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  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christuserloeser View Post
    Well, I wasn't too serious on this one ^ ^ but think about it: Video games as an artform itself is American. And a flipper game with heavy metal visuals and soundtrack is pretty much as American as it gets. So while I was watching Joe and Dave banging their heads on the table on how truly awful the one and only US developed game of the series is, I thought about an interview with one of Sega of Japan's new execs on how Sega's developers just made these games for the international market back during the Master System and Mega Drive days, even when that international market didn't exist yet, and never once thought about what would be "too Japanese" or "not International enough". - If it indeed was a natural process to include Spiderman, Batman, Hulk and Terminator in Revenge of Shinobi; and punks, rockabillys, skinheads and a European & American soundtrack in Streets of Rage; that means that this generation of video game designers from Japan not only made the better games, they also made more American games. Which is probably part of why they were better.
    Yes and no. Japan got into the video game market very fast and were responsible of many of the killer apps on the international market very early on. (Space Invaders made the 2600 into the massive hit it was, at least it was the first true massive killer app and a huge arcade hit . . . after Atari's early success, but before Atari's biggest arcade/home hits and before Pac Man)

    American developed games had their own style, especially computer/console specific games compared to arcade games. The Japanese computer/arcade/console market expanded in its own direction, the US computer/console/arcade in its own, and Europe computer (and eventually console) games in their own directions as well.
    All with different trends to art and music.

    The cutsy/cartoonie Japanese art style obviously became dominant in the 3rd generation of consoles, no surprise given it was a Japanese dominated market with US console developers not pushing things like they previously had. (the best developers tended to push more on computers, both in the US and Europe, with a few exceptions -US computer gaming had taken a shift in genres as well, diverging from what was popular on consoles -one of the few examples of crossover was Maniac Mansion on the NES)

    The new art and sound style obviously ended up being popular, but I also hear a lot of criticism of the Japanese style at the time and especially anything on the NES (especially from old console/computer fans who really liked the early/mid 80s western style).
    There was a rather long-winded discussion on atariage on how the majority of NES games (especially 1st party games) were extremely unappealing form certain individuals.

    It would be interesting to know actually how many people that included or how many just didn't care either way (either liked both or were indifferent), and how many simply bought into hype and peer pressure and let themselves be led by what was popular rather than using their own judgment.

    But even if you think about what we consider the most Japanese type of games, those with a heavy Manga and Anime influence, you could still track this back to the beginning of the Japanese pop culture during the post WW2 era. There were no comics in fascist Japan.
    Yes, for a time, there was a lot of western influence in a lot of areas (still is in some), but very quickly you saw a shift towards Japanese-specific styles of western inspired media. (again, that also led to a culture clash for some -perhaps many, but it's hard to tell- per my above comments)



    I for one don't agree with any of it as I'm happy with a wide range of styles. Though I must admit that there's more low-quality games (sometimes only lower quality in certain categories like music, art, or actual game design), but it's also interesting to note that many of those games were outsourced, sometimes overseas. (the infamously low quality Acclaim proxy publisher LJN had a lot of outsourced work including some games developed by RARE )

    Actually the most consistent issue was music (at least IMO), but that wasn't so much a problem on pre-4th gen systems (a lot of decent to good chiptunes from US developers).
    It seems to have been more of an issue with the Genesis and PC . . . or FM synth being poorly used in general, including the arcade (I don't think I've heard any YM2151 tune that was really good coming from a US arcade developer). Odd, I wonder what it was with FM synth in the US, you had some awesome examples in Japan and Europe, but lots of mediocre stuff in the US (be it the sound engine used, composition/arrangement used with that engine, or both).

