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General Questions and Information Thread

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Andlabs, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Anyone remember these from Get Bass?

    Awesome game. I could never work out when the intro was on Disc 4 and so you needed to change disc's straight away.
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Our Le Mans 24 Hours title screen is marked for replacement:
    https://segaretro.org/File:LeMans24Hours_title.png
    (really the job is to supplement it with a title screen that says LE MANS 24 HOURS but this message pre-dates our ability to have more than one title screen on a page)

    So I seem to be making questionable life choices at the moment - let's get the PAL dump and take a screenshot for completion's sake:

    [​IMG]
    hmm.

    "Le Mans 24 Hours (Europe) (En,Fr,Es).chd" really did seem to suggest this was the PAL version. Maybe it's mislabeled? Although there was that setting that didn't seem to do anything, what if..

    [​IMG]
    ...I switch this to PAL

    [​IMG]
    Oh.

    So wait what about those other settings...
    [​IMG]

    Damn you Infogrames and your forward planning.


    There are three dumps of this game as you'd expect: NTSC-U, NTSC-J, PAL, which are region locked to each specific system, but it appears there is some coding to try and localise the game anyway. If you could magically get your PAL disc to work on an NTSC-U Dreamcast, it would become Test Drive Le Mans. I've yet to see another game do this... though I've mainly been playing with half-baked demo discs so far - maybe it's a common feature.

    In addition, the game checks the system's language setting and localises accordingly. Except not completely - when it's in Test Drive Le Mans mode, the text will always display in English. Is the PAL version in NTSC mode the same as the NTSC version in NTSC mode? No idea!



    I did wonder if this was going to be a thing. I figured since many Mega Drive games change depending on the region of the system, it stood to reason that some of the sloppy Mega-CD ports might do the same, even if the Mega-CD would reject the disc before you ever saw it. But as most emulators default to the expected region, and the Saturn and Dreamcast were region locked from the start, it didn't cross my mind to test newer games with the wrong region settings. Now I guess we'll have to.

    (also the Saturn's language choice in the BIOS doesn't affect games, whereas its Dreamcast counterpart clearly does, so that's a thing)


    Anyway this means Category:Region coding is going to have to open its doors to Dreamcast games, if not just for the language setting. However the true matrix could be

    Region: USA, Europe, Japan
    Language: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese
    Broadcast: NTSC, PAL, PAL-M, PAL-N

    (not sure if "Region" really does anything, and I'd be surprised if PAL-M or PAL-N settings changed a game in a significant way, but who knows)


    I suspect the minimum number of configurations to check per dump will be:
    English NTSC
    English PAL
    French NTSC
    French PAL
    German NTSC
    German PAL
    Spanish NTSC
    Spanish PAL
    Italian NTSC
    Italian PAL
    Japanese NTSC
    Japanese PAL

    12 x the three dumps of Le Mans 24 Hours = 36 configurations.

    On the plus side, I expect only a subset of PAL releases will actually change.


    I'm also assuming there's no means of turning the logo from "24 Heures de Mans" into "Le Mans 24 Hours", i.e. a second language setting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2023
  3. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    [​IMG]
    Oh, there you are.

    Europe + PAL = the 50/60Hz test screen. I just assumed Le Mans was a game without it (since not all games supported PAL 60Hz). No other combinations of "region" and "broadcast" will show this screen.


    For non-Europeans/Australians - the Dreamcast was the first console to really give a damn about PAL regions, so rather than encourage developers to make special optimisations for the 50Hz/60Hz divide (50Hz usually resulting in slower games with added borders, if developers were lazy), the Dreamcast supported the so-called "PAL60" mode, i.e. PAL but at 60Hz, just like NTSC. Finally games would look and play the same, just about.

    However not all TVs could cope with PAL60. Most(?) could by the late 1990s, but Sega apparently weren't keen to let you force PAL60 at a system level. So the compromise was to have a test at the beginning of a game. It wasn't mandated (so some games only run at 50Hz (boo)), but it was highly recommended, meaning most games implemented a screen like this.

    It's also why the PlayStation 2 sucks, because most of its games didn't have a PAL60 test. I think the Xbox implements it at a system level, and I forget what the GameCube does, but the Dreamcast was waaaaay ahead of the curve on this one. Thankfully now it's all HDMI and nobody cares.


    I have no idea if any PAL Dreamcast games were ever optimised for the 50Hz option. It's a terrifying prospect that some games might be, and so have loads of subtle differences to the 60Hz version (rather than "same game but slower").

