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Thread: What the Saturn can exactly do that the Playstation cannot?

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Yohko16's Avatar
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    Default What the Saturn can exactly do that the Playstation cannot?

    Because it's a bit unclear to me...


    The Saturn was released around the same time as the PS1 but was retailed at a higher price.
    Saturn / 1994-11-22 / 44,800 in Japan and $399 in US.
    PS1 / 1994-12-03 / 39,800 in Japan and $299 in US.

    Furthermore, the Saturn also needed things like RAM carts to properly run some games which further increase its price.

    So given this, you would expect the Saturn to perform better or something but the problem is that it's not really the case.

    It's said to be a 2D powerhouse but I've seen some impressive 2D games on PS1 as well, like Symphony of the Night, Panzer Bandit or Hercules.

    3D games on the other hand seem to perform better on PS1, with impressive titles such as Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4 or Quake 2.


    There are a few surprising things about all of this like the fact that the PS1 is said to be designed solely around 3D yet it can do some superb 2D games.

    Also the fact that the Saturn has a complex sound hardware yet it can't even compress data???

    And the PS1 seem to have full transparency support whereas the Saturn is kinda compromised in that regard.


    So, was the Saturn poorly engineered and too expensive for what it is? Or does it have some actual advantages over the PS1 and if so, which ones exactly?


    I'm sure there are already a few threads related to this but I thought that a whole new one with all the knowledge that people gathered so far would make things clearer. So please try to be the most concise possible and thanks in advance for any relevant informations regarding this subject!

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    End of line.. Hero of Algol gamevet's Avatar
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    The RAM cart is for 2D fighting games. It allows the Saturn to have near arcade perfect ports of Street Fighter Alpha 3, Cyberbots, KOF 95, Vampire Savior (Dark Stalkers): Lord of Vampires and X-Men vs Street Fighter.

    The Saturn already has more system RAM than the PlayStation, even without the RAM cart.


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    Last edited by gamevet; 01-12-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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    Death Bringer Raging in the Streets Black_Tiger's Avatar
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    Just like 16-bit consoles it's more about balance. The Playstation pulled ahead early on and defined what was considered "normal". So common aspects in PSX games like full screen dithering, flappy seams, warping and jittery textures all got a free pass.

    Some of the better aspects of Saturn 3D aren't simply because of a technical superiority and more of a manifestation of how Saturn games were typical deceloped. Do Saturn 3D looks much more like N64 in that everything is usually solid and not warping excessively. N64 3D itself isn't as solid as it appears if you see it in RGB with anti-aliasing turned off.
    Quote Originally Posted by year2kill06
    everyone knows nintendo is far way cooler than sega just face it nintendo has more better games and originals

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher
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    I hope it's not trolling

    saturn natively has more RAM than ps1

    Saturn has 1.5MB of VRAM, that's 50% more and allows saturn to play games with higher resolution (Dead or alive) and better texture than the PS1.(Sonic world)

    Saturn can do Nights and PS1 can't (in fact it could but would get worse) Nights needs to operate with 60fps backgrounds and 30fps characters in a fluid and continuous way. SEGA Marketing said it was impossible on PS1. Panzer Dragoon Zwei too cause Saturn can do infinit plans so beach look or sky above the clouds, better draw distance.

    VDP1 is weaker than the PS1 processor by about 40%, something like 14fps less, so any ps1 game can run on Saturn with reduced frame and some trade offs.

    But it was designed to run the floor and some backgrounds using the VDP2 2D chip, so the VDP1 chip could be free and thus outperform the PS1 in 3D.

    In 2D Saturn runs better than PS1 since the game is made with hand-drawn sprites, understand Yoshi story, Klonoa, Castlevania are 2D but are made of polygons.

    So in hand sprite games the PS1 can't replicate Guardiam Heroes and other similar Saturn gifts.

    Finally the expansion card is to optimize loadings, but saturn also came with internal memory card, SEGA believed that this was important, but the public preferred to buy a console with bad CD player, bad plastic and paid to save their games. So Play 1 sold fast and when the N64 arrived in 1996 with MArio 64 and effective marketing, Saturn was seen as unnecessary, and even though it was better forgotten, SEGA in turn stopped investing in big budget games so Saturn has no prettier game than later PS1 games.
    Last edited by SegaAMD; 01-12-2020 at 03:08 PM.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Anything that makes heavy use of VDP2 planes on the Saturn is going to suffer when ported to the Playstation. Grandia is a really good example of this. The floors in most areas are a VDP2 plane on Saturn, and on PS1 they had to recreate them with polygons. As a result there's worse framerate drops in areas and the texture of the floor is simplified:



    Saturn is on the left, Playstation/PC/Switch is on the right.


