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Cadash: Genesis and TG-16 review

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:19 pm
by marurun
**corrected some resolution numbers**

I just finished beating both the Genesis and TG-16 versions of Cadash. I used the Fighter in both games because I wanted something like an even-keel comparison of the games.

If you're not familiar with Cadash, it's an older arcade game by Taito. It's side-scrolling, fantasy-themed, with RPG elements. In the arcade there's a timer going and if you run out of time you die, though you can buy hourglass time increases with gold or just pop in another quarter to increase the timer. You pick between the fighter, mage, ninja, and priest and sally forth to rescue the princess from the evil wizard. Along the way you fight monsters for experience and gold. Gold can be spent on items like herbs and antidotes and also on better weapons and armor. In the arcade 2 people can play together on one machine, or two machines can be networked and 4 players can play, 2 to a cab. On the same cab you have to be on the same screen, but if you're on a different cab you can be off screen or even on a different level altogether. So how to the home ports play out?

Both the Genesis and TG-16 versions of the game support 2 players. The Genesis, however, only has the fighter and the mage as available characters. The TG-16 version has all 4 characters available from the arcade: fighter, mage, ninja, priest. The lack of character options on the Genesis means playing 2 player is pretty rote. One player is the fighter and the other is the mage. 2 player mode on the TG-16 is a lot more fun due to there being so many more character combinations. Both aggressive? Fighter and Ninja. One aggressive and the other more thoughtful? Fighter or Ninja and Mage or Priest. Suicidal? Mage and Priest! The Genesis version plays a little closer to the arcade control-wise and the level layouts are a little closer to the arcade version as well. The TG-16 version has slightly more responsive and easier-to-deal-with controls. The level layouts vary a little in some areas and, though mostly similar to the arcade and the Genesis versions, the differences are enough that the game does feel a little different. The level changes match some of the graphical changes mentioned below. The Genesis version is also missing a mid-boss in one level and the Genesis and TG-16 versions both have very different last boss experiences. I'm not going to figure the last boss differences into who wins, though. Due to the lack of characters in the Genesis version and the better play control on the TG-16 version, the TG-16 gets a clear win here, especially for 2-player play.

Sound & Music
The Genesis sounds more like the arcade original in the music department largely by virtue of having a few FM synth channels available. The arcade used FM synth in the music, so this is a close match. The TG-16 doesn't use FM synth and so approximates using chip sound. In places the TG-16 tracks sound better, even though not as much like the arcade. In other places the Genesis clearly sounds better. It depends largely on the tune. The sound effects in the TG-16 version sound better than the Genesis sound effects, though neither is particularly awe inspiring. I'm going to give the Genesis a narrow win for the arcade-like FM synth, but this category is relatively close.

The Genesis version is in 320x240, the standard resolution for most Genesis games. The size and style of the character and enemy sprites and the level graphics and backgrounds are relatively close to the arcade version except that, in true Genesis fashion, the color counts are dismal. The fighter is tall and lanky like in the arcade, but he looks a little like a zombie due to low color count and odd coloration choices. Levels flow pretty well without much of a "tiled" look, and true to the arcade there's usually an independently scrolling backplane. This is nothing special for the Genesis. Overall a decent arcade port, but damn those low color counts are painful. Not the best programming job from the graphics department.

The TG-16 version is very different graphically. The game uses the TG-16's standard 256x240 resolution (also standard resolution for most SNES games, BTW) and thus most of the character and enemy sprites have been redrawn to be smaller. The levels have also been redone with a different graphical feel. There are more "tile-based" graphics and level elements flow a little less naturally than in the arcade and Genesis versions. The TG-16 makes up for this by majorly upping the color count for, well, everything. The game is lighter and more colorful everywhere. So while the Genesis sprites match the arcade sprites in pixels the low colors make them look low in detail. On the flip side, the TG-16 sprites are smaller in pixel count but the redone sprites and the higher color counts actually make most of the TG-16 character and enemy sprites look more detailed than their Genesis counterparts. The level designs have been, in some places compacted, in other cases redone slightly, in order to accommodate the smaller screen resolution and smaller sprites. So some levels feel a little more compact visually even though they play largely the same. The TG-16 version also lacks the independently scrolling backplane, though there are some areas where there appears to be no good technical reason for this. In a couple places it seems certain elements were changed to reduce the sprite load on the TG-16, even though the game never comes close to pushing the sprite limit. There are some distinct areas where the TG-16 features not simply redone but unequivocally better graphics. There are some statues in the game which swing spiked balls on chains, and in the TG-16 version the statues are much larger and more detailed, and the swinging of the balls on the chains is much more fluid than on the Genesis.

This is a win for both. For arcade purists the Genesis version is a win. For just plain visual appeal I prefer the TG-16 version. It simply is easier on the eyes thanks to much better use of color and much higher color counts. Also, the redone sprites, though smaller, appear to be much more detailed in many cases.

In both home versions you set out to rescue the princess. There are minor level variations, making it harder in the TG-16 version to skip one of the levels and get more advanced gear ahead of schedule. The last boss is a little different between the two versions. The Genesis version lacks 2 of the 4 playable characters and a midboss but is overall more arcade accurate. If you have the liberty I encourage you to play both, but if you are, say, emulating and only want to play one, I have to recommend the TG-16 version. It's just a bit easier to deal with all around. Both games are lots of fun, though, and easy to beat quickly if you pick on on some of the game's tricks early. Be careful, though. In the Genesis version you have several lives/continues. In the TG-16 version you have to use a code to continue. This can be hard on new players because if you die and you don't know the code, you stay dead. If you play 2-player you can revive your cohort at an inn, though, as long as one of you survives. In the Genesis version you are limited to carrying 4 each of items like herbs and antidotes. In the TG-16 version you can carry either 6 or 7 each, though you can't pull up your character stats, gold, experience, and items like you can on the Genesis version, meaning you have to guess when you are close to a level up or to having enough money for that expensive weapon. The Genesis version might thus be a little easier for total newbies to Cadash, though if you can take the rougher start on the TG-16 version I think you'll get more out of it.

