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The SNES CPU is slower than those on the Genesis and PC Engine . . .


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We've all heard this mentioned a billion times in recent years, and this is a great video that basically shows the same (although, the guy accidently had the SNES running in SlowROM 2.68 MHz mode at 75% full speed rather than the full 3.58 MHz mode the system actually operates at, unfortunately):

 

 

But, I find is strange that we rarely hear the people saying the SNES CPU is slower also talking about the difference in say the VDPs and other stuff too:

 

 

It took eight additional months for that second video to appear, which is a long time for only one part of the information and one side of the narrative to be available. And, I have no doubt there's a whole bunch of other things that haven't been covered similarly, which might also be of value to know about when discussing the relative capabilities of all these classic consoles.

 

It think it's important to keep in mind that these classic consoles aren't defined by just one hardware component, and any conversations we have around them, especially in terms of which one can do what and so on, should at least include all the information or as much as possible, just so everyone has a more complete picture to form an opinion and/or judgement on.

 

This is all very interesting stuff, but it can be taken out of context and interpreted and fed back incorrectly if not handled properly.

 

That's all I'm doing here, posting both the videos together and at the same time. Hopefully you learned so new information today that's of interest to you too, especially about the SNES, which we're in this specific SNES forum to discuss and celebrate as a system I presume we all love, either from our childhoods or as something we discovered in recent times.

 

PS. Here's a link to a thread from another forum, which is what made me think about posting something here too: http://gendev.spritesmind.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=3339

Edited by Kirk_Johnston
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Slow is relative.  It comes also down to so so much more.  Clock cycles, type of the chip, accessible memory, it also had that nice ability to get into DMA too, the list goes on, and that's before special chips that (hit or miss) may or may not have added cost to the standard $50 price of a game so you as a gamer would have no clue, just enjoy or hate whatever you bought.

 

We know the story with Sega they liked to do lies and half truths in the era in the US market because being a flaming douche and an edge lord with tv spots and print ads was key to get the angtsy know it all teen base on your side, and was great for the media to sell subs being trolls.  The system exclusively pretty much was king at brute force speed due to the mhz and clock rate that motorola chip ran at.  Yet despite that, you can find a good spread of games that get the earlier years classic chug of slow down the SNES gets dumped on for like that's stock standard (it's not, it's called lazy coding largely.)

 

It's rare to see someone dump on the speed of the SNES while bringing up other parts, like you linked the VDP for instance, because the totality of the system in what else it does, very well lifts up that paper thin problem and gives you the results we saw for years on the market, and some of the nuts stuff people have done in the aftermarket since too.  All said and done, including PCE here too, they all kind of negate and counter balance out stuff really not giving an edge anywhere unless you get into again developer laziness, self sabotage(quick dirty cash in ports), or just pushing it too hard where it would even have a moment on another system had it got a copy too.

 

Not hard at all but if you take Nintendo out of the picture, to just put the MD/GEN and PCE/TG up against each other and while you'll get the same Sega level trolling, the NEC kids tend to be a bit more subtle and quiet compared, yet the results tend to show the NEC side made the Sega stuff look even worse, and using lesser technically 8bit primary CPU/GPU hardware which speaks volumes.  It's not what you have, it's how you use and abuse it.

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I remember the Sega ads quite well, with the loud yelling of the company name at the end, didn't make me want to go out and buy one (Nintendo would pull some nasty stuff too, the Yoshi's Island ad comes to mind, totally unnecessary). Lots of people like to use the Genesis does tagline against SNES games, but are clearly clueless that the tagline was meant to go against the NES, and after the SNES came out, that tagline quietly died a quick death.

 

Speed doesn't often work in a game, look at Sonic for example. Sure you can go pretty fast, there are times the screen cannot keep up with the Sonic sprite careening out of control, and that can lead to quick deaths in the game. Hell sometimes you'd go crashing right into enemies, and if you had a large amount of rings saved, there went all your rings, you'd be lucky to get a small fraction back.

