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115 votes

How is it possible that classic 3D video games such as Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time can contain such bizarre "glitches"?

3D games like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time are time-step-based physics simulators. Their basic design is based on the assumption that nothing goes above a certain speed. Each frame, Super Mario ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
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56 votes
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Odyssey game console: what's the deal with "English Control"?

"English" is a billiards term for spin. I assume that adjusting the ball position in the game gave some control over the trajectory of the ball, reminiscent of spin.
dave's user avatar
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55 votes

How did old games from 8-bit era game consoles store music?

As you already say, it was stored as "instructions to a sound chip". So it's not a simple blob of data for DA-converters, but a procedural storage. Think of it like music notes. Imagine someone ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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53 votes

Were the classic game consoles *technically* able to play both NTSC and PAL games, if ignoring artificial region lock-in?

They were different. You probably already know that NTSC is 60 Hz and PAL is 50 Hz. The video generation hardware was much more 'bare metal' than today (the NES color palette implementation was so ...
David's user avatar
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43 votes
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Why did Nintendo 64 (1996) memory cards require a battery inside them to retain data whereas the PlayStation (1994) ones did not?

Most likely different acrchitecture comes from idea how memory cards will/should be used and what are the available interfaces to access them. The PS memory cards do have flash memory, but the bus to ...
Justme's user avatar
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39 votes
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Why were pack-in games not usually incorporated on the console mainboard?

While I agree with both answers given so far, I feel they are touching only some aspects and somewhat miss the most important one: It is actually less expensive to not build a game into the console. ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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38 votes
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First use of an OS in gaming consoles?

TL;DR: For early consoles, having an OS was the norm; lacking one was an exception Even the very first second-generation consoles - that is, the ones using a micro-processor (*1) - commonly had some ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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35 votes
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Minimum game cartridge manufacturing time

TLDR: getting ROMs manufactured. I actually built game cartridges in between coding them. We could turn around "hundreds" quantity of cartridges a couple hours after the last component ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
30 votes
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Were there any enhancement chips that vastly outperformed the main CPU?

I think the SA-1 chip in various late-era Super Nintendo cartridges (eg. Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Land 3, Super Mario RPG) would qualify. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it (emphasis ...
ssokolow's user avatar
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29 votes

How is it possible that classic 3D video games such as Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time can contain such bizarre "glitches"?

The short answer is: These games are built on code which is supposed to simulate the laws of physics, at least for motion. But they are also games, which means that that code has to run fast enough ...
PMar's user avatar
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29 votes

Odyssey game console: what's the deal with "English Control"?

Kind of an authoritative support for Dave's answer (*1) as this was a question I asked Mr. Baer on a visit in 2008. I haven't heard that term before either. But why call it "English"? As ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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26 votes

What was the effect of the Video Game Crash of 1983 outside of North America?

The very same article you link says in German Wikipedia (rough translation): At the time of the North American crash the European market was strongly dominated by games for home computers, thus the ...
tofro's user avatar
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26 votes

Why were pack-in games not usually incorporated on the console mainboard?

I suspect a major factor is the availability of games. Shipping a game on a console’s motherboard requires that the game be complete quite a long time before the shipments start; including a game ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
22 votes

Why were pack-in games not usually incorporated on the console mainboard?

The cartridge is a "free gift" from a marketing standpoint and primes the customer to purchase more cartridges. You say, "It provided clear value for the customer, thereby presumably increasing ...
WaterMolecule's user avatar
21 votes
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What was the first console to have temporary backward compatibility?

The Mega Drive/Genesis is the obvious answer, but I can also make a case for the earlier Master System. Initial models were fully compatible with Sega's prior console, the somewhat obscure SG-1000. ...
Matthew Barber's user avatar
20 votes

Term “console” in game consoles

The use of the term "console" in reference to home video game systems arose because of the association of these systems with TV's in the U.S. At the time these systems were gaining popular acceptance ...
Brian H's user avatar
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20 votes
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What was the effect of the Video Game Crash of 1983 outside of North America?

A prime example is Atari burying thousands of unsold game cartridges in landfill. Well, that may have had its source with hubris over overestimated sales numbers (and licensing fees), in combination ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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20 votes
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Does switching on an old games console without a cartridge damage it?

In general, no. Cartridges from the first few generations were really only breakouts for ROM chips and thus were mostly a collection of address and data lines with a +5V and GND at minimum and perhaps ...
bjb's user avatar
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19 votes

How is it possible that classic 3D video games such as Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time can contain such bizarre "glitches"?

You probably don't encounter these glitches because you play the game as the developers intended. In Oblivion you can pickup plates and stuff to move or throw (which is the intended use), but if you ...
SirDuckduck's user avatar
19 votes
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How did the Fairchild Channel F provide a 2K frame buffer?

ChannelF uses 4 MK4096 4k * 1bit chips (4 middle-left rectangles in the schematics). The framebuffer is write-only, the CPU cannot directly access it through memory accesses. The CPU has no address ...
Grabul's user avatar
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18 votes
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What was the first games console to support linking consoles together for local multiplayer?

The original PlayStation supported a link cable much like the Gameboy's out of the box via its serial port; e.g. you can see that European launch title, Wipeout, supported it by inspecting the row of ...
Tommy's user avatar
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18 votes

Term “console” in game consoles

A console is a piece of furniture. Originally only meant to describe a kind of writing desk to stand up to, usually with a tilted surface. In technology it got used to describe control boards, which ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
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17 votes
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When did game consoles begin including FPUs?

The first major console to incorporate an IEEE 754 floating point unit would be the N64. The main use of them in games is for the mathematical operations involved when transforming in-game 3D objects ...
Matthew Barber's user avatar
17 votes
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Was PAL or NTSC encoder IC a critical component in early video games?

The PAL video encoder was not a bottleneck of any kind. It is left out because the unit is not a PAL model, but a SECAM model, which needs a different kind of encoder. So the chip is not needed and it ...
Justme's user avatar
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17 votes

Were the classic game consoles *technically* able to play both NTSC and PAL games, if ignoring artificial region lock-in?

Basically the difference between PAL and NTSC consoles is the frame rate, 50 vs 60 Hz. The consequence of that is that PAL and NTSC mostly differ in number of cycles available for the CPU per frame, ...
lvd's user avatar
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16 votes
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How did most fifth-generation consoles avoid wobbly graphics?

The Nintendo 64 not only has full-perspective texturing, it can afford bilinear filtering — for each output pixel the PS1 samples the input texture exactly once. The N64 samples it four times and ...
Tommy's user avatar
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15 votes

How is it possible that classic 3D video games such as Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time can contain such bizarre "glitches"?

No software is ever bug-free, and games are no exception. The reason most of these bugs seem so crazy is that they're complex and frequently require several things to go right (wrong?) at the same ...
bta's user avatar
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15 votes
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Why the 50/60Hz speed rule didn't apply for arcades but did for consoles?

Arcade cabinets are closed systems that you simply plug into the wall; the only thing that needs to change between regions is the PSU. The internal hardware will run at the same frequencies and ...
Tommy's user avatar
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