“Blast Processing”, the reality. . . .

As it turns out, “Blast Processing” really was just total marketing spiel back in the day, even if the Genesis could technically do some stuff under the hood that can now be sort of linked to it decades later.

“The fact is that Blast Processing is such a hardcore, low-level application of the Mega Drive hardware that, astonishingly, it was never used in any shipping games and only in recent years has the technique been successfully mastered. And even then, its actual application in games is severely limited, with some interesting, but not exactly game-changing results … But secondly, and perhaps more pressingly, Blast Processing essentially uses the entirety of the 68000’s CPU time. You can run Blast Processing on a Mega Drive game, but you’d be unable to run anything with it … So it’s useless for standard cartridge games [other than for static high-colour images] … Throughout the machine’s lifetime, clever coding produced an almost generational leap in the effects seen in Mega Drive titles – but Blast Processing, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them.” – Eurogamer

Here’s a Digital Foundry video of what real “Blast Processing” is: 

There are also some other additional limitations and drawbacks to this mode that aren’t metioned in the video above, such as a lower horizontal resolution with double-wide pixels, some glitchy pixels, a stalled CPU and out of action sound processor, the disabling of scroll planes and an inability to display sprites, etc, which I’ve not seen/heard anyone mention in the past when talking about “Blast Processing” on the Genesis, especially when using it to suggest the console is capable of something the SNES isn’t, but they are covered nicely in this video:

So, it’s definitely interesting that Genesis can even do higher colour images in the first place, but some random hacker pulling off some random hack decades down that line, a hack that clearly wasn’t what Sega was trying to convince all the Genesis and indeed SNES fans of when it marketed “Blast Processing” to them as some kind of Genesis secret sauce that makes its games run faster than those on SNES, is nothing more than straight-up lying.

But, hey, the high-colour images do looks half-decent for what they are, at least based on the clips in the video footage above. Although, it would be nice if I could find some examples of clean full-screen images of “Blast Processing” in action somewhere online to check out.

Edit: I managed to get the images from the demo that’s linked in the Digital Foundry video:

Not sure what the big bars of solid colour at the bottom of each image are though.

Here’s some standard SNES 256-colour images for comparison:

Note: Any black bars or borders in the SNES images are just me being lazy and not finding images that fit its aspect ratio properly before converting them to display in the SNES’ specifications.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s