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Author Topic: The Sega Genesis and colors  (Read 5284 times)

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Malenko

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The Sega Genesis and colors
« on: December 03, 2021, 11:05:20 am »
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the Genesis could and couldn't do in terms of color.

So lets sort out the facts:

Genesis has a 9-bit color palette, 512 colors to choose from
Most genesis games had between 40 to 60 colors on screen at a time
The genesis was capable of displaying 256 colors on screen at once using programming tricks
The genesis palette could be extended to about 4,096 colors using programming tricks


A lot of Genesis games that have muted colors were limited by the developer's skills and not the hardware.
Pyron ( http://www.romhacking.net/community/3226/ )  has released a significant number of game patches that take them from this:

to this:


Just go to Romhacking.net and look at the sheer number of color  improvement hacks available.
PL1 get your panties unbunched, there are no ROM downloads on that site just IPS patches.

and a neat video:


Toy Story was the most colorful genesis game by far having up to 105 colors on screen during game play and 171 colors on screen for the cut scenes.
Honorable mention to Vectorman running 88 colors on screen, another game that breaks the "61 color limit" myth.
Batman and Robin, Puggsy, and Castlevania really showed off some really awesome graphical effects on the Genesis.

Eternal Champions (cart) is a great example of what you can do with only 52 colors.

Thank you for coming to my TEDtalk and please feel free to reply with feelings, emotions, and anecdotal evidence rather than factual data.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 08:57:49 pm by Malenko »
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2021, 05:52:37 pm »
I completely disagree.   The snes had a better color palette both on paper and in practice.  When I look at sonic vs smw, smw obviously has more colors on the screen.   Yes most of those colors are used for shading, adding depth that the average genesis game couldn't pull off without horrible dithering tricks.   I mean those hills in the background of that shot look further away since they are more muted.   Meanwhile Sonic is the exact same color as the ocean far off in the distance.   It's not so say Sonic looks bad, they use tricks in how the sprites are drawn to give the illusion of depth, but the limited color palette makes that necessary instead of optional.   Basically, the genesis is using a 9 pack of crayons and the snes has the big one with the sharpener on the side.   A good artist can make a great drawing with either but let's face it, not every game developer is created equal.   The fact that the snes has more color depth makes it the clear winner, at least in the graphics department.   

Malenko

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2021, 07:51:11 pm »
You can't say you completely disagree, then agree with some of my points :)
I edited the original post to remove any system that wasn't a Genesis to avoid this thread turning into a console war/comparison thread, its 2021 and time to get over that.


Not all Genesis games are dim, that was my point. Do you disagree with that?
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2021, 11:12:47 pm »
Genesis got screwed, which is what all these rom hacks have demonstrated to me.  Apparently if programmers had spent 10 more minutes on their code things would have been a lot more interesting in the 90s.  Hyperstone Heist with the color fix is definitive.  Street Fighter 2 with the color and sound patches is incredible.  Borderline arcade perfect.

All that being said, I remember reading about ďprogramming tricksĒ expanding the Genesis palette in the 90s.  Is there an actual game with 256 colors?  I heard Eternal Champions back then but Iíve never seen it.

Anyway, itís a great time to dive into the console.  $5-10 gets you either an original or a bootleg of everything.

 :cheers:

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2021, 10:07:54 pm »
And hereís Water Margin, some Taiwan game that never got released here until recently.  Itís very early 90s fight and go right but has a nice soundtrack and very vivid.  Oddly this bootleg wonít boot on my minigen HD, but itís fine on my Genesis 2.


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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2021, 02:51:00 pm »
I heard Eternal Champions back then but Iíve never seen it.
The cart version ran with about 55 colors on screen at once, I dont think the color count was much higher on the CD version except maybe for the "FMV" sections.

"BuT tHe GeNeSiS cOuLd NeVeR mAkE a GaMe ThAt LoOkEd LiKe SuPeR mArIo WoRlD!!"
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2021, 04:19:16 pm »
Interesting videos.  I'll have to try out that Batman and Robin game.


