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

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

Post by Gilbert » Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:43 am

Nikku4211 wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:40 am
So it'd be an add-on to the TG16, or its own console?
A full console.

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

Post by tepples » Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:42 pm

Analogue Duo is a clone of the TurboDuo, with a HuCard slot for PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 and SuperGrafx games and a CD-ROM drive for CD-ROM², Super CD-ROM², and Arcade Card games.

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

Post by Nikku4211 » Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:46 pm

Gilbert wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:43 am
Nikku4211 wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:40 am
So it'd be an add-on to the TG16, or its own console?
A full console.
tepples wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:42 pm
Analogue Duo is a clone of the TurboDuo, with a HuCard slot for PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 and SuperGrafx games and a CD-ROM drive for CD-ROM², Super CD-ROM², and Arcade Card games.
Oh, I see. Yeah, I'm not a fan of FPGA clones. I mean, if I was going to get a console that emulates the TurboDuo as a whole, FPGA or software, I might as well just use a TurboGrafx-16 CD emulator on my Wii U to play it on a TV.
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by turboxray » Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:36 pm

Nikku4211 wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:46 pm
Gilbert wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:43 am
Nikku4211 wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:40 am
So it'd be an add-on to the TG16, or its own console?
A full console.
tepples wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:42 pm
Analogue Duo is a clone of the TurboDuo, with a HuCard slot for PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 and SuperGrafx games and a CD-ROM drive for CD-ROM², Super CD-ROM², and Arcade Card games.
Oh, I see. Yeah, I'm not a fan of FPGA clones. I mean, if I was going to get a console that emulates the TurboDuo as a whole, FPGA or software, I might as well just use a TurboGrafx-16 CD emulator on my Wii U to play it on a TV.
If you like sub-par emulation, sure. MisTer currently has the most accurate PCE emulation, including recently dumped colors from the internal YUV table of the VCE. The 2nd most accurate one would be mednafen for PC/Mac/Linux.


OP: PCE games sorta pushed the hardware at the initial start (Rtype port was incredible for 1988), but developers sort of stopped. Developers sorta starting treating the PCE as 'nes with knobs' for the most part - keeping that cute-sy pseudo 8bit aesthetic to their games.. especially hucards. Reasons why hucard games look less colorful than Genesis games, despite having 8x the number of capable colors on screen, is most developers just used 3bit graphics for tiles and sprites because it was easy and fast to decompress. 7 colors per 'cell' puts it on par to what most genesis games were doing (to get more out of its restricted 4 sub palettes). Even on top of that, most games are really wasteful the 32 subpalettes. With 3bit cells, you can divide the 32 (15 color) sub palettes into 64 (7 color) sub palettes. But what did developers typically do? Use about 4-6 (7 colors) for BG and 4-6 (7 colors) for sprites. Even with CD games, where games tended to load all graphics into vram because CDRAM was very restricted, developers would typically use the same 4-6 BG/4-6 SPR layout - albeit 15 colors. And you'd probably think wow that's a step up.. but it isn't enough. See, having a single BG layer means you're going to have some more overlap of tile transitions. So you'll probably need on average about 4-5 more than you would on average for a 2 BG layer system.. unless everything is completely aligned to that 8bit tile grid look. So CD games should have been using around 10-14 subpalettes for that more updated 16bit look (albeit single plane). The point of all of this, is that artists rarely pushed color/graphics on the PCE (hucard or CD). There are some exceptions, sure, but most games do NOT use all the subpalettes. Heck, most games only use about 70% of vram. A lot of games will only use 512 8x8 tiles, even though there is no such restriction in vram and definitely there's room in vram for quite a bit more. Honestly, I think it comes down to the bar just not being high enough for competing developers. On the SNES, release games were optimizing color right out of the gate. And I'm absolutely sure a Genesis developer would have loved 32 subpalettes instead of 4. 512 colors might not seem like much compared to 32k, but take any arcade game in the late 80's and early 90's, and simply reduce the colors to 9bit (posterize to level 8), and you'll see results that rival SNES games (and surpass them). So don't write off the 512 color palette as the issue, write off the artists.

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Nikku4211
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by Nikku4211 » Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:05 pm

turboxray wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 9:36 pm
Nikku4211 wrote:
Sat Dec 05, 2020 1:46 pm
Oh, I see. Yeah, I'm not a fan of FPGA clones. I mean, if I was going to get a console that emulates the TurboDuo as a whole, FPGA or software, I might as well just use a TurboGrafx-16 CD emulator on my Wii U to play it on a TV.
If you like sub-par emulation, sure. MisTer currently has the most accurate PCE emulation, including recently dumped colors from the internal YUV table of the VCE. The 2nd most accurate one would be mednafen for PC/Mac/Linux.
I don't like emulation at all, actually, which is why I don't like FPGA clones.
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by MottZilla » Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:59 am

It would depend on your definition of emulation, but FPGA implementations of consoles are often not considered emulation. Emulation is generally in reference to software interpreter programs, such as MAME, BSNES, Nestopia, etc. But if you just go with the definition of emulate then yes a FPGA is trying to imitate. But how these are achieved are much different between software emulators and FPGA devices.

