The Top 7... Best ports on inferior systems

Great versions of great games on lo-tech platforms

In an overly simplistic nutshell, Sega’s Saturn was built primarily with respect to 2D gaming. In comparison, Sony’s PlayStation anticipated the future and was built as a 3D machine. That’s all well and good until it was time to port the fantastic tag-team brawler, X-Men vs Street Fighter to consoles in late 1997 and early 1998. Keep in mind, the PlayStation was already a resounding success and couldn’t even consider the Saturn competition. Could Sony pull off an amazing port? Not in the least.

Above: PlayStation owners saw this more than gameplay

Apparently, the PlayStation couldn’t handle 2D animated sprites with any regularity. Whole frames of animation were dropped, gameplay met with slowdown and there was no tag-team fighting (except with a code and only with the same fighters on either side) - arguably the key feature in the entire goddamn game. This was all due to the PlayStation’s criminally low RAM.

Above: Crap

Even if the Saturn version required the 4MB RAM cart bundled with the game, the saddest part of this story is that X-Men vs Street Fighter was never released in the United States because Sega had already cut its losses with the Saturn. US residents imported the game, which retailers began to stock. So, gamers would’ve rather paid out the ass for a port of an arcade game from Japan to play on a near-discontinued system, rather than play the next best thing. Harsh.

The tale of arguably the most popular puzzle game of all time is a sordid yarn, peppered with more twists than there really should be. In 1985, Soviet mastermind Alexey Pajitnov created Tetris, whose console rights were quickly gobbled up. Tengen - a division of Atari - created an NES version, to which Nintendo said “nuh uh, we totally have those rights.” The Tengen version - which had two-player mode, mind you - was pulled, leaving Nintendo to release their own version. And with only several colors and chip tunes at their disposal, the GameBoy copy surpasses these versions.

Above: The Tengen Tetris version is a rare collectible these days

Above: This is what Nintendo gave us instead. “Thanks”

How come? Well, in addition to being brilliantly packaged with the GameBoy for people on-the-go and endearing itself toadults - thus selling more than 33 million copies - GB Tetris featured two-player multiplayer, something the newly released Nintendo version did not.

Above: Now in monochrome!

Yes, the slight hassle of having two copies of the game, two copies of the gigantic GameBoy system, a link cable and only a smattering of green-tinted colors was still more popular than the closest alternative. Multiplayer games had been around a while before, but Tetris’s popularity certainly opened doors for a new way of thinking about competitiveversus modes in games.

Now hold on; we’re not saying the 360 is inferior to the PlayStation 3 overall (the issue is subjective, but we’re willing to say the 360 excels over the PS3 in many key areas), we just mean the 360 underperforms in comparison via hardware and horsepower. With The Orange Box, there arefive excellent games (three of which were old at the time of release) being shoehorned onto a disc. So how did five games disappoint on the system that supports the mammoth blu-ray disc’s memory capacity?

Above: The Orange Box when nothing goes wrong

Well, chalk that up to Sony’s uncanny ability to make every system completely irritating to program for. Microsoft’s Xbox systems are generally considered to be like programming for a PC, meaning porting the games to the console are relatively simple tasks. Not only that, but both the Windows and 360 versions were developed and published by Valve, while the development of the PS3 version was outsourced to EA. We’re willing to think EA did the best they could with the code given.

Above: Call us crazy, but we’re not supposed to be under the level

The most commonly cited issues with the PS3 version were pretty terrible frame rate issues throughout each game, sporadic glitches and slow loading times in Portal. A patch was issued to clear some up some of the issues, but we hear some of these problems still persist. No problem is game-breaking and The Orange Box is completely playable if you own a PS3, just be warned about what you’re getting into.

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