Red Ronin, The Cybernetic Samurai
Archives: Video Games
Information and older arcticles from my original website.

Nintendo Ultra 64
Fact, Fiction or Fantasy?
Ultra 64 VS. Saturn
Part II

Date: Sun, 05 Nov 1995 08:35:36 GMT
From: Fnord (

Um...Your Post is sort of like a U64 ad...

Whoa there, bud. You've just basically given a huge endorsment for U64, but said that you don't believe it cause it's too good to be true. Not exactly a good comeback, considering the motherboard photos, the confirmed games (growing to about 40) and companies, and the fact that Nintendo WILL BE DISPLAYING THE THING IN A LITTLE UNDER THREE WEEKS!! Do you honestly think they'd claim all that, even sell U64 T-shirts in the American Nintendo Power, if it was all just a hoax?? Don't you think they'd pull out earlier than two-and-a-half weeks before they were set to unvail it?? Well, the T-shirts would sure be collector's items.

So you just think they're going to raise the price. Nope. More likely they'll lower it and release it at $230 (this all depends on dollar/yen exchange rate) with a pack-in and 2 controllers. You may ask (well, in your post you pretty much did ask), "How can they bring out a system which is so obviously and totally superior in every way to all systems including my Saturn which I bought without waiting for the alternatives at only $230, barely half of what my Saturn came out at??" You then went on to say, they can't cause I say so, basing your desicion on the fact that it contains not one but 2 64-bit RISC processors running @100Mhz and a 500Mhz bus. Just that stuff must cost way over $250, right?? Sorry. Since they will be sold in such high volume, Nintendo has secured a deal in which they will get their 64-bit RISC CPU's with built in FPU @100Mhz for only $35 a pop. Which gives them plenty of room to get it in under $250.

As for the false facts, I agree completely. They are quite prevelent, and I have even used some in some posts here (don't get all excited; I mostly underquoted U64's true capabilities). However, you DO have the time to get the truth; get Cap Scott's U64 FAQ, which is THE definitive source for the truth about U64. It can be downloaded in IGO's homepage & aol site, as well as a bunch of other places I forgot about just now (there's a hypertext version somewhere). It tells every piece of known U64 fact and points out all the rumors and half-truths. So get it; you'll find out that U64 is even more powerful than you thought. But of course it will be irrelevent in just under 3 weeks, when U64 is unveiled for all disbelievers to gaze at and sell their Saturns...

Date: Sun, 05 Nov 1995 22:57:54 GMT
From: Red Ronin (

More: What I DON'T believe...

Hello, Fnord!

I'm glad you liked my analogy, I copyrighted it while you weren't looking, so you'll owe me a nickel each time YOU use it :) . The difference is that the Toyota Supra exists, has proven itself on the racetrack and costs more that ALL of its previous direct competitors (maybe not the Porsche 968, but Porsche sucks even more than Nintendo...). My point was, it is a good strategy to wait-and-see what competitors have done, so you can better them with your next product. It is a bad idea to tell the world for more than two years (I first read about Project Reality/U64 way back in Fall '93) that you have a product that will blow away all competitors that will we released RealSoonNow and then continually push back the date over and over (PR/U64 was supposed to be out July/August '94 in the States and is not getting here till "sometime Spring '96".

If you like, I can send you some web pages I created that you can browse offline if you use Netscape. Many of my views concerning the technology of video games is included in those pages and they would give you a clearer view of my position regarding Nintendo. I will be very honest in telling you that I really hate Nintendo a lot - mostly without just cause. So, YES, I am VERY biased against Nintendo and will probably stay that way.

That being said, I want you to know that I have been working with computer generated graphics systems for the past 12 years or so. I KNOW what computers CAN do and I also KNOW how those capabilities are often stated incorrectly - in a manner very close to outright LYING. Those lies are prevalent in reviews, press releases and even system documentation - not to mention advertising. I also know that certain terms are simply used incorrectly with no malicious intent whatsoever. It's just that I, being a computer graphics specialist, am very frustrated when SPECIFICATIONS are NOT SYSTEM SPECIFIC. I'm sure that some would say that in gaming lingo some terms simply have different meanings but I disagree with that. When dealing with technical specifications that describe a technological piece of hardware, I believe there should be no room left for mis-interpretation of those specifications. Concise definition of all terms used MUST be available in order to convey a TRUE description of the capabilities in a hardware system.

