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Most impressive 3D-Games for the Sega Saturn

Dec 12, 2018
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So, we all know the deal: Sega rushed the Saturn. The Saturn can't do 3D. The Playstation has better specs.

All of this is debatable, but there was some truth to it. Dual processing was an interesting idea, but the 3rd party developers had no experience with it, which made development way more complex than it needed to be. To add to the confusion, Sega failed to give 3rd party developers a true development kit at first, and in general, the communication was bad. Tools weren't updated regularly either. Add the price tag of $400, and it is no wonder that the system failed compared to the cheaper and easy-to-develop-for Playstation.
Sonic Xtreme had the chance to turn the wheel, but it never released.

It was a complete disaster, but in hindsight, it's actually a nice system with a ton of great games and some developers actually made a great effort to show the system's capabilities.
This brings us to the topic: The most technically impressive 3D games for the Saturn.

Sega Rally

Powerslave/Exhumed

Panzer Dragoon Saga


Feel free to add!

Cheers!
 
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Griffon

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it's actually a nice system with a ton of great games
I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games (and even the handful everybody keeps quoting are debatable imo). The system has some interesting curiosities, but killer-apps those aren't.

Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.
 
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I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games
Fighting games were one of the strong suits of the system and stuff like Guardian Heroes, Legend of Thor, Dragon Force, etc. maybe were not great showcases for the 3D capabilities, but they are legitimately great games. I think especially in the 2D sector there is a lot to like about the Saturn. Also, the controller is amazing.

The lineup skyrockets when you have access to the Japanese library.
 
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SirTerry-T

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Come on, you can't have a Saturn showcase without VF2. Sure there were lots of clever shortcuts...but it's still one of the standout 3d titles of that generation.
.

Decathalete/Athlete Kings was another looker.
 
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Most of the ones that stood out have been mentioned already. Quake 1 on Saturn is super impressive considering the hardware. The guys at Lobotomy were awesome


Technically it wasn't it's own game but the Sonic World mode in Sonic Jam was incredibly impressive for Saturn. Too bad Naka and co never got to release a full game based on this tech
 
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I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games (and even the handful everybody keeps quoting are debatable imo). The system has some interesting curiosities, but killer-apps those aren't.

Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.

Panzer Dragoon Saga is the best RPG ever made so no.
 

Naked Lunch

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Ive really warmed up to the lo-fi 3d look of the Saturn.
I used to hate on it back in the day - when I didnt own the console.

I really like the stuff Technosoft did with Thunderforce V.

Virtua On, Virtua Cop 1+2 look really good.
Decathlete and Winter Heat have that vintage saturn look.
F1 Challenge and Sega Touring Car Championship.

and yes, another mention of the amazing Sega Rally (the Plus version in particular) - one of the treasures of the Sega Saturn.

I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games (and even the handful everybody keeps quoting are debatable imo). The system has some interesting curiosities, but killer-apps those aren't.

Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.
Not a shmup fan I take it - because there's over 20 all time great shmups alone that put any console to shame.
Its a tough call, but overall the Saturn is probably Sega's best console.
 
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sunnysideup

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Technically it wasn't it's own game but the Sonic World mode in Sonic Jam was incredibly impressive for Saturn. Too bad Naka and co never got to release a full game based on this tech
With ease. One of the few 3d ”games ”that holds up to the best on ps1 and n64.

dead or alive and virtua fighter 2 looks pretty good as well.

saturn often suffer from the same shit ps1 stuffers from. Only its slightly worse with lower framerate, shorter drawdistance, wobblier textures when its not using ”mode7” stuff, checkerboarded shadows and really low quality fmv. Most game development stoppad late 97. This was the was time when most japaners devs came to terms with 3d graphics. So it did not benefit from later gen advancment in 3d. I mean how many great looking ps1 games came out before 97? Not many.
 
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sunnysideup

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I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games (and even the handful everybody keeps quoting are debatable imo). The system has some interesting curiosities, but killer-apps those aren't.

Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.
Sega Saturn is much better than dreamcast.
 

DT MEDIA

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Once again, with feeling:

Sega Saturn: The Essentials I

Sega Saturn: The Essentials II


This ancient meme against Sega Saturn--"Can't Doo Three Dee"--is a crank notion that needs to go away. We have countless examples that shatter that notion into a thousand pieces. Simply pay a visit to the Official Sega Saturn Community forum and see for yourselves.

