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Thread: The Neo Geo was just a glorified Genesis.

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    Wildside Expert Jadty's Avatar
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    Genesis The Neo Geo was just a glorified Genesis.

    Merry Christmas to everybody! Massive wall of text incoming.

    So I've been getting into some Neo Geo gaming lately (emulation, I'm not that rich yet to afford an AES or MVS, someday I'll have one though). Looking at the games, the system has some of the best arcade style games in almost every genre, being an arcade system primarily obviously. Getting into the tech specs when compared to the Genesis here's what we got:

    Neo Geo AES (same as the MVS):

    Processor

    Main processor: Motorola 68000, often produced by another manufacturer, running at 12 MHz
    Co-processor: Zilog Z80 running at 4 MHz. This is also used as an audio controller.

    Memory

    Main memory (used directly by 68000): 64 KB
    Main video memory : 84 KB
    Video memory: 64 KB (32 KB x2)
    Palette memory : 16 KB (8 KB x 2)
    Fast video RAM : 4 KB (2 KB x 2)
    Sound memory (used directly by Z80): 2 KB

    Display

    Display resolution: 320224 (many games only used the centermost 304 pixels)
    Color palette: 65,536 (16-bit) (Not RGB565, but RGB666, where the lowest bit of each channel is shared with one bit[8])
    Maximum colors on screen: 4,096 (12-bit)
    Maximum sprites on screen: 381
    Minimum sprite size: 12
    Maximum sprite size: 16512
    Maximum sprites per scanline: 96
    Background layers: 0
    Aspect ratio: 4:3
    A/V output: RF, composite video, RGB (with separate 21 pin RGB cable FCG-9).

    Sound

    Sound chip: Yamaha YM2610
    4 FM channels, 4 operators per channel
    3 SSG channels
    1 Noise channel
    7 ADPCM channels
    Work RAM (sound): 2KB
    Sound ROM 128KB on-board (only less than 32KB used)
    up to 512KB sound ROM on cartridges



    Sega Genesis:

    Processor: Motorola 68000 16/32-bit processor @ 7.67 MHz (MC68HC000, CMOS version)
    Co-processor: Zilog Z80 8-bit @ 3.58 MHz
    Video display processor: Yamaha YM7101, derivative of the VDP from the Sega Master System
    Memory: 64K work RAM (68000), 64K video RAM, 8K work RAM (Z80). Later hardware had an internal 1Kx16 ROM for the license display screen.
    Display palette: 512 colors (3:3:3 RGB)
    Onscreen colors: 64 (normal) or 183 (shadow/highlight mode)
    Maximum onscreen sprites: 80 (320-pixel wide display) or 64 (256-pixel wide display)
    Resolution: 256224, 256448, 320224, 320448, (PAL and NTSC), 256240, 320240, 256480, 320480 (PAL only), 256192 (SMS games only)
    Sound: Yamaha YM2612 5 channel FM and 1 channel FM/PCM, Texas Instruments SN76489 4 channel PSG (Programmable Sound Generator)



    The Neo Geo had an edge on some aspects, including more memory, a better sound chip, a wider color palette, a more powerful video processor, allowing more sprites at the same time and a slightly faster processor (the same 68000 that the Genesis had, and many more game systems and computers from the era used).

    Resolution-wise, they were both capped at 320 x 224, even if the Genesis had PAL mode capping at 320 x 480, most games of the time used 320 x 224 or 320 x 240.

    The Neo Geo also had the advantage of having larger capacity carts, with the use of bank switching they got this capacity almost to 900 megabits. I'm not sure if the Genesis could technically support such capacities on its carts, cost issues aside.

