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Thread: Best And worst Quality FMV (Streaming video) on the Sega CD?

  1. #16
    Bite my shiny, metal ***! Hero of Algol retrospiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    especially since anime as a rule is extremely limited in animation
    This is something quite noteworthy in the context of video games itself.

    Both cartoons and videogames are American forms of art.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christuserloeser View Post
    There practically were no comics nor cartoons until the US liberation of Japan at the end of WW2. Tezuka, the author of the famous Astro Boy, which was the "first Japanese television series that embodied the aesthetic that later became familiar worldwide as anime", designed his characters to look pretty much exactly like those featured in [very] early Fleischer or Disney cartoons.
    Early Japanese cartoons in general were VERY similar to Disney's or Fleischer's earlier works, both in the way they looked and the way they were animated. But when the Japanese cartoon market exploded during the 60s or 70s, they tried to find ways to reduce the production cost, much like what Hanna Barbera did for the Flintstones in the US.

    Among the methods most widely in use in later anime were moving the characters across the screen without actually changing (= animating) the character's pose (i.e. during a jump or flight); or giving the impression of a fully animated character by only animating the character's mouth or hand, etc.

    These methods then were applied to early Japanese video games like Taito's Space Invaders, Namco's Pac-Man or Nintendo's Donkey Kong. It allowed graphic designers to actually animate something that resembled real cartoon characters by changing only a few pixels each frame.

    Space Invaders & co. did not feature simple geometric shapes like in Pong or Missile Command, or abstract vector graphics like in Asteroids, Ballzone or Tempest, but something that almost looked like real hand drawn cartoon characters - like the aliens in Space Invaders, the ghosts in Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong and Mario - all of which appear to be fully animated although their entire range of moves consists of only two or three individual frames.
    Last edited by retrospiel; 06-24-2010 at 06:07 PM.
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    Then we set about developing killer games.

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  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    The Sega CD Popful Mail opening is more impressive. There is much more animation. The PCE version has a finger wiggle here, a mouth open and close there and an arm wave there. Sometimes it gets a bit more complicated with that, but there isn't much in the way of the entire image animating. The Sega CD version looks closer to a TV cartoon (especially since anime as a rule is extremely limited in animation) whereas the PCE version looks like nearly all other PCE intros. Chuck Rock II has more animation than both combined.
    I can understand the Sega-CD version appearing more impressive overall to the average person, but the PCE version is way more animated than the average PCE cinema. The thing with the PCE version is that the heavier animated stuff doesn't stand out as much as the more intense sections of the Sega-CD version (for a number of reasons), at least in the first cinema. The second cinema is noticeably more animated in the PCE version.

    Chuck Rock II's opening might have more frequent drawn frames, but it would take much less work to animate than the Popful Mail openings. Chuck Rock II looks like a student film while the Popful Mails are several leagues above it. A poor animator could draw and animate Chuck Rock II, but would be incapable of even drawing the Popful Mail designs. I wouldn't be surprised if Core hired some animation students fresh out of film school to make it cheap (local game companies hired anyone out of animation school that was interested when I graduated). I can't even make a proper comparison like "Akira vs Family Guy" because Chuck Rock II's designs and the quality of much of the animation and the painting, etc is more amateurish than professional. It's still very cool for a game cinema of the time.

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    Hero of Algol kool kitty89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christuserloeser View Post
    FMV is FMV, not animated bitmap graphics.
    Please elaborate on your definition of FMV.

    To me "full motion video" means just that, video (ie raster graphics) with full motion animation. (ie at least reasonably smooth animation) And in the context of common usage, generally applies to streaming video in general. (cartoon, live action, or CGI


    Though I'd agree that tactfully compiled animation tiles/graphics utilizing blitting or console hardware sprite positioning/BG scrolling is a rather different issue. (much of Rebel Assault is not FMV, of course, but rather simpler tile/blitted graphics animations rather like a number of other DOS games -like cutscenes in Day of the Tentacle, X-Wing, or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis).

    However, it's a bit of an odd area when you're constantly streaming additional data, but that's how a lot of animation works once you exceed VRAM limitations anyway. (it's just ROM and RAM vs CD streaming or CD streaming and buffering into RAM which then updates to VRAM)
    The pattern data could be compressed too, as was common in a fair number of cart games, but that doesn't really matter int he context of defining FMV vs other types of animation.



