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Drawing the world map on different hardware

Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198908)
So I have a series of questions that popped in my head while I was showering today.

I remember when I was a kid first playing Final Fantasy, that option to draw the map of the whole world took forever.
Image

And I remember when I played it again when I was a bit older, this time using the later-model NES with the top-loading cartridges, it could draw that map super lightning fast. Okay not quite but it was still way faster.

Now, it could just be that I was more patient now that I'm older, and the brief second it took to draw the map no longer bugs me. So my first question is, did the map actually draw faster on the later NES than it did on the original NES?

Now if it did, I next start to wonder how and why that is possible. Granted, with the rather lengthy duration of the NES's lifetime, it is in no way unreasonable that they could have built a more-powerful NES that was still cheap enough for them to make a profit. But it still seems like an unreasonable result to me.
I don't have *that* firm of an understanding on NES hardware, but what I understand suggests to me that the games were fairly dependent on the system running exactly the way it is supposed to, and there isn't much room for the NES to extend its power without causing the games to screw up some how. Plus, most of the results for things like loading graphics and drawing name tables were dependant on the cartridge's hardware, not the system. I'm really left to wonder what the control deck can do to speed up that map drawing without suddenly making every game suddenly turn into a scene where I'd expect to hear Yakety Sax playing in the background.
So my second question is, assuming that the later NES's really did render that map faster, how exactly was this possible without screwing up the way games were supposed to play?

And finally, (if indeed this did happen,) what other games were effected by the change in hardware? What other games could perform what tasks better than the original model?
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198910)
The only thing i think i know is that by the time of the toploader (which i've never seen IRL), they were able to make the main PCB smaller and at a lower price. Not having the cartridge elevator and A/V composite output (and LED to a very minute degree) must've cut production costs a bit aswell. If there's any other changes, i don't know it.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198913)
Cheaper, and also a more reliable design. Easier to clean, fewer moving parts. It was a smarter choice overall.
I also just remembered another difference was that the final output had these vertical lines, some kind of banding as a result of the cheaper hardware. (Plus no composite output so it couldn't produce as clean of an image anyway.)

So it seems a bit surprising if in all the corner cutting they did to drop the price, they also made it slightly more powerful. (TO THE MAX!!!)

So, yeah, the plot thickens. Was it really more powerful or not?
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198914)
There *could* be differences in minimum read/write time to internal RAM since there might've been a newer/cheaper part, but that shouldn't really matter, i think...
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198915)
Marscaleb wrote:
I remember when I was a kid first playing Final Fantasy, that option to draw the map of the whole world took forever.

And I remember when I played it again when I was a bit older, this time using the later-model NES with the top-loading cartridges, it could draw that map super lightning fast. Okay not quite but it was still way faster.

Now, it could just be that I was more patient now that I'm older, and the brief second it took to draw the map no longer bugs me. So my first question is, did the map actually draw faster on the later NES than it did on the original NES?

No. It's your imagination.
However, map does draw awfully slow in Final Fantasy II, while it is relatively fast in Final Fantasy and FInal Fantasy III. The reason for this is that FF2 tried an algoritm to draw the map on a spherical surface, which look nice but is AWFULLY slow. They re-used this in Secret of Mana by the way. Probably a certain Nasir Gebeli is behind this :)

Quote:
There *could* be differences in minimum read/write time to internal RAM since there might've been a newer/cheaper part, but that shouldn't really matter, i think...

No, there couldn't - the CPU is always at the same speed on all NTSC models. If the RAM is faster than the slowest possible, this extra speed effectively goes to waste as it's clocked at the same rate as the CPU.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198916)
Many top-loaders used the same CPU and PPU (2A03G, 2C02G) as the front-loader.

While the front-loader had an exclusive revision "E", and the top-loader had an exclusive revision "H", we haven't seen any substantial differences that would be consistent with your description.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198918)
I think you've just gotten older and more patient.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198919)
Quote:
No, there couldn't - the CPU is always at the same speed on all NTSC models. If the RAM is faster than the slowest possible, this extra speed effectively goes to waste as it's clocked at the same rate as the CPU.


That's precisely what i meant.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198930)
Marscaleb wrote:
Now, it could just be that I was more patient now that I'm older, and the brief second it took to draw the map no longer bugs me. So my first question is, did the map actually draw faster on the later NES than it did on the original NES?

Now if it did, I next start to wonder how and why that is possible. Granted, with the rather lengthy duration of the NES's lifetime, it is in no way unreasonable that they could have built a more-powerful NES that was still cheap enough for them to make a profit. But it still seems like an unreasonable result to me.

While lots of computers got incremental revisions that are backwards compatible (GB - > GBC, DS -> 3DS, Atari ST -> STe, etc.) this never happened with the NES.

Late NES games did have more "power", but it was due to expansion hardware inside the cartridge, not a revision of the NES itself.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198961)
That does make a lot more sense that way.

Man, as awesome as it has been to learn how these old games worked, every now and then I come across some cool thing from my youth that gets destroyed by sad and less-cool reality.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198981)
If a newer NES model was clocked faster than an older one, we'd probably have a ton of highly timing-reliant games that would break completely. Battletoads comes to mind.

Basically, there are a lot of games (especially popular in western productions) that use funky tricks to execute certain code on specific scanlines etc. that requires exact knowledge of how fast the code is executed. I think Nintendo must have been well aware of this when making later NES revisions.

