Performance improvements in Saturn emulation

I think he meant that in order to get true transparencies, it required either a workaround or getting it working via software, maybe something akin to Mega Drive games scaling and rotating sprites without native hardware support, like the SNES did, depending on the graphics mode chosen. I think even the 3DO supports transparencies and videos look much cleaner than on Saturn most of the time, it’s even smoother than many PS1 FMVs, too, this is interesting as this is a machine often ridiculed. As a side note, 3DO ports to both Saturn and PS1 are usually poor, Star Fighter is kinda impressive but the Saturn and PS1 ports seem like they’re low budget 32X games in comparison. Road Rash (1994) is better played on Opera now than on any of its ports, menus and transitions on 3DO are smooth, as are the videos and in-game colors. Collisions are handled properly, whereas the ports are much less refined, specially with obstacles, all effects like proper distant rendering fade-in, in tunnel shadows and eccoed sounds. This is true with its CPU set to 200%, as it was the only thing that kept the original less appealing than later ports.

As an update to the topic itself, I’ve tested a few more 2D games with Run Preemptive Frames set to 2, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Jam and Gex react at the third frame, setting it to 3 starts to cut frames, but it’s a major improvement from what I was used to, this is great stuff and makes the games more attractive to play.

I know that Kronos modifies the emulation, but we are talking about Beetle Saturn, like the other Mednafen, the emulation is faithful to the original, without modifications.

Transparencies should consume more resources on any system, it’s common sense. Processing a flat pixel should be easier than processing a pixel, changing the alpha intensity, taking the lower pixel in real time and displaying the switched output. But we are talking about primitive technologies.
This post has technical explanations, which I don’t know, and explains why it consumes six times more resources.

But, what do you mean by Saturn not supporting transparencies? Megaman x4 itself is an example of transparency handling.

This game has been used to say that Saturn does not handle transparencies because of the yellow spotlights, but in the same scene, a little further on, we find a display of transparencies, crystals, explosions, glows, at the same time. (OT. This Megaman is one of the PS1 classics, but it’s better on Saturn, because it even has animated backgrounds).

It was common to find glows, fog, shadows, fire, lightning and explosions, dialogue boxes and shadows, or to see everything combined, transparencies and dithering.

I got all the images from this video by Low Score Boy, a Taiwanese guy who explains in a human-understandable way how the processors work and what kind of shadows and tricks the Saturn uses to present them. (with English subtitles)

In these two links there is more advanced information, but they are in Japanese.

You know that I am an ignorant in technical matters, that’s why as a rule I always look for a lot of information before giving my opinion, I learn something and I can inform better. But, I admire and appreciate you very much, and your work, if you can explain to me as a 5 year old child, why the Saturn does not handle transparencies, I will thank you with work forced in graphics for Flycast and FBNeo.

I think X4 is, along with the original X are my favorites from the entire series, I’ve played it quite a lot on the Saturn around 97/98 and obviously as kid, I never noticed anything such as transparencies, I actually only learned about these things quite recently, maybe 6 years ago, or so. I think the PS1 version holds up pretty well and I don’t think I would notice the backgrounds being less detailed, or not having animation. What I think it’s true, though, is how the Saturn’s sound more clearer, specially sound effects and voices, which was mostly true for many of its games, 2D and 3D.

The PS1 has less bandwidth, less memory and this is very clear with arcade ports, King of Fighters 97 is a good example developers set the sound sample way down, cut a lot of animation in order to shorten load times, the Saturn has a higher pitched sound that is a bit funny, but very nostalgic to me, I’ve played all these arcade ports on the Saturn back then, and 98/99 on the PS1 later. KOF 96 has more animation and better sound quality on the PS1 compared to the 97 version it got later, but the loadings are longer, while the Saturn is basically identical to the NEO GEO CD and obviously has shorter load times, KOF 95 is, to my eyes, really accurate as far as animation and sound goes on the PS1, and basically perfect with the Saturn, almost without loadings.

