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Why was the Dreamcast version of SA never ported?


VolatileMike
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I've played through Sonic Adventure on PC and PS3. I always viewed the game as a fun but visually clunky mess of overly-bright textures and poorly-lit environments. 

Yesterday I played the DC version, and what an incredible difference. It doesn't perform amazingly well at 25-30 fps, but it looks a hell of a lot better. The lighting actually gives the locations real presence, making the entire experience more immersive and getting me more invested in the story than ever before. This is especially evident in Mystic Ruins locations and Final Egg. In SADX, these places felt like you were doing some kind of test run in a level editor. On DC, they feel like actual locations. It actually feels like Sonic Team's visit to South America produced worthwhile results. I really believe that if you haven't played the Dreamcast version, you haven't truly played Sonic Adventure. 

So here's the question: why was the much better Dreamcast version never ported to anything else? GameCube and first PC version, I get it. They tried to make a better version, and in the eyes of many, failed. But then they did a second round of releases for HD consoles and Steam, and they still went with the uglier version. Why? Especially for posterity's sake, why?

At any rate, I'm loving my Dreamcast so far. 

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Because technically speaking, the DX ports do "look better." Higher model quality and the like that is more fitting on modern hardware.

I totally agree that SA1's superior graphically to SADX, but it's not hard to see why DX's models alone make it the version of choice. That, and the extra content such as Mission Mode and Metal Sonic. 

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SADX was admittedly a bog standard 'Director's Cut', it worked as well enough as a port and fixed some glitches, but added no other much needed fine tuning aside from some unlockables, and lacked a lot of those small sound and graphical effects that gave it that extra bit of atmosphere. The models were an improvement, but they only made the limited graphics and animations more glaring and ultimately they only really retooled the four main characters.

I'm hoping one day someone in the hacking community manages to port in those little extra details. They've improved the game in many other ways.

Concerning why the DX version is always ported, my guess is that it is easier to port from a PC game than a Dreamcast one, and that one would likely be assumed to be the superior version.

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My friend and I talk about this all the time.

I can understand SADX GCN and SADX PC, but they were pretty lazy not to port over SA1 for the Dreamcast collection despite them porting over all those other games.

I just... don't think they care about how much of a mess this game has become after being ported 4 times. SADX just seems to get progressively worse the more it's ported.

For example, I made this way video relatively recently:

...about one such issue that only exists in SADX: You can literally just spindash up the back of where you start in Final Egg 2 and jump out of the map. SADX added in a lot of bugs that aren't there in Sonic Adventure International (the version it's said to be based off. As an example, you can jump into Big's sewer as sonic in every version except International because that's the only version where there's collision in that small hole you fall into the area from) or even Sonic Adventure's original Japanese release (such as the bugs in Final Egg 2 I'm talking about here) for that matter. You can see for example - the lighting changing drastically between the Gamecube and PC versions.

Sonic Adventure fully supports 60 FPS (Aside from the cutscenes, they're capped at 30 even in SADX) in all versions of the game and the only reason it's capped at 30 is because the Dreamcast's hardware couldn't handle it (Notably in places like the mirror room in Lost World. If you have a really fast computer, it works fine on an emulator). Hell, all the menu screens as well as Twinkle Circuit run at 60 FPS.

I could go all day with reasons to hate SADX, but since the topic here is about why the Dreamcast games aren't being ported I probably should stop there before I get lost on myself.

The only time I can think of recently where SA1 was favoured over SADX (despite coming out the same year as the Dreamcast Collection) was in Sonic Generations. SA1 was used for the retrospectives such as the credits and it seems both games were used as guidelines for the stage itself: It has the blue-tinted environment from the Dreamcast version but there's also things from DX - such as the floor at the start of the stage in Generations not having the checkered pattern from the Dreamcast version for instance.

Of course the reason for why SA1 was never ported to PC was obvious - SADX was made to be the up-to-date replacement with newer graphics and features and choosing the port the 90's version instead of the one that was recently released would be a pretty weird thing to do. The most-likely explanation as to why SADX was chosen for the Dreamcast collection is because like the 2004 PC version it was released only a few months after SADX was ported to Xbox and PS3.

