Egg Carrier downgrades

In comparison to Station Square or the Mystic Ruins, the Egg Carrier has received a less radical redesign in SADX. However, the changes introduced in this level range from minor improvements to serious loss of detail and vibrancy. Let’s have a look at what’s been lost in the transition.

An overview of the main area reveals better object draw distance in SADX, loss of the purple tint on level pieces and some minor texture differences:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The “different” texture used for the green glass floor in SADX is the same texture used for windows in SADX and the Dreamcast version. The unique green glass and reflection textures are not used in this area anymore, and some variations have been removed entirely, so texture variety in this area is reduced in SADX.

Since we’re looking at this overview, let’s talk about the sea textures used in this area when the Egg Carrier sinks. The ocean mesh has a semi-transparent cloud underneath, creating a shadow effect in the Dreamcast version. The ocean in Gamecube and PC versions is more transparent due to additive blending, and the water wave texture is no longer animated, which makes the sea look static and awkward. The strange looking “acid blue” color doesn’t help either:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The projector beams have some issues in SADX, but the issues are different in each port. The Gamecube version has a semi-transparent outline around each beam, while the PC version’s beams blink randomly. The blinking might be intentional as it is handled in code, but it almost looks like a bug:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Here’s an enhancement for a change. Some level pieces and objects are textured better in the ports, such as this turbine. This is one of the few things in the game that can be called an improvement without a long list of “buts” accompanying the change:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

This is undeniably an improvement, but it doesn’t compensate for the downgrades this level has suffered. Some of such downgrades are caused by oversights on the developers’ part. For example, there is a glowing animated monorail logo that you’re supposed to see at the monorail station. In SADX it doesn’t display because the texture’s alpha channel makes the animation invisible. To be fair, the alpha channel is the same as in the Dreamcast texture, but the Dreamcast version has no problem displaying the animation:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Sky Deck entrance has glowing lines (the monorail) running under green glass. In the PC version, unnecessary processing of material colors gives the glass an incorrect color. In addition, the lines disappear at some camera angles on Gamecube and PC, which doesn’t happen in the original game.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

In Captain’s room, the ship captain’s seat is missing some pieces and animations. Also note the loss of transparency in the background mechanisms with green glass, and missing lighting in the ports. If you look closely you can also see that the skybox looks different in the ports. Its scale was altered because the original scale didn’t work well with the reduced draw distance in this area:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The cutscene showing the Egg Carrier transforming has dark fog in the Dreamcast version that enhances the atmosphere. The fog is disabled in the ports. Lighting on the Egg Carrier is also missing. If you look closer you can also notice how Eggman’s logo is chopped in half in the PC version because the developers edited the UVs on the model but forgot to mirror the texture:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Some minor enhancements in the pool area include added Eggman logos on the umbrellas, yellow vertex colors and improved collision, but the lighting and textures were made so bright it almost looks like a hospital.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Eggman’s private quarters also suffer from bad lighting in SADX. Note how the shading on objects becomes less detailed with each port:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Dreamcast’s palettized lighting allows to create interesting multi-color effects, and this level uses a lot of color transitions. An example of such lighting is the glass table in this room, which lost its lighting in the Gamecube version and was made bluish green in the PC version because of unnecessary material colors:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The bridge area loses the green tint on everything and has brighter and simpler lighting. The Dreamcast version appears to have richer lighting than the Gamecube version, while the PC version is the worst of all three:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Object lighting has also suffered in SADX. For example, the doors have lost the green tint, which SADX tried to compensate with vertex colors, which in turn broke in the PC version. Also note how the lighting on Sonic is more generic in the ports:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

