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Thread: Popful Mail (Sega CD): Why was this game made so difficult for the US version?

  1. #11
    Administrator vicireland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xelement5x View Post
    It went for about $120 last November. That was still a premium over the price of the game itself (hard to believe it's gone up to well over $100 in many cases now), and I was the second highest bidder (or highest loser as one might say).

    I was skeptical at first, but the person had the provenance of being a former staffer for GameFan, plus I talked with some folks who seemed to confirm the age and type of media (TDK) it was burned on. I think it was more of a press copy than a real beta, but the seller said that there were differences between it and the retail version so my interest was piqued.

    It did come with the original Popful Mail packaging though, which initially gave me pause, but they said "The packaging was finished when we received the rom so they put it in the retail package which was nice. " I'd have love to have gotten a hold of it and made a copy of the ISO for people to poke around at but after 6 months and no information I'm pretty sure it's stuck in a hoarder's basement now
    The true betas had level selects and debug options. The press versions didn't as far as I recall. I also am pretty sure that all the SEGA CD era betas/press copies were on actual gold-colored discs, not the silver you see mostly now. All the SEGA-CD betas I have stored are gold discs.

  2. #12
    I played the game when I was pretty young, teenager I think, and I managed to beat it. I think the issue is that not enough games today are challenging. Games from back in Popful Mails era had a higher difficulty level than today's games, so today's gamers think they are harder than the older gamers who were gaming it up back in Popful Mail's time.

    Still got my copy of Popful Mail, but my sega cd has been busted for 15 to 20 years after a few young cousins decided to sneak into my room while I was sleeping and take it to play games on the tv downstairs........and dropped it mid transport. Need to get around to getting a system that can play sega cd games that doesnt have the hassle of the sega cd. Heard of a few, just need the urge to go and order.

  3. #13
    Senior Member storino03's Avatar
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    Well, depending on your region, you've got the Sega CDX (goes about $150 and up) or the jvc x'eye (about $120 and up)

  4. #14
    Senior Member Lirishae's Avatar
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    To this day, the most spiteful thing I've ever done was erase my brother's Popful Mail save in a fit of pique. It wasn't TOO far along thankfully (he had just reached the mine stage, as I recall), but I felt incredibly bad about it afterwards. I guess if that's the worst thing I've done out of malice, I'm doing pretty well as a human being xD
    "Life is a serious battle, and you have to use the tools you're given. It's more important to master the cards you're holding than to complain about the ones your opponents were dealt." — Grimsley, Pokémon Black/White 2

  5. #15
    Senior Member INKU4884's Avatar
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    It's "well known" that the difficulty was changed by Working Designs. I can't swear that it's true because I never played the Japanese version and didn't find the US release that challenging but it is something I have read numerous times.

    It's even in the game's Wikipedia article, "Working Designs translated the Mega-CD version for North America's Sega CD, and made several changes and adjustments to the game. Enemies were made more difficult, downsampling and variable bitrates were used to compress the game's sounds from full 44.1 kHz CD quality to fit on the game disc, and some audio events and visual effects were added. Except in animated sequences, waveform analysis was used to make characters' mouths match their dialogue. Two teams worked on the English translation for four months".

    Great game and possibly my favourite SEGA-CD game of all time.

  6. #16
    Administrator vicireland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INKU4884 View Post
    ...downsampling and variable bitrates were used to compress the game's sounds from full 44.1 kHz CD quality to fit on the game disc
    If they're talking about the voice in the game, this isn't anything "changed" from the Japanese version. The Japanese version didn't use 44.1Khz voice - it was all compressed, too.

    And since I dug out the translation notes, it says monster difficulty was adjusted and rebalanced to make it more challenging, so it is different than the Japanese version, but changing it isn't always to make it harder. In games like Alundra, the last boss was rebalanced to make it challenging but overall EASIER because the Japanese version took a ridiculous and un-fun number of hits to kill. I spent so much time talking about the audio, I didn't really elaborate on the re-balancing, so I'm not sure how extensive it was or what was affected. The end result was not really all that hard, though.

  7. #17
    Senior Member zborgerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by INKU4884 View Post
    It's "well known" that the difficulty was changed by Working Designs. I can't swear that it's true because I never played the Japanese version and didn't find the US release that challenging but it is something I have read numerous times.

    It's even in the game's Wikipedia article, "Working Designs translated the Mega-CD version for North America's Sega CD, and made several changes and adjustments to the game. Enemies were made more difficult, downsampling and variable bitrates were used to compress the game's sounds from full 44.1 kHz CD quality to fit on the game disc, and some audio events and visual effects were added. Except in animated sequences, waveform analysis was used to make characters' mouths match their dialogue. Two teams worked on the English translation for four months".

    Great game and possibly my favourite SEGA-CD game of all time.
    This can't be true simply because the SEGA CD doesn't support 44.1 kHz sample rates for PCM audio from sound effects. Only the CD audio can be 44.1 kHz. The sound chip's limitation is reportedly 8 bits, at 32 kHz.

  8. #18
    Administrator vicireland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zborgerd View Post
    This can't be true simply because the SEGA CD doesn't support 44.1 kHz sample rates for PCM audio from sound effects. Only the CD audio can be 44.1 kHz. The sound chip's limitation is reportedly 8 bits, at 32 kHz.
    I think it was just saying that the sounds were recorded at a CD bitrate and reduced later. The wiki implies that the Japanese version somehow had this 44.1Khz rate when it didn't.

  9. #19
    Senior Member zborgerd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vicireland View Post
    I think it was just saying that the sounds were recorded at a CD bitrate and reduced later. The wiki implies that the Japanese version somehow had this 44.1Khz rate when it didn't.
    I think that they are mistaken and thinking of the Vasteel audio. :-) Good thing that we have that smooth jazz.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Lirishae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vicireland View Post
    In games like Alundra, the last boss was rebalanced to make it challenging but overall EASIER because the Japanese version took a ridiculous and un-fun number of hits to kill.
    To this day, I have never been able to kill Melzas xD Nor could anyone else I knew in real life, so I never got to see the ending T_T;;
    "Life is a serious battle, and you have to use the tools you're given. It's more important to master the cards you're holding than to complain about the ones your opponents were dealt." — Grimsley, Pokémon Black/White 2

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