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Is Pole Position Really Possible on the ColecoVision?

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Pitstop is very similar, and it's on the CV.

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The thing about Pole Position that makes it an arcade classic is its visual presentation. The race cars and the far-away backgrounds need to appear the same (which is not too difficult to do on the ColecoVision) but more importantly, the race track needs to curve smoothly just like it does in the arcade version. If you cut any corners visually-speaking, it stops being Pole Position, at least in my humble opinion.

 

With this said, I think the ColecoVision could do a decent version of Pole Position, but it would require some very tight assembly coding to manage everything that happens on the screen.

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If it was doable on the Spectrum, it should be more than possible on the Colecovision.

 

 

...and it was "doable" on the Vectrex :thumbsdown: , Atari 2600 :thumbsup: , Commodore VIC-20 :thumbsup: , INTV :thumbsdown: and TI 99/4A :thumbsdown:

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And it was done on the 7800, too... very well, in fact. The Colecovision has superior specs to the 7800 in most regards, so this should be quite doable on the system.

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Someone started a port for the SG-1000. It's the closest thing thus far to a port being done on the ColecoVision as they share the exact same three (cpu, video, sound) chips, but absolutely a lot rides on the developer and how well it is programmed - just like any other game/port.

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And it was done on the 7800, too... very well, in fact. The Colecovision has superior specs to the 7800 in most regards, so this should be quite doable on the system.

 

The ColecoVision is a great system. Its SN76489A PSG sound, compared to TIA sound, is absolutely better utilized in most games and technically superior. Graphically compared to the 7800...Well, take it from someone who is pretty familiar with programming for the ColecoVision. ;)

 

Alien Brigade, Midnight Mutants, (Better than NES) Commando (with POKEY sound), overall would not be as good under the ColecoVision.

 

Own about 30-35 games plus the Atarimax Ultimate SD Multicart, my second purchased system (After the 2600) BITD, and still love it. No doubt, a port of Pole Position (The 7800 has Pole Position II, BTW) is "doable" and even quite 'well' on the ColecoVision; again, just needs to be in the right hands.

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Because Pole Position is possible on the 2600 and the VIC-20, of course it's possible on the Colecovision.

 

There's also this. For the obscure JP only Super Casette Vision.

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The SG-1000 version of Hang-On II, helps in providing perspective on how 'Pole Position-like' road/scrolling with ColecoVision hardware is handled from one developer's take:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTJlmEqvciQ

Interestingly, Eduardo Mello tried to port the SG-1000 version of Hang-On II to the ColecoVision, and was not able to. The hardware between the two consoles is just different enough that it makes the port of that particular game technically impossible.

 

But that doesn't mean that the CV couldn't do a good rendition of Pole Position, just that it would pose a significant technical challenge. :)

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As was stated, Pitstop is more or less Pole Position, just with more depth, so I wouldn't exactly call a Pole Position conversion high priority. While there are few other quality perspective racing games on the ColecoVision (though Turbo is excellent, of course), I'd much rather see different racing game styles on the platform, like a Super Sprint or RC Pro Am type game (though I suppose we have something of the latter with the port of Up n Down).

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I'd much rather see different racing game styles on the platform, like a Super Sprint or RC Pro Am type game (though I suppose we have something of the latter with the port of Up n Down).

Don't forget Burn Rubber. :)

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Interestingly, Eduardo Mello tried to port the SG-1000 version of Hang-On II to the ColecoVision, and was not able to. The hardware between the two consoles is just different enough that it makes the port of that particular game technically impossible.

 

But that doesn't mean that the CV couldn't do a good rendition of Pole Position, just that it would pose a significant technical challenge. :)

 

Interesting indeed. Both feature a Texas Instruments TMS9928A 16-color video processor, TI’s SN76489 sound chip, and a Zilog Z80A 3.58-MHz CPU. I wonder what the deal breaker was...memory difference perhaps [?]

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Of course it would be possible to do it in SOME way... it could be done exactly as on the TI-99, but with a better framerate, or as on the ZX Spectrum (but with much better sound and maybe a bit better graphics because of the sprite capabilities). Some more hints how it could look like are the two (!) versions of Outrun for the MSX system. Or, like linked to in another thread, the SG-1000 and MSX versions of Hang On (only with Pole Position, the cars are more wide than the motorcycles in Hang On, so you'll run into a sprite problem). It can't be done exactly how it looks in the arcade, however... there would have to be SOME compromises.

 

For another hint, here is an attempt to render a screenshot of Pole Position in the TMS9918's BMP format (you probably would want to match the solid colors appearing in the arcade to the VDP's pallette to make it look better)...post-8393-0-36822200-1415080361_thumb.png

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And here's a slightly retouched version with colors matched to the 9918's pallette...post-8393-0-09891700-1415081705_thumb.png

 

Just to show what would be possible graphically... and this doesn't use the sprites at all, only bitmap mode.

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Interesting indeed. Both feature a Texas Instruments TMS9928A 16-color video processor, TI’s SN76489 sound chip, and a Zilog Z80A 3.58-MHz CPU. I wonder what the deal breaker was...memory difference perhaps [?]

I don't know the exact details, but I do know that the SG-1000 and ColecoVision are cousins, not brothers. There are some differences in the hardware architecture that need to be addressed when porting a game from one machine to the other. In the case of Hang-On II, the game is tailored for the SG-1000's architecture, meaning that it exploits features in the SG-1000 hardware (in a very optimized way) that are not present in the ColecoVision's hardware. So when Eduardo Mello tried to port the game to the CV, the result almost worked, but not quite: The CV port had serious graphic glitches, and even froze altogether when things got busy on the screen. Hang-On II is just one of those games which are "unportable" to the ColecoVision. There aren't a lot of those, fortunately, but Hang-On II is one of them.

