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Megadrive Mini


MW_Jimmy
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Arrived today surprisingly, despite choosing the free standard Amazon shipping. I don't like it, mainly because the CRT filter compared to the SNES Mini is grotesquely broken. It does not function correctly, or as a filter should. I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but the CRT filter seems to be applied at a different point along the rendering pipeline compared to the SNES Mini, which results in terrible horizontal banding. At least, I think this might be the case - proper tech heads who understand this can verify or correct me.

 

It's difficult to articulate, but:

I'm using a Samsung 720p HDTV, bought circa 2008.

 

The SNES Mini right out the box applied scanlines on a pixel by pixel basis, so the lines were always fixed to the pixels in precisely the correct places and ratios. It did not matter what my TV settings were. There was never any banding - and changing settings did not introduce banding.

 

With the Mega Drive Mini (UK model), the scanline filter seems to be applied haphazardly. The lines are not attached to specific pixel rows, and on my 720p HDTV there is horrendous horizontal banding issues.

 

The weird thing is, changing my TV's zoom setting changes the banding problem. I can switch 16:9, Widescreen (seemingly different to 16:9), 4:3, Zoomed, Just Scan, and maybe another?

 

Anyway, each of these produces a slightly different type of banding, or clumping of horizontal pixel rows.

 

Except - and this is what blew my mind! - the zoomed in option, which cropped the entire outer ring of the gameplay area, produced no banding.

 

I don't quite grasp how or why this happens, other than realising it is truly one of the worst emulator filters I have ever seen. The SNES Mini filter was precise, locked to specific rows of pixels, and when anti-aliasing was disabled through hacking the system, it produced a crisp and gentle scanline image. It was beautiful.

 

I don't understand how an emulator by M2 can introduce god-damn banding to the filter. That's like amateur hour when it comes to emulation.

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22 hours ago, MW_Jimmy said:

Finished Sonic 2 yesterday which is still as good as it ever was.

 

I've gravitated towards Contra/Probetector which I've never played before for some reason. It's pretty excellent and definitely feels like a mixture of Gunstar Heroes and Rocket Knight.

 

The last issue of Gamesmaster I ever bought was issue 2 because they have sonic 2 something like 65%. Idiots.

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OK, so something very strange is going on. The MDM is supposed to output 720p, right? Well this is the banding that appears on my Samsung 720p TV (Model LE32A456):

 

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What the heck is this? Why is this happening? How do I fix it?

 

I want to reiterate, and really emphasise this: THE SNES MINI DOES NOT HAVE THIS PROBLEM.

 

A friend of mine sent me photos of his 1080p TV, and it looked fine. Just lovely in fact. Why is my TV not working? Why is it doing this? Why does the SNES Mini not do this when played on the same TV?

 

I have so many questions and yet no answers. :(

 

I'll be honest, I kinda hate the MDM. It's sloppy, slapdash, poorly put together, and not much better than an AtGames systems.

 

But hey, check out that working cartridge flap and sliding audio knob which everybody is shitting their pants over! :rolleyes:

 

There is the above problem, which the SNES Mini never had. Then there's also...

 

Comix Zone's audio emulation is garbage - tracks 5 and 10 suffer from tinny sounds. Compare this to the Comix Zone download on the X360, by Backbone Entertainment. I used to criticise Backbone, regarding M2 as without fault, but really this is pathetic. Go and download the free demo and see for yourself - all the music tracks in Comix Zone, especially 5 and 10, sound velvet smooth, as they should. On M2's MDM it's just broken. My god, how the might have fallen. Yes, I know the Mega Drive sound is difficult to emulate. But Backbone could do it, and those guys have less credence than M2.

 

Also, Shinobi III. I have the 6 button controller, but because the Mode button isn't a proper "Mode button", it's just for accessing the menu, I cannot enable the 6 button code. I did a google search and only found one person, on one forum, talking about this. I refuse to play Shinobi III unless it's in 6 button mode. Sloppy, so goddamned sloppy.

 

Which is weird, because M2 knew about a special Mode button code for one of the games on the Japanese Mini (it's either Dyna or Snow Bros, one of the two), and recoded it to not require that Mode be held down to apply the code. But Shinobi III? Pffft, no 6 button mode for you!