    It's all bitmap graphics though, and all video in the technical sense. (everything on a TV screen is video by definition as it's a video -raster- display)


    With compression, the data is decompressed into bitmap or tilemap frames (if bitmap it needs to be converted to the tile format on such consoles -though not on framebuffer based systems liek computers 32x, Jaguar, 3DO, Saturn, PSX etc), and in the case of several games, uncompressed frames are used, like Sonic CD, Road Avenger, etc. (full 16-color frames, not discrete animation in those cases)

    Again, when scrolling/sprite positioning/blitting is involved I'd agree that that's distinct from streaming video (compressed or not), but something like updating on a tile by tile basis (or specific regions of a framebuffer in a bitmap display) would be a form of compression IMO and actually a form of interframe compression. (not intraframe compression though -but that could be applied concurrently)
    I think some DOS/Amiga(etc) games and possibly Chuck Rock 2 and BC Racers do strictly that given the general lack of conventional scrolling and panning with overlapping animation which Popful Mail obviously catered to.
    In fact, I wonder if Silpheed uses a method like that givent he lack of artifacting. (or if Cinepak for Sega works that way, at least to some extent -It's distinct from real cinepak and supposedly takes advantage of the tile format of the MD as well as using some intraframe compression I'd imagine)


    For example, I'd say the intro to Keio Flying Squadron is FMV for sure (uncompressed frames like Sonic CD, Road Avenger, Time Gal, Cobra Command, etc), but the in game cinematics are simpler overlaid sprite+BG layered type animations and seem to use CD-DA as well. (so graphics fit in RAM)


    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Redifer View Post
    The Sega CD Popful Mail opening is more impressive. There is much more animation. The PCE version has a finger wiggle here, a mouth open and close there and an arm wave there. Sometimes it gets a bit more complicated with that, but there isn't much in the way of the entire image animating. The Sega CD version looks closer to a TV cartoon (especially since anime as a rule is extremely limited in animation) whereas the PCE version looks like nearly all other PCE intros. Chuck Rock II has more animation than both combined.
    Was Popful Mail for the PCE CD-ROM2 or the Super CD? Even with the Super CD, the Sega CD would have a lot more RAM to buffer animation, but the original PCE CD has almost no space at all. (and on top of that none of the PCE CDs had CD-ROM buffers while the Sega CD does -albeit only 16 kB iirc, so 1/2 that of the 3DO or PSX)

    Indeed, Anime style greatly caters to such animation, especially with the large amount of panning on still or mostly still BG (hardware scrolling and overlaid graphics would work well).

    The way Sonic CD's intro is done wouldn't cater so much though as it's full of action and dynamic animation, as are the other games using uncompressed frame by frame animation. (and those Japanese LD games could certianly be categorized as Anime) Though there's several points in Time Gal where the BG is largely static, so that could have benefited more. (things liek that would also compress better with interframe heavy codecs due the that very reason)
    Dragon's Lair seems to actually take advantage of such, but not in the manner of tile by tile updates, but rather static BG with overlaid streaming animation (not sure if it's compressed or not). And again, in that case error diffusion dithering is also a nice effect compared to the simple ordered dithering used elsewhere. (especially with cinepak -though with tile divided graphics I suppose such dithering would be less practical to implement, but ordered dithering does tend to have a more artifacted and posterized appearance)

    Batman and Robbin 's animation doesn't really cater to that at all: there's enough of relatively static BGs to cater fairly well to interframe compression with limited bitrates, but not anything like the panning and BG and/or sprite layered animation like Popful Mail. (hell even low quality animatin liek DIC sometimes used tended to have a lot of movement going on... though some of the cheap 70s/80s Hanna Barbera Scooby Doo type animation may have catered fairly well -in fact the Chuck Rock 2 video is rather like that as are several computer games like Full Throttle)


