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Author Topic: What did the Playstation et al pull off graphically that the SNES couldn't?  (Read 825 times)

McKnight

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I know I've brought up a similar topic before.

Basically, my brother and I are hoping one day to create an Earthbound-style game, which in turn I hope for it to resemble a 2D 32-bit game.  That idea originated when I listened for the first time to some music from the Rockman Complete Works series, which reminded me of an old friend of mine who used to own a Playstation.  I only faintly noticed back when I knew him, but it occurred to me all those years later how much more vibrant (for lack of a better word) his games sounded than anything we owned at the time for our Super NES or even our Nintendo 64.

So, ignoring Mother 3 for the Game Boy Advance and letting my own planned game stand in symbolically, I've decided that, I figured I could follow the same pattern that Capcom and Konami followed with Mega Man and Castlevania respectively (NES, SNES, PSX).  In addition to better audio, the game should also be much more colorful and graphically more spectacular.  At one point, I made a list of different graphical effects from all different games, but then it occurred to me that half of them were already done by the SNES and Sega Genesis.  A lot of them included text or menu motions already similar to, for instance, the "Game Over" message in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

For example, while SMW2: Yoshi's Island does all kinds of things that no other SNES game ever did, and the Donkey Kong Country trilogy also has much more fluid graphics than nearly anything else on the system, there are things Knuckles Chaotix did to boast the capabilities of the Sega 32X, but had already been done on the Super NES.  Even though the way item box screens dissolve after rising isn't one of them, the way your characters and Metal Sonic move towards and away from the screen while circling around has already been done on such early 16-bit games as Super Mario World and TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, and Earthbound (from just the same year) had Giygas pull off that "wavy" effect used for transitions within the intro stage.

At some point, I am hoping to compile everything Yoshi's Island and Knuckles Chaotix had to offer each in a video, just to look over when the graphics are at least presentable.  However, other 2D games I've seen to use similar effects include Mega Man 8, Wild Arms, Suikoden II, Advanced Variable Geo 2, and the still 32-bit-style Freedom Planet

(Titles are hyperlinked, to show you what I mean.  Mentioning because I've noticed that hyperlinks aren't as distinguishable from regular text anymore.)

To sum it up, what was it I'm thinking of that Knuckles Chaotix made a whole point of showcasing?

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McKnight

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Basically, how do I tell the difference between what graphical effects the Super NES and Sega Genesis could pull off on their own and what required use of either the Super FX chip, the Sega 32X, or a more powerful system altogether.

In fact, how did the Genesis alone manage such a spectacular sequence with the Sega logo in Sonic 3D Blast, despite everything Knuckles Chaotix managed over a year earlier having had warranted the 32X?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09Dy49xfYRc

Or was it actually a matter of ROM usage or something most of the time?
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 06:46:48 pm by McKnight »

Jorpho

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In fact, how did the Genesis alone manage such a spectacular sequence with the Sega logo in Sonic 3D Blast, despite everything Knuckles Chaotix managed over a year earlier having had warranted the 32X?

It so happens one of the developers from Traveller's Tales has just started putting up videos discussing rare prototypes and development secrets, including the Sonic 3D Blast intro.  They're quite lovely.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IehwV2K60r8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt-AxAqlrOo
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NERV Agent

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What did the Playstation et al pull off graphically in 2D that the SNES couldn't?

Fixed.

McKnight

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Fixed?  I don't understand.

Like, I know the Super NES did things that the original NES couldn't, with such hardware features as Mode 7, as showcased in certain early games like Super Castlevania IV (see first link below) and Jim Power: The Lost Dimension of 3D (second link).

http://www.racketboy.com/retro/super-nintendo-snes-games-that-pushed-the-limits-graphics-soun
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tN_TPTIrYs

On the other hand, Japan had also seen Rockman & Forte much later on, which attempted similar effects to what I had hyperlinked to from Mega Man 8, but they were a bit watered down in comparison

What did you mean by "fixed", and how does one tell the difference between what the SNES was already capable of and what would've required additional or better hardware? 

