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CD AGES
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Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!?

by CD AGES Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:31 am

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Released in 1995 by Capcom, my first exposure to the MARVEL SUPER HEROES coin-op was in early 97 via my local indoor flea market arcade. It was a fairly popular machine among pedestrians and rightfully so. The game further refined the popular mechanics of the Vs series formula that its predecessor established, the Infinity Gem subsystem was a wonderfully implemented feature, the overall source material was respectfully recreated and re-interpreted into one amazing fighting game. I feel it’s the most visually impressive, beautifully animated game ever to grace the CPS2 hardware... even more so than its successors as Capcom noticeably began to remove frames of animation here and there from the Marvel roster that populates one-half of Vs series (perhaps due to reaching the limitations of their proprietary hardware or simply just to keep the marvel character animations in line with the more humble frame count of the SF Alpha roster of sprites). MSH was one of the first games that really taught me the importance of competitive gaming solely on the principle that if I wanted to enjoy the single player campaign for longer than a minute in the arcade, I’d better be willing and able to defeat the random competition that’s inherent within this particular video game culture that is the arcade scene.
A year later, I was lucky enough to get a Playstation as a gift. Right then and there I knew that my first game for it had to be MSH! (It ended up being my 2nd game). While the game was nowhere near a perfect translation of the visually stellar arcade hit, it was MORE than adequate enough for me. I recall playing the game for hours upon hours at home, learning everything I could about the game and its intricacies, to then transfer all that acquired knowledge to the arcade where I can put it to use against real human competition via versus play. This alone made my PS1 purchase of MSH pay off in spades. This to me was one of THE MOST endearing and most cherished moments in video gaming.
Fast forward some years later, I became a proud owner of Sega’s mighty Saturn console (for whatever its shortcomings may have been, it’s an amazing console in its own regard). A console that (for the majority) did things considerably better than the PS1 was capable of within the realms of 2D sprites. For the longest time I’ve always read on the net and through publications about how my favorite fighter (MSH) was a better version on the Saturn platform... better than the PS1 version by a considerable amount. Wanting a more accurate version of this wonderful fighting game was something I needed to pursue. I eventually added this game to my humble Saturn library… but it came at a price (aside from the $40 I paid). That price was the startling revelation that the Saturn version was not a more precise port of the arcade, and thus, the game in many respects was NOT even a better translation than what was offered on competitive platform. I still remember my impressions of this version when I began playing it. I was pretty surprised at the long load times. The missing frames of animation that, while not in the amount missing on the PS1, was still quite considerable. But perhaps the most shocking thing to me was how much this version was plagued by slowdown, of which I never experienced on the PS1 version to such extent. The revelation did not end here although I wish it had. It appeared, to the words of many; to achieve a more precise more improved version would require a RAM cart to enable the game’s optional “3MB mode”. So I quickly popped in that wonderful 4 MB Action Replay all us Saturn owners know so well, waiting to play this improved version firsthand as I started up the game (MSH with 3MB mode ON). “What the F…!” That was really one of my first comments as soon as I began to play the game in this setup. Load times were now even longer than before, game speed was more inconsistent with each arcade mode opponent I fought and to top it off, none of those scenarios that created slowdown without the RAM cart enabled were alleviated… It’s STILL THERE now more than ever just waiting to throw off my extended combos and effectively halting my enjoyment of the game.
Why? Why is it then that through all I experienced firsthand in personally comparing these 2 ports for years now, there is so much material out there that contradicts my findings? I just don’t get it. What is it that makes others say that the Saturn version is the better port of the two when it’s just not true??? Is it ignorance among the game community? Lack of knowledge of the game perhaps? Is it a result of the stigma that the PS1 cannot stand toe to toe with the Saturn when 2D graphics are concerned, to such volumes that if any 2D fighter gets a release on both platforms, it’s automatically deduced that the Saturn version is the better without the a shadow of a doubt even if both games aren’t fairly compared side by side? I’m fully aware that just about the majority of 2D fighting game ports are superior on the Saturn. But there are still a handful of those games (for whatever reason) that perform better on the PS1.
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Let’s get to the heart of the matter and take a look at these observations I’ve taken from both versions of MSH…

1.On the Saturn, the music will stop for a few seconds and re-loop the track after extended rounds. PS1 does not suffer from this.

2.The overall picture on the Saturn is blown up making the characters appear larger on screen. I’ve noticed this trend on quite a few other Capcom fighters on the Saturn, although it’s worth noting that few of those games provide an option to revert the screen size back to it native size (sadly, MSH is not one of these games). PS1 version does not inherit this issue.

