Ray tracing is more than a buzzword, it's actually a big deal for next-generation gaming. Although we likely won't be seeing it on a Nintendo platform any time soon, game developer and software engineer Ben Carter has at least found an unofficial way to get this rendering technique up and running on Super Nintendo hardware.
In a video over on his YouTube channel Shironeko Labs, he explains how he took inspiration from the legendary Super FX chip that powered games like Star Fox, to create a modified cartridge called "SuperRT" - allowing the Super Nintendo to handle real-time ray tracing, and well...the results are rather impressive. Take a look at the videos below.
"What I wanted to try and do was something akin to the Super FX chip used in titles such as Star Fox, where the SNES runs the game logic and hands off a scene description to a chip in the cartridge to generate the visuals. To that end I’ve deliberately tried to restrict myself to just using a single custom chip for the design, not making use of the ARM core available on the DE10 board or any other external processing resources."
You can read all about the fine details over on Shironeko Labs' blog. What do you think of the SuperRT? Impressed as we are? Share your thoughts down below.
I want to see how well cyberpunk can run on the snes, with ray tracing
That's dope as hell, honestly.
That’s pretty much how Cyberpunk looks on console.
This guy, man. This guy is MY guy. Staggering achievement. You go, go guy.
Can't wait for RT on Game Boy!
This could legitimately be my new favorite lofi aesthetic. The 80s pink grid and mountains is cool but a bit overdone. This? Fresh as frick.
I concur with Chlocean; this lofi 3D computer graphics look is so my aesthetic. It reminds me of fiddling around with old 90s computer programs.
@NGNYS this is a really dumb take. RT is this decades shadow shaders. Progress is good.
I know them. They're the doctor from Spider-Man who says they don't want to cure cancer. They want to turn everyone into dinosaurs. Cause this is the exact same vibe.
Put it on N64 and we’ll talk.
Raytraced Star Fox when?
Absolutely love this aesthetic. I'd happily play a full game like this.
@NGNYS Wow. You really need to relax. There are plenty of games with cutting edge tech that also have fantastic gameplay and deep narratives. Does every game have to be like that? No, of course not. And they aren't.
@NGNYS You can also use ray-tracing for sound for example, or AI. It can very much enhance gameplay. Horror games, any VR game would greatly benefit from ray tracing. It's not just pretty visuals.
It's only marketed as a visual thing, because that's the easiest to understand for people. It's difficult to market ray traced sound when you're watching it on your phone for example.
Ray tracing actually in principle creates less work for the devs since it allows real time reflections and GI lighting that just work rather than having to spend time baking lighting or rigging cube maps and SSR for reflections, this is why you have some devs saying they’d prefer rendering at 1080p with ray tracing rather than 4K with authored precomputed effects.
Raytracing isn't a gimmick, AFAIK it's the most accurate way to get realistic 3D reflections/refractions. The problem is it's extremely CPU/GPU intensive so it's only previously been used for prerendered graphics / CGI.
Back in 1994 on a 386 PC I used POVRay to render a scene containing a few coloured cylinders and spheres. It took 3.5 hours to render one image with a resolution of 320x200. I could see it rendering one pixel at a time.
Homebrew is going to have fun with this.
@NGNYS Yeah, a game like Star Fox on SNES shows the way to go about doing both at the same time imo, where it had absolutely mind-boggling cutting-edge graphics but also a genuinely brilliant game to show that tech off in. Without the game part the other stuff means very little to me, but when there's a brilliant game backing it up, then I'm interested. The tech demo above is very cool, but boy would I love to see someone make a SNES Star Fox game or something like that with this tech applied, and have it running on an actual SNES and released as a proper physical cartridge, boxed with instruction manual and all. As an actual physical release it would count as an official SNES game, which would really fuel the console wars and give SNES fans a massive bullet in their gun to fire at Genesis/Mega Drive owners--which would be real fun to watch. Hehe! It would be like the crown jewel in the SNES' library.
Wow this is cool! It would be neat to have an actual cartridge with this chip and demo to check out on a SNES.
Raytracing IS more than a buzzword. And it has been for multiple decades.
It's just that right now it's predominantly a buzzword, seeing as we can finally trace a few lightrays realtime, with decent results. Prompting some money men to try to sell new hardware based on that alone.
Will it run Crysis?
It looks just like cyberpunk!
This is so cool!!! I still don’t understand “ray tracing” like I probably should, but I totally see that they said nothing is pre-rendered and all updates live. So if that’s what it means I get it. Otherwise, this looks amazing... I wonder if some devs will take this and make something out of it. Wow. Hats off to this developer. It’s so cool to see that the SNES can do this with just a cart with an expansion chip.
but whats the point of this ? the games themselves dont support it
@NGNYS it does not strain the devs, it is actually less of a strain to implement then baked lighting, this is why I wish people who dont know something on a subject would kindly NOT try to pretend like they do!
@Ryu_Niiyama Someones making a raytraced sm64 game, this is for pc not n64 ofc but still
@Trajan I thought a similair thing, but with dynamic lighting when that was being introduced in the early 00's, equivalent of complaining about something like that
I don't see how the SNES can even run that without the RT, lol.
Makes me wonder if I could do it on GB or GBA. One really cheaty way to do it on GBA might be to hijack the "GBA Video" cartridge idea and just have the video stream be from an external, real-time computed source.
More related to the project itself though, him using 18.14 fixed point made me lol. Good memories from grad school right there doing FP precision analysis/selection.
[And THANK YOU to NL for doing this article! Love this stuff.]
Still more life in the snes
Life in the old dog yet! Love this!
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