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Why do Sega SG1000 Mark 1 games look worse than ColecoVision games when they are same system?

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I haven't seen any evidence of colecovision in japan.  I heard sega was negotiating to distribute colecovision there but that didn't happen.  The MSX came out the same year, 1983, in japan and it has the exact same graphics chip as the sg-1000.  The nes/famicom has many improvements over the tms9918 graphics system.  Lots of colours compared to only 15 in the tms9918, multicolored sprites, and of course multidirectional fine pixel scrolling.  Another key difference is that the tms9918 systems have very slow write access to the graphics ram and limits how much the graphics can change per frame.  It's much quicker on the nes.

 

1 hour ago, ColecoKing said:

SMB had mapper. It also didn't look like a next gen game it was a scrolling arcade game even had arcade cabinent the myth it was super new type of game is that, myth. It was popular buy heavy bundle and became associated with sales as result, including Duckhunt another basic arcade game.

I will agree Coleco could not run game very well as it is not tile base system. However Sega still had such games and all their first 3 game systems models including Master System were all based on CV hardware so it is possible that CV could do it in software, CV even has scrolling games in its own library, but it would take software to do it. Coleco would need an expansion like NES to run games as well without time wasted on software.

5200 Atari on other hand could run game like SMB. Single color sprites would be an issue though but many 5200 games had tricks around that, of course it would not look at nice without mapper and of course Famicom had more memory and other advantageous over 5200. Though why NES can run blazer from lucas art and 5200 can seem strange to me, as one could say Famicom is actually 5200 1.5.

Super Mario Brothers on nes uses the most basic cartridge; 32kB progrom rom and 8kB graphics rom.  The colecovision is a tile based graphics system but it does not have any hardware scrolling.  It's not hard to do single direction scrolling in software, it requires more code, more graphics patterns, and more cpu time.  Tms9918 based systems are limited by slow write access to the graphics ram, limiting the detail of the graphics being animated/scrolled.  Multidirectional pixel scrolling would be very difficult to do with tms9918.  A lot of the games on these systems resorted to coarse scrolling.  Unlike the nes, it's not possible to expand the capability of the graphics system on colecovision, neither through the cartridge or expansion ports.  The nes graphics memory bus is extended to the cartridge, so you can add more graphics ram or add a processor that writes directly to the graphics ram.  This is not possible on a colecovision.

 

The atari 5200 has hardware fine pixel scrolling but it has fewer sprites per scanline than the nes.  Sprites or scrolling hardware is less of an issue with ballblazer.  That game is all about calculating the graphics and writing it to the graphics ram every frame.

Edited by mr_me
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Sprites or scrolling hardware is less of an issue with ballblazer. That game is all about calculating the graphics and writing it to the graphics ram every frame.



Edited 27 minutes ago by mr_me



This doesn't answer my question about why 5200 can do that game better yet is 2x weaker system.

No one said CV could be expanded like famicom so not sure why you mention it. All I know is that there was limited CV launch in Japan whether official or not I do not know. But SG1000 is basically a CV anyway. Of course, Sega never fix CV problems even with Mark 3 other than make pretty picture for screenshots. They could have updated more so games like After Burner are actually playable lol.

Coleco has tiles but it was not designed to play the games NES had even early on that's why only game like Antarctic Adventure look even but any tile sprite game or arcade game everything look different.

I suspect Sega Chack N' pop in above image comparison has same sprite protagonist as Famicom version because it is very early game but the enemies and background all look much better than Sg1000.

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The tms9918 and nes have similar graphic resolutions, so despite all the tms9918 limitations, static screenshots could look similar.  Sega made many improvements to the tms9918 in their sms/markiii.  This includes fine pixel diagonal scrolling, doubling the sprite pixels per scanline, lots and lots more colours, and faster access to the video ram.  Programming skill comes in to play when lots of animation and object scaling is involved.

 

The atari 5200 and nes have similar cpu.  The 5200 does have more graphics ram.  The nes has a bit higher resolution but the 5200 has more colours.  Again, there's also the skill of the programmer.

 

Where can I read about the coleovision in japan?

24 minutes ago, ColecoKing said:

...

No one said CV could be expanded like famicom so not sure why you mention it.

...

 

2 hours ago, ColecoKing said:

... Coleco would need an expansion like NES to run games as well without time wasted on software.
...