A few quick examples of impressive 3D games on Saturn: VF Remix, VF2, Fighting Vipers, Fighters Megamix, Last Bronx, Dead or Alive, Anarchy in the Nippon, Zero Divide, Nights and Christmas Nights, Sonic R, Burning Rangers, the Lobotomy Trilogy, the Panzer Dragoon Trilogy, the Shining Force 3 Trilogy, the Gundam Side Story Trilogy, Sega Rally, the Touge/High Velocity series, Need For Speed, Impact Racing, Scorcher, AMOK, Mechwarrior 2, Shellshock, Mass Destruction, Darklight Conflict, Baroque, Enemy Zero, Dungeon Master Nexus, Dragon Master Silk, Shining the Holy Ark, Grandia, Gungriffon 1 and 2, Decathlete, Winter Heat, Steep Slope Sliders, the Victory Goal/Worldwide Soccer series, the World Series Baseball series, the "Let's Make a Soccer Team" series, NBA Action 98 (the original 2K basketball), NHL Powerplay 96 and All-Star Hockey 98, Madden NFL 97 and 98, Jonah Lomu Rugby, Silicon Dreams' World League Soccer 98 (holy buckets, look at those crowds), Tecmo's J. League Go Go Goal (60 fps, baby!), Konami's J.League Striker, Sea Bass Fishing 1 and 2 (the 2nd is especially good), Iron Storm and its sequel Advanced World War: The End of the Millennium, Psychic Killer Taromaru, Stellar Assault SS, Bulk Slash, Thunder Force 5, Radiant Silvergun, and have I mentioned Radiant Freakin' Silvergun?

I still say Tomb Raider looks damn good, and while the frame rate takes more hits over its Playstation cousin, you can't beat those cool water effects and sharper contrast levels. That goes double for Resident Evil, which looks terrific and includes some added content over the PSX original. Magic Carpet shows its age sometimes, but it's still highly impressive and super addictive (I have the JP version on order, which includes analog controller support). Wipeout is really good despite a few setbacks, while Wipeout XL will knock your socks off (get the JP version over the PAL). And Burning Rangers definitely has its ropey moments with polygon glitching, but just look at how many effects are being thrown on the screen at once. I swear Sonic Team was deliberately trying to make your Saturn catch fire and explode.

That's just off the top of my head. And I keep having to come back and edit in more games because there's so many to remember.


Update: I totally forgot about Virtual On, Virtua Cop 1 and 2 and House of the Dead, which everybody seems to hate but me. I think it looks fab on my little Trinitron. Don't forget about Mighty Hits as well if you want a really good lightgun game. Oh, and let's not forget Saturn Bomberman Fight, which uses 3D polygons to great effect, and there's a similar game called Keriotosse that's really good for multiplayer mayhem.
 
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DT MEDIA

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I kind of disagree with that assessment. I can't even name 10 great games (and even the handful everybody keeps quoting are debatable imo). The system has some interesting curiosities, but killer-apps those aren't.

Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.


Check out my post in this thread, then visit the Official Sega Saturn Community forum. You'll find all the great videogames you'll ever want. I guarantee it.
 

nkarafo

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This ancient meme against Sega Saturn--"Can't Doo Three Dee"--is a crank notion that needs to go away.
To be fair though, it was weaker than both the N64 and PS1. Especially the PS1 which had a far more powerful polygon engine that could push a lot more polys than both N64/Saturn. You can see that in many games having more complex 3D objects and more details. The N64 could get away with fewer polys because of the perspective correction so it draw large surfaces with only a handful. But even the N64 could match or even exceed the PS1 in polygon counts using custom microcodes that could alter other features 99% of games used as standard.

Yes, there are quite a few great looking Saturn 3D games in this topic. But if we could compare them with the finest looking PS1/N64 games, they would still pale in comparison. Sure, Saturn still has the best looking Duke Nukem 3D port but that's because it was treated by some of Saturn's best devs, while the PS1/N64 ports aren't even considered as the best looking games on the platforms, in any way.
 

cireza

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Let's be honest, I love the Sega and the Dreamcast, but the Saturn was crap.
How about no ?

The Saturn is a console that was built for both 2D and 3D, which was not the case of the PS1 and N64 (3D only). Doing 2D on these machine was an afterthought and required circumventing the hardware solution. You could achieve it, but it required greater efforts.

Of course the hardware is complex, but it was made for 3D just as much as it was made for 2D, and of course, there are many outstanding 3D games on it.

