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Saturn Emulation: SSF Tutorial

About SSF

This tutorial is to help you with SFF. It is known as the #1 Sega Saturn emulator. Emulation quality isn't quite perfect yet, but so far it's really good! You should appreciate this because Saturn emulation has had a sour history. It was only until the late 00's that Saturn emulators were emulating at a near perfect quality, versus PSX emulation that reached its level of near perfect quality in the early 00's. The Sega Saturn has 6 processors, and it wasn't easy for emulator authors to emulate them.

*If you would like to download SSF, I have it in my emulators page.

Saturn BIOS

Unlike other emulators, SSF does not require the BIOS to be configured in order to boot up games. But if you really really want to get the BIOS and configure it, you can download it from my emulators page. Really though, it's not necessary.

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Extracting, Placement & Starting Up

I suggest you make a new folder called "Saturn" within a folder called "Emulation". You don't have to, but it makes things a little easier for you if you're not too computer literate. Extract all the contents of this emulator's zip file into the Saturn folder. If you don't know how to extract files from a zip file then read this. It'll be easier if you toss all your Saturn ISO's into this folder too. Double-click on "SSF" to open it.

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DirectX (XAudio2Create error)

SSF requires the latest version of DirectX to work. Without it SSF may not open, giving you errors such as this:

XAudio2Create() error.
File : ./XAudio2.cpp
Line : 219
Function : XAudio2_Initialize

What is DirectX? Think of it as a bundle of support files that help games run better, provided by Microsoft (for free). Anyway, you can download the latest version of DirectX here.

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Setting up the BIOS

FYI, setting up the BIOS is not necessary in order to boot up games. But if you insist, here's how:

1. It's best to extract the contents of the BIOS zip files into SSF's folder. It's easier this way.

2. Click on the Option menu, then Option; like so.

3. You'll arrive here. In the "Saturn BIOS" box, click the Browse button.

4. The "Select Saturn BIOS file" window will pop up, which is this window. Click on "us_100.bin", then click Open.

5. Back in the Options window, in the "ST-V BIOS" box, click the Browse button.

6. The "Select STV BIOS file" window will pop up, which is this window. Click on "stv110.bin", then click Open.

7. Click OK and you're done. The BIOS is now configured!

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Q: SSF opens so tiny!

SSF initially opens up small (as shown toward the right). Just wait a few moments. SSF will eventually load into an expanded window, as any other traditional emulator looks like.
 

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Setting up your keyboard or gamepad

1. Click on the Options menu then Option, as shown here.

2. Click the Controller tab.

3. You'll arrive to this screen. Click the Redefine button.

4. Follow the prompt that pops up and press the keys on your keyboard or gamepad button that you would like the given button to be assigned to.

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Booting CD games

Just open SSF to boot games. Really, it's that simple! If you inserted the game while SSF is open, close it and re-open it.

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Booting CD images (ISO)

Unfortunately, SSF does not support booting ISO files. However, there are two things you can do to work around that.

1. Use a virtual CD-ROM program to trick SSF into thinking your ISO is a CD in your CD-ROM. You can use Virtual CloneDrive for that; it's free. However, virtual CD-ROM programs only support common CD image formats like ISO and BIN. If your game is in an obscure format like NRG, IMG, UIF, DAA, CDI, XBX, B51, BWI, etc. - a virtual CD-ROM program is not an option.
2. Burn the ISO as a valid Saturn game. Go here for directions.

Booting CD images with Virtual CloneDrive

1. Download and install Virtual CloneDrive.

2. Next we need to configure CloneDrive in SSF. Open SSF. Click on the Option menu then Option; like so.

3. Look in the "CD Drive" box. Click the drop-down and choose ELBY CLONEDRIVE, as shown here.

4. Click OK and close SSF. You'll get a weird "SSF?????" message - ignore it. I'm assuming that message is lost Japanese telling you to restart SSF.

5. Because you installed CloneDrive, a CD icon should now be in the lower right (next to the time). Right-click this icon, click Drive then Mount.

6. The "Virtual CloneDrive Drive" window will pop up. If your Saturn CD image is an ISO then you'll see it here. If it's a BIN then you need to click CloneCD/DVD Images in the lower right, then click Other Images; as shown here. If your Saturn game doesn't show up then its format isn't supported. Anyhow, click on your Saturn game and click Open.

