DF Retro: How Shadow of the Colossus pushed PS2 to its limits

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend – or as frequently as we can schedule it – DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week, John Linneman rounds off the Digital Foundry 2016 retro collection with an in-depth retrospective on the second of Fumito Ueda’s PS2 classics – Shadow of the Colossus. You’ll get to see pristine footage of the game’s early concept work, analysis on how the title used new techniques to create its world and characters. And yes, via new captures taken using original PS2 hardware, you’ll get to see just how ‘cinematic’ the frame-rate actually was.

And on top of all this, we check out the best way to play the title today on more modern hardware. Can emulation do a reasonable job of tackling one of PS2’s most challenging titles? Alternatively, just how well did Bluepoint Games manage to remaster the Team Ico masterpiece on PlayStation 3? All this – and more – is addressed in this 19 minute special.

DF Retro: Ico on PS2 revisited

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week, with the arrival of The Last Guardian, directed by Fumito Ueda, we journey back to 2001 to revisit the classic Ico for PlayStation 2 – the first Ueda classic. John Linneman is your guide as Digital Foundry assesses Ico’s beautiful technology, charting its journey from the original PlayStation across to PS2, as well as covering Bluepoint’s excellent last-gen remaster.

As usual, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage and rare curios – if you want to see Ico running on original PS2 hardware at 60 frames per second (double its usual output), along with a host of debug options, John’s got you covered. This instalment of DF Retro is our penultimate episode this year – we’ll be rounding off 2016’s offerings next week by completing the Ueda Collection with an in-depth analysis of Shadow of the Colossus.

DF Retro: Shenmue 2 – a masterpiece revisited

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

Today we’re publishing a very special episode – an extended 33 minute analysis of AM2’s classic Shenmue 2. John Linneman covers off the game’s notable technological achievements, the changes made from the first game along with deep dive comparisons stacking up the original Dreamcast version with the Xbox port that arrived a year later.

On top of that, we discuss the options available for playing the game today, whether it’s running the original Xbox release under backward compatibility on Xbox 360, or exploring emulation. A lot of love was poured into this episode of DF Retro – we hope you enjoy it.

DF Retro: Tomb Raider – PS1 vs Saturn vs PC

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week, John Linneman celebrates the 20th anniversary of Tomb Raider with an in-depth analysis of the first Lara Croft adventure – from a look at the technical innards of the game through to the long awaited and much requested PlayStation vs Saturn platform comparison. Plus of course, there’s a look at the PC version too, plus the later remake.

And of course, as is par for the course with DF Retro, John suggests the best way for playing the game using today’s hardware and as is perhaps to be expected, it’s a modified PC version that retains the spirit and gameplay of the original but cleans up some of the issues in the original release.

DF Retro: Metroid Prime – Nintendo’s first-person masterpiece

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

In this week’s episode, John Linneman examines Nintendo’s phenomenal Metroid Prime. With the series originally designed as a 2D platformer, the Metroid titles enjoyed huge success on NES, Game Boy and SNES – but there was no Metroid title for Nintendo’s first true 3D console, the N64. In truth, it seemed that the platform holder just didn’t know how to evolve the franchise.

A collaboration between Nintendo and the then newly formed Retro Studios, Metroid Prime is a technical masterpiece for the GameCube – a 60fps mostly first-person adventure that sees the platform holder dare to radically evolve the franchise to make the best of new technology. It’s a fascinating story and one we’re happy to share with you.

DF Retro: Crusader: No Remorse – another Origin Systems PC classic

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week’s instalment focuses on Origin Systems and the Crusader series. As one of the most prolific PC developers during the 80s and 90s, Origin was known for producing high-end games which pushed the PC platform to its limits. Crusader: No Remorse is one such game which offered high resolution SVGA graphics and fully destructible environments back in 1995.

We also take a look at its pseudo-sequel, Crusader: No Regret, along with the two console conversions of No Remorse on the PlayStation and Saturn. While the series was a success at the time, a proper sequel was never produced despite many attempts. These days, a number of key Origin staff including Crusader creator Tony Zurovec, reside at Roberts Space Industries working on Star Citizen.

DF Retro: Silent Hill 2 – a PS2 masterpiece

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week’s instalment takes us back to the PS2 era, where John analyses what made Silent Hill 2 such a technologically progressive game, from the stunning use of real-time lighting, shadow and atmospheric rendering through to the breathtaking art direction and the state-of-the-art audio.

Unfortunately, beyond that, it’s a story of disappointment and compromise as each subsequent port of the game – first on Xbox, then on PC – gradually chipped away at the technological brilliant of the original, culminating in a new, unintended horror in the form of the awful PS3 and Xbox 360 ‘HD collection’ release. Silent Hill 2 deserves better. Right now, it’s best played on original hardware but perhaps this is one for Sony’s PS2 Classics emulator for PlayStation 4?

DF Retro: Daytona USA – why frame-rate has always mattered

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original console hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week, John Linneman revisits one of the most important arcade releases of the 90s – Sega’s epoch-making Daytona USA. Built on Model 2 hardware, Daytona is a shining example of an age where arcade gaming technology was generations beyond what the home consoles could offer.

Daytona also highlights that the importance of frame-rate isn’t necessarily an issue just for modern gaming – Sega’s iconic racer played host to a range of home conversions across the years that simply couldn’t match the original, and poor frame-rate was the key reason why the original Sega Saturn port just couldn’t capture the experience of the classic arcade title. John’s analysis doesn’t just cover the Saturn conversion though – every single port and sequel is covered.

DF Retro: MDK revisited – a PC game quite unlike any other

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week our focus is on Shiny Entertainment’s brilliant MDK. John Linneman goes into depth on the origins of the studio, the beginnings of the game itself and takes apart one of the best software-based 3D renderers of its time – a title that pushed asset quality so high, the fledgling 3D accelerator boards of the time actually presented a downgrade in visual quality in some respects.

It’s a title we really enjoyed revisiting – and it still holds up pretty well 19 years on from its launch – so in common with our other DF Retro stories, we also look into the best way to play the game on today’s hardware.

DF Retro: MDK revisited – a PC game quite like any other

Welcome to the world of Digital Foundry Retro. Every weekend, DF Retro brings us a new story based on a significant release in gaming history, backed by exemplary, clean capture taken using original hardware. It’s a great way to revisit the classics while reflecting on what made each game so special in its day. Check back often for brand new episodes as we update this article with the latest videos.

This week our focus is on Shiny Entertainment’s brilliant MDK. John Linneman goes into depth on the origins of the studio, the beginnings of the game itself and takes apart one of the best software-based 3D renderers of its time – a title that pushed asset quality so high, the fledgling 3D accelerator boards of the time actually presented a downgrade in visual quality in some respects.

It’s a title we really enjoyed revisiting – and it still holds up pretty well 19 years on from its launch – so in common with our other DF Retro stories, we also look into the best way to play the game on today’s hardware.