Here are a few that come to mind :

Nights (the 3D engine does some incredible stuff, like real-time deformation of the ground)
Burning Rangers
Sonic R (transparencies in the distance)
Quake, Duke Nukem 3D and Exhumed : all awesome 3D FPS games
Virtua Fighter 2, Dead or Alive and Last Bronx : impressive 3D fighting games
Fighting Vipers and Fighters Megamix : not as impressive as they are lower resolution, but still perfectly good, and they have walled arenas
Sega Rally, Daytona CE or Shotokou Battle 97 : well made racing games
Street Racer : displays a ton of things, has transparencies
Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Saga : smooth and very impressive. Saga also has real time deformation of the dragon, a very neat feature
Shining Force 3 : good 3D engine, battle scenes are very nice
Radiant Silvergun and Soukyugurentai : these shmups have 3D backgrounds and bosses
Thunder Force V : full 3D shmup
Steep Slope Sliders : very good, smooth, super fun game
Decathlete : looks like a Dreamcast game, high-res 60fps
Winter Heat : more elaborated 3D than Decathlete so the game is not high-res anymore, but still looks very good
Resident Evil, Destruction Derby, Wipeout 2097, Tomb Raider etc... all these games were perfectly fine on Saturn as well
Bulk Slash : very fun game, full 3D
Deep Fear : great game akin to Resident Evil, highly recommended
Taromaru : very good 3D in this action game

All these games are pretty smooth and still perfectly playable on the intended screen, a CRT TV.
 
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nkarafo

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What's the best way to experience Saturn games these days? Is emulation good enough?
Emulation is great compatibility/graphics wise, if you use Mednafen. SSF is also good but Mednafen is better IMO.

The problem is that just about every single Saturn emulator suffers from high input lag, including the above. I don't know why this is an issue with Saturn emulation specifically. I know the real Saturn reacts faster to inputs than any emulator i ever tried. And i'm talking about even testing them on CRT PC monitors. It looks like you get at least 3 or 4 frames of extra lag compared to the real console. This can make some games, that already have a small amout of native lag, unplayable for me. Especially if you don't use a high speed monitor or a CRT.
 
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Emulation is great compatibility/graphics wise, if you use Mednafen. SSF is also good but Mednafen is better IMO.

The problem is that just about every single Saturn emulator suffers from high input lag, including the above. I don't know why this is an issue with Saturn emulation specifically. I know the real Saturn reacts faster to inputs than any emulator i ever tried. And i'm talking about even testing them on CRT PC monitors. It looks like you get at least 3 or 4 frames of extra lag compared to the real console. This can make some games, that already have a small amout of native lag, unplayable for me. Especially if you don't use a high speed monitor or a CRT.
Isn't the latency problem fixable with retroarch's run-ahead latency reduction?

 

nkarafo

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Isn't the latency problem fixable with retroarch's run-ahead latency reduction?

Nope.

Run-ahead is only good if you want to shave 1 or 2 frames. Going above that will probably cause issues and glitches. That's good enough for most other systems that may only introduce a single extra frame of lag compared to the real machine. Or if you want a game to be even faster on emulators that don't add extra lag. Like how Super Mario World can react on the next frame using SNES9x, while on the real SNES there's a native 2 frame latency.

But some Saturn games (like Duke Nukem 3D) will have as much as 8-9 frames of lag in total when emulated. Anything above 5-6 is bad.

Most importantly though, Run-Ahead is very demanding. Mednafen Saturn is also an accuracy based, software renderer emulator that's already demanding enough by itself. i don't think there are enough CPUs that can handle this combination, even for just shaving 1 frame.

This is an unsolvable problem, until emulator authors figure it out and fix it natively.
 
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Nope.

Run-ahead is only good if you want to shave 1 or 2 frames. Going above that will probably cause issues and glitches. That's good enough for most other systems that may only introduce a single extra frame of lag compared to the real machine. Or if you want a game to be even faster on emulators that don't add extra lag. But some Saturn games (like Duke Nukem 3D) will have as much as 8-9 frames of lag in total when emulated. Anything above 5-6 is bad.

Most importantly though, Run-Ahead is very demanding. Mednafen Saturn is also an accuracy based, software renderer emulator that's already demanding enough by itself. i don't think there are enough CPUs that can handle this combination, even for just shaving 1 frame.