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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2021, 04:24:22 pm »
dat genysis framerae tho

 :puke

despite running almost 3x the CPU speed, but only 1/2 the memory... the genesis is a bit on the...slowww side.

but with some Genesis optimised code, an experienced developer could probably get SMW running on Genesis hardware same same only sacrificing a few things here and there.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2021, 04:31:50 pm »
Yeah, but Nintendo also had a habit of launching their console with the best game for the system.  SMB 1, Super Mario World, and Wii Sports far outclass anything else on their respective systems.  It is amusing to see a half baked bootleg get mostly there, though.  I'll have to try it on original hardware and see if it plays better.






Malenko

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2021, 10:34:14 pm »
dat genysis framerae tho but with some Genesis optimised code, an experienced developer could probably get SMW running on Genesis hardware same same only sacrificing a few things here and there.
I think its really good considering its just some hobbyists throwing together some home-brew. I'm sure a dev like Stephen "Snake" Palmer could make it run like a dream but whats there is pretty neat!

Yeah, but Nintendo also had a habit of launching their console with the best game for the system.
SMB3> SMB1 , Zelda:LttP > SMW ... I'll give you Wiisports though, by a landslide.

I found the ROM and patched out the copy protection. I don't have time to put it on my everdrive pro tonight but I sent James the link (off of BYOAC) so maybe he can give it a whirl.
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2021, 07:35:07 am »
I didnít own a Genesis or a SNES back in the day, so I hope Iím reasonably neutral on this issue.

Anyway, FWIW, I donít think thereís much difference between the two platforms in practice. In terms of overall capabilities, and game quality, I tend to bracket them together.

A palette of 512 colours vs a palette of 32,768 colours might sound like a huge difference, but in practice itís only really relevant if youíre trying to create photo-realistic images. For the simple cartoon graphics that were used by most SNES and Genesis games, itís pretty much irrelevant.

However, I think itís fair to say that, very broadly speaking, Genesis games tended to have a more gritty and adult feel to them, whereas SNES games tended to aim for a more Ďcuteí aesthetic (although there are plenty of exceptions to that rule on both platforms). For that reason, Genesis developers tended to pick a more subdued palette for their games compared to their SNES counterparts. However, thatís simply a design choice, and doesnít really say anything about the capabilities of the underlying hardware.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." - Samuel Johnson

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2021, 07:59:48 am »
I didnít own a Genesis or a SNES back in the day, so I hope Iím reasonably neutral on this issue.
I'm neutral for the other reason, I had them both and loved them both. I whole heartedly agree with everything you wrote. The issue with comparing the 2 systems is when the people who have a bias for one or the other attack the platform they dislike. 
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2021, 10:44:45 am »
i was a nintendo kid and my friends where sega so we both played both systems all the time... from nes/snes/n64 and on... and them with the master system/genesis/saturn etc.

given the demographics of the people using the systems, nintendo catered mostly to younger kids with the games because nintendo made the systems cheap and readily available which made the systems appealing with the parents purchasing them....while the sega went more older kids...teen and adult, both companies targeting their games at those people buying their systems.

it took a while for nintendo to start pushing out older kid/adult content on their systems. i think it took a while for them to realize that segregating themselves to a narrow demographic of user was hurting their system/game sales. once they started pushing teen and up content,  it really saw the system sales explode past the 60 million unit count. while sega was less than 1/10th that. by the time the SNES and the genesis hit the streets, most players found their niche and sega was closing the gap with 30 million genesis sales vs almost 50 million on the SNES. the cheap price of these systems (usually ~100 bucks) over the previous generation, really helped adoption of one system or the other.

overall the game selections was good on both sides with each having good flagship products... the main complaint between the systems ends up being nintendos censoring of games (removing blood from games by changing it to "sweat" or "slime" or not having a game released on the system becasue it was tOo ViOlEnT)

overall i think each system found their niche for the audience it was marketing to. which is why you saw nintendo went all cartoony with their in-house games to grab that preteen demographic, but brought things around to everyone else with 3rd party games.

unfortunately by the time the saturn rolled around late to the game half a year behind everyone else with it's $400 pricetag and a failed attempt at fixing the stopgap with the 32x addon which took almost as long to release as the saturn itself (and IIRC ended up being released at the same time for $199) versus the nintendo 64s $200 half the cost 6 moths beforehand... the new guy sony with the playstation at 300 was the console of choice that was the new happy medium... selling over 100 million units. the no holds barred game selections really helped sony here... basically killed sega as a console manufacturer.

at this point sega decided to throw in the towel and stick with arcade...not before tripping over the dreamcast on the way out. by now acrade had switched from dedicated hardware to PC componentry so TBH it really wasn't viable for sega to continue with consoles.