In the original game, reflective green barriers show up on some doors during Gamma’s story to indicate that you can’t go inside. While the code for the barriers is still there in SADX, the function call to render the barrier’s model was disabled. As a result, these barriers are never seen in SADX.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The prison area remained mostly the same, although fog was reduced and some subtle lighting effects are missing on the ceiling fans. If you look closely you can also see that the secret Chao egg in one of the cells has lost its texture and is now solid black:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The buttons that you need to press to unlock the Egg Carrier Chao garden are broken in the ports. They are supposed to have a shiny reflective surface that consists of two layers, but they can’t render properly in SADX and show the tiles below instead:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Gamma’s upgrade rooms have lost their rich ambience because the unique palettes for level and character lighting are no longer there:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Chao transporter effect is less vibrant and suffers from transparency issues in SADX:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Egg Carrier has only marginal changes in SADX (such as better texturing of some level pieces and objects) that could be counted as improvements, but everything else is a major letdown. Looking at the two versions side by side is disappointing because it demonstrates the incredible amount of wasted potential for improvements in the supposedly “enhanced” port. To play the original version of this level, you can use the Dreamcast Conversion mod together with the Lantern Engine mod that reimplements Dreamcast lighting. More about mods here.

Mystic Ruins (Past) downgrades

Mystic Ruins Past is a relatively small location, but even a small level like this suffers from downgrades ranging from minor problems to complete removal of things that define the level’s theme.

From a quick look it doesn’t seem too bad. Other than a strange looking skybox in the PC version, there are no immediately visible downgrades in the Echidna City. SADX fixes lighting on the trees that ignore it in the Dreamcast version and adds vertex colors around some areas, which can be counted as an improvement:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Not a downgrade, but the well is now shut to prevent you from seeing the Dreamcast water texture. The texture on the columns was flipped for some reason – a rather nonsensical change because the texture itself wasn’t changed:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Emerald Altar area has more noticeable differences. SADX adds prominent fog and the lighting is brighter and more washed out:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The most noticeable difference in this area is the sea textures. Like other Adventure Fields, the Past also uses additive blending for the water, which consists of two texture layers (and another layer for the distortion effect on the Gamecube). From a technical standpoint it can be considered superior to the original opaque water texture, but color selection is a bit strange as it doesn’t fit the stage’s theme very well. Another problem is that the SADX water is too dark and too transparent, which makes the bottom of the skybox visible through it. The sea also ignores lighting and is affected by fog in the PC version, which makes makes it look worse when the Emerald Altar is on fire:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

In the Dreamcast version the water around the altar reflects some objects like palm trees and columns. This effect is created by making the floor transparent and placing “reflected” models underneath it. These reflections are still present in the SADX level, but they fail to render properly due to the game’s transparency problems. In addition, the water texture was made so transparent you can barely tell there is water. The reflections were especially effective at creating the atmosphere in cutscenes featuring the Emerald Altar on fire, which are less impressive in SADX.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Perhaps the most disappointing SADX downgrade in this level is the fire effect. In the Dreamcast version the lighting transitioned between darker and brighter shades of red by alternating between two palettes – more on that in the Lighting section. This effect is removed in SADX. The transitions also affected some objects, such as trees, which now have simpler lighting. The PC version adds thicker fog that doesn’t help the scene.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Loss of lighting detail is also visible in the Master Emerald area, where distant scenery is no longer tinted red, the Master Emerald is fullbright and the glow of the emeralds blends with the background:

Dreamcast
PC

Character lighting in this level was also downgraded quite badly. The Gamecube version in particular lacks detail besides basic coloration most of the time. You can still see some slight coloration depending on the camera angle, which suggests that a different light direction might’ve helped.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

In conclusion, the Past has suffered from less downgrades than other areas in SADX, but loss of reflections and the unique two-palette fire effect make it a lot less impressive than the original level. While it doesn’t look too terrible overall, the Emerald Altar area cannot be called an improvement over the Dreamcast version, which is clearly superior. To revert to the original version of the level on PC, use the Dreamcast Conversion mod (which restores reflections), and the Lantern Engine mod that restores the fire blending effect. Read more about mods for the PC version here.

Mystic Ruins downgrades

The Mystic Ruins were redesigned in SADX with new textures, particularly in the main area. While the new textures are not bad for the most part, the level has had several changes that can be considered downgrades. Much like elsewhere in SADX, those downgrades primarily have to do with lighting and transparency.

