The SNES Star Fox is now running at a silky 60fps thanks to a new hack

Demonstration of the hacked 60fps version of the game Lisa star released this week (although this demo doesn’t hit much above 30fps as noted in the lower left corner).

If you were a Nintendo kid in the ’90s, you’ve probably been surprised by how Lisa star and its SuperFX chip could render full 3D worlds on SNES hardware from 1993. However, if you come back today to play the game, you will likely be disappointed by the game’s volatile FPS, which hovers at a peak of 20fps.

Enter long time Lisa star ROM hacker candowontwho is responsible for the full function Star Fox exploration show hack. This week, kando released a patch that unlocks 30 or even 60fps modes in emulated Lisa star (or Star Fox 2em) ROM. The result is an incredibly fluid experience that probably comes close to pink memories of the early ’90s. Lisa star than the original game.

Design problem

Attempts to accelerate Lisa star they are nothing new to the hacking and emulation communities. For years, gamers have been overclocking SuperFX chips or running emulators at higher speeds to try and boost the game’s FPS.

Increase / The SuperFX chip is just one of the many cartridge coprocessors that the SNES emulator needs to handle properly.

But while these methods make it Lisa star they run faster (and smoother), and they also speed up the internal logic of the game to the same extent. This means that enemy ships and your Arwing fly much faster than Nintendo intended, which also causes the game’s excellent music out of sync with the auto-scrolling action on the screen. Triple the speed of the game to play at 60fps makes it unplayable on all accounts.

The design and limitations of the original SuperFX chip make it a difficult problem to solve. In a game like Lisa star, the SuperFX chip can take two full frame cycles to transfer its 3D images to the system’s video RAM (even though it only uses 75 percent of the available screen space). Add time to calculate game logic, enemy movement, etc. and the game will display a new frame at just a third of the standard 60fps SNES speed.
“SuperFX games are kind of a special case,” said Ars nearby emulator author (aka byuu), discussing an overclock-focused update to their accuracy-oriented bsnes emulator. “Since they typically don’t run at 60fps due to the demands of full-screen rasterization software on SNES, the game logic is designed around frame rates. So even if you accelerate Lisa starthe game engine will run too fast now. ”

Release your roll

To work around this problem, hack kando first reprograms the game to run three instruction frames (measured in IRQ routines) within one frame cycle (or two game cycles at 30fps). However, in order not to speed up the game itself, kando programmed its version so that it would recalculate the game logic (or “losses”) only every third frame (or every second frame in the 30 fps mode). “This slows the game back down to its ORIGINAL pace,” writes kando.

Unfortunately, kando notices that this hacked version of the game still needs the help of an overclocked SNES processor and therefore, will not run on standard SNES hardware. Even in emulators configured to run in overclocked mode, kando warns that in the 60fps mode, “when there are several objects on the screen, the FPS becomes very variable in the 30-60fps range (there also seems to be some problems with the music playback speed at 60fps).

Star Fox 2 looks smoother than ever

Aside from the limitations, it’s great to relive Lisa staraction-packed gameplay without the nausea-inducing FPS that is characteristic of early 90s 3D graphics (or the nauseous game speed of previous hacks). We’ll be playing this weekend alongside our slowdown-free improved copy of the SA-1 game Step 3 trying to relive the best version of our childhood.

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