    Though either way, I don't have high hopes that the 50Hz and 60Hz games are exactly the same (minus the speed difference). Literally the second game I tested:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    50Hz comes out as 640x478
    60Hz comes out as 640x480

    I'm hoping this is an emulation bug. It would be annoying to check every PAL release on the off-chance it chops off two rows of pixels.
     
  4. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    So if I can make an PAL version of a game display an NTSC title just by fiddling with region settings, can I do the opposite? Or more specifically, can I trigger a 50/60Hz test in a game that was never intended to be sold in 50Hz territories?

    Well... no. I picked a bunch of games from several different publishers, both NTSC-U and NTSC-J dumps, and none would show a PAL test when run with the settings above. It's pretty obvious that in the vast majority of (if not all) cases, the PAL-specific code was added after (or was excluded from) the NTSC builds. It's not too surprising, and I haven't checked every single game, but ehh, it would have been fun to see, especially given some of these titles were once planned for official PAL releases.

    However

    There are Japanese and/or North American-exclusive games that have French/German/Spanish/Italian translations. Like...

    [​IMG]

    De La Jet Set Radio, which has almost certainly inherited these features from the original game's PAL release. Strictly speaking this isn't "hidden content" (unless German isn't an option in the Japanese BIOS), but... how many people have seen this?



    Oh and for the record:
    [​IMG]
    Sega Smash Pack Volume 1's version of Sonic 1 is indeed appalling. Of the "it sounds so bad, how could they release this" variety.
     
  5. Overlord

    Overlord

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    For what it's worth, the PS2 definitely did 60Hz differently than the Dreamcast did - I vaguely recall black and white output where a Dreamcast did colour so there's at least a mode where it's NTSC fuckery rather than PAL.
     
  6. doc eggfan

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    This reminds me of a Mega Drive tune, even though it's a remake of a SNES tune, but I can't quite place it. Does it sound familiar to anyone else?

    Is it this one, or is there a better one I'm thinking of...
     
  7. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    Shenmue is optimised for 50Hz - the most consistent proof is holding left+run while exiting Asia Travel Co. At 50Hz you hit the corner of Aida Florist and get diverted left; at 60Hz you get diverted right instead.

    The game still runs about 2% slower at 50Hz though.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Okay it's been a few days. Dreamcast emulation in a nutshell:

    we're not there yet


    I think it's fair to say that when we talk "classic Sega", communities like these gravitate more towards the Mega Drive than the Saturn or Dreamcast. Age is a factor, but it's just as likely because Mega Drive emulation is so damned easy.

    For one, you have choice with emulators, they all offer 95%+ compatibility, and while some deal with outliers better than others, the difference is largely academic. Sonic 2 plays fine on everything and has done for at least 15 years, but it's not just that - the community has settled on ROM formats and savestates and even hotkeys - my daily driver's a 13-year-old copy of Kega Fusion and for the vast majority of cases you'll never have issues. It could do with some fixes on the 32X side, but yeah, it's fine, and crucially isn't a bloated mess of a thing.

    Likewise you can go to your totally legitimate ROM website of choice, download anything in a fraction of a second and (as a single file) it'll run straight away. The only undumped games are a few stupidly obscure cartridges (and prototypes), many of which we couldn't even prove existed until recently. It's a good experience all round.


    Saturn emulation wasn't feasible until a few years ago, and while support is incredibly good now, the console's become a specialist machine that only a subset of a subset care about. The biggest issue here is that we're dealing with CD-ROMs, which are hundreds of megabytes big - obviously download speeds improve all the time, but you still have to "think" when dealing with dumps. Emulators are still a bit awkward by design - Mednafen doesn't have a UI, which will throw some people, and it can still be an effort if you're playing with expansion cartridges.

    Performance might also still be an issue for some, but we've clearly moved on from the wonky Japanese emulators that only ran a game if the planets were aligned. I think most games are here, save for a couple dozen Japanese-only demo discs.


    Though I was under the impression Dreamcast emulation was further along than the Saturn, I'm not convinced that it is. Emulation is from the school of thought that it's all about playing games in obscene resolutions, with hacky widescreen mods and HD texture packs, rather than a program that favours accuracy. I've talked a lot about Redream since it was the only one that would take decent screenshots, but it can't handle a good chunk of the Dreamcast's library, and you don't have to go far to find emulation troubles. I don't know if I trust many of the screenshots I've taken over the last few days - it's better than nothing, but there's a lot of oddities.

