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Retro DF Retro: Dinosaur Planet - Inside Rare's Lost N64 Game + Star Fox Adventures Comparisons!

Fake

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Dinosaur Planet is the last Nintendo 64 game developed by Rare and thought lost - the original game having been revamped and repurposed as Star Fox Adventures for Nintendo GameCube. However, advanced development code for the game has recently been discovered, giving us a fascinating glimpse at the game that never was. In a DF Retro special, John Linneman examines the recovered code, stacks it up against Star Fox Adventures on GameCube, and brings us exclusive insight about the game from one of the people that made it!


Fun fact: Timber, the tiger from Diddy Kong Racing, was suppose to be the main char of Dinosaur Planet, AKA Start Fox Adventure.
 
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JimboJones

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I remember reading that the starfox brand being shoehorned onto it was really detrimental to the game but seeing this prototype really brings to light how close the gameplay is to the N64 version.

The only real negative was story elements being kinda awkwardly implemented, General scales and Krystals where just obviously pushed aside for more Fox and Andross.
 

StateofMajora

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But you have to admit it looks damn good for a N64 game. What other games are the best looking on the N64?

Was an interesting video!
With a cartoony style? Banjo tooie, Conker, Dk64 all have their strengths and weaknesses but they're pretty much the top

Don't get me wrong this build has some good looking elements, but the main problems I see are stiff animation, dead faces and pop in among some barren looking areas. The snow area looked pretty nice though. But yeah, it's not a fair comparison either since it's a work in progress. But it's why i'm scratching my head at those saying it's a step above finished games
 

rofif

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Very interesting.
Huge graphical leap on BESPOKE hardware. nice
 

lostinblue

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But you have to admit it looks damn good for a N64 game. What other games are the best looking on the N64?
Rare games? I'd say Conker's Bad Fur Day and Banjo Tooie look a bit better.

Conker has better facial animations (lots of polygons are transformed in that game which was very impressive as the hardware didn't have conventional transform & lightning/T&L) lightning too was very varied for the time.

And, Banjo Tooie has better colour/textures/draw distances.


And they ran better, but that might be because they actually were released.


Perfect dark also had some really interesting things going for it, but it is too different to compare.


Graphics are really good for the N64, but I wouldn't say the best. (not even mentioning Factor 5)
 
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darkleemar

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Always blows my mind how well games hold up on the Gamecube. What a spectacular piece of hardware. And kudos to developers for absolutely nailing the art direction that works so well with said hardware. Luigis mansion especially is such a great looking game, even today.
 

StateofMajora

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Always blows my mind how well games hold up on the Gamecube. What a spectacular piece of hardware. And kudos to developers for absolutely nailing the art direction that works so well with said hardware. Luigis mansion especially is such a great looking game, even today.
Gamecube gets the award for best designed console on a budget. When you see how much xbox cost to make in comparison it's crazy what they achieved
 

CitizenZ

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I thought that doing a video on that other game was stretching it for content, but fck me, they really dont have anything.
 

Codiox

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With a cartoony style? Banjo tooie, Conker, Dk64 all have their strengths and weaknesses but they're pretty much the top

Don't get me wrong this build has some good looking elements, but the main problems I see are stiff animation, dead faces and pop in among some barren looking areas. The snow area looked pretty nice though. But yeah, it's not a fair comparison either since it's a work in progress. But it's why i'm scratching my head at those saying it's a step above finished games
I was just surprised how some things are very detailed for N64. You can clearly see that this was an ambitious game. Some times for me it just doesn't look like an N64 game. But this is only when looking on texture or geometry details.
 

RAIDEN1

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Seeing this got me thinking of bringing out my Cube in well over a decade and buying this game, as well as revisiting F-Zero
 

Romulus

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Gamecube gets the award for best designed console on a budget. When you see how much xbox cost to make in comparison it's crazy what they achieved


I would hope Nintendo would do it far better, they had like 20 years experience.

Xbox had zero console experience, yet still outsold the gamecube while being more expensive and a new kid on the block.
 
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nkarafo

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But you have to admit it looks damn good for a N64 game. What other games are the best looking on the N64?

Was an interesting video!
Banjo-Kazooie looks better and runs better.




These pics are a bit cleaner than the real N64 output but they show the structural/object detail very clearly. Dinosaur Planet has some nice textures and lighting effects but it's mostly big, empty areas, with very little structural detail.

Banjo-Tooie looks even better but has slightly worse frame rate than Kazooie.

Banjo-Kazooie is the perfect balance of the best graphics the N64 can handle at a good frame rate.
 
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LordOfChaos

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Looks like something I would have loved in the N64 era.

I wonder if there's a place for making/completing N64 level low budget games nowadays. There's indie titles, but many are smaller in scope than even those, just with better graphics.
 

nkarafo

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Looks like something I would have loved in the N64 era.

