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Consoles that were 'maxed' and ones that were not


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Got into a debate last night with a friend over which gaming consoles, from the first one to the current ones, reached their full potentinal. In other words, did games come out that pushed it, to do more then originaly intended? Or for various reasons was it never pushed?

 

It's okay to consider chips built into carts and add-on's, for the purposes of this thread.

 

Handhelds would be allright also to consider.

 

Consoles that I think were maxed:

Atari 2600 -- really amazing what they could make it do.

NES -- also a console that was pushed beyond what was intended for.

SNES -- games like StarFox and Donkey Kong Country.

PlayStation -- companies like Square learned how to squeeze every bit out of the old gray box.

 

Consoles that I don't think were maxed:

Atari 5200 -- so much that could be done, cut too short.

Atari 7800 -- see above.

Jaquar -- really would like to see this one maxed out.

Saturn -- think the system was suported for too short a time.

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Definitely agree about Jaguar and Saturn. Good subject, hadn't really thought about it before. Others that weren't maxed out were 3DO, CD-I (uh, who cares?), Marty, PC-FX (a promising system), SuperGrafx, maybe Gameboy Advance (in comparison to the DS and original Gameboy) or the N64.

 

Felt that the PC Engine could've used more variety of games, although the PC98 seemed pretty well explored (from what I've gathered). Game Gear was lacking. Neo Geo wasn't explored as well it could have been (could have had some great platformers and RPGs on there, a driving game or something else).

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Definitely agree about Jaguar and Saturn. Good subject, hadn't really thought about it before. Others that weren't maxed out were 3DO, CD-I (uh, who cares?), Marty, PC-FX (a promising system), SuperGrafx, maybe Gameboy Advance (in comparison to the DS and original Gameboy) or the N64.

 

Felt that the PC Engine could've used more variety of games, although the PC98 seemed pretty well explored (from what I've gathered). Game Gear was lacking. Neo Geo wasn't explored as well it could have been (could have had some great platformers and RPGs on there, a driving game or something else).

 

The 3DO is a system that really could have been far more than it was. It didn't have as much processing chops of the Playstation, but it was no slouch. Being a system that came out in the heyday of FMV meant that much of what came out for it had a lot of that type of content. There were some good 3d games for it, and it certainly had the 2D power to handle most of the 2d platformers that came out on the Playstation. Developers lost interest in it before anyone could squeeze it to its potential. It be interesting to look at PS1 titles and try to figure out which could have made it on the 3DO.

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Definitely agree about Jaguar and Saturn. Good subject, hadn't really thought about it before. Others that weren't maxed out were 3DO, CD-I (uh, who cares?), Marty, PC-FX (a promising system), SuperGrafx, maybe Gameboy Advance (in comparison to the DS and original Gameboy) or the N64.

 

Felt that the PC Engine could've used more variety of games, although the PC98 seemed pretty well explored (from what I've gathered). Game Gear was lacking. Neo Geo wasn't explored as well it could have been (could have had some great platformers and RPGs on there, a driving game or something else).

 

I would actually say that CD-i was pushed to its limits with games like Atlantis: Last Resort and Burn: Cycle

 

I would also say that the Megadrive/Genesis was pretty much pushed to its limits with games like Virtua Racing and Vectorman.

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Actually, I feel the opposite about the Saturn. It just depends on which games you've played. Most anything I've played from Sonic Team seemed to push the system pretty hard. I daresay Sega Rally Plus and possible Sega Touring Car pushed it quite a bit, too. Props also go to Area 51 for making the jump from CoJag to the Saturn and looking halfway decent in the process. Oddly, in the 2D department where the Saturn smoked the sense out of both competitors, it hardly even broke a sweat doing so.

The PS1 had to be pushed to the limit, especially after the Dreamcast launched. Some of the later games I have are quite impressive even though they don't match up to the flash of the DC or a computer of that time. Gran Turismo 1 and Colony Wars showed off what the system could do in its "hi res" mode.

 

I don't think the N64 was pushed hard by very many games. C&C pushed it, no doubts there, since tracking every single unit had to have consumed massive amounts of the RAM. The game could have eaten all eight megs of Rambus and still been hungry. Other obvious choices for games that pushed it are Battle For Naboo, Rogue Squadron, and Perfect Dark. As for Zelda, the same hardware used for Ocarina of Time could likely have done a fantastic job with Majora's Mask even though there'd be less detail and fewer characters on screen. I don't think that would have taken from MM's gameplay, though.

 

I don't think the PS2 breaks so much as a droplet of sweat on any of the games I've played on it.

 

I think the 7800 could have been pushed a LOT further than it was. With the low cost sound chips on the carts, the sound could have been closer to what I feel it should have been. It's capable of simple 3D, but how many of its games actually rendered in 3D? I can only think of one right off, and that's F-18 Hornet.

