MSX2 vs Sega SMS

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By Meits

Scribe (6355)

Meits's picture

06-04-2021, 18:12

JohnHassink][quote=NetNomad wrote:
Grauw wrote:

The same could be seen on the MoonSound OPL4, everybody started to make PCM music, and its powerful 18 FM channels with many new waveforms and 4-op was pretty much forgotten.

In retrospective, that's really a shame. And yes, I am/was guilty of the same thing as well.

Perhaps stuff would turn out differently if both trackers were released at the same time. Now we had to play with FM and 6 channels of samples for a year. And those samples were quite nice. And then a tracker with 24 of those channels got released. At that time it seemed a logical step forward. Quite a selection of the first MBFM tracks were crammed into the 6 sample channels with some long chord layers on the fm channels.

By PingPong

Prophet (3680)

PingPong's picture

06-04-2021, 19:15

But to focus on original question. I do not know how sega sms worked but will be feasible to convert tile patterns from sega sms to screen 4 ones even with limitations?
[I know that screen 4 is not sega sms mode 4.]

Maybe using some other tools it is feasible also to convert sprites? (ok, different size is a limiting factor and even color but i'm thinking about a tool that does sprite tile pattern color reduction (like 16-> 4 colors) then ask you how to assemble 8x8 tile patterns and try to use the OR color trick to get the converted sprite.

By aoineko

Master (140)

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06-04-2021, 19:42

To get close to the 16 colors of the SMS sprites you need at least 3 OR-ed sprites (7 colors). This would mean that you can't display more than 3 of those objects in sprites on the same line. This is a big limitation for most games. And it's why the enemies in Rastan Saga are in monochrome for example. Most of the "beautiful" MSX2 games use 2 OR-ed sprites (3 colors) to be able to display 4 objects per line (when they use HW sprites).

Bitmap blitter in screen 5 is perhaps the better way to get close to SMS games, but in this mode, the scrolling become very costly.

By Briqunullus

Champion (332)

Briqunullus's picture

06-04-2021, 22:03

Had a look at the VDP specs, and I must say, interesting design choices they have made. While sacrificing unique tiles, they increased color and sprite capabilities.

There's this video highlighting some games. I'm not blown away by most of them regarding their gameplay. But even the simpler games have soft scrolling and multicolor sprites. I'm very much impressed that a VDP with only 16K of VRAM can do this. Such specs feel like MSX1 territory, and yet I'm seeing things that surpass MSX2. Very clever VDP design indeed.

By Grauw

Ascended (9762)

Grauw's picture

06-04-2021, 22:51

aoineko wrote:

To get close to the 16 colors of the SMS sprites you need at least 3 OR-ed sprites (7 colors). This would mean that you can't display more than 3 of those objects in sprites on the same line. This is a big limitation for most games. And it's why the enemies in Rastan Saga are in monochrome for example. Most of the "beautiful" MSX2 games use 2 OR-ed sprites (3 colors) to be able to display 4 objects per line (when they use HW sprites).

I would add that:

  • A single MSX2 sprite can display 16 colours, one per line.
  • Using 2 OR sprites, there are 3 colours per line rather than 3 colours total.
  • MSX2 sprites are 16x16 while SMS sprites are 16x8, both limited to 8 per line.

So both systems have their pros and cons for sprites.

By aoineko

Master (140)

aoineko's picture

06-04-2021, 22:26

Briqunullus wrote:

Very clever VDP design indeed.

Yes, for a game only device.
The MSX was designed to be a multi-purpose computer; gaming being only one part of it.
In fact, I think we were lucky to have some particularly good game creators who allowed us to have one of the best game libraries of the 8-bit era even though the hardware was not the best for games.

By Grauw

Ascended (9762)

Grauw's picture

06-04-2021, 22:52

Grauw wrote:

I would add that:

  • A single MSX2 sprite can display 16 colours, one per line.
  • Using 2 OR sprites, there are 3 colours per line rather than 3 colours total.
  • MSX2 sprites are 16x16 while SMS sprites are 16x8, both limited to 8 per line.

So both systems have their pros and cons for sprites.

Given this, Rastan Saga could have made much better use of MSX2’s sprite capabilities for more colourful sprites. Just like the SMS version, the main character could have had differently coloured bandana, shaded body and red boots with just the 2 OR-sprites.

And the enemies might as well have used two 16x16 OR sprites, the line-limit is the same as two 16x8 sprites on SMS. Even using only a single sprite they didn’t need to be so… monochrome.

By PingPong

Prophet (3680)

PingPong's picture

06-04-2021, 23:09

aoineko wrote:

To get close to the 16 colors of the SMS sprites you need at least 3 OR-ed sprites (7 colors).

I do not think that 3 color ored sprites look so bad instead of full 16 color ones. Plus i do not think that you often need full 16 color on a scanline. in the most frequent configurations maybe 3 colors are ok. Full 16 color are however teoretically available on the entire sprite. So the 3 color limitation only apply to a single scan line sprite.

Emulating the sprites at decente speed via the blitter is pratically impossible unless you have two 16x16 sprites only on screen. But at this point you can reach similar results via hw sprites.

By PingPong

Prophet (3680)

PingPong's picture

06-04-2021, 23:14

I Agree. I've also found somewhere on you tube a comment on rastan saga where a guy said to have partially reworked the main charater to use 1 full 16x2x32 sprite. And, in his opinion the sprite looked almost identical to the actual that is made of 4 sprites in a row.
The sloppy implementation shine to our eyes when we see sprite flickering artifacts even when THERE IS NOT SPRITE OVERFLOW CONDITION, and while the sound hang during screen flipping due to extremely long time without interrupts enabled.

By Grauw

Ascended (9762)

Grauw's picture

06-04-2021, 23:33

Indeed I imagine it would be quite a simple patch to Rastan Saga to make the sprites more colourful!

And the sound pausing between screen transitions, I don’t know how any developer with a shred of pride could even accept this. It is trivial to avoid this. They must’ve not cared for their product.

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