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New Saturn Castlevania SOTN Improvement Hack Utilizes The 4MB RAM Cart For Fast Loading, Smoother Animations And More

Bullet Club

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New Saturn Castlevania SOTN Improvement Hack Utilizes The 4MB RAM Cart For Fast Loading, Smoother Animations, And More


Chinese ROMhacker YZB has coded a high-level hack of the Sega Saturn Castlevania: Symphony of the Night [Akumajou Dracula X-Gekka no Yasoukyoku] which implements a number of quality of life improvements by using the 4MB RAM cart and other modifications: Disk-reading slowdown is improved by preloading data to a 4MB RAM cart, the CD file layout is optimized, and several other fixes/improvements are employed, such as smoother character animations, the ability to skip cut scenes, and more. See below for the full details.

Here is the release thread, and below are the translated release notes:

# Castlevania X YZB optimized version (dependent on 4M RAM accelerator card)

## Summary:

* This version is optimized on the basis of the Japanese version. If you want to run on a non-Japanese version host, please patch the image with your own area code

* This version is only optimized for reading the disk, the sound, picture, operation and other contents are the same as the original version without modification

* This version requires 32Mbit (4MByte) expansion accelerator card to run (simulator please enter the settings to choose the expansion cassette, the host please Insert the expansion accelerator card), if not set or not inserted, there will be an error prompt interface after the Sega authorization sign after startup

* The source image conforms to the following data verification before modification: http://redump.org/disc/3849/
* * Akumajou Dracula X-Gekka no Yasoukyoku (Japan) (2M)

* Mirror for release uses Clone CD format
* * If you need to use a software other than Clone CD to burn the disk, please directly select the file with the suffix CUE in the burning software.
* * If you need to use virtual hardware for optical drives like Rhea / Phoebe, you don’t need to convert the format.

## Modify the description:

### 2020.05.14 22:00

* Fixed an issue where the acceleration card warning screen was not detected on the actual machine.
* Fix the problem of random black screen when booting for the second time on the real machine.
* Corrected the acceleration card file verification algorithm after restart.
* Modified description document layout (UTF-8 encoding, adapted to 80 character boundaries, adapted to MarkDown syntax)

#### 2020.05.09 22:00
* Compress files and optimize reading.
* Significantly speed up the response time for the three characters to call out and exit the map.
* Significantly speed up the response time of Aruka to press the start button to enter the menu and exit the menu, the effect is very obvious in the archive room
The black time of a single screen is slightly different depending on the complexity of the current level).
* Press the shortcut key in the game to directly call up the map:

1. Richter and Maria can directly call up the map by pressing the L key. Press L or B on the map interface to exit the map and return to the game without pause.
2. Because the L key of Arucado uses the third-hand prop, it is changed to press the B (jump) + R (back) key to call up the map.
3. Arukado is on the map display interface, press B to return to the game, press L to go to the menu interface.
* * Optimize the smoothness of character movements (to avoid frequent repeated decompression of character action sequence frames)
* * Other modification and optimization:

1. You can press the start button to skip all plots and cg animations (the default pass once)
2. Optimize CD file arrangement
3. The innermost dummy file filled with 100m
4. Dummy file filled with 100m on the outermost side of the mirror

## Supplementary instructions for reading data:

* Enter the game for the first time after booting, at the first Now Loading screen (the interface that can control the direction of Now Loading), the game
It will read about 3MB files into the accelerator card, and the loading time is generally 15-20 seconds, or even shorter. This is a one-time, if you do not shut down, next
Will not read again. Please do not reset or shut down at this time. When you come back to this screen later, the loading time will be faster than the unoptimized original version.