The terms that are used inaccurately most often are: 3D, real-time, texture map, anti-aliasing, ray tracing, shading, polygon graphics and MANY others. I'm sure that YOU know what I mean by this, judging from the grasp of technical issues you appear to have in your own posts. But for others who read this, I'll try to clarify myself.

There is NO way to show TRUE 3D on a computer monitor, it can only be SIMULATED graphically - BUT, you CAN create a TRUE 3D ENVIRONMENT within the memory of a computer.

Realtime to me means that starting only with programming code and NO pre-processed data, an image is calculated in software and/or hardware, then displayed on-screen without ANY assistance from pre-existing information describing a scene for each and every frame each and every time each and every second for the duration of a game.

Anti-aliasing is of course, a means of displaying graphics so that jagged edges in straight or curved lines are not prevalent in the display.

Ray tracing is creating light sources that illuminate a three dimensional scene and calculating all effects of those light sources on the appearance of that scene and which of those reflected beams or rays of light intersect with the plane that represents the viewing area or camera through which a scene is viewed. In other words, where did the light come from, where did it go, and can I see it?

Shading can define two things, does an object cast a shadow and what colors should be displayed based upon the available light source and its intensity.

I personally prefer SOLIDS modeling to POLYGON modeling - there is a technical difference between the two, though on some graphics systems they are basically interchangeable. In solids modeling, graphics primitives are actual three dimensional objects (cube, cylinder, sphere, cone and others) that can be RENDERED on a display using many different methods (including vector and polygon methods). In polygon modeling, there is usually only ONE graphic primitive - a triangle placed in a single two dimensional plane that can be rotated through an unlimited number of angles (polygon models, too, can be rendered in many different ways).

There really are a LOT of terms that are not used properly ALL the time and to me that is most unfortunate.

My biggest problem with the claims Nintendo has made is that the U64 will provide raytracing (Gouraud and Phong), 1024x1024 pixel displays, 60 FPS (full screen), a whole lot of colors (I forget how many at the moment), anti-aliasing, one million shaded polygons, CD-quality audio and MORE all generated simultaneously in realtime (NO pre-processing) for the entire length of a game's play time without any slow-down, glitches or crashes from a single 8 megabyte (64 megabit) cartridge and a few graphics co-processors. THIS is HARD for me to believe. If Nintendo has a three-second, repeating DEMO that accomplishes this, OK fine, you did it. But what about interactivity? Can say, four controllers be giving input to multiple on-screen charaters simultaneously while all that is going on? I DO NOT ARGUE THAT THE ABOVE LISTED PARAMETERS CANNOT BE DONE, I DO argue that they can all be done at once. A few of them may be done at once, while others may need pre-processing. The hardest point for me to accept is the realtime ray tracing for Phong shading - because THIS is VERY hard to do quickly. I'll believe it when I see it, and maybe not even then.

Please look at my post concerning ANIMATED FRAMES PER SECOND AND GRAPHICS DISPLAYS to see why I am so skeptical. A LOT of memory has to be moved around for high quality objects and not ALL portions of a game USE or NEED TO USE the full capability of a system to be effective.

IF Nintendo's claims about their new machine are TRUE, THAT'S GOOD! It's good for the gaming industry, good for gamers and good competition for Nintendo's rivals. I WANT them to tell the truth AND deliver on their promises because that is to MY advantage as a gamer. I do NOT wish any harm to come to Nintendo and want them to succeed. Even I can admit when I am wrong when someone proves it to me, and I WILL if Nintendo's claims are true. When Nintendo delivers on a promise given in good faith to its prospective constituency, that will go a long way toward making me a Nintendo fan.

Clatu Verata Nicto,

Red Ronin, The Cybernetic Samurai

Date: Tue, 07 Nov 1995 00:37:35 GMT
From: Shadow (00MTLyon@BSUvc.BSU.EDU)

Idea: Here's a thought.....

Red Ronin,

After reading your post, I have to say I agree whole-heartedly. So many gamers are lead astray by misreadings of specs and poor usage of lingo. It seems that a standard form for reporting the specs and capabilities of a game system are required. What do you think?? Just a thought.

