Slow music with PAL Megadrive

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  • #25206
    Mateus
    Participant

    Hi folks,

    Apologies if this problem has been resolved elsewhere, but I couldn’t find anything relating to it.

    tl;dr: In some games on my PAL Mega Drive, the BGM is slowed down. Not all games, and not even all the sound – just the background music.

    Longer story: For example, in Sonic 1, the “SEGA” jingle at the start and the ring collection SFX play at normal speed, but the Green Hill Zone music is noticeably slower. The game itself plays at normal speed.

    Even weirder, different instances of the same game play music at different speeds! For example, I have an original, physical copy of the massively underrated Atomic Runner. The music is fine. However, I also have an EverDrive with an Atomic Runner ROM, on which the music is slowed down. At first I thought the ROM might be NTSC whereas the cartridge is PAL, which might be a factor. However, I also have a Decap Attack cartridge (PAL) and a Decap Attack ROM (likely NTSC), and the music is slowed down in both.

    I’m using the original model 1 Mega Drive (PAL) with no mods. It’s connected to the OSSC via C-SYNC SCART. The OSSC connects to a Samsung UE32C5100QWXXU via HDMI. I’m outputting in 2x because my TV hates me. I’ve fiddled with the audio settings on the OSSC, but nothing seems to change.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.

    Matt

    #25214
    nmalinoski
    Participant

    I’m not super familiar with the Genesis, so maybe take this all with a grain of salt.

    My understanding is that the PAL version of Sonic the Hedgehog simply runs slower, both gameplay and music, to meet the 50Hz framerate, and that only the 60Hz NTSC versions run at the correct speed. If you’ve only ever played the PAL version, try the NTSC version on NTSC hardware; it plays much faster.

    For Atomic Runner, it does sound like you have the NTSC version of the ROM on your EverDrive, and the music playback might be synchronized to the framerate, so it’s playing music at 50Hz that’s supposed to be played back at 60Hz. (Keying cadence of things to framerate wasn’t an uncommon practice; Konami did it for the note speeds in their Bemani games.)

    I’m not sure about Decap Attack. If the gameplay and music speed are identical, and you can’t identify the ROM’s region, then my assumption is you have the PAL ROM. If you can confirm it’s the NTSC ROM, then I think it’s possible that game was written to run on both NTSC and PAL, so the gameplay will be at the same speed, but the music playback wasn’t adjusted (like my assumption of Atomic Runner).

    If it’s feasible, my recommendation would be to pick up an NTSC MegaDrive/Genesis and prioritize NTSC versions of the games, while keeping your PAL console for PAL-only releases. PAL ports were not always given the love they needed to play correctly, and the MegaDrive/Genesis, like the SNES and PlayStation, can’t correctly play both region games at the correct speed without some sort of hardware modification (Super CIC and dual frequency oscillator respectively). (The NES would need something radical, like a board with both NTSC and PAL chips on it and the ability to switch between the two depending on the game being loaded.) And, whatever you do, don’t 60Hz mod your PAL console, because it still won’t run NTSC games at the correct speed.

    #25226
    Steo
    Participant

    Yeah, some Mega Drive titles simply just have slower music along with the slower gameplay. Bart vs Space Mutants is another game that does it. The sound pitch is also slightly lower on a Mega Drive vs the Genesis. They do make corrections for the speed of the music in most titles, but I much prefer the Genesis after playing both systems, considering the audio is at the right pitch while the game is also at the correct speed.

    #25229
    BuckoA51
    Keymaster

    Indeed, had a PAL MD here recently for testing, Sonic sounds awful in PAL!

    #25231
    Steo
    Participant

    The first Sonic really does yeah, there’s an unbelievable difference. Just think, the majority of PAL games are that much slower on the system aside from having the speed of the music corrected. I grew up playing those really slow games and never knew a thing until I was about 15 years old lol. I hate PAL systems because of the slowdown and/or squashed aspect ratio.

    #25295
    Mateus
    Participant

    Hi all,

    Many thanks for your responses! Growing up in the UK (in the pre-internet era), I had no idea how screwed we were by PAL. I have a copy of Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube, which runs at 60Hz, so is noticeably faster. For the longest time I thought that Nintendo had cast some magic spell on the old games to make them run faster. Learning that, actually, I was finally getting to play at the same speed as the rest of you (some 20 years later) is pretty funny/tragic.

    However, something I missed from my previous post is that when I connect my Mega Drive directly to my TV (via mini SCART), I don’t have this problem with my PAL cartridges (I’ve not tested this since I received my EverDrive, so can’t confirm the same is true for NSTC or PAL ROMs). For example, when I play my PAL Decap Attack cartridge direct on the TV, the music is faster than if I play the same cartridge via the OSSC. This is why I thought that the OSSC may have some setting or other I could fiddle with to address the music…

    Thanks again for your input.

    #25296
    BuckoA51
    Keymaster

    There is no way the OSSC can affect the speed of the music in your games.

    #25297
    Steo
    Participant

    Yeah that wouldn’t make much sense, the OSSC is just basically a line doubler and the sound would basically be passthrough. The OSSC can’t actually alter the speed that the Mega Drive itself runs at.

    As for the PAL vs NTSC thing, I think us PAL users got it bad for a long time. Even the PS2 only allows you to choose 60Hz in certain titles while most are limited to 50Hz. A lot of the games were 30fps, so the PAL versions are actually only 25fps. Believe me, that 5fps makes a huge difference if you compare them. The one good thing is that aside from the lower fps on those PAL titles, the PAL games on PS2 are actually speed optimised instead of going slower like the older systems did.

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