Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Discussion of development of software for any "obsolete" computer or video game system.
Ronian53
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Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Ronian53 » Thu Dec 03, 2020 2:52 am

When you look at the specs of the PC Engine the colors are much better than even the SNES. But in the games, most of them look like a Sega Genesis/MD game, and use fewer than 100 colors. Why is this?

93143
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by 93143 » Thu Dec 03, 2020 4:52 am

Ronian53 wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 2:52 am
When you look at the specs of the PC Engine the colors are much better than even the SNES.
Not really. The PC Engine has a larger palette memory, so it can handle more 4bpp palettes than the SNES. But there's no 8bpp mode, no colour math and only one BG layer, and the master palette is 9-bit RGB instead of 15-bit (meaning smooth gradients and subtle differences of shade aren't really possible).

So fundamentally, you're just picking 15-colour palettes out of the same master palette the Mega Drive uses. The only difference is that you can have more of them at a time. This certainly helps - colouring a green fireball gray because you ran out of CRAM is not something you should ever have to do on PC Engine - but unless you're going out of your way to make a game as colourful as possible, I don't see why it should result in radically different design tendencies.

Also, IIRC the PC Engine wasn't as much of a factor during the late stages of the 16-bit wars, so perhaps it missed out on the bulk of the mid-'90s hardware pushing...
Last edited by 93143 on Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Pokun » Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:17 am

Where are you looking? PC-Engine "only" uses 9-bit RGB, 512 colors total. 16 BG and 16 sprite palettes, each with 16 colors each (one unused) and allows 482 (240 background, 240 sprite, 1 backdrop, 1 border) colors/frame. Similar to Mega Drive but much more palettes. PC-Engine games generally look very colorful even compared to Mega Drive, but less colorful than the SNES powerhouse.

BTW Ronian you really like to start up random discussions don't you?


Ninja'd

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getafixx
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by getafixx » Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:16 am

Pokun wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 5:17 am
BTW Ronian you really like to start up random discussions don't you?
They start them, and then never comment in the threads they start. It's almost like karma farming techniques used in Reddit, but that doesn't work here...

calima
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by calima » Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:20 am

He's a newbie that found a community willing to answer any console question he has.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Pokun » Thu Dec 03, 2020 11:51 am

I mean it's fine to ask questions, and people are willing to discuss, trolling or not, but I think he should participate some more in his threads to show that he is at least interested in the answers.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by rainwarrior » Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:54 pm

93143 wrote:
Thu Dec 03, 2020 4:52 am
Also, IIRC the PC Engine wasn't as much of a factor during the late stages of the 16-bit wars, so perhaps it missed out on the bulk of the mid-'90s hardware pushing...
Assuming you don't want to throw away OP's question as a false premise, I'd say this is the biggest factor. SNES lasted the longest, Genesis less so, and TG16 disappeared from stores pretty quick around here.

I think there were a lot of great looking PCE games, but the vast majority of its library was just never released in North America.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Nikku4211 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:51 pm

rainwarrior wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:54 pm
Assuming you don't want to throw away OP's question as a false premise, I'd say this is the biggest factor. SNES lasted the longest, Genesis less so, and TG16 disappeared from stores pretty quick around here.

I think there were a lot of great looking PCE games, but the vast majority of its library was just never released in North America.
Underrated video on why.

Also, it seems so many of its games are also CDs, so when I got the TurboGrafx-16 back in 2020 summer, the low amount of HuCard games was a bummer.
I have an ASD, so empathy is not natural for me. If I hurt you, I apologise.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Pokun » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:39 pm

Yeah the TurboGrafx-16 might not be much, but the PC-Engine did perfectly fine in Japan, and that is what matters when talking about its library. It could compete somewhat well even in the 16-bit era thanks to its CD games (which can't be said about the failed Mega CD). PCE CD games were (and still are) cheap and full of animation and stuff, and could come as bonuses with magazines.

There are actually more CD games for the system than HuCard games, and the system was designed with CD in mind from the start (since NEC was pioneers with the CD format). This made it into a very powerful (but expensive initially) 8-bit system that was very good for arcade ports.

That said, the SFC won the 16-bit war in the end in Japan as well.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Nikku4211 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:47 pm

Pokun wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 5:39 pm
Yeah the TurboGrafx-16 might not be much, but the PC-Engine did perfectly fine in Japan, and that is what matters when talking about its library. It could compete somewhat well even in the 16-bit era thanks to its CD games (which can't be said about the failed Mega CD). PCE CD games were (and still are) cheap and full of animation and stuff, and could come as bonuses with magazines.
It's too bad the PC Engine CD add-on itself isn't cheap...

If you're not about to wait at least half a year for your import to ship...
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Pokun » Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:34 pm

Yes and unreliable. The plastic cogs tends to grind into dust and must be replaced, and capacitors are basically 100% chance to have failed in all CD drives if they haven't been replaced yet. This is true for all CD systems up to and including the Duo, but not the Duo-R and Duo-RX. If you want to experience the CD library, I seriously recommend getting a Duo-R or Duo-RX instead of a separate CD drive. Those two also has a less picky CD drive that accepts CD-R discs which is useful if you want to make homebrew. I use a Duo-R myself.

I wrote a PC-Engine mini-software-and-hardware-guide here.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Nikku4211 » Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:00 pm

Pokun wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:34 pm
Yes and unreliable. The plastic cogs tends to grind into dust and must be replaced, and capacitors are basically 100% chance to have failed in all CD drives if they haven't been replaced yet. This is true for all CD systems up to and including the Duo, but not the Duo-R and Duo-RX. If you want to experience the CD library, I seriously recommend getting a Duo-R or Duo-RX instead of a separate CD drive. Those two also has a less picky CD drive that accepts CD-R discs which is useful if you want to make homebrew. I use a Duo-R myself.
Okay, I'll try to find a Duo-R for a good price on eBay that is coming from a US seller. US sellers are the only people I get imports from.
Being limited to $200 and wasting a fifth of it on a mouse and a new PS1 sux. TwT
Pokun wrote:
Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:34 pm
I wrote a PC-Engine mini-software-and-hardware-guide here.
Nice guide m8. I'm downloading some of those HuCard games right now(well, the ROMs I can find online). Not the CD ones. At least, not yet.
I have an ASD, so empathy is not natural for me. If I hurt you, I apologise.

calima
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by calima » Sat Dec 05, 2020 2:09 am

Analogue is working on a FPGA PCE CD clone, available next year next batch. New electronics, new drive, may be cheaper than importing.

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by tepples » Sat Dec 05, 2020 6:47 am

One noticeable problem with Analogue lately is that it produces its products in such small batches that scalpers snap up more than bona fide users.

References:

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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Nikku4211 » Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:40 am

calima wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 2:09 am
Analogue is working on a FPGA PCE CD clone, available next year next batch. New electronics, new drive, may be cheaper than importing.
So it'd be an add-on to the TG16, or its own console?
tepples wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 6:47 am
One noticeable problem with Analogue lately is that it produces its products in such small batches that scalpers snap up more than bona fide users.

References:
Yeah, and my parents refuse to buy anything online that's not sold on eBay or Amazon, no matter the price.
I have an ASD, so empathy is not natural for me. If I hurt you, I apologise.

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