111

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 64 calculates four time steps, in which it (among other things): moves Mario ¼ of the distance he's supposed to travel in that frame; then pushes Mario out of ...


54

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 playing a piano he doesn't need to hit some 44,000 keys per second but anywhere between two and eight, each with a certain duration and velocity and later release ...


39

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. With this fixed, several other abilities come for free: Different default games for different markets "New" seasonal packages like "Terminator&...


29

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 for the game to be playable. To do that on the original hardware (which, after all, cannot run arbitrarily fast like nature does), the code author had to take ...


27

You can think of the sound chip in devices such as this as a simple synthesizer, capable of emitting some basic waveforms at some designated frequency. Capabilities of these devices varied in the 8-bit era, fx on number of simultaneous voices, available waveforms, hardware envelopes, filters and special modulation techniques (such as ring modulation and ...


26

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 cartridge in the final box can be done with a game that’s ready much later. There have been instances where later iterations of a games console were changed to ...


24

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 crash had next to no consequences. My memory completely agrees with that - There was no such thing as a Video Game (console) hype, so as such nothing that ...


20

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 a few others. In the case of the Intellivision, it also had SYNC, serial lines and a video passthrough (to support IntelliVoice, Atari 2600 module, etc.). The ...


20

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 sales." I would say a physical, discrete cartridge provides clear extra value to the customer as a free gift. A pack-in title included on the board, on the ...


19

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. However, with the removal of the card slot and expansion port in later revisions this was severely eroded. Some games on cartridges may still work, but anything ...


19

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 place the plate below yourself while holding, you could jump on it making you and the object move up and then you could jump on it again and again (which kinda ...


17

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 into 2D shapes for rendering on the display. An important secondary use is for games that have physics engines. Previous consoles typically did this by means ...


17

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 features starting near the bottom left of the back of the box: It is a passive cable, and became available in 1995. If you'll allow intelligent peripherals ...


16

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 with less than desirable conversions regarding quality (Pac-Man) or story (Raiders of the Lost Ark) or combinations of both (ET). However the effect on ...


16

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 often looked alike in the early days. In general usage it describes today a self supported furniture (standing on the floor), meant to hold other items on top ...


16

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 would be useless and just cause extra cost and power consumption in the SECAM model. The necessary SECAM encoder is integrated to the separate board with the ...


15

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 in the 1980s, most U.S. homes had a single main/larger TV that existed as a piece of furniture in the Living Room or Family Room. These were commonly referred ...


15

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 linearly interpolates according to how close it is to each (in two dimensions, hence bilinear). The Saturn has a couple of tricks up its sleeve: the primitive is ...


14

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 time, combinations of things that rarely make sense in the context of normal gameplay. A large portion of these exploits are discovered by people playing the game ...


13

It's simple: this method allows only one way to run a game: put the cartridge into the slot and power it on. With games incorporated on the board, you have to provide some kind of boot loader, menu, switch, or some other way to select an onboard game. Another reasons could be: some cartridges had extended HW (more ROM, added RAM, etc.) it provides a more ...


13

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 therefore output graphics at the same rates and sizes regardless of the region. Conversely, consoles and home computers of the era mostly expect the user to supply ...


11

There's no single commonly-accepted definition; the dividing line has shifted over time. In 1977 when the Apple II, PET and TRS-80 collectively invented home computing the difference was pretty obvious: the computers had the ability to display good-quality text, and provided a textual interface. That codified into a home computer having a keyboard and ...


11

There is some anecdotal evidence that often there was no real source control or archival system in place, just ad-hoc backups. For example, a number of machines from 90s developers have been recovered recently, particularly Amigas. One belonging to Psygnosis and one belonging to Team 17 have surfaced. No evidence of any version control or systematic backups ...


11

The Mega Drive 1 and 2 can run Master System software via the Powerbase Converter. Neither the Nomad (the portable Mega Drive) nor the Mega Drive 3 are capable of doing so without further internal modification. I therefore posit the Mega Drive.


11

Per Nerdly Pleasures: ... back in the 80s and early 90s, Famiclones were typically made in Taiwan. Frequently they simply cloned the die of the official NES CPU and PPU. At some point, the Taiwanese semiconductor fab UMC made clone chips of the Nintendo/Ricoh 2A03 CPU and 2C02 PPU. They were called the UA6527 and UA6528, respectively. ... This design ...


11

The palette information gives a hint: The maximum number of colors on screen without timer interrupt tricks is: 256 palettes * 15 colors = 3840 (out of 2^16 = 65536). So, yes, it seems possible thanks to the timer interrupt The value of this counter is decremented by the pixel clock, which runs at 6MHz (166.7ns period). With this resolution of 1 pixel, it ...


10

The Cray you're describing there is nothing but a block of pure processing power. You're not describing any sort of input or output, so the question is very vague. You could put any sort of rendering front-end onto a generic computer like that: Older 8-bit home micros could have bitmap modes, or tile modes with sprites, or some combination of these, making ...


10

A good way to think about it is to consider board, card and tabletop games: A board game has rules: who goes first, what happens when you land on a space; and state: whose turn is it, where the pieces currently are, how much each player has. So does a card game like Magic the Gathering, and a tabletop role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons has a lot ...


9

The original Xbox was an ~$800 computer sold at a loss, with embedded hardware making it impossible to use it as such. To my knowledge, Microsoft was the first company to take that gamble: that it couldn't be hacked and used as a home PC, and therefore negate the sales of their peripherals or software that they get kickbacks on. They took that gamble because ...


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