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January 22, 2018
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Saturn vs PlayStation redux - CAN the Saturn do transparency?

by Brandon Sheffield on 07/24/15 08:25:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

When the Sega Saturn came out, I was on summer break between middleschool and highschool. By the time highschool rolled around, and I'd found people to talk to about videogames, the decision was firm: The Saturn sucks.

Its 3D was sub-par, and it couldn't even do transparency! The SNES could do that, what was Sega thinking? Well, I was always suspicious of this assertion, especially since the Saturn wound up being one of my favorite consoles of all time. The games just had a different, experimental vibe to them. This video from LowScoreBoy explains three things: 1) The Saturn CAN do transparency, just not in every context. 2) the quad polygons the Saturn displays are simply sprites with perspective. 3) There's a reason these games felt different. Developers had to think incredibly differently to make them work at all.†

This video absolutely puts an end to those schoolyard arguments. The Saturn's two processers were indeed powerful, but they simply weren't envisioned primarily with 3D in mind. And you also may feel, during the Burning Rangers discussion at the end, that if Sega had discovered and perfected the technique of sending VRAM from one processor to another, we might have had a very different discussion about the Saturn and transparency.†

Sega learned from its mistake with its Dreamcast tools and documentation, but it was too late by then, the damage to the company had been done.†Watch the 20 minute†video below - the video's author recommends subtitles, since his spoken English is non native. One of the best videos you'll ever see if you love old consoles and older technology.


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