This is an unsolvable problem, until emulator authors figure it out and fix it natively.
That sucks. I don't understand how PSX is perfectly emulated and Saturn still isn't.
 

nkarafo

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That sucks. I don't understand how PSX is perfectly emulated and Saturn still isn't.
Well, Saturn is a more complex machine and much harder to emulate.

Anyway, i would suggest trying Mednafen yourself. I'm one of those people who are extremely sensitive to things like input lag, microstutters, etc. Chances are you will have more tolerance than me.
 
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Nakasan

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And Burning Rangers definitely has its ropey moments with polygon glitching, but just look at how many effects are being thrown on the screen at once. I swear Sonic Team was deliberately trying to make your Saturn catch fire and explode.

I'm sure I read somewhere back in the day that Sonic Team were actually asked specifically by higher-ups to make a game that would show off the Saturn's capabilities versus the Playstation which lead to the transparencies being a big thing to show, which lead to the fire, which lead to the game itself. So I don't think you're far wrong with this statement!

It's a fantastic game, one of my favourites but I can see how it would be difficult to get into now as it really really does creak with age at times now.

I'm with you on HOTD too. I like how it looks. Except for when textures are straight up missing.
 
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nkarafo

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But even with all the hardware power we have today, we can't bruteforce it? Or is it a lack of devs working on saturn emulation that is the real problem?
Emulation is not just about having a powerful host machine. That's the least important thing actually.

Knowledge of the emulated system's ins and outs is where is at. The more complex a system is, the harder to figure it out.
 

celsowmbr

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Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei






 

SirTerry-T

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I think the word that is generally used to describe Saturn hardware and Saturn programming is clusterfuck.
Saturn was The Dark Souls of console programming ;)
There was definitely a clusterfuck of silicon on that machine but the likes of AM2, who were used to multi-processor setups, found it a lot easier than a lot of Western devs. The devs who could make the Saturn sing were usually the ones with coders who loved getting their hands dirty with Assembly programming...the hardcore guys ;)

Edit.
Found this insightful link from a guy who was on the frontline!
 
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DT MEDIA

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To be fair though, it was weaker than both the N64 and PS1. Especially the PS1 which had a far more powerful polygon engine that could push a lot more polys than both N64/Saturn. You can see that in many games having more complex 3D objects and more details. The N64 could get away with fewer polys because of the perspective correction so it draw large surfaces with only a handful. But even the N64 could match or even exceed the PS1 in polygon counts using custom microcodes that could alter other features 99% of games used as standard.

Yes, there are quite a few great looking Saturn 3D games in this topic. But if we could compare them with the finest looking PS1/N64 games, they would still pale in comparison. Sure, Saturn still has the best looking Duke Nukem 3D port but that's because it was treated by some of Saturn's best devs, while the PS1/N64 ports aren't even considered as the best looking games on the platforms, in any way.


No, I don't agree with that at all. In terms of the software output, the Saturn and Playstation were as closely matched as any two rival platforms in the history of this medium. Look at the rivalries of the past: Atari 2600 vs Intellivision, Apple 2 vs Atari 800, C64 vs Zed-Ex, NES vs SMS vs Atari 7800, Gameboy vs Lynx, Genesis vs SNES, Atari ST vs Amiga. Generation Five saw the closest performance ever at that point.

The great thing about Gen-5 is that the three main players (Sony, Sega and Nintendo, not to dismiss poor Atari and 3DO) complimented one another perfectly. Each system had unique strengths and key weaknesses the kept all three in balance. Saturn struggled with polygon transparencies, Playstation struggled with polygon warping and endless "zig-zag" and Nintendo 64 struggled with choking frame rates and the cartridge format. Yet, on the flip side, Saturn excelled at high resolutions and frame rates, PSX excelled at shading &. lighting effects, N64 excelled at crafting solid, glitch-free 3D environments.

Each system has software titles that probably wouldn't work anywhere else. Could Saturn do Metal Gear Solid, Ridge Racer 4, Gran Turismo or Vagrant Story? Ehh...maybe? But could Playstation do Nights, Virtua Fighter 2, Panzer Dragoon Zwei or Radiant Silvergun? Ehh...sorta? And let's face it, Nintendo 64 would struggle to handle any of those videogames. It was perfectly built to play Mario and Zelda and choked to death on nearly everything else. But good luck seeing Banjo-Kazooie or Zelda Ocarina on Sega or Sony.

I like to think of it as having three great restaurants in the same neighborhood: one sells pizzas, the other sells tacos, the other sells sandwiches. Which one is "best?" It all depends on what you want for lunch.