The differences in lighting are noticeable as soon as you arrive in the stage. Note how the lighting on Sonic is simpler in SADX, and how the PC version looks almost the same during night and day.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Here’s an overview of the main area, which received the most changes in the ports. Some people may prefer the more “detailed” land textures in SADX. The lighting in the Gamecube version is a lot better than in the PC version, although it still looks a bit too bright at night. In the PC version you can’t easily tell which time of day it is because all screens look almost the same.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Egg Hornet area was also redesigned. The palm trees in the Dreamcast version ignore lighting for some reason, which is fixed in SADX. The Gamecube version looks fine, but the PC version has broken lighting. The land in the PC version looks lit up in the evening and at night, and you can only tell the time of day by the sky texture.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The pond is one of the most criticized areas in the PC version. The Dreamcast version has a static water texture, the Gamecube has a moving distortion effect, and the PC version has a static water texture with additive blending. The waterfall is also more colorful in the original game. Whether DC or GC looks better in this area is a matter of preference, but the PC version (and all subsequent versions based on it) has the worst looking pond:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The sea textures were changed as well, they don’t look too bad with the Gamecube’s distortion effect, but the animation of the waves washing the rocks doesn’t fit very well because of transparency issues. The problem is accentuated in the PC version, which doesn’t have the distortion effect:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

A similar problem happened to the water wave animation on the rocks here. Note how the PC version’s sea is even less transparent and adds unnecessary fog:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The rock that blocks the passage to Angel Island stands out in the PC version because of material color problems:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Angel Island area was also redesigned. The “redesign” primarily involved removal of many decorations, such as trees:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

This part has also lost some decorations and detail, making the area look more empty and lifeless:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Minor complaint, but the glow of the Master Emerald is more vibrant and “green” on the Dreamcast:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The vibrancy of the Ice Cap area was reduced significantly, and the environment mapping effect on the ice was made more transparent and less shiny. The area looks a lot more static and less impressive as a result. The PC version adds blue material colors, which aren’t a problem but they don’t help the vibrancy too much:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

This plant was changed in the ports, and its transparent parts were replaced with copies of non-transparent parts. Since the original model for this plant works fine in SADX as-is, it was unnecessary to replace it. In addition, the rustling grass sound made by this plant no longer loops in SADX.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The jungle area is also different in SADX. Some of the differences can be considered downgrades. The original game uses fog to enhance the atmosphere: for example, when you descend into the jungle, the fog thickens and you can’t see too far, but if you climb up or go to the temple area, the fog gradually disappears. This effect is removed in SADX. The fog is especially problematic in the PC version, where it washes out distant colors when looking at the jungle from above.

The top part of the jungle uses a lower resolution texture in SADX, but the models are less flat. The PC version completely ruins the jungle with broken lighting, fog and unnecessary material colors. In addition, the SADX jungle entrance was not adjusted in the ports so it now clashes with the SADX redesign of the main area.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The water texture in the jungle is too transparent in SADX so it looks as if there is no water at all. Interestingly it’s one of the few areas in the Gamecube version where the water doesn’t have the distortion effect, which would’ve helped here. The water being too transparent is particularly a problem in the PC version because it’s the only version where the water is no longer animated:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The decorations around Big’s house have lost all animations in SADX and are now completely static:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

The Final Egg base model has transparency problems in all ports, which are more prominent in the PC version. The light beams don’t render properly and go behind the glow effect. They also get dark outlines because of layering issues with the skybox.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Inside the base there are noticeable lighting differences. SADX removes the greenish tint across the whole level, reduces lighting detail on Sonic and replaces a few textures:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The tubes in this area are more opaque and less reflective in SADX:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Here’s an overview of the lower segment of this area. Note how the PC version has draw distance artifacts near the top:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Some people might think the lighting in this area was changed to give it a more “rusty” look. We can confirm this isn’t true because the vertex colors in this stage look almost the same as the Dreamcast version without lighting. Here’s a screenshot of the Dreamcast level with fullbright lighting compared against the SADX redesign of this area with lighting from the PC version:

Dreamcast (no lighting)
PC

As can be seen from above, this is not a matter of design – the textures simply look that way without lighting. Although the SADX version of the level has lighting, it doesn’t affect the level as profoundly as the original version.

