SAROO, a work-in-progress HD loader for the Sega Saturn, has received its first updates in eight years (as reported by RetroRGB).
The project, which began life all the way back in 2013, aimed to support the loading of commercial video games onto the Sega Saturn with an SD Card, much like the flash cart Satiator. Unlike that device, though, SAROO strives to emulate Saturn’s CDBlock rather than just hijacking and transferring data with alternative firmware.
As mentioned, the project started over a decade ago and was apparently able to run a few games successfully. This beta functionality was later demoed in a series of videos in 2014, showing its ability to boot and play games like Langrisser III & IV.
The project went open-source on GitHub in 2015, but at this point, each individual game had to be modified and patched before it could be loaded, due to using the USBhost interface on a USBdevcart. This prevented it from being a truly universal solution. A new PCB design was conceived and progress was made, but due to some data corruption issues and poor compatibility, the endeavour eventually lost steam, with one of its coders and PCB designers leaving to pursue other things.
Many assumed the project was dead, but on February 13th of this year, one of its original contributors tpunix started issuing new commits, causing excitement once again in the retro community. These commits included a look at the SAROO cart attached to the proper hardware and an image showing its ability to boot the 1997 SNK title Samurai Showdown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge.
Here's the current status of the project translated from the latest readme.md:
- Dozens of games tested can run perfectly.
- 1MB/4MB accelerator card function can be used normally.
- SD card supports FAT32/ExFAT file system.
- Support image file in cue/bin format. Single bin or multi-bin.
- Some games will be stuck in loading/head animation screen.
- Some games will get stuck when playing.
As you can probably tell from the above, it's still a work in progress. As a result, there's no update yet on when (or if) it will ever be made available for sale in the West via eBay (as originally planned). We'll try and keep you posted, though, if we hear anything.