- Shadow

Date: Tue, 07 Nov 1995 15:37:23 GMT
From: Red Ronin (

Agree: YES, a standard is needed...


YES, a standard is needed to convey an accurate measurement of the capabilities of a game system. I believe that gaming magazines are in the best position to see that this is done. If a magazine were to publish in EVERY issue a glossary of terms and then NOT use ANY information from manufacturers UNLESS that company responded DIRECTLY using that magazine's own strict definitions, THAT would be a good start toward offering a consistent base of comparison.

Many magazines (EGM most often) use the SAME terms in a MULTITUDE of different ways, so there is absolutely NO editorial control or consistency over the stories they deliver to the public.


Clatu Verata Nicto,

Red Ronin, The Cybernetic Samurai

Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 20:46:54 GMT
From: Fnord (

U64 update

Just one more thing--seems I was wrong with a few of my specs on U64. The figure of 100000 rendered polygons/sec with anti-aliasing and trilinear mip map interpolation wasn't totally correct. Nintendo recently revealed that it does real- time anti-aliasing, trilinear mip map, Guraud and Phong shading (special shading techniques which improve the realism of rendered images) skewing, and rotating on at least 600,000 rendered polygons/sec!! (Next generation mag even puts the figure at 1,000,000 polygons/sec!) Also, Nintendo has said that they have improved their cart compression to the point where an 800 meg cart will be available pretty soon, effectively making the question of extra CD storage space moot (I know a CD holds something like 5000 megs, but the only cases where a home video game system has used it all is for horrible FMV).

And as for M2, first of all it is NOT more powerful than U64--it puts up rendering speeds of 600,000 polygons/sec too, but with less automatic abilities (mip map is not trilinear, no Guruad of Phong shading, and I don't think there's real-time anti-aliasing). Plus it will cost $300, plus however much 3DO costs then--at least $200 probably, since it contains a CD-ROM. And, while we're on the subject, it will, most significantly, still be regulated by the 2x CD bottleneck, as is Saturn, of course, so it will never ever ever be able to access more than 300kb/sec. EVER!!! Which is just really really slow.

And lastly, U64 is proceding on schedule, and will be exibited at the Something-or-other Japanese Toy Show (I can't pronounce the name) November 24. Five days before it will be released in Japan!!! Sure Nintendo has kept it pretty secret until now, but they have released pictures of the official Japanese controllers (they contain a pad, 6 buttons+2 on back, and a cool analog controller--you don't need to pay extra for one to play racing games (Daytona)) and are even selling U64 shirts, mugs, and other stupid paraphanalia to AMERICAN audiences. Vaporware?? Don't think so.

P.S. Sorry, Saturnman, but Jaguar IS NOT, REPEAT IS NOT 64 BIT!!! You (and everyone else) have been wrapped up in a misleading and downright LYING ad campaign by a desperate company who knows their machine will soon fail. It has 2 32 bit processors (not even close to nearly the same, since the way a processor handles data is more analagous to a quadratic function than a linear one (translation: 32 squared plus 32 squared does not equal 64 squared)) and a 64 bit bus, which is nice, but isn't a 64 bit processor like they've been implying. Plus they're coming out with a SINGLE speed CD-ROM, which is just about the funniest damn thing I've ever heard. DO THE MATH!

Date: Wed, 01 Nov 1995 00:40:18 GMT

Note: Untitled

Since you read alot of Next Gen. Check a few issues back. I believe they said M2 was capable of every feature known or used in computer graphics. I'm not sure how fast the 602's are but those Power PC's are fast little buggers when it comes to floating points and math.

Date: Sun, 05 Nov 1995 09:00:15 GMT
From: Fnord (


I don't really want to argue with you about M2's graphical specs, since they haven't been confirmed anywhere to my knowledge. However, I do know that 2x CD-ROMS are slooow little buggers (too slow to feed data for all the computer graphics techniques known to man), that 3DO's have a horrible base, few liscencees, and horrible games (any OK ones are killed by terrible play control--SSF2 Turbo), that a 3DO with M2 will cost at least $500 if not $600 initially, and that M2's designers and backers (i.e. Trip) will go to any lengths to get four or five people to buy their system and thereby double sales; they recently claimed that they thought U64 was 32-bit though that info wasn't available at all, which is an outright and total LIE and they did know since the configuration had been publically released months before, and a photo of the motherboard and its 2 64-bit Risc chips was also released by then. So I wouldn't put too much faith in the old M2. But whatever--U64 will still be worlds ahead of your Saturn.

