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Dcubed

Most impressive ports in gaming history

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So I decided to make a new thread! (I know, shock & awe!) and I want to celebrate some of the most insane "impossible" ports throughout gaming history; across all platforms.  They may not necessarily be the "best" version of the game you can play today, but they're the ones that defy the laws of physics, blow your mind and make you say "how the bloody hell did they get THAT game running so well!?"

So to kick things off, here's a few of my own nominations for Most Impressive Port In Gaming History...

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (3DS)

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This game on 3DS is nothing short of dark magick wizardry.  It has absolutely no business running on 3DS at all, let alone looking almost as good as the Wii U original!!  Seriously! Take a look at this!!!

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WHAT

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THE

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FUCK!?

How many blood sacrifices did NST need to pull this insane witchcraft off!? And you know what's even MORE crazy!? The game runs in full stereoscopic 3D (doubling the rendering load!), projects the display across both screens, runs at a buttery smooth 30FPS AND IT RUNS ON BASE 3DS HARDWARE!!! (Yes! This isn't even a New3DS enhanced game! You get this insane level of performance on the same shitty 3DS you bought in 2011!).  This is just bonkers!! Let's compare Captain Toad on 3DS to Super Mario 3D Land just to get an idea for how far we've come since the 3DS' launch...

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It legitmately looks a full generation ahead, but it's the same 2011 3DS hardware under the hood!

It's such a mad achievement, that even Digital Foundry had to tip their hat to the 3DS version (and these guys HATE the 3DS hardware!)

 

The Switch version is nice and all, but the 3DS one is just a far more impressive piece of software.  Just absolutely incredible what they managed to pull off on a (then) 8 year old console!

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Oh hey! That game has some great graphics too BTW, but yeah... I don't wanna see that.

 

Contra 3: The Alien Wars (Gameboy)

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Remember Contra 3? Remember how it blew your mind that a game of this kind of arcade-quality calibre was running on a home console back in 1991? Try running it on a B&W brick Game Boy instead!

If anyone could pull off such a ridiculous feat? It was Factor 5 (yes, THAT Factor 5) who did this port... and yes it shows! The results are... remarkable!

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Head looks a big scrunched, but... yeah! That's Contra 3 alright!

Fast paced 60FPS action that's faithful to the SNES original? Check.  Parallax Scrolling and tons of enemies & bullets on screen? Check.  Having that actually visible, legible and looking good on the puke green screen of the original DMG GB? You betcha!

Seriously! Check this out! (Even the music is translated over shockingly well!)

Bit better looking than Super Mario Land

Now.  Contrast this with the absolutely horrendous, complete piece of shit of a port that Contra 3 Advance was? And it only makes the DMG Gameboy port all the more impressive.  God we miss you Factor 5.

 

Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Saturn)

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Picture 1995.  The Sega Saturn had launched one year ago, alongside a port of Virtua Fighter 1 (originally made for the Model 1 Arcade board from 1992).  The Sega Saturn version was already struggling to compete with the original Model 1 version of VF1; looking substantially worse and failing to match the smooth gameplay of the original.  The difference was so stark in fact, that SEGA actually made a new version for both arcades & Saturn and gave it away for free to jilted Saturn owners who were left disappointed by how far off VF1 was from its Model 1 counterpart.

Fast forward one year, and Virtua Fighter 2 had hit the arcades on the brand new, state-of-the-art, £10,000+ military-grade Model 2 arcade hardware.  The Saturn had absolutely no hope of competing with the raw processing power of the Model 2 (not even the N64 did in fact! It wouldn't be until Dreamcast where consoles finally caught up with the Model 2), and now Saturn was supposed to come out with a port of VF2 that could compete!? It couldn't even stack up against VF1, let along VF2!! What hope could it possibly have!?

Well...

Say hello to the SEGA Saturn's best selling game of all time; and rightly so!

The Saturn was a full generation behind the Model 2, and yet... SEGA AM2 somehow pulled it off! It's all here! 60FPS 3D fighting action that actually runs in a higher resolution than the arcade original! (496 x 384 vs 704x480).  This is one of the single most impressive pieces of software engineering in video game history without a doubt, and it single handedly proved that the Saturn was capable of competing with the PS1 when it came to 3D fighting games.

 

Super Monkey Ball Jr (GBA)

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This little miracle is a port of the original Gamecube Super Monkey Ball to the GBA.  Just that sentence alone sounds completely ridiculous, but when you consider that you also have to convert a game that relied on pixel perfect analog precision to a d-pad? Well, then it just sounds absolutely impossible... but you know what they say about the impossible, right?

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Well I'll be a monkey's arse...

Developed by British developer Software Creations Ltd; this port simply has no right being anywhere near as good as it is! It looks and plays shockingly faithfully! FAR better than you would ever expect! Sure, it's no replacement for the original game at all, but it gets far closer than you would ever think possible.  The developers smartly decided to simplify the level designs and make them more forgiving to account for the d-pad controls; while also making use of some clever button modifiers to speed up/down your monkey ball.  The music has also been translated over superbly well, sounding very close to the GCN original! And on top of that? They've not only translated the main game over very well, but all 6 mini games (including Monkey Target!) made the transition over too! It even has 4 player multiplayer support! (And yes, it even has Single Pak link support too!).  They really cut no corners here, and delivered a shockingly good conversion! I still boot this one up from time to time and I'm always mega impressed; hell, it'll likely still be a better version of Monkey Ball 1 than the upcoming Switch remake :laughing:

It may be blocky... but it's definitely Super Monkey Ball!

 

Smashing Drive (GBA)

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Speaking of absolutely insane Gamecube to GBA ports... check THIS shit out!

