Nintendoes . . .

Note: This article exists because I think we’ve seen the spreading of a false narrative around the SNES/Super Famicom and Genesis/Mega Drive consoles in recent times, which basically conveys that the SNES really only has more colours than Genesis but is otherwise just very slow, and that the Genesis basically does everything else better and/or can simply duplicate anything SNES does anyway through pretty much sheer CPU power alone, which simply isn’t the objective truth at all.

So, this a list full of things the stock SNES does better than the stock Genesis in terms of technical specs, plus some things it does that Genesis simply can’t, as well as some ways it just measurably beat the Genesis based on official numbers like sales and such–and all of them are facts:

Can display four times as many colours onscreen total (256 vs 64, before any standard HDMA, colour math or special raster tricks).

Has a master palette of colours to choose from that is 64 times larger (32,768 vs 512).

Can use up to twice as many full-screen, fully overlapping background layers (4 vs 2).

SNES’ max tilemap size is 64×64 tiles at 16×16 pixels per tile (1024×1024 or 1,048,576 total pixels) vs Genesis’ 64×64 or 128×32/32×128 tiles at 8×8 pixels per tile (512×512 or 1024×256/256×1024 or 262,144 total pixels).

SNES’ max number of unique background tiles is 4096 (in Mode 0) vs Genesis’ 2048 (in its only mode). This is not accounting for the likes of tilemaps and sprites, which take up memory and would reduce available tiles on both systems similarly.

Can process a max 128 sprites vs Genesis’ max of 80.

Its largest in-built sprite size is 64×64 vs Genesis 32×32.

Can display a max 32 sprites per scanline vs Genesis’ max of 20.

Can do column scrolling down to every 8 pixels vs every 16 on Genesis (lower is better here).

Can use two window/shape masks to either visibly draw shapes on top of or cut shapes out of one/some/all layers, which is used to create various effects like spotlights or beams of light (when combined with colour math), interesting shapes when fading in/out the screen, hiding certain objects or parts of the level from view, faking simple additional layer/sprite elements, etc.

Can do proper colour math for the likes of transparency effects on both sprites and backgrounds.

Has built-in mosaicing.

Has built-in HDMA that can be used to change the main background colours every single scanline, change scroll speeds on up to four layers at once on every scanline, can be used for afine transforations of a background layer to create all the Mode 7 effects the SNES is known for, can adjust the two window/layer maskes on a per-scanline basis, and much more besides.

Has a higher maximum resolution of 512×448 vs Genesis 320×448.

Can actually use the 448 interlaced mode to properly double the vertical resolution at no extra VRAM or processing cost when in Modes 5 and 6, which is done by allowing the use of built-in double-height background tiles that take the vertical resolution doubling into account (at the cost of the usual third background layer). This works similarly in horizontal 512 mode too.

Can have up to eight channels of PCM sampled sound, and can output audio at a max of 32KHz and 16-bit depth in stereo, which is more than Genesis when playing like for like.

Can do Dobly Surround Sound.

It has eight times as much audio RAM, at 64KB vs 8KB.

Has twice as much work RAM at 128KB vs Genesis’ 64KB.

Can apparently compute roughly 1.7 million CPU instructions per second vs Genesis’ roughly 900,000 (min I’ve read) to 1.4 million (max I’ve read), due the fact the SNES can execute instructions in fewer clock cycles than Genesis (I’ve read 2-3 cycles on SNES and 4-8 cycles on Genesis). And this seems like it’s along the same lines: “every time the m68000 accessed memory, it’s 4 clock cycles wait per 16 bits, whereas the 65816 [is] 1 clock cycle per byte [a byte is 8 bits]. So for instance doing 8-bit operations (very common then), 65816 would have an advantage over the m68000 and be roughly equal for 16-bit operations, just by memory wait time.” Basically, even though the Genesis has a faster CPU, it typically takes more clock cycles to perform instructions.

The standard controller that comes free in the box has nine main inputs, four more than Genesis’ 3-button pad and one more even that Genesis 6-button pad (which over half of Genesis systems didn’t ship with and owners had to pay extra for), with a far more versatile design.

SNES’ total library of official games is roughly 1757 vs Genesis’ at roughly 878.

SNES sold 49.1 million units worldwide. Genesis sold around 35 million (including the bargain-bin $50 Genesis 3 and the various Brazilian models).

SNES has 49 games that sold over one millions copies vs 18 on Genesis.

SNES’ top selling game sold 20.6 million copies. Genesis’ top selling game sold 15 million.

More SNES games still appear in pretty much every Top 100 Games of All Time list than Genesis. For example, IGN’s latest list has seven for SNES and zero for Genesis.

Genesis is very cool and all, and it does indeed have quite a few advantages over SNES, just as SNES clearly has quite a few notable advantages over Genesis, which I think more people should be aware of in modern times, just to make sure the narrative and indeed the facts around these two classsic systems aren’t being constantly distorted and history re-written by certain bad actors.

Now, anyone from the Genesis camp is free to post their own similar list of facts.

Note: I have tried to be as accurate as possible with all the data here, but, if you spot any mistakes, please let me know. If you’re being honest, I’ll update the details accordingly.

PS. Oh, and you can apply the same thinking to some SNES vs PC Engine debate also.