We've also talked about more far-off reasons such as "maybe they lost the source code to SA1", "they love mission mode" or "metal sonic is their waifu", but I wouldn't take them seriously here because they're just speculation in this case.

tl;dr I think they still believe SADX is superior despite all the things wrong with it.

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I admit that it would be better to just report the dreamcast version, but I personally first played the game through the DX port and honestly, I don't find reason to "HATE" it, sure it's more glitchy and doesn't have better lighting, but to say that who ever plays it over the dreamcast one  "haven't truly played Sonic Adventure" I think that's kind of an exaggeration. I mean it's still pretty much the same game with the same gameplay and the same story  and the difference doesn't really affect to much on the experience

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SADX is technically still the superior version, it's just it taints it with these little but effective downgrades.

I've heard the Dreamcast version feels sturdier gameplay wise, but I haven't tried it recently to know first hand.

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The differences between versions might be subjective as to how they affect the experience, but for me it was huge. The only stage where the differences really don't matter is Emerald Coast, and even then it has uglier water in the DX version. 

I played DX version a lot, to the point where my Chao were winning all their races (which takes repeat visits to several different levels), and the Dreamcast version already looks much better. The view fog, darker textures, and better lighting all make you feel like you're in an atmospheric world rather than a blocky level full of bright, hollow polygons. 

Red Mountain, Lost World, Windy Valley, and Final Egg are particularly better in the original version. 

Someone should ask Iizuka. He might know. 

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5 hours ago, Shaddy the guy said:

Obviously the solution is to give SA1 and 2 a full graphical and mechanical overhaul and fix all the gameplay and story issues releasing the two of them as one complete product on every current console and PC

That would require caring for Adventure Fans. Also, removing Big stages.

But joking aside, remaking games as old as Adventures would require a lot of work, most assets wouldn't be even useful. And there are a lot of things to fix.

I recommend this video for more details about remaking a game.

 

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7 hours ago, Shaddy the guy said:

Obviously the solution is to give SA1 and 2 a full graphical and mechanical overhaul and fix all the gameplay and story issues releasing the two of them as one complete product on every current console and PC

I'm not sure if this is sarcastic or not because it's such a regularly asked for thing but just in case it isn't - this would practically take the effort of making a new game, so they might as well leave the past well enough alone and make a new game with that time/money/effort.

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Hmm...

I can understand why DX was chosen as it had improved models (no Saturn era Sonic on the plane) and more content, plus unlike the original it has a PC port (two actually, see below) so it makes it easier to release even though the game is getting buggier and buggier. Sadly I don't think that there is demand of the original version of the game, unlike movies where often there are various versions. Surprised that there isn't a MOD for the game to make it like the original version (there are mods to fix things and add more stuff though, better SADX being one).

It seems like the game has gone from Sonic Team (original) -> Now Production (Gamecube) -> whoever did the original PC version (might be NowPro or someone else?) -> Sega Studios China (who did the 360/PS3 version and the second PC version aka port of a port of a port). From pillar to post to the point that it askes further questions like does Now Production still have their source code? Did Sega Studios China reverse engineered the game (like they partly did with their version of NiGHTS) or get whatever Sega gave them to do the port? Why was there a need of a second PC version when a patch would have been fine? Was it over the Game Gear games?

Then there is the main unanswered question like does Sega/Sonic Team still have the source code to the original version of Sonic Adventure? I know Yuji Naka's era of the company kept some of the source code (as he still has source code to Sonic 1 and unusually compared to most Saturn games, Sonic Jam) however much of the source code in games have been destroyed. If it's been destroyed then probably the furthest that it can go back is the PC DX version. Emulation would have to be an option but I'm not sure if any Dreamcast era Sega games are emulated since they seem to be ported and having a company to work on the emulation of the game might not be worth the effort if it is just for the one game.

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I think the graphical changes may have something to do with how the Dreamcast handles textures? I'm just spitballing here, but when Shenmue 2 was ported to the Xbox they changed a fair few textures, such as signs, roads, and the like for seemingly no reason. It's the same with SA, why would they change the colour of the train and floor tiles? The only reason I can think of is that they're implemented in such a way that it's not possible for a PC or Gamecube to handle, so they changed them. 

