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uoYabause Tutorial

Last revised: January 6, 2021.

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About uoYabause

This tutorial is to help you with uoYabause for Windows (a.k.a. Yaba Sanshiro). It's known as the #1 Sega Saturn emulator. It's based on Yabause, an old Saturn emulator that was abandoned. uoYabause was first released in 2015. Although it was around 2018 where it really began picking up speed and blazing past all other Saturn emulators in terms of quality and game compatibility. uoYabause is an impressive emulator. Finally, we can all experience Sega Saturn with the same quality that we enjoy on other systems such as PlayStation 1 and N64. uoYabause is also available for Android and iOS.

uoYabause has a few drawbacks. It's a rather CPU heavy emulator. If your computer is slow or old, or if you're using a Windows tablet, it may not run well. It offers a limited selection of features. It's also still buggy and sometimes crashes games.

uoYabause can be downloaded from its homepage: uoyabause.org.

Should you use uoYabause?

With all the emulator offerings as of 2022, should you use uoYabause? Yes, absolutely. uoYabause is a top Saturn emulator. It runs significantly smoother than SSF. Plus it offers more features and it's easier to use. There's also Mednafen; its Saturn emulation is respected as #1. However, Mednafen is not user-friendly and is more suited for advanced users.

Overall, no matter which emulator you select, Saturn emulation is still a work-in-progress (even after all these years). No Saturn emulator yet is perfect. You may want to try all of them to find out which one works best for you.

Installation

Downloading uoYabause

When you go to download uoYabause from its official website, you're presented with two options: “Latest Stable (msi)” and “Latest Stable (zip)”. The MSI is the install wizard and the ZIP is the portable version ('portable' means it's just files in a folder with no install wizard).

So which version do you download? Well, it's about your preferences.

The install wizard

The install wizard automatically walks you through installing uoYabause. It puts uoYabause in your Windows Start Menu. uoYabause can be uninstalled through Windows Uninstaller if you use this wizard.

The portable version

To 'install' the portable version (the ZIP version), all you do is extract the zip file. That's it! Not sure how to extract zip files? Here's a video tutorial showing you how: how to unzip files on Windows. To open uoYabause, double-click on uoYabause's EXE.

Important Note: Make sure the location where you extract uoYabause is in Documents, Downloads, or create a folder on your desktop. Windows doesn't like it when you put files in the root C drive.

Note: If after opening uoYabause you're prompted with a message that “SDL2.dll” is missing, read this.

Setting up the keyboard or gamepad

Here are the default keys on the keyboard:

  • Direction pad = up, down, left, right arrow keys
  • A button = Z key
  • B button = X key
  • C button = C key
  • Start button = Enter key

You can also customize the keyboard keys or configure a gamepad the same way. Here's how:

The Sega Saturn controller
  1. Access the Settings window. There are three ways to bring it up: go to File > Settings, press Ctrl+S, or click on the Settings icon icon.
  2. You'll arrive at the Settings window. Click on the Input tab, then click the Configure player 1 icon icon for port 1:1 (player 1) - as shown here .
  3. This brings up a picture of a Saturn gamepad with a green checkmark over every button (as shown above). From here, configuring your own buttons is simple. Click on the button you want to configure, then press the keyboard key or gamepad button that you want it reconfigured to.
  4. When you're done, you can close these windows and return to the main uoYabause window. That's it!