    Quote Originally Posted by Black_Tiger View Post
    Chuck Rock II's opening might have more frequent drawn frames, but it would take much less work to animate than the Popful Mail openings. Chuck Rock II looks like a student film while the Popful Mails are several leagues above it. A poor animator could draw and animate Chuck Rock II, but would be incapable of even drawing the Popful Mail designs. I wouldn't be surprised if Core hired some animation students fresh out of film school to make it cheap (local game companies hired anyone out of animation school that was interested when I graduated). I can't even make a proper comparison like "Akira vs Family Guy" because Chuck Rock II's designs and the quality of much of the animation and the painting, etc is more amateurish than professional. It's still very cool for a game cinema of the time.
    The cutscene animation pretty much matches the character pixel art though, so I don't so much see how higher quality artwork would have even mattered. (anything else wouldn't have matched the game and you could have different lines and more shading, but not without dithering on the Sega CD -maybe if you used shadow and maybe hilight)
    It does resemble Hanna Barbera type animation a fair bit, then again, Chuck Rock is pretty heavily styled after Flinstones too.
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 06-24-2010 at 08:32 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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    Quote Originally Posted by kool kitty89 View Post
    Again, it depends what you mean by FMV or Streaming video. (soem don't even consider the 2 synonymous -FMV being tied to a specific genre and sometimes live action only -I don't like that definition though)
    I'd say no. It's either FMV or it's a variant of streaming animation. I think the only exception would be like It Came From the Desert. FMV but the BG is a non moving layer/plate.

    Popful Mail isn't FMV by any stretched of the imagination (IMO). Chuck Rock II doesn't look like it either. Just streaming animation. It's variable rate, it's on different planes, and moves around separately and at a higher temporal resolution than FMV can deliver on these target systems, uses mirroring, etc. I'm think FLI format was like this.

    I like it better then FMV, but of course it doesn't lend well, or at all, to real live video/stills.

    The PCE could have done this with SCD card, easily (ACD, even better). No idea why they didn't. You stream packs of data and ADPCM data. Key parts need to buffer in the heavy animation parts, during the still or looped parts (cycled animation). And Sega pulled got the idea right But wtf, only two games???

    As cool as the animation is for SegaCD Popful Mail, I dislike the low color count and color scheme (the blue and red is washed out). Not sir,... I don't like it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kool kitty89 View Post
    The cutscene animation pretty much matches the character pixel art though, so I don't so much see how higher quality artwork would have even mattered. (anything else wouldn't have matched the game and you could have different lines and more shading, but not without dithering on the Sega CD -maybe if you used shadow and maybe hilight)
    It does resemble Hanna Barbera type animation a fair bit, then again, Chuck Rock is pretty heavily styled after Flinstones too.
    It's not that Chuck Rock II doesn't measure up to the source material or could've been drawn better, it's how it compares to the detailed drawings of the Popful Mails. The most detailed single animated object in Chuck Rock II has less detail than Mail's eye in the PCE version. Keeping the models "on-key" wouldn't be difficult and frames that are off-key wouldn't be noticeable. It's fine for what it is, but I find the Popful Mails much more impressive animation wise.

    Every extra layer of shading needs to be animated to match the rest. So a single frame in a similar shot in the PCE version (like the upper body of Mail running) is the equivalent of several drawings worth of animation in the Sega-CD version. Animating the shading can be more work/harder to do that the actual line drawing depending on the character. That's just the work dealing with the actual animation. I now know just how hard it is to get those images converted to actual clean graphics and keep them matching up to each other (a stray pixel in a frame of Mail's animation in the PCE version sticks out like a sore thumb to me now ). The more detailed and shaded the exponentially more difficult it becomes. That's why I was shocked when I first saw the overall quality of the cinemas in the PCE Popful Mail (not just the opening cinema).

    It's like how the Intellivision running man has very impressive animation, but not so much compared to Alucard's sprite. No matter how many extra frames you give the running man over Alucard.




    I also find that Jurassic Park 2 cinema very impressive technically, but the art looks ugly to me. If you dropped in Popful Mail artwork into that cinema and ran it in the SFC Popful Mail it would look like a nice CD game cinema.
    Last edited by Black_Tiger; 06-24-2010 at 11:07 PM.

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    The comparison between Chuck Rock 2 and PCE Popful Mail is nowhere near as extreme as the Intellivision vs Alucard example. The artwork is what it is. There is more movement on the screen at any given time and the drawing quality and detail is about that of a Hanna Barbara cartoon (low). Sure, every single pixel on the screen in the PCE version may be a different color and it may take 1,000 different Japanese men to animate those, but that doesn't mean it is more impressive. If you want to see amateur-looking drawings, look at Wonder Dog's opening.

    Bottom line: The intro to the Sega CD Popful Mail is more impressive than the intro than the PCE Popful Mail, which looks pedestrian by PCE accounts. It looks better than Telenet games, though. Only the mouth moving or a finger twitching does not impress me. I don't care if the finger contains 4,096 colors... it's still just a finger twitching. The opening for the PCE version has a lot of this. Even the Sega CD version has some of this. Bottom line 2: Japan is not very good at animation as a rule.