 

Sorry, but I like games where the sprites move sensibly, and I have full control of them, whether on SNES, or on Genesis. And with recent hacks of SNES games to remove the slowdown, it shows the SNES is quite capable of running games without slowdown, it was the shoddy programming (again I think the SNES was like the Sega Saturn, hard to program for). We seen games where great programming shined nicely, stuff like Space Mega Force/Super Aleste, and Rendering Ranger. Today's hackers are fixing the mistakes slowly but surely that those old programmers made (ala the load issue with SF Alpha 2 on the SNES, a sound error Capcom overlooked), and games are running at speeds they were meant to. The SNES was also home to many an RPG, those games were not created with speed in mind at all. Even the RPG's on the Genesis were built with the same thing in mind, stuff like Phantasy Star 2,3, and 4 don't go blazingly fast, they didn't need to.

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@Bloodreign Yeah no doubt you got that right, Nintendon't was applied to the NES, and largely damn...it was fair, but they were taking digs at early 80s 8bit tech that was stretched to it's conclusion by then in the US market with the MMC5 and a couple other oddballs like the Namco(inside Tengen) and Sunsoft (Return of the Joker) special expansion mappers that crept by.  Impressive as they were, it was no Sonic, and definitely no Phantasy Star 2, Outrun, Decap Attack either, Quackshot, either.  The SNES though the morons who used that to piss into the 16bit wars pot showed their wits on that one.  If they claimed it exclusively to sprites and speed, or the amount of EA peddled sports titles, sure...your win, but outside that, the Genesis got outclassed not just by that but a year older tech with the 8/16bit hybrid TG16(PCE) too which is all things considered, pathetic.

 

You're right about Sonic, and you know Nintendo did have a few speed demon titles too that went under the radar on the whole, or in pieces.  Try (funny to say this as it's dogged for lag) Gradius III specifically on the speed tunnel stage on hard (or button coded in) arcade mode, it's insane, and it kept up better than Sonic did which you pointed out where the screen didn't keep up.  The Road Runner title on SNES that was early too also blew along at a fast pace that people claim the hardware would start smoking over too.

 

Either way like you I like it when things as you said move more sensibly, speed works, but it shouldn't be your selling point.  Creative use of those old chips could work wonders, look what SNK did comparing like Magician Lord to Metal Slug, or Samurai Shodown 1 to 5 Perfect at the end, it's insane...no special chips either, just smart work.

 

You are correct, Victor Viella(sp?) has proven decades of lies and half truths really were.  I know what you're talking about with the speed hacks.  He can't recode the game itself but he did find ways to patch the games to read a better faster chip do roast those slowdowns alive, Gradius III is one, using the SA1 as a crutch to make up for un-optimized badly coded Konami work to rush it out for Christmas of 1991.  That game runs smooth a butter patched, quite a few do, and the comments on dev spaces point to bad coding, not slow processor, but because of that and not having the actual source you have to get creative using another chip as a crutch to get the slack out of the garbage to run right.

 

Another example of coding booboos, the mother of them lately, Doom on SNES.  Did you see the story from Randy Linden?  Some other person recently figured out had he (he released his source) change like one byte or line of code in the game to use one method stock standard to the SNES vs the other, he would have DOUBLED the FPS of that game from running 20-25FPS up to a nearly rock solid 50FPS, which in practice would have made Doom PAL-SNES run at full speed astonishingly.  Randy was surprised, checked it, recompiled his code and flashed a kit and sure enough -- boom, smooth DOOM.  I hope someone, Randy, that other dude whoever he was, releases this fix as I'd love to see how that game would run natively optimized at twice the frame rate as it's fun despite what people dump on it for. :)

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Imagine if Namco had released some of their arcade games that used scaling for the SNES. Stuff like Legend of Valkyrie, Phelios, Marvel Land, all had some fantastic scaling sprites in arcades, but got relegated to other consoles, where the scaling had been removed entirely. Phelios and Marvel Land on Genesis are good, ML even has more content from the arcade, but none of the cool scaling seen in the arcade game, and Phelios lost all of it's scaling too. Valkyrie was put on the PCE, and got slightly shortened, and all of it's cool scaling, GONE (the part where you get launched from castle catapults to another part of the same stage is incredible, not to mention as you climb higher in stage 1, the ground beneath slowly scales outward). Anytime someone uses the Genesis Does taglines in Youtube videos on SNES games, I tend to respond, "What, lose every console war Sega was involved in as a console maker".