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4 hours ago, mbd30 said:

 

The main reason is that NES has technical advantages over Colecovision such as hardware based smooth scrolling, better sprites, and helper chips on the carts themselves. Super Mario Bros. was a true next gen console game in 1985 and it didn't even need an extra chip. Colecovision could not do that.

 

 

 

No hardware gives the NES better sprites than ColecoVision. The NES has an advantage of scrolling, but Coleco can scroll just as well if programmers sweat blood to make it happen (what NES programmers regularly did for trouble areas in their games).

 

Check out this program that runs on the stock Coleco. The code is unwieldy, but if I could get someone familiar with assembler (plus time to assist), we could turn it into an NES style game for sure.  

 

 

     

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1 hour ago, ColecoKing said:

 

 


This doesn't answer my question about why 5200 can do that game better yet is 2x weaker system.

No one said CV could be expanded like famicom so not sure why you mention it. All I know is that there was limited CV launch in Japan whether official or not I do not know. But SG1000 is basically a CV anyway. Of course, Sega never fix CV problems even with Mark 3 other than make pretty picture for screenshots. They could have updated more so games like After Burner are actually playable lol.

Coleco has tiles but it was not designed to play the games NES had even early on that's why only game like Antarctic Adventure look even but any tile sprite game or arcade game everything look different.

I suspect Sega Chack N' pop in above image comparison has same sprite protagonist as Famicom version because it is very early game but the enemies and background all look much better than Sg1000.
 

 

"Any tile sprite game or arcade game everything look different."

 

Look at Donkey Kong Arcade on ColecoVision. I heard two people arguing about whether it is better than N64 version. It shows what the system is capable of doing. A big issue with many Coleco games is programmers cut serious corners. The max development time for any legacy Coleco game was three months. Nintendo was taking up to 18 months for development of NES games.           

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24 minutes ago, Miner Jumpman said:

No hardware gives the NES better sprites than ColecoVision. The NES has an advantage of scrolling, but Coleco can scroll just as well if programmers sweat blood to make it happen (what NES programmers regularly did for trouble areas in their games).

 

Check out this program that runs on the stock Coleco. The code is unwieldy, but if I could get someone familiar with assembler (plus time to assist), we could turn it into an NES style game for sure.  

 

 

I mentioned sprites because I've noticed both Coleco and SG-1000 sprites tend to have a signature monochrome look, with NES sprites being a bit more colorful and detailed.

 

Look at the sprites in Mr. Do for example.

 

 


I am impressed by that short demo though.

 

 

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Good observation. Hardware sprites on the TMS chip can only be monochrome (I remember that from the MSX). Tho there always are workarounds, surch as using several sprites and software sprites....

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47 minutes ago, Miner Jumpman said:

No hardware gives the NES better sprites than ColecoVision. The NES has an advantage of scrolling, but Coleco can scroll just as well if programmers sweat blood to make it happen (what NES programmers regularly did for trouble areas in their games).

 

Check out this program that runs on the stock Coleco. The code is unwieldy, but if I could get someone familiar with assembler (plus time to assist), we could turn it into an NES style game for sure.  

 

 

 

     

As long as it doesn't have to scroll diagonally it's doable.  The repeating patterns in the backgrounds helps too.  Looks like all four sprites are being used in the player character.  That doesn't leave any sprites for enemies unless they are above his head or lots of flicker.

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46 minutes ago, mr_me said:

As long as it doesn't have to scroll diagonally it's doable.  The repeating patterns in the backgrounds helps too.  Looks like all four sprites are being used in the player character.  That doesn't leave any sprites for enemies unless they are above his head or lots of flicker.

Thank you. I figured that having only one character was the trick, or else there would be issues.

 

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One thing I've been thinking about but can't recall if I ever saw a detailed answer of, is in which ways the SMS and MSX2 differ graphically. Both are obviously derived from the same VDP but in different directions. I seem to recall some MSX2 games being ported from SMS which suggests that some of the graphic improvements are within reach to be converted, but of course that generally is true for most systems, given enough work.

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There's lots of details of the msx2 graphics chip on wikipedia.  More sprites, more colours, higher resolution.  It says there's vertical scroll but not horizontal scroll.  Sounds similar to sms, except for the scrolling.  And the sms graphics system is 16-bit.