[/history]

pbj

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2021, 12:07:00 pm »
Here... of all places... you felt the need to type all that up....

 :cheers:


Malenko

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2021, 03:14:15 pm »
Here... of all places... you felt the need to type all that up....

 :cheers:
I felt like I was alive during the 90s thanks to that post.
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2021, 08:20:17 pm »
it started as a "i was a nintendo kid but..." and then snowballed into a history lesson for people that call themselves 90's kids but where born in 2006, fueled by marijuana edibles, 8 cans of mountain dew, and OTC pain pills.

i'mma go eat ribs and then play SM64 and try to BLJ.

 :cheers:

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2021, 09:19:07 pm »
Do you need an intervention?  I say this with love.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2021, 09:36:15 pm »
I enjoyed the history lesson!
Although ALL this makes ME feel old.

Until I got a PS3 for my son, the last console I ever owned was a 2600.
Relax, all right? My old man is a television repairman, he's got this ultimate set of tools! I can fix it.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2021, 10:18:18 pm »
Do you need an intervention?  I say this with love.

yeah. despite several hours of trying (or what seemed like several hours anyway) I still cannot backwards long jump.

i'm 3 mountain dews and a half bag of tortilla chips into day 2 of trying.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #19 on: December 24, 2021, 09:02:36 pm »
So the arcade hack of UMK3 sure is great. Visuals are a lot closer to the SNES version, and the sound is improved but the SNES version is still better sounding.


There is also a new MK1 hack that improves the visuals and add a TON of voices and sounds, its a got bug on my Everdrive but it seems ok on emulators:
https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/6446/
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2021, 02:49:45 pm »
yeah, a stripped down ym3812 chip that was outdated before it got shoehorned into the genesis. It still has some great soundtracks if you don't sit and A/B it against the SNES.

it's hard to beat a custom sony sound CPU paired with a 16 bit DSP, and it's own 64 K of ram buffer.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2021, 06:45:54 pm »
For me, the issue with the Genesis console is all the revisions, usually for the worse. I've been looking forever for a non-TMSS model. I have a hi-def graphics model that doesn't like my Mega SD for certain games. It has better sound than its replacement, which has better compatibility. There are some issues with SNES console revisions, but they aren't as big of a deal, at least to me. I have a bottom yellow SNES that I bought from a rental store going out of business back in the early 2000's and it's great.

Back in the day, I had a Genesis and traded it for an SNES when SFII got released, so I have nostalgia for both systems. I'd say the Genesis gets more play today. I'm not that into longer games, so the fast action shooters and platformers of the Genesis are a better fit. Objectively, though, the SNES is a better console that has held up better. The custom chips on the SNES cartridges were much better utilized than the Genesis addons like Sega CD and 32X. The SNES music sounds better than most CD game music from the 16-bit era, IMO.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2021, 11:32:36 pm »
I had a non-TMSS model one back in the day and all I can say is get used to a headphone to RCA splitter hanging off the front.  It was annoying as hell even back then.  I think the sound differences are minimal.

Put an hour into Crusader of Centy tonight.  Fun, colorful game that I never heard of until 2021.

 :cheers:

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2021, 06:27:55 pm »
I have 2 model 1s, 1 has the "high definition" logo one doesn't. I dont really know the difference with TMSS and what not other than the sega screen. I have a headphone to RCA splitter in the front.

I plan to mod the non hidef one to add a few of the genesis hardware mods, like bypassing the sound amp and have RCA plugs in the back.  I have had *zero* issues with my mega ever drive pro or the X3 clone in either system.

