Games that pushed a system to the limit

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martyg
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by martyg » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:34 pm

Havantgottaclue wrote:
For my part, I'm fascinated by what you had to say about the Atari 2600 in response to my post. But what's your view on the difference between demo programming and game programming? After all, I think for most posters here it'll be less about rendering a 3D object on the fly or getting a 48-sprite multiplexor on the C64 and more about innovative coding to much more pragmatic ends, that is, to produce a playable game.
My view is that they're related, i.e. there's a relationship. A lot of the modern tricks to push the 2600 are done in demos first before they make their way over to the games. Demos are much easyer to do technology tests and pushe ideas than when being tied down in the overall game design process. Especially on something like the 2600 where there's no display kernal except the one you write and everything is tied so tightly together.
In a way, it's really game design that's pushed to the limit as much as the machine itself. Something like Crownland really exemplifies this, what with clever use of colour splits for the background and sparse placement of player-missile graphics to minimise flickering (there still is some when your character sprite goes on the same scanline as a star).
But crownland and other new games stand on the shoulders of a lot of the 90's 8-bit demo/crew work out of Europe where a lot of the color tricks, sprite tricks, etc. were developed to their capacity. That's when you really had a renaissance of pushing the GTIA/Antic to it's limits and some insane graphics demonstrations and sprite counts. It really becomes more of a chicken and the egg thing.
The extent of the game's achievement, I think, can be measured against something like Green Beret which was a mess on the Atari 8-bit, perhaps because the game would not have functioned without more enemy objects. And for this the limitations of PMGs (at least horizontally) is critical, especially where you're having to use 2 of the 5 you have just to make one colour object. Crownland gets around this by having sparser enemies, but as a conversion Green Beret couldn't really adopt this approach. Alternatively if the game was vertical you could have more enemies because PMGs are screen high and can be horizontally adjusted down the screen. Unfortunately you can't just go changing Green Beret to an overhead vertical shooter (unless maybe you rename it "Shock Troopers" ... :D )
And then you have issues of people hacking/redoing a lot of these older games and improving them with the newer techniques leanred since their original release. Something really common on the 2600.

So I would've thought that while it's good fun finding out what's under the hood, a game's design places peculiar circumstances on the coding that make it a less pure affair than demo coding.
I think somehow you missread what I was stating. I used the Amiga ball demo on the 2600 to show how the the techniques of squeezing more out of the hardware have continued to be developed. It was not a statement on placing an inordinate amount of weight on demos vs. games.
Marty

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by STranger81 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:18 am

Ralph Milne's Left Foot wrote:Genuine Quote from the Speccy Doom thing
Presentation: 4/10
The graphics on this port is terrible, But hey it's DOOM! and that's always a good thing :D
Graphics:2/10
Weak Graphics.
Gameplay:6/10
A pretty weak version of the predecessors but hey it's DOOM! :D
Sound: 9/10
While the sound effects sucks the music is damn sweet!
Overall: 5.4 Mediocre
Whut? Do they realise what system thats on? Cuckoo Cuckoo Cuckoo..
For me one of the most annoying things is when people review retro stuff with their mind in the present.

Like on Youtube I once saw someone "review" a Game Gear and concluded that it wasent portable based on the fact its much bigger than both a PSP slim and a DS lite.
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by Grizzly » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:32 am

I probably say that another world pushed the mega drive to it's limits. It was a stunning display of programming for it's time. Also earthworm jim, shiny did a great job of cramming so much on to the cartridge
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by MikeFishcake » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:50 am

I wonder how many times the word "Actually..." appears in MartyG's daily conversations :twisted:

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martyg
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by martyg » Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:08 pm

MikeFishcake wrote:I wonder how many times the word "Actually..." appears in MartyG's daily conversations :twisted:
Actually I'm not sure, I've never actually taken a count.
Marty

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by sscott » Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:07 pm

Not retro but God of War III on the PS3, stunning!
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by will2097 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:14 pm

I'm still gob-smacked that there is some proper sh'ite in this list, and I got pulled up for being impressed with Debris on the vectrex. FFS.

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by kiwimike » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:52 pm

sebadude wrote:I've been playing a few Megadrive games lately and was really struck by how some of the later titles squeezed all kinds of effects and graphical tricks out of the system.

This got me wondering to see what other console games managed to pull off these little tricks, whether it be graphics, sound or other innovations. Perhaps other people could suggest some games like this that we could dig out to see as examples of what can be done with a system?

Megadrive - Mickey Mania
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf5zS3ONLK4
Castle and World of Illusion were already renowned for their great graphics and atmoshperic gameplay but this late MD title managed to improve on this even further - each level was based on one famous Mickey cartoon, but also contained many graphical touches such as a black and white film effect on the first level, mock rotation/scaling and many huge and detailed sprites that only appear once or twice in the game.

Megadrive - Dynamite Headdy
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_l_jogsYo0 (check out this bonkers boss)
I imagine this is the daddy of games that show how far the megadrive can be pushed.. for me, the main beauty of this game is the sheer number of sprites designed for one use - almost every enemy only turns up once in the game, and for me this shows an incredible amount of effort and attention to detail. The speech samples are crisp, the backgrounds are complex and multi-layered and the bosses are constantly surprising.. there's even some very impressive mock rotation later on in the game, which simulates the whole playfield being rotated, and headdy flung into the background of the scene.