* In the game, except for level switching, entering the boss room and clearing, do not read data at other times (including going to the library, teleport, and character death
The title screen returned after death, but the sound and animation AVI file data will still be read)

* The level of the game and the boss room reading speed is slightly faster than the original

* Thanks to the following people for their help, there will be no optimized version without them (in no particular order)
glf999, Ken, megavolt85, SONIC3D, sky0611

* Thanks to the following people for their hard work on the actual test (in no particular order)
chie, dtxyy, SONIC3D, TZM, WALL-E 52Hz, Ake, Dragon, Saturn brother, happiness, む 蓶 独 嗳 袮 お,
バ イ オ ハ ザ ー ド

* It is recommended to use ssf when playing in the simulator. In program 4 of the setting interface, it will be better to turn on the grid translucent effect

* If you find a crash or black screen during the game, please leave a message at any of the following website addresses
* * http://bbs.chinaemu.org/read-htm-tid-128698.html
* * https://club.tgfcer.com/thread-8306201-1-1.html
* * https://www.ppxclub.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=698535

Source: RetroRGB

 

Afro Messiah

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Apr 9, 2020
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This is cool. I enjoy hacks like these! Hopefully soon we can get a Saturn's Twinkle Star Sprite with no slowdowns like the Dreamcast version using the same method like in this game.
 

johntown

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Why would someone want to play this version say over the PS1 version on an emulator? Just curious if there is some reason as I really don't know myself.
 

Pejo

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Why would someone want to play this version say over the PS1 version on an emulator? Just curious if there is some reason as I really don't know myself.
Saturn has extra content that the PS1 version doesn't have, and supposedly the music is better (I've not heard it personally).

I'm definitely going to give this a shot, I replay this game almost yearly, so this will be a nice fresh coat of paint.
 
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Wonko_C

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Why would someone want to play this version say over the PS1 version on an emulator? Just curious if there is some reason as I really don't know myself.

Saturn has many extras, most notable it has two completely new areas, one "prison-like" area that's suppossed to function as a shortcut between two areas of the castle, and an "underground garden" below the castle entrance. Both have new enemies, items and music, but otherwise they're pointless and don't look like they belong in the same game, IMO.
 

Pejo

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Saturn has many extras, most notable it has two completely new areas, one "prison-like" area that's suppossed to function as a shortcut between two areas of the castle, and an "underground garden" below the castle entrance. Both have new enemies, items and music, but otherwise they're pointless and don't look like they belong in the same game, IMO.
Don't forget you get an extra playable character on Saturn too.
 
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DonF

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Saturn has many extras, most notable it has two completely new areas, one "prison-like" area that's suppossed to function as a shortcut between two areas of the castle, and an "underground garden" below the castle entrance. Both have new enemies, items and music, but otherwise they're pointless and don't look like they belong in the same game, IMO.
And all of this is exclusive to the Saturn version? Not present in the psp or later versions?
 

Wonko_C

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And all of this is exclusive to the Saturn version? Not present in the psp or later versions?
It's all exclusive to the Saturn because that version was developed by a different team. Koji Igarashi never retroactively added that content in subsequent versions. The only thing he added on the PSP port was Maria as a playable character and even that plays completely different to her Saturn counterpart.
 
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#Phonepunk#

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dude this is some killer info

love this game so much. the Saturn port is v cool but was always difficult to play. will try this out!

"Nocturne in the Moonlight"... what a beautiful title!
 

Naibel

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The Saturn version of SOTN was a disappointing, unoptimised port, regardless of added content. Saturn was a 2D powerhouse but they used the PS1 engine as is (with front-facing polygons used as sprites), resulting in numerous slowdowns.

It's so great when fans try to fix such a long-lasting and well-documented problem. I hope there will be a repro of this fixed version soon enough, so that I can fire up that beauty on my machine. I always knew that, in the right hands, a game like this would run wonderfully on the Saturn.
 
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Faithless83

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Thanks for letting us know. I'll dig into this later on my saturn.

Saturn truthers who are still fighting the PS1, like Japanese soldiers in the jungles in the 50s.

There are still a lot of us rocking our old consoles. Sega Saturn is an amazing 2d powerhouse.

Wonder what else they could mod to use the 4mb expansion cart.
 
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UnNamed

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I see no difference in terms of animations, also original disc loads faster than the 4MB patch version. There is something I miss?
 
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cireza

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Is it the best version now on 32 bits?
Nope, and I love the Saturn. But the shitty manner they dealt with the assets to stretch them from 256 to 320 columns is the worst offender and can't be fixed easily. Would require to make a brand new port of the game.