As for the current sitch, it's just likely that it's easier to port a Gamecube title than a Dreamcast title on modern hardware. The Dreamcast is increasingly becoming a relic and had its share of odd hardware quirks.

The fact that it only gets glitchier the more it's re-released is shameful, though, as well as a lack of seemingly basic fixes - widescreen, audio mixing, etc - that even the new version of SA2 fixed - ok, not the audio mixing, but it got widescreen at least. 

@Don Corleone I was reading something about the disastrous Silent Hill HD remaster where they asked Bluepoint Studios (who did a lot of those HD Collections for the PS3, such as Metal Gear Solid and Ico/SoTC, which are all great ports) for a second opinion, and they said that the SH remastering teams first mistake was to use the source code, which had a lot of things missing and wasn't optimised properly. Apparently, the best practise for remastering something like that is to reverse engineer a retail copy, which is 100% guaranteed to be complete. All a team should need is the finished code for SA1 off a disc. 

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I can honestly say I've never really heard a complaint like this before, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Could it be because maybe SEGA thinks SADX is the "better" version, and there's no reason to port the original because of that? Maybe a good comparison would be like porting over Sonic Unleashed for the PS2 and Wii over to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Maybe there are a few people who want it, but the demand isn't high enough for SEGA to want to do anything about it, know what I mean? Everyone who wanted it would get it, but the reward wouldn't be enough for SEGA to make much off it.

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On June 26, 2016 at 7:23 PM, E-122-Psi said:

SADX is technically still the superior version, it's just it taints it with these little but effective downgrades.

I've heard the Dreamcast version feels sturdier gameplay wise, but I haven't tried it recently to know first hand.

I can't help but wonder how much of SA's better playing can be put down to the Dreamcast's exceptional analog stick. The centering springs were made such they they gave haptic cardinal directions without needing an octagon gate, they had soooo much travel, and the sensors for the stick's position were Hall effect sensors, so they didn't interfere with the mechanics at all. 

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It wouldn't surprise me, I never cared for playing any of the Sonic games that came out for Nintendo consoles because it just felt "wrong". Especially with the Gamecube controller, the Gamecube controller just only works for proper Gamecube games.

Back on topic though, the reason why SADX is probably used is, like someone said, the modular code base. It was likely designed to be highly portable, and I'm certain nobody at SEGA didn't really think that the Dreamcast version was better in any way, because it's the older version.

At the same time, damn does SADX look ugly. The models just flat out do not fit the animations at all, the textures and models both look out of place, and the lighting is screwed. The original Dreamcast release just looks way better, there's an overall sense of just feeling right. I don't know if it's because I grew up playing the Dreamcast release, it was my first Sonic game, but I just flat out prefer the visual cohesion of the original version.

That said, Sonic Adventure is an old ass game, and it's not getting any younger. It needs a full on remake, complete with a new engine and redirected cutscenes. It's in a constant state of deterioration with it progressively getting more and more broken: the fucking water in the Steam releases isn't animated, and water was one of the big selling points of the original game!

This goes for Sonic Adventure 2, by the way. While time has been much kinder to it, and there are SOME gains from the Battle version over the DC version (e.g. models look much nicer, and the game runs at a 60fps), it also suffer from deterioration. You can't even fucking play City Escape, the most iconic level in Sonic games next to Green Hill Zone, if you're using a machine that's using Intel HD graphics without suffering horrible glitches to the point of causing system crashes.

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16 minutes ago, shdowhunt60 said:

This goes for Sonic Adventure 2, by the way. While time has been much kinder to it, and there are SOME gains from the Battle version over the DC version (e.g. models look much nicer, and the game runs at a 60fps), it also suffer from deterioration. You can't even fucking play City Escape, the most iconic level in Sonic games next to Green Hill Zone, if you're using a machine that's using Intel HD graphics without suffering horrible glitches to the point of causing system crashes.

And shit like this, which pretty much never happens in the Dreamcast and GameCube versions of the game-

5ca7966d087f9fe5faae6ba339cd5dcb.png

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WHY HAPPEN?!?!?!

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