Or was it always a matter of ROM usage and the time it took to even partially restore anything, as demonstrated in those videos Jorpho had linked to (and maybe even technically possible even on the original NES)?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 09:06:22 am by McKnight »

Psyklax

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What did you mean by "fixed"

He means he fixed your thread title. The PS1 could do things IN 2D that the SNES couldn't, so it's best to focus on that. If you include 3D you'd be wasting your time.

I can see that I'm not the only one who didn't understand your initial post, especially since you didn't mention the PS1. I think your point is "what could a base console with no extras at all do?".

In the case of the NES, surprisingly little. You have 8kb of character ROM for graphics plus 32kb of program ROM for everything else, that's it. The only reason any of your favourite NES games exist is because of special chips in the cartridge that increase the amount of available ROM storage.

In the case of the SNES, it's better, but there are a good few special chips that help out the stock SNES in numerous ways. Let Wikipedia help you out here:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_NES_enhancement_chips

I know that you're right now thinking "hey, I know that there are chips but I want specific examples of where they were used etc". Well, I dunno, but you seem to have found some examples of cool stuff in games yourself, maybe see if they used special chips?

Specific examples off the top of my head. Super Mario World, you kill one of Bowser's kids, they get bigger then spin around and disappear. That's impossible on the NES, but the SNES can do it no problem. Super Mario Kart, on the other hand, requires the bitmap of the track to be spun around and put in positions in a 3D space, which is more demanding. Thus, it uses the DSP chip to help out.

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McKnight

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Here's the thing, though:

Like, when you think of 16-bit, you normally think of the likes of Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog, much faster, better-sounding, and more colorful than on the NES, some flashiness here and there, but still rather modest overall.  You think of things such effects as for when, in SMW, you activate the file menu, a message appears, you enter a level, or in A Link to the Past, the inventory slides down or up when you pause or unpause the game.  Or, how about the "spraycan" effect in Earthbound when, say, you erase a pencil statue, or when Pokey appears for the final battle?

Here's what I suggested GameHut analyze in Knuckles Chaotix for the Sega 32X, and then some:

The Sega logo: Zoom-in effect's been done on both the Genesis proper and the SNES, although the rippling effect is another story.
-Item box screens: In the original Sonic trilogy, they'd just rise and disappear.  Never saw the "dissolving" effect anywhere else whatsoever, and while rotating is common enough, only Yoshi's Island has done it particularly fluidly; even Donkey Kong Country had only a few frames for things like bananas.
-Your characters and Metal Sonic moving towards and away from the screen as they circle around. (Again, the zoom-in-and-out effect had been done before.)
-The transition effect between segments of the intro stage.  (Giygas did this in Earthbound earlier that year.)
-The Pulsating effect displayed by the word "Pause", a zone screen when selected, etc.
-How much more fluidly the end-of-level signposts spin than in the original Sonic trilogy.
-The way certain items from the bonus stages "burst" into pixels during the following hub segment.
-The way capsules stretch vertically and horizontally in the hub.
-The rising 3D platforms in Speed Slider.
-The way some rings fly towards the screen when you're hit
-How characters shrink or grow when breaking the respective power-up box.
-Some platforms explode into pixels when you step on them, instead of just falling down in tiny segments.

And I'm not even being comprehensive, given how long it's been since I actually played that game.  Having just listed those, though, had any of those things (besides the first two) been in fact done beforehand on the base Genesis or SNES?  I'm assuming not, if Yoshi's Island is the only other 16-bit game I know of to do so.  (Games like Sonic 3D Blast and Donkey Kong Country probably shouldn't count, since those two went above and beyond anyway to push their respective systems' hardware limits.)

But what about, say, Saturday Night Slam Masters, what the Continue number does while counting down?  How did the SNES pull that off?

https://youtu.be/V0RmJhdD2E8?t=10s

In any case, are there any other effects from the Playstation, Saturn, or 32X anyone might recommend I check out?

Jorpho

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Retro Game Mechanics Explained recently posted this video about SNES background modes 0-6.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SBEAZIfDAg

I expect their video about "Mode 7", with sprite scaling and rotation, should be out soon.  I know a similar feature was definitely new to the Sega CD hardware (as per the Sonic CD bonus levels); I have no idea what the 32X included.

Of course, simply because a feature is not readily available in hardware does not make it impossible to hammer out in software.
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NERV Agent

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Fun Fact: SNES palette hacking utilities can be used to modify PSX CLUT data. I know this from experience.

