Casinopolis downgrades

On a surface level, Casinopolis doesn’t seem to have downgrades in SADX. There is some lighting detail added around the level, and some areas have new textures. It might be tempting to call this level an improvement over the Dreamcast original. However, like with other levels in SADX, the improvements in this level are somewhat superficial, and many aspects of the level are broken in the ports, intentionally or otherwise.

Let’s start with a basic comparison of the dynamic light effect in the start area. The Gamecube version removes the slight violet coloration on Sonic’s model, adds green vertex colors to the level and is darker overall. The light transitions on Sonic’s model aren’t smooth in the PC version, and the scene is brighter than on the Gamecube:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The lack of smoothness in the PC port is caused by two factors. The Gamecube version uses per-pixel lighting for characters, while the Dreamcast uses per-vertex lighting. The PC version switches back to per-vertex lighting which combined with exceedingly high specular values on character models makes it accentuate the polygons stronger. This results in jerky light transitions.

If you look around the level, you may notice that some objects have lost their animation. For example, the roof of the Card Pinball entrance is no longer animated in the ports:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

To be fair, this also happens on the Dreamcast with the slot machines: the blue ones are properly animated, while the red ones have frozen UVs. Neither of the ports fixes that; instead, the red machines in SADX are broken as well:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Similar to Windy Valley and Ice Cap, the glow effect on the “goal” emerald is missing in the ports:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

There are also visual glitches the original game didn’t have. Some of such glitches are specific to the PC version*, such as this problem with the “Pinball” sign:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC


*From the Lighting section you may remember that the PC version ignores vertex colors on objects. The above comparison is one instance where the PC version’s lighting is more broken than on the Gamecube, but the problem with ignoring vertex colors on anything that isn’t part of the level model persists across the entire game. The problem was never fixed in later ports, so the Gamecube version is effectively the only port where the (heavily downgraded) SADX lighting system is fully functional.

Other glitches happen in both ports, such as this problem with the “Casinopolis” billboard on the second floor:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

As a workaround for transparency-related issues in the ports, this light object is rendered in such a way that its base becomes too bright and its layering gets broken:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The shiny letters on top of the shower room entrance were replaced with a low-resolution texture:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The letters on the “Information” billboard still have the environment mapping effect, but the textures and/or UVs were adjusted to make it look like a solid color, which made them look less colorful.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The Dreamcast version had several unique glass textures in different stages, while SADX uses one texture almost everywhere. The same glass texture can be seen in Station Square, Speed Highway and Chaos 0.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The shower room was redesigned as well, which doesn’t appear to be worse than the original, but something is wrong with the wall lights on the Gamecube:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Knuckles’ stage has also had a fair share of downgrades. For example, many lights in the fountain are missing:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The gears in this area, which have survived the Gamecube transition with almost no damage, are broken in the PC port:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

One of the spinning cylinders doesn’t render properly in the ports:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The lion on the second floor has lost some texture animations:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The sewers area looks quite different in SADX. The water is no longer animated, the lighting is replaced with green vertex colors, yellow fog is replaced with blue, and you can’t see as far as in the Dreamcast version. While SADX is believed to have better draw distance in some levels, it’s certainly not the case with this level:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The static water looks passable with the Gamecube’s distortion effect, however it’s hard to say if its static low-resulution texture is an improvement over the animated green wave texture in the Dreamcast version:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The giant fan areas have also been redesigned slightly. Outside of downgraded lighting, the change does not involve any particular downgrades (or improvements for that matter). Looking at these screenshots side by side makes it hard to tell which is the supposedly enhanced version, especially considering the original game’s richer color scheme and more vibrant character lighting.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The lights in the sewers were supposed to blink, which you can tell from the sound they make, but this doesn’t happen in the ports because of the way their models are rendered (the blinking code is still active in the ports):

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The strange-looking square on the floor near the end of the level is supposed to be a light texture. It is using an incorrect blending mode, which makes it look like grating. Note how the big ceiling light is also missing in SADX.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The pinball area has also lost some lighting detail in SADX. Some people may prefer the look of the PC version because it’s brighter, but that isn’t how it was intended to look. It’s a side effect of the PC version’s poor rendering setup that makes it unable to replicate the Gamecube’s lighting, which, other than some rainbow bits around the edges, is already inferior to the Dreamcast version:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Minor complaint, but in SADX Sonic’s lighting doesn’t change when entering the pinball areas:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

The NiGHTS board has received a minor redesign, with the glass area made green and less shiny. This wouldn’t be a problem, but texture quality degradation is quite noticeable. The ports also add some strange dotted lines around the borders:

Dreamcast*
Gamecube
PC

*The problem with the blue arrows above the “MARE” sign is caused by a glitch in the Dreamcast emulator, it looks fine on real hardware and on the emulator at 1x internal resolution

The second NiGHTS area also has some lighting differences. The scrolling effect on the walls breaks further with each port for some reason. The rings NiGHTS takes Sonic through in this area are supposed to play a sound as you go through them, but this is also missing in the ports.

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Sonic isn’t lit up in this stage, which is an improvement because the white palette looked strange in the original level. Texture quality reduction in the ports is visible again in this part of the level:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

Finally, the dome in this area has some transparency problems. The PC version also makes the background darker than needed:

Dreamcast
Gamecube
PC

From a quick look Casino doesn’t seem heavily downgraded in SADX. However, much detail is lost in the supposedly enhanced ports, and some parts of the level are broken. This level (particularly the second act) benefits greatly from Dreamcast lighting (restored in the PC version by the Lantern Engine mod) and fixed level models (Dreamcast Conversion mod). Find out how to install the mods in the section dedicated to fixing the PC version of SADX.