    Quote Originally Posted by SegaAMD View Post
    saturn natively has more RAM than ps1
    No, both systems have 2MB of Main System RAM. Saturn is actually worse in this regard as instead of it being 1 unified bank, it's instead 2 separate 1MB banks defined as LWRAM and HWRAM. LWRAM is actually slower than HWRAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by SegaAMD View Post
    Saturn has 1.5MB of VRAM, that's 50% more and allows saturn to play games with higher resolution and better texture than the PS1.
    While yes it does have 1.5MB of Memory for the VDPs, saying it's all VRAM is misleading. It's 512KB of VRAM for VDP1, 512KB of VRAM for VDP2, and then 2 hardware controlled 256KB Frame buffers for VDP1 to write to. VDP1 can write to VDP2's VRAM but it can't read from it, and the frame buffers aren't configurable and a lot of problems come about with how VDP1 and VDP2 interact with them. So for 3D it really comes down to 512KB of VRAM and 512KB for a double buffered frame buffer set up. VDP2 in many cases sits unused for 3D games and that VRAM can't be used well. It takes a lot of creative design ideas to make full use of VDP1 and VDP2 in a 3D game.

    PS1 on the other hand has 1 MB of unified VRAM it can use however it wants.

    Quote Originally Posted by SegaAMD View Post
    Saturn can do Nights and PS1 can't (in fact it could but would get worse) Nights needs to operate with 60fps backgrounds and 30fps characters in a fluid and continuous way. SEGA Marketing said it was impossible on PS1.
    This is a pile of BS. The backgrounds operate at a different frame rate simply because VDP1 and VDP2 can render at different frame rates. It's not any kind of requirement for the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by SegaAMD View Post
    VDP1 is weaker than the PS1 processor by about 40%, something like 14fps less, so any ps1 game can run on Saturn with reduced frame and some trade offs.
    The only thing accurate here is that VDP1 is weaker than the PS1's GTE.
    Last edited by TrekkiesUnite118; 01-12-2020 at 03:12 PM.

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    When you look at the screen like that it really seems like a bug in the conversion , almost as if the Playstation version didn't look at the character map on VDP2 and just used the raw texture. Actually drawing the floor as polygons seems ok in terms of performance. Maybe there was a memory problem.

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    Master of Shinobi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazyace View Post
    When you look at the screen like that it really seems like a bug in the conversion , almost as if the Playstation version didn't look at the character map on VDP2 and just used the raw texture. Actually drawing the floor as polygons seems ok in terms of performance. Maybe there was a memory problem.
    There is no bug. Those screenshots are from the overhead map view (I'm guessing), not the actual ground texture. You can see things like the house ceilings and the fountain and the river on it. Remove all of those, and you'll see that the Playstation version is just a repeating pattern: it did not have memory to store the entire, fully detailed ground texture. The Saturn could use a more detailed ground because it was using an entire separate gpu and dedicated bank of memory just for that.

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    What the Saturn has over the PSX:
    - dedicated tilemapper graphics chip with two 256k memory banks, think of it as something over 2x as strong as the SNES with 8x the memory for backgrounds... probably the strongest dedicated tilemapper ever put in consumer hardware. It can also take the polygon output and treat it as a background, doing some effects with it, but how much it can do depends on the polygon modes used. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a mode that makes both polygons and backgrounds work to maximum effect, which is part of the reason why the mesh effects were so common.
    - dedicated 2x 256k framebuffers. Unfortunately this meant the machine had much less space available for textures than the PSX.
    - the VDP1 has a feature that can be sort of used for hardware mipmapping, it's called High Speed Shrink and it makes the give polygon texture sampled at half the resolution. I don't know if any games ever used it for that though, they probably all just turned it on as a general speed increase.
    - Saturn could run in higher resolution (320/352/640/704 x 224/240/256/448/480/512), while PSX could run in lower resolution (256/320/368/512/640 x 240/480). The difference here is that Saturn could run low-res polygons but still keep hi-res backgrounds, while the PSX shared framebuffer size with texture memory and so using a lower resolution meant saving up extra space for textures. It's what Castlevania used to get as much animation in as possible.
    - Saturn could run 24-bit backgrounds while still being able to draw polygons. PSX could not do that.
    - Saturn could abuse a hardware snafu to shade textures in a way that every pixels colour was definable, thereby being theoretically capable of more advanced shading effects. However it had many limitations and only a single tech demo did it.
    - It had more CD buffer (128k vs 512k)
    - more robust CD hardware in general - dedicated processor for controlling the drive, plus the drives are better quality
    - sound channels can be used as FM operators and you can link any number of them (this is very advanced stuff similar to high-end FM synth keyboards), and the sound DSP is programmable instead of fixed. Unfortunately the lack of hardware sample compression made PCM samples sound much worse in the end, and nobody really programmed FM channels by then so the more advanced hardware was left unused. Four years later they took the same chip, removed the FM stuff, doubled the PCM channels, added hardware ADPCM compression, and put it in the Dreamcast.
    - SCU DSP can be used for other calculations than just doing T&L, although even then it just isn't as useful as the PSX GTE.
    - expansion ports are theoretically capable of doing much more in hardware

    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    No, both systems have 2MB of Main System RAM. Saturn is actually worse in this regard as instead of it being 1 unified bank, it's instead 2 separate 1MB banks defined as LWRAM and HWRAM. LWRAM is actually slower than HWRAM.
    Technically the Saturn could use its larger CD buffer memory as a generic memory bank, so it had a slight advantage in memory size, even without counting the VDP2 or the RAM expansions.... 1mb + 1mb + 512k vs 2mb + 128k. But it was overall slower as only 1 meg was 32bit, everything else was 16bit. Even the RAM expansions.