    The only thing technically impressive about the Jurassic Park 2 SNES opening are the independently scaling helicopters. The SNES can't scale sprites, but it sure looks like it can on that intro. There really isn't that much voice and the drawings are about Wonder Dog quality.
    Last edited by Joe Redifer; 06-25-2010 at 01:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomaitheous View Post
    I'd say no. It's either FMV or it's a variant of streaming animation. I think the only exception would be like It Came From the Desert. FMV but the BG is a non moving layer/plate.

    Popful Mail isn't FMV by any stretched of the imagination (IMO). Chuck Rock II doesn't look like it either. Just streaming animation. It's variable rate, it's on different planes, and moves around separately and at a higher temporal resolution than FMV can deliver on these target systems, uses mirroring, etc. I'm think FLI format was like this.
    Yeah, I pretty much ended up stating that too, but in a rather rambling fassion.

    However, if there was a case of streaming video (compressed or uncompressed wouldn't matter -animation can and was often compressed as well) which updated on a tile by tile basis, but didn't use scrolling/positioning of sprites or tiles, I'd consider that FMV/streaming video. (that's actually one of the simpler forms of interframe compression -divide the screen with a grid and update only segments that change between frames -or is that actually how Cinepak works? -for interframe, not intraframe compression -iirc it uses both like most lossy video compression formats)


    I like it better then FMV, but of course it doesn't lend well, or at all, to real live video/stills.
    It was used a fair amount with digitized photos though, often intersperced with actual FMV. (Rebel Assault is one such example, Return to Zork is another) One odd thing about Rebel assault is that there's a really odd mix of art design for the characters some are CGI, some are pixel art, and soem are digitized actors/photos.

    The PCE could have done this with SCD card, easily (ACD, even better). No idea why they didn't. You stream packs of data and ADPCM data. Key parts need to buffer in the heavy animation parts, during the still or looped parts (cycled animation). And Sega pulled got the idea right But wtf, only two games???
    What was the second game that did it?
    When I looked at Popful mail's cinematics, I saw several others using similar animation techiniques, several Japan only releases by the look of them. (though the framerate was so low for the animation I wouldn't have been surprised if simple uncompressed frame by frame video was used rather than tile based animation)
    I'll have to look though that again.

    As cool as the animation is for SegaCD Popful Mail, I dislike the low color count and color scheme (the blue and red is washed out). Not sir,... I don't like it.
    Yeah, I noticed the palette choices, the PCE looked better in that respect (the pastel red/melon color and powder blue in particular stood out)


    Edit: the other examples I remembered seeing were 3x3 Eyes (JP only I think) and Dark Wizard. (though some other titles like Lunar have some of that type of cinematics, albeit far more limited)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_lTmo8j3qQ


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikdhk-HW76Q


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdbEwgr0CW4 (more for Dark Wizard)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 06-25-2010 at 04:24 AM.
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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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    ding-doaw Raging in the Streets tomaitheous's Avatar
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    Dark Wizard looks like streaming animation (can here the low sample rate of the audio). Not sure about 3x3 Eyes though (if it's Red Book audio, then it's not). It looks like it could be compressed into a single load with red book audio playback. No PCECD or SegaCD game that I know of, used subchannel data from CDDA to update cinema graphics. So I doubt that's an option. As far as FMV and just updating some tiles per 'frame', yeah that's just a form of compression. Still fits within the format of FMV. Streaming animation is more like a script format. You have x/y scroll registers, sprite offsets, multiple planes, etc.

    What was the second game that did it?
    Was referring to Chuck Rock II.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomaitheous View Post
    Dark Wizard looks like streaming animation (can here the low sample rate of the audio). Not sure about 3x3 Eyes though (if it's Red Book audio, then it's not). It looks like it could be compressed into a single load with red book audio playback. No PCECD or SegaCD game that I know of, used subchannel data from CDDA to update cinema graphics. So I doubt that's an option. As far as FMV and just updating some tiles per 'frame', yeah that's just a form of compression. Still fits within the format of FMV. Streaming animation is more like a script format. You have x/y scroll registers, sprite offsets, multiple planes, etc.
    Yeah, sub-channel data would be the only option with red book, but with lower quality streaming audio, you could fit more along with the audio. (and could have better quality audio than most FMV -though you'd have to work within the limits of buffering into 64 kB audio RAM -I seem to recall that many games streaming PCM to the ricoh chip double buffer into wave RAM, so you'd be limited to 32 kB packets in that case) You could do up to 32 kHz 8-bit stereo (so 64 kB/s), which would mean updating the 32 kB buffer in wave RAM twice a second.