3.As a result of the issue just previously mentioned, by default the game’s HUD is altered from what is seen on both arcade and PS1 version. On the Saturn, the character portraits are position right below the life bars. There isn’t an option to have these portraits placed on their accurate location on the screen much like what you see in the arcade version. The best and only alternative available is to remove said portraits from the HUD entirely via a toggle switch found in the Options menu marked as “PANEL”. Once again the PS1 version does not suffer from this.

4.Perhaps one of the most ignored, yet glaringly obvious issue found in MSH on Saturn is how the Infinity Gem Shuffle command was delegated on the Saturn controller. In the arcade this command was mapped to the Start button. What this command does is rather simple yet significant (considering how the right gem activation can completely turn the tide of a match). It allows you to shuffle through the gems you’ve held onto during a match. Example: You have a Power Gem in stock and you’ve managed to grab a fallen Soul Gem during the fight… If it’s in your interest to want to activate Soul Gem to win the round, you have to place it in front of line by shuffling that Power Gem you were holding onto to the back of the line. On the Saturn this command performed by the simultaneous press of both shoulder buttons on the controller. This is a huge problem simply because it overlaps both 3xP and 3xK commands that are mapped to each of the shoulder buttons. The result, during an attempt to shuffle through your gems during a fight, you will almost always trigger an unwanted dash or the more likely a super jump command that 3xP and 3xK illicit respectively. What’s bad about this is that the command to shuffle gems cannot be configured to only a single button and to make matters worse, 3xP and 3xK cannot be disabled. The gem shuffle command is permanent to its corresponding button(s)! This really sucks! It’s so annoying to unwillingly dash forward or super jump when all you want is to simply shuffle to that desired gem to be able to activate it. From playing the Saturn version, the only tedious way I’ve found to get around this whole mess is to buffer the input during a special move or an attack (much like a guile player buffers his charge back command during a whiffed attack to prevent guile from retreating back and have his charge ready for a sonic boom). On the PS1, the command is adequately assigned to the select button with no overlapping of additional actions outside of a taunt command (exactly like the arcade).

5.Audio! There is a distinct difference in sound quality in each version of MSH. The music and particularly the character vocals and sound effects sound rather muffled on the Saturn. Consequently few audio effects for some strange reason are absent. One of these is the Wolverine level when the bridge is destroyed and falls onto the river. The splash audio effect is inexplicably absent. The same goes for the audio effect of the bridge falling down the waterfall alongside your defeated opponent after the end of the match. There is no proper audio effect like what is heard in the arcade. The PS1 version keeps these 2 effects intact while also sounding significantly better overall in the audio department. Additionally, the PS1 version also has a much appreciated volume adjusters in the Options menu for both music and effects (I’ve always noticed how other Capcom PS1 fighters have this feature over the same games on the Saturn).

6.Another welcoming option the PS1 version has over its competitor is a “Screen Adjust” option allowing proper adjustment of games picture across a variety of screen types and sizes. This option comes in particularly handy when playing the game on an official PSone LCD screen as everything displayed on that thing is always positioned slightly to the right of the LCD screen (anyone else noticed this on their PSone LCDs?).

7.Loading times. This one is a touchy subject because the Saturn has two distinct verdicts in this category but ultimately falls flat on its back in both cases. There are 3 Major loading screens throughout MSH… loading into a match/ loading out of a match/ loading out of the win quote screen. In all 3 screens, loading is longer on the Saturn than on PS1. If you play without 3MB MODE the differences between both versions is quite frankly, negligible but PS1 version is still faster than. If the game is played with 3MB MODE enabled, the load times get WAY longer! Prepare to endure some long loading screens if you plan to play the game with 3MB MODE on. One would think using the RAM CART would help with the games performance and alleviate load time. The truth of the matter is that it only compromises the quality and performance of the game significantly.

8.Graphics. The Saturn version of MSH has the upper hand over the PS1 version. To get more in depth let’s talk about the visuals with and without Ram Cart enabled. Without a Ram Cart the game does have plenty of frames of animation missing much like the PS1 version although the Saturn has a few additional frames over what is seen on the PS1 (you won’t notice them unless you really make an effort to look at stuff like this), this also includes smoother, additional frames of animation on the hit and collision sprites that appear from attacks. The more noticeable differences in visuals come from the backgrounds of the game. A lot of the more elaborate effects and additional touches that are seen in the arcade version remain on the Saturn for the most part while same cannot be said for the PS1 version. Some examples are the effects seen on the skull mountain to the left of the Blackheart level, the bones that fly off in real time on the huge skeleton seen on the Shuma Gorath level or the background being destroyed twice after Thanos performs his Power Gem Infinity Super on his respective level. With the Ram Cart enabled, the game regains a lot of frames of animation found in the arcade that was cut out. Unfortunately a lot of animation frames are still not restored to arcade accuracy especially on the larger characters. All in all this is the only category that the Saturn trumps the PS1 version… but it comes at a staggering price which leads me to the final category of the review…

