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Games Entertainment

Games That Push System Limits 107

Retro Gaming with racketboy has a look at games that pushed the limits of gaming systems. At the end of every console's life, the last few games released for the system are (generally) the shiniest examples the hardware has to offer. The article's author starts with the Atari. From the piece: "I'm by no means a 2600 expert, but Solaris is definitely one game that comes up quite frequently in terms of innovative 2600 games. Considering the 2600 wasn't originally intended to do much more than play Pong variants, Solaris is a technical masterpiece with its sophisticated gameplay and relatively high resolution graphics. Although the game played much like a first-person space shooter, you can always see your ship at the bottom of the screen. The graphics for Solaris were first-rate as the multi-colored aliens are flicker-free and glide along smoothly, even when attacking in groups."
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Games That Push System Limits

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  • by DJ_Duffy ( 915271 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:23PM (#14719914)
    I'd say stopping at the SNES is too bad bacuse other more recent systems showed how it pushed the performance of the system:

    SNES: Stunt Race FX....which also used the FX chip (2nd game to use it) Sega 32X: Virtua Fighter...worst looking version of the series, but at least you didn't need a Saturn to play it. N64: Perfect Dark...pushed the N64 a little too hard..almost unplayable at some points. N64: Resident Evil 2...huge game for the N64..I'm suprised they managed to fit it all onto a cartridge at all. Playstation: Gran Turismo 2, Metal Gear Solid...both just grabbing all the PSOne had left for performance.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:24PM (#14719918) Homepage Journal
    man, that thing ran so slow that it died.

    And what really burned me up, was Maxis included all but one of the changes I wanted in the game - wind turbines, hydro dams, etc. - but I couldn't get them running with anything other than a minimal map and few active boxes.
  • Pitfall 2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyite69 ( 463042 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:41PM (#14720055)
    I haven't played Solaris - I'll have to dig up a copy of that one. But I was blown away by Pitfall 2 on the 2600 with its more realistic graphics, better sound (with a musical sound track!).

  • DKC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:43PM (#14720072) Homepage Journal
    Donkey Kong Country for SNES. Mmmmm that game was too good. And the first SNES game I know of to use the scanline trick to push the max on screen colors from 256 to 4096.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:48PM (#14720132)
    I know that my 386 SX 16 went from 1 meg of ram to 2 because of a version of Ultima. Worth the $50 cost of 1 meg of ram I saved up for back then! And the excuse to save up for and move to a 486 DX 75? Wing Commander III of course. Those two games give me so many good memories. Ahhhh... Avatar adventures and fighting the Kilrathi. Good days... good days...
  • Re:Elite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grahamwest ( 30174 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @08:41PM (#14721005) Homepage
    Mode 4 at the top (2 colour, 320 pixels wide) and mode 5 (4 colour, 160 pixels wide) at the bottom. They didn't actually use the full screen width so they took less than 10KB of memory (and correspondingly less resolution). The BBC Master version used mode 1/mode 2 for 4 colour and 8 colour respectively.

    Other games had used the trick of changing the video registers partway through the frame (via an interrupt) although only to change the colour palette. Elite was the first to change the bit depth and so on as well, effectively changing the display mode. They also had the timing so rigid that there was no need for a black 'gutter' between the two states, as most other games needed.

    I've no idea about the keyboard buffer, but the game used about every trick in the book so it wouldn't surprise me. Elite was so far ahead of its time I think cutting edge graphics and a deeper in-game story (ie. taking all that backstory from the novella and making it count in the game itself) would be enough to make it a viable product today. Convincing the retailers and money-men about a space game is a tougher proposition.
  • Mayhem (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2006 @12:50AM (#14722252)
    Mayhem in Monsterland on the c64 gets my vote.

    It was practically the last commercial game released for the c64 (or perhaps Lemmings was, but anyway), and the only game Ive ever seen that scored 100% in a magazine.

    It used VSP scrolling though, so it didnt work on very early c64s. But it was fast, colourful (using colour mixing throughout), and extremely playable. Many people called it a 'Sonic beater', which was impressive for 10 year old hardware (at the time).

    The Rowland brothers now make games for mobile phones I believe. Alas.

    For more recent instances of pushing hardware beyond its limits, check out the alpha builds of Pinball Dreams, again on the c64. Its almost identical to the Amiga version.

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