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Sonic CD PC Stupidity

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Black Squirrel, Jul 20, 2022.

  1. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Did you know there are two PC versions of Sonic CD? Three if you count Origins, which I'm not?

    I mean you should do, it's been documented for a while, but I bet nobody has done this before:

    [​IMG]

    Sonic CD was released twice on PC, once in 1995, and again in 1996. The 1995 version was created in conjunction with Intel to prove a point about console games running on PC - it uses proprietary libraries (called "Dino") to get the job done, and was packaged exclusively as an OEM product with computers from Packard Bell and HP, etc. They say it's rare, but apparently they shifted at least 5 million copies, so maybe not.

    The second release was a stand-alone retail version which uses the de facto gaming standard at the time, DirectX. This is the version you've probably seen or played, since it was the basis for all the retail copies of the game and the version in Gems Collection.


    I've got an emulated Windows 95 PC which I set up to help Sega Retro. Today I installed both versions of Sonic CD on it. And while they're installed in different places and have been packaged up differently, unfortunately they detect each other and won't let me run them both at once. The Dino version has different credits (in the about window, not the game proper) but I wanted to see if there were any other obvious differences - whether it was hiding things that we might not know about, and for completion's sake.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Most of the package is the same - they're both running Sonic CD, and the "game" part doesn't look as if it was altered. It's mostly changes to the menus, swapped out fonts in help files, and a general tightening up of the presentation (it's "SONIC CD" in the DirectX version instead of "Sonic Game"). The Dino version is also capped at 30FPS with no means of bumping it up to 60 - that's the number one reason not to care right there. It does, however, have a proper launcher with the Sega jingle on boot - the DirectX version defaults to one of those bog-standard blue background installer screens every time.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    What I hadn't expected was re-encoded video files. Neither are great - the game forces you to run in 256 colours and you still have to watch it through a little window, but the Dino version looks incorrectly scaled and has more visible artefacts in motion. But it might have better colours?

    [​IMG]
    These are both AVI files you can find on the disc, so it's not a Dino -> DirectX thing, they just replaced the files. The Sonic Boom theme is baked in for both, so it's not a localisation issue (I think Japan received the US soundtrack with this one).

    There's some other weird changes - default volume levels differ a bit, the Dino version can't mix samples together, so when you collect two rings in quick succession, the first sound is clipped out (especially noticeable when tallying up the scores). On this emulated machine loading times are about the same, but it's well in advance of minimum specs so that's perhaps not surprising.

    There are easily findable dumps on archive.org if you want to go hunting through the game's data, but for the two people who might care, confirmation they are noticeably different in places.
     
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  2. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

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    Interesting. The retail version I got to play most as a kid and never put thought into the opening sequence beyond being certain they cut out part of the intro that was in the Sega CD version (and later finding out I was right).
     
  3. Blastfrog

    Blastfrog

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    I remember reading that it also has higher quality 22khz sounds, unlike the DirectX version that only has 11khz. So there's one point in favor of the DINO version.

    I think it'd be cool to make the "ideal" version of SCD PC and use those SFX in the DirectX version alongside the JP OST (and the necessary change of cues in Stardust Speedway 3). Maybe take the Origins version of the cutscenes and make new AVIs too. Though if going that far, may as well just re-record the SFX at 44khz too.
     
  4. _Sidle

    _Sidle

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    Is the level design identical between the two PC versions ('95 PC Dino/'96 PC DirectX), or were there any tweaks? I had a thread about Metallic Madness 2 past involving the object placement there.
     
  5. Forte

    Forte

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    Cool. That little icon brings back so many good memories...

    I wonder if there's any chance to find some new leftover data.
     
  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    There's truth to this, kinda.

    By default the difference is marginal (maybe the Dino version has the edge, but they've both got muffled samples compared to the Mega-CD), but the Dino version has an option to use higher quality sounds that puts it reasonably on par with the Mega-CD. I say "reasonably" because there seems to be a slight delay in playback, particularly with rings, which could be offputting to some.

    However, I think both versions occupy about 155MB of hard drive space if fully installed, which might suggest it's something in software doing the compression. The samples themselves might be identical - I'd confirm, but I don't acutally know where the game stores them.

    The redbook soundtrack sounds identical to my ears though.
     
  7. MainMemory

    MainMemory

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    Sega PC Reloaded includes an option for the DirectX version to use the higher quality sound effects. You can find the files in PCM.CMP/PCM8.CMP in the game's main install folder, and use SCDPCsnd to extract them.
     
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  8. E107- Theta

    E107- Theta

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    Stupid nitpick but. How come sonic's eyes were changed in the PC 96 version?
     
  9. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    The screen was redrawn for a 320x224 window - the Mega-CD version is 256x224.
     
  10. McAleeCh

    McAleeCh

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    Interestingly, magazine screenshots show a prototype title screen on the MEGA CD where it's the same as the final but Sonic's pupil positions match the PC version (I know they're on TCRF at the very least, no time to check the wiki right now as paused in middle of loading a car). So it seems the PC redraw may have mistakenly used prototype assets as a basis!

    Makes me wonder what they did or didn't have access to art wise - presumably they weren't aware that a Sonic and emblem designed for a 320x224 resolution title screen already existed from even earlier assets...!