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Is an emulated "port" of a retro game as good/better than an actual port?


partious
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 Maybe this is a bit niche but it's something I've been thinking about lately while playing some arcade ports on Saturn and PS1 and then on Switch and I know we have some arcade game/shmup fans.

 

I guess Saturn/PS1 (maybe Dreamcast?) was the last generation when the hardware wasn't strong enough to make a rom and emulator the 100% obvious choice, so a lot (most?) of those arcade collections etc were ports as opposed to emulated arcade roms. The quality ports are generally still quite desireable and therefore still pricey in a way that the later emulated releases generally aren't.

 

From PS2 onwards emulators became the goto for retro releases, with various levels of input lag/slowdown on display in stuff like Metal Slug collection (which the system could have handled easily as a port) etc but there were still some games like Rayforce on the Taito Memories collection that were ports instead of emulated (I assume because ps2 couldn't emulate it acceptably).

 

Nowadays it's basically a given that every retro arcade "port" is an emulated arcade rom. Is this the same value proposition to you as an actual port of an old game running natively on the hardware in question?

 

Is making a distinction between buying a port and buying a rom running on an emulator just some sort of retro elitism?

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I recently playing MS3 from Xbox live arcade (Might not actually be 3 may have been one of the other ports of a 360 game) and I don't think I had the same enjoyment out of it, something didn't sit right with it. Frames were laggy to boot! the overall game play experience didn't feel as fluid as I remember this could be down to HD TV's and not the old style screens I used to play on.

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52 minutes ago, partious said:

From PS2 onwards emulators became the goto for retro releases, with various levels of input lag/slowdown on display in stuff like Metal Slug collection (which the system could have handled easily as a port) etc but there were still some games like Rayforce on the Taito Memories collection that were ports instead of emulated (I assume because ps2 couldn't emulate it acceptably).

 

 

Metal Slug is a weird one because the slow down is present in the original version, so an accurate port or even an emulator working accurately would have the slow down included as that's what the purists want. I know that when I'm playing an old sprite based game and it starts slowing down, I still get a feeling of excitement that it's pushing the hardware so hard with all the crazyness going on.

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34 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

Another World could be used as an interesting case study of where one stands. The core game itself ran as bytecode on a virtual machine, so every port just needed to implement this machine and the interfaces for input and display. Hence, every version including the Amiga original is an emulation, with the machine being emulated one of Eric Chahi's design rather than a physical platform. The Switch version may not emulate an Amiga, but it's emulating something. With this game, we can recognise that the emulation typically takes best advantage of the host platform where it's needed - hence we have higher resolutions and frame rates on modern hardware while ultimately still being an emulation. 

 

I had no idea that's how another world worked. That's really cool.

I love that game.

"Mai tzoo wah"

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1 hour ago, SweatyTravolta said:

 

 

Metal Slug is a weird one because the slow down is present in the original version, so an accurate port or even an emulator working accurately would have the slow down included as that's what the purists want. I know that when I'm playing an old sprite based game and it starts slowing down, I still get a feeling of excitement that it's pushing the hardware so hard with all the crazyness going on.

Not retro - or maybe it is by now - but that's why playing EDF2017, a 360 game, on the X is both awesome and, not quite right. It runs at a solid 60 so you completely miss out on those moments when the 360 would slow down to a crawl when a bazillion enemies would be exploding and firing at you from all angles and shit really went crazy. It added to the 'holy shit' feeling.

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image.png.534d3cbb39e88283395c6fd680e225a0.png

 

When it comes to older games, I like to go authentic as possible AND also totally welcome to modern versions that port the original and try to improve them in any way seemed fit by the developers, much like the Virtua Racing on Switch example. :wub:

 

For accuracy, I like the advances made with FPGA machines, like the analogue consoles and the MiSTER device. No more lag and inaccuracy, just the games playing the same presenting the same experience they did originally. 

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I think it depends on the game.  Virtua Racing on the Switch is a rewrite that takes advantage of the host console, but what you end up with is a version of Virtua Racing that feels arcade perfect.  VRacing on Switch is exactly how I remember the arcade version, and you need to to back to the arcade before you see how much better the Switch version is.  