9.Slowdown. Both versions suffer from slowdown, no bones about it, although both suffer from the problem quite differently. For the Saturn version, slowdown creeps its ugly head in more instances than the PS1 version. Where the Saturn is REALLY crippled by slowdown is from air combos being performed on the corner. The timing on your attack strings are thrown out the window as a result, it’s that bad! This in my opinion is what ultimately ruins the gameplay experience on the Saturn. This game is all about combos, particularly air combos. Capcom fighters are renowned for their responsive control inputs. In just about any fighting game, the most advantageous position to be in is when you’ve cornered your opponent to the wall. This game on the Saturn completely fucks up these conventions because of slowdown, to the point that these key fundamentals are severely compromised.
Take you basic Wolverine magic series air combo with your opponent in the corner (Ground launcher Standing HK, Super jump to catch up to your airborne opponent and perform his magic series chain air combo of LP,LK,MP,MK, and HP to end air combo). Do this same sequence in the arcade or on the PS1 version as it should feel about the same in terms of button timing and execution. Now do the exact combo sequence on the Saturn version in the corner. The slowdown is SO bad that your timing has to be readjusted to compensate for the slowdown that is affecting each attack sequence. On the Saturn, it feels as though you’re performing any corner air combos through an online match under the worst network conditions. And this only occurs when air combos are done in the corner! This will not occur when the same air combo is executed in the middle of the playfield where one of the 2 corners has yet to be reached by your victim creating much inconsistency. Why does the game suffer from such a bizarre problem? My theory… It’s due to collision sprites created from an opponent being slammed into the corner. As mentioned previously, the Saturn versions attack and collision sprite effects are well animated with little to no cut frames in their animation. The same effects on the PS1 are very clear cut and animate incredibly quick due to so many frames being omitted. But that’s just my theory on the problem. In any event these gameplay aspects in MSH superheroes are as a result of this awkward problem, terribly impractical and unreliable.
So you may be thinking, “Why not just avoid air combos near the corners?” You may as well not bother playing the game at all. In the arcade, Just about all major high end combos, almost every major touch of death combo for all characters in the game are performed via an elaborate juggle setup in the corner or a combo loop that ultimately leads to a corner. The way the Saturn version performs in these circumstances makes it hard to damn near impossible to perform these actions under such volatile conditions that the Saturn version brings to the table due to the game’s performance. I think this plays huge a role in why many Saturn owners don’t realize the issues that plague the port of MSH that they own. They perhaps play the game in the simplest; most casual manner possible, thus they are not playing the game correctly… that is to say the game isn’t being played to its full potential. Because if you were playing the game at the level where every facet of the games engine is being used, you will clearly see that the game is unsuitable to be played in such a manner on the Saturn. These issues (the ones primarily caused by the games slowdown) hinder the player to potentially recreate many of gameplay possibilities that are available in the arcade game. Doesn’t that make the Saturn version simply a flawed port of the arcade game? And if these issues are of a much higher magnitude than what is experienced on the PS1, then doesn’t that make the PS1 version the superior of the two?
It’s sad really. The true end result of MSH on Saturn is something of a missed opportunity. With proper development, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind the Saturn would be able to handle the game with arcade perfect ease (much like we saw with the successors of this game... Perhaps these successors benefited from the clear mistakes made in MSH). But the way this game was designed where the RAM Cart's use was nothing more than an afterthought leaves us with a product that ultimately strives to recreate the arcade experience as much as possible in an aesthetic sense at the cost of stable gameplay. With the PS1 version, you can see Capcom clearly worked within the limits of the hardware, making admirable sacrifices to deliver gameplay that is more in tune to the original arcade product at the cost of some visual flair (which ultimately does very little to the overall important aspects of the experience). With the latter version you also have the benefit in regards to playing the game on a variety of hardware (ol’ PS1, a PSone LCD setup, PS2, PS3). I recommend playing this wonderful version on a 9000X slim model PS2. You won’t regret it ;)
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Last edited by CD AGES on Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by SlyPeacH Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:44 am

The ps0ne does play the games amazingly, as you can see from my video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be7Q8NQ_ ... ure=g-hist
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by SpaceBooger Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:00 am

Great post, comparison and review.
To me most of the +/- you mention are outweighed by the controller in my opinion. I do not have an arcade stick for the PS1/2 and I prefer the Saturn controller for fighting games.
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Breetai
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by Breetai Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:01 am

SpaceBooger wrote:Great post, comparison and review.
To me most of the +/- you mention are outweighed by the controller in my opinion. I do not have an arcade stick for the PS1/2 and I prefer the Saturn controller for fighting games.