 

The 2600, as we know, was quickly pushed way beyond what it was designed for. Actually, no, it was under-designed. In reality, I don't know if even the best programmers could begin to scratch the surface of what the 2600 can do. It's impressive what they've done thus far, but I think it's hard to say exactly what capabilities are locked away inside that oddly shaped faux-woodgrain box. There's the Supercharger to expand the RAM, and there's David Crane to build whatever chip he wants to make the machine do his bidding. There's also today's powerful hardware such as the Harmony cart, and that 64K board for Stella's Stocking which I think packs more punch than the Supercharger did.

So, as for the 2600, was it pushed beyond the design? Without a doubt. Has it reached its absolute max? Not even close.

 

I don't see the Dreamcast sweating much on anything I play, either.

 

The original Game Boy was pushed by games that required some form of color (or all four shades of gray, as the case may be), and by games like Mortal Kombat. It wasn't the best home port, but the idea of playing Mortal Kombat on a Game Boy of all things was pretty amazing to me.

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"Donkey Kong Country"

 

as far as I know it just looked impressive, but from a technical viewpoint it really wasn't.

 

The characters were made from 3D models during development, but rendered as sprites which were included in the game like normal.

Edited by Herbarius
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I'd say neo geo was pretty maxed. It took a while to do, but in the late 90's they finally seemed to hit the limit of the hardware. I think that though it was becoming obvious that it was down on power, it held its own staggeringly well against even capcom's cps-3. (I guess that has as much to do with the cps-3 not being pushed very hard)

 

GBA was also pushed fairly hard. Carts with multiple feature-length movies on them, all manner of 3d games, it's amazing what was done with that hardware, and I just don't think the system had much more to give.

Edited by Reaperman
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I think it's safe to say that most of the systems that "held on" despite newer, more powerful hardware from the competition were maxed.

 

Far from a complete list, but this more or less illustrates my point:

Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, 5200, NES, SMS, 7800, Genesis (especially with Sega CD and 32X), SNES, Jaguar, Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3

 

In recent years, I think there is no question that the PS2 has been pushed. After all, they're still producing games for it almost a decade after introduction. Even a few years ago there were titles that suffered from serious slowdown because of the amount of onscreen action.

 

The Wii... well, since the hardware is technically similar to the Gamecube, there's no doubt that it has been pushed. The Wii has held its own because of great first party titles and unique control schemes, but the hardware itself is pretty archaic compared to the competition. I think it's safe to say the Wii hardware was being pushed to its limits within a few years, if not the day of its release...

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The longer a system stays in production, the more it is pushed to it's limits. It may seem that early title push a system to it's limits. But that is most because of bad programming, the programmer has to learn to program for a new system. The longer a system stays in production, the more programmers can push it to the limit. They more and more learn about the hardwares bottleneck and start to program around them.

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Consoles that I think were maxed:

Atari 2600 -- really amazing what they could make it do.

NES -- also a console that was pushed beyond what was intended for.

SNES -- games like StarFox and Donkey Kong Country.

PlayStation -- companies like Square learned how to squeeze every bit out of the old gray box.

 

Consoles that I don't think were maxed:

Atari 5200 -- so much that could be done, cut too short.

Atari 7800 -- see above.

Jaquar -- really would like to see this one maxed out.

Saturn -- think the system was suported for too short a time.

 

 

I think that's a truly insightful post. Thoughtful and well said. I'd have to agree with every one of those statements.

 

Thanks,

Joe

Edited by Atari Joe
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I think many early consoles were NOT "maxed"... especially those which were only supported by their manufacturer. Like the Channel F and the Bally Astrocade, the Arcadia 2001 and, a bit later, the Creativision. They all disappeared from the market pretty quickly and the games didn't evolve much from where they initially were. I also think the Colecovision hasn't been maxed. It mainly disappeared with the crash, but some of its most advanced games, like the 32K games by Atarisoft, remained unreleased. Since the Colecovision was mainly on par with the MSX computers, you can look at some later MSX 1 games which the Colecovision probably would have been able to do as well, except maybe for having less CPU RAM than any MSX computer.

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The Vectrex wasn't maxed out. Simply because of when it was released I think.

Had the market not crashed and it lasted a bit longer, I would have loved to have see more real vector arcade ports..

Tempest, Black Widow, Star Wars, etc....

 

And also non-vector ports...

You've seen in the homebrews (Protector, etc) some of what it can do...

 

desiv

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NES -- also a console that was pushed beyond what was intended for.

