Fenrir Duo Review

As an avid gamer, there’s nothing quite like the authentic experience of playing games on original hardware. For many streamers and spectators alike, this retro appeal is part of the charm. But this authenticity isn’t always easy or practical, especially when dealing with disc-based systems from the 16 and 32-bit era. Enter the Fenrir Duo – an Optical Drive Emulator (ODE) designed for the Sega Saturn.

If you’re looking to stream or record Saturn gameplay, an ODE like the Fenrir Duo is indispensable. The first advantage it offers is reliability. With it, you can say goodbye to common issues plaguing older disc-based systems, such as disc read errors and laser malfunctions. Its second advantage? Performance. It optimizes game loading times by removing the delay inherent in the original laser disc reader’s seek time.

Sega Saturn Model 1 next to the Fenrir Duo Box

Now, when it comes to compatibility with the various regional models of the Saturn, it’s key to understand how different regions influence gameplay speed. NTSC US and JP consoles operate at 60hz, while PAL consoles run at 50hz. The Fenrir Duo will work with any of these models, but remember, your Saturn’s output will be dictated by its original region. For instance, a PAL Saturn will output at 50hz even when playing NTSC games, leading to gameplay that’s roughly 18% slower and potentially bug-prone. Conversely, a 60hz Saturn will output PAL games faster than intended.

Sega Saturn Model 1 PAL

The Fenrir Duo emulates the CD drive, staying true to the Saturn’s hardware limitations. It has a maximum 40MB cache/buffer, which means it can’t completely eliminate loading times. But by removing the need for the laser disc reader to seek, it noticeably improves load times, particularly in games infamous for their long waits, like Deep Fear.

Sega Saturn Model 1 Cover Opened

For a hands-on look at the Fenrir Duo’s installation and operation, we’ve got an easy-to-follow YouTube video. This visual guide is perfect if you prefer to learn by watching rather than reading.

For collectors and preservationists, Sega Saturn games are increasingly rare and costly, and disc rot is a looming threat. The Fenrir Duo offers a solution, allowing you to safeguard your beloved disc collection while still enjoying the games on your original hardware.

Sega Saturn Model 1 with Fenrir Duo Installed

From personal experience, installing the Fenrir Duo is straightforward. If you’re familiar with a screwdriver, you can easily replace your Saturn’s disc drive with the Fenrir Duo. And while the Fenrir Duo doesn’t provide action replay or save states, it is compatible with cartridges such as the Pseudo Saturn Kai and Action Replay. Just remember – you’ll need a RAM extension for certain games that require it. Transferring games to the Fenrir Duo, complete with cover art, is as simple as a drag-and-drop operation.

Sega Saturn Model 1 with Fenrir Duo Installed

So, is the Fenrir Duo worth the cost? From my perspective, absolutely. Sure, it’s an investment – but so are most ODEs and Everdrives, and the price is in line with those. It has rejuvenated my Saturn, streamlined my streaming and recording, and ensured the longevity of my original game discs.

Sega Saturn Model 1 Playing Nights into Dreams with Fenrir

In essence, the Fenrir Duo is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Sega Saturn, a tool forged by fans and for fans. It’s a device that celebrates the past, while bringing a fresh, enhanced experience to a new generation of gamers and streamers. The Fenrir Duo is proof that sometimes, the past and present don’t just coexist; they make each other better.

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