I wonder if there's a place for making/completing N64 level low budget games nowadays. There's indie titles, but many are smaller in scope than even those, just with better graphics.
The scene for new games on the N64 is not great.

However, the hacking/modding scene is strong. There are a couple of good Zelda hacks/mods that are basically brand new games using the existing assets. Same with Mario 64 and Goldeneye. There is a Goldfinger game based on the Goldeneye code, with completely new levels and missions and even graphics. Of course, there is also a lot of junk but it should be easy to separate the good stuff with a bit of googling around.

There are also lot of great remaster/texture mods. There is one for Zelda that makes it look cell shaded like Wind Waker and it's pretty great.
 
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LordOfChaos

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The scene for new games on the N64 is not great.

However, the hacking/modding scene is strong. There are a couple of good Zelda hacks/mods that are basically brand new games using the existing assets. Same with Mario 64 and Goldeneye. There is a Goldfinger game based on the Goldeneye code, with completely new levels and missions and even graphics. Of course, there is also a lot of junk but it should be easy to separate the good stuff with a bit of googling around.

There are also lot of great remaster/texture mods. There is one for Zelda that makes it look cell shaded like Wind Waker and it's pretty great.

Not new N64 games, but games around this production level. Costs of game development have exploded, but would there be a space for full length games in around this quality? Like I said, some indie games could be said to be around there, but they're more often smaller games in scope. Early 2000s AAA, rather than modern graphics on a small scope game.
 

lostinblue

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Banjo-Kazooie looks better and runs better.

These pics are a bit cleaner than the real N64 output but they show the structural/object detail very clearly. Dinosaur Planet has some nice textures and lighting effects but it's mostly big, empty areas, with very little structural detail.

Banjo-Tooie looks even better but has slightly worse frame rate than Kazooie.

Banjo-Kazooie is the perfect balance of the best graphics the N64 can handle at a good frame rate.
I agree Banjo Kazooie is really balanced for the hardware.

Banjo Kazooie was way ahead at the time of release, modelling inclusively. Mario 64 used separate objects in order to not having to animate polygons bending and the like Ocarina of Time and Majora mask in most instances so things like characters and npc's were mostly just a bunch of separate pieces.

Here is, Mario:



752 polygons, and you can see the separate parts in the model.


This was because although polygons were expensive on the N64 because of the high quality precision presets, real polygon animation was expensive as well (normal vertex manipulation required a lot of CPU), and nowhere as seamless to do as with modern hardware, although RCP (Reality Co-processor) was a fully programmable GPU (first mass produced one, probably) and it could effectively manipulate vertex with little to no CPU reliance - but it was hard to do due to lack of tools to do it. On top of it, Nintendo didn't allow developers to mess with what we call the microcode of the GPU and there was no deep documentation for the RCP released for most developers until really late in the cycle. Rareware was authorized to do so early on though.

So, NPC's and character models in rareware games are really efficient for what they are:



Here's Banjo, 405 triangles. Notice how there are no separate parts.

All this with a really big moveset even for today standards, that also takes either more allocated memory or a way to stream it from cartridge to implement. They did this, though, with a lot of enemy and NPC variety, all of them with their own animations and all.

High quality Textures on Banjo Kazooie were also some INSANE feat, mind you. From wikipedia:

Banjo-Kazooie employs an advanced technique to render its graphics. The in-game characters were created with minimal amounts of texturing so they could have a sharp and clean look, while the backgrounds use very large textures split into 64×64 pieces, which was the largest texture size the Nintendo 64 could render. Because this technique caused significant memory fragmentation issues, the developers created a proprietary system that could "reshuffle" memory as players played through the game.

Conker went even further with modeling (and still used high quality textures), it just brought the N64 to it's knees. It actually ran at 292x214 and still mostly managed 15-25 fps most of the time, but damn.


Dinosaur planet? Runs poorly, I don't see as high resolution other than the odd detail here and there textures and it's not vertex manipulating as much.

And, I don't think I've seen these types of artifacts on other Rare/N64 games:



Direct link to that part of the video here.

3D on N64 usually runs at 240p, hence, this is not because of interlacing (no way it's running at 480i) and might instead be using some lower quality rendering mode, perhaps because it was still beta and performance would be even lower otherwise, or perhaps it was really the plan to launch like this. I'm impressed they didn't pick up on this on the DF video, this fuzzyness/pixel crawl is really noticeable in direct captures whenever character is moving through things and there is contrast.

It's doing some impressive things for the N64 mind you, but I don't feel it's technically the best Rareware pulled out of it, instead it feels kinda normal for Rareware standards, I also don't think with further development it would get much better.
 
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Romulus

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I'm thinking the reason it didn't look great on N64 is that it never went through the polish stage of development. Maybe it could have been something special.
 
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