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Old 02 November 2011, 15:06   #1
antonvaltaz
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Mega Drive questions

I've been wondering this for a long time, and while I wouldn't be surprised if it's been discussed already, I couldn't find a definitive answer anywhere.
The Amiga 500/500+/600 and the Mega Drive/Genesis both had the same CPU at the same clock speed, yes? But they both had different graphics chipsets?

I'm just trying to work out why, for the genres which the Mega Drive specialised in (shoot-em-ups, beat-em-ups, platform games etc) the Mega Drive usually seemed *technically* so much better? (Though there were some really impressive Amiga 500 games, like Jim Power, Stardust, Lionheart etc).

Was it because the OCS/ECS Amiga was technically inferior to the Mega Drive, or did Mega Drive games just have larger / better resourced / harder working development teams?

The kind of things I'm thinking about - often particularly evident in direct conversions:

- the Amiga game having a black border, when the Mega Drive games were usually full screen (e.g. Cool Spot)
- the Amiga version having less / no parallax (e.g. Micro Machines)
- the Amiga version having less detailed background graphics (e.g. Zool)
- the Amiga version having fewer colours (e.g. Final Fight)
- the Amiga backgrounds being static, not animated (e.g. Street Fighter II)

Could a stock OCS/ECS Amiga have handled, say, an identical conversion of the Sonic games, with NO compromises in graphics or speed?
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Old 02 November 2011, 15:18   #2
lordofchaos
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Custom chips are the key thing here, they were far more robust on the Mega Drive...the CPU on both Amiga and the Mega Drive may have shared the same lineage but it`s how they worked with the custom chips.. Mega drive being more geared towards handling larger and more objects on screen etc.

In my opinion A perfect sonic conversion could be made on the Amiga but it would require hard core coding skills, just look at "Kid Chaos" as an example of what can be achieved. What I found strange is that the uber talented developers were never allowed or asked to convert these games, the guys that coded Elf Mania for example.. I would have given them the job to convert Street Fighter II..Or Team 17 to make Strider etc...

Also I would like to add that many publishers especially those in Asia didn't really care much or have any interest who would develop their conversions, it was more just about making a fast buck. At first glance I thought it must have been some kind of conspiracy against the Amiga considering how poor and rushed the conversions were but I guess it just boiled down to how cheap and quick you can stick a sub par game out there in the name of profit, quite sad really but there were a few games that got a reasonable conversion, Pang and Rod Land to name a couple.

Last edited by lordofchaos; 02 November 2011 at 16:02.
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Old 02 November 2011, 16:06   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antonvaltaz View Post
I'm just trying to work out why, for the genres which the Mega Drive specialised in (shoot-em-ups, beat-em-ups, platform games etc) the Mega Drive usually seemed *technically* so much better? (Though there were some really impressive Amiga 500 games, like Jim Power, Stardust, Lionheart etc).

Was it because the OCS/ECS Amiga was technically inferior to the Mega Drive, or did Mega Drive games just have larger / better resourced / harder working development teams?
Simple: Amigas are general purpose machines and don't have a chipset that specializes in games. Console chipsets are almost always optimized for gaming purposes.
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Old 02 November 2011, 17:06   #4
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Quote:
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Simple: Amigas are general purpose machines and don't have a chipset that specializes in games. Console chipsets are almost always optimized for gaming purposes.
So the Mega Drive was, on a technical level, superior - at least for fast-paced action games? I suppose not surprising, given as you say it was more optimised, plus it came out 2 or 3 years after the original Amiga.

Apart from audio, were there tricks that the Amiga 500 could do that the Mega Drive couldn't? I guess that copper blended background thing - anything else?

Quote:
In my opinion A perfect sonic conversion could be made on the Amiga but it would require hard core coding skills, just look at "Kid Chaos" as an example of what can be achieved.
Actually Kid Chaos was the trigger for me thinking about this. I know it was meant to be the Amiga's Sonic, but it seemed to me to be a little slower, plus with less detailed / parallax backgrounds.
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Old 02 November 2011, 19:44   #5
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I think devs could make the difference, not only hardware.
Look at Speedball 2, Shadow of the Beast, Super Skidmarks, Sensible Soccer, etc. etc.: they are better on Amiga although Mega Drive hardware is more suitable for games.