When a console has expnasion designed integral to the architecture, things that it's "intended" to do are only limited by the enhancement hardware used (and the limitations of the expansion buses), things like the mapper chips on the NES were facilitated by it's relatively expansion friendly architecture. (the western NES put the aduio expansion lines on the bottom port unfortunately, so no Famicom style audio expansion -though they could have released an audio module to plug into the bottom of the console -which Sega did for their Mk.III and was also done with the MSX computer with audio expansion carts)

 

But even for games that sticking to the stock hardware I'd say that the console was pretty much maxed out in all of its applicable areas, different games pushing different areas. (well, bank switching would be a given as that's a common simple and inexpensive feature for carts to add) For soem things, it's simply larger ROMs that allowed games to look better. (including things like dynamic tile animation simulating a 2ng BG layer)

 

SNES -- games like StarFox and Donkey Kong Country.

Neither of those are good examples: Star Fox is an example of how Nintendo was thinking ahead to facilitate such enhancement via the cart (with necessary signals on the cart slot), but otherwise it's a coprocessor on a cart, not pushing the hardware. (for such cases there are things that have to be worked around though, the screen has to be clipped small enough to facilitate double buffering and fir the entire 16-color frame plus BG tilemap in VRAM, more limiting for games like Doom or Stunt Racer FX using th 256 color modes -8 bpp rather than 4bpp, so memory fills up 2x as fast)

 

Donky kong country isn't really doing anything that pushes the hardware to a significant effect, not even any dynamic tiling as far as I can see, just simple standard use of the BG layers and line scroll with lots of animation and optimized 15-color tiles of tastefully digitized 3D rendered bitmaps, and yes it doesn't use one of the 256 color modes, I don't think any 2D games do other than mode 7. (it is one of the few games to use the 3rd 4-color tile BG layer, Earthworm Jim 2 being another to do that) Of course it's a 4 MB ROM, so it's got cost tied to its large amount of animation and large tileset.

 

Examples of cool effects on stock hardware are tasteful uses of mode 7 (especially in cases that can actually manage full BGs behind the scaled layer, like the with Ludwig Von Koopa in SMW, which I assume was done by building the BG with sprites alone -when mode 7 is used it's the only BG layer other than the solid color window -games like F Zero change the video mode mid-screen with a normal mode above and mode 7 below the horizon)

Axelay uses a cool effect (Sonic 3D Blast's special stages and some racing games do the same, it's a scanline interrupt effect iirc, neat and something the PCE SNES and MD could all manage -though PCE is still limited to one BG layer)

 

The sound design in DKC was really nice though, certainly not the generic stuff a lot of 3rd parties used. (Nintendo stuff tended to be good and several other western developers, but many had a generic sound) So that and the good optimiztion of 15 color palettes (8 palettes for the BG) on highcolor or truecolor rendered images.

Super Mario RPG used digitized graphics too, if not more.

 

Wolfenstein 3D is actually pretty impressive given it's all software rendered (yeah, stupid censorship, but technically quite nice given there's no enhancement chips -odd that they didn't even use a DSP-1 as that sould have helped with the scaling and rayscasting, it's actually rendering in a 112x96 mode 7 window scaled to 224x192), or Toy Story's crane game level (also on the Genesis and both use a neat trick by only drawing 1/2 the screen and mirroring the rest).

 

PlayStation -- companies like Square learned how to squeeze every bit out of the old gray box.

I hardly see how any of Square's games really pushed the hardware, there are much better examples of that kind of stuff. (like Psygnosis among others) Games that use subdivided affine mapping to avoid texture warping would be one thing, but that's rather common for late PSX games.

 

Consoles that I don't think were maxed:

Atari 5200 -- so much that could be done, cut too short.

Yeah, but given the capabilities were pretty much the same as the 8-bits, you can easily see what could have been done (only exceptions are things that necessarily needed more RAM and couldn't be done effectively -or at all- in ROM)

 

Atari 7800 -- see above.

Yeah, much more so than the 5200 and it really might have done some neat things with the kind of dedication the VCS saw from some developers. (I wonder how games like Space Harrier or Afterburner might have turned out)

 

Jaquar -- really would like to see this one maxed out.

Yeah, though some tech demos and unreleased games really show some impressive stuff, maybe not the max but probably not too far from it. However, with such a console pushign the limits depends on what you do: its much more limited in some areas than contemporaries and far more flexible in others, so for a certain type of game it might not be able to be pushed very far, but others it could excel in (like with Voxels), or perhaps by pushing it could be a game that balances a number of things like: polygons used where necessary and texture mapped when necessary but otherwise flat or gouraud shaded and using voxel terrain and scaled sprites for added detail. (Atariowl's project is a bit like that, sans the sprites)

THe pure 2D capabilities weren't pushed as fat though, maybe in some demos, but not in full games. (homebrew or commercial)

Battlesphere is quite impressive though, and Doom may not be as good as it could be (Carmak said he could have done better), but it does cater well to the CRY shading and is one of the only games that has a fully texture mapped and gouraud shaded environment. (the PSX, Saturn, and N64 couldn't replicate what the Jag did there -unless the N64 supports 24-bit RGB gouraud shading- though the PSX/Saturn versions of doom are double the horizonntal res and the PSX is a higher framerate, neither shades any better than the 3DO version's 16-bit RGB shading)

 

Saturn -- think the system was suported for too short a time.