    Now on to the 32X. At least on paper it sounds as much (if not more) powerful as the Neo Geo:

    Sega 32X:

    Processor: Two SH2 32-bit RISC processors with a clock speed of 23.011 MHz, approx 20 MIPS each
    Video RAM: Two linear framebuffers with support for RLE compression and an overdraw mode to simplify compositing objects with transparency. All scaling, rotation, and 3D operations are performed in software on the SH2 processors.
    ROM (BIOS): 3 kb
    Color depth: 32,768 simultaneous colors on screen at standard Mega Drive/Genesis resolution. Video output can overlay Mega Drive/Genesis graphics or vice versa. Mega Drive/Genesis video effects such as shadow or highlight do not affect 32X video.
    Memory: 256 kB (2 MBit) program RAM and two 128 kB (1 MBit) framebuffers.
    Audio: Stereo 10-bit PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) mixing with Mega Drive/Genesis sound for a total of 12 audio channels of varying capability, 20 with the addition of a Mega-CD/Sega CD.
    I/O: Same as Mega Drive/Genesis.
    Storage: 32X cartridges are fundamentally the same as Mega Drive/Genesis cartridges with some small differences in the plastic casing. A few CD-ROM games were developed that also required a Mega-CD/Sega CD.
    Compatibility: Compatible with Mega Drive/Genesis models 1 and 2, JVC Wondermega/X'Eye and the Multi-Mega/CDX. The 32X does not work with the Genesis 3 which lacks some of the necessary interface logic.

    The processor speed is on par with the Neo Geo, 32X having 2 processors at 23mhz and the Neo Geo having one at 12mhz, and a Z80 at 4mhz. Due to the different architectures, I'm not sure how they compare to each other and if the speed would make a big difference. The color capabilities of the 32X shit all over the Neo Geo, having a max of 32,768 colors compared to the Neo Geo's 4,096. Sound wise they may have a tie, due to the awesome Neo Geo sound chip being better than the Genesis', but the combination of Genesis + 32X + Sega CD gave it 20 channels of sound + the capability of having CD music streamed from the Sega CD. This may give the 32X (with the Sega CD) the upper hand by an infinite margin, due to the possibilities of having any kind of music available, without limits.

    The 32X could even do some decent 3D with textures on software (?) as seen in this review of Metal Head, something the Neo Geo could not. It's pretty understandable, due to the fact that when the 32X released, the Neo Geo was already 4 year old hardware, but VERY powerful and impressive even then in 1994.

    Getting to the bottom line: Could we have had perfect ports of Neo Geo games on the 32X if developers were interested? Is the 32X comparable, inferior or superior to the Neo Geo? Was the Neo Geo really just a glorified Genesis given its VERY similar hardware? (think of how the Wii is mostly a glorified Gamecube).

    Sorry for the massive wall of text, just wanted to make a very detailed post regarding the aspects of each console. All information taken from Wikipedia.

    Discuss.
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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    It's hard to say about the 32X vs the Neo Geo. The 32X clearly has the advantage in anything 3D. I often wonder if the Neo Geo could even do a game like Space Harrier with it's constantly changing floor. We never saw too much variety in the Neo Geo. Neo Geo games rarely put more than 100-200 colors onscreen at once. I doubt any went over 500 much less 1000. If there is an example, please let me know. The 32X could theoretically do 32,000 onscreen at once, but only on static or near-static screens. The games themselves were generally limited to 256 colors and very few even got that high. The 32X sound is something that's definitely interesting. It's not limited to just 2 channels, but depending on how you write the software you can have a ton of channels. All of the sound in After Burner is done by the 32X, I believe... except maybe some beeping noise. Lots of sound going on there. Pretty much all of the graphics are being done by the 32X as well. Most programmers just made Genesis games and let the 32X sloppily handle the sprites.

    I think the Neo Geo is more powerful than the Genesis than the Wii is to the Gamecube. At least it sure seems that way judging by the actual games.

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    Antiquing Hedgehog Lord QuickSciFi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    ...

    I think the Neo Geo is more powerful than the Genesis than the Wii is to the Gamecube. At least it sure seems that way judging by the actual games.
    That's just sad. I've always wondered how the Wii would fare against the original Xbox as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrMatthews View Post
    Thats not quite how it works here. My house is more like a game sanctuary, rather than a halfway house.