 

 

I'd love to see someone maybe one day before I'm too old and grey make homebrew versions of these games for the SNES.

Edited by Bloodreign
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14 hours ago, Tanooki said:

@Bloodreign Yeah no doubt you got that right, Nintendon't was applied to the NES, and largely damn...it was fair, but they were taking digs at early 80s 8bit tech that was stretched to it's conclusion by then in the US market with the MMC5 and a couple other oddballs like the Namco(inside Tengen) and Sunsoft (Return of the Joker) special expansion mappers that crept by.  Impressive as they were, it was no Sonic, and definitely no Phantasy Star 2, Outrun, Decap Attack either, Quackshot, either.  The SNES though the morons who used that to piss into the 16bit wars pot showed their wits on that one.  If they claimed it exclusively to sprites and speed, or the amount of EA peddled sports titles, sure...your win, but outside that, the Genesis got outclassed not just by that but a year older tech with the 8/16bit hybrid TG16(PCE) too which is all things considered, pathetic.

 

You're right about Sonic, and you know Nintendo did have a few speed demon titles too that went under the radar on the whole, or in pieces.  Try (funny to say this as it's dogged for lag) Gradius III specifically on the speed tunnel stage on hard (or button coded in) arcade mode, it's insane, and it kept up better than Sonic did which you pointed out where the screen didn't keep up.  The Road Runner title on SNES that was early too also blew along at a fast pace that people claim the hardware would start smoking over too.

 

Either way like you I like it when things as you said move more sensibly, speed works, but it shouldn't be your selling point.  Creative use of those old chips could work wonders, look what SNK did comparing like Magician Lord to Metal Slug, or Samurai Shodown 1 to 5 Perfect at the end, it's insane...no special chips either, just smart work.

 

You are correct, Victor Viella(sp?) has proven decades of lies and half truths really were.  I know what you're talking about with the speed hacks.  He can't recode the game itself but he did find ways to patch the games to read a better faster chip do roast those slowdowns alive, Gradius III is one, using the SA1 as a crutch to make up for un-optimized badly coded Konami work to rush it out for Christmas of 1991.  That game runs smooth a butter patched, quite a few do, and the comments on dev spaces point to bad coding, not slow processor, but because of that and not having the actual source you have to get creative using another chip as a crutch to get the slack out of the garbage to run right.

 

Another example of coding booboos, the mother of them lately, Doom on SNES.  Did you see the story from Randy Linden?  Some other person recently figured out had he (he released his source) change like one byte or line of code in the game to use one method stock standard to the SNES vs the other, he would have DOUBLED the FPS of that game from running 20-25FPS up to a nearly rock solid 50FPS, which in practice would have made Doom PAL-SNES run at full speed astonishingly.  Randy was surprised, checked it, recompiled his code and flashed a kit and sure enough -- boom, smooth DOOM.  I hope someone, Randy, that other dude whoever he was, releases this fix as I'd love to see how that game would run natively optimized at twice the frame rate as it's fun despite what people dump on it for. :)

Just to clarify something: I think it's actually going from 12 fps to 25 fps with Doom, which is technically as fast as it could run on PAL because it's running via some method that only displays every second frame, at least based on how I interpreted what he said: 

 

But 25 fps for Doom on a 16-bit consoles is stilly hugely impressive. I mean, we still have [AAA] games on consoles in modern times that run at 30fps, and everyone seems to be entirely cool with that, so it's all good. 30 fps, or 25 fps by PAL 16-bit standards, is beyond solid for a 3D game on any of these classic consoles. I would be extremely happy to see and indeed play Doom on SNES running at 25 fps.

 

And, just to add, it's achieved here via another novel use of HDMA that allows the off-loading some work from the FX chip directly to the SNES, which is something that even the actual programmer of SNES Doom didn't figure out to use back in the day, which, to me at least, shows this console still has a whole load of untapped potential.