Again, a few games and demos or unreleased games probably showed close to its limits, but the hardware was rather tough to get to the real power without spending a ton of time and resources doing so. Shenmue is one such example, very impressive on the Saturn, but also went way over budget and behind schedule before it was finally moved to the Dreamcast.

 

There are some games which demonstrate the 2D capabilities (and not just added RAM and animation, but the BG generation capabilities of VDP2 and high res modes) as well as some added flexibility of larger CPU resource for software rendering. (AMOK has soem decent voxels, similar to contemporary pentium PCs, though a fair bit coarser than Phase Zero on the Jag)

 

 

-I don't think the N64 was maxed out either, another console with tight bottlenecks to work around, but in particular there was the programmable RSP microcode which was poorly supported and customized by a few developers, but even then probably not to the maximum extent. (Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine or Battle For Naboo are later implementatons of Factor 5's custom microcode) Rare did some of that too, and Nintendo (possibly HAL), but support for general 3rd parties was poor (the RSP microcoding tools were extremely limited and withheld completely until rather late in the systems life), and for soem reason Nitendo withheld (or heavily discouraged) use of the "turbo 3D" microcode over the standard "fast 3D" microcode. (from what I understand, the former dropped a lot of the effects and accuracy of the latter in favor of ~5x the peak polygon rate)

 

Sega CD may not have been maxed out either. I'm not positive, but I think better quality streaming video could have been possible, in particular very few games used error diffusion dithering, most using none (threshold dithering) or ordered dithering with resulting posterization and crosshatching.

The graphics ASIC (line by line rendering including affine rendering scaling/rotation/warping effects, basically texture mapping) was underused as was the 8-channel stereo PCM chip, though there are good examples of their use, I'm not sure the overall resources were maxed out. (Silpheed, Novastorm, and Sonic CD -past- music make good use of the added sound hardware for synthesized music, while Batman and Robbin supposedly maxes out the ASIC, though it sould have been possible to manage soem pretty good raycating type games or somethign like Stellar Fire, but with textured polygons)

 

Astrocade probably wasn't maxed out either.

Odyssey 2 probable.

Colecovision wasn't, but the general chipset was pushed much further on the MSX and SG-1000. (except games specifically needing more RAM, though the ADAM would have addressed that)

 

Genesis/MD was probably maxed out. (conventional games being heavily optimized for the limited number of palettes available as well as using tricks when applicable, games using efficient playback code and good quality samples -or even software decompression- for clear PCM playback, software mod players, software raycasting like Zero Tolerance or Battle Frenzy, games liek Batman and Robbin, etc) Virtua racing and 32x demonstrate how useful with cartridge port could be for expansion, but not pushing th ebase hardware so much. (and the 32x sort of implies that the Sega CD perhaps should have been cart mounted and used video mixing with a separate bitmap VDP)

 

PC Engine was probably maxed out.

 

Master System probably was too, and Game Gear, or at least came pretty close given the 2 chipsets were almost identical (only difference was a larger master palette and lower visible resolution on the GG), the YM2413 may not have been maxed out and PSG was never used simultaneously except for the JP Mk.III Bios music, but that was never a feature for GG or western SMS consoles unfortunately. (they kept an expansion port, but not one including audio lines like the Mk.III had used for it's YM2413 add-on, and the US/EU SMS was released a year before the YM2413 was integrated to the 1987 JP SMS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definitely agree about Jaguar and Saturn. Good subject, hadn't really thought about it before. Others that weren't maxed out were 3DO, CD-I (uh, who cares?), Marty, PC-FX (a promising system), SuperGrafx, maybe Gameboy Advance (in comparison to the DS and original Gameboy) or the N64.

PCFX's 2D capabilites weren't ever pushed really, though it had really weak sprites by comparison (same as the PCE, not even double like the Supergrafx, though software rendering with the CPU could probably mitigate that to some extent), no 3D hardware and a moderately powerful CPU, so worse off than 3DO, 32x, or Jaguar for 3D (more on the level of the GBA).

CD-i didn't have many limits to push, I think it was a simple bitmap display driven by a CPU, but maybe it had a blitter of some sort (not any info on that), it wasn't really a game console anyway.