Is the formatting leftover from when the Sony PlayStation was supposed to be the Nintendo PlayStation?

Fixed?  I don't understand.

What did you mean by "fixed", and how does one tell the difference between what the SNES was already capable of and what would've required additional or better hardware? 



PROTIP: Paying attention to detail is required when hacking or creating a game (like your Earthbound-thing).

As for what the PSX can do in 2D that the SNES could not, I say FMVs? FMVs are just a single layer of 2D graphics, right? Oh, and SNES CD and MSU doesn't count, since that wasn't available to your standard gamer back in the day.

Jorpho

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PROTIP: Paying attention to detail is required when hacking or creating a game (like your Earthbound-thing).
Eh, the "fixed" slang isn't necessarily familiar to everyone.

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As for what the PSX can do in 2D that the SNES could not, I say FMVs? FMVs are just a single layer of 2D graphics, right?
But there's no reason the SNES couldn't do FMV if you compressed it carefully and had the ROM space to spare.  The video I linked to above regarding the Sonic 3D Blast intro doesn't refer to any hardware features the SNES didn't have, if I'm not mistaken.
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NERV Agent

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The Sonic 3D Blast intro that's only a few seconds long?

I'm skeptical about something like all the anime cutscenes in Mega Man X4 fitting on an SNES cartridge. That would be one helluva compression.

And sd2snes would be cheating. :P

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Is the SNES TECHNICALLY capable of FMV? Yes.
Is the SNES PRACTICALLY capable of FMV? No.
It can run FMVs, but they can't be more than a few seconds long due to ROM space. (even the Rickroll ROM I think uses the maximum standard size of 4MB and still had to compress the video and still reduces everything to vague blobs to fit it in. Although I don't know if anyone has verified if that even runs on actual hardware.)
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Easy answer: many gigantic sprites at once and virtually infinite palettes.
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McKnight

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My question was mainly about special effects within regular graphics, just to clear that up.

Like, what separates things like zooming in (SMW, Turtles in Time), the ripple effect (Earthbound, LttP), the 3D countdown number from SNSM, and Earthbound's entire variety of battle backgrounds, from nearly everything that Knuckles Chaotix went out of its way to showcase that the original Sonic trilogy didn't pull off?  Was that all just a matter of available ROMspace and efficiency?

(For the record, I do plan on watching that whole SNES series that Jorpho linked to, before asking on Yahoo if there is anything similar about the Playstation.)

PresidentLeever

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Less slowdown, higher res, larger sprites, more animation, more parallax. Particle effects?

Adventures of Batman & Robin on MD probably has some unique effects for the 16-bit era.
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NERV Agent

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My question was mainly about special effects within regular graphics, just to clear that up.

Like, what separates things like zooming in (SMW, Turtles in Time), the ripple effect (Earthbound, LttP), the 3D countdown number from SNSM, and Earthbound's entire variety of battle backgrounds, from nearly everything that Knuckles Chaotix went out of its way to showcase that the original Sonic trilogy didn't pull off?  Was that all just a matter of available ROMspace and efficiency?

(For the record, I do plan on watching that whole SNES series that Jorpho linked to, before asking on Yahoo if there is anything similar about the Playstation.)

Now your digressing from your initial subject of comparing the PSX to the SNES, and going on about Sega consoles.

There is one example of the difference between 32-bit 2D and 16-bit 2D.

Play the game "Lunar 2: Eternal Blue" on the PSX. Then, compare the graphics you see (during gameplay, not the FMVs) in that game to its previous Sega CD version that was released about half a decade earlier. You should notice the difference in quality.

If you still think 16-bit consoles can pull off 32-bit quality 2D, then trying hacking the Sega CD version and porting all the PSX version sprites into the Sega CD version. You'll probably reach a definite answer to your questions at some point in the process.

Jorpho

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In fact, how did the Genesis alone manage such a spectacular sequence with the Sega logo in Sonic 3D Blast
FYI, the latest video addresses this specifically.  As you might have guessed, it's just a matter of careful palette swapping with no other fancy hardware trickery.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b4Iwe-dBAg

Still looking forward to that Mode 7 video.
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