And don't forget ugly black borders on Mega Drive Pal...
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Old 02 November 2011, 20:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antonvaltaz View Post
So the Mega Drive was, on a technical level, superior - at least for fast-paced action games? I suppose not surprising, given as you say it was more optimised, plus it came out 2 or 3 years after the original Amiga.
For games, yes. For general purposes, most certainly not: Probably no hires, no ham (picture viewers), tiled display is annoying for things like GUI rendering routines (probably), much less memory for graphics and audio (and less memory in general), and some things I forgot The superiority depends on what you use it for.
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Apart from audio, were there tricks that the Amiga 500 could do that the Mega Drive couldn't? I guess that copper blended background thing - anything else?
Probably, but are they practical to use, or are they only useful in demos? If some trick is only useful in demos, then you shouldn't count it.
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Old 02 November 2011, 21:43   #7
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A lot of it comes down to developer support. A lot of segas games where made by sega themselves, ergo they had access to sources and sound and gfx, etc. Amiga versions of games were often done with no such help. Not just sega games either. Sega obviously had a lot of pull with other asian companies so would get more assistance than most.

The Megadrive is also easier to get the hang of coding wise. The amiga generally wasnt quite as easy to get the most from, but had a lot more scope for improvement.

There's lots of things an amiga can do better than a megadrive. Stardust 3d type sequences would be pretty much impossible on a megadrive (not enough gfx memory and poor bitmap handling). Amiga can display many more colors onscreen (not just copper gradients either, but real colors). Amiga deals with bitmapped graphics much better than the megadrive. Better sound on the amiga. A well done amiga game is much more fluid in movement.

Megadrive was a decent machine for the time (I actually have one of the fgpa ones and quite enjoy it), but in the right hands the amiga is more capable more often, which is pretty impressive considering the age difference between the two.

People keep saying that the megadrive was better for games, but it all depends on the games. Yes a lot of games that were on the megadrive where better than thier amiga counterparts, but the same is true of the reverse.
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Old 03 November 2011, 14:46   #8
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Did the Megadrive have faster rom access ?than amiga chipram ?
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Old 03 November 2011, 20:00   #9
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The Mega Drive is optimized for games only. It may be easier to code games for the system, but that's because the Mega Drive has a less complex GPU to work with than the Amiga OCS. However, it also means that the Mega Drive is much more limited with what effects you can pull off on that system.

Mega Drive uses a tiling-based method to render the graphics on screen, which is something the Amiga doesn't have. However, the Mega Drive's bit-mapping capabilities are very limited compared to the Amiga, and as a result, stuff like copper effects and onscreen colors, are sorely lacking in the MD. The Amiga has the ability to try and display more than 32 colors with clever coding of Denise. The MD doesn't have that capability. Don't forget the MD's limited memory and its' garbly sound.

Yes, the MD obviously had a lot of support throughout its' entire life, but so did the Amiga. Needless to say, Sega did throw a crap-ton of support for it's system with the Sonic games, their advertisements against Nintendo, and the fact that they didn't have censorship problems unlike Nintendo had at the time. Compare Mortal Kombat I on both MD and SNES, you will see the difference.
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Old 03 November 2011, 22:20   #10
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Chris Sorrell mentions a little about the Amiga vs Megadrive in the James Pond 3: Operation Starfish section of his interview. Basically re-iterating what has been said here.
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Old 03 November 2011, 23:15   #11
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Switchblade,

You seem to know a fair bit about the MD's hardware. I was just wondering how did Ubi Soft manage to emulate the SNES's mode 7 in the game Street Racer? It wasn't full mode 7 (e.g. you couldn't rotate around 360 degrees), but it's as close as the MD could get (without using the SVP chip and 3D graphics).


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Old 04 November 2011, 00:48   #12
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I'd say the Amiga was technically able to deliver better games (it's what it was originally designed for), but the way to use those techniques were hoarded by different coders, and not made available to all.