    Maybe it has something to do with MIDI based drivers (and similar trackers) becoming popular at the time that resulted in sound engines that were relatively limited in flexibility. (and a lack of developers/programmers pushing lower-level sound engines or tweaking/customizing the MIDI/tracker programs)
    You did eventually see some pretty good use of the YM3812 (OPL2) in better PC games and a few games that made moderate use of the YM262 (OPL3), but even the best cases were only pretty good and not outstanding or amazing. (X-Wing -CD-ROM- and Tie Fighter had some of the better MIDI drivers and arrangements I've heard)

    What's also interesting is that you saw some pretty heavy, quality use of the MT-32 in PC games in the late 80s and early 90s. (including a lot of custom patches, not just the default instrument set)
    Ironic given it was a very specific synth mechanism that was not common at all in the mass market. (a hybrid of sample bassed synthesis, additive synthesis, subtractive synthesis, and I think granular synthesis -in as far as using attack samples followed by a looping waveform for a composite instrument/note; plus hardware reverb/echo effects)
    FM synthesis, sample based synthesis (fully sampled sounds looped and pitch-bent without much synthesis of any kind, the Amiga being one of the first to introduce that on a large scale) were the most common digital music/sound mechanisms in the late 80s and early 90s (sample based synth eventually became totally dominant) along with older analog synth and simple wave generating sound chips which were also still commonplace into the early 90s.

    Maybe the MT-32 just had really good tools that made it easy to program in spite of the unique synth mechanism. (it shared some similarities with older analog synth and simple waveform generation chips, but added some elements of sample synth and still more unique elements not really seen before in any combination)

    There's also the Ensoniq wavetable synth chips that saw some occasional use in various keyboards, some home computers (apple IIgs), and a few arcade boards (capable of plain sample synth as well as true wavetable synth -a more complex composite of small samples using additive synthesis and some other techniques -I think some Ensoniq chips allowed sampled waveforms to be used as FM oscillators, like the Saturn does, or use really simple waveforms for more typical FM synth with the same mechanism).
    Actually the Atari Panther was slated for an Ensoniq chip. (the higher-end OTIS chip was noted as a possibility, but apparently the developer units released in 1990 all used the older/simpler DOCII chip and more tuned towards supporting it for FM synth than wavetable or sample synth -presumably due to cost concerns severely limited RAM in the system . . . especially due to the PANTHER chip's need for very fast and expensive 32-bit SRAM -which was to be 32k and the entire system's shared RAM . . . the main reason it wasn't really a workable design, at least for the price point they wanted -odd they even bothered given they had the great Lynx chipset to work with already)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

  2. #17
    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Great video, I've never seen Jaki Crush before. Devil's Crush and Dragon's Fury look busier, more sprites on screen that don't take multiple hits to destroy on screen I think. I wish I could land boxed copy of Devil's Crush for less than $25 though. Dragon's Fury is dirt cheap to pick up, and I didn't realize it had new backgrounds.

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    It's hard to even score Bonk's Revenge for less than $30 (complete) these days. TG-16 games are priced too high any more.

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    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Definitely true, which is why I will only own Bonk, Revenge and Bomberman in my US Gate's of Thunder disk.

    That was a neat trick with the screen squishing thing in Dragon's Fury too. It must have taken a bit of time to work that out as well as it did.

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    Yeah, that has always really bothered me. If you check out my Side-by-Side article on this site, I make a similar comparison via animated GIF.

  6. #21
    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    In the animated gif it doesn't look like Dragon's Fury squished the screen horizontally, it just looks like they switched to 320 wide and added the menu. I thought it looked like you were saying that the graphics were squished to the left too.

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    He just likes the playfield filling the screen. I don't care too much about it. Music is better in MD version aswell as most of the graphics, but that's all highly subjective :P
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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath
    In the animated gif it doesn't look like Dragon's Fury squished the screen horizontally, it just looks like they switched to 320 wide and added the menu. I thought it looked like you were saying that the graphics were squished to the left too.

    They ARE squished to the left. Remember, the television doesn't magically get wider when running graphics in 320 mode. Another reason why emulators fail (though I'm sure some have modes to play all games in proper 4:3). The graphics just look distorted, basically the opposite of some schmuck stretching a 4:3 game to 16:9. I am a proper aspect ratio whore! I think TechnoSoft is just used to the 320 mode so they had to come up with some excuse to use it here. The game also uses TechnoSoft's worst sound engine in any of their games. I was really looking forward to the music and was actually disappointed when it came out when it sounded worse than Thunder Force 2, 3, Elemental Master and Herzog Zwei in the sound engine department.

    I also don't like the way the floor looks on the MD version. The PCE floor is much easier on the eyes. The bonus rounds, however...
    Last edited by Joe Redifer; 05-07-2011 at 06:21 PM.