It's also important to note that Saturn was dying out just as Sony and Nintendo were hitting their stride. Had the system remained on the market for another 2-3 years, we would have seen it's "5th gear" titles like Shenmue, Virtua Fighter 3 and Sonic Adventure (as well as Traveller's Tales F1 racing game), all of which were being developed for the platform before being cancelled and moved to Dreamcast. Future console generations bear this out, especially with Playstation 2 and PS3, two consoles with famously complex hardware designs that required steep learning curves. Remember how shaky the early PS2 games looked compared to Dreamcast? Then take a look at later classics like Shadow of the Colossus. All that's needed is time.

And, unfortunately, time is precisely what Sega Saturn did not have. It was effectively dead barely two years after its launch, and if not for its Christmas 1995 trifecta of VF2, Virtua Cop and Sega Rally, probably would have died in that first year. The kids just didn't have any patience and the market just wasn't big enough to sustain three major players at that time. And most of them simply never bothered to look at the console beyond Daytona USA--that's what it really all comes down to, right?--and Virtua Fighter and Toshinden and Doom. After Mario 64 dropped, that was the ball game. Nobody cared anymore. Game Over.

The line about Duke Nukem 3D says it all: everything comes down to the software developers and the skills of their programmers. Good coders created good videogames. Hack coders created poor videogames. That's really the lesson of Gen-5.
 

DT MEDIA

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Saturn was The Dark Souls of console programming ;)
There was definitely a clusterfuck of silicon on that machine but the likes of AM2, who were used to multi-processor setups, found it a lot easier than a lot of Western devs. The devs who could make the Saturn sing were usually the ones with coders who loved getting their hands dirty with Assembly programming...the hardcore guys ;)

Edit.
Found this insightful link from a guy who was on the frontline!


To make Sega Saturn work, you need to code in Assembly. The machine just wasn't really built for C language. And that's the real divide between East and West during Gen-5. The same can be said of Playstation (Crash Bandicoot, Gran Turismo) and N64, but the difference between C & Assembly is enormous on Saturn.
 
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Mr Hyde

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Probably Dark Savior or Burning Rangers. Was also super impressed by Panzer Dragoon when it released, the audiovisual presentation was off the chart.

Saturn was a mess but it was a great mess. Absolutely loved that console and the games that came for it, but damn it got totally curb stomped by Playstation. I think Saturn might be the most underappreciated console of all time.
 

Stuart360

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I know people always go on about Powerslave on Saturn, but i thought the PS1 version LOOKED way better, even if it technically not as good as the Saturn version.

What i always found impressive about the better games like Sega Rally is that apart from the shorter draw distance, and lower poly cars, the track side detail looks almsot as good as the arcade, in terms of poly counts. Very impressive.
 
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LordBlodgett

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Shenmue, Panzer Dragoon II, and Nights were all great examples of good 3D games on Saturn. I remember Dead or Alive looking better on Saturn than the PS1, but that game wasn't a real 3D graphics standout. The Saturn's 2D games were amazing though. Most of the fighting games on Saturn were as good as their arcade counterparts, which had been almost impossible in that day and age
 

nkarafo

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Each system had unique strengths and key weaknesses the kept all three in balance. Saturn struggled with polygon transparencies, Playstation struggled with polygon warping and endless "zig-zag" and Nintendo 64 struggled with choking frame rates and the cartridge format. Yet, on the flip side, Saturn excelled at high resolutions and frame rates, PSX excelled at shading &. lighting effects, N64 excelled at crafting solid, glitch-free 3D environments.
I do agree with most of what you wrote except this part. I never thought of the Saturn being good at frame rates. I do remember Wipeout Saturn running at 20 fps on it while Wipeout 64 was solid 30. Saturn's FPS games weren't smooth either. While the Saturn ports are better, both Quake and Duke Nukem run smoother on the N64. The N64 also has the super smooth DOOM64, which completely destroys both the PS1 and Saturn versions. Or even the PC version.

The N64 has the reputation of bad frame rates mostly because of a few games by RARE and the shitty Turok 2. Because these games were so popular, it got that rep. The expansion pack didn't help things either since most devs used it the wrong way, pushing high-res versions the N64 couldn't handle. Plus, near the end of it's life, the N64 had to compete with PC and Dreamcast and because "the N64 is more powerful than the PS1" devs tried to prove themselves by pushing it's 3D graphics further, mimicking the standards of PC games in 1998/99. Some games did look and run great though, like the Shadowman port, which runs great even in high-res. World Driver Championship looks more advanced than any Saturn/PS1 racer and runs as smoothly. You posted Sega Rally but World Driver championship looks almost like a cross-gen title in comparison. The poly count difference between the two is vast.