 

Which means when it's finally hacked, I'm going to need to either HEX edit the raw code of a fresh Shinobi III ROM to force 6 button mode without the Mode button code, or create my own custom IPS patch. I should not need to be programming my own custom hacks just to play these games properly.

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, LaveDisco said:

With the console wars long over, and looking at the SNES classic and Mega Drive mini next to each other, whilst the SNES is so pure and joyful and just a wonder,  and as an adult I've fully embraced nintendo, I still can't help shake the feeling that the megadrive looks cool and powerful.

 

That little 11 year old kid in me has still got an oar in the race it seems.

 

I'm now storing them command stripped to the wall, since they all use the same cables.  Got the add the NES to this.

 

But yeah, I see what you mean.

2019-10-06_16_22_25.jpg

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I am also a little disappointed with M2's quality of late, compared to their reputation. The Castlevania and Contra collections show that they haven't been bothering with pixel interpolation or accurate scanline filters. I don't think M2 deserve their great reputation any more.

 

However, I have learned over the years that the only place to find impressive CRT filters and accurate reliable emulation is the open-source emulation community. I wouldn't even dream of bothering with a CRT filter on any of these mini systems -- and given your level of knowledge, Sketch, I can't believe that you were planning to use the CRT filter on this, and therefore your annoyance sounds a little strange.

 

It's good to demand quality for all consumers, and it's good to wish that journalism outlets would go into the kind of detail you're interested in. But perhaps you are a bit too anal and demanding, and I'm also curious why you sound so personally angry when you surely have better solutions for playing these games anyway.

 

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I'm not sure M2 are really to blame for what are (in the grand scheme of things) very minor issues. They are work-for-hire with timescales and budget constraints. I think they've done a good job given the cost of hardware involved but perhaps they spread themselves a little thin here what with 70-odd games across 3 separate versions.

 

Both Virtua Racing and Phantasy Star on Switch have been excellent and have the usual qualities you expect of M2 - additional features, perfect emulation, good CRT filters etc.

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1 hour ago, SqueakyG said:

Given your level of knowledge, Sketch, I can't believe that you were planning to use the CRT filter on this, and therefore your annoyance sounds a little strange.

 

Thank you for the compliment on my knowledge. Various places online described this as the best Console Mini yet, and since I was perfectly happy with the SNES Mini screen options, I assumed this would be as good if not better.

 

Now, in truth, I disabled the anti-aliasing on the CRT filter once I hacked my SNES Mini. But straight out the box, even though it was softened somewhat, and not quite the same as RGB SCART on a CRT like back in the old days, I found it a decent, cheap, and easy solution. I mean, I do have a PC rig hooked up to this HDTV, running HIGAN. But you know, despite going through about 20 or more HIGAN filters, I found it a pain. The SNES Mini did what I wanted easily.

 

Basically, I was expecting SNES Mini quality from this.

 

Ultimately, yesterday, I went back to using NeoGenesis on my original Xbox, running on a large CRT TV. In fairness, the sound emulation is garbage, but it allows me to tweak the visuals down to the last row of pixels.

 

 

Quote

I'm also curious why you sound so personally angry when you surely have better solutions for playing these games anyway.

 

This is a good question, and in truth it's really only because you're seeing me vent on this forum about this specific topic, but to give context: I find myself irritated by everything technological/consumerist these days. Capitalism has lied to me - I cannot have it my way.

 

* Windows 7 support is ending, pushing me towards Windows 10 or Linux, or who knows what. These newer OS don't support a lot of the legacy programs which I use, and which Win7 still manages to run. Even then, I keep an old XP rig for really old stuff which Win7 doesn't support. But hey, there goes modern tech forcing me to dance like a marionette on a string.

 

* MS Word no longer provides white text on a  blue background, forcing me to keep an ancient copy of the last version which did (2002 maybe?). Why? Viewing a word processor on your screen is not like looking at a book. A book is reflected light. A PC monitor is projected light. Meaning black text on a white background is like staring at text written on a light bulb in permanent marker. It burns my eyeballs.

 

* My bank keeps upgrading its security to the extent that now I need to telegram a guy in Mongolia a 72 letter password to swivel a satellite in geo-synchronous orbit so he can set off a forest fire to alert the arseholes in Barclays HQ that I want to know what my fucking balance is.