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    That is exactly why I asked. Emulator resolution, "true" or chip resolution, and what the systems actually output are always different. Overscan makes the differences hard to "normalize" in any way. I've only mucked around with US NTSC format outputs, I can't even capture Pal and haven't tried to output a Japanese system outside of my DUO/R.

    The only way I could be sure of a resolution difference is to view it on the same television set. The only way I can display it is the way you did with a video using the same overall resolution and simply displaying the gameplay in the same horizontal or vertical resolution. I'm glad you did it this way.

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    Alright, episode 6 is out, Sonic vs Mario!


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    Dave rules, Sonic2 sucks :P

    I like how you put game names into the end, helps heaps to get the VGMs to listen them on tunes I don't know.
    Last edited by TmEE; 05-09-2011 at 07:48 AM.
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  12. #27
    Master of Shinobi GeckoYamori's Avatar
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    It seems to have been more of an issue with the Genesis and PC . . . or FM synth being poorly used in general, including the arcade (I don't think I've heard any YM2151 tune that was really good coming from a US arcade developer). Odd, I wonder what it was with FM synth in the US, you had some awesome examples in Japan and Europe, but lots of mediocre stuff in the US (be it the sound engine used, composition/arrangement used with that engine, or both).
    I think this was due to the open computer cultures in Europe and Japan. Pretty sure the X68K was the C64/Amiga equivalent in Japan. Anyone who had one of these computers could start making their own music. So people gathered at huge computer parties and had competitions, shared their ideas and techniques with eachother so a lot of people got very technically proficient. I don't think anything like this was going on in America at the time.

  13. #28
    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    That is exactly why I asked. Emulator resolution, "true" or chip resolution, and what the systems actually output are always different. Overscan makes the differences hard to "normalize" in any way. I've only mucked around with US NTSC format outputs, I can't even capture Pal and haven't tried to output a Japanese system outside of my DUO/R.
    internal "chip" resolution is always the same as output resolution (on TV, etc), ignoring analog video artifacting issues.
    Many emulators also use those exact resolutions, though some scale/interpolate to different ones.

    A totally separate issue is the aspect ratio or pixel aspect ratio used, that, and the fact that PAL and NTSC will always be different in that area and many games were not designed to use the real aspect ratio that the console outputs (many just assume square pixels and don't bother with real-world optimization -hence why many games look "right" when played in emulation with true square pixels). The common 256 wide (5.37 MHz dot clock) resolution results in pixels being "too wide" compared to square, but not terribly far off in NTSC (really bad in PAL). The MD's 6.67 MHz 320 wide mode is "too tall" in NTSC (hence why Sonic is not round when rolling and loops are also vertical ovals) and too wide in PAL, but sort of a compromise between the 2.
    The Neo Geo's 6 MHz res is moderately too wide in NTSC, but very close to square. (too wide in PAL)
    The 7.16/7.14 MHz 320 wide on the Atari 7800/8-bit/5200/Amiga is MUCH too tall for NTSC, but almost perfectly square in PAL.

    320 wide in the Atari ST or C64 is even taller and even too tall in PAL, but not terrible. (probably a bit like 320 MD in NTSC)

    That, of course, is also ignoring custom calibration of the display . . . or some DTVs that automatically detect overscan and scale to 4:3. (giving very different aspect ratios than normal SDTVs) That, or TVs with off calibration. (my old Zenith set actually complies perfectly with the MD's 320 wide mode so Sonic is round like in emulators without aspect correction enabled . . . 256 wide res games/consoles look a little more stretched than usual though)

    AFIK, no emulators support real PAL resolutions, but many have approximate NTSC aspect ratio modes as well as square pixels. (stretching 320x224 to 4:3 is pretty close to "right" for MD games in NTSC, same for 256x224 to 4:3; most emulators screw up with 160x192 or 160x200 wide stuff by using double wide square pixels in a 320x192/200/240 window, too wide for Atari games, more so for Commodore games . . . well Atari games would look like that in PAL )


