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Biggest incremental jump between console generations?


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There has been diminishing returns on graphical fidelity as time has gone on. Consoles like the PS5 appear now to be making larger strides in things like frame rate and loading speeds than outright graphical jumps (RTX and HDR aside, maybe). 

 

But looking back, what do you think was the biggest single leap?  Atari to NES?  SNES to PS1?  PS2 to 360?

 

ive been watching videos of PS1 and PS2 demo discs. And the differences are fairly large in fidelity. We went from SD to HD next, but I’m not sure games looked all that much better. 
 

 

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It's been smaller every generation since the first one, which probably shouldn't be a surprise.

 

Equally though people very quickly forget a previous generation. Go play a PS3 game like Prototype everyone thought was marvellous back then.  it's a grey brown smudge with a framerate of bugger all.

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8 minutes ago, Dudley said:

It's been smaller every generation since the first one, which probably shouldn't be a surprise.

 

Equally though people very quickly forget a previous generation. Go play a PS3 game like Prototype everyone thought was marvellous back then.  it's a grey brown smudge with a framerate of bugger all.


I’m not sure that’s true. 
 

I think the jump between NES and SNES was smaller than that between SNES and PS1 for example. PS4 to PS5 a larger more meaningful jump than PS3 to PS4. 
 

The major paradigm shifts I think have been (in no particular order):

 

2D to 3D,

Cartridge to Optical media,

Offline to online

SD to HD

Media to High Speed SDD. 
 

I don’t think HD to 4K, HD to HDR as being as meaningful. 

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58 minutes ago, Droo said:


I’m not sure that’s true. 
 

I think the jump between NES and SNES was smaller than that between SNES and PS1 for example. PS4 to PS5 a larger more meaningful jump than PS3 to PS4. 

 

You might want to go look at an average PS3 game again, I think you're rose tinting the likes of Prototype.

 

And the PS1 generation of games were 3D sure but at the cost of being janky as hell.

 

You do have to remember how early we are in this generation though, there are really 0 Xbox Series games right now and very few PS5 so maybe we'll look back in half a decade and I'll think otherwise.

 

image.thumb.png.5c765eeb99334e782979159359bc5420.png

 

Everything must be brown!

 

I'm so glad we seem to have broken that cycle at least.

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Console wise, the biggest impact on me was the move from Atari to NES. Within that time frame I'd played loads of home computer games though - and the improvements NES had over the likes of the C64 weren't immediately obvious. The starkest difference after I'd spent a bit more time with the NES was in the quality of the games and the improved feeling of responsiveness. 

 

While the move from 2D to 3D was a big deal I think it was a bit more organic than people often make out. There are loads of early 3D games that play very much like 2D games. Even the likes of Resident Evil has as many similarities with something like 3D Ant Attack as it does with modern 3D games.

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17 minutes ago, JamesC said:

While the move from 2D to 3D was a big deal I think it was a bit more organic than people often make out. There are loads of early 3D games that play very much like 2D games. Even the likes of Resident Evil has as many similarities with something like 3D Ant Attack as it does with modern 3D games.


In terms of gameplay not a lot changed in most genres (this is still true) but I remember as an Amiga owner in 1995 standing in Curry’s absolutely stunned by Wipeout on the PlayStation. It’s difficult to appreciate this now as the early 3D games look so bad compared to what came after, especially on large modern TVs. 

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16-bit to 32-bit - alternatively, fourth gen to fifth gen. Polygons, CD quality audio, more diverse audiences... Yes, it all looks nasty and janky but when there wasn’t anything better at the time... :P 

 

VR has been a big deal for me this gen - Wipeout Omega Collection with the PSVR update feels like the mythical “future of games” that we were promised back in the day by the TV shows and magazines hyping up the more janky VR experiments - but it’s still too niche to be a breakout success.

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It’s a strange thing looking back at console generation jumps. I remember going from 16 to 32 bit graphics and thinking the PS1 was mind blowing. I’ve been playing some PS1 and Saturn games recently, and holy shit are they hard to cope with now. I played Soviet Strike on the Saturn for the first time ever the other day. In 1997 I would have absolutely loved that game, I loved the 16 bit strike games. It plays like shit now though, I only gave it 15 minutes before I gave up.
 