 

* Supermarkets have no concept of what Bechamal sauce is. I literally cannot buy pre-made bechamal sauce. They all proclaim "white sauce" or "lasagne sauce", but all of them put cheese in them. This is not fucking bechamal. This is Mornay sauce. Mornay mother fuckers, MORNAY! Which is fine, I like a nice mornay, but sometimes I need god-damn bechamal. This thereby forces me to make bechamal myself, from scratch, like some kind of peasant.

 

* Cotton. Why is it so difficult to find clothing which is 100% cotton and nothing else?

 

* The MDM is not as good as the SNES Mini despite everyone saying it is. When it's not. I've just proven it. The SNES Mini gave me precisely what I wanted, unhacked; this does not.

 

To summarise, SqueakyG, I am a man trapped in a world which repeatedly and continuously fails to be as I want it to be. It probably seems strange to you, with you seeing only my posts on this topic, but rest assured all who know me personally can attest to the fact I complain about everything which fails to live up to my expectations. It is very rare to find any product, or any service, which meets my personal needs and desires.

 

Which is ironic, because when I've produced my own products, adhering to my very specific desires, everyone complains about them. I wrote a series of books precisely as I wanted them, with a relentless, obsessive adherence to not removing words during editing, plus unending cascading footnotes which went on and on for pages. It was an epic trilogy no one else would dare write, slavishly obsessed with obscure minutiae like the office layouts at Sega in 1986. Yet even our own dear Protocol Penguin here was disappointed. Impenetrable is what reviewers said. Too complicated.

 

I am an anachronism, SqueakyG, a man in the wrong time, the wrong reality. I find myself not liking the things others like, and liking that which others do not.

 

Also I can't find any fucking bechamal sauce, which is really irritating.

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37 minutes ago, MW_Jimmy said:

I'm not sure M2 are really to blame for what are (in the grand scheme of things) very minor issues. They are work-for-hire with timescales and budget constraints. I think they've done a good job given the cost of hardware involved but perhaps they spread themselves a little thin here what with 70-odd games across 3 separate versions.

 

Both Virtua Racing and Phantasy Star on Switch have been excellent and have the usual qualities you expect of M2 - additional features, perfect emulation, good CRT filters etc.

 

I agree with this but I also think it's time for people to stop using "it's M2!!" as some sort of confident assurance of near perfection as soon as something is announced.

They can do great work when they have the resources but also appear willing to do less than great work for a paycheck. Also, to be honest I think the level of tolerance a lot of us have for imperfections in a megadrive emulator is fairly low in 2019. It's not exactly a new frontier.

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Quote

* The MDM is not as good as the SNES Mini despite everyone saying it is. When it's not. I've just proven it. The SNES Mini gave me precisely what I wanted, unhacked; this does not.

 

 

All that proves is it's not as good for you.  It's as valid as saying it's worse than the SNES Mini because it doesn't have Starfox on it.

 

For me, it's exactly as good as the SNES mini but then I don't use CRT filters on anything because universally they only serve to make things look shitter. Because we have good screens now and we should use them.

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20 minutes ago, partious said:

 

I agree with this but I also think it's time for people to stop using "it's M2!!" as some sort of confident assurance of near perfection as soon as something is announced.

They can do great work when they have the resources but also appear willing to do less than great work for a paycheck. Also, to be honest I think the level of tolerance a lot of us have for imperfections in a megadrive emulator is fairly low in 2019. It's not exactly a new frontier.

 

This is true - but comparing to the competition for these (thinking the recent d3t and backbone collections) I still think this is significantly better.

 

Would have I preferred someone else? Maybe Digital Eclipse would be good these days - I have been very impressed with their latest efforts on the Disney NES titles.

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5 hours ago, Sketch said:

 

* The MDM is not as good as the SNES Mini despite everyone saying it is. When it's not. I've just proven it. The SNES Mini gave me precisely what I wanted, unhacked; this does not.

 

The Mega Drive Mini has a worse CRT filter, yes. I just checked it out for myself - it's just an overlay of lines, and they don't even fit between the rows of pixels properly. I thought I'd stopped seeing these wrong scanline filters after the early 2000s. I wish that they hadn't included it, for fear that some unwitting Argos families might actually use this CRT filter and think that's what the games are meant to look like.

