About a month ago, the subject came up at my message board about running Earthbound on a flash cart. For the curious, it seems to work on the RetroZone SNES PowerPak, but that's not what this is about. While trying to find out what games use more than 8KB of SRAM, which called for the pirated carts that trigger Earthbound's copy protection, I somehow blundered into this debacle.
For those who don't care to read that (and really, I don't suggest it, unless you feel the need to lose a handful of brain cells), somebody developed a version of Star Fox for an overclocked Genesis, and since it didn't use any coprocessor some people jumped on it as proof that the Genesis was superior to the SNES once and for all. Then some other people pointed out that the game was vastly inferior to the original, and things devolved into a back and forthing about system specs while a douche with a Shining Force avatar insists an overclocked Genesis is a stock Genesis and slings insults that might be swift and cutting to a twelve-year-old, and another douche calls the SuperFX a "cheater chip" and says the superior processor of the Genesis is why you don't see games like Gunstar Heroes on the Super Nintendo, but I'm not going to get into that. I mean, I've already proven that I know as much about programming for 16-bit consoles as certain Genesis homebrewers know about writing comedy.
But while this shitfest is going on, there's a much more pressing question nobody addresses: What is the point of this remake?
Really guys? You have this kind of talent in programming, and you're using it to recreate Star Fox on the Genesis? Yes, Star Fox is a fantastic game, I'm glad we're in agreement here. But the only reasons to remake it on the Genesis at this point are to prove something about the Genesis hardware, or to make the game available to people who still refuse to touch an SNES, and I don't know which is more pathetic. I also love how they've basically turned an amazing rail shooter into a fucking tech demo. You want a medal for that, guys? Or did you just fail to realize there was more to Star Fox than polygons and rotation matrices?
Also, people need to stop liking Gunstar Heroes. I was going to call it "River City Ransom with guns", but then I realized that to most of the Internet that sounds like a compliment. So instead, I'm going to call it Contra with no enemy design, level design, or challenge (or to put it another way, Contra minus everything that actually made it good). If the SNES couldn't have games like Gunstar Heroes, then let the Genesis keep them. Oh, but Gunstar Heroes has vector graphics! Pop the fucking champagne.
Can you imagine if you stumbled onto some painting message board where people were debating whether oils or acrylics were better, and the debate consisted of people listing off the chemical compositions of the two paints, and the people on the oil side were saying things like acrylics dry too fast and don't have the Blast Blending of oils, and acrylics don't hold as much pigment as oils, and because the chemical makeup of acrylics is incompatible with the alizarin pigment you only see real alizarin crimson in oils, and acrylics aren't really a paint but a drawing instrument in disguise, and because you can put oil on top of acrylics but not the other way around it's like Chemistry itself says oils come out on top? Can you imagine if the oil people said adding mediums to acrylics is "cheating"? And can you imagine if this had been going on for twenty fucking years?
Actually, with the Internet being what it is that argument probably exists somewhere out there, but please feel no need to inform me if it you know where it's happening. I'm depressed enough as it is.
Oh, and I dare anybody to come and tell me that analogy is irrelevant because I'm talking about art mediums, not gaming consoles.
I realize this isn't any different from people saying the Playstation is better than the N64 because the latter can't do floating point numbers, or cancelling their Alan Wake preorders over the resolution on a TV antenna, but you want to know something? I blame Sega for all of it. When the Genesis hit stores it came bundled with Altered Beast, and everyone slapped their faces in awe at the giant sprites and voices and OMG, we can have arcade games in our homes now! Sure, the game totally sucked even by the abysmal standards of the beat-em-up genre, but look at the size of those bosses! Then came shit like this and shit like this, and Nintendo returned fire with their own shit like this.
Come to think of it, this Star Fox recreation is pretty much in line with the Genesis, isn't it? While Nintendo used the SuperFX to make a space opera and the bosses in Yoshi's Island, Sega decided the best use for the SVP was a damn racing game (and yes, I know about Stunt Race FX, but it wasn't the only thing Nintendo used the chip for). When Donkey Kong Country came out in 1994 it lit the world on fire, though with the benefit of hindsight I think we can all agree it was slightly lacking in the gameplay department. But while Rare advanced the concept with Diddy's Kong Quest, Sega latched onto the ACM-rendered graphics and farted out Vectorman. And I think we all know how well the 32x and Sega CD worked out. And gaming was left with the severe case of Asperger Syndrome and ADD it still has today, which manifests as anything from people who grew up on the Genesis desperately clinging to the only time their favorite company wasn't the laughing stock of the gaming industry, E3's focus on technical gimmicks, and the attitude that people only like older games because they were stupid then and they're nostalgic now that blights the Internet. Or to put it another way, I blame Sega for anybody who says that paint analogy is irrelevant because game consoles are not art mediums.
And seriously, fuck Shining Force. When that game was released in the States and Europe there was nothing else like it on consoles. More importantly, it was one of the only games Genesis owners could shove in the faces of their SNES-owning friends while shouting "GENESIS DOES WHAT NINTENDON'T!" because Nintendo wouldn't let Fire Emblem leave Japan for another ten years. They didn't care that the AI was so dense it practically had its own gravitational pull, or that that along with flat map design, poor unit balance, no penalty for losing fighters or even the battle and consequently no reason to be careful in battle, and the game not telling you what order the units are going to attack in all reduce the strategy of this alleged strategy RPG to loading your team up with centaur knights, healers, and the werewolf and steamrolling from one end to the other on every map, or that the plot was an utterly generic trainwreck. All that mattered was the SNES didn't have anything like it.
Even if drying speed was all that mattered with paint, the paint is only as good as the artist. A fat lot of good all that Blast Blending is if the most anyone can think to do with it is see how many identical stick figures they can cram into a single piece of canvas and make half-assed knockoffs of Roger Dean paintings. Or sit around and argue about why oils are superior instead of, you know, painting something. Specifically, painting something good (was that supposed to be a dig against Pier Solar? You decide).
Or to put it another way, it's not size that matters, it's what you do with it. And you're not impressing anyone if all you do is sit around comparing sizes instead of making somebody's day with it. But you better do something amazing or people are going to ridicule you that much harder.
I never said I was above dong humor.