Did not felt any difference in loading. Did the guy managed to patch the game correctly ? Edit : he actually inverted both, the loadings are a couple seconds shorter at best.
 
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Saber

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Interesting, since the Saturn version is regard as a bad port.

Is it possible to fix the mesh transparency or is this something limited to Saturn? I dunno.
 
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lachesis

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As much as I love Saturn and I would defend it (including that infamous blue shadow for SFA) - but I have no excuse for the STON.
I will stick with PSX version any day over Saturn ver...

Interestingly though, I really don't see any improvements on that youtube video. Only thing I saw as that the game kinda crashed into pink screen in the end?
 
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They need to fix the graphics that were badly scaled to fit the Saturn's resolution (or to sabotage the version, I am not aware of any 2d game doing this ever nor on the Saturn nor on any other platform.
 

RAIDEN1

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Does this mean the mesh transparencies have disappeared from the game? (transparency was always the Saturn Achilles heel..)
 

cireza

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They need to fix the graphics that were badly scaled to fit the Saturn's resolution (or to sabotage the version, I am not aware of any 2d game doing this ever nor on the Saturn nor on any other platform.
2D games that use an internal resolution of 240 lines are eventually unevenly scaled when displayed on screens with higher resolution like 1080p or the Vita 544p screen. Which leads to uneven pixels and shimmering when scrolling. Developers have several options (Vita examples) :

- multiply the number of lines and columns by uneven numbers to fill the screen, which leads to shimmering and uneven pixels (Curse of the Moon on Vita, going from 240p to 544p)
- take all the assets and make them bigger using whatever filter, creating blur (exemple : Shovel Knight or Iconoclasts on Vita, going from 360p to 544p)
- offer an integer scaling options with border, which is the best solution but rarely seen (Chasm or Timespinner on Vita offer this option)

Curse of the Moon Vita (you can clearly see the same problem as SotN on Saturn, except that you have it for both lines and columns, and when scrolling you see it even more) :


This actually happens all the time. 240p games don't scale well to 1080, so often developers opt for a 720p resolution, use an integer scaling of 3, but then your TV makes "blurry" scaling from 720 to 1080. Many bad solutions.
 
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Jan 29, 2019
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We are begging for basic fixes on the Saturn version while the PSX gets pretty interesting enhancement patches:
https://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php?topic=24800.0

2D games that use an internal resolution of 240 lines are eventually unevenly scaled when displayed on screens with higher resolution like 1080p or the Vita 544p screen. Which leads to uneven pixels and shimmering when scrolling. Developers have several options (Vita examples) :

- multiply the number of lines and columns by uneven numbers to fill the screen, which leads to shimmering and uneven pixels (Curse of the Moon on Vita, going from 240p to 544p)
- take all the assets and make them bigger using whatever filter, creating blur (exemple : Shovel Knight or Iconoclasts on Vita, going from 360p to 544p)
- offer an integer scaling options with border, which is the best solution but rarely seen (Chasm or Timespinner on Vita offer this option)

Curse of the Moon Vita (you can clearly see the same problem as SotN on Saturn, except that you have it for both lines and columns, and when scrolling you see it even more) :


This actually happens all the time. 240p games don't scale well to 1080, so often developers opt for a 720p resolution, use an integer scaling of 3, but then your TV makes "blurry" scaling from 720 to 1080. Many bad solutions.
Yes, I know this, however well made modern games will be made around a plausible output resolution that they decide their art will integer scale directly to (1080p for Axiom Verge)--no pixel crawling, nor uneven pixel art.. doesn't Curse of the Moon offer something like this instead of locking people into a 720p native output?


The problem is that the artwork was broken on the Saturn to begin with (and the resolutions were smaller, so much more apparent, it was nearest neighbor scaling on the art so there was no pixel crawling, it just looked off:

 

deriks

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Is it the best version now on 32 bits?
Nope. The original version was the PSX, but the Saturn has a bigger resolution, so they did a port using the easy way out= stretching every single fourth pixel

It's kinda weird to play after you see the smooth pixels in the PSX


See the Digital Foundry video to more details:
 
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