    Amusingly Dreamcast games aren't much bigger than Saturn ones - you still get GD-ROM dumps with like, 20MB of data on them, but the situation isn't ideal. You've got bin/cue dumps which I expected, but CHD files which are compressed, and another GDI/CDI thing which kind-of feels like it was engineered to please software pirates in the early 2000s, but is all a bit faffy from an emulation point of view. An 800MB+ download only to find it doesn't work properly is a little tedious.

    Redream eschews standard Windows UI elements for its own pretty interface, which again solidifies this idea that it's meant to be paired with your hacky under-the-TV games playing device rather than desktop PCs. And that is half fair - the Dreamcast's analogue stick isn't a nice fit for a digital keyboard, so you're going to need more equipment if you actually want to play the games well. Also Redream sticks features behind paywalls - nothing important for me, but you can tell with that mindset the focus isn't going to be ensuring every pixel is correct.

    It doesn't emulate the Windows CE-based games, and the alternative, Flycast, has its own set of issues. Right now, I think you're still better off with real hardware if you want to play Dreamcast games, but Sega Retro-style documentation is feasible for most of them. Or at least, given decent save states, a pause button, and frame advance - I'm not touching Jet Set Radio until I can line up the pixels.

    And there are a fair number of missing dumps on the Dreamcast. Most of the games you've heard of are available, but the really obscure stuff Sega Retro champions is nowhere to be seen. And that'll be because running the software wasn't straightforward, and while the Dreamcast is more beloved on the internet than the Saturn, it's not as well suited to attracting and keeping fans than the cartridge-based consoles of old. You can't play Dreamcast games through your work PC's browser on a lunch break, for example.


    A fascinating exercise, anyway. As I said, I tried going down this route a few years ago but emulators sucked too much. They're a lot less sucky now.
     
  9. Bobblen

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    What's frustrating is that the Dreamcast's rivals, even though you basically have one emulation choice (PCSX2 for PS2, Dolphin for Game Cube, even X-Box, notorious for not having an emulation solution now has the QEMU based XEMU), and those emulators also focus on upscaling and fancy enhancements, but they both are fully capable of just outputting what the console produces as well. Redream is unusual in that you literally can't do that!

    At least from my research, it seems Demul is closest to what we want for Dreamcast, it's developed these days by a MAME dev, native res only (at least for the latest Direct X 11 version, the older versions could upscale), supports NAOMI as well and supports Windows CE stuff. It just hasn't had a huge amount of dev in the last few years, and unfortunately for this site, can't do screenshots without third party assistance.
     
  10. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    DREAMCAST: REAL MODE

    Puyo Pop Fever was the very last Dreamcast game to be published by Sega (2004-02-24 - lots of 2s and 4s because "Puyo"), and thus the very last game Sega published for one of its consoles in Japan.

    "Isn't Pop Fever the English title?"
    Yep.
    [​IMG]
    There's a full English translation on the disc, with the voices and everything. Did we know this? Well we do now.

    (I don't think this one pays attention to your Dreamcast's language settings - you have to go into this game's option's menu to switch. Because why be consistent across products?)


    Because it's a special game, it also has a special option:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    (does that graphic on the right change depending on the time of year - Redream likes using the system clock)

    This makes a special save on your VMU which unlocks what it calls "Real Mode". Now when you press start on the main Dreamcast menu...
    [​IMG]
    it does this
    [​IMG]
    and you can move things with the analogue stick (and L/R triggers). Word on the street this is something built into the BIOS, but turned off for whatever reason.

    This isn't a new thing (I mean the game's been out for nearly 19 years and it's a clearly labeled option), but I haven't seen it emulated before.
     
  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    It's super tangent time

    Yesterday I began a quest for a Dreamcast game that might have 36 unique title screens (see above). It's looking unlikely that such a game exists (because there isn't a difference in most cases between 50Hz and 60Hz versions), but it's possible a few games have more than 10.

    In theory, all Dreamcast games should ship with six language options:
    [​IMG]
    Again, unlike the Saturn, the language you set in the BIOS can be picked up by software, and most games with language options implement this feature. Unfortunately, most games produced for Japanese and North American markets stop after two translations: Japanese and English (and often it's just one). This setting exists in every Dreamcast ever released, including those at launch in 1998 (I think?), but until the PAL Dreamcast came out a year later, there were no French, German, Spanish or Italian translations in games.