    The only way I could be sure of a resolution difference is to view it on the same television set.
    You mean a dot clock difference, not a screen resolution difference. (ie change in pixel size/shape, but not necessarily a change in actual xxx by xxx resolution; 320x224 in the Neo Geo is a lower dot resolution than 320x224 on the Genesis which is lower than 320 on the Atari 8-bit Amiga -which is the same as 344 on the PCE- which is less than 320 on the ST or C64, etc)
    Of course, changing resolution without changing the pixel clock will mean more or less horizontal boarder, or going into overscan. (on normal TVs, the Neo Geo would effectively show about 286x224, if not a bit less than that -TVs that don't quite show all 256 or 320 pixels on MD games will definitely show less than 286 on the Neo Geo; those same TVs will show a moderate horizontal boarder on Amiga/Atari 8-bit games, and a large boarder on Atari ST games)

    The only way I can display it is the way you did with a video using the same overall resolution and simply displaying the gameplay in the same horizontal or vertical resolution. I'm glad you did it this way.
    If you're doing a digital recording or conversion, you're inevitably going to change the resolution . . . even a 1:1 conversion from analog to digital is generally impossible, so you'd want to increase the digital resolution to give a decent capture . . . and end up with degraded/scaled video at lower resolutions (let alone from compression). And then there's aspect ratio considerations on top of that.

    Depending on the capture mechanism, vertical resoluton won't be an issue (the capture device would need to be capable of directly recording the separate analog scanlines . . . separating the actual pixels per scanline is the tough part). 640x240p/60 might be OK for most older games if the scaling/interpolation is good enough, but with weaker scaling, even 720x240 probably is too low. (direct 320x240 recording won't be good; even with systems running at that resolution, you can't rely on the analog pixels being digitized accurately, let alone how resolution varies a lot more in general and dot clocks vary even within a given horizontal resolution -unless the capture device can detect the dot clock, it would basically have to blindly read the scanline and digitize/interpolate the pixels into the native digital resolution; at best, you might be able to detect overscan limits and optimize bandwidth towards digitizing the active display)

    Only with direct digital video can you really avoid that. (and while there have been some projects to pull direct digital video from the MD VDP, I doubt such modifications would be practical as general upgrades)






    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    They ARE squished to the left. Remember, the television doesn't magically get wider when running graphics in 320 mode. Another reason why emulators fail (though I'm sure some have modes to play all games in proper 4:3). The graphics just look distorted, basically the opposite of some schmuck stretching a 4:3 game to 16:9. I am a proper aspect ratio whore! I think TechnoSoft is just used to the 320 mode so they had to come up with some excuse to use it here. The game also uses TechnoSoft's worst sound engine in any of their games. I was really looking forward to the music and was actually disappointed when it came out when it sounded worse than Thunder Force 2, 3, Elemental Master and Herzog Zwei in the sound engine department.
    As above, resolution and aspect ratio are funny things, and a lot of games actually look wrong on normal TVs as some (or all) of the graphics were designed to be viewed as square pixels.

    Most (if not all) emulators support stretching to approximate real-world NTSC aspect ratios, but few (if any) have PAL aspect ratio support . . . and many are only rough approximations of NTSC anyway. (for Fusion and Gens, it matches up pretty much right since stretching 320x224 or 256x224 to a 4:3 window is pretty much how properly calibrated NTSC TVs will show that, same for SMS/NES/PCE games at similar resolutions, or for 512 width on the PCE . . . 344x224 might be about right too, but other platforms using that same dot resolution for 320x2xx -like the Amiga- will be "wrong" if shown in 320x240 windows -granted, that's also barring computer monitors with custom calibration among other things)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kool Kat
    a lot of games actually look wrong on normal TVs as some (or all) of the graphics were designed to be viewed as square pixels.
    That's just bad design. Very bad design, in fact. Who could possibly view the games as square pixels back in the day? Answer: Nobody but the developer who is drawing his graphics on his computer screen instead of viewing them on a proper monitor. It's absolutely unprofessional.

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    That's just bad design. Very bad design, in fact. Who could possibly view the games as square pixels back in the day? Answer: Nobody but the developer who is drawing his graphics on his computer screen instead of viewing them on a proper monitor. It's absolutely unprofessional.
    It was probably a case of being "close enough" not to worry about it. In the case of the many 5.37 MHz res examples, it's a difference of 1:1 pixels and 1.15:1, or for 320 wide MD games, it's 1:1 vs .91:1.