Edited by mr_me

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Was the ColecoVision sold in Japan? After searching for information on it in Japanese, I'm not really seeing anything about a Japanese release. There is information about the ColecoVision, of course, but nothing saying that it was actually sold here. I found a blog saying that it was not released here at all (https://ameblo.jp/homearcade/entry-11759974760.html), though. I'll do some more research, though, since I've been wondering about this for a while myself.

 

I have no doubt that there are some ColecoVisions here, but they were probably imported from elsewhere by Japanese individuals who wanted one or maybe brought here by foreigners who already had them but then sold them locally while they were here.

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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There was apparently an industry of grey import. While the Atari 2600 was only officially commercialized in Japan in 1983, Epoch released the Atari 2600 beforehand, with knowledge of the fact by Atari but no endorsement (sorta like the deal between NEC-Hudson and Sodipeng, French importer of the PC-Engine in France).

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It's not impossible that the Colecovision could have been imported in such a fashion, so, in more numbers than a few personnal imports, but probably nowhere near enough numbers to make an impression on the Japanese market.

 

 

Edited by CatPix
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5 hours ago, CatPix said:

Good observation. Hardware sprites on the TMS chip can only be monochrome (I remember that from the MSX). Tho there always are workarounds, surch as using several sprites and software sprites....

 

4 hours ago, mbd30 said:

Thank you. I figured that having only one character was the trick, or else there would be issues.

 

It's not a "trick" any more than anything on the NES is a trick. I've already added an enemy, and it works. Most people are dealing with cognitive dissonance. They have their minds made up that a system can't do something, but they don't understand programming power.

 

Nintendo had a large development team and would spend up to 18 months on a game. That's tens of thousands of hours. I guarantee with an investment of that amount of time, I could create something previously considered impossible.

 

At this point, enough people have ColecoVision's with an F18A card that moving in that direction seems to be a better use of time. We are already seeing that instead of competing with the NES, Coleco is surpassing it (see Dead Tomb).

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6 hours ago, mbd30 said:

 

I mentioned sprites because I've noticed both Coleco and SG-1000 sprites tend to have a signature monochrome look, with NES sprites being a bit more colorful and detailed.

 

Look at the sprites in Mr. Do for example.

 

 


I am impressed by that short demo though.

 

 

I wouldn't call it a signature. The majority of Coleco games have multicolored sprites. Even the sequel, Mr. Do's! Castle is multicolored. However, it's easier to make them a single color.

 

Since there were such short development times and usually a single programmer, they cut many corners. If there was a large ROI, they could've afforded to spend more time and make them right.

 

Again, Donkey Kong Arcade is a vindication of what Coleco is capable of doing. Many would've considered the quality of that game impossible in the '80s.

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If that demo was written for f18a than it won't work on a colecovision without the upgraded graphics chip.

 

The tms9918 graphics chip can only do four monochrome sprites on one scanline.  The fifth sprite gets dropped or sprites can be programmed to flicker.  The 100MHz f18a graphics chip can do 32 monochrome sprites on one scanline without flicker.  The f18a also has hardware scrolling and programmable colours.  The colecovision or any tms9918 based system has a signature fixed 15 colour palette.

Edited by mr_me

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I think we can take Konami games as examples of TMS9918 games that do look colorful also on the SG-1000

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aenXkD1V-M

 

So it can be done and Konami did it a lot (check their MSX production all on TMS9918/9928 ... it's really really pretty imho).

 

As to why not many games on the actual SG1000 went that route I do not know, "the castle" has a very colorful main character on SG-1000 https://www.mobygames.com/game/sg-1000/castle/screenshots/gameShotId,910372/ 

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Software sprites are doable if the characters only move orthogonally.  They are more work for the programmer and cpu. Another good example is atarisoft pacman for colecovision (not released), where ghosts are two colours each, so three objects on one scanline normally exceeds the four sprite limit.  Compare that to the homebrew pacman collection for colecovision that flickers.  Also keep in mind that software sprites clash with the background, so if the background has a pattern, it will likely disappear around the software sprite. 

 

If you only have one moving object on a scanline than you can use all four sprites to make one four colour moving object.

Edited by mr_me

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Look at Donkey Kong Arcade on ColecoVision. I heard two people arguing about whether it is better than N64 version



N64 Version???????

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No, I like CV had great games good exclusives and better controller than most competition at time. But even I know it is weaker than 5200. Some Demo is only that demo. ColecoVision and SG1000 can look good and comparable to Famicom for some early games but neither had way to expand like famicom could. While it wouldn't solve core Famicom issues it would at least bump the tile based graphics.