    And to be fair, it's extra work, and when it's not an official language in the country you're selling in, there isn't much point in implementing a translation. Although again, still an option in the BIOS - you'd think they wouldn't bother to include the setting if they had no intention of translating games for that region.



    And now, Pen Pen.

    [​IMG]
    Pen Pen TriIceLon was one of the first Dreamcast games to be announced, releasing as a launch title in Japan in November 1998. It was likely developed in conjunction with the hardware, and there was a fair chance it would be released overseas, given it already had an English announcer and a cast of marketable characters. I know I was interested when I first saw it, and Sega Europe clearly were too, because it did indeed launch with the PAL Dreamcast.

    Does it implement all six translations? Well they dropped the original Japanese text for Europe but yes, kinda.
    [​IMG]
    It defaults to whatever is set in the BIOS, but you can manually override it with... Dutch. Because hey, The Netherlands exists.

    Every game with a Dutch language option has to perform a similar hack - implement its own language screen to override the BIOS. Could Sega have added Dutch to the BIOS menu? Maybe? Pen Pen wasn't a mysterious title - it had existed in some form for about 18 months, so there was still plenty of time to prepare.


    Of course, Pen Pen is a third-party game. Infogrames took on publishing duties in the West - their translation demands may not have lined up with Sega's. How were Sega to know Dutch translations were needed? Because uh... they sort-of made this game.


    [​IMG]

    Pen Pen is a product of General "we can't spell" Entertainment, a Japanese company with its hands in all sorts of media at the time (general entertainment, if you will). It produced some fairly unremarkable Saturn games, and yet somehow managed to produce two Dreamcast launch titles, Pen Pen TriIceLon and Godzilla Generations. Sega only managed one (Virtua Fighter 3tb) - the likes of Sega Rally 2 and Sonic Adventure were delayed, so for about a month GE, a company nobody had heard of, was technically the most prolific Dreamcast publisher. And it went on to produce... nothing else of note for the system.

    The game's credits are more revealing. Programming and art were handled primarily by Sega developers (including Jina Ishiwatari who made Sonic levels), some of which are credited with Dreamcast technical demos. In the Western versions, this team is specifically credited as "Team Land Ho!".

    [​IMG]
    Land Ho!, which still exists as a developer to this day, is now an independent company, but apparently began its life as an internal Sega team, managed by Masanobu Tsukamoto. Pen Pen (both the original and localised versions) was produced before it became independent (the company's first credit being attributed to Derby Tsuku: Derby Ba o Tsukurou!), so Pen Pen is technically a Sega-developed product being published by GE.

    I'm also hearing some Sega person's son ran GE, so there are family ties or something?


    What about Godzilla Generations then, is that secretly a Sega game too? Not entirely - a few different companies were responsible for development, but Sega had some oversight and handled all of the marketing. I'm not sure what General Entertainment did other than stick their name on the box - the game apparently sucks, so maybe they're there to take the fall. Sega published the sequel, Godzilla Generations Maximum Impact.



    Anyway I think the point I'm trying to make is that Sega made a game with a Dutch translation, but didn't feature the option in hardware, despite being fully aware of a project requiring it, and having ample time to implement the option.


    Where are they now?
    - Pen Pen TriIceLon went on to score mixed reviews, mainly due to its short length. I've always liked it, but it's not for everyone.

    - The Dreamcast continued to have spotty translations for the rest of its life. Several other PAL games implemented Dutch translations (among others).

    - General Entertainment didn't doo much, and went bankrupt in 2011

    - Due to their pre-existing relationship with Sega, Land Ho! were taken to develop the Derby Tsuku games, before branching out into other genres. The company still exists, but mainly deals with mobile now.

    - Neither Godzilla Generations games scored highly, and neither left Japan. Its developers no longer exist.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Loading the more obscure Dreamcast games on original hardware is a feat as well! Trimmed backups in the CDI format exist for most of the English-language collection, and these can in theory be burned to a disc and booted up. Others are in the GDI format or bin/cue sheets that contain all of the data, but don't fit onto a CD-R the Dreamcast can read.

    There are supposedly tools out there for extracting from GDI and repacking as CDI, but most of the resources I saw required a DOS-based tool that won't run on modern hardware. Then there's converting the bin/cue to GDI or mounting it in a virtual drive to extract files - which hasn't been a thing in over a decade now has it? - and it's a mess. And that's before you get into finding what data you can remove/compress to fit the game onto a CD-R instead of a GD-ROM!