The patched that MK arcade hack I posted about up there, and made it stop crashing on everdrives.

Here is the retail vs the hack:


and the hack vs SNES:


They got the monks clapping!!!!! its neat. encourage you to try it out.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 06:32:06 pm by Malenko »
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2021, 12:37:42 am »
The MK1 hack is incredible.  Seems to be a little jittery with my third party six button controllers, which sucks.  Looks, sounds, and plays nicely in 3 button mode with them.

Hereís a screen shot of Crusader of Centy.  Looks and plays a lot like Magic Knight Rayearth.  I think everyone reading this would enjoy it.

 :cheers:


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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2022, 11:03:04 am »
It's pretty funny when I look at my retro console collection, cobbled together mainly from second hand shops over many years.

1 dead PS3 phat.
1 working PS3 slim.
I have 2 PS2 slims that died.
2 PS2 phats, the one with the link port has partially died.
One PSone with connected LCD screen that must be adjusted perfectly or the screen looks wonky.
One PSX 900x working.
One PSX broken disc drive replaced with an XStation.

5 Sega Genesis consoles. 2 Model 2's and 3 model 1's. The Model 2's work but have lower quality audio. I have a non-hi def model 1 that died, but it had bad audio and video (motherboard known to be one of the worst revisions, but could be fixable and triple bypassed). Of the two hi-def Model 1's, the older model has better sound, but worse compatibility (at least with my Mega SD). The newer hi-def model, which is the one I use, has better video, but slightly lower quality audio (always through the front headphone jack on the model 1's, as you guys pointed out).

Compare that to Nintendo. 1 have 1 Wii console. 1 black Gamecube. 1 standard N64. 1 bottom yellow SNES. 1 NES front loader. Of those, I have had zero problems aside from a failing lockout chip on the NES that was solved by cutting the pin.

Nintendo hardware is absolutely bulletproof. I haven't even talked about controllers and my odyssey with malfunctioning PS2 controllers. I don't even bother with Genesis 3 button controllers, too many blasted button membranes and bad revisions of the D-pads that trigger the diagonals way too easily. Pretty much all the standard sized 6 button Genesis controllers have been great, though.

*Edit* I should mention that I use HD retrovision component cables for the Genesis and PS2 hookups. For the SNES, I use cheapo S-video cables and it looks great, just slightly less sharp than the Genesis through component on my 32 inch Trinitron .
« Last Edit: January 02, 2022, 11:07:17 am by KenToad »

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2022, 11:37:08 am »
I apparently have had the worst luck in the world with Nintendo hardware.

SNES randomly died in the 90s.  Guy on the phone said, ďyouíre screwedĒ to a 13 year old.

Original DS quit working, went back for warranty replacement.

DS Lite had a bad touchscreen out of the box.  The warranty company literally yelled at me on the phone about how I must have dropped it.  Yelled.  They finally replaced it.

Wii wouldnít read discs out of the box.

Did pretty good with my other stuff until the PS4 which would crash when the graphics got intense.  Sony repaired it for free.

 :cheers:




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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2022, 11:58:05 am »
Agree about DS lite. That's probably the least reliable Nintendo hardware I've used, mainly screen and shoulder button issues. I do love the form factor and compatibility, though.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2022, 02:05:58 pm »
It's pretty funny when I look at my retro console collection, cobbled together mainly from second hand shops over many years.

Not sure what that has to do with Genesis colors, but cool?

I don't think its fair to judge any manufacturers hardware based on buying used and abused systems.  Everything I bought new from nintendo, sega, and sony have all lasted. What few things I've had break were because of my own stupidity or clumsiness except...... multiple xbox360s redringed multiple times, but that's the only system hardware issue I ever had. I did recently have an OG xbox die, but it was heavily modded and still lasted 20 years.
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2022, 12:07:35 pm »
Another interesting comparison video.

I didn't realize the Sega CD had more frames of animation.


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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2022, 10:19:19 am »
I didn't realize the Sega CD had more frames of animation.