 

3DO might have been pushed to the limit, it's limitations were pretty finite and distinct but the hardware was efficient to program in high level languages (tuned entirely for C), so games could be developed relatively quickly and compiled efficiently. There may have been additional possibilities for games really catering to the specific hardware (it used quads like saturn, not triangles, but lacked the CPU grunt to really offer a software alternative like the Saturn did), but the dev kit was entirely library based, no detailed documentation for hardware level optimiztion or assembly programming (rather like the PSX early on, and the polar opposite of the Jaguar and Saturn to some extent and a considerable departure from older consoles being programmed to the hardware mainly in assembly)

So maybe it could have been pushed with hardware level support, but I think given how straightforeward the architecture was, it's not like the 7800, N64, Saturn, or Jaguar. (or even Sega CD)

 

The 3DO is a system that really could have been far more than it was. It didn't have as much processing chops of the Playstation, but it was no slouch. Being a system that came out in the heyday of FMV meant that much of what came out for it had a lot of that type of content. There were some good 3d games for it, and it certainly had the 2D power to handle most of the 2d platformers that came out on the Playstation. Developers lost interest in it before anyone could squeeze it to its potential. It be interesting to look at PS1 titles and try to figure out which could have made it on the 3DO.

It was almost entirely the semi-open licensed market model that killed it, that and Sony scaring Panasonic into dropping the M2, could have partnered tightly with Panasonic, sold the console at cost (or lightly under), and charged more for licensing (and still had a very attractive media and platform with high software profit margin for 3rd parties). Even at cost, it probably would have been in the $500 range at launch (that's a very rough guess) in 1993, but it could have dropped a lot before the Saturn or PSX came out. (it was a lower cost design than the Saturn for sure, perhaps the PSX as well -cheaper CPU and RAM for sure)

It was an older design with some trade-offs made and bottlenecks (low risk design using large, older process chips an dual buses with 1MB of expensive VRAM on top of 2 MB of DRAM), the main limitation is that the GPU lacks the kind of caching or buffering as more advanced contemporaries (or number of banks/buses as the Saturn) or a CPU cache, so the GPU competes for CPU time in main RAM: thus you get some really nice demos that chug once you add the game logic. (that and it renders with quads, rather than triangles, so a bit of a pain for the majority of developers working with triangles which PSX and N64 catered to -PC and Jag rasterized in software so it didn't matter-)

 

The Hardware was OK for the time, more optimized for the kind of stuff the PSX did than the Jaguar was overall (the Jaguar had a lot more raw power though and was far more cost effective), aside from the quad based rendering, it was aimed at 16-bit RGB rendering with RGB texture mapping and gouraud shading, as well as a fixed point matrix coprocessor for 3D math (rather like the PSX's GTE). It didn't have a hardware video decoder onboard like the PSX, though it had the VCD module (not used by any games, unlike the Saturn's), so it used Cinepak instead.

Edited by kool kitty89
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Far from a complete list, but this more or less illustrates my point:

Atari 2600, Intellivision, ColecoVision, 5200, NES, SMS, 7800, Genesis (especially with Sega CD and 32X), SNES, Jaguar, Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3

As I mentioned above, I think SMS was pretty well maxed out, though probably after it was discontinued in Japan ans North America (lasted until late 1995 in Europe and never really died in South America, though TECTOY got the rights to the SMS and MD in the late 1990s).

Dreamcast might have been pushed given the clean and straightforeward architecture and skill of first party programmers. Xbox probably was as well, certiany from the perspective of the standard API, but a few games bypassed that and did some direct hardware stuff iirc. GC got some really impressive stuff early on (Rogue Squadron II was a launch title) and again had a pretty clean and straightforward architecture, the PS2 likely wouldn't have been maxed out had it not been as massively popular as it was, and even so it had a huge percentage of games that looked and played better on other platforms.

 

Sega CD and 32x don't show the Genesis being maxed out, but other things do (Panorama Cotton, Batman and Robbin, and many others), the Sega CD and especially 32x could have done a lot more. (in fact, the 32x had soem games that should have long been on the Sega CD: After Burner and Space Harrier, Sega missed big time not pushing their arcade scalers on the CD)

 

In recent years, I think there is no question that the PS2 has been pushed. After all, they're still producing games for it almost a decade after introduction. Even a few years ago there were titles that suffered from serious slowdown because of the amount of onscreen action.

That doesn't necessarily mean anything as very late games often get lower budget releases, especially as ports/multiplatform titles on newer systems. Except for cases of older games that took ages to get localized.

 

I think 360 may have peaked given it's more straightforward architecture than the PS3 and popularity, but maybe it could be pushed further. (I kind of doubt developers would go into hardware level tweaks though, assuming there's even enough documentation to do so)

 

 

 

Actually, I feel the opposite about the Saturn. It just depends on which games you've played. Most anything I've played from Sonic Team seemed to push the system pretty hard.

Huh? SOnic team is only one small segment of Sega's Japanese development staff, and many of the programmers cycle around to other areas. AM2 is one of the divisions known for really quality work. But for first party stuff in general, I'd say that's true, as well as any games designed specifically for the platform or as a multiplatform games specifically for the console and not an after the fact port. (the unfinished Shenmue demo is pretty damn impressive though)

 

I don't think the N64 was pushed hard by very many games. C&C pushed it, no doubts there, since tracking every single unit had to have consumed massive amounts of the RAM. The game could have eaten all eight megs of Rambus and still been hungry. Other obvious choices for games that pushed it are Battle For Naboo, Rogue Squadron, and Perfect Dark. As for Zelda, the same hardware used for Ocarina of Time could likely have done a fantastic job with Majora's Mask even though there'd be less detail and fewer characters on screen. I don't think that would have taken from MM's gameplay, though.

