Games that pushed hardware limits

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Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by NickThorpe » Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:31 am

Hello everyone! We're considering a new feature for the magazine, about games which pushed the limits of their host hardware. Which games come to mind when you think of pushing technical boundaries? (Oh, and try to make them fun ones too!)

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by Negative Creep » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:16 am

Gran Turismo 2 on the PS1. The original was groundbreaking but the amount of content in the sequel was incredible

Tomb Raider on the 360

Ace Combat 5 on the PS2

Yoshi's Island and DKC 3 on the SNES

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by Treguard » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:28 am

Death Mask on the Amiga 500+, trying to cram a Doom style FPS into a 16 Bit computer was asking a bit much, but there's some fun to be had. Castle Master on the Amstrad, GTA: San Andreas on the PS2, Wonderboy III on the Master System.

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by gunbladelad » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:59 am

Donkey Kong 64, Majora's Mask & Perfect Dark all seemed to push the N64 console quite a bit - they couldn't even run properly on a stock console and required the memory expansion.
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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by BellyFullOfHell » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:13 am

R-Type on the Spectrum. Absolutely blew every other home version away, played closer to the coin op than the 16 bit versions and looked absolutely astonishing. Smooth scrolling, colour everywhere, all the weapons and bosses... . How the hell the programmer managed that is still beyond me.

I'd also say Shenmue 2 on DC. Even today it's an astonishingly beautiful and coherent world, that still looks better than 90% of PS2 or Xbox stuff.

I always thought the Gamecube Rogue Leader games never got enough praise for their looks. Blew my mind at the time.

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by joefish » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:27 am

Hysteria and Cobra on the Spectrum gave console-like scrolling games on a machine anything but designed for it. I'd cite my own Buzzsaw+ but I presume you want old stuff. Space Harrier on the Spectrum was a hell of an achievement. And Starstrike 2 with its solid 3D was really impressive. Exile on the BBC was pretty extraordinary too.

Wings of Death is an impressive achievement on the ST, with lots more sprites and scrolling than anything before it. The sequel, Lethal Xcess, has even more sprites, but isn't any better a game. Vroom is particularly impressive from a technical point of view, combining a pseudo-3D road with solid 3D scenic objects and layered sprites for your opponents' cars.

The first two Gran Turismo games on the Playstation have already been mentioned - designed using monitoring tools to optimise the workload of the different parts of the console.

But then there are the games that take it too far - Call of Duty 3 on the Wii constantly bangs the drive heads around to load different things as you play, well above the normal usage profile that drives are designed for - leading to breakdowns, replacements, and lasting damage to your system.

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by DaveDoc1984 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:49 am

Gran Turismo 4 on PS2

Gunstar Heroes on SEGA Mega Drive? I think judging from the slowdown that game had it was pushing the machine to its limit.
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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by theantmeister » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:08 am

Every 90s PC game. censored hell, what do you mean I need 8 megs of RAM now?! I just got four!

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by sscott » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:52 am

God of war and Uncharted games. God of war 3 still looks sensational on PS3. For retro I would go for the Yoshi game on SNES and Ocarina of time on N64.

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by merman » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:26 pm

Mayhem in Monsterland on the C64 - console-style platform gaming on a humble 8-bit machine, with cute graphics and super-fast full-screen scrolling.
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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by necronom » Fri Nov 11, 2016 12:50 pm

Genetic Species on the Amiga. You needed a decently upgraded A1200 to play it.

Napalm (RTS game), was another that you needed a powerful Amiga for, and preferably a high res screen.
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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by NorthWay » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:41 pm

Hawkeye on the C= 64. That was just jaw-dropping.
Galactic on the Amiga. Modulo the wtf gameplay it felt like it was tossing stuff around willy-nilly.

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by Megamixer » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:46 pm

DaveDoc1984 wrote:Gran Turismo 4 on PS2
I'd also nominate Enthusia Professional Racing by Konami (also on PS2). I haven't played GT4 yet to compare but Enthusia has such incredible car models, realistic handling and circuits that it has to be up there...

Resident Evil 4 on the Gamecube maybe? No idea how close it was to "the limit" but I can't remember much else looking as amazing on the GC (Twilight Princess perhaps).

- Black (PS2)
- The PSP GTA games (pretty sure Liberty City stories actually restricts how much of the CPU it uses - or so I have heard).
- Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the GBA (don't like it personally when there are much better versions but the conversion is an achievement for sure).
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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by ulala » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:46 pm

NickThorpe wrote:Hello everyone! We're considering a new feature for the magazine, about games which pushed the limits of their host hardware. Which games come to mind when you think of pushing technical boundaries? (Oh, and try to make them fun ones too!)
Please make sure that you do not include game cartridges that had extra processors in them - its cheating. They are rife on the NES and SNES titles.