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The biggest difference in hardware between the SG-1000 and the ColecoVision is the RAM. Where the SG-1000 has 8K RAM, the CV only has 1K. This certainly would create an issue or two in porting a game directly over. That said, most games probably don't fully utilize the 8K the SG-1000 has and with optimization could potentially do fine with 1K RAM. All of that being said, though, these are still different systems. The similar architecture helps in porting titles, but lots of work would still be involved. Just like the Atari ST and Amiga 500 wore fairly identical computers, so are these systems. And just as with those two computers, sometimes the translations are spot on, sometimes, it just won't work. It's the small differences that make it difficult. In the case of the computers, slightly different chips here and there and the differing operating systems made things a challenge. In the case of the SG-1000 and CV, it's going to be the RAM difference and the different flavor of CPU (CV uses a NEC variant of the Z80). Still quite doable, though... in the right hands.

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I wouldn't say that the Amiga and the Atari ST were fairly identical computers. They had the same CPU and a similar graphics quality, but vastly different graphics and sound architecture. Calling those two identical would be like calling the Atari 8-bit computers and the Commodore 64 identical, or the ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC. Sure you can port things over fairly well, but the Atari ST had the graphics differently organized than the Amiga, and it had no blitter and a totally different sound chip. There were similar ports between the Atari 8-bit and the C-64, or the Apple II to the Atari 8-bit or C-64, and you could usually tell it by what graphics features were used (only 4 colors per screen in the background graphics on many ports from Atari XL computers, only minimal sound in those games ported from the Apple II, and usually not using multicolor mode in Spectrum ports on the C-64). In my opinion, the SG-1000 and the Colecovision are more similar than that, having identical CPU and graphics chips.

 

As for Pole Position, here a LOT of ROM could help, I think... The main problem is the 3D graphics, so it would greatly help if for each road scanline, there would be already pre-shifted copies of the road graphics in the ROM which would be copied over to VDP RAM as needed and already include the trade-offs you sometimes have to make because of the bit-map mode which is unable to always display the stripes on the roadside as they appear in the arcade version. However, you would need up to 96K of ROM just to store the graphics in both possible states (with red and white sidelines) including the color information, or you would have to do more calculation frame-by-frame, which would slow the game down. You could do with half of that if you let go of the thin white stripe on each side of the road, however, or pre-render both versions only on the upper scanlines where it makes a difference display-wise if the sideline is red or white on that scanline.

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The biggest difference in hardware between the SG-1000 and the ColecoVision is the RAM. Where the SG-1000 has 8K RAM, the CV only has 1K. This certainly would create an issue or two in porting a game directly over. That said, most games probably don't fully utilize the 8K the SG-1000 has and with optimization could potentially do fine with 1K RAM. All of that being said, though, these are still different systems. The similar architecture helps in porting titles, but lots of work would still be involved. Just like the Atari ST and Amiga 500 wore fairly identical computers, so are these systems. And just as with those two computers, sometimes the translations are spot on, sometimes, it just won't work. It's the small differences that make it difficult. In the case of the computers, slightly different chips here and there and the differing operating systems made things a challenge. In the case of the SG-1000 and CV, it's going to be the RAM difference and the different flavor of CPU (CV uses a NEC variant of the Z80). Still quite doable, though... in the right hands.

Actually, the SG-1000 has 8Kbits = 1KB like the ColecoVision.

Digging around some more, came across the research done here.

While the SG-1000 (and all other SC-XXXX models) itself has only 1KB, there is a 8KB adapter which is required for some games. Maybe Hang-On II is one of those titles :?

According to this page, the SG-1000 uses a NEC variant of the Z80 as well.

Regardless, I did read there are interrupt, joystick and of course BIOS differences between the systems. ;)

 

I don't know the exact details, but I do know that the SG-1000 and ColecoVision are cousins, not brothers.

 

Couldn't help but to think they are more like kissing cousins with the DINA. :-D

 

As for Pole Position, here a LOT of ROM could help

Perhaps like a MegaCart utilized for PMC or even leaning on the SGM for assistance with memory needs.

Either way, who knows? Hopefully one day someone may fully port Pole Position and do it justice on the ColecoVision. :)

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In the case of Hang-On II, the game is tailored for the SG-1000's architecture, meaning that it exploits features in the SG-1000 hardware (in a very optimized way) that are not present in the ColecoVision's hardware. So when Eduardo Mello tried to port the game to the CV, the result almost worked, but not quite: The CV port had serious graphic glitches, and even froze altogether when things got busy on the screen. Hang-On II is just one of those games which are "unportable" to the ColecoVision. There aren't a lot of those, fortunately, but Hang-On II is one of them.

 

Very interesting, I'd love to know more (though I realize you don't know the exact details, as you said). Hang-On II came to mind when I saw this thread.

 

BTW what are the other "unportable" games? I know The Castle needs extra RAM.

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On any systems with even remotely similar hardware, I'd argue that there's no such thing as an unportable game save for those that require additional hardware on one platform that isn't available on the other (Atari POKEY and NES mapper chips, as examples). Even then, workarounds are doable. In the case of a game as plain-Jane as Pole Position (or Hang On II for porting arguments), no additional hardware was used. Even porting a Z80/TI game to completely foreign architecture like the 7800's 6502C cpu and Maria graphics controller are doable. The sound would suffer since the 7800's TIA chip is sorely lacking in capabilities. Even then, some pioneering individual could work out something with POKEY. It's a WHOLE lot of work to effectively reprogram an already programmed game like that and is kind of pointless, on that system, though, as there's already a perfectly serviceable port of Pole Position II available. But it's doable.

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