Why don't you like "FPGA clones"? I personally prefer to use the original hardware whenever possible. But we will reach a point in the future where the most accessible devices that are still working will be those using FPGAs. Unless someone starts manufacturing new silicon for these obsolete and custom parts.

The Analogue DUO is a great option considering the cost of importing a PC-Engine CD-ROM system. Especially if you want to get better than Composite video out of it. With the Analogue system you'll be able to use their DAC to get S-Video, Component, or RGB. With the original system that will raise the price getting a good mod. If you are using a HDMI display then it saves you issues with Analog to Digital video too. Assuming you could get one for the listed price it's a steal of a deal.

If you aren't interested in collecting original HuCards and CD-ROMs then a better investment would be the MiSTer project given the vast number of systems you could run with the same hardware. It's not as pretty looking but it's very capable.

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

Post by Nikku4211 » Wed Dec 16, 2020 3:06 am

MottZilla wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:59 am
It would depend on your definition of emulation, but FPGA implementations of consoles are often not considered emulation. Emulation is generally in reference to software interpreter programs, such as MAME, BSNES, Nestopia, etc. But if you just go with the definition of emulate then yes a FPGA is trying to imitate. But how these are achieved are much different between software emulators and FPGA devices.

Why don't you like "FPGA clones"? I personally prefer to use the original hardware whenever possible.
The main reason is accuracy. I've heard that FPGA clones can have just as much inaccuracy as traditional software emulation.

I care about accuracy because while the small amount of games that may not work that well on emulators but work on real hardware might be obscure, I'm precisely interested in obscure games like those, and I like trying games I've never heard of.

I'm also very interested in the demoscene, which also frequently breaks emulators due to the nature of certain tricks.

I get that the amount of original hardware is finite and will run out in the future, but then again, traditional software emulation that doesn't require purchasing anything might be 'good enough' for most other people.

My life is also finite and will run out in the near future, too, so I'd only think within my potential time span.

And yeah, I'm not interested in collecting games, which is why I'll always look for flashcarts or some way to be able to use burned CD-Rs.
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by tepples » Wed Dec 16, 2020 8:24 am

MottZilla wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:59 am
It would depend on your definition of emulation, but FPGA implementations of consoles are often not considered emulation.
FPGA clones use emulation on a highly-parallel platform. Its biggest plus over an emulator on a conventional computer is that it can guarantee latency in the tens of nanoseconds rather than the milliseconds. This works better for twitch games, and it lets a console use authentic cartridges without having to dump them first and authentic input devices not individually anticipated by the clone manufacturer. See previous topic "Latency challenge of conventional emulation compared to FPGA" from 6 weeks ago.
MottZilla wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:59 am
Why don't you like "FPGA clones"? I personally prefer to use the original hardware whenever possible.
FPGA clones raise the possibility that a program tested exclusively on FPGA clones will inadvertently fail to work on authentic hardware. The Genesis scene has it even worse: Sega made drastic revisions affecting unspecified parts of the system, and some homebrew games sold on cartridge ended up depending on these and therefore not working on authentic consoles from early (Mega Drive model 1 pre-VA3 or so) or late (Genesis model 3 VA2) revisions.
MottZilla wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 2:59 am
The Analogue DUO is a great option considering the cost of importing a PC-Engine CD-ROM system. [...] Assuming you could get one for the listed price
I think some of the hate toward Analogue lately comes from that assumption looking less and less reasonable over time, particularly with preorders of maybe a year's worth of production of Analogue Pocket systems selling out in less than an hour.

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

Post by Pokun » Thu Dec 17, 2020 8:40 am

Yeah FPGA implementations of consoles looks very promising, and I do hope that one day the differences between authentic and open source FPGA clones such as MiSTER will become equally or more negligible than the differences between two close revisions of the same authentic console. So far that doesn't seem to be the case though, and I also prefer real hardware whenever possible (including using flashcartridges).

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

Post by Nikku4211 » Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:36 pm

Oh yeah, and buying the original hardware as well as a flashcart and accessories can be seen as preserving them, since once you buy them and put them in your collection, they're yours during your entire existence.

It saves them from being destroyed in a landfill, at least.

When you die and you have preserved your consoles and accessories and flashcarts for them, you'll give future archaeologists some material.

Yes, now imagine an Indiana Jones style tomb with tonnes of traps and all that just to protect some old video game consoles and their accessories and their flashcarts. You'd probably need to do it in your lifetime too, considering how expensive they can get lol.
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Re: Why did PC Engine/Turbografx 16 games use so few colors?

Post by turboxray » Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:39 am

Nikku4211 wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:36 pm
.. style tomb with tonnes of traps and..
Does it really need to be metric??

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