As you can guess from the technical values above, Lethal Xcess uses an advanced technology compared to Wings of Death, but you wouldn't want it the
other way, didn't you? Time never stands still and technology evolves rapidly.
And don't forget Lethal Xcess was released 2 years after Wings of Death. There where new technologies available at this time.
When Ilja of Level 16 (Andreas Franz) invented the overscan-screen to
the Atari, it was a rather short way to develop a scrolling that uses the same
technology to manipulate the video-address. The Cuddly Demo by TCB was the first
Demo that used sync-scrolling. The main menu and the overscan scroller hit the
Atari-scene like a hammer. TCB had done the impossible. Many overscan and sync-scrolling demos followed and Thalion
released two games that used sync-scrolling (Enchanted Land and Leavin' Teramis)
which where technically brilliant at this time. Nobody would have expected that the Atari ST
was capable of doing a scrolling 50 FPS game.
Sync-Scrolling in addition to other border-technology allowed Lethal Xcess to
increase the size of the playfield, which is equal to the scrolling part of the screen,
it measures 55
percent more than in Wings of Death. Of course you loose performance because you
have to restore the background when you draw sprites on it, but that's nothing
compared to drawing the whole screen from scratch.
Because of the very
well optimized sprite-routines in Lethal Xcess it doesn't matter and we cheated
every way to gain the maximum performance even on machines with only 512 kb, where
preshifting is a very limited option.
The picture shows the playfield area of Lethal Xcess (background) compared to Wings of
Death (red frame). Marc had left two 16 pixel
wide black stripes on the left and right border for performance reasons. The same
thing with the panel, which reduced the playfield size by 24
pixels. The panel is not shown.
In addition to the bigger playfield, Lethal Xcess allows 58 percent more
sprites at the same time and it's able to run in less frames than Wings of Death
(look for fast-mode on our cheats-page).
It seems astounding that nobody noticed these facts in
1992, when Lethal Xcess was released. On the other hand, Marc was a very smart guy, he used 60 Hz in Wings of
way he had less time to render the screen (3/60 while Lethal Xcess had 3/50 of a
second to complete this task), but most TVs and CRT-Monitors stretch the image
when using 60 Hz. The screen simply looks bigger in 60 Hz and last not
least the overall movement is smoother with this refresh rate.
This article will be continued...