GTA 5 Xbox 360
Alien Soldier on the Megadrive
Red Zone on the Megadrive
Rogue Squadron on Gamecube (a launch title!)
F-Zero GX Gamecube
Combat Lynx on the ZX spectrum
Street Fighter II on PC Engine

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Re: Games that pushed hardware limits

Post by outdated_gamer » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:42 pm

PC gaming (including 70s and 80s home computers):

Space Harrier, Atari 8-bit - amazing homebrew port that showcases what this late 70s computer could do.
R-Type, ZX Spectrum - looks and plays great considering what it's running on.
Chase HQ, Amstrad CPC - a CPC racing game that runs, looks and plays well. Some strange coding magic was going on here.
Defender of the Crown, Amiga - this game really showcased what the Amiga was capable of. Ahead of it's time.
Shadow of the Beast, Amiga - the graphics and sound in the game were brilliant and cemented Amiga's supremacy over Atari ST and IBM PC.
Geoff Crammod's F1 Grand Prix, PC - the first real 3D F1 racing sim, it pushed all the computer platforms to it's limits. The IBM PC version looked the best, but you needed a killer system for it.
Doom, PC - the game that made the IBM PC the computer of choice for PC gaming. It also made people upgrade to better processors, sound cards and graphics cards. There's a homebrew port of Doom for the Commodore 64 which is also very impressive and pushes that system to the very limits.
Quake, PC - people had to upgrade to Pentiums, 3D accelerator cards and get a decent internet connection to run it the way it was ment.
Unreal, PC - stepped the game up, very advanced game for it's time and the first game to utilize the Unreal Engine which later became a gaming industry standard for 3D graphics.
Quake III, PC - it didn't take long for "the Doom company" to take the crown back, Quake 3 blew the competition away when it came to graphics.
Unreal Tournament 2003, PC - those times were basically "Epic vs id" when it came to the graphics race on PCs. UT2003 with it's Unreal Engine 2.0 was a score for Epic.
Far Cry, PC - a newcommer to the big, hardware intensive FPS scene on the PC. It looked very pretty in it's time and beyond what the 6th gen consoles could output (there was a toned down Xbox version).
Doom 3, PC - a triumphant return to form when it came to graphics and atmosphere. It didn't feel that much like a Doom game though.
Crysis, PC - while Epic sold out to the console crowds with their "Gears of War" Xbox 360 title, Crytek still prioritized the PC platform and pushed the limits of existing PC hardware with their big shooter game, Crysis. Crysis was beyond what the 7th gen consoles could output, although some slightly watered down ports eventually happened. Kept the "graphics and physics" crown for very long.
Battlefield 3, PC - even though they started to unmistakenly copy the CoD formula, BF3 still looked the part.
Crysis 3, PC - Crytek's further proof that they are the masters of graphics tech. Not a very fun game though.
Star Citizen, PC - despite being endlessly delayed, this crowd-funded project promises to not only push the limits of existing PC hardware, but also promises to push the limits of game genres. It deff. seems like the next "big" thing when it comes to "AAA" PC exclusives or big PC-oriented titles.

Console gaming:

Battlezone, Atari 2600 - looked better than the Arcade version, even though it was not really 3D.
Rescue on Fractalus, Atari 5200 - an early 3D game, quite amazing for this system. There was a Atari 8-bit version too.
Turbo, Colecovision - this could be a toss up between Smurf and this but I decided for this. Pseudo 3D scaling on a early 80s game console.
Unknown title, Famicom - there's a FC game that does Mode 7 style scaling, but I forgot the name. I will fix it as soon as I remember it again.
Battletoads, NES - the NES had many games that pushed the limits but I decided for Battletoads because of how colorful and nice it was. Batman Return of the Joker is a runner up (also worth mentioning is Chuck Yeager which does amazing 3D polygon graphics on a mere NES, but that is a homebrew title that comes on a custom cartridge).
Space Harrier, Master System - a game that's pushing for more than what the system it was running on was capable of. Some sprite tearing is the side effect, but it still looks really good for the system it's running on.
Street Fighter II, Turbografx-16 - this port pushing this system to it's limits, also with just two action buttons. A similar saying could go for After Burner, Outrun and Space Harrier which were also very good on the TG-16.
Virtua Racing, Mega Drive - even though it comes on a special 3D accelerator chip cartridge, seeing a full 3D polygon game running at decent speeds on a Mega Drive must have been quite a feat for the time. When it comes to 2D games, there's a even larger selection of titles, with Sonic 3, Vectorman 2 and Adventures of Batman & Robin being just some of them.
Doom, SNES - an odd choice perhaps, but it really was pushing the SNES to it's very limits, even with the support 3D chip. Even though some would say SNES excelled more in 2D games, but the competition there is quite dramatic with titles like Donkey Kong Country (3), Kirby Superstar, Yoshi's Island, Super Mario RPG and so on.
Art of Fighting 3, Neo Geo - while I'm sure there's even more impressive games on this beast of a 2D console, the one I picked is not shabby in any way either when it comes to visuals.
Alien vs Predator, Atari Jaguar - for the time, there was no prettier 3D shooter on consoles than AvP on the Jag. Doom was the more advanced game but AvP was made specifically for the Jaguar and showed off it's strenghts (unfortunately it also ran a bit choppy).
The Need For Speed, 3DO - when the first NFS hit the 3DO, it looked amazing. A fully 3D textured and quite fast simmy racing game. It was ported to other systems where it looked even better but it first came out on the 3DO.
Panzer Dragoon Saga, Sega Saturn - I actually prefer the look and gameplay of Zwei, but Saga undoubtly pushed the system to it's limits. The only more impressive thing was that Shenmue demo, but it would have ran too slow on the Saturn.
Gran Turismo 2, PSX - a pretty standard choice, but it does seem like a title that pushed that system well. Of course there's more titles to choose from.
Perfect Dark, N64 - many Rare's titles pushed the N64 to the limits, but Perfect Dark would be the title that did so the hardest in my opinion. The trade off? It ran at 8 fps at times and especially in multi-player or high-res mode. I personally prefer the likes of Donkey Kong 64, Majora's Mask, Jet Force Gemini and Conker's BFD.
Shenmue 2, Dreamcast - standard choice, the first game in the series looked mind blowing in it's time.
Shadow of the Collosus, PS2 - I guess this would be a toss up between this, GT4, God of War 2 and San Andreas. I picked SotC because it actually was using the PS2's "hidden potential" and did some coding magic tricks to get it running and looking the way it did (if somewhat choppy).
Rebel Strike, GameCube - the NGC also had many highly graphically impressive titles, but when it came to pure tech wizardry, there's was no beating of Factor 5 (especially since Rare got sold off to MS). F-Zero GX and Resi 4 deserve a mention though.
Half-Life 2, Xbox - I'm picking this PC port over other titles because it was really pushing it to the very limits. NGB, Doom 3, Halo 2, Riddick, Orta, etc. were impressive too, mind.
Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii - the Wii game that could have been released on "HD" consoles and still look the part. Nintendo pulled some magic with it. The Wiimote itself was best demoed with Wii Sports.
GTA 5, Xbox 360 - there were many impressive 360 games (Gears 3, PGR 4, Forza 4, Halo 4, Viva Pinata 2, etc.) but I have to give it to GTA 5 since it's doing so much on a system with just 512 megs of RAM.
Destiny, PS3 - a bit strange choice, but having a MMOFPS like this on a console with just 256 MB RAM is pretty crazy in my book. Killzone 3, God of War 3, Uncharted 3 and Last of Us take the graphics crown though.
Mario Kart 8, Wii U - probably the best looking Wii U game. Although the best demo of the gamepad would be Super Mario Maker. Biggest technical acomplishment is probably Xeno X.
Ryse, Xbox One - a release title and one that already pushed the system to it's limits. The generation is not over yet though, so it's pre-mature to draw conclusions here.
Uncharted 4, PS4 - so far, this title seems to make the most impressive use of the console and it's a proper exclusive at that. When it comes to character graphics, Until Dawn is more impressive though.

Arcade gaming (list would be too long so it's concentrated):

Battlezone (first 3D vector graphics)
Buck Rogers (first scaling pseudo 3D graphics)
Pole Position (impressive visuals for the time)
iRobot (first polygon 3D graphics)
Dragon's Lair (first pre-recorded game and first use of the "Laser Disc" medium)
Space Harrier (amazing scaling graphics for the time)
OutRun (upgrade of HO)
After Burner (upgrade of SH)
Power Drift (upgrade of OR)
G-LOC (upgrade of AB)
Pac Land (first smooth scrolling 2D platformer - correct me if I'm wrong)
Hard Drivin' (first 3D racing simulator)
Winning Run (first 3D F1 racer)
Unknown space shooter (the 3D space shooter that influenced the likes of Star Fox - forgot the name)
Pit Fighter (first mainstream digitized graphics - there was some Japanese game that used it prior)
Street Fighter II (revolution among fighting games)
Mortal Kombat (made digitized graphics popular)
Virtua Racing (first Sega's 3D racer)
Virtua Fighter (first 3D fighter)
Daytona USA (first texture mapped and bilinear filtered 3D racing game)
Virtua Fighter 2 (same as above but 3D fighter)
Virtua Fighter 3 (massive step up for Arcade graphics at the time)
SCUD Race (massive step up for Arcade racing game graphics at the time)
Daytona 2 (upgrade of Daytona)
Outrun 2 (upgrade of Daytona 2)
Virtua Fighter 4 (upgrade of VF3)
Virtua Figher 5 (first "HD" Arcade fighter)
Street Fighter Alpha (first "anime" SF game)
Street Fighter 3 (upgrade of Alpha 3)
Street Fighter EX (first 3D SF game - not very successful)
Guilty Gear X (first "higher-resolution" 2D fighter)
Blaz Blue (first "HD" 2D fighter)
Street Fighter IV (first successful 3D SF game)
Sega Rally 3 (Sega's last attempt to stay in the Arcade business - we'll see how the new Daytona will go)

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