Meet the Genius Who Cracked Sega Saturn's DRM After 20 Years

The psuedonymous retro games hacker Dr. Abrasive posted a video of himself cracking the infamous code.

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Jul 11 2016, 7:49pm

When the Sega Saturn was released in 1994, it was the "king of gaming consoles," but now the technology is nearly defunct: on remaining models, the machine still works, but the drive is likely dying. This video shows us, however, that in the course of the "retro revolution," the Sega Saturn can be brought back to use.

James Laird Wah, better known as Professor or Dr. Abrasive, a coder and creator of the Drag'n'Derp, a new cartridge for the Nintendo Gameboy, bypassed the machine's copyright protection and engineered a plug-in flash-card (as seen in a Nintendo Gameboy) for the Sega Saturn.

Dr. Abrasive started the project in 2013 when he heard about the Sega Saturn's chiptune capabilities. The console uses a type of PSG (programmable sound generator) sound chip, found in early gaming models and microcomputers, that a niche community of musicians have repurposed to make a unique subgenre of electronic music.

Instead, Dr. ended up adapting the console so that it could connect to computers through a USB device.

"I want to get this to the point where people have it in their hands, they can plug it in their computer," said Dr. Abrasive in the video. "I think it will be really nice to know that essentially everything will remain accessible even when your CD drive completely gives it up, that you'll still be able to use your console and all of its features as it was intended."