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Console Hackers Commandeer Switch Game’s Very Fast Sega Saturn Emulator

Last week, publisher City Connection released new versions of the arcade / Sega Saturn shmups Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang, and Guardian Force for both PS4 and Switch. It wasn’t long before Switch tinkerers over on GBAtemp realized they could inject other Saturn games into City Connection’s emulator, which turned out…

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Additional ZebraEngine showcase videos are here and here, created by Stranno (YouTube).

The GBAtemp enthusiasts have been busy putting the newfound emulator through its paces, and so far report that top games including NiGHTS Into Dreams, Radiant Silvergun, Panzer Dragoon / Zwei, Guardian Heroes, Burning Rangers, Dark Savior, Clockwork Knight, Astal, Dragon Force, and Elevator Action Returns run perfectly or just about perfectly. The emulator has some level of support for 4MB RAM-expansion games too, as Dungeons & Dragons: Shadows Over Mystara and Final Fight Revenge are working fine.

Read More: Collecting Sega Saturn Games Is A Total Nightmare

The community is now trying to figure out how to fully extract the ZebraEngine emulator from the Cotton / Guardian Force assets wrapped around it, with an eye toward being able to make standalone Sega Saturn games appear on and launch from the Switch’s main menu just like any other official releases. Similar game loaders are a common phenomenon on hacked systems like 3DS and PS Vita, making it convenient to jump into emulated favorites with a minimum of fuss.


The catch is that playing with the newly uncovered emulator requires either a launch-era Switch capable of running custom firmware or a hardware-modded Switch that can do the same, both of which are a little tricky to come by. Even so, it’s super cool to see Sega Saturn, an underappreciated, tricky-to-emulate system, unexpectedly running so darn well on Nintendo’s relatively low-powered portable. Makes you wonder what other feats might be possible.