 

Also, if we're talking about games on SNES that move as fast as Sonic, here's a few good examples for you: 

 

 

 

 

It's just plain false when certain SNES haters [and even some SNES fans] say the system is "slow", be it in terms of frame rate or slowdown. I mean, in terms of frame rate, it can do a max of 60 fps just like Genesis, PC Engine, Neo Geo, etc, and, as long as a game is designed and programmed properly on the SNES, it can run at that speed consistently. In terms of slowdown, we know you have to be a bit more careful to avoid it on SNES, but it's clear that most of the notorious examples people talk about are typically a symptom of a combination of the cheap-ass publishers using SlowROM cartridges that artificially throttle the system to 2.68 MHz, which is 75% of its 3.58 MHz full speed, as well as just badly optimized code too. And, like you said, when you see the difference between Gradius III running in SlowROM and then FastROM, it's just night and day. It even runs better than the arcade original:

 

 

And that's the kind of thing I'm try to make more people aware of, as I think we've seen the rise of a false narrative in modern times that really diminishes both what the SNES is truly capable of and indeed what it achieved back in the day, both in terms of impressive games but also even stuff like relative sales and so on.

 

I'm just happy to find some people like you and Bloodreign who are on the same page.

Edited by Kirk_Johnston
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@Kirk_Johnston It is, you have it right, I know the video have watched it twice, double checked it when I was posting.  Internally yes at 25fps, but due to the way it pops the data out for a user experience the FPS you'll experience in crude terms is double, which is why Randy pointed out using that fix a PAL system would get the full experience.  Even back in the day 25fps would be a stretch for most Doom players anyone on a 386 and on starter 486sx style machines too.  So in a screwball way, comparable performance.

 

I looked and looked, so far that guy who figured it out and tipped off Randy with the question hasn't done it, Randy hasn't done it, I hope SOMEONE changes that line of code I want to patch my ROM and throw it on my SD2SNES to feel the difference from my legit cart

 

Also tempted to get a cheap Japanese copy and stuff it in my US shell, the full game still is in english either way and at least yo can play whatever episode you want immediately at any difficulty.

 

And yes you're right that's why I pointed out Gradius III and after hitting enter I had forgot but didn't care to edit, the arcade game was chug happy as bad if not worse than the SNES in places, it's a known fact to the few who brave that evil game, most evil in the franchise for obscene difficulty.  SNES you can unlock it with arcade mode, but by default even hard is like 2/3 as nasty (normal 1/2) as the original.  IT's a fun game, not sure I'd say fair in enough places, but you earn that W on Gradius III.

 

 

The reason I'm on the same page, but more selective,  you do go a bit nuts, but it's fun to read.  Showing my age here, but I got the day one release of the console and at the time I was 14.  I was old enough not to get suckered into the console war, acting like a baby about it, and I was smart enough to read NP and also EGM at the time to get a spectrum of info, which carried into the BBS stuff, then online in college in 1995.  I was there with the dawn of emulation of the Nintendo systems, Sega, pre-Mame single arcade, Gameboy, etc.  I had made friends being a seedy channel op of #emu on efnet in the day, and ran with the bot farm there too.  I used to hack headers for NES games with a friend who dumped the data to get 100s of those NES roms out there you enjoy, even did a few one offs later on myself due to an early kit for GBC and GBA too.  In that stretch of the 90s I had friends who coded through irc, I was on the SNES96 then SNES9X sound release group of beta testers, I was on the team that got FF5 into english for SNES, used to hack Japanese emulators like Pasofami into english for people in the US, the list goes on...needless to say, it's the past, seedy shady shit at times too.  Because of these factors I used to do a lot of comparative play on real carts next to the PC and documented issues, watched the debug code execute and if something was off note what was there, gave feature suggestions, etc.  So yeah, when I see some shit peddler dunking on the SNES when I was how rough it was for the competition too, I get annoyed, because I know it's factual bullshit raking the SNES over the coals over it being so called slow.  Slow is variable and figurative, just because it's a 3.X mhz processor doesn't mean IT causes the slows, bad code, unoptimized code, using cheap ass LoROM vs HiROM carts, pushing things too far despite knowing better were the cause among others.  Genesis had its issues too, you can find some whoppers that rival Gradius III in slow down, sprite break up, you name it, that speedy console was not immune to dunce level mistakes either.

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