 

This was originally an arcade game, where Namco published a variety of console ports.  Obstenibly not a fantastic game by any means, but for some utterly bizzare reason, a few years later the game was ported to the GBA by Italian developer Raylight Studios (You might remember them for being responsible for the Resident Evil 2 GBA tech demo, and the GBA port of Wing Commander Prophecy).  It might not be a high-end title for the Gamecube, but to see a port done this faithfully, to a handheld that was basically TWO console generations behind? Well.  It's impossible to not be left with your jaw agasp at the results!

 

Resident Evil 2 (N64)

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You all know this one.  You knew it was coming.  And you all know why it's so impressive.  I don't need to delve into too much detail here, but quite frankly, the absolute mad-lads at Angel Studios managed to cram two CDs (1.4GB) worth of Resident Evil 2 into a single 64MB cartridge; with ALL of the original game and all of its content (including the audio and FMVs) fully intact.  That's insane enough, but consider that this was done in 1999; this is still before the MP3 format became mainstream and WELL before any remotely modern video codecs existed.  And all of this was managed on a humble N64!? Just absolutely nuts! The work done here by Angel Studios was so ridiculously good, that it actually spurred Capcom to make Resident Evil 0 for the N64 using their engine; and subsequently, a little known game called Red Dead Revolver (you may have heard of it).  Not only is this one of the most impressive ports in all of gaming history, it's also one of the most important too! Without RE2 N64, the Red Dead Redemption series would not exist today; and arguably, Rockstar/Take Two as we know it today.

Nice video breaking down some of the tricks that had to be pulled to pull of this Impossible Port

 

That's your kickstart, now it's your turn.  What are some Impossible Ports that you've found yourselves admiring across gaming history? :D 

Edited by Dcubed
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On mobile, so I can't easily post pictures, but one that immediately comes to mind for the Switch here.

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God, this is some black magic going on! It's SO close to the PS4 version visually, that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference without a side-by-side comparison!

Looks great in handheld too! It shouldn't do, but it does!

Edited by Glen-i
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I've not played it on Switch but Witcher 3 on Switch: :heh:

The Switch has seen numerous wonder ports really, Rocket League is great on there and the Doom games look much closer to the other versions than I would ever have expected.

Will try to think of some for older systems.

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The unfinished Game Boy Colour port of Resident Evil is crazy

 

They didn't try to skip on features or make it 2D (like they ended up doing with Resident Evil Gaiden), they went ahead trying to make the whole experience on the CBC. The fact that it functioned as much as it does in the unfinished version is an astounding feat in itself.

 

Driver 3 for the GBA is also far more than what you would expect from a handheld port

 

 

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Given this a bit more thought, but something else came to mind for this.

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Capcom really were absolute beasts when it came to pushing the 3DS to it's limits!

Here's a PS3/XBox 360 title, running in 60 FPS and in stereoscopic 3D to boot! And it was a launch title!

Absolutely nuts!

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Saw an IGN article talking about the mobile port for BioShock. This isn't the iPhone version, but rather a Java version, for flip phone style old phones. Lots of games got Java versions, but usually they're 2D versions. BioShock starts off as you would expect, the opening cutscene is static images, and you press buttons to progress. Then the game properly starts and...it's the main BioShock game, just with really toned down graphics to make it work on that type of phone. 

Lots of things have been cut in the graphical and sound departments, but the result is still very impressive for the devices it was made to run on.

https://www.ign.com/articles/bioshock-mobile-game-2k-tridev-development

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Holy shit @Cube!! I never even knew that version existed! Absolutely bonkers that they attempted (and succeeded!) to get Bioshock running on a Java phone!! :o

That is some absolutely mindblowing insane stuff there! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! :D 

Edited by Dcubed
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Not sure if this belongs in this thread, or if there's something obvious I'm missing, but... with the recently announced Castlevania Advance Collection, I was reminded of something:

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Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow, the two latter GBA Castlevania games, were once re-released as a collection within a single cart. But I never quite understood, how the heck did they ever fit two games - that were already quite large by themselves - into one cartridge? Surely if it were easy, we would've seen a lot more collections like this?

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9 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Not sure if this belongs in this thread, or if there's something obvious I'm missing, but... with the recently announced Castlevania Advance Collection, I was reminded of something:

Castlevania_-_Double_Pack_-_(EU)_-_02.jp

Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow, the two latter GBA Castlevania games, were once re-released as a collection within a single cart. But I never quite understood, how the heck did they ever fit two games - that were already quite large by themselves - into one cartridge? Surely if it were easy, we would've seen a lot more collections like this?

I actually have this cart! That's how I got these two games originally! (They were already stupidly expensive and hard to come by by the end of the GBA's lifecycle, so I was stoked to get the two for the price of one!)

These kinds of compilation carts were very common on the GBA.  It's quite simple really.  It's literally two seperate GBA ROMs on one cartridge.

The GBA could support cartridges up to 32MB (256mbit) in size; but these cartridge sizes weren't available at launch.  Most GBA games (including all three Castlevania GBA games) are only 8MB (64mbit) in size; so the Castlevania Double Pack uses a 16MB (128bit) cartridge to fit both games on.

Most publishers avoided using the larger cartridges unless they had to because larger capacity cartridges are more expensive than smaller capacity ones.  But the cost of the larger cartridges come down over time, so you started seeing publishers use these larger capacity cartridges to package multiple games together as a cheap re-release.

Edited by Dcubed
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Someone had to.

Dumb jokes aside, this has been a very interesting thread as I don't tend to play ports and when I do my memory is so poor I don't really notice differences anyway. 

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