EDIT: As of 5th December I have since received a refund from Rob. Several days after posting this entry I decided to email Rob again and ask why he hadn't responded to my earlier emails, after which he responded, we discussed it, and we arranged the return of the chip for a refund. Problem solved! Many thanks Rob. In light of this, it is worth considering Rob's chips.
Fancy collecting for the Sega Saturn but put off by increasing prices for the rarities? Considering buying a modchip to play backups but aren’t sure which one is best? Then join us as we conduct a head-to-head BATTLE TO THE DEATH with the two leading chips on the market. As they say, two modchips enter, one modchip leaves!
First, I want to say, if you have some bizarre puritanical view against pirating Saturn games, I really don’t care. Such comments will only be posted so I can then mock you. The Saturn died over a decade ago and paying $300 for a rare game like Shinrei Jusastsu Taromaru benefits no one except eBay resellers. Great games deserved to be played and experienced – not hoarded by the rich. If you have trouble with this concept, perhaps this site isn’t for you. The biggest problem with videogames is the cyclical nature of hardware and the difficulty of acquiring and playing games the older they become – until this issue is better addressed, I say Pirate and Be Proud of it. Every Saturn owner should have a chip to enjoy these games easily. Unless a game is re-released, like Radiant Silvergun, where I advocate supporting the developer by buying it new. The other benefit is I can now playing the extra Shining Force III games patched into English.
There are only two main suppliers of Saturn Mod chips. Racketboy (RED) in America, and Rob Webb (GREEN) in England. Each appears to sell their own custom designed chip, requiring different installations. Actually there are tow other suppliers of modchip, but I’ve read very little coverage on them, so let’s just assume Racketboy and Rob are the main ones.
If you’re in a hurry, skip to the conclusion at the bottom.
ROB WEBB (GREEN)
I first bought Rob Webb’s modchip, as found on this website, and as detailed by this guide. Although he was forced to remove the chip from the listing on his site, he still stocks them and he still sells them - do not be fooled.
I did this because someone I know, who is a very skilled console modder, recommended Rob. And when a buddy recommends someone, you don’t bother checking reviews. Plus Rob’s chip was cheaper than Racketboy’s, was easier to install, required less complicated soldering, plus he was British, meaning it could posted domestic.
I emailed and he gave me his bank details for a direct transfer. Chip arrived about a week later. As a veteran console modder I know my way around a soldering iron and motherboard schematics – this stuff is easy. And Rob’s chip was even easier to install.
1) Identify model of Saturn motherboard. In my case Model 0014(new).
2) Apply single drop of solder on back to join two points.
3) Attach ribbon cables.
4) Plug power cable into green slot
I did all as instructed and triple checked it. Nothing worked. The Saturn wouldn’t even boot legitimate games anymore. So I emailed him asking for advice. Rob then took several days to reply and sent me back a generic pasted reply with bullet points, the tone of which implied I was an idiot who installed it wrong. As he said: “Other people said ‘my chip doesn’t work’ but then saw they put the ribbon cables the wrong way around and magically then it worked!”
Even more insultingly, I had specifically told him in my original email that legitimate games do not work, whereas they worked previously without the chip. And yet FOUR of the bullet points were addressing issues with my laser not working, recommending I first try legitimate games to see if it works, and if legitimate games do not work then I should try tweaking the power settings on the laser.
Hello Rob, HELLO! The first thing I said was that legitimate games stopped working despite having worked previously, you nimrod.
He also recommended moving the power cable from the green plug to the 5V pin on the power adapter. I did this but it still refused to work. I went and triple checked everything again, making sure that no pins on the chip accidentally crossed each other. The chip was just born broken.
Still, I wanted to give Rob the benefit of the doubt, so replied saying that maybe I’d made a mistake with the soldering, and asked if I could please buy another chip off him, this time asking if he could check it in a Saturn first. Two weeks later I still have had NO REPLY from the lying cad.
It’s only at this point did I start to search for online reviews. I found several stating that Rob’s chip did not work for them, whereupon they decided to buy Racketboy’s and then had success. I only found one negative review for Racketboy’s chip, on his feedback page, where the buyer stated that after returning the chip Racketboy sent a replacement which worked just fine. His chips even come with a guarantee.
This required a credit card purchase from a slick looking online store and cost about £10 more than Rob Webb’s chip. But despite coming from the US it actually arrived quicker than Rob’s! Now that’s service. I also received email confirmations and other nice things that you expect from reliable professionals.
The chip is unfortunately a bit trickier to install. You need to slot the chip itself into the Saturn’s motherboard, though be careful because the red plastic is more fragile than Rob’s green chip. You then lead the power cable around to the 5V pin and solder it in place. There’s also a trick with the signal wire, where you can solder it from point A to B on the back of the chip itself – but I chose to use the older, more difficult method of soldering the wire to Pin 14 on the chip.
I’d already been screwed over with a dud chip, so I thought it best to stick to the older methods of installation, even if people praise the new method for its ease. I’m a dab hand with a soldering iron anyway, so pin 14 was a doddle.
Everything installed, I booted it up. SUCCESS! Shinrei Jusatsu Taromaru loaded fine. So did my legitimate games. Everything worked immediately.
I couldn’t believe how simple it ended up being.
Basically Rob Webb will sell you a piece of shit that doesn’t work, treat you like an idiot, and then ignore your emails, whereas Racketboy has the kind of slick professionalism that you wouldn’t expect for such an item, and his chip actually functions as described. Racketboy is my new personal hero.
Racketboy also offers a year’s guarantee, whereas as I’ve said, Rob will just take the money, screw you over and then pretend you don’t exist.
If you give your money to Rob you’re an idiot. I’ve already lost the £15, don’t make the same mistake as me. Buy from Racketboy and you can’t go wrong.
AND THE WINNER IS: Racketboy
(and me, because now I can enjoy Shinrei again)