 

Then again, I wouldn't use the SNES mini's CRT filter either. It was much better than this, but still rubbish. I never expect the CRT filters on commercial products to be worth a damn, and so I'm never disappointed.

 

(My personal taste is: No fancy CRT filter, just gentle softening to take the hard edge off the pixels. If an emulator allows it, I choose bilinear filtering + 2x scale, which halves the blurriness of the bilinear into a gentle softening. Unfortunately commercial products never offer this -- it's either full vaseline bilinear or nothing.)

 

So given that I wouldn't use the CRT filter on either mini, they're a draw. As for some other comparisons I can make between SNES and MD minis:

 

Input latency = DRAW. They're both totally tolerable for software emulation.

 

Audio latency = SNES wins. People say they both have delayed audio, but I really notice it on the MD mini.

 

Emulation accuracy = DRAW. They are both perfect for the layman and decent enough for the enthusiast. Yeah some music in Comix Zone is imperfect, but then again, the background effect in Yoshi's Island's "Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy" is broken.

 

Game selection = Depends on your preference. Many classics from both systems. I hate to say that 20 SNES games are worth 40 MD games, but... yeah. DRAW.

 

Regional selection = MD mini wins. Yeah they make it fiddly with the Language settings, and it's made even fiddlier for European buyers. But at least they put regional variations on there. Nintendo didn't at all: they loaded up their Euro Classic Minis with NTSC games. So I appreciate the MD mini reflecting a British experience - converted to 60hz, of course. You can find the US versions of Contra and Castlevania... if you change to Korean...

 

Hardware: DRAW. You mock the working cartridge flaps, but let's face it, this will be a shelf ornament to most of us by next week. I think the build quality of the units and the controllers is about the same -- although some have said that buttons can stick after a while on the MD controllers. But the MD looks cool.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Sketch said:

* Supermarkets have no concept of what Bechamal sauce is. I literally cannot buy pre-made bechamal sauce. They all proclaim "white sauce" or "lasagne sauce", but all of them put cheese in them. This is not fucking bechamal. This is Mornay sauce. Mornay mother fuckers, MORNAY! Which is fine, I like a nice mornay, but sometimes I need god-damn bechamal. This thereby forces me to make bechamal myself, from scratch, like some kind of peasant.

 

Also I can't find any fucking bechamal sauce, which is really irritating.

 

tenor.gif

 

 

 

But you are right about the M2's work on the mini.

 

While I do think this is the best mini out of the box, the CRT filter leaves a bit to be desired, and is not up to M2's usual excellent emulation (as seen in the Sega classic range on the 3DS for example)

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I think M2's work on the 3DS was in part outstanding because they'd put years of work into optimisation and reverse engineering and rebuilding individual games to rock stereoscopic 3D before releasing a single thing - and they were stand alone releases with increasingly bespoke extra content and modes. By the end of the maybe 5 or 6 year production run it was safe to say that they'd become masters of the platform and that their final games especially really showed this off.

 

The MD Mini project on the other hand was a reaction to the negative outcry from fans that ATGames were involved with Sega's response to Nintendo's excellent value Minis, and was something like a 12-month endeavour from conception to production using almost identically-specced low-end hardware.

 

And as much as I hate to sound like an apologist for standard capitalist practices (seriously) I don't think there'd be much of a market for a Mini that required massively more R&D investment and pricier hardware to make it sing and keep the enthusiast grumbles at a minimum. 

 

M2 are no doubt juggling a bunch projects of varying technical and creative challenges and this year some of their contract work hasn't met fan expectations. For me though they'd have to do a lot worse than screwing up Comix Zone's audio or phoning in a useless hamstrung 720p CRT filter on a £70 Mini console to sully their reputation.

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So as someone who only had Nintendo consoles back in the day and played an MD a handful of times at friend's houses, what's considered MUST PLAY out of this lot?

 

Into ARPGs, traditional shooters, platformers and have already played Darius to death recently.

 

I love the menu music!!

 

EDIT: Oh, Megaman is the first 3 NES games... YAY!

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