Booting ISOs

  1. Downloaded Saturn 1 ISOs typically come in a ZIP, RAR, or 7Z file. The first step is to extract it. To extract a RAR or 7Z file you can use 7-Zip (it's free).
  2. Using 7-Zip is easy. Just right-click the RAR or 7Z file and go to 7-Zip > Extract Here, as shown here .
  3. Once the ISO is extracted, now take notice of the file format of the ISO. uoYabause ONLY supports ISO files that are in ISO or BIN format. Here's a visual example of how they look like (the icons will look differently):
    ISOs supported by uoYabause
    If the Saturn game you downloaded came in a weird format such as NRG, IMG, UIF, DAA, CDI, XBX, B51, BWI, etc. - they are not supported. I recommend trying to find your game(s) in ISO or BIN format.
  4. Loading an ISO from the File menu
    Now let's load your Saturn ISO. There are three ways to bring up the “Load ISO” window: go to File > Open ISO, press Ctrl+I, or click on the Load ISO icon icon.
  5. At the Load ISO window, navigate to your Saturn ISO (or BIN). Click on it, then click the Open button - as shown here .
    *If your game is a BIN/CUE, don't click on the CUE file to load the game. uoYabause will give you a black screen if you try it. It's misleading because this window tells you that you can load a game by its CUE file, but that's a lie!

*When booting an ISO, it's possible that uoYabause may immediately crash, give you a black screen, or it stops responding.

Booting physical CD games

Firstly, I do not recommend using real Saturn game CDs with uoYabause (or any other emulator). The process is prone to have problems and you will experience slow loading times. Rather, what I do recommend is ripping your Saturn game to a “BIN/CUE” ISO. There is plenty of space on your hard drive for it. Plus it's good to have a digital backup of your game, just in case your physical copy gets lost or broken.

Anyway, if you really want to play your Saturn game with uoYabause: just click the CD icon icon, select the drive letter for your CD-ROM drive, and click OK.

*When booting a CD game, it's possible that uoYabause may immediately crash, give you a black screen, or it stops responding.

Q: uoYabause loads a CD player?

If you attempt to boot an ISO and uoYabause instead shows a CD player screen , that means the file you selected is not a game file. Maybe your ISO is corrupt or you selected a file that is not a Saturn ISO. Double-check to make sure you are selecting a Saturn ISO. If all else fails, you probably have a bad Saturn ISO and you'd need to download your game from another ROM website.

Q: uoYabause crashes on game boot!

Is uoYabause immediately closing without warning when you attempt to boot games? uoYabause doesn't even give you an error message when this happens. It just crashes; it closes as if you clicked “close”. This is the result of bad configuration and it's easily fixed.

  1. Open a folder and navigate to the following location:
    This PC > Local Disk (C:) > Users > [name of current windows profile] > AppData > Local > yabause
  2. Look at this reference picture . Look for a file called “yabause.ini” and delete it!
  3. Now try booting a game with uoYabause. It should be working now.

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

This is tricky. Consider the following:

  • First of all, give uoYabause 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 uoYabause - check the compatibility 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” to see if it finds anything.
    • Try downloading the game from another site.
  • If nothing works, then your computer is probably not compatible with uoYabause. Sorry :(

Q: I get 'not responding' when I boot games!

When you load a game with uoYabause, it may freeze and prompt you with a 'not responding' error. Let Windows close uoYabause, then re-open it. I don't know why exactly uoYabause seems to randomly hang up like this.

Q: I get a 'Can't initialize Yabause' error!

Upon running a game in uoYabause, if you receive this error:

Can't initialize Yabause

Firstly, this issue is most commonly from user error. Make sure you followed the directions on loading an ISO. This error comes up if you're selecting a file that is not a Saturn ISO. It could also come up if your Saturn ISO is a corrupt file (maybe it didn't download 100%).

If you are absolutely sure you're loading a valid Saturn ISO, then there's a compatibility issue with uoYabause and OpenGL. Perhaps your version of OpenGL is old? Go to Microsoft's page to download OpenGL. Install it, restart your computer, and try running a game in uoYabause again.

If uoYabause continues to give you this error, try setting “Video Core” to “Software”. You can find this by going to Settings > Video > Video Core, as shown here . So under “Video Core”, select Video Software Interface. Click OK and try running a game.

Full screen mode

Simply press Alt+Enter to bring uoYabause into full screen. Press Alt+Enter again to exit full screen.

You may find that one or more portions of the screen are cropped off in full screen mode. I don't think there's a fix. Let's hope the author of uoYabause fixes this in future releases!