Despite the shortcomings of the 32 bit generation, I don’t think there’s ever been a leap so definitive for gaming.

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Even now when you look back, it's a leap from mostly sprite-based games to realtime 3D. Sure, there's a huge crossover there (filled 3D polygons in games were a thing already; sprite-based games didn't just vanish) but that was a massive shift in capability and the focus of games from that point on.

 

Everything else is (mostly)  just doing things better. This was doing things differently.

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38 minutes ago, Dudley said:

You might want to go look at an average PS3 game again, I think you're rose tinting the likes of Prototype.

 

[...]

 

Everything must be brown!

 

The brown thing is an issue with art direction, rather than system power!

 

I think there are 360-era games that don't look that far behind more recent equivalents - even if their environments are smaller and not as populated, and running at a lower resolution, they don't look dated the way that games from the PS1/N64 did when DC/PS2 came out. Things like Batman Arkham Asylum/City, Halo Reach, Ninja Gaiden 2, Max Payne 3, and the fire propagation in Far Cry 2 all still look good to me.

 

Flash up a screenshot of Sam Fisher crouched behind cover in Splinter Cell Conviction, versus an equivalent cover pose in The Last of Us 2; or Dark Souls 1 vs DS3; or Forza Horizon Vs FH4. Yes, you could quickly tell which one is the more recent game, but to me the differences all come across like cosmetic flourishes that are nice, but not essential.

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For all the talk of ps1 games I actually think a lot of them come across really well if you're playing them on a handheld now - I've loaded up rg350 with about 3 dozen and the gameplay does hold up really well in that format. 

 

I can imagine they look like shit when you're trying to play them on TV or emulated etc but as for the reduced handheld size I think a lot of it really works. 

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Biggest jump for me was probably SNES to N64 style jump. PS1/N64 to Dreamcast/Gamecube/Xbox also big but going from something like Doom on the Snes to Goldeneye on the N64 was a massive jump on so many levels. Even compre Mario World to Super Mario 64 and F Zero to F Zero X. 

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Dreamcast is a really good shout, it was from a generation where arcade perfect or arcade exclusives were still reasonably important.

 

It was the first console I felt easily matched the quality you'd see in the arcade (yes I know it was essentially arcade hardware) at the time.

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Easily snes to to N64. I'd given up playing games 3 years or so, felt like everything had been done. Endless platformers. Then i played goldeneye and wave race.

Huge jump. Went and bought an N64.

 

That said going from a spectrum to a Gameboy and nes felt big too. Smooth and really responsive, quality of games was just way higher.

 

I'll not buy a new generation console. I'm not fond of the type of games getting made these days. Cringey dialogue and "emotional" stories, no thanks, all takes its self very seriously without much charm.

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22 hours ago, Droo said:

The major paradigm shifts I think have been (in no particular order):

 

2D to 3D,

Cartridge to Optical media,

Offline to online

SD to HD

Media to High Speed SDD. 


Game Boy to Game Boy Color ;) 

 

It’s technically a new platform (there were GBC-exclusive games) so it totally counts :P 

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21 hours ago, Camel said:

Even now when you look back, it's a leap from mostly sprite-based games to realtime 3D. Sure, there's a huge crossover there (filled 3D polygons in games were a thing already; sprite-based games didn't just vanish) but that was a massive shift in capability and the focus of games from that point on.

 

Everything else is (mostly)  just doing things better. This was doing things differently.

 

It's not a generational leap but I've always maintained the biggest actual transition was Cart/Disk/Tape to Optical Media.

 

At a stroke that increased capacity for cartridge machines by 125x overnight and for disk based machines by anything between 500 and 1000x before disk swapping.

 

It's the point at which what you did became constrained by the actual abilities of the machine rather than by storage, effectively you suddenly had unlimited storage.  Suddenly you no longer needed to restrict your code to take up 10kb less on the disk.  Memory was of course still a thing.

 

Of course you could argue that freedom and that complexity is how we ended up in 50gb day 1 patches land so it might not be a good thing but I genuinely think nothing changed games in a single moment like that did.

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This is a tough question because whilst you could say snes to n64 was a huge leap you're then missing out on things like the Neo Geo, 3DO, PlayStation etc which were all increments between the snes and n64.