Date: Sun, 05 Nov 1995 23:23:13 GMT
From: The Saturnman (

Feedback: Be careful...

Releases of hardware from Nintendo and Sega have always been apart by years so I guess it's fair to say with the materialisation of the Saturn, it's really "worlds ahead" of the Super NES. The Ultra will probably be more advanced in many respects. I'm especially eager to see decompression with slow cartridges. By the time we get the Ultra, will the real compression schemes be at 1:1, down from 8:1 now, from 30:1 months ago, from 100:1 a year ago and from 400:1 initially? Will the actual decompression it be sloooooooow like Interplay games (Lost Vikings, Out of this World...) for the Super NES? Or how sound will be affected by the lack of memory? I guess it won't really matter because the mythical Saturn 2 will emerge soon or later and be "worlds ahead"...

The specs of the M2 have been released for quite some time, I guess whenever they are printed, you turn the page. 3DO has done exactly what Nintendo did, they took the specs of everybody's machines (including the Ultra) and claimed they would beat everyone at everything. They're planning to release their upgrade around April or May '96. Of course, it remains to be seen how it will really turn out.

If in the light of (possible) superior hardware (M2), you decide specs doesn't really matter and games really do. Then you're entering in a very subjective debate here, bringing back the old "Nintendo games are better than anyone else's" won't go too well here. And I won't be able to back you up (I doubt you'd really care...) since I only enjoyed a handful of Nintendo's classics. Nintendo has gotten lazy, they can't support the Super NES the same way they did back in 1991 and 1992 and are instead relying on third party support to make crappy games for them (Mario and MK clones). That is what really worries me about the Ultra. Bragging about the "Dream Team" doesn't go too well with me since few of the companies involved are actually commited to gameplay. Anyway, I guess we'll just have to see (I always seem to say that...)

And you shouldn't get hysterical about "disinformation" by rival companies, after all, just like Howard Lincoln from Nintendo put it in a recent issue of Next Generation: "it's all part of the game".

The Saturnman

Date: Wed, 01 Nov 1995 04:52:38 GMT
From: The Saturnman (

Feedback: The Ultra 64 debate continues!

I'm back! So here we go again about the Ultra 64 debate. I guess it's better talking about it than arguing over politics where I live (Canada).

So let's start first with things I didn't say or was misinterpreted saying the last time we had a conversation. I never said the Jaguar was a real 64-bit machine but merely used it as an example because Atari labels it as 64-bit and besides, I did make it clear the Jaguar was NOT a good example for comparison.

If there is a Sega owners' conspiracy against the Ultra, I'm not part of it and many in this web server are not but I must admit I stumbled upon some really Sega-biased people so maybe you encountered those same nutheads

And third, I never said the Saturn's twin CPU equated to 64-bit (32 plus 32 equal 64). The basic architecture of the Saturn has one main CPU and one sub CPU. Although they don't run in true parallel, you can get the two CPUs running at 1.8 times the speed of a single CPU but it's still 32-bit.

Now that settles it. Let's move on then.

You shouldn't throw specs at people's face and expect them to take your specs at faced value (or you to believe them without one shred of doubt). I'm not saying that the current specs of the Ultra are not true but you must take into account certain things. From my first-hand experience with the Playstation and the Saturn, I CAN TELL YOU THAT THOSE MACHINES ARE NOT AS POWERFUL AS SPECS LED US TO BELIEVE. The main problem is with polygons (the issue you like to boast the Ultra profile with), they said 500 000, 360 000, 200 000 polygons per second or whatever but I know what 300 000 polygons or so look like in the arcades and and the Playstation and the Saturn are no match. Now maybe the specs of those machines are (slightly) exagerated but I think there's another reason. Polygons in both these machines are not constructed the same way as in the arcades. In fact, sprites are used and distorted in geometry to make them look like polygons when in fact they're not. And since sprites are used, size do matter which isn't the case with real depth-buffered polygons used in the arcades. Although Nintendo as remain silent regarding polygons, I willing to bet the Ultra does its polygons the same way as the Saturn and the Playstation because it's the easiest and most cost-efficient way to do it (and not because the Ultra is a slightly improved Saturn...). So BE CAREFUL when you use your numbers because it is very relative and misleading.