But for anyone serious about fighting games, you really ought to be using a good quality stick.

Anyway, this was quite the review. To be honest, I hadn't given the PS1 port any time much at all. Quite interesting... and shocking!
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by SpaceBooger Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:08 am

Breetai wrote:
SpaceBooger wrote:Great post, comparison and review.
To me most of the +/- you mention are outweighed by the controller in my opinion. I do not have an arcade stick for the PS1/2 and I prefer the Saturn controller for fighting games.

But for anyone serious about fighting games, you really ought to be using a good quality stick.

Anyway, this was quite the review. To be honest, I hadn't given the PS1 port any time much at all. Quite interesting... and shocking!

I agree and I play MSH and other arcade ports on my MAME Cab. I have a nice HotRod 2 player joystick.
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by d123456 Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:41 pm

Great review, I have played the PS1 version alot after it came out. Perhaps the loading times on the Saturn are longer, but make no mistake about it, the loading times on the ps1 version are way too looooooooooong. But a great game, but the loading times are so long you will not be playing this game very long. A shame really.

CD AGES wrote:I recommend playing this wonderful version on a 9000X slim model PS2. You won’t regret it ;)
Why? the ps2 will output this great 240p game in 480i! That not good for anybody. I´d say play on a ps1 with RGB scart cable or ps3 with hdmi upscaled to 1080p.


EDIT:
Can we expect more comparison reviews? You really know what is important in these games.
Optimizing PS2 games 480p (progressive) and 240p gsm hdtv
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=30389
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by AppleQueso Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:44 pm

d123456 wrote:
CD AGES wrote:I recommend playing this wonderful version on a 9000X slim model PS2. You won’t regret it ;)
Why? the ps2 will output this great 240p game in 480i! That not good for anybody. I´d say play on a ps1 with RGB scart cable or ps3 with hdmi upscaled to 1080p.

You can just use an RGB scart cable on the ps2. It'll output in 240p no problem... no clue where you got the idea that it'll force it into 480i...

Then there's the fact that you're apparently horrified by the idea of upscaling 240p to 480i, but are totally cool with upscaling it to 1080p...
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CD AGES
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by CD AGES Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:02 pm

But for anyone serious about fighting games, you really ought to be using a good quality stick.

Correct. Considering the commercial success of the Playstation platform(s), You have a wide variety of arcade sticks to choose from.

Can we expect more comparison reviews? You really know what is important in these games.

Perhaps, I will definitely consider it if there lies true interest among racket Boy members for such...

You can just use an RGB scart cable on the ps2. It'll output in 240p no problem... no clue where you got the idea that it'll force it into 480i...

Then there's the fact that you're apparently horrified by the idea of upscaling 240p to 480i, but are totally cool with upscaling it to 1080p...

Yeah, i was a bit confused with that comment myself.

Any who, Thanks to anyone who's taken the time to read my review as I know its a rather long one. I tried my best to shorten it, but the majority of what is addressed had to be stated.
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Breetai
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by Breetai Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:18 pm

CD AGES wrote:
Can we expect more comparison reviews? You really know what is important in these games.

Perhaps, I will definitely consider it if there lies true interest among racket Boy members for such...

I'm probably one of the few, but I would love to see a comparison of the three 32-bit versions Road Rash and The Need for Speed (3DO, Saturn, PS1).
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Re: Marvel Super Heroes SAT/PS1 Review... which is the best!

by d123456 Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:28 pm

AppleQueso wrote:
d123456 wrote:
CD AGES wrote:I recommend playing this wonderful version on a 9000X slim model PS2. You won’t regret it ;)
Why? the ps2 will output this great 240p game in 480i! That not good for anybody. I´d say play on a ps1 with RGB scart cable or ps3 with hdmi upscaled to 1080p.

You can just use an RGB scart cable on the ps2. It'll output in 240p no problem... no clue where you got the idea that it'll force it into 480i...

Then there's the fact that you're apparently horrified by the idea of upscaling 240p to 480i, but are totally cool with upscaling it to 1080p...

Yeah I just have that problem that on my tv it show 240p as 480i when using component, sorry.
But upscaling ps1 games on the ps3 looks excellent. I just hate interlacing, but upscaling is ok.
Optimizing PS2 games 480p (progressive) and 240p gsm hdtv
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=30389
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