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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 4:08 pm 
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I've heard that some games still had frames removed from them due to RAM limitations. Would this problem been avoided if they used real time compression? Were the games so big that they didn't fit even with real time compression, or were the CPUs not fast enough?


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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 6:46 pm 
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Yes, ports of arcade fighting games to 16- and 32-bit consoles had frames removed due to ROM and RAM limits. Some fighting games would also freeze when loading the new moveset of a transforming character, such as Shang Tsung in the Sega CD version of Mortal Kombat. The TurboGrafx-16, Saturn, and Nintendo 64 had plug-in RAM cartridges (Arcade Card, Extended RAM Cartridge, and Expansion Pak); the PlayStation did not, meaning Saturn was often the platform of choice for 2D fighters.

Real-time compression had a huge space/speed tradeoff. The first Sonic the Hedgehog game for Genesis used a fairly CPU-intensive Huffman codec for tile data analyzed by "Nemesis". Sonic 3 with its bigger ROM could afford to use a faster LZ77 codec analyzed by Brett Kosinski. (Sonic 2 used a mix of Huffman and LZ77.) Huffman could feed 3 tiles per vblank to VRAM, while LZ77 could feed dozens of tiles, allowing for smoother transitions between tile sets within a level.


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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 6:48 pm 
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You'd need to be specific. Generally speaking, Capcom CPS2 games could have up to 32 Megabytes of graphics (4bpp). NeoGeo MVS games could have up to 64 Megabytes of graphics (also 4bpp). The PS1 had 1MB of VRAM and 2MB of main RAM. This doesn't even come close to being enough. The Sega Saturn has about the same.

The Sega Saturn had two different RAM expansion cartridges. One added another 1 megabyte of RAM. A later cartridge added 4 megabytes. By comparison, the NeoGeo CD had a combined 7 megabytes of memory and even it wasn't enough for the late released games.

The Sega Saturn achieved better results (more animation) thanks to the RAM expansion in games like Metal Slug. If you compare Metal Slug from PS1 to Saturn, the Saturn version looks much more fluid. However if you looked very closely it's certainly possible that compared to the original or NeoGeo CD versions that it still has some frames of animation cut.

If you compare Saturn and PS1 on some CPS2 titles, Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter is a great example. On PS1, the lack of memory was so bad that the gameplay is altered so that it is no longer a tag team game. Originally you can switch between both characters at any time. That means during a match the system needs to have loaded 4 different characters complete set of sprites. So since this definitely wasn't happening on the PS1, the tag team style was dropped.

Back to the Saturn, with its 4 megabyte RAM expansion the game is totally intact and very close to the arcade. I'm not certain if there is any animation cut from the Saturn version. I have both the arcade and saturn versions and they look pretty much the same.

So if that tells you anything, these arcade games of the time used lots and lots of memory for amazing graphics. Meanwhile consoles were focused on 3D graphics and didn't have anywhere near enough memory for the kind of 2D animation in these games. The PS1 never got a RAM expansion. The Saturn did in Japan and it benefited alot by getting high quality ports.

I don't think either system could have dealt with real time cpu driven decompression. I guess it might have been possible, but there still probably wasn't enough memory. Maybe if they had a bit more memory and hardware supported texture compression.


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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 7:19 pm 
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In the 80s/90s, games written for systems that didn't have blitter/sprite capabilities and had to do all rendering in software often had both memory savings and speed improvement by RLE compression. It was especially effective for skipping masked areas of sprites. It was most effective for chained VGA, I think, but it could be used with planar graphics as well.

When your rendering is being done entirely or mostly by hardware, rather than software, though, you don't usually have much choice when it comes to compression. Most GPUs today support DXT compression, for example, which reduces 4x4 pixel blocks of an image to interpolations of two colours. It's not appropriate for all kinds of assets, but it's good enough for moderate memory savings in a lot of cases.


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 8:53 am 
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Was the N64 any better with arcade ports?


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 10:44 am 
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Only a handful of Nintendo 64 Game Paks were bigger than 256 Mbit. Neo Geo games with the "Giga Power" intro exceeded this.


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 11:57 am 
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Adding to what Tepples said, the average N64 cart was dwarfed by the average NeoGeo cartridge of the time, and even CPS2 games were larger than almost all N64 cartridges memory capacity.

I'm not sure how well suited the N64 is for an intensive 2D game like Metal Slug. I suppose it could have done it, but there is not much existing software to give a hint as to how the N64 might have performed.


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 12:15 pm 
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GBA had Game Paks about as big as N64's, and Metal Slug was ported to GBA.


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 11:34 pm 
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Metal Slug on GBA is not a port. It's a new game for the GBA. And certainly not on the level of quality as the original.

But more importantly.. In 1997, the year Metal Slug was ported to PS1 and Saturn, N64 cartridges were very expensive and not terribly big in capacity. Goldeneye from 1997 was only 8 megabytes. Metal Slug had 16 megabytes of just graphics ROM data. Add about another 10 megabytes of data for sound samples and program code/data. It's somewhere around 26 megabytes of data. Maybe compression could have been used to make it workable.

But if storage hadn't been a problem, could the N64 keep up with the demands from a NeoGeo port? There really isn't anything close to a NeoGeo 2D game on the N64. But ofcourse since 3D was what everyone was going for then we don't know. The only 2D games I can think of on N64 are MK Trilogy and that MK Mythologies:Sub-Zero.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:19 am 
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2D N64 games I know:

Mishief Makers
Rampage World Tour
Wonder Project J2

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Ruling the World One Bean™ at a Time...


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:35 am 
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MottZilla wrote:
The only 2D games I can think of on N64 are MK Trilogy and that MK Mythologies:Sub-Zero.

JQM beat me to Mischief Makers, but add The New Tetris and Pokemon Puzzle League.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 8:46 am 
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I think after being reminded of some and seeing some other examples that the N64 probably could have handled it if it had enough memory for all the data. But we'll never see it anyway.

It gets back to the main topic that consoles didn't have the memory needed for many of the arcade games at the time. N64 is just a bit different since it could have in theory had the memory for it by the end of its life cycle. But at the time of porting it probably wouldn't have.


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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2014 9:38 am 
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Jedi QuestMaster wrote:


The port of Puyo Puyo Sun for N64 is... okay. Of course, the Saturn version of both that and Radiant Silvergun are perfect for obvious reasons (they ran on STV hardware, which is more or less a Saturn in the arcade). Interestingly both titles appear to synthesize the audio in real time using the Saturn's under-used audio hardware. It helps load times tremendously.


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