You also like talk about Nintendo's wonderful compression schemes for the Ultra. At least, you didn't bring up those completely irrealistic numbers I've seen like 400:1 or 100:1. The best compression scheme I've ever encountered is MPEG Audio and it's at 14:1. But it's no way usable for games, just for recorded audio. The best compression schemes in computers are at 4:1 but it's incredibly slow to decompress even with a Pentium 133 mhz so it's not practical for console games. I'm shure Nintendo are making great efforts to find new compression schemes to make carts more efficient but I'm not expecting miracles and nor should you.

The coin-op Daytona USA is in deed 180 megs and Ridge Racer is 120 megs. The reason? Texture-mapping. Texture-mapping means putting millions of single pixels (with all sorts of colors) at a specific place for each. That requires A LOT OF MEMORY. So it's really farfetched to compare that with, let say, Super Mario World with its tapestry repetitive backgrounds and very simple platforms (no wonder it has 96 levels in a 4 megs cartridge then). The console versions of Daytona USA and Ridge Racer are 56 and 24 megs respectively. The reason why they are smaller than their arcade equivalent is because the texture-mapping in those version has less colors and a lower resolution which takes less memory. And If you take polygon games you're familiar with like Starfox or Stunt Race FX, those games have plenty of levels and they fit in 8 megs cartridge because they use plain polygons with (vertually) no texture-mapping. So you understand now the Daytona USA example I used for the Ultra. So I can make the prediction that an Ultra Mario Kart (with 15-20 tracks) will not look better than the arcade Ridge Racer (although it will probably be more fun...).

You say the issue Saturn/Playstation vs Ultra is really a CD-ROM vs cartridge issue because the games won't be the same depending on the format. Well, let's see what kind of games there are on 32-bit, CD-based machines: fighting games, platform games, racing games and RPGs (in Japan at least...), looks like exactly the same games we had on 16-bit! Maybe you mean the sheer power of the Ultra with the amount of infortation downloaded from cartridges will provide a new dimension of game-playing which will revolutionalize the way we play games today like never before. Come on! Every game genre has remained basically the same after every new generation video-game systems so why would it be different with the Ultra? Power is irrelevant. And to bring you back to reality, here's an issue Nintendo never dares to bring up, what will be the data bus of Ultra's cartridges? The Super NES' was at 8-bit while the Genesis' was at 16, and the 32X and Jaguar's are also at 16 despite being "next-generation" systems. Since the Ultra's cartridges will hold a lot of memory, cost will prohibit a 64-bit data bus, even a 32-bit data bus will be expensive. But let's say it's 32-bit, what will your hyper fast 64-bit CPU will do with only 32-bit of information per cycle? It smells like a PC!

Anyway, I'm not trying to put down the Ultra but I know no system has ever lived up to its hype. And since each system is made to be cost efficient, they have to cut corners some places so the Ultra will have its weaknesses like any other system. So for me, I think there's a problem when you're not even able to mention a downside to the Ultra when I can talk freely about the Saturn or the Playstation and tell you about the ups and downs. Of course it could be argued that you didn't try the Ultra yet so you don't know everything about the pros and cons. Well, maybe you should be more realistic and conservative then when all you have are specs. And when the Ultra will arrive, every other system will not become obsolete because every system has its fans, the Playstation is starting to find its own and Saturn owners like myself just want to play Sega Rally and Virtua Fighter 2 and nothing else. Hope you agree with a couple of things I said today.

By the way, the Ultra controler is interesting but I hope they change the color!

The Saturnman

Date: Wed, 01 Nov 1995 23:04:59 GMT
From: Red Ronin (

Agree: 64-bit GAMES need a 64-bit BUS and 64-bit WORDS in the programming code!!!

A TRUE 64-bit SYSTEM would have a 64-bit DISPLAY, a 64-bit I/O BUS, a 64-bit CONTROLLER, AND 64-bit SOURCE CODE!!!!


lemme know when you find em fnord.

Clatu Verata Nicto

Red Ronin, The Cybernetic Samurai

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