So just for you I loaded up the SegaCD version on my Mega Ever Drive.
Everything loads up initially pretty quick, until the fight ladder.  After you are shown the ladder there is about 3 seconds of loading.  Between rounds of a fight are seamless and even the "Finish Him!" is just a split second of load time. After the fight it jumps back to the fight ladder relatively quickly.

The first big noticeable load mid-game is the second fighter in the endurance matches. After the first person disappears your fight sits there frozen for about a second and a half while the second fighter is loaded.
Its inconvenient and annoying but doesn't really effect game play at all.  After the first endurance round, the game takes 2-3 seconds to reload for the 2nd (and 3rd) rounds. I also do not understand why you never fight SubZero as Scorpion , or fight Scorpion as Sub Zero when playing an endurance match seems like having a pal swap on an already loaded fighter and a few extra frames for specials would make those fights go smoother.

The first Goro round has the mid fight load issue as well, but the 2nd and 3rd rounds load up immediately.

Now the worst part, and the bane of all the CD systems..... the Shang Tsung fight.
3 seconds to load the fight after the Goro fight, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me since the last endurance fight, Goro, and Shang Tsung all fight in Goro's Lair.
You start the fight against Shang and within seconds the game stops to load his morph and a few seconds after that it stops to load back to Shang. It just doesn't make sense on why the game doesn't preload a morph and keep the 23 frames of shang tsung loaded at all times.

I was playing as sub zero and I did an ice blast  at Shang in his Shang form, as the ice blast was leaving my hands the game stopped to load Goro. Goro blocked the ice blast, hit me with a fireball (I was still in the last frame of the ice blast when it hit me) and as I was flying through the air the game stopped to load shang back in. Then as I was standing up the game stopped to load in another morph.  I ended up just turning it off after losing the first round and the game taking another 3 seconds to reload the fight follow up by an immediate stop to load a morph.

The Genesis arcade hack is the definitive 16 bit port.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2022, 10:25:36 am by Malenko »
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2022, 03:51:37 am »
Aaah, how nostalgic it made me feel.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2022, 02:28:58 am by balich »

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #32 on: April 02, 2022, 10:13:57 am »
The Genesis arcade hack is the definitive 16 bit port.

Correction, the Genesis Arcade hack with MSU-MD is the definitive 16 bit port.
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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2022, 09:34:39 am »

Just go to Romhacking.net and look at the sheer number of color  improvement hacks available.


It's amazing how much a few colour tweaks can make these games look so much better and just utterly bewildering that the original programmers didn't think to make the games look like this in the first place. I made a comparison video looking at the Megadrive version of Outrun ages back, with and without hack. The ROM hacked version looks so much closer to the arcade:


Street Fighter 2 with the color and sound patches is incredible.  Borderline arcade perfect.

Such a shame Capcom didn't bother to take the time to get all the bits of sampled speech as good as possible back in the day on the MD version of SF2. I loved the port regardless, but the crappy sound was always the thing that my SNES owning mates would pick up on and criticise the port for.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2022, 02:13:01 pm »
There's some cool Megadrive homebrew stuff going on too as well as the colour hacks. Some dude is in the process of making their own port of the original Shinobi for the MD. The WIP playable version of it so far looks pretty much indistinguishable from the arcade:

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2022, 04:15:31 pm »
It's amazing how much a few colour tweaks can make these games look so much better and just utterly bewildering that the original programmers didn't think to make the games look like this in the first place. I made a comparison video looking at the Megadrive version of Outrun ages back, with and without hack. The ROM hacked version looks s

It's not super straight forward to use these color hacks like it is to program a game without them. All these games were made with a six month or less development cycle, it's amazing they're as good as they are really. Development teams didn't have a lot of extra time to play around with odd hardware quirks and develop their own tool chain that took advantage of it.

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Re: The Sega Genesis and colors
« Reply #36 on: April 06, 2022, 04:31:20 pm »
Eh, a lot of these "color hacks" are simply using different palettes.  Some poor choices were made back then.

Shinobi looks good but if it hasn't been completed in 7 years it's never going to be completed.