    Was referring to Chuck Rock II.
    Oh, then you'd need to include BC Racers as well.



    And as I mentioned here: http://sega-16.com/forum/showthread....d=1#post268924

    it seems the Digital Pictures games (at least Night Trap and Sewer Shark) could very well be totally uncompressed. (requiring 128 kB/s or less for animation). Only 168x104 16 fps for cutscenes (and the entire game in the case of night trap) and Sewer Shark uses 144x116 16 fps for the in-game sequences (even smaller for the mini cutscene clips during gameplay)
    Had Night Trap used Cinepak with ~2:1 compression (maybe a little more -definitely for mode 1 data and especially the intro scene which is considerably larger on the 32x) it could have had video comparable to the 32x version in terms of resolution and frame rate. (audio actually seems better on the Sega CD than 32x for night trap)
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 06-25-2010 at 08:12 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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    night trap is good

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    A lot of this seems very technical to me, but one thing that I have noticed is that - if they would have digitally remastered every single frame it would have looked much better. I think most of the FMV was just a rush job and they went with it. I've noticed colors where they shouldn't be and lot's of grainy graphics. If you watch the Sonic CD intro, the colors are very clear and there is not a lot of grain going on, but something like Wirehead or anything else and it looks grainy. If they would have went frame by frame and touched things up, removed the grains from the graphics (so that there were one solid color) I think it would have looked much better. Not sure if that made any sense at all. And I do realize that it sort of needs to be grainy for that dithering effect.
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    It's a trade off. Sonic CD's graphics are low-color, but mostly undithered. Similar cases would be with Road Avenger and the like and also NovaStorm. (though it caters less to more detailed visuals like live action and CGI -really heavy posterization in Novastorm -I'd have preferred a bit more dithering)

    I actually don't mind dithering and in the case of compressed video, I'd imagine doing anything other than simple low color optimized palettes with or without simple ordered dithering would make the most sense.

    However, for the uncompressed video at least (which includes Night Trap and Sewer Shark), it should have been reasonable to use error diffusion dithering rather than simple ordered dithering. (Dragon's Lair did that)

    Take examples from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dither
    Source image


    Reduced to web safe palette undithered and using floyd-seinberg dithering:

    (the restricted palette is somewhat comparable to the Genesis's 16-colors from 9-bit RGB in the sense of limited color)

    Again, but now using an optimized 16-color palette (indexed from 24-bit RGB I'd assume so much broader than the Genesis -more than SNES/32x for that matter)


    Finally, here's what I mean by ordered vs err diffused dithering:
    source image, ordered (bayer) dithering, and Floyd–Steinberg ditheing (see the link for several other types of error diffusion dithering)


    Again, Dragon's Lair (and I think Space Ace) used error diffusion dithering, and it's a bit of a shame that wasn't more commonly used. Ordered dithering is the simplest and rather ugly by comparison (with a very digitized appearance), that's what the .GIF format uses by default for dithering to its restricted palette. (other utilities could be used to convert images more tastefully though)


    Note: threshold dithering is the simple form that results in posterization rather than grainyness, often referred to as undithered in that context:


    Though in the cases of several uncompressed animated examples (like Sonic CD or Road Avenger) it seems that things were additionally optimized either by hand and/or using a custom software utility. (there's still a lot of color loss and posterization in spite of that though)
    Also, had Sonic CD's intro been in a similar window size as Night Trap or Sewer Shark, it could have run at almost double the framerate (and likely not cut out sever sections of the original animation -which was likely done due to the framerate limitations -it they decided to run more frames of animation at that slow rate and cut out sections to keep the time length right for the music). All those cases use uncompressed video, so Sonic CD could still use a similar style regardless, but it would be at a lower resolution compared to the 256x112 animation window used, but .
    Last edited by kool kitty89; 06-26-2010 at 06:46 AM.
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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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    Seeing as realtime animation seems to count as FMV in this discussion, I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned Urusei Yatsura.


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    It doesn't count.


    But there's also Yumini Mix

    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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    Wirehead had the full screen FMV, though it was probably grainy beyond compare.

    Accessing COMP・・Demon Summoning Program Active・・Login Timeout. Access terminated.


    "For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life.
    For me, it was Tuesday." | The Temple of Raul Julia's Witness

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