Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Killing Pixels: Part Deux and a Half - Now in 4K!

Because HD isn't quite high enough, we're taking the Saturn to new extremes. Revel in the glory of your favourite 3D titles rendered at a mind-boggling 3840x2160 - for comparison, one of the most used resolutions on the Saturn was 352x224).

Now, it isn't all roses. A large portion of the Saturn's Library was made of 2D games, which benefit nothing from an increase in resolution. Of the 3D games available, a large portion has moderate to serious problems running in YabaSanshiro - and many don't run at all - and of those that do, some don't benefit that much. Polygon jittering is a recurring issue, or 2D planes like the ground that don't scale that well and seem out of place.

But then there are models that just look gorgeous. Look at the player characters in Anarchy in the Nippon, Fighters Megamix or Virtual-On, and tell me they don't look straight out of a Dreamcast game.

As always, try it at your own risk. You might surprise yourself ;)

In case you missed the previous entries, check them out:

Part 1: Shaders in Retroarch

Part 2: Saturn Games in HD

Part 3: Widescreen Hacks

Friday, 11 May 2018

Saturn Emulation 101: Part 1 - What Emulation is All About

noun em·u·la·tor \ ˈem-yə-ˌlā-tər \

1 : one that emulates
2 : hardware or software that permits programs written for one computer to be run on another computer
[Source: Merriam-Webster]

Aside from piracy, emulation has to be one of the most hotly debated topics among gamers. Most swear by their original consoles, disparaging emulators as the inferior choice, only suited for people who don’t really care about games and take the easy, dirty way to play them. I’ve seen all kinds of arguments throughout the years, ranging from “emulators are always full of glitches” (they’re not), to “they add input lag” (only half-true, depends on setup), and the last resort of someone who’s out of arguments, the “it doesn’t feel the same”.

If you’ve been following my content for the Yard, by now you know I’m an enthusiast for everything related to emulation. Having said that, I’m not an apologist for it. I think good things stand for themselves and don’t need anyone praising them and trying to convert the masses, so that is definitely not what this article will be about. I’m not going to try to convince anyone to leave their consoles gathering dust (as if you can’t use both).
Instead, this article is aimed at anyone who’s already into emulators and wants to know more about the Saturn scene in particular, or those who are curious but have yet to dip their toes in this gigantic pool and are looking for some guidance to get started.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Tech Battle: Episode 2 - Sega Rally Championship

Episode 2 of our new series, this time with less mishaps and better production values. We've widened our scope from a simple tech comparison to more of a retrospective that also takes into account the gameplay, features and history of the game. Hopefully this will make it more informative and interesting to the viewers.

Of course, we still go very much in-depth into the many differences between versions.

A couple of addenda that didn't make it into the video:

- We talk about an unlockable "secret car" but for the original arcade version this was simply an alternative handling mode for the regular cars. Later on the Saturn port actually added a new car to fit this handling model, the now iconic Lancia Stratos, so many gamers started to retconn the original and refer to that alternative handling as being the Stratos. It is true that the development team stated in interviews that it was their idea to include that 3rd car, which was then cut for time constraints, and the only trace of its existence is that extra handling mode, but back then regular arcade goers didn't know about that.

- We criticise the original Saturn game running at a higher resolution in the emulator YabaSanshiro for the missing polygons in the tracks. The PC version, when running at higher resolutions, seems to suffer from a similar - if less noticeable - problem, so maybe that's not an emulator bug but a quirk of the game engine.