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    Bite my shiny, metal ***! Hero of Algol retrospiel's Avatar
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    A couple of differences, i.e. ROM sizes, beefy VDP, more RAM. NG's music is ADPCM instead of actual FM, at least for the most part. The MD's VDP is rather powerful too but definitely can't move as many sprites around as the NG's. Still, the biggest difference is the size of the cartridges. MD games with hundreds of Megs would look rather impressive as well - Super Street Fighter II provides a pretty good example.
    The Mega Drive was far inferior to the NES in terms of diffusion rate and sales in the Japanese market, though there were ardent Sega users. But in the US and Europe, we knew Sega could challenge Nintendo. We aimed at dominating those markets, hiring experienced staff for our overseas department in Japan, and revitalising Sega of America and the ailing Virgin group in Europe.

    Then we set about developing killer games.

    - Hayao Nakayama, Mega Drive Collected Works (p. 17)

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    Master of Shinobi TheSonicRetard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    I often wonder if the Neo Geo could even do a game like Space Harrier with it's constantly changing floor.
    If nothing else, the Neo Geo could brute force the floor from space harrier through FMV.
    A retarded Sonic.

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    What? Shir is gone? Raging in the Streets StarMist's Avatar
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    My feeling on the NeoGeo is it's essentially what Sega would've made the Mega Drive if not for Nintendo's example. Arcade at home is what Sega was all about...but then there was the NES's eclat due increasingly year by year towards the `90s with home oriented gaming. Simply competing with the size of the NES library was part of why Sega so wrongly chose to offer SMS retrocompatibility instead of better RAM/processing/audio/whatever, but the viability of conspicuously downgraded arcade ports must have convinced them that high expensive fidelity was needless. I still maintain (as I did in another NeoGeo thread) that the MD would have flourished at $300 launch price given correct Playstation style marketing and the same game prices we actually saw, as it wasn't the Neo's hardware price alone that put it out of reach---$200+ a pop for games was what really did it.

    Had that wasted space been well used the results when coupled with special-chip carts would've been very close to the NeoGeo's. It would probably best have been replaced with scaling hardware as games like Outrun, Hang On, Space Harrier, and Afterburner were Sega's forte. And this is where the hardware speculation ends for me, as SNK's arcade productions smoked Sega's and with a strengthened focus on arcade style games we would've lost Sonic, Phantasy Star, Kid Chameleon, Shining Force, Ecco, who knows what else. This would also have exacerbated their poor relationship with the two chief developers their arcade rivalry had already put them on bad terms with, Konami and Capcom (I see no reason not to infer this rivalry is why these companies treated their Sega ports so shabbily). An arcade emphasis on the whole would've weakened their third party support as it's simply a narrower field.

    "Glorified"? Well, things can be rightly glorified too. The Neo's library is impressive despite its smallness, which isn't quite so small when the proportion of hopeless garbage in the other 16 bit libraries is considered. The Genesis could as nearly be termed a glorified Turbo Grafx. But the games that push the MD hardware the most tend to be no fun, whilst each add-on brought fewer and fewer good titles to the dance. So I like the MD as it is, w/o all the glory, though it would've been neat to see what Sonic Team could've done with an AES.

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    urusei yatsura Master of Shinobi lumclaw's Avatar
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    I doubt we'll ever understand that one. Except for minimal cost of doing so. They continued to keep support for SMS either active (CDX) or latent fixable (Nomad / Genny 3), years after average users considered it dead and buried in the most morbid way possible.