N64 was also a more western oriented console. It's biggest 3rd parties were western devs. it's Japanese 3rd party support was probably the worst in console history. And at the time, western games were more "janky". Japanese devs would make their games look and feel more "gracious". All you have to do is compare all the 3D Fighting games that were developed in Japan VS the western ones.

It was not an issue with the console itself. All three consoles would have their fair share of badly running games.
 
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The N64 has the reputation of bad frame rates mostly because of a few games by RARE and the shitty Turok 2.
Turok 2 is a weird one. It did score some great reviews back then and honestly, I do understand why because at its core it's a fun shooter with wacky weapons, open-ended level design, and different objections. They really pushed the N64 to its limits, but going back to it they perhaps pushed it a little too far.
It runs baaaad and if you were using the expansion pack it was borderline unplayable. I don't know how we could deal with framerates like this. Maybe it does run smoother on a CRT. Anyway, I played it on the PC originally. The port was criticized back then for being a low effort, and that's fair, but it still lets you play at a decent enough framerate, which improves the game drastically. I'm glad they released a remaster because going back to the original on N64 is very hard (and getting the PC port to run can be tricky too).

World Driver Championship was indeed very good-looking. Another one was Beetle Adventure Racing. Kinda interesting that the N64 had a bunch of very decent exclusive racing games. The lack of those nowadays is one of the biggest problems of Nintendo's lineup IMO (Although the Switch is definitely better at it than the Wii and Wii U).
 
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nkarafo

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Maybe it does run smoother on a CRT. Anyway, I played it on the PC originally.
Trust me, it doesn't. I bought it day 1. Even in low-res mode it's pretty much unplayable in a lot of instances. I struggled with it because i paid so much for it and i felt relief when i finished it. Worst purchase i ever made and i blame the N64 Magazine's review for it. The reviewer literally lied about it, saying it runs smooth even in high-res mode. They didn't have to mention the frame rate at all if they were paid to advertise the game. But blatantly lying about it was the point where i stopped reading game reviews and started disliking game journalists before it was cool.
 
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StateofMajora

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Panzer Dragoon 2, the thread.
To be fair though, it was weaker than both the N64 and PS1. Especially the PS1 which had a far more powerful polygon engine that could push a lot more polys than both N64/Saturn. You can see that in many games having more complex 3D objects and more details. The N64 could get away with fewer polys because of the perspective correction so it draw large surfaces with only a handful. But even the N64 could match or even exceed the PS1 in polygon counts using custom microcodes that could alter other features 99% of games used as standard.

Yes, there are quite a few great looking Saturn 3D games in this topic. But if we could compare them with the finest looking PS1/N64 games, they would still pale in comparison. Sure, Saturn still has the best looking Duke Nukem 3D port but that's because it was treated by some of Saturn's best devs, while the PS1/N64 ports aren't even considered as the best looking games on the platforms, in any way.
Yeah, Ps1 could only push more polys than 64 if you weren't running custom micro code on the latter. As you said, N64 needed less polys to begin with due the playstation warping becoming less evident the more polys you had ; not a problem on 64. The combination of custom microcode, and the more advanced features of 64 put it WAY above ps1. It's kind of like saying PS3 is behind 360 if you don't put in the effort, and devs had to get Nintendo to let them use different microcode (biggest issue). Just the fact there's no texture warping and textures being filtered puts it markedly ahead of ps1, but that's not where the gap stops.

Problem with 64 was average fps, not hugely worse than ps1 but worse overall. Which you can blame the memory latency and lack of a sound chip for that. 64 could've used more bandwidth as well (mostly for games which had high resolution modes), but that's a distant 3rd bottleneck, sound chip probably being #1 limiting factor. Without a sound chip, devs had to use compression, ate up data on the cart which otherwise could've been sequenced audio from a sound chip, and ate up cpu cycles. Cpu cycles that were already at a premium due to the latency.

Honestly in terms of saturn vs. ps1, Ps1 could push more polys than saturn, but Saturn had that unique visual potential if you could make smart use of the 2d chip. Can't say I think any ps1 game looks better than panzer dragoon 2.
 
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