Screen filters

uoYabause offers two filters for rendering the screen: Scanline filter and Bilinear. To enable them:

  1. Access the Settings window. There are three ways to bring it up: go to File > Settings, press Ctrl+S, or click on the Settings icon icon.
  2. You'll arrive at the Settings window. Click on the Video tab.
  3. Take a look at this . Towards the bottom of the window, you're going to click on the drop-down field with “None”. This is where the filter options are.
  4. Next, close and re-open uoYabause for the filter to take effect. (Yeah, it's kind of annoying to have to do that every time you change the filter.)

Save states

uoYabause's save state feature

Save states is a feature that saves the exact spot you are in any game. However, this feature with uoYabause is very buggy! Sometimes it works, sometimes it just kills the song currently playing, and sometimes it flat out crashes the game. In my experience, it seems to work better for certain games than others.

If you're playing an RPG such as Shining Force 3, for now I would recommend using only regular in-game saving and avoid save states until this is fixed.

Here's how save states work:

Saving a state

This feature only works when a game is running, so go ahead and start playing a game. uoYabause offers up to 10 different save slots. Meaning, you can have up to 10 different save states per game. There are three ways you can save a state:

  • Method 1: Go to File > Save State. As shown here , select one of the 10 slots.
  • Method 2: Click the Save icon icon in the toolbar to bring up the toolbar save slots . Then select one of the 10 slots.
  • Method 3: Pressing the F5 key will bring up the save file window where you can enter a filename to save your state. This method is not as convenient as the above two methods, but it allows you to customize the name of every save and have unlimited saved states.

Loading a state

There are three ways you can load a state:

  • Method 1: Go to File > Load State. Select the desired save you want to load from the slot you put it in.
  • Method 2: Click the Load state icon icon in the toolbar to bring up the toolbar load state slots. Select the desired save you want to load from the slot you put it in.
  • Method 3: If you previously pressed the F5 key to save your state, now you can press the F7 key to bring up the Load State window where you can select the save file you want to load.

Capturing screenshots

Press Ctrl+P to capture a screen shot. You'll be prompted to choose a destination & enter a filename for your screen shot. By default, the file format is set to BMP (bitmap). I recommend changing the format to PNG. It's much smaller and retains the same image quality.

Click Save when you're ready to save it. uoYabause will save it in the same resolution as you currently have your uoYabause window.

Q: xinput1_3.dll not found?

Upon opening uoYabause, you might get this error:

xinput1_3.dll cannot be found

Fortunately, this has an easy fix. All you need to do is download & install the latest version of DirectX.

Q: SDL2.dll is missing?

Upon opening uoYabause, Windows might prompt you with a message saying “SDL2.dll” is missing and uoYabause won't open. This is an easy fix - just download this file below:

Extract “SDL2.dll” from the above zip file, place it in uoYabause's folder, and open uoYabause.

Q: uoYabause isn't saving anything!

If you're using uoYabause for the first time and you're finding that you have all these problems:

  1. Save states aren't working. You save a state, then when you try to reload it nothing happens.
  2. In an RPG when you save your game at a save point and close/re-open uoYabause, you find that the save is lost.
  3. Emulator configurations that you changed aren't saved. When you close/re-open uoYabause, you have to make those configuration changes again.

Then your problem is that you currently have uoYabause in a read-only location on your computer. You must move uoYabause to a more common location such as Documents, Downloads, or a folder on your desktop.

Finding Saturn games (ISOs)

In my links page, I have some good links to sites where you can download Saturn ISOs. If you want to try to find more sites than what's in my collection of links, just Google around. For example, if you want to download Shining Force III just Google “download shining force iii saturn”.

