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Old 2016-12-25, 03:09
Wesker Wesker is offline
Magic Level: Yellow Ball
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 9
MrQuetch, the problem with the Sega Saturn is the rendering. The console doesn't render polygonal graphics in triangles like the PlayStation does, but in quads, a less used standard than triangles. So that forces you to readapt the polygon models to similar ones rendered in quads, hence why you may notice those models are "different" to the ones in the PC and PlayStation versions, as they are more bulkier as a result. This happens with most 3D polygon games that are multiplataform and shared by the Sega Saturn and either the PC or the PlayStation, it was a norm because of the stantard used. And of course, this is applied to the polygon graphics of the Sega Saturn version of Time Commando.

Another big issue in the Sega Saturn version of Time Commando is the lack of shading, at all. The PC and PlayStation version have a lot of shading with help to "disguise" the combination of textured parts and flat parts that the models do. But in the Sega Saturn version there was NO shading at all programmed so that's why the models look like that, very crude. It was possible to program shading in the Sega Saturn, some other games like for example the Resident Evil conversion managed to do it, but it seems it was a complicated task because of the dual CPU-GPU architecture of the console and the tricky hardware the system had, and clearly Time Commando for the Sega Saturn suffers because of this omission. In fact, I noticed that those differences in skin color present through the characters' bodies ARE ALSO in the PC and PlayStation versions, but they are less evident because of the shading which manages to properly integrate each other together. On the Sega Saturn version they couldn't get the shading working and instead of properly redesign the colors to fit to the new "crude" situation of this version, they simply left it like the other versions are.

The Sega Saturn version was not programmed by Adeline Software, but by another French company known as Virtual Studio. This company was formed from the ashes of Loriciel, which was a noted French company from the 80s/early 90s which went bankrupt in 1993. Under their new form of Virtual Studio and keeping most of the staff that Loriciel had, they went to develop some games for other bigger companies, for example the Smurfs games for Infogrames, and also this conversion of Time Commando for the Sega Saturn which was released in March 1998, that is, when the entire Adeline staff had already moved to form No Cliché under the ownership of Sega. I bet neither Fred nor ayone from the former Adeline staff had anything to do with it (I have always wanted to ask Fred about this but he probably won't know anything) and I can also guess this was all agreed between Delphine Software, the parent comany of Adeline, and Acclaim which was the company interested in having a Sega Saturn version developed and published. It was only published in Japan by the Japanese branch of Acclaim though, the North American and European one wasn't interested (by 1998, the Sega Saturn was pretty much doomed outside Japan, where it enjoyed a better status and still had many games released until 1999/2000).

I'm thinking that either these guys of Virtual Studio had very little expertise on the Sega Saturn or they were simply rushed to release the game in this status, as it has a very incomplete feel. There's even a major fatal bug in stage 8, the future one, which has always happened to me playing the game up to that point and have never able to elude. The only way I have been able to play stage 9 and finish the game has been through passwords, as this version use the exact same passwords of the PlayStation version since this version is largely based on it. It has the same title screen menus and options (which are different in the PC version) and it also shares the same modifications the PlayStation version did compared to the PC version based on game interface and else. The framerate is also very jerky (this usually moves between 10-20fps and suffers a lot when there's a lot of enemies around) and there's also some sound irregularities concerning wrong voice pitches and lousy MIDI music conversion (and this was clearly lazyness from the conversion team because the Sega Saturn has GREAT music/sound hardware, of better quality than the one of the PlayStation in fact).

To sum up, a total mess of a conversion. But I like a lot both Time Commando and the Sega Saturn, which is one of my favorite consoles. I wish it would have also received a conversion of Little Big Adventure, but alas this never happened. Little Big Adventure 2 was actually slated to appear in both the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, but it never happened in either of them. The Sega Saturn proved well when it was developed correctly for it, for example the Resident Evil conversion I mentioned before. This has adapted graphics compared to the PlayStation conversion (again, because of the triangle/quad difference) but AT LEAST it has SHADING and everything looks pretty decent. Now that you mentioned about Alone in the Dark 2, there's also a Sega Saturn version of that one, with the same textured models of the PlayStation version and else, but it suffers similar problems to the Time Commando conversion: no shading and jerky framerate. But at least the color design choices in that one are correct, unlike Time Commando, and it also has some benefits compared to the PlayStation version: the Sega Saturn takes much less time to load (the PlayStation version is a huge pain in the ass in that regard, it's constatly loading whatever little thing you do and takes a lot) and it has MIDI music which isn't interrupted by cutscenes, unlike the PlayStation which features sample music from the PC CD version but it always stops when a cutscene appears and that breaks the game flow a lot. That version was developed by Infogrames itself, clearly by people who had problems programming the Sega Saturn but at least were a little wiser than Virtual Studio was when converting Time Commando.

So that's why at I would like to try to fix this color issue, and, even if there's still a lot of problems regarding the Sega Saturn conversion, at least there would be some consistency of the graphics and not that carnival color fest it has because of the different and wrong skin colors through the character bodies and else.

If you are curious enough, here you have some samples of the Sega Saturn version of Time Commando running and also a comparison with the PlayStation version (and some other games which follow after that).

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