C&C? And yeah, Rare, Nintendo, and Lucas Arts/Factor 5 really did most for the pushing (no thanks to Nintendo's odd policies), the limits of carts did contribute to limited audio and texture quality.

I'm not exactly sure what Majoa's mask uses the added RAM for overall, but added models on-screen could be done fine without significant memory usage (that's more a CPU/RSP resource issue), but doing so with a lot of unique and detailed textures on eack model would be tough, so most likely it would mean cutting down texture count and/or texture resolution.

 

I don't think the PS2 breaks so much as a droplet of sweat on any of the games I've played on it.

How so? It's true that a lot of games don't push the hardware that hard (especially early ones), which makes sense due to the fact that the hardware is relatively tough to take full advantage of -PS3 is better but nothing like PSX or DC, but I think some of the most prominent later games did so. (the hardware is more limited than the GC or Xbox though, and dreamcast too in terms of texture and antialising capabilities -it's a huge poly pusher though)

 

I don't see the Dreamcast sweating much on anything I play, either.

What does that even mean? It sounds like you mean there aren't games that push the hardware in ways that makes the game chug in framerate rather than reducing detail and preserving framerate. (Sonic Adventure DX on the GC is more detailed in general, but has some framerate issues at times compared to the DC version, for example -not sure if that's tied to porting or just that they decided to trade framerate for added detail)

Some developers prefer to maintain a steady framerate at all costs, and work within that limitation. (they'd push the graphics further only when they could do so by not compromising framerate) Games like that look less impressive in screenshots, but awesome in person.

 

 

 

 

The Vectrex wasn't maxed out. Simply because of when it was released I think.

Had the market not crashed and it lasted a bit longer, I would have loved to have see more real vector arcade ports..

Tempest, Black Widow, Star Wars, etc....

 

And also non-vector ports...

You've seen in the homebrews (Protector, etc) some of what it can do...

 

desiv

 

Wow, yeah, can you imagine Elite or Starglider on the Vectrex. Assuming it had the RAM (Elite was on the NES) youv'e got a vector display, so no resources going into rasterization, just point plotting and hidden line removal and a pretty kick ass CPU. (given how well the BBC Micro managed Elite on a raster display and a 2 MHz 6502, that would seem rather promising).

 

Some arcade games would have been great, but licensing would have been problematic given the large number them being Atari made. (unless they'd be willing to license Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Battlezone, Red Barron, Tempest, etc) There's always clones though, and the star trek game comes fairly close to Star Wars in some respects.

Edited by kool kitty89
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The longer a system stays in production, the more it is pushed to it's limits. It may seem that early title push a system to it's limits. But that is most because of bad programming, the programmer has to learn to program for a new system. The longer a system stays in production, the more programmers can push it to the limit. They more and more learn about the hardwares bottleneck and start to program around them.

 

 

Exactly. If systems are successful, they live longer, developers learn more, developers are willing to take more risks and also are forced to differentiate to succeed.

 

That's why you see stuff like

 

2600 Solaris

NES Super Mario 3

Sega Master System Mortal Kombat

Super NES Killer Instinct

Genesis Toy Story and Vector Man

 

etc

Edited by DracIsBack
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"Donkey Kong Country"

 

as far as I know it just looked impressive, but from a technical viewpoint it really wasn't.

 

The characters were made from 3D models during development, but rendered as sprites which were included in the game like normal.

 

It did have really good animation for a Super Nintendo game.

 

 

I'm of mixed views on this. On one hand, it's not really 'pushing the hardware'

 

On the other hand, at the time, it was being creative about design methodology. I certainly don't remember that approach to design being done before in a 16-bit game ... and it served its purpose to scare the crap out of Sega, Atari and 3D).

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"Donkey Kong Country"

 

as far as I know it just looked impressive, but from a technical viewpoint it really wasn't.

 

The characters were made from 3D models during development, but rendered as sprites which were included in the game like normal.

 

It did have really good animation for a Super Nintendo game.

 

 

I'm of mixed views on this. On one hand, it's not really 'pushing the hardware'

 

On the other hand, at the time, it was being creative about design methodology. I certainly don't remember that approach to design being done before in a 16-bit game ... and it served its purpose to scare the crap out of Sega, Atari and 3D).