With all that, the PS games play really well, the compromises don’t degrade gameplay, as they are faithful to their original counterparts, I don’t think even Metal Slug is bad just because it has less animation and mid-stage loadings on Sony’s machine, the game is still the same and it even received X later.

I think the biggest offender on the Playstation would be X-Men vs SF, Marvel vs SF and the such, but even so they are still competent fighting games and it got Marvel vs Capcom, Capcom vs SNK, SFEX and more that I really wanted for the Saturn back then. With its killer catalog of games, it was hard to dismiss even compromised ports of the era. I strongly believe if the Saturn wasn’t discontinued, it would get Street Fighter III, Garou and much more, that came to the Dreamcast. Speaking of which my favorite SFA3 version is on the Saturn, even better than the PSP port that has input lag on original hardware, and I still consider the PS1 version a miracle, probably the best Capcom effort on the console, aside from longer loadings, very solid.

An unusual example almost no one talks about are the versions of Dragon Ball Z - Idainaru Dragon Ball Densetsu for both the Saturn and PS1, this game has a different fighting style and requires a bit of getting used to, but it’s quite fun, I only knew the Saturn version from back in the day, and I noticed the PS1 version suffers a bit with frame rates, I may be wrong but it really seems this game is taxing the PS1 CPU as there are times 6 characters are fighting simultaneously, while the Saturn basically won’t feel it. I’m not sure if this game uses both CPUs properly, as many games used one, and if so, maybe this is the case why this game performs smoother than the PS1 version, and also sounds clearer, maybe this game was made with Saturn’s hardware in mind and is a bit harder to do on the PS1, maybe it wasn’t a perfect port if that’s the case, who knows:

Update, actually the PS1 release performs much slower than I remembered, it runs at 20~FPS with all characters on screen:


I’m not sure if there’s a way to display the internal FPS on other emulators other than Bettle PSX, the Saturn probably runs this game at a steady 30, it feels really smooth, playing both versions it’s clear it outperforms the PS release. One might argue this is mostly a 2D game, with sprites, so that isn’t surprising. This isn’t a RAM bottleneck, though, SNK and Capcom games needed VRAM, not much CPU, this game is hectic and requires much more raw CPU power, I may be wrong, but this really feels like a CPU limitation.


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Sorry for the confusion, i meant saturn doesn’t handle transparent polygons to my knowledge.

Aside from their lower compatibility and bugs, Yabause and Kronos (if you don’t enable any of the eye-candy features) can do that too. I don’t know about yabasanshiro nowaday, it used to be unable to emulate VDP1 accurately as explained in

No problem, I thought you would give me some arguments to go fight the taiwanese guy in the video. :grimacing:
And how do 3D sports games show shadows? some of them are very detailed?

The Saturn emulation I have tried it little, Beetle because they say it is more accurate, what Kronos does calls my attention but I have not had much luck, on an i7 it is slow and Beetle is full, on this machine I use it does not even start.

Sega Ages Memorial volumes 1 and 2 reacting on the second frame with Run Preemptive Frames set to 2, Castle of Illusion & Quackshot (Sega Ages), react in the 4th frame setting it to 1 as 2 seems too much for this title on my PC, I only tested them using Beetle Saturn.

Most likely textures, you can find out more about the different gfx elements by using the yabause/kronos standalone debugger if you are interested.

Weird, it used to run full speed on my previous pc, an i7 from 2011, while beetle couldn’t.

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Yes, I will try the debugger, even as an amateur. Thanks!

The first generation Core i7 3770 with Linux, I had 4 configurations, a gtx580 worked great (the best card I’ve had after the 280).
One with a GTX980 and another with a GTX1080 and all good too, although I did not feel too much difference in frames with these cards.
And the last one only with processor and integrated video, here does not work, that CPU does not serve vulkan, glcore if, meets the requirements and is fast with Flycast and PURE, with Beetle ran at 60fps, but with Kronos was slow, like 40, I do not remember exactly, just now I do not have how to test.

Kronos is hardware-rendered so a discrete gpu is highly recommended, it might be the problem here.

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