7. Now open SSF and your Saturn game should automatically be booting up.

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Q: I get a black screen when I boot games!

This is tricky. Consider the following:

• First of all, give SSF a minute or two before you decide that nothing is happening; maybe the game takes a while to boot.

• See if the game you're trying to play even works with SSF - check the compatiblity list.

• If this is a Saturn ISO that you downloaded, perhaps it's bad. Try this:

• I've been told that sometimes bad ISOs can be repaired. Try using CDmage's "Scan for Corruption" feature, then use "Fix Corruption" if it finds anything.

• Try downloading the game from another place.

• It's a possibility that your computer may not be compatible with SSF. SSF requires the following processors:

SSF requires the processor to have the SSE2 instruction set, so a Pentium 4, Pentium M, Opteron, Athlon 64, Sempron (64bit), Turion 64 or better are necessary to run it.

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Q: I get a “Direct3D9::_initializeDirect3D9” error

Upon booting a game, you might receive this error:

IDirect3DDevice9::CreatePixelShader() error.
File : ./Direct3D9.cpp
Line : 1180
Function : Direct3D9::_initializeDirect3D9

The only troubleshooting measure you can try is to download the latest version of DirectX. If that doesn't help then your computer isn't compatible with SSF. Sorry :(

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Full screen mode

Simply press Alt+Enter to have SSF enter full screen mode. Then press Alt+Enter again to exit full screen mode.

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Screen renders

SSF offers two filters for rendering the screen: Scanline and Bilinear Filtering. To enable them:

1. Go to the Option menu and click Option, like so.

2. Click on the Screen tab, and you'll arrive here.

2. Put a check in either "Scanline" or "Bilinear Filtering", or both! Look below for samples of these filters. Click OK when you're done.

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Highslide JS

SCANLINE

 
Highslide JS

BILINEAR FILTERING

Save States

Save states save the exact spot you are in a game. To save a state, go to the File menu then State Save, as shown here. Then go to State Load to recall it.

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Capturing screen shots

To capture a screen shot, go to the File menu then Snapshot, as shown here. SSF will toss the screen shot into the "Snapshot" folder within SSF's folder.

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Q: SSF crashes on start!

This can be tricky because this could be caused by many things.

• In most cases, this happens simply because you don't have the latest version of DirectX installed - so go here to download the latest version.

• See if the game you're trying to play even works with SSF - check the compatiblity list.

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Q: Where can I download Saturn games?

Ah, the golden question. Downloading games is a little tricky since the Saturn isn't exactly a popular system. Torrents are probably your best option. When in a torrent site, search using keywords like "shining force 3", "shining force iii" and such to find the game you're looking for.

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Copying Saturn games

It's ridiculously easy to copy Saturn games. The CD copy feature of any burning software can easily create a working copy for Saturn emulators (I recommend Nero Burning Rom, Easy CD Creator, or FireBurner). However, remember that copies do not work on the actual Sega Saturn system.

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Burning Saturn games from CD images (ISO)

If your CD image is in ISO or BIN format...
Things are much easier if your Saturn game is in a common format like ISO or BIN. You can burn it with any major burning software, software like Nero Burning Rom, Easy CD Creator, FireBurner. If you're too poor (like me) for the good burning software, there's Imgburn, a 100% free burning program; you can download Imgburn here (2 MB). So to burn the game with these programs:

Burning with Imgburn: Click Write image file to disk, then click the magnifying glass to select the cue sheet. Lower write speed to around 4x-12x. Then click the large pretty picture of the CD to burn.

Burning with Nero Burning Rom: Go to the Recorder menu then Burn Image (but first make sure you're in normal mode instead of Express mode). If you're given the option to burn the game as "Track-at-once" or "Disc-at-once", choose "Disc-at-once". Make sure to burn the game at a slow speed (like around 4x-12x speed).

Note: Do not use a DVD-R or DVD-RW for burning Saturn games! You must use a CD-R or CD-RW.

If your CD image is in NRG, IMG, UIF, DAA, CDI, XBX, B51, BWI, or other...
These formats are exclusive to specific burning software. You need to Google around to find what program is associated with that format. Through that program you can burn the game. However, these exclusive burning programs usually require purchase in order to use. If you want my opinion, I say just forget about the obscure format and download the game from somewhere else to get it in ISO or BIN format.

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