Megadrive - Gunstar Heroes
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWfHOfjtcdw (full gameplay video!)
Again this is another well-renowned game - i remember seeing a couple of big platforms tilting and wobbling when it first came out, thinking 'the megadrive can't do *that*!' - but it could, thanks to the genius progammers at Treasure :)

..incidentally, I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the above games are by Treasure - I gather that many of their games were particularly impressive in this way?


C64 - Creatures 2
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grccr0NeImU
Again, a late-period C64 game, but this doesn't look like a C64 title at a glance.. Apex managed to fit in a cinematic introduction, massive variety of gameplay, tons of one-use-only sprites, relatively pain-free multiload and richly layered, catchy music. The programmers also used a graphical trick to make the C64 appear to display more colours than it actually could - and if that isn't attention to detail, I don't know what is! Did anyone do more with a C64?


PS2 - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMADbVG97E4
Where do I start? The sheer scope of this game is incredible. Even after playing GTA4, I found myself wanting to go back to San Andreas, because it was a much bigger and more ambitious game. From the three large cities, through the hick country towns via the air force base, jump jets, airpacks and the mountainous terrain, I cannot imagine how you could pack more into a PS2 game. All we need is a PS3 remake and I reckon I'd have my ideal GTA fix.

So, can anyone else nominate their favourite games that managed to do that bit more with the system they appeared on? I'll look forward to tracking them down to see just how far a console can be pushed.

Great Topic, you make me miss my megadrive! San Andreas is an amazing game, overshadowed by the controversay. Geez, so many titles came out late in a console run to stun you with what they could do. The Atari VCS came out with so many great titles that made your jaw drop, considering what it's capabilities were. The PS2 also had it's share of amazing stuff that looked impossible, it seems to be more obvious on systems that were so popular they hung around longer than most and into the following generation of gaming :)

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by Fred83 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:58 pm

i think anything from 1995 onwards pushed the 16 bit machines...

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by thevulture » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:16 pm

PS Gran Turismo was mentioned.It used the 'Performance Analyzer'-A Debugging tool for PS1.Many developers found it useful for finding a 10-20% speed improvement or finding low level bugs etc.It was a useful tool, but by no means a magic wand for development.PS2 had similar device-Basically had 3 'probes' as it were.1st? looked at goings on in Emotion Engine, other 2? Graphics Synth.chip-Basically let developers see how efficent thier code was in utilising the hardware and remove any bottle necks etc.

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by Smurph » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:47 pm

Alys wrote:There's actually a really neat PDF available that explains how they managed to wring what they did out of the PS2 for SotC.
Does it just say 'By reducing the framerate to treacle-esque levels'?

Don't get me wrong, I love the game, but it chugged.
will2097 wrote:I'm still gob-smacked that there is some proper sh'ite in this list, and I got pulled up for being impressed with Debris on the vectrex. FFS.
I wouldn't worry. That was like being pulled up by Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by speedlolita » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:53 pm

thevulture wrote:PS Gran Turismo was mentioned.It used the 'Performance Analyzer'-A Debugging tool for PS1.Many developers found it useful for finding a 10-20% speed improvement or finding low level bugs etc.It was a useful tool, but by no means a magic wand for development.PS2 had similar device-Basically had 3 'probes' as it were.1st? looked at goings on in Emotion Engine, other 2? Graphics Synth.chip-Basically let developers see how efficent thier code was in utilising the hardware and remove any bottle necks etc.
I've seen a PS2 TOOL Performance Analyzer. They're blue, and sexy. :mrgreen:

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by snowkatt » Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:03 pm

resident evil 2 on the n64
a 2 cd game with fmv's on a cardridge
bloody amazing
for the record though capcom didnt do the port but angel studios

star wars episode 1 racer showed that the n64 coudl handle speed as well as great graphics at the same time

spiderman 2 on the xbox
is that the empire state building ?
crap it is and i can walk all over it !

metal gear solid and gran turismo 1 both took the best the ps 1 had to offer and used it to their fullest

crazy taxi on the dreamcast a living breathing city

shenmue on the dreamcast and almost fully interactive living breathing city

majora's mask on the n64 still a thing of beauty 10 years later

spyro the dragon trilogy on the ps 1 i wouldnt go so far as to say that these are n64 quality but they do look damn good

oblivion on the 360
4 years on and it stil looks amazing
hey wait ! i got a new complaint !

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by neuromancer » Sun Aug 01, 2010 5:18 pm

Great topic this (although I think there's been similar on here a few years back)

For fun, I'm going to chuck in Virtua Racing for the venerable Megadrive - it's the only cart I know of for the system that used a custom DSP chip (similar concept to that used in SNES carts such as StarFox)

Yes, it was blocky, and yes, it was ridiculously expensive (the sticker on the box of my copy says 90 quid, although I think I paid a fiver for it), but it was still a valiant effort.

(I acknowledge right now that people will say it's not pushing the system to the limits though, as the dsp chip is giving all the grunt!)

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Re: Games that pushed a system to the limit

Post by C=Style » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:30 pm

Been replaying The Darkness on 360 and am gobsmacked every time I play it (esp with a dash of motion interpolation from my TV). The Starbreeze engine powering this game is simply phenomenal.
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