Btw, I only ever play games on my toploader, and expectedly never had issues with any of them. The fact that you don't have to apply pressure on the connector when inserting games definitely makes it easier to make more games work as long as you keep them clean.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198985)
A hypothetical revision could have had a programmable clock rate which newer games could set, but this clearly wasn't the intention of the 1993 release. Rather, i think it should be seen as the budget alternative to the SNES and help sell off remaining stock of NES titles. Were nintendo licenses entry fee only, or did they cut royalty off sales aswell?
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198986)
A lot of kids couldn't afford a SNES, I personally didn't get my NES until after the SNES came out, and it still had a ton of fresh titles coming out at this point (as most would probably agree - most of the system's best titles came out during this period). Maybe I was being a little naive, but I don't feel the concept of a new console generation completely "replacing" the previous one really existed at this point, and wasn't introduced until later for marketing reasons.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198987)
In fact, a lot of parents complained about or at least thought that the SNES was overpriced, and there was this common notion that the "Super Nintendo" was a marketing trick - why pay for the "super" prefix when you can get a nintendo for half the price? Why buy a new console when the kids already have one? And look at the ramped up prices of these "super" games...

My parents reasoned as such, so i got a NES with smb1/suck hunt, barker bill's trick shooting and castlevania 3 - the latter made me a proud nes player but it was clear that you had to have SNES and later a playstation to be cool. "NES" even became a derogatory term in school for something bad or ugly looking. :roll:
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198988)
I didn't really see that effect until much later. Of course I really wanted a SNES, but there was so much cool stuff on the NES that I was really happy with what I had. The notion that a game was old or outdated didn't really exist either, at least from that generation on - any new release was just an exciting new addition to the existing library. Of course it was amazing what the newer machines could pull off, and what you saw in the arcades was even more incredible - but that was really just additional stuff. I got SMB3 shortly after SMB1, and would switch back and forth between both games, as they were, and still remain, equally great titles :)

Since you're from Sweden you probably also "suffered" a late release of CV3, the game came here -after- Castlevania 4 did, which gave is a bit of a backlash, but it was also my first real introduction to the series, and I loved it.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198991)
I was too young to be interested in games at that time, but I heard that the SNES games were crazy expensive in the console's early days, something like the equivalent of 130€ per game. Maybe this was just in Switzerland though ?

No toploader NES was released here though, so if people wanted a NES they just had to buy the regular front-loading model, even late in the console's life (that or a famiclone).
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#198992)
To be fair, new NES releases were just as expensive.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#199018)
Looks like they were like that here in Finland too. Sources say 600mk aka 100 euros in 2002 money, inflation-adjusted it would be 128 eur today.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#199030)
I seem to remember NES games being 399 to 499 SEK in stores while SNES games were 499 to 599 at some point around '95 (i remember the time vaguely because Magic the Gathering 4th edition was newly out in the same stores). The inflation from that time is ~1.25.

Just a few years later on nes games could be bought second hand for 50 SEK a piece with no regard to what game it was.

Was Bergsala the general agent in all of scandinavia + finland, or just sweden?
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#199036)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
Was Bergsala the general agent in all of scandinavia + finland, or just sweden?

Finland at least.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#199041)
Sumez wrote:
To be fair, new NES releases were just as expensive.


In Midwest US, my memory is that NES games were generally $30-$50, and snes were more $40-70.

Although the price of SNES games dropped faster. Years after the NES release, the price of games barely budged. SNES games dropped to $20-30 after just a couple of years. (At least in the stores near me)
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#200179)
gauauu wrote:
Sumez wrote:
To be fair, new NES releases were just as expensive.


In Midwest US, my memory is that NES games were generally $30-$50, and snes were more $40-70.

I never saw a SNES game for more than $50.
At least, not that was just a game. I believe Mario Paint was $60, but it came with a mouse and a mousepad. I think a couple RPGs that came with strategy guides might have been a little higher priced. But if it was just a game, it was no more than $50.

Now I have this recollection of NES games being $60 when the system was first released, but that was when I was too young to really be aware of pricing, so I could be wrong. I suppose it also could have been markup since there might not have been such rules against it back then, but I could be completely wrong.

But I am certain about SNES games being $50, because I remember saving up my money to buy some. In fact, that's how I bought my Super Nintendo. My brother and I walked home for a couple months and saved our bus fare.
So yeah, I remember people being put off by the price of the SNES, and a lot of families not getting one. But you know what? I had one.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#200190)
Marscaleb wrote:
I never saw a SNES game for more than $50.


Final Fantasy II was $70 at my local Wal-Mart for a while. I wanted that game so badly, but couldn't bring myself to pay that much.
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#200244)
Where I'm from (Ontario, Canada) new SNES games were usually about $70 CAD. Older games tended to go for a lot cheaper.

Chrono Trigger was $100 CAD the day it came out (late 1995), and that was unusually expensive. I had been saving for a long time and was ready! The only other SNES game I remember with such a high price was Earthbound.

At the time the CAD / USD exchange rate was something like 75 cents, and if you want to account for inflation I think we're looking at ~150% since then.

Here's a video game catalogue from 1996, and the prices look about right to me:
http://www.cdarchive.ca/UltimateVideo1996.pdf
Re: Drawing the world map on different hardware
by on (#200249)
Quote:
video game catalogue

Wow! No wonder virtual boy never succeeded (apart from the concept being a little too ahead of the technology). They were clearly awkward marketing it not being able to display the core feature. Instead of just showing a flat image, there's just lacklustre logotypes...