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Which system ended the "Bit Wars"?


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#1 godslabrat OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:15 AM

From the time that the Genesis first challenged the NES, the "bit wars" were a huge part of console rivalries and marketing. The "bitness" of your system was it measure of merit, and people fiercely argued which system had more of a right to be called "8-Bit" or "16-Bit". And then, one day, the bit wars were over, and no one was really sure why they mattered so much in the first place. Granted, some people couldn't let go, and went on to count polygons and teraflops, but for many gamers, it was the first major lesson in specs vs. results.

So I ask you... which system got people to stop thinking in terms of "How many bits is it?" I could think of three possibilities, coupled with my recollections from the time:

Atari Jaguar: "This thing is supposed to be 4 times as powerful as the Super Nintendo, and yet it looks like garbage. This can't actually be improved technology, no matter what the box says."

Sony Playstation: "How many bits is this? I don't even know, Sony's not saying so. I think it might be 32, but why don't they put it right on the box like everyone else? If the thing looks this awesome, and they don't need to advertise the bits, maybe the bits never were a big deal."

Nintendo 64: "If this is a more powerful system with better games, why is it getting its ass kicked?"

#2 high voltage ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:01 AM

The Jaguar doesn't look garbage.

#3 Austin OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:37 AM

I think people stopped caring by the time the PS2, Game Cube, and XBOX were out. People touted systems like the Dreamcast as being "128-bit!", haha. I think the numbers game was getting pretty ridiculous by that point, because it was even less true there than it was for the Jaguar, if that was even possible.

#4 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:07 AM

From my perspective, by the time Playstation and N64 were firmly entrenched in '96-'97, nobody cared anymore. The only people who did were the few N64 fanboys insistent/deluded enough to argue the N64's superiority by measure of its processor's bit-depth. From that number, even fewer actually understood what it meant. But even they knew they were grasping at straws in their effort to prove their non-point.

In fairness, I do recall one Playstation fanboy at school trying to argue that Playstation had to "have more than 64 bits" since it had better graphics than the N64 (his opinion). But these fanboys tended to be the exceptions to the rule. By then, it was all about polygon count or load time or number of controller ports or whatever other trivial spec they could use to express their fanboyness.

The last I remember hearing bits being mentioned was when the Dreamcast was about to launch. A couple of kids speculated that it might be a 128-bit system, which they arrived at by extrapolating the 8-16-32-64 pattern of the past (you could also precede the 8 with 2 and/or 4 if you believed what they said about Atari).

I'd never really thought about it before, but I'm REALLY glad all that Bit nonsense is over.

#5 high voltage ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:35 AM

I remember getting my SNES after my Megadrive and Nintendo put '16bit' on the box, I thought 'wow jumping on the bandwagon, how sad is that'.

As for slagging of N64 games you said it: 'improved technology' ? And the games look like shit? And are on 'carts'? That's two steps backwards.

Edited by high voltage, Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:43 AM.


#6 Phredreeke OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:35 AM

The Dreamcast is 128-bit if you count the Vector Processing Unit, sorta like the Jaguar is 64-bit if you count the object processor/blitter :P

#7 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:26 AM

Xbox and PS2, I'd say. People weren't sure about the PS2's bittage, and the Xbox did great for having a 32-bit CPU & showed that it wasn't really relevant.

#8 Emehr OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:45 AM

I personally stopped caring after the SNES/Genesis era. When consoles were later claiming 64-bits they may as well have been claiming a million for all I cared. Especially after seeing Atari's ads for the Jaguar and being completely underwhelmed. I think the PlayStation was the first to not actively announce its bitness, from what I remember. The existence of the N64 and its bit-specific nomenclature kept the bit wars breathing its dying breaths. By the time the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox were out the bit wars were forgotten. Although, the original Game Boy Advance did have "32-bit" on the box.

#9 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:50 AM

I stopped caring 100% ~1997 thanks to two 64-bit experiences.

The first was when I got my Jaguar (a bit late to that party).
I remembered all those ads and it really soured me on the then-dead Atari and video game marketing in general when I powered their system on for the first time.
I wanted so badly to like jaguar, and eventually I did find a couple of solid games on the system, but they would have been (and in one case were) pretty average titles on other systems.

Around the same time, also I bought an n64 and had a very similar feeling. I got it before PSX and Saturn *because* of its 64-bittedness and higher processor speed. Wow, those polygons sure were big, with some pretty lousy textures. Eventually the library on that system became big enough to hold my attention somewhat, but that took a good bit of time.

After that, never again did I buy a system based mostly on numbers.

#10 mbd30 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:41 AM

The first was when I got my Jaguar (a bit late to that party).
I remembered all those ads and it really soured me on the then-dead Atari and video game marketing in general when I powered their system on for the first time.
I wanted so badly to like jaguar, and eventually I did find a couple of solid games on the system, but they would have been (and in one case were) pretty average titles on other systems.


So basically the Jaguar ended the Bit Wars because it bit.

#11 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:42 AM

The Jag did add an aroma of burnt ass to the phrase "____-bits of power".

#12 Gemintronic ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:51 AM

I think the Jag and NEO GEO really cranked up the debate over quality vs. bits. Regardless, I think people stopped caring during the DreamCast/PS2/XBOX era. Just like the PC crowd people started focusing on the GPU.

The hype (for me) on the N64 was the RAMBUS memory which at the time was only used on graphic workstations costing at least a couple grand.

Edited by theloon, Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:53 AM.