 

Daytona on emulation is nowhere near as good as the 360 game because the 360 has been modified to control well on an xbox pad, as well as recognising a wheel controller. Emulation is OK but suffers because the game code expects the specific arcade wheel hardware.  

 

Something like Metal Slug could easily be coded for a ps2, and having the game running under emulation causes the slowdown as mentioned earlier.  But in examples such as these it is important that the original game code should be examined and converted faithfully.  Rewriting the game for host console would get rid of slowdown etc, but it is important to me that the game behaviour is still identical to the original.  For example, if you play Pac Man there are many official conversions where they look arcade perfect but the ghost behaviour doesn't match the arcade version I played as a kid.  Emulation is the solution to this problem, but if you rewrite the game to work well on a low spec system you also need to give the original code to the devs and make sure their new program mimics all the behaviours of the original.

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2 hours ago, dumpster said:

I think it depends on the game.  Virtua Racing on the Switch is a rewrite that takes advantage of the host console, but what you end up with is a version of Virtua Racing that feels arcade perfect.  VRacing on Switch is exactly how I remember the arcade version, and you need to fo back to the arcade before you see how much better the Switch version is.  

 

This is true of course, if you haven't played Halo in years, the remastered version looks exactly like you remember Halo looking.

 

Then you press the button to switch the true original and your eyes start bleeding.

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7 hours ago, Profgoten said:

I recently playing MS3 from Xbox live arcade (Might not actually be 3 may have been one of the other ports of a 360 game) and I don't think I had the same enjoyment out of it, something didn't sit right with it. Frames were laggy to boot! the overall game play experience didn't feel as fluid as I remember this could be down to HD TV's and not the old style screens I used to play on.

That's a particularly bad version, horrible filters. 

 

Wasn't the speed in the Pal version of Halo bugged? I remember something along the lines that it wasn't meant to feel that way but if you played it at PAL60 you got repeated frames or something. 

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1 hour ago, Dudley said:

And why would that be

The obviously old but heavily stylized, almost abstract, environments in the original Halo still have their charm and are still atmospheric. While the Anniversary graphics are way too garish and overly detailed and busy to the point of being an eyesore - on top of that it loses the original moody atmosphere because it looks like you're playing Halo: The Eurovision Spectacular. They did a much better job with Halo 2 Anniversary imo

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14 minutes ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

The obviously old but heavily stylized, almost abstract, environments in the original Halo still have their charm and are still atmospheric. While the Anniversary graphics are way too garish and overly detailed and busy to the point of being an eyesore - on top of that it loses the original moody atmosphere because it looks like you're playing Halo: The Eurovision Spectacular. They did a much better job with Halo 2 Anniversary imo

 

I agree with that, but I think that when you play CE for the first time in years it feels like you're playing a game that looks exactly the same as when you last played it on the Original Xbox.  When you press select and see the change it's totally different, but until you do that it feels like the dev's didn't update it for the new console and you're playing the same game you did in 2001.

 

Another good example is Daytona, which I saw in the arcades a while back as "Sega Racing Classic" which felt like they had re-released the game.  Then it came out on 360 and I played it to death.  Then I went into a Blackpool arcade that had the original 1993 machine and it's unbelievably low res and 30 fps and it stands out a mile.  The smooth hidef visuals don't impress when you play the new one, then you see the old one and it's only then that you see the difference

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I might be a unique case when it comes to Halo CE because I never stopped playing it. With the same like-minded friend, who brought his brand new OG Xbox over to my place to show me this new game called Halo way back when, I still play through the entire CE campaign at least once a year. Anniversary doesn't remotely look like I remember CE looking.

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18 minutes ago, dumpster said:

Another good example is Daytona, which I saw in the arcades a while back as "Sega Racing Classic" which felt like they had re-released the game.  Then it came out on 360 and I played it to death.  Then I went into a Blackpool arcade that had the original 1993 machine and it's unbelievably low res and 30 fps

 

No. Just... No. 

 

No.

 

I could go on, but I'm all out of Nos.

 

Low res, maybe - but 30fps? Nggh. Nah.

