Sega Saturn Mini
Image: Game Watch

Japanese hardware firm Tassei Denki has been showing off some exciting retro-themed hardware at this year's Tokyo Game Show, including what appears to be a Sega Saturn Mini that uses FPGA technology rather than traditional software-based emulation.

The unit at the show – which is, of course, entirely unofficial and not endorsed by Sega – was shown running Taito's Darius II.

According to Game Watch, the tech powering this mini Saturn will be part of Hyperkin's Retron FPGA platform, which uses Field-Programmable Gate Array chips to produce more accurate emulation. The Retron FPGA was also shown running NES games from a special cartridge converter.

FPGA chips are already in use via systems like the Analogue Pocket, Analogue Super Nt, Analogue Mega Sg and the open-source platform MiSTer.

A representative from Tassei Denki – which, we assume, will act as Hyperkin's distributor in Japan – told Game Watch that the company hopes to put the Retron FPGA system into commercial production by the end of 2024, or in 2025. Support will focus on 8-bit systems to begin with, but the Saturn demonstration suggests that we'll be seeing 32-bit versions in the fullness of time, too.

Sega has previously said that creating a Saturn Mini wouldn't be feasible at present, although it's worth noting that the company has previously used software emulation for its Mega Drive Mini micro-consoles.

If you've never heard of Tassei Denki, then don't be too downhearted – it's quite a new company, by all accounts. It was established at the close of November 2021 as a Japanese subsidiary of the Dashine Electronics Group, with the aim of developing and manufacturing "high-quality licensed gaming products".

The company's Twitter account adds that "the prototypes on display at TGS are for the purpose of showing our technological capabilities, and we do not have a policy of selling our own products to our clients in order to maintain a neutral position."