#13 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:58 AM

I think the Jag and NEO GEO really cranked up the debate over quality vs. bits. Regardless, I think people stopped caring during the DreamCast/PS2/XBOX era. Just like the PC crowd people started focusing on the GPU.

The hype (for me) on the N64 was the RAMBUS memory which at the time was only used on graphic workstations costing at least a couple grand.


Hah, it added significant cost (how much was that expansion pak? I can't recall) to the 64 too, if you wanted textures in your games.

#14 cimerians OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:07 AM

I have to go with the Playstation and Saturn where both companies didn't give a damn about promoting bits since their machines had CD's and they were waving the CD flags of war. Nintendo was still bullshitting themselves at the time with cartridges and bits bits bits.

Later when the Dreamcast, PS2 and Xbox came out nobody cared at all it seems.

#15 mbd30 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:28 AM

The "bit wars" ended once and for all when companies stopped hyping their consoles based on bits. The last console to be hyped in terms of bits was the N64. By the time of the PS2 era, nobody cared anymore about that.

Edited by mbd30, Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:29 AM.


#16 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:29 AM

It started going like the 'jewel wars' in mechanical watches back in the 70's. They were a supposed measure of quality, that really outlived its usefulness after watches all started packing 17 or 21. Still, everybody had to make a watch with more jeweled bearings than the other guy, and sometimes when you opened up your 65-jeweled hong-kong fantastic, you found over half of those rubies glued to the inside of the case.

32-bits or more seems like enough, and I'm pretty sure that some systems were gluing their increased 'bits' to the bottom of their cases for ballast.

Edited by Reaperman, Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:31 AM.


#17 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:33 AM

The first was when I got my Jaguar (a bit late to that party).
I remembered all those ads and it really soured me on the then-dead Atari and video game marketing in general when I powered their system on for the first time.
I wanted so badly to like jaguar, and eventually I did find a couple of solid games on the system, but they would have been (and in one case were) pretty average titles on other systems.


I agree, completely!!! I SO BADLY wanted to like the system, and I fell in head-over-heels for the "64-bit" advertising. I just hoped and hoped for something TREMENDOUS that
never came. Because of this, by the time Nintendo 64 came around, I figured "64" was meaningless hype to the consumer (although its games were good), since "64-bits" had failed to
correlate with anything even remotely impressive (or representative of the implied sophistication) on the Jaguar.

The Dreamcast wasn't even advertised (although sometimes spoken of) as "xxx bits," furthering the irrelevancy of it all.

I'd say the Jaguar ended it through overhype and the Dreamcast certainly did by ignoring all the bits.

#18 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:34 AM

The last console to be hyped in terms of bits was the N64. By the time of the PS2 era, nobody cared anymore about that.


*cough cough* one hundred and twenty eight bit emotion engine *cough cough HAAAACCCKKKK ptoooie*

Nasty!

Edited by Rex Dart, Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:34 AM.


#19 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:35 AM

I would say, the moment gameplay evolved from 2d to 3d. Bit's didn't matter any more, it was about how many polygons the system could display.

#20 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:12 AM

The Jaguar doesn't look garbage.


For a game console, "looking like garbage" is relative. The Jag looks great compared to, say, the NES, but against the backdrop of the disingenuous 64-bit marketing and what the contemporary systems were doing, it indeed came across as soundly second rate. I think anybody who feels strongly otherwise is probably a little bit too willing to turn a blind eye to obvious shortcomings just for the sake of rooting for the underdog.

Edited by Cynicaster, Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:13 AM.


#21 mbd30 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:42 AM

"As for slagging of N64 games you said it: 'improved technology' ? And the games look like shit? And are on 'carts'? That's two steps backwards."

The same person disses N64 graphics while praising the Jaguar. Let's compare "Club Drive" to "Beetle Adventure Racing".

#22 Mr SQL ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:48 AM

The Jag had impressive hardware; games like AVP illustrate it was in the same league as the PS1 and Saturn.

#23 high voltage ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:01 PM

"As for slagging of N64 games you said it: 'improved technology' ? And the games look like shit? And are on 'carts'? That's two steps backwards."

The same person disses N64 graphics while praising the Jaguar. Let's compare "Club Drive" to "Beetle Adventure Racing".


The N64 graphics look like shit but at least the games are a bit playable.
On Jaguar, most games look like shit, but that is due to the less competent programmers. Imagine how the games would shine if Sega, Konami or other Japanese coders would have tackled the console. Or companies like EA, Origin or Microprose.
Jaguar games would be tops. Now, semi-pro UK coders just couldn't hack it. They did their best though, and therefore, full marks for trying.

Edited by high voltage, Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:05 PM.


#24 Torr ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:04 PM

Yeah shitting on the Jag is like shitting on the VCS if it had died in 1979. All we'd know of the VCS are the original 2K titles.
Who'd of thought the same system that gave us 'Star Ship' could also give us 'Solaris'?
Given time and dedication, I'm sure the Jaguar could of been a beast.
(pun intended)

#25 mbd30 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:16 PM

"As for slagging of N64 games you said it: 'improved technology' ? And the games look like shit? And are on 'carts'? That's two steps backwards."

The same person disses N64 graphics while praising the Jaguar. Let's compare "Club Drive" to "Beetle Adventure Racing".


The N64 graphics look like shit but at least the games are a bit playable.


N64 graphics look good for a console released in 1996, and even the earlier titles were impressive. You would have needed an expensive PC with 3Dfx card to rival the graphics in "Mario 64", etc.




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