    C64/atari games put more effort into that as they had to. (pixels were SO far off) . . . though a fair amount of those also had limited optimization. (and have very "wide" looking graphics)

    The vast majority of games seen to have no optimization for true TV resolution, or very selective use of it. (SFII does it for portraits, but not for in-game graphics or the map/select screen)


    With the MD's 320 wide mode, there was even less incentive to optimize as assuming square pixels meant a good compromise for PAL and NTSC (PAL is actually slightly closer to square in that mode).
    The few 320 wide MD games that are fully NTSC optimized thus look "too wide" on PAL, much more than usual. (not quite as bad as 256 wide mode games)
    That's opposed to 256 wide stuff where NTSC optimization means a moderate improvement for PAL users too.

    Oh, that, and MD games that were specifically PAL optimized (namely by euro developers) but not NTSC optimized, will thus look "right" on most SNES conversion of those games in NTSC (since 256 wide in NTSC is about the same aspect ratio as MD 320 in PAL).
    Earthworm Jim is a prime example, the US SNES version looks very similar to the PAL MD version as far as graphics go.
    For that matter, NTSC SNES games will tend to look similar aspect on 320 wide PAL MD games. (like Zombies Ate My Neighbors)

    Earthworm Jim 2 is sort of an odd case, the Sprites were all NTSC optimzied on the SNES, but the BG (at least the MG shared with the MD) is left "too wide" (ie as wide in NTSC as the PAL MD version). Everything is "too tall" in the NTSC MD game by comparison. (seems like assumed square pixels, so "wide" in PAL on that one too)


    Quote Originally Posted by GeckoYamori View Post
    I think this was due to the open computer cultures in Europe and Japan. Pretty sure the X68K was the C64/Amiga equivalent in Japan. Anyone who had one of these computers could start making their own music. So people gathered at huge computer parties and had competitions, shared their ideas and techniques with eachother so a lot of people got very technically proficient. I don't think anything like this was going on in America at the time.
    There were hardcore Amiga (and for a time, ST) users doing that iirc, including a handful of ST games with netowork support (including Midi Maze), but percentage wise it was smaller. (much wider differences on a regional basis, diffuse population density in much of the country, etc -in total, it may have been close to Japan or Europe, if not bigger, but per capita it was tiny for sure)

    The shift to PC culture was a bit different too. (there was the massive explosion of PC gaming in the mid to late 90s, but more limited "hardcore" examples in the late 80s and early 90s as the "computer gaming" and demo scene transitioned from Amiga to PC -not sure on some of the details, and it definitely took longer in Europe)

    In Japan, you also had the MSX and then the totally dominating PC8801 and 9801 (in terms of market share more like the C64 and PC/clones in the US), not great for games but with huge market share driving demand and support. (both ended up with standardized FM synth support too, similar 4-op FM too, but the YM2151 manly on the 9801 and the YM2203 on most 8801s -higher end models having 2608s)


    You didn't have too much use of the OPL2 chips in Japan or Europe, though the cut-down OPLL has some good examples in Japan. (OPL3 saw even less specific support, though it's capable of some really neat things over the OPL2 or other Yamaha FM chips for that matter -what Mad has done in Adlib Tracker 2 is just amazing)


    You had better fare with Amiga MOD and sample stuff in general in the US than FM, so that doesn't quite explain things either. (or the games pushing some amazing use of the MT32 and still general average to mediocre use of the OPL2 and no use of SB's PCM support in music even in games with support for mixing 4-8 SFX channels in software or other games opting for plain software mixed MOD music and no use of FM at all)
    Or the arcade side of things, including examples before the X68000 was even released. (after all, there had to be a standard for "arcade at home" to be considered such )

    Then again there's the limited amount of US developed arcade games from that period in general. (Atari and Midway for the most part, Atari generally with better use of FM, but still average at best -really sounds like they were using a MIDI driver or tracker of some sort with a fixed instrument set, sort of like GEMS on the MD or some Adlib stuff on PC -except GEMS and various Adlib/SB midi examples pushed well beyond the norm while Atari seemed to stick with that same sound driver and instrument set)

    Then there's the earlier chiptune side of things where US stuff doesn't seem as far behind. (well, it was leading for a while as the video game/computer/arcade market was leading the world in the US, so maybe that advantage sort of faded in the late 80s to the point it was by the early 90s)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 05-09-2011 at 06:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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