For new players I recommend either the Fighter (both versions) or the Ninja (TG-16 only). For players who want a little more challenge I recommend the Mage (both versions). For players who have a little Cadash experience and want to dabble in magic but aren't comfortable enough to try the Mage, I recommend the Priest (TG-16 only). Some would argue the priest is actually the most powerful character because she has shield magic that can protect her from harm and a very long range weapon. The US version of the TG-16 game, translated by Working Designs, actually has some of the characters stats adjusted a little to make the Priest less overpowering compared to the Japanese version, though she's still a strong character. They didn't make the Priest weaker, but rather adjusted the other characters up a little. In all versions of the game the Mage advances in level the quickest due to the character being difficult to use (though spells are hell on bosses). The Fighter is the next quickest to level. On the TG-16 version the Priest is next fastest to level, and the Ninja is the slowest character to level, in part due to having the longest range attack and the highest natural defense (before armor). The Fighter levels quickly because, even though he's powerful, a lot of that power is dependent upon being in the enemy's face with your sword and on buying lots of weapon and armor upgrades, making the Fighter also the most expensive character.

I recommend Cadash to most takers. It's a short game that easy to beat once you've got the feel for it, though it can be daunting to new players. Whichever version you play will have high points, either a more organic level design and more similarity with the arcade or better colors and detail at the expense of varying more from the arcade version. Take your pick, you won't go wrong with either version.

The following comparison images are borrowed from Awack's posts in a discussion thread from The thread has more images and more discussion that I've offered here. Genesis version is first and TG-16 version is second. Note that on a TV (or in stretched mode on an emulator) the Genesis and TG-16 images will actually appear to take up the same size and space on screen, because the TG-16's 256x240 is stretched to 4x3. This is why most TG-16 games and SNES games look fine 4x3 on a TV but are perfectly square emulated. Only the Genesis displayed most games in 320x240. The SNES and TG-16 were capable of 320x240 (R-Type used that mode on the TG-16) but rarely used it.

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Re: Cadash: Genesis and TG-16 review

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:23 pm
by Zork
For some reason you seem to review games that I'm always curious about on the Genesis but there just aren't enough reviews of to make a good judgment call on without it feeling cheap due to lack of info.

I'll admit that I did play this for a bit on an emulator and I did like it, but I actually forgot there was a TG-16 version. I still don't of a TG but I've been playing with the idea of getting one I'm not sure which version of the game I'd get...

Thumbs up btw! 8)

Re: Cadash: Genesis and TG-16 review

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:37 pm
by timewarpgamer
Damn, that was a very detailed and thorough review. Thanks so much for sharing it. I especially liked how you delved into the differences between the resolutions, pixels, and tiling. Personally, the TG-16 version made my greatest game list for the console, but its Genesis counterpart was nowhere in sight. In general, I found the graphical, musical, and gameplay differences to more of less balance out. The killer for me is the total absence of two characters in the Genesis version. Talk about hurting replay value and co-op possibilities! Pretty amazing that the TG-16 hardware gives the Genesis such a tight race.

Re: Cadash: Genesis and TG-16 review

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:55 pm
by sakicfan84
Nice review.

I absolutely used to love this game when I was younger. Played a whole lot of the Genesis titles back in the day, as I didn't get an SNES until right around the time the Saturn was getting ready to launch. Spent the whole 16 bit era playing the Genesis exclusively.

Re: Cadash: Genesis and TG-16 review

Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:04 pm
by marurun
I will admit that I'm a little biased. Back when I had a TG-CD rig Cadash was one of my early games, but I had played it briefly in the arcade before I owned it on the TG. I decided playing them emulated one right after another was probably a good way to try and get my head around the differences. Don't thank me for the pictures, though. I "borrowed" them from a fellow forum member on another forum and made sure to credit him for the shots. I should have been responsible and taken shots myself, but I always get lazy.

Zork, glad I keep hitting spots of interest for you. I'll keep trying, in my own, selfish way ;)

Timewarpgamer, believe it or not, the CPU power of the TG-16 is the equal of the Sega Genesis. The advantage the Genesis has is primarily of being a later hardware design with more graphics functions built into the hardware, like the multi-background scrolling. The TG-16 will always take the cake for colors, though. The other key difference is that Sega used a CPU architecture more familiar to arcade programmers whereas the TG-16 used a CPU design more familiar to NES and early PC programmers. Unlike the Sega CD, the TG-CD added no extra power to the base system, just a single ADPCM channel and redbook audio, so SCD and ACD games are great way to see what the system is "really" capable of. There might be a minor power advantage since the TG-16 CPU also doubles as the sound CPU and includes the sound capabilities, so by providing redbook soundtracks the CD add-on might inadvertently relieve the CPU of music duty. I think you'll find the graphics manipulation in many SCD games, however, definitely prove competitive with Sega Genesis games.

sakicfan84, similar situation here. I played a few early SNES titles at a friend's house but mostly spent the 16-bit era with my TG-16 and accessories (and imports). I didn't get a SNES and Genesis until years later, and I'm really glad I did get them because there's something to love on every system.