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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:04 am 
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If you look at the total units sold for given retro-consoles, the relative infrequency of PCE homebrew doesn't seem very suprising to me?

  • Game Boy: 118 million
  • NES: 62 million
  • SNES: 49 million
  • Genesis: 30 million
  • 2600: 30 million
  • SMS: 20 million?
  • Game Gear: 11 million
  • PCE: 6 million
  • Lynx: 3 million

* Very quick list cobbled together from vgchartz/wikipedia


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:09 am 
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Yeah, the infrequency of SNES homebrew is a lot more unsettling. But we already have an entire thread dedicated to that :P


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:08 am 
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Wasn't PCE sold mainly in Japan, being expensive and rare outside? Thus the devs and audience would be Japanese, and mostly unknown to us who don't speak moon runes.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:20 am 
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calima wrote:
Wasn't PCE sold mainly in Japan
Mainly, but USA and France weren't neglible markets either. It got in maybe a little too late on Spain and the UK (market introduction 1990), because it was discontinued internationally in 1993, and 1994 in japan (5 years of market life).

Had it had an earlier international release, it might've fared much better. But markets back in the day seemed to be pretty slow moving back then.

It might be worth to note that unlike Japan and the US, Europe was a patchwork of natinal markets at the time (i kind of imagine the rest of the world was like this, too, but i know too little). The spectrum didn't reach much at all outside the UK as Sinclair had no interest in that market, but aside purebred consoles like the NES and SMS, it was a turf war between amstrad, MSX, c64 (less dominant than in the US), and local offerings like ABC80/800. And on the east side of the iron curtain, home computers were mostly of the DIY variety and built out of discrete off-the-shelf components and virtually every game was homebrew/bedroom coded.


Despite the PCE having a very charming/attractive feature set right on a sweet spot between simplicity and wonder, i think MSX might actually have the upper hand as a potential homebrew platform. Besides getting an original unit, you can build a perfect MSX clone today. It's just that the price isn't very attractive for most people at this point (a bit like c65, i think? except c65 never saw an original release at all and has no original software as a result).

Anyway, it seems the NES, the spectrum (surprising as it is rare outside the UK, or maybe speccy homebrew gets extra attention because of retro gamer the magazine), and c64 are the most popular homebrew options. Then maybe Sega Mega Drive or Game Boy?

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:59 pm 
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Back on topic. I notice when people talk about designing a console, people tend to not like the idea of having multiple graphics modes like the SNES, but honestly, I think it was a good idea at the time because if every BG layer was 4bpp there would only be 2 layers of parallax with it's access speed of 5.37Mhz. I think a couple modes might need to be changed a bit though, such as making everything packed pixel.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:17 pm 
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Yeah, typically you don't need too many colours in the rearmost layer (if it depicts something distant), nor in a close-up layer if it's backlighted or "out of focus".

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 3:55 pm 
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Honestly, if Nintendo just used the best available components in everything, the NES would be SOOOO much better.

8 times faster processor.
8 channels of audio
1 palette per BG tile
32k RAM
256 color choices
Enough VRAM for 4 nametables.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:29 pm 
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And if the Genesis were as powerful as the Neo Geo, it would have been so much better. But the Genesis beat the Neo Geo AES by being a heck of a lot cheaper. Good enough sells. Worse is better.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:02 pm 
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dougeff wrote:
Honestly, if Nintendo just used the best available components in everything, the NES would be SOOOO much better.

8 times faster processor.
8 channels of audio
1 palette per BG tile
32k RAM
256 color choices
Enough VRAM for 4 nametables.


Pretty much all systems had to be under $200 back then.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:05 pm 
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psycopathicteen wrote:
Pretty much all systems had to be under $200 back then.

That corresponds to about $500 now, given inflation.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:26 pm 
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Yes, but we're talking about* a hypothetical retro system, with modern components.

I'm suggesting that if it functioned identical to my description of "if Nintendo had just used the top-of-the line parts"... it would feel like a super-charged NES.

Edit * at least we WERE talking about it, in June.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:41 pm 
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Well, we can design something like a console version of the GBA, but with a higher resolution and better sound chip.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:31 pm 
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psycopathicteen wrote:
better sound chip.

You mean a sound chip? :lol: Well, there always is the GB sound hardware, but it sounds jarring next to the GBA graphics. The resolution is horrible though; literally only half the pixels of 320x240, which I can't think of it being used by any 2D system, except the best designed 2D system ever made: the legendary Irem M92. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:19 am 
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Quote:
The resolution is horrible though; literally only half the pixels of 320x240


Exactly what I had in mind.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:36 am 
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I don't see the point of 320x240 on an NTSC console. Unlike an arcade monitor, the TV connected to a console isn't designed for easy width and height adjustment by the owner to match the picture width (in microseconds) and height (in scanlines) from a particular source. Instead, a TV is fixed at 52.148 microseconds wide and 240 lines per field tall, with a few percent on each side hidden by the bezel. So if you're keeping a square pixel aspect ratio, and you don't want to waste PPU cycles on making pixels the player will never see, you end up with a 6.14 MHz dot clock and 288x224 pixels, much like Namco arcade PCBs. Each scanline then contains 288 pixels, 32 pixels of side border, and 70 pixels of blanking. But this is still an improvement compared to the GBA's 240x160.

Like the Super NES S-PPU, a GBA clone PPU takes four master cycles to produce each dot. So to get square pixels, you'd need to feed it 270/11 = 24.545 MHz, which is 46% faster than the GBA's master clock. Then multiply this crystal by 7/48 to get the NTSC subcarrier frequency.

But the GBA uses the same nametable arrangement as the Super NES, with the map broken up into 32x32-tile (256x256-pixel) chunks. This makes a display 240 pixels wide is more convenient to program than something exceeding 256 pixels wide. A GBA text background on a 240-pixel-wide display can be set to single-screen mirroring without artifacts, while a background on a display 250 pixels wide or wider (such as that of the Nintendo DS, which extends the GBA PPU architecture) requires horizontal arrangement (vertical mirroring) with the nametable split into two halves.


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