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Yohko16's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black_Tiger View Post
    common aspects in PSX games like full screen dithering, flappy seams
    Not sure about what these things refer to. Can you give precise examples, preferably via pictures or videos?


    Quote Originally Posted by SegaAMD View Post
    I hope it's not trolling
    LOL, I don't think that it looked so, unlike your post!

    I appreciate your enthusiam mister SegaAMD but I feel that you're a bit on the delusional side.

    SEGA Marketing said it was impossible on PS1
    I wouldn't trust a marketing division on such things!

    Panzer Dragoon Zwei too cause Saturn can do infinit plans so beach look or sky above the clouds, better draw distance.
    Wouldn't this game be doable on PS1?

    In 2D Saturn runs better than PS1 since the game is made with hand-drawn sprites, understand Yoshi story, Klonoa, Castlevania are 2D but are made of polygons.
    Can someone explain me how 2D games can be made of polygons?

    Otherwise I agree that the Saturn build quality feels better but it's the games that matter the most.


    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    Anything that makes heavy use of VDP2 planes on the Saturn is going to suffer when ported to the Playstation. Grandia is a really good example of this. The floors in most areas are a VDP2 plane on Saturn, and on PS1 they had to recreate them with polygons. As a result there's worse framerate drops in areas and the texture of the floor is simplified:



    Saturn is on the left, Playstation/PC/Switch is on the right.
    Lot of repeated patterns on PS1 and also no shadow for the houses. But the resolution is higher. Is it the PC version shown here?

    Also, some good infos in your post!


    @zyrobs: amazing! This is the kind of overview that I wanted. Thanks!

    I don't get it all though but I will dig this.

    And in a more practical way, can you tell which games the Saturn got that couldn't be achieved, or not without many compromises, on PS1?

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    Death Bringer Raging in the Streets Black_Tiger's Avatar
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    Can't quote. Yohko: PSX dithering explained:

    https://youtu.be/3XDyQnY5GHI

    Most PSX games, seemed like every game I played, have a dithered haze moving over the screen. N64 does too, but it's masked by the AA smearing and poor video quality.
    Last edited by Black_Tiger; 01-12-2020 at 07:21 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by year2kill06
    everyone knows nintendo is far way cooler than sega just face it nintendo has more better games and originals

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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingWildside Expert Yohko16's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black_Tiger View Post
    Can't quote. Yohko: PSX dithering explained:

    https://youtu.be/3XDyQnY5GHI
    Thanks! Gonna watch that.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yohko16 View Post
    Can someone explain me how 2D games can be made of polygons?
    Draw the polygons so they always face the camera at the same angle as it moves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yohko16 View Post
    Lot of repeated patterns on PS1 and also no shadow for the houses. But the resolution is higher. Is it the PC version shown here?
    Yes, the comparison is to the PC/Switch version. However the way the floor textures look is identical to the PS1 version as the HD port is based on the PS1 version. To be honest I'm almost convinced it's running on some hacked up PS1 emulator that allows them to swap in upscaled assets and the like as there's certain parts where you can see tell-tale PS1 texture warping in the new HD remaster:



    Top is Saturn, bottom is HD Remaster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yohko16 View Post
    And in a more practical way, can you tell which games the Saturn got that couldn't be achieved, or not without many compromises, on PS1?
    Any game that's making extensive use of VDP2 planes like this:



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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher
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    there's nothing at all like X Men vs Street Fighter on any other fifth generation console.
    Last edited by SegaAMD; 01-12-2020 at 09:00 PM.

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    End of line.. Hero of Algol gamevet's Avatar
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    I love me some Vampire Savior. That game is gorgeous.
    A Black Falcon: no, computer games and video games are NOT the same thing. Video games are on consoles, computer games are on PC. The two kinds of games are different, and have significantly different design styles, distribution methods, and game genre selections. Computer gaming and console (video) gaming are NOT the same thing."



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    8 & 16 bit guy Outrunner Bloodreign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    I love me some Vampire Savior. That game is gorgeous.
    Probably the absolute best Capcom arcade port on the Saturn, everything sounds so good, colors pop nicely, animation is spot on, no load time, bigger than arcade roster. Plus if you have RGB setup, it has a mode for it either in the regular options, or the hidden options menu (1CC the game to access it via code). SFZ 3 has some sound muffling from the announcer, and an extremely high price, but Vampire Savior is quite affordable, and the audio is all crystal clear.

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