This is why Sega had to release multiple Mark machines to catch up. Sadly Sega only focused on same thing Nintendo did, so Master System look nice but slow, flicker and everything else NES have because backend is still based on CV. They should have improved other areas but did not. CV I can't blame, they were doing good and sold modestly after crash but cancel SGM for Adam and Adam expansion module, SGM not really an real expansion per se but it could help out with some problems for the time, but CV would also need a new system successor or a new model like Sega Mark series to compete as Famcom was designed with tile graphic improvements in mind.

I do still wonder why famicom run blazer worse than 5200 though, both have some similarities but famicom 2x more powerful.

But that's not all bad, some late SG1000 games look nice I think Sega shouldn't have rushed their II and II models out so fast while cutting support. They should have had a family with low and high tier at different prices. Their replacement strategy hurt them badly in Japan and didn't do much better in the US since in the US it was basically a more powerful NES with no games.

phoenixdownita

As to why not many games on the actual SG1000 went that route I do not know



Probably took some time to learn the hardware as unlike Myth, Sega didn't have experience much on CV type hardware before SG1000 came out. Turbo was not ported by Sega on CV but third party programmed and ported game over. The only game from Sega on CV was Up n'down and they still had a co-developer.

You didn't see bigger quantity of colorful SG1000 games until 1985 which makes sense because they got hand of the hardware by then. Also same year as Mark iii

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On 9/30/2020 at 2:43 PM, ColecoKing said:

Me_me
 



You saying that Coleco outprogrammed Sega at their own game? That would be quite a bad look for Sega.
 

Look at all the PC Engine ports of Sega games that look better than Sega's own ports to the Mega Drive.

 

Every game has a different budget, team, priorities, etc and are made at different times.

 

Some games receive multiple ports to the same console and one turns out better than the other.

 

Visuals are usually better or worse because of artwork, not programming. Buck Rogers bucks the trend is a case where the Colecovision suffers from poor programming, as everything but the player sprite is choppy and it has a lot of flickering. The SG-1000 version is nice and smooth throughout.

 

 

 

 

On 9/30/2020 at 3:31 PM, ColecoKing said:

Strange that the cartridges are bigger yet not taken advantage of. If it wasn't for powerful graphics chip for 3rd remodel (master system) Sega may have been in big trouble if their home console team was not very competent.

Sega wasn't a small group of friends making games for fun like some "pre-crash" third party publishjers. They were a major publisher and manufacturer, among other things. They didn't have a "home console" team. They had many teams and individuals who did all kinds of work. Most Japanese development teams/house/etc and farmed out a lot work to other random devs. We don't even know who really made many Japanese games bitd.

 

You can have a Nintendo or Sega game credited not simply to them, but to a specific team or individuals. But in reality the "graphics" guy or the "sound" guy just passed on ideas to the team doing the non-creative work. They may have even contracted out some of the work to other individuals or companies.

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17 hours ago, mr_me said:

If that demo was written for f18a than it won't work on a colecovision without the upgraded graphics chip.

 

The tms9918 graphics chip can only do four monochrome sprites on one scanline.  The fifth sprite gets dropped or sprites can be programmed to flicker.  The 100MHz f18a graphics chip can do 32 monochrome sprites on one scanline without flicker.  The f18a also has hardware scrolling and programmable colours.  The colecovision or any tms9918 based system has a signature fixed 15 colour palette.

I specifically said the demo runs on the stock Coleco. It does NOT use F18A. Thanks for playing.

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16 hours ago, phoenixdownita said:

I think we can take Konami games as examples of TMS9918 games that do look colorful also on the SG-1000

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aenXkD1V-M

 

So it can be done and Konami did it a lot (check their MSX production all on TMS9918/9928 ... it's really really pretty imho).

 

As to why not many games on the actual SG1000 went that route I do not know, "the castle" has a very colorful main character on SG-1000 https://www.mobygames.com/game/sg-1000/castle/screenshots/gameShotId,910372/ 

"As to why not many games on the actual SG1000 went that route I do not know"

It's more work and executives rushed their programmers to get the games finished.

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6 minutes ago, Miner Jumpman said:

I specifically said the demo runs on the stock Coleco. It does NOT use F18A. Thanks for playing.

No. I said a standard colecovision is capable of doing the demo.

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