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    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Hmm, that is very interesting, I suspect StarMist is right. Sega started to de-emphasize its Arcade properties in an effort to draw more third parties to develop for their console. If that is so, there must be a watershed moment where Sega of Japan was either negotiation with or had a fallout with a major third party Arcade developer. At a guess, I would pin this somewhere in 1991, perhaps during the development of the Sega CD. From 1991 on Sega's marketing and general development direction shifted from Arcade at home to being their own all-in-wonder first party console developer.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Smith's Minister of War Hero of Algol Kamahl's Avatar
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    The Neo Geo hardware isn't similar at all to the Genesis. They share processors, but so did the Amiga, the Atari-ST, the Macintosh, etc... It means nothing. The Neo Geo hardware is much, much more powerful.
    The 32x should be able to compete with early Neo-Geo titles in both sound and graphics. The problem is the animation, the 32x can do a lot more than the Neo Geo can, but it can't animate stuff as fast.
    Last edited by Kamahl; 12-25-2011 at 12:07 PM.
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    Road Rasher
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    Even though i love the Neo Geo hardware (from a gamers point of view) and specially the games, i think hardware-wise its kinda been overrated.
    It got released almost at the same time as the Super Famicom, but it cost over 2 times as much. and still the SFC has some technical advantages over it. So its not like the NG was some engineering marvel. So really, back in the day i think that the SFC hardware gave you more bang for your buck than the NG. In 1990, probably, a 700 dollars SFC with 150 dollars carts, would have kicked the NG ass.
    Not hating, just something thats been on my mind lately. NG fanboys act like it can take even on the DC in 2d.
    And again, i really love the NG, Metal Slug series, KOF series, Pulstar, Windjammers, etc, ec, etc... so many games i love.

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    ToeJam is a wiener Hero of Algol Guntz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamahl View Post
    The Neo Geo hardware isn't similar at all to the Genesis. They share processors, but so did the Amiga, the Atari-ST, the Apple-II, etc... It means nothing. The Neo Geo hardware is much, much more powerful.
    The 32x should be able to compete with early Neo-Geo titles in both sound and graphics. The problem is the animation, the 32x can do a lot more than the Neo Geo can, but it can't animate stuff as fast.
    Don't forget the CPS 1 and all sorts of Sega hardware in the arcades at the time. While it's fun to think of the Neo Geo as a super powered Genesis... It just isn't. The two main things that make a console, the video and sound hardware, are completely different. The graphics processor is a beast and it has ADPCM (which I find sounds far more awesome than FM actually). Even the cartridge bus is completely different.

    BTW Kamahl, where did you Apple ][ from? It has a 6502, not a Z80 or anything of that sort. The 68k would also have been far too expensive (heck probably not even available yet) in 1977.

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    Smith's Minister of War Hero of Algol Kamahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guntz View Post
    BTW Kamahl, where did you Apple ][ from? It has a 6502, not a Z80 or anything of that sort. The 68k would also have been far too expensive (heck probably not even available yet) in 1977.
    I meant the Macintosh, got them mixed up :P
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    Death Bringer Raging in the Streets Black_Tiger's Avatar
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    The Genesis and Neo Geo aren't very similar at all. The PC Engine and SNES are about as similar to the Neo Geo as the Genesis is.

    Many arcade games used a resolution of 320 x 224, had an X68000 and FM sound, but are also very different from the Genesis.

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    Road Rasher Mark Robert's Avatar
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    The Neo-Geo is far more powerful no doubt but I don't like the NG's arcade-centric library compared to the much more diverse Genesis library of console specific games and arcade conversions. Yeah the NG is a graphical powerhouse but having primarily a one-on-one fighter library of games is not my cup of tea. I'll take the capable Genesis with its multitude of game genres over the NG powerhouse any day.
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    Wildside Expert Jadty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Robert View Post
    The Neo-Geo is far more powerful no doubt but I don't like the NG's arcade-centric library compared to the much more diverse Genesis library of console specific games and arcade conversions. Yeah the NG is a graphical powerhouse but having primarily a one-on-one fighter library of games is not my cup of tea. I'll take the capable Genesis with its multitude of game genres over the NG powerhouse any day.
    This. I would have loved to see a Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger styled RPG on the Neo Geo AES, the graphical, musical and production value results would have been far more impressive than what the Genesis or SNES could have offered back then. Sadly, home styled gaming was not the focus of SNK, and has never been since. You know what they should do? They should re-release an anniversary edition of the AES, just like they did with the AES controller for PS3 and the one for PS2. The hardware inside is now dirt cheap, I'm sure they could profit quite a bit by releasing it for $100 or even $150. However, a controversy could stir with the collecting scene due to a sudden decrease in price of the original AES. Sega should release a Model 1 with improved hardware, too (as in high quality video and sound chips, without distortions). Unfortunately this will never happen
    Last edited by Jadty; 12-25-2011 at 05:47 PM.
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