Sega knew their hardware inside and out, and gave good support on how to get the best from it.

Commodore on the other hand, not so much, in fact I doubt they knew how some game/demo effects were even achieved on their own platform.


Edit: Actually, if you want lots of sprites, then I guess the megadrive would have a big advantage.
But for breadth of gaming, colours on screen, sound and varied resolutions, I think the Amiga beats it.

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Old 04 November 2011, 07:39   #13
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Switchblade,

You seem to know a fair bit about the MD's hardware.
Far from it. I owned and played the hell out of my Mega Drive when I was young, but even so, I barely know anything about the hardware. I Wikipedia'd most of that info.

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I was just wondering how did Ubi Soft manage to emulate the SNES's mode 7 in the game Street Racer? It wasn't full mode 7 (e.g. you couldn't rotate around 360 degrees), but it's as close as the MD could get (without using the SVP chip and 3D graphics).
Ehh... don't take my word for it (because I sure as hell wouldn't know), but I'm guessing that game uses a scanline-based renderer to display the graphics in faux 3D. They probably used that same technique that was used before in the first two Test Drive games, and Grand Prix Circuit for Amiga and DOS. Maybe all 3 Lotus games also used that trick to render their faux 3D graphics? Again, I wouldn't really know.
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Old 04 November 2011, 08:23   #14
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I think it's the same as the parallax floors in Street Fighter II (on the Mega Drive). Unlike the roads in Lotus, there are no hills in the Mega Drive and Amiga versions of Street Racer, so the image only needs to be moved horizontally a scanline at a time, but never moved up or down or stretched out. The only difference is the road texture is animated, which I guess is done with a looping, pre-rendered animation.

I'd love to see this technique extended to handle hills and switching textures. Imagine if each road texture animation has for example ten frames, then you could load in three or four different road textures and swap between them, scanline-by-scanline downwards when the track came to it, so it'd just look like you're approaching a new road surface but it would still be able to dip and turn with the previous one.

Also, Amiga is superior to Mega Drive when it comes to Strip Poker games.
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Old 04 November 2011, 09:13   #15
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...

Also, Amiga is superior to Mega Drive when it comes to Strip Poker games.
Do tell...
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Old 04 November 2011, 09:31   #16
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Do you think the Amiga was ever used in the production of any games on the MegaDrive or SNES Graphics, Sounds even coding?
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Old 04 November 2011, 13:03   #17
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The Amiga was used quite heavily to produce SNES and Megadrive games, at least here in the UK.

When I started at blitz games, every artist had an A4000, they were even used at the start of the playstation era. They were later bundled into a store room, but at least I managed to pick up an A4000/040 for 50 ;-)
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Old 08 November 2011, 21:16   #18
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Another thing the Megadrive had as a slight advantage was the cartridge, these could add custom processors or boost the memory of the Megadrive itself which the coders could use for their title.

Most of the Megadrive (and SNES) games were developed by the original developers (Capcom, Sega, Konami, etc.). In most cases the Home Micro users had to put up with the likes of US Gold handling conversions. In many cases the games were not optimised to run on the Amiga so features were cut out as companies like US Gold were just interested in getting titles on all the possible formats they could.

Coders such as the ones from Team 17 and Bitmap Brothers showed how games could be when designed from the ground up for the format.
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Old 09 November 2011, 06:20   #19
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From what I've seen of the Mega Drive, only one game was ever produced on that system to use a custom chip inside the cartridge. That was Virtua Racing with that SVP chip. Unfortunately, putting special chips inside cartridges only increases the cost and complexity of the cart.

Last time I checked, Virtua Racing for Mega Drive was being sold for USD $100 (probably around 60-65 when released in 1994); the most expensive Mega Drive game ever sold.
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Old 09 November 2011, 09:27   #20
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Also, the Mega Drive has Blast Processing, which makes it stomp on the competition

In all seriousness the MD can handle way more (and bigger) sprites in hardware, so where the Amiga often needed blob's to convey the same thing, the MD is a lot faster.
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