The SADX version of Mystic Ruins has less downgrades than Station Square, and the Gamecube version looks fine in some areas, but lack of proper lighting, removal of decorations and strange design decisions regarding color vibrancy make this Adventure Field feel unfinished. It could have been an interesting redesign if it wasn’t for the massive amount of issues plaguing almost every single change introduced in SADX. These issues are fixed in the Dreamcast Conversion mod, which reverts this level to its original design. For those who prefer the SADX look of the Mystic Ruins, the Lantern Engine mod can improve the ambience by adding back Dreamcast lighting without reverting the level to the original version. Check out this section for more information on how to install mods on the PC version.

Station Square downgrades

Adventure Fields had the most drastic changes in SADX. Station Square in particular had a major redesign with many new textures. The redesign itself, however, is somewhat questionable. Although it adds some fake shadows using vertex colors and semi-transparent models, it also loses a lot of detail, and some of the visuals are broken. Let’s compare the level side by side between Dreamcast, Gamecube and PC versions and see which one holds up better.

The area where you fight Chaos 0 was originally a red brick building with a clock tower. In SADX the clock tower was replaced with a smaller copy of the building’s lower segment. If you look closely you can see this area uses less unique textures, which are also lower quality than the original textures. Another problem with this redesign is that it creates an inconsistency with Speed Highway Act 3 because this is supposed to be the same building you enter as Knuckles or leave as Sonic in that stage. The building in Speed Highway still has the old design with the clock tower.

Dreamcast
Gamecube

Some people claim that SADX has “better” asphalt textures because the SADX texture is supposedly “more realistic”. This can be proven wrong by just comparing the textures side by side. Let’s have a closer look: here’s the asphalt texture from the City Hall area from both versions of the game and my quick attempt to downgrade the original texture to the SADX level of quality.

One of the most serious downgrades that happened to Station Square is the window reflections. In the original game there were several reflection textures for different windows during day, evening and night, and the distortions reacted to camera movement. In SADX, most windows use the same reflection texture at all times, and the UVs on the windows were adjusted to make the reflections look less vibrant. The city hall area had the environment mapping effect on windows disabled entirely so the windows look completely static:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Other parts of Station Square still have the environment mapping effect, but it looks less vibrant than on the Dreamcast because of edited UVs and because most windows use the same texture:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The loss of palette lighting made the level look different at night. The bluish tint is gone, and the level pieces that were lit up on the Dreamcast (such as windows) no longer change at night. The Gamecube version is darker, and the PC version looks almost the same during day and night:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Transparency effects in some areas were removed in SADX. For example, the doors and windows in this building originally had two textures to make it look like you could see what’s inside. In SADX one of the layers is no longer visible because the top texture with the environment mapping effect was made opaque. In addition, the texture on the door is screwed up and fills only half the door. This isn’t a design change because you can clearly see the door handles moved to the upper part, which doesn’t make sense:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

A similar downgrade happened to another reflection in the Casino area. It’s harder to see what’s behind the glass:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The sewers area received a minor redesign. The water texture is no longer animated, its resolution wasn’t increased either, but the color was changed. The distortion effect takes care of water animation on the Gamecube, but the PC version reverts to a Dreamcast-like look which now looks awkward because the water texture isn’t animated. Some vertex colors were added to compensate for the loss of palette lighting. The lighting in the sewers changed depending on the time of day in the Dreamcast version, which didn’t make much sense. In SADX the sewers area looks the same regardless of the time of day.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Station Square ocean is one of the few areas in the game that use a different blending mode for the water (this mode is used only in Adventure Fields, Emerald Coast and some Chao Gardens). Some people prefer this to the low-resolution Dreamcast water texture. Others may think the SADX version looks lifeless and too “acidic”. The Gamecube version has a distortion effect, but the animated waves on the seashore are gone:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The “acidic” look of the sea is especially noticeable during the day:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The color of the sea changed depending on the time of day in the Dreamcast version. In SADX the sea ignores lighting but uses a different texture for evening. It looks a bit strange at night because the sea is lit up in the dark surroundings:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The sewers in the station area also have a different water texture. There is also some strange shadow that looks like a bug:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The glass walkway above the Twinkle Park entrance looks less vibrant because the glass was redesigned to use a different model with different UVs and a texture that is used on almost all glass surfaces in SADX. The environment mapping effect on the planet decoration was replaced with a solid texture, making it look like a ball. In addition, parts of the Twinkle Park entrance building no longer light up at night:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Here’s a closer look at the reflections. Note how the environment mapping effect is less vibrant on the Gamecube:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