 

I don't find the 3D prerendered graphics impressive, but the high frame count and frame rate is. I find animation extremely annoying to program on the Snes. Only 16kB of sprite pattern RAM at one time, only capable of updating around 4k or 5k of sprite patterns during v-blank. It takes a lot of strategic dma/v-ram usage to make sure every enemy combination is compatible with each other and hiding limitations with level designing. Animation isn't as simple as color usage, where you just fill it up to the max and your done.

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I'm surprised to see people saying that the Intellivision wasn't maxed. It had a pretty long lifespan and I'd say those later INTV releases, like Hover Force and Thunder Castle, squeeze a heck of a lot out of that hardware. Of course, homebrews have taken things even further, but then that's the case on the VCS as well.

 

The ColecoVision, OTOH, definitely was cut short, though as others have said the SG-1000 and MSX gave some indication of what was possible with that chipset. Same thing with the 5200.

 

Turning to desktop computers which were often used for gaming, the TRS-80 Model I/III/IV got pushed to its limits -- some of the games and tech demos from back then are absolutely astonishing. Developers also managed to squeeze every last bit of juice out of the Tandy CoCo 1/2, but the CoCo 3 never reached its full potential.

Edited by thegoldenband
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NES - Def maxed out. So many games have slowdown...

 

Gameboy - maxxed

 

Genesis - maxxed

 

32X - not maxxed, would be cool to see what games could be made on it if it had been around for 2-3 years

 

Jaguar - Same as 32X except change 2-3 years to 3-4 years.

 

3DO - close to maxxed probably.

 

SNES - most def maxxed

 

cd-i - who knows who cares lol

 

game gear - prolly maxxed

 

Saturn - yes it was maxxed... i dont care what any saturn fanboy says

 

playstation - same as Saturn

 

 

N64 - maxxed

 

DD - would have been neat to see what came out if it

 

neo geo - most maxxed system in the world prolly

 

turbo grafx - maxxed

 

lynx - maxxed

 

dreamcast - even though it wasnt around too too long, i still have to say it was maxxed or very close to it.

 

nuon - not maxxed

 

virtual boy - not maxxed

 

sega cd - maxxed

 

jaguar cd - not maxxed

 

to be honest the answers are pretty obvious to any hardcore classic gamer geek ;)

 

from the ps2 to now - all those systems have been maxxed, except maybe the 360 and ps3. then again they have been around a long ass time now... im not really into the newer systems...

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"Donkey Kong Country"

 

as far as I know it just looked impressive, but from a technical viewpoint it really wasn't.

 

The characters were made from 3D models during development, but rendered as sprites which were included in the game like normal.

It did have really good animation for a Super Nintendo game.

I'm of mixed views on this. On one hand, it's not really 'pushing the hardware'

 

On the other hand, at the time, it was being creative about design methodology. I certainly don't remember that approach to design being done before in a 16-bit game ... and it served its purpose to scare the crap out of Sega, Atari and 3D).

Shiny did it before Rare with Earthworm Jim released a few months earlier on the MD/Genesis, but it used it more sparingly, as an occasional effect along with lots of cartoon/pixel art graphics. (and a lot of animation for everything)

 

The animation isn't impressive really, all it means is larger ROM sizes for more frames, and/or compression (several lossless algorithms in common use at the time), hitting DMA limitations is somthign that could take skill to work around, though most games that needed to got around that by clipping the vertical display for longer Vblank time. (Street Fighter II on SNES and MD/Genesis, Virtua Racing, Hard Drivin' etc)

What's more impresive is optimiztions with limited colors per tile (though the 8 palettes per BG and Sprite on SNES was pretty large and it had 15-bit RGB to index from -it *could* do 256 colors per tile too, but that was never used for 2D games other than splash screens afik). From that standpoint, some MD games are far more impressive though, only 4 palettes total (though not split between sprite/BG) and only 9-bit RGB at that (like the ST), so getting games to look as smooth as some did was a pretty big achievement. (Sonic 3D Blast for direct comparison of digitized workstation 3D graphics, outsourced to a European developer too, interestingly enough -Travlers Tales)

 

Many people seem to overlook how the music and sound design in the game applied as much as the graphics and animation.

Very moody at times, sometimes light and fun, sometimes dark, sometimes haunting. Sort of like some of Psygnosis's Amiga stuff, but with much more variety in instruments used. (like if Shadow of the beast used more than just Pan pipes for the lead instruments)

 

 

 

Didn't know Nintendo was acting so protective of the N64's core differentiating hardware assets. That would definitely had contributed to the cold and meager 3rd party support. Sony did so many things right in those crucial PSX years.