    I've read that the GDEmu drive emulator can read backups in GDI format, but since installing it requires removing the disc drive there really isn't a good way to use the tool to make your own backups. It's also somewhat pricey...

    i wanted to see if the "US Shenmue" title screen looks like that on real hardware, and I spent a day going down the rabbit hole. It's a mess in 2023.
     
  13. Pen Pen is an overlooked classic game. Its a shame we never got a sequel with double the number of tracks and Online play
     
  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I heard somewhere that the Dreamcast had a 320x240 resolution mode, but I wasn't sure if that was actually true. You could just double the pixels on each axis and render at 640x480.

    [​IMG]
    However, Redream spat out Gunbird 2 as 320x240, so I guess that settles that?

    It's not common - I've pretty much posted every game that doesn't run at 640x480. Even games you think don't...
    [​IMG]
    ...actually do.

    Not including aftermarket games, the 320x240 mode is seemingly limited to a small handful of Capcom and SNK arcade ports.

    And again there's Psychic Force 2012 doing 640x240, and whatever San Francisco Rush does. The vast majority of Dreamcast games stick to 640x480 (which is not the case with the PlayStation 2).


    "But I don't pay attention to things posted on this board and wiki, the Dreamcast supports widescreen! I've seen it"

    [​IMG]
    sure does

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Anamorphic widescreen, with non-square pixels. It's still 640x480.

    (just a reminder, the same is true for the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Wii and DVD video)
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2023
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  15. I liked how in SEFA GT 2002 you got a different title screen if playing in Widescreen mode, nice though that from AM#1
     
  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is far too common to be a coincidence. Bangai-O is a darker game in the West.



    [​IMG]
    I don't think it's an emulation bug (unless every emulator sucks) - there's footage from real hardware that shows it too. The brightest white on the Dreamcast logo screen is #C0C0C0.

    [​IMG]
    And yet it feels like it should look something more like this (an artist's impression). Like there's a mismatch between colour depths and they're not being resolved properly.

    There are so many murky looking Dreamcast games:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    and it's not the case with Sega's older consoles (except that broken one).

    It's not something for Retro to "fix" but it's a curiosity.
     
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  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    It's intentional.

    https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:SegaDreamcastSoftwareCreationStandards_US.pdf&page=43

    I'm guessing this was never an issue on the Saturn because you weren't often seeing 480p visuals. It was 240p with scanlines and I need to learn more about this topic before I continue this post but basically

    bright games = bad.

    [​IMG]

    ... until it stopped being bad. Or maybe this was a Sega of America thing. Or maybe nobody understood any of it.
     
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  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Pause a Dreamcast game and before the 5 minute mark, Sega required developers to switch to some kind of screen saving mode for the same reason as above - keeping bright lights on screen for too long can break your TV.

    So how many games actually implemented this feature?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A good chunk don't need to. When you pause the game, the screen darkens straight away, and that's apparently sufficient. BORING.

    [​IMG]

    Some games apparently don't give a damn. I don't know if they fixed this in the international release, but GetBass doesn't seem to follow Sega's own guidelines. Oops.

    [​IMG] -> [​IMG]
    [​IMG] -> [​IMG]
    [​IMG] -> [​IMG]

    Some games just dim the screen. Red Dog has some fancy effects so the colours change slightly. Fine, good, whatever.

    [​IMG] -> [​IMG]

    But eventually you'll find one with a proper screensaver. See, I told you Toy Commander was a good game.
     
  19. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    More "not actually 240p" fun:

    [​IMG]

    This looked promising. Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves (née Garou) (a.k.a. "Where's Terry's hat?") was a Neo Geo game ported to the Dreamcast. Its assets were designed for 320x240, but what's with that blurry copyright text? Have they messed up the pixel grid? Is the scaling broken? Are you okay?


    [​IMG]
    ... no. The whole game is a perfect 240p in a 480p container. Or 304x224 because there's a border, but you get the idea.

    But there's one exception: the character shadows. They get twice as many vertical pixels for some reason. It's otherwise a near perfect match for the Neo Geo (perhaps embarassingly so - they use rapid flickering to simulate transparency, hence Terry not having a shadow in this shot), but this one (literally) blink-and-you'll-miss-it effect means it's technically a higher resolution version of the game.


    In fact

    it's technically higher resolution than the version put out on PS4 in 2016, because that's based on the Neo Geo original. I don't know if that means anything, but hey.
     
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  20. RyogaMasaki

    RyogaMasaki

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