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Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:44 pm
by Tanooki
Well I don't know I think they were, at least the SNES was. Everyone craps on it for that weak CPU and you can see where it started with some flicker and slowdown, to the very back end when people still had maybe a little slowing but no flicker with a lot going on screen, or even stable in some places. They had to start relying on third party chips inside the cartridges not part of the original design to eek even more. That was the wall there, and I really don't recall someone going beyond what someone had done already with the system other than the insane creation of the MSU-1 mapper to run Laser Disc games of all things.

Now on Genesis I had Zero Tolerance, and there was a sequel made that never made it out, it was multiplayer too. The developer has (had?) a solid page up about it maybe 2 years ago and even downloads for that stuff. They basically said that game for what they wanted to accomplish did push it to the extreme so you see where cuts were made to get it to work yet it did. I really did enjoy that game, it was a total gamble buy at a flea market at the time and no regrets at all. Duke Nukem is as intense and it was a legit but oddly Brazilian only title, and oddly Piko Interactive lately picked up the licensing and started to peddle it through their site as well. So that's another one people can take a peek at for pushing the limits.

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:34 pm
by PresidentLeever
Tanooki wrote:Pretty much, and as far as Mode7 went, Genesis did a software copycat of it essentially with that one game from Konami, The Adventures of Batman & Robin. You can see for yourself on youtube. Sega played it safe and smart going with commonly used stuff they had already for their arcade business, and due to arcades many game makers knew well too. The only shame to them was the lower amount of possible and screen displayed colors, and in most cases the audio was fairly halfassed tinny and metallic which confused me since arcade games using the same general Yamaha sound chip were much more rich and smoother. The Genesis definitely got pushed, pushed much more than I would think the SNES was.

What are you referring to regarding mode 7 there? This wasn't really done until an f-zero demo homebrew and pier solar's overworld afaik, and the B&R game was by Clockwork Tortoise and not Konami.

Like marurun said the arcade games had different sound setups, no game is quite comparable to the stock MD combo of YM2612+SN76489. But there are still ports that sound better on MD, like Vapor Trail, Slap Fight, Midnight Resistance and Two Crude Dudes. Which aren't the best games I know, but still.

Sega kinda screwed up by providing just the lacking GEMS sound driver to developers and not explaining some more advanced things you could do. Things like multiple samples playback and "special channel 3 mode", splitting channel 3 into 2-4 different voices (which lets you do bass and either percussion or basic chords on a single channel, or simulate chorus and echo on a single channel instrument which is actually a big deal). Using the latter was even discouraged in the documentation. Then there's the ssg-eg effect which can sort of simulate SNES reverb effects or be used for rudimentary speech synthesis. Of course it would still be tricky to make the console sound great, especially under the time constraints and using the tools back then.

Skitchin' and some later sports games made good use of multi pcm playback back in the day which is immediately noticeable in the music, but they don't really show off the rest of what you could do with the FM and PSG at a top tier level. This homebrew does a better job at that and even plays some decent sounding leads and sustained strings with samples:

Good SSG-EG example:
Good channel 3 mode example (also uses a bunch of modulation effects for more interesting instrument timbres, which were often ignored back then):

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:49 am
by Tanooki
Well off hand I was thinking of the mad hatter fight on Batman and Robin, the ground moves along kind of like mode 7 in and also out of the screen, bends, curves, scrolls right into the screen yet not all flat like f-zero but with elevation to it like Speed Racer did.

Castlevania in a way does something too of the sort, there is a stage which vertically scrolls and using some background trickery spins the entire stage left and right slowly some degrees off center.

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:54 am
by Anapan
As far as music goes, I'd say the team that worked with Tengen for that era - Hitoshi Sakimoto & Masaharu Iwata, (music/sound engine programmer and composer) did make full use of the Yamaha chips, IMO better than has been done since, despite them being very prevalent in other machines - keyboards and computers for many years before and after.
This composition is one of my favorites - it was made near the end of the genesis's life, for a big-name company and a top-tier licence. Check out the rest of the OST too. Amazing!
This took a team effort to make that Yamaha chip achieve those expressive tones. Nearly all american companies just verbatim transferred midis to generic tones built into the devkit.

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:47 am
by PresidentLeever
Yes I mentioned a couple of others they did above, though G4 is perhaps the best example overall. Several tracks use channel 3 mode and most use basic chord instruments where an instrument is split into two harmonies, as well as chorus effects via detuning and other stuff.

However it is more taxing to have clean samples and/or multiple sample playback along with the rest of the music, and to use a lot of effects as the notes are playing too which for example the infected mushroom cover does. Tim Follin also does this for the unreleased Time Trax, though that's an FM only soundtrack.

Jesper Kyd's work on the Batman & Robin ost is also worth mentioning as I think it is the only one that uses a trick to go below the normal lowest frequencies of the YM2612, which is used for the drums for example. Another FM only soundtrack, which is impressive in its own way.

This shovel knight cover is also cool in that it uses the LFO for a very fast vibrato on the drums, giving them a more complex timbre. Actually thought the snare was sampled the first time I heard it.

@Tanooki: that one is not mode 7 but it is a nice effect.

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:15 pm
by Tanooki
Ahh Gauntlet 4, I never did get time on that one really. That there is one of those rarer cases sadly when the audio is just ear candy from the Genesis. Had that been more of a stock standard than the tinny buzzy stuff much seemed to have as it was the easy way about it, I'd think far more highly of the Genesis for music capabilities.

That's the kind of audio you'd get a taste of in some good arcade games, very very nice.

You're right about Tengen though, check out the conversion of Devils Crash (Devil's Fury) for the Genesis:

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:51 pm
by Xeogred
FM was a beast in the hands of good talented composers, great stuff linked in the last few posts. Don't forget Techno-Soft's musical skills and I would say graphically as well Thunder Force IV is a titan on the console.

Re: Was the Genesis ever truly pushed to it limits?

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:21 pm
by PresidentLeever
Yeah, those rhythm guitars are still unmatched as far as hard rock/metal with FM synth goes.