Sega NetLink (or Seganet in Japan) (originally US$400 with a Saturn, US$199 by itself ) lets you explore the Internet, browse the World Wide Web, even send E-Mail using Sega Saturn. NetLink is a 28.8 kbit/s modem that fits into the Sega Saturn cartridge port. At the same time, there was also a Netlink package which JUST included Netlink software, which started out at US$200 and then went down to US$99.
While the Netlink was not the first piece of hardware to allow American gamers to get online (or at least play against others online/direct dial*), it was the first to allow players to bring their own ISP. While Sega did have an ISP they recommended (Concentric), similar to what Sega did with the Dreamcast, they did allow you to choose any ISP that was within their technical specifications. The Netlink was capable of connecting at a 28.8 kbit/s connection in America and 14.4 kbit/s in Japan, which wasn't bad, considering computers were just starting to use 33.6 Kbs connections.
The Netlink never did that well because it was too much money, lacked in the number of system users (as in people who own a Saturn, which was under 5 million at the end of its life), and had few games that used it.
The modem is a XBAND device (the US version is too), which is famous for its SNES and Genesis modem games. It should also be pointed out that there is a card "holder," which is for smartcards with prepaid credits. These smartcards or "Saturn media cards" cost 2,000 yen and one game credit was 20 yen, which means that you could have about 100 games per card. The Saturn has a Floppy drive and printer cable converter which may be used with the Netlink.
While most people believed that Europe never got the Netlink, the fact is it did well. Finland got a limited test release. However, unlike Finland, the rest of Europe did not get Netlinks, possibly because Europe was the weakest Saturn market.
Even with all the disadvantages that the Saturn and Netlink had, it had quite a few users in its heyday, and had 5 games that used it in America. Sega of America wanted to sell about 100,000 Netlinks, however, records suggest they only sold 15,000 to 25,000 units (again, in America).
A web browser from PlanetWeb was included and a mouse and keyboard adapter was also available to simplify navigation.
Games available on NetLink
NetLink games can still be played today, as the NetLink modem use
direct-call to connect two netlinks together.
Many players use The Sega Saturn Netlink League to find other netlink users and arrange potential matches.
- The Sega Saturn NetLink League -- Hook up with fellow NetLink users to play Saturn games online
- Learn Planetweb's Self-Download Feature