What I’d like to see in a SNES Mini 2

So, if Nintendo was to make a SNES Mini 2, I’d like it to be pretty much the same as before with a bunch of classic SNES digital titles pre-installed, although maybe with the SNES Jr. model this time to easily differentiate it from the first one (I guess):

Along with one major addition, which would be a working [mini] cartridge slot that actually takes [mini] compilation carts of classic SNES games in a similar vain to the Evercade VS:

This would mean publishers like Nintendo, Capcom, Konami, Square-Enix, Namco, Atari, etc, could release their own compilation carts of classic SNES games in modern times and possibly even make some brand new games for it too.

And, in an ideal world, Nintendo would actually release proper development documentation, finally, and maybe even some kind of simple and very user-friendly software developement tools to go along with this, so indie developers could also build their own SNES Mini titles relatively easily too, which could be via a website or even built into the system directly in a similar vain to the Pico-8:

At the bare minimun though, just having a working [mini] cartridge slot allowing additional physical [mini] games to be plugged in could be a game-changer in the Mini category imo.

I think that could take a new SNES Mini 2 from being another cool little stocking filler to something potentially very special, and maybe even give birth to a modern SNES Mini console/game market category in its own right.

Note: An important caveat here is that I think any new games made for the SNES Mini 2 would have to be designed to work to/within the original SNES’ technical limitations, purely so these new SNES Mini 2 games could also be released in large cartridge size for the normal SNES as well. That way there’s an instant larger potential market base without any need to design and create totally different versions of the game (outside of the different cartridges).

SNES Mode 3 images can look gorgeous

The images below are doing nothing other than using what is possible in Mode 3 on SNES with its 8bpp and 256-colours total onscreen from the 32,768 colour palette. And this is even before any HDMA or colour math or any raster tricks and the like are applied. There’s even enough VRAM spare to maybe have a little scrolling and stuff too, along with a simple second background layer for some parallax and maybe even some sprites in there also. But, even just as static images and nothing else, they can look beautiful, and far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in any commercial SNES titles or even modern SNES indie games to date:

Continue reading SNES Mode 3 images can look gorgeous

Impressive SNES Graphics

It’s just a bunch of cool examples of the stock SNES doing some rather impressive stuff graphically, be it purely visual/aesthetic or maybe how much it’s pushing around onscreen without slowdown, and so on.

So, here we go. . . .

A great use of SNES’ background Mode 3 for 8bpp, 256-colour, palette cycled visuals, which would be perfect in some kind of Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novel type of game experience.
Continue reading Impressive SNES Graphics

My Honest Bonelabs Review

I don’t know what low bar most of the VR players out there have set for this medium, particularly on standalone, but I’m not drinking the Kool Aid here.

The controls and interaction in this game are simply terrible, just like Boneworks before it, and it’s immediately getting returned as a result.

When I can’t just jump and climb without getting stuck on scenery, can’t just grab and push/pull things around without it being a clumsy mess, can’t just swing a weapon/item without it getting stuck on my avatar’s body, when I have to overthink every motion/movement just to try to avoid horrible collision and motion-sickness-inducing clankiness, it’s just not good enough.

And, by the way, while the “realistic” physics might be celebrated by many in this game, it’s shocking to me that it still looks worse graphically than RE4 VR, which is a game originally released on GameCube in 2001 that’s been updated brilliantly for Quest 2 and actually looks and plays great on it. And, note, I just played RE4 VR literally mins before trying this to specifically compare the visuals and level of polish, so I’m saying with 100% confidence that RE4 VR simply looks better (less blurry overall, better texture detail, no noticeable foveated rendering, sharper in general, no janky legs and arms on the player, some basic shadows under the characters, etc), and it controls and plays leagues better too. There may be some technical level where Bonelab is beyond RE4 VR graphically (certainly in terms of the physics engine), but if it all just looks a bit uglier across the board, it ultimately means nothing to me. It’s the end visual result that counts and nothing more when it comes to the graphics.

Look, I can live with the visuals, which aren’t the best the Quest 2 is capable of (although are totally fine), but the fundamental controls and interactions simply are not good enough–they’re not even close to passable imo–and, for me, they utterly ruin what other potential might be there in the game.

That’s it.

If you want another similarly brutally honest review, you can check out this one too:

SNES Background Modes

Did you know that some people still aren’t aware that the SNES has a whopping eight different background modes to play around with, not just the infamous Mode 7 that everyone has heard a load about already?

Well, the video below by Retro Game Mechanics Explained covers the first six of the SNES’ background modes in great detail and is well worth viewing (he has a whole separate video dedicated to Mode 7 too):

In this video, you’ll find a great overview of the SNES background modes 1-6

Despite being the best resource for how backgrounds work on SNES that I’ve found [that laymen can actually understand], there were a few things that still weren’t entirely clear to me when I first watched the video above, such as the actual amounts of colours per layer and overall for the backgrounds in Mode 0 for example, or that the amount of colours onscreen can be increased well beyond the standard 256-ish total [for background and sprites combined] using thing like direct colour in some background modes, HDMA on the backdrop colour, and colour math for transparency effects. So I’ll detail some of those things more below.

Continue reading SNES Background Modes