's actually, for developers of home-brew, the ability to read and write files on the USB stick that's attached to the device.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sega Saturn's DRM Cracked Almost 23 Years After Launch

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    But I wish every consoles could just run games off a USB stick.
    I wouldn't mind having to buy a special type of USB stick just for the console, if it means to just "charge" a game to it at a video game store and play the games from that, for faster load time. Or heck, just to get the "download files" and then transfer the finished product to the internal drive, would be great for people still stuck with a slow network connection, where downloading a 50GB game is just too much.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      I would like consoles to work off USB. I can buy a game as DLC, download it and run it off USB. But if I buy the physical game, I can't run it off USB. If I want to use my "favorite 3" and go back and forth between them, I can't install them locally and run them without the physical media in them. I get a better user experience (in an always-connected console) with downloaded games, and a better experience (in a non-connected console) with physical media. It's inconsistent and frustrating.
      • You would need a USB stick that implemented a secondary device to uniquely identify the USB stick to avoid piracy. Implementing something like ARM TrustZone [] in a USB secondary function device would seem to suit this purpose nicely. Games downloaded to your USB stick could then only be used when that particular USB stick is physically present on your gaming system.
      • Sounds like games are too complex to bother with these days. I'll stick to CIV and Oolite. Oh, and for a change, XCom.
    • except that the speeds over usb, even usb 3, make trying to use external drives for that type of purpose a complete and utter waste of your time, it will be horrendously slow. The thing is, with a pc, you can do this right now, and you'll see how craptacular it really is. What you are really asking for is a return to game cartridges, which honestly, feels right. We're in a digital download frenzy but not all people have the connection to rely 100% on that, let alone the limited drive space on consoles.
      • The standard for a real SSD in memory card form factor was in the news recently, it's UFS.

        About a non-writable SSD : what's that? :)
        Your concern about lifespan due to writes is overblown and you can always use flash, but not write to it. Like Nintendo DS games, or your many firmware blobs in your PC that are stored on flash and upgraded never, once or a few times (BIOS/UEFI, hard disk drive firmware, VGA BIOS, etc.)

        I agree something read-only and cheap would be great. But games need updates these days (sadl

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2016 @09:54PM (#52501667)

    The "DRM" (anti-copy protection) was circumvented decades ago, and modchips to perform that function have existed since that time. This is nothing new.

    What James figured out was how dump the internal ROM of the CD controller MCU. This in no way "breaks" the copy protection, though it provides useful information about how the MCU works. Keep in mind that he is hoarding *ALL* of this information and has *NO* intention to share it with the public, for example to improve Sega Saturn emulation.

    He is selling a mass-produced product to play games on the Saturn over USB and withholding information so nobody else can compete in that market.. This is a Slashvertisement and nothing more.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @02:04AM (#52502397)
      In a forum post yesterday, he stated that he will include a CD Block firmware dumper as part of the finished product. That way he (in my words) doesn't need to care about the legality of sharing the ROM images that he personally dumped, and rare versions can be dumped without having to ship rare consoles around the world. So you can stop this conspiracy theory bullshit already. He has also been working directly with the Yabause team to improve their emulation.
    • by SumDog ( 466607 )

      Did you...did you watch the video?

      He's already contributed tons to existing emulator projects and posted a lot of his stuff up on the Saturn emulation boards.

      He hasn't released his rom dump yet, but I have a feeling he'll release the tools for people to dump it themselves once he gets his product into production.

      He didn't just circumvent the DRM using a device that you have to solder between the CD drive and the I/O connectors; he cracked open the dedicated CD controller, which had been a black box up until

  • Scam artist (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Just a reminder: this guy is a slimebag who refused to share the Saturn SH1 ROM dump with MAMEdev so that he could commercialize this.

    He's basically a scam artist.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When I was in high school I did this with a bit of tape. Trick the system into thinking the lid was closed. Start legit game, let it spin twice, swap legit disk with CDR. Play

  • While this workaround uses a very novel technique and had the side effect of giving the emulation community a chance to properly emulate the CD control chip, there is already a SD-Card based modchip that plugs into the CD-ROM drive slot and allows you to play games even if the optical bits fail. It works by emulating the CD-ROM hardware instead. Still, this modchip is better because you don't even have to crack the lid to install it, it simply slots into the MPEG card slot built into the console.
  • do you math (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    23 years ago would be July 1993. That's a 16 month difference.

  • I've got a Saturn here, and I've got some decent games for it. It's still IMO the best light gun platform. I've even kept an analog TV around for the purpose...

    Thing is, devices like this for consoles tend to cost hundreds of dollars, and it's hard to imagine getting more enjoyment out of it than buying four or five new games, or eight to ten slightly older ones on sale...

  • When I saw BeauHD had posted this, I expected a link to some unrelated Apple bullshit at the end of the summary.
  • This news made my day, and the comments were fun too.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!