The building itself has lost transparency at the base, so the bottom of it is now solid. It’s also no longer illuminated at night:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Like the sewers, the Dreamcast version of Station Square Twinkle Park area changes lighting depending on the time of day, which doesn’t make much sense because it’s located indoors. This was changed in SADX, and now the Twinkle Park entrance always looks the same:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Similar to Speed Highway Act 3, the cars in Station Square have lost their shiny metal surface (the cars you see during the Egg Walker fight are still shiny, however). Their windows had a blue sky texture (which didn’t make sense at night) that was replaced with the familiar generic green glass texture. Some people may prefer the more detailed car textures in SADX, which supposedly makes them more “realistic”. However, the loss of the shiny metallic effect makes the car less realisitc. They now look more like plastic toys:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The police cars have lost transparency in their flashers, which not only looks less “realistic”, but also makes the inner pieces invisible. They were supposed to rotate as the car moved.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

There are other minor downgrades, such as removal of transparency in pool chairs:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

The windows in Tails’ upgrade section are now shut because of transparency problems:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

When playing as Tails, the station doors are misplaced, which looks awkward and makes some Z fighting visible in their upper segment. This doesn’t happen in the Dreamcast version:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Another minor bug causes Sonic’s shadow to be overlapped by the crosswalk texture:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Another problem with the redesign involves overlapping level pieces, which create a strange looking gap near the newsstand. This doesn’t happen in the original version of the level. Note how the reflection has also been toned down:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The newsstand itself has suffered from texture quality degradation and stretched UVs (look at the newspapers):

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The building next to the newsstand was also slightly redesigned, adding new signs:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

The issue with this redesign is that the “Station Square Books” sign has a low resolution texture that stands out when placed next to the sharp-looking posters:

If you look closer, you may notice that the supposed bookshop sells food!

Something similar happened to the “Urban Chillin” store in the clock tower area, where the sign was changed to “ATOZ School”, but the texture for the inside area wasn’t changed, so the “ATOZ School” appears to have clothing on display. To hide this inconsistency the window was made more opaque, but you can still see the clothes through the glass. Also note how the “ATOZ School” sign itself looks somewhat amateurish compared to the original Dreamcast sign, and it is no longer lit up at night:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

The texture for the “Casino Ken” sign that was added in SADX is low resolution and looks particularly jarring next to the polygonal sign for the Casinopolis entrance. It’s also not centered on the actual entrance, the glass door:

Dreamcast
Gamecube

One of the strangest bugs in SADX involves the hotel door, which appears to ignore lighting at all times. This happens because in SADX the lights are supposed to turn on inside the hotel when you go there at night. “Turning on the lights” involved adding an “ignore lighting” material flag to everything in the area. However, the code for turning on the lights is bugged and forces the hotel doors to ignore lighting even when you’re outside the hotel. This makes the doors look strange in the evening and at night:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Station Square loses a lot of its original atmosphere in SADX, and the fake shadows arguably don’t compensate for it. It’s the most severely downgraded Adventure Field in the game, with loss of texture variety, UV and lighting downgrades, missing effects, transparency issues and various visual bugs. However, this level can be reverted to the original version with the Dreamcast Conversion mod. Check out this section on how to install mods on the PC version.