Dumping your Saturn games to ISO

Perhaps you prefer using your own Saturn games instead of downloading them from the Internet? Or maybe you just want to keep backup copies of your Saturn games? Whatever the case, here's how you can dump your games:

  1. Download & install RetroArch for Windows. It's the #1 multi-system emulator. I have a tutorial for RetroArch for Windows as well.
    • Note: During RetroArch's installation, setting a custom destination for RetroArch matters. It'll be easier for you to find RetroArch if you select an easy-to-find folder such as Documents. Otherwise, RetroArch defaults to your AppData folder deep in your C drive, which can be a little annoying to locate.
  2. Put your game CD in your computer's CD-ROM drive.
  3. Open RetroArch and select Dump Disc - as shown here
  4. On the next screen, select your CD-ROM drive (the first option, most likely).
  5. You're going to see this progress bar appear on the lower-left of the screen:
    Progress bar for dumping an ISO
    Depending on the speed of your CD-ROM drive, this will probably take 5-20 minutes to finish.
  6. When RetroArch finishes dumping your game CD, the progress bar will disappear. It doesn't prompt you with an alert sound or anything. If your CD-ROM was humming during the dumping, you'll know RetroArch finished when your CD-ROM's humming sound stops.
  7. RetroArch dumps the ISO of your game CD in its Downloads folder. So the next step is locating the Downloads folder. This is why in step #1 I noted to install RetroArch in an easy-to-find location. If you installed RetroArch in, say, your Documents folder, go to Documents > RetroArch > Downloads to find your game CD's ISO file. Otherwise, RetroArch is in the AppData folder. Here's how to find it:
    1. Open the Windows File Explorer. The easiest way to open it is to click the folder icon in your home row of apps. If a folder icon isn't present, you can also do this: in the “Type here to search” area type “file” and you'll see a File Explorer app appear at the top of the search results - as shown here .
    2. In the left panel, look for Local Disc (C:). Click on it, then in the main panel click Users - as shown here .
    3. Next, double-click on the folder for the user you are currently signed in as.
    4. In your 'user' folder, currently “AddData” is hidden. We need to make hidden folders visible. Click on View then Options - as shown here . Then click the View tab then click the radio bullet for Show hidden files, folders and drives . Click Apply then OK.
    5. The “AddData” folder should now be visible . Double-click on it. Then double-click on Roaming > RetroArch > Downloads.
  8. Now we're in the Downloads folder! You should see a BIN file and a CUE file with a weird filename like “cdrom-200000-1000000” - as shown here . Double-click on the CUE file and choose to open it in Notepad. You'll see the text that's shown in my picture.
  9. Next, rename the CUE file and BIN file to the name of your game. Open the CUE file in Notepad to rename the ISO as well. You can name these files to any name you want. The only requirement is that both files & the name in the CUE file must be the same exact name. Look here - these three instances need to be changed to the same name.
  10. That's it! You've successfully dumped your Saturn game. You can use it with any Saturn emulator or any multi-system emulator that supports Saturn.

Burning Saturn games from ISO

These directions are for burning an ISO or BIN/CUE archive to a CD-R. Note that in order to play CD-R copies on the Sega Saturn system, you need to use the boot trick.

  1. Download & install ImgBurn (it's free). You can download ImgBurn from the ImgBurn homepage.
    *If you have an anti-virus such as AVG, it may flag ImgBurn for containing adware . Don't panic - it does not contain adware! This warning is false. All that ImgBurn does is show you ads during the install wizard (which is why AVG falsely flags it). ImgBurn is 100% safe.
  2. Upon opening ImgBurn, click Write image file to disc, as shown here .
  3. Under “Source” click the folder icon, as shown here . Navigate your computer to where your Saturn ISO or BIN/CUE resides. Select it and click Open, as shown here
  4. Take a look at this picture . Insert the CD-R disc. Upon insertion, you'll see information appear (where indicated in the picture at “1”). Next, make sure your CD drive is selected (it should do it automatically).
  5. Click the icon to burn. Depending on the speed of your CD drive, your game could take maybe 2-10 minutes to finish burning. That's it! Enjoy your fresh copy of a Saturn game.