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7 hours ago, deerokus said:

Wasn't the speed in the Pal version of Halo bugged? I remember something along the lines that it wasn't meant to feel that way but if you played it at PAL60 you got repeated frames or something. 

 

I once did a comparison between the PAL Xbox version and the PC demo (as a poor man's substitute for an NTSC Xbox), and things like movement speed, rate of fire, and grenade timers were all slower on PAL.

 

The differences between PAL50 and PAL60 were less obvious to my eyes. I don't know if I really could perceive the stuttering duplicate frames in 60Hz mode, or if I just imagined I could because I expected to see them, based on what people here and elsewhere had said about Bungie's PAL optimisation. (Placebos are powerful things!)

 

When John Linneman announced that Digital Foundry Retro was going to do a video comparing the performance of all the versions of Halo, I asked if he was going to include a PAL50 Vs PAL60 Vs NTSC comparison. After so long with discussions of the differences based on subjective experience and hearsay, I hoped that the differences could be quantified at last! (Maybe it would turn out to be related to those frame cadences that DF are always going on about?) Unfortunately he said they didn't have access to a PAL Xbox and copy of the game at the time the video was made. :(

 

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11 hours ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

I might be a unique case when it comes to Halo CE because I never stopped playing it. With the same like-minded friend, who brought his brand new OG Xbox over to my place to show me this new game called Halo way back when, I still play through the entire CE campaign at least once a year. Anniversary doesn't remotely look like I remember CE looking.

 

Yeah obviously if you've not spent 10 years forgetting it, it doesn't apply.

 

But I played CE and didn't think they'd changed anything. Until I checked.

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I miss ports in general. It used to be that versions of games running on different platforms could be very different. Different technologies, different teams, different design choices. The Switch has revived this a tiny bit, but for the most part these days the consoles are so similar, and similar to the PC it's the same engine with a few tweaks. 

 

Actual ports of retro games offer the possibility of interesting changes or improvements to something I've played before. As long as it's done respectfully, I'd rather have that. They can probably thrown in the emulated version too pretty easily anyway. 

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1 hour ago, kensei said:

I miss ports in general. It used to be that versions of games running on different platforms could be very different. Different technologies, different teams, different design choices. The Switch has revived this a tiny bit, but for the most part these days the consoles are so similar, and similar to the PC it's the same engine with a few tweaks. 

 

Actual ports of retro games offer the possibility of interesting changes or improvements to something I've played before. As long as it's done respectfully, I'd rather have that. They can probably thrown in the emulated version too pretty easily anyway. 

 

I think Virtua Racing is a good example of your first point. I own it on Megadrive, 32x, Saturn, PS2 and Switch. Even now, my favourite to play is still the 32x port, despite the Switch version being technically a far superior "perfect" version of the arcade game.

 

I was thinking about the more cookie cutter form of retro rerelease, whether it be a collection of emulated Capcom roms for switch, Nintendo Virtual Console stuff or the ps4 arcade archives or whatever it's called.

Just a rom running on an emulator, and next gen we'll sell you the same rom running on an emulator again. It "feels" worthless compared to something like the 360 Cave shmups or Captain Commando on PS1 (I mean even aside from monetary value, a port will always be worth a mention in terms of gaming history etc, yet another emulated rom is just nothing).

 

Then there's software emulation itself. The recent rise of FPGA implementations suggests that a growing number of people on the unofficial end of the emulation community feel that even good software emulation is lacking something compared to something running natively, which is counter to the official end, where if it's 2d, it will be running on an emulator (one of the open source ones?). Is the version of Captain Commando on the Switch better than the PS1 port? In 10 years the PS1 port will still be an artefact worthy of discussion among arcade/retro fans, the switch version will just be a rom running on an emulator same as the Raspberry Pi version.

 

For me, this nagging feeling doesn't apply to "emulation" that involves including the old processing hardware etc in the modern device, wii on wii u, ps1 on psp, psp on vita. I assume that's closer to what an fpga core is trying to achieve in terms of "feel"?

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In the context you're discussing, an emulated ROM is the original game, whereas a port is a different edition of the game, even if developed to be identical. There's a curiosity value that comes with it, but I don't think it's any more valuable to the lay person unless the port has some tangible differences. 

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