 

As much as I love the Dreamcast which is a lot, theres often times where you can imagine an N64 game with a higher resolution and a few extra polygons looking very similar. Same with the Ps2 and ps1. Ridge Racer Type 4 at a higher resolution looks similar to Ridge Racer 5.

 

Its got to be something like pong or an early Atari system to the Nes really because you went from black and white paddles and a ball to actual characters and worlds. I guess the most impressed In difference for me though was the Dreamcast. PlayStation games were nice but seeing sonic adventure for the first time blew my mind. The clarity, sharpness and detail was incredible so maybe ultimately I’d go with ps1 to Dreamcast. Although as I type this going from say Donkey Kong Country on the snes to ridge racer or is probably the much bigger leap?

 

Maybe arcades are a better thing to look at? Going from sega model 2 to model 3 was a pretty big leap.

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@Dudley

 

Optical media is a good shout, I hadn't considered that. That said, it wasn't enough on its own - just adding a CD drive to a Mega Drive or a PC Engine didn't really allow you to do anything really materially different with games (unless you count CD soundtracks or FMV games). You needed the additional memory, processing power, 3D capabilities, etc of a Playstation or a Saturn to really take advantage of the medium. So it came part and parcel with other advancements, but was a huge part of it.

 

To be honest, I'd say disks themselves were a huge leap, in that it allowed you to make a game that was bigger than the memory of the computer you were using. But that wasn't really a linear development from tapes to disks, as they existed in parallel for years, and (IIRC) tapes never really took off in the US anyway (hence UK developers using mad workarounds like multiload games).

 

For me, I'd say the biggest jumps were the ones that allowed for entirely new kinds of game. The jump from 2D to 3D is probably the obvious example here, but I'd also say the jump from PS1 to PS2 was nearly as transformative, as it allowed for stuff like GTA3. The sheer scope of GTA3 was hard to credit at the time - it felt like it contained multitudes of other games, with unprecedented freedom on top of that. That was clearly impossible on previous generations - I would be surprised if you could even get close on a Dreamcast, which was sort of the same generation as the PS2.

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Purely talking graphics for me it was going from the PS2 generation to the 360 / PS3. All the generations before that had their impact blunted for me by one thing or another. The arcades and ST/Amiga games in the 16 bit era, later DOS stuff like Doom and Magic Carpet (which I'd seen but didn't actually get to play until the PS1 had been out for a while), 3DFX era 3D acceleration before the PS2 hit etc.

 

Got my 360 with Oblivion and Ridge Racer 6. While RR was impressive Oblivion, for all its jank and ridiculous character models was something else. I remember every time I set out to work in the morning I'd look up at trees and think "just like in Oblivion".

 

I played Gears 1 and the remaster the other week, alternating between both versions each session. While the remaster obviously benefits from a generational leap and overall has better art direction, there's still a few bits where the original looks better in terms of effects and the lighting choices. For a 14 year old game (14 years!) it still holds up incredibly well. The level of detail on the character models is essentially the same as what we have now - lower fidelity (textures, polygon count etc.) but basically the same, like concept art come to life (the facial animation is actually better in the original version). What was around 14 years before Gears? Flat polygons on the 16 bit computers, sprite scaling in the arcades...

 

I was really disappointed seeing PS1 games for the first time. Having an Amiga in the 16-bit era, consoles always represented slickness to me. 60 fps (well 50... and I'm not sure I understood about fps back then, but I could see how smooth they were), loads of sprites on screen at once, fast action, effects, multilayer parallax. Not arcade quality but way closer than anything you'd get on computers of the time. When I started hearing rumblings of what games on the PS1 would be like I just assumed they'd be 60fps, like arcade games. I got a real shock seeing them in motion for the first time.

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Definitely the jump from 2D to 3D for me.

 

I remember seeing the first pictures of Virtua Racing (and later Virtua Fighter) in Mean Machines Sega back in the mid-90s, not really seeing what all the fuss was about, as in the photographs it looked like a bland uninteresting racer. "You have to see it in motion"; they claimed. And boy were they right. 

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But were those Virtua Racing pics from the MD, 32X or Arcade version of Virtua Racing? 

This is the thing - the lines are so blurred when it comes to the 2D to 3D thing. It doesn't really follow the console generation framework. 

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