Dare to Compare

When porting a game to a different system, one obvious step is modifying the graphics to work with it's new home. They have to resize the items, change the screen resolution and modify the palette while still making sure that the game is instantly recognizable. These were the days when arcades reigned supreme and part of a home console's job was to 'bring the arcade experience to your living room' or some other ad-speak phrase like that. It wasn't always easy because just when it seemed like console power had caught up to the coin-op feel, the same advances technology pushed arcade games up to the another level. So those who had to port these arcade games to the home systems had to find ways to make up for the lack of power. Some teams just downgraded everything and called it a day either out of being rushed for time or because they were a gang of lazy crumb bums. But when you got together a team that had some true pep in their step, you'd get something that'd truly feed your jonsing for an arcade fix. In some really rare cases, the play mechanics of the original were improved to play even better than the arcade despite not being as pretty. That may not mean much in an age where home systems are powerful enough to render nearly anything designers can dream of but this meant everything back when the arcades ruled the land.

Captain America from Data East's Captain America and the Avengers

Arcade

Sega Genesis

Super Nintendo

Arcade 300%

Sega Genesis 300%

Super Nintendo 300%
Here's an odd case where the arcade sprite was downgraded in one version but improved in another. Cap was a casualty in the war of getting the game to fit into the Genesis palette. Until recently, most televisions didn't have a picture sharp enough to show any gripe-inducing pixels (or 'jaggies' if you want to be a dumb-butt about it). Except for a single missing pixel from Genesis Cap's shadow, they're all the same size. Both Data East and Mindscape did their own tinkering with the shading on their ports with Mindscape taking full advantage of the SNES to make the characters look a bit better.


Leonardo from TMNT: Turtles in Time (Arcade and SNES) and TMNT: the Hyperstone Heist (Genesis)

Arcade

Genesis

SNES

Arcade 200%

Genesis 200%

SNES 200%
Other than Sega themselves, I don't think anyone really knew how to work conversion magic better than Konami. The Hyperstone Heist game for the Genesis wasn't officially a Turtles in Time port, but we all know the truth. Anyways, I was a bit shocked to see that the Genesis sprites have more detail than the SNES ones that have a better palette. It's more proof that Konami always went that extra mile when developing arcade ports.


Guy from Capcom's Final Fight

Final Fight - arcade

Final Fight Guy- SNES

Final Fight Guy- Sega CD

Final Fight ONE- GBA

Final Fight - arcade

Final Fight Guy- SNES

Final Fight Guy- Sega CD

Final Fight ONE- GBA
Notice how the arcade version of Guy looks wider than most of the others? Since Final Fight's screen was much wider that it was tall, the home version graphics were resized to be thinner so they'd fit a television's screen ratio. Plus, thinner sprites take up less precious memory space. Oddly enough, they're all the same height.


Combatribes by Technos

Arcade

SNES
In this Arcade-to-SNES port, Technos had to remake the group shot from the arcade game's Attract Mode. The smaller size and decreased colors give more room on the game cart for all the cut-scene art, Vs. Mode portraits and more. They also improved it's overall look.


Ryu Hayabusa from Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden

NES 400%

SNES 400%
Now let's put this thing in reverse. When Tecmo repackaged the Ninja Gaiden NES games into an SNES compilation, the graphics were recolored with very little modification. Some gamers hated that it wasn't as big an effort as Nintendo's beautiful remastering of all their Super Mario games. Meanwhile, others were just happy that they could get the whole series in one shot and considered the recoloring to be a nice bonus.


Rash from Tradewest's Battletoads

NES 400%

Genesis 400%
In the case of Battletoads, we have a game that started on the NES and was ported to the more powerful Sega Genesis. As you can see in those zoomed-in sprites, there was only a tiny bit of upgrading for nearly all of the in-game graphics. The cinema scenes turned out a lot better although the full story intro from the NES was just left out. Luckily, most of the effort seems to go into one sprite set...


the Dark Queen from Tradewest's Battletoads

NES 200%

Genesis 200%
...and I won't argue with the results. To be fair, she has about 2 or 3 sprites in the whole game, so they could do a lot more with her and not worry so much about all the sprites matching up. Plus, if you have to spend a lot of time on some pixels, that's a nice set to work with.

In some future additions to this feature, we'll get in the groove with music conversions, praise examples where the games were improved and talk about how some games were mostly rebuilt from the ground up.

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