Oops. It would appear I never actually finished my post/rant from May 29th, but I was going to summarize (at length) that it looks like what many figured was impossible has happened – that Microsoft, “this year’s Sony”, may have fumbled the ball by doing a by-the-numbers job of console development, and Nintendo, “this year’s Travolta”, may be the comeback kid. I personally think this would rock, since I’m a complete Nintendo whore.
At any rate, I finally got Gran Turismo 2 so I can play with bleemcast!. Just for a sense of perspective, I popped it into my PS2 and turned any enhancements off. I played it and gawked at it’s assified graphics. I’m one of the rare few who never owned a PSX. I opted for a N64 (believing at the time that you had to have one or the other, not both). After playing stuff like Soul Calibur and Shenmue on the Dreamcast (and SSX on the PS2) N64 graphics look rather lowsy, so when I see what the PSX looks like it’s hard to believe that people settled for this. Then I smack myself and remember how great I thought Mega Man 2 or Super Mario Bros. 3 looked like on the NES, or the fact that The Legend of Zelda looks like hammered ass but is still hella fun to play.
So, back to GT2. After playing it for shock value on the PS2 I fired it up on bleemcast!. You have to go a bit to see something in 3-D, but when I saw the car, I was pretty impressed. When I played the game, I was also pretty impressed, but I saw what pretty much all the reviewers agree upon – it takes GT2 and makes it a great game that looks great as well, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Several glitches are in this game, and not bugs – just things that the PSX can’t handle. The models of the cars have “seams” in them in places at times, and I’m sure with the low PSX resolution, no one cared. Now with 640×480 graphics, it’s pretty glaring. Plus, there’s this thing my friend Jimmy pointed out, which I now know as “frame interpolation” – basically, when you have a smaller resolution (and a smaller framerate) when you do things like scripted camera movements or motion of models, the positions in space which look correct to the eye. When you then have increased resolution or framerate, these movements look “jerky” to the eye. A game engine like Quake 3 Arena uses frame interpolation, basically fillin in the gaps. If you have an extra frame between positions A and B, make that position (A+B)/2, halfway in between. Since this would have to be done with the game’s executable code, it doesn’t exist in GT2 since the designers never intended the game to be on any other platform. It’s also outside the realm of what bleemcast!‘s scope is.
This makes me wonder – we all know Sony hates emulation, but what do the game designers think? Polyphony Digital, the developer behind the Sony-published GT2 must like it on one hand since it sells more games this way (side story: my first attempt to buy GT2 at Babbage’s – which won’t sell bleemcast! BTW – was foiled by the fact that this Babbage’s was out of GT2, “because of all the bleem people”). But on the other hand, they’re basically being told “your game looked like shit – here, we fixed it”. For that matter, anything they wanted to “hide”, like flaws or limitations of the original hardware, are plain for all to see.
The achilles heel of bleemcast! is in how it handles memory cards. According to bleem!, LLC, there’s no choice in the matter – I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but in any event bleemcast! requires a dedicated memory card, to be formatted by the game itself. Meaning you either have to buy a new memory card or sacrifice one of your exisitng ones. Since I don’t see myself being able to buy a new card anytime soon, I figured I might could consolodate my cards (2) into one. However, there’s too much I want to keep, so I did some research. As it turns out, with the latest web browser, PlanetWeb 2.6, you can email game saves. I emailed one to my PC and tried to make it downloadable from my personal web server to no avail. I had read that merely emailing them back didn’t work – that the files were changed somehow. After messing with this for a few hours I tried to do this anyway, and it worked. So, I’m going to be backing up my VMU saves to my PC – I don’t know why this isn’t better documented, unless Sega just wants to sell more memory cards. The only place this doesn’t wotk is with certian games, like Soul Calibur, Phantasy Star Online or other Sega branded games, as these saves have flags which keep the web browser and BIOS refuse to copy them or email them. With PSO I can understand, but why Typing of the Dead?
Oh, and none of this would be necessary if GT2 didn’t have like 500 locked cars, making a memory card a neccesary evil.
Funny thing is, there’s like a dozen Dreamcast racing games that look ten times better. Most of them amount to “make car go fast now”. Something about GT2 just felt different. Then I looked at the Reference Manual and realized how much crap has gone into this one. That makes it pretty cool that GT3 is coming out soon – it’s like the ultimate car simulator evolving (like how whatever id’s FPS of the moment is is the ultimate FPS evolving). I plan on playing this one a lot, but I can’t even begin to convey the irony of possessing so many Dreamcast titles, but playing a PSX game to its extent on it. Oh well, so I’m weird.
Oh well, I’m off but before I go, be sure to download and play Bejeweled on your PalmOS enabled device