Well I'm not sure how bad it really was from that standpoint, given customizing RSP code would really only have been done by really dedicated developers (Rare, Factor 5, I could see id doing it too), especially with the primitive tools Nintendo had to offer, but the issue of the Turbo3D thing is more significant as it was ready made, though I haven't seen too many details on it outside of Wiki's reference and a couple other articles. (from what I've read it seems to be tuned more toward PSX level graphics, but that's a bit vague, the main thing that's clearly stated was that the advantage was approximately 5x the polygon count)

Hell, turbo 3D could have possibly worked better for 2D stuff too. (as you never use the 3D features for that, just texture mapped tiles -which you'd have many more of- maybe some scaling and rotation -2D texture mapping effects- but texture filtering is often detrimental to 2D stuff by comparison, though gouraud shading could be useful -I doubt that would have been disabled though)

With the large block of RAM, the N64 should have been great for 2D fighters with lots of animation (one advantage of the Saturn over the PSX, especially with the RAM cart), maybe a reason Capcom and Konami didn't port any of their 2D games. (in spite of being on PSX and Saturn, and having several 3D titles on the N64) --Ideally a custom 2D optimized RSP code would be implemented for such, but a faster 3D one would be closer at least. (and if accurate, better than the PSX at 2D in terms of objects on screen without slowdown)

 

The only 2D games I can even think of are 2 Rampage games, and Yoshi's Story. (maybe Killer Instinct Gold, but that had 3D BGs)

 

 

I don't find the 3D prerendered graphics impressive, but the high frame count and frame rate is. I find animation extremely annoying to program on the Snes. Only 16kB of sprite pattern RAM at one time, only capable of updating around 4k or 5k of sprite patterns during v-blank. It takes a lot of strategic dma/v-ram usage to make sure every enemy combination is compatible with each other and hiding limitations with level designing. Animation isn't as simple as color usage, where you just fill it up to the max and your done.

And DKC doesn't clip the screen past 224 lines either, so no more Vblank than average (you get a lot more time in 50 Hz PAL though)

And really only 4-5 kB durring VBLANK with the normal 224 lines in NTSC? (that's even worse than the Genesis in 256 pixel wide mode H32 with ~5.8 kB per Vblank frame, and VRAM isn't segmented like on the SNES iirc -320 wide H40 has more DMA bandwidth too, but you've got more screen to worry about)

 

That would certainly be a reason the 256 color paletized modes were avoided, apart from cart space being used, it would have doubled the size of animation being updated to the VDP and filled up VDP space twice as fast. (assuming you used all 8 bitplanes at least)

 

 

 

32X - not maxxed, would be cool to see what games could be made on it if it had been around for 2-3 years

 

Jaguar - Same as 32X except change 2-3 years to 3-4 years.

Yeah, though the 32x has a lot less to it than the Jag, so it's a lot easier to say what it could have done, that and the Genesis side of the graphics was already maxed, so a maxed 32x game would be optimized for both. (Kolibri probably did that best for 2D -32x "sprites" -objects- and foreground with genesis doing the far BG layers with sprites and both scroll planes)

That and Zyrnix's tech demo (not really demonstrating what it would have done with an actual game unless that wasn't monopolizing the 68k -have the Genesis CPU handle the game logic in its work RAM)

And then there's the 32x+CD, now that for sure wasn't maxed, but would take a lot of work and understanding of all 3 systems (sega CD being the toughest to work with iirc) and managing all together, so if that demo DID max out the Genesi CPU too, you'd have a 12.5 MHz 68k in the CD too and 768 kB of RAM.

 

For 32x alone, it's just CPUs rendering to a bitmap, so things done in software rendered PC games were pretty much the same (though few used highcolor -32x may not have ever used it in-game, maybe Virtua Racing), think in the range of games playable on a fast 486. It has to work with far less RAM though (anything 3D on the GBA would be applicable, and with much more resource on the 32x).

That and the PWM sound, and the only thing there is that the DMA mixing was never used at the time due to Sega not supporting the feature, so simple timed IRQ was used instead. (recently some homebrew programmers got the DMA mixing working)

 

 

 

Saturn - yes it was maxxed... i dont care what any saturn fanboy says

If you count first party demos/prototypes, I'd agree, but only released stuff then no. (Shenmue's prototype was probably closest to being maxed, and indeed was proving problematic due to the amount of resources being put into it for the necessary optimization, especially with the release likely limited to Japan)

 

N64 - maxxed

I think they could have pushed it further with more dedicated developers tinkering with custom optimiztion and stuff, and Nintendo facilitating it... (and maybe a CD unit instead of the stupid DD that went nowhere anyway)

 

DD - would have been neat to see what came out if it

It was botched IMO, inefficient format, not cost effective at all compared to optical discs, released about a year AFTER the dreamcst in Japan, etc. (hell, had Nintendo been working on a custom optical format like Sega, maybe they could have done likewise with something proprietary -which they obviously wanted- and superior to CD-ROM)

Hell the disks were no larger than the largest N64 games (2 or 3 64 MB carts were released, maybe more)

 

sega cd - maxxed

Maybe, but probably only with cases like Batman and Robin or maybe Soul Star, or Silpheed in terms of sound.

Edited by kool kitty89
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