Final Fantasy IV (SNES) - Actual Dolby Pro Logic surround or simulated by the decoder?? Example #1
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Published on Apr 15, 2012
A shorter HQ version is here BTW: http://youtu.be/R3l5QQUpWiA
The AV receiver used here is a 260W Sony STR-D1011. It retailed in 1993 for $550 (I paid ~$400 at a Montgomery Ward in ~1995!). It has a Dolby Pro Logic decoder, which means it can decode 4 channels of sound from stereo input (FL, FR, FC, & RLR)! It's old school, ~19 years old, so why am I using it? Because it STILL works & my RCA Dolby Digital 5.1 receiver burned out (Thanks RCA!) after a few years so I went back to this one, the 1st one I ever purchased!
Anyway, I sparked some debate over at the PCEngineFX forums ( http://www.pcenginefx.com/forums/inde... ) in the area of SNES games & their alleged support of Dolby Pro Logic surround by recalling my nostalgic enjoyment of perceived surround effects with Final Fantasy IV (II)... It's the only game that I clearly remembered using noticeable surround effects from my SNES gaming days after all! Well, there was doubt that this was the case because neither the game's packaging nor manual display a Dolby logo and others wondered if the SNES can even support Dolby output at all... So, what gives ??
Is the good ole SNES capable of outputting surround sound ?? YES, & one of the first games to display a Dolby logo was in fact, "King Arthur's World"... To do that, publishers need to have their games certified by Dolby Labs AND pay a licensing fee!! It has been alleged that for this reason, publishers will often support "matrixed" sound (which is what Dolby Pro Logic is) but not mention Dolby... which means they've been doing it, unbeknownst by most, without a license?? Is that right ?
Now on to the video. I made it to demonstrate the surround sound effects that I experienced the last time I played this game back in the late 90's, right before retiring my SNES... It appears either my Sony receiver is awesome or Dolby support was in fact encoded, but I can't say for sure... But anyhow, what I do first in the video is run what Sony refers to as the "Test Tone" test to make sure that you hooked up all of your speakers properly. So when it's run, you SHOULD hear just the Front Left speaker, then the Front Center, Front Right, and finally the Rear speakers (Mono Left/Right) - (as mentioned, ProLogic Surround is a 4 channel system: the rear speakers are mono! It's with Dolby Digital 5.1 that you get independent rear channels, left and right, plus an extra sub-woofer channel.) So yeah, if you heard everything correctly while standing in the center of the room, it obviously indicates you hooked up your speakers properly.
Anyway, it turns out, you don't have to search long and hard to find a surround sound effect when it comes to FF IV! You can experience one as soon as you start the game and the opening theme music beings to play, something I had completely forgotten about when the issue came up!!!! The lovely, yet simple, theme begins with piano-like music that moves back'n'forth a while from the left channel, to the center channel (very briefly), on to the right channel, then repeats, back to the center, then left, etc.! If you stand in the middle of a properly set up room and then move towards each speaker as if to follow the outputted sound, you cannot help but be impressed by this... After 0:53 seconds into it, ALL channels are blasted! At 1:40 seconds in, I load a VERY old saved game (which was still there after ~12 years, the backup battery still lives) which puts me at the final stage of the game. At 1:48, after walking around, I get into an enemy confrontation and you'll notice another clear surround effect where just the front sound channels are active, the rear is NOT, but then at 1:50, the rear channel kicks up too (hence both rear left&right speakers kick up)!
Originally, when I wrote this, I was very certain that is was Dolby Pro Logic support, and if that was the case, it means it had been done without a license and few people knew about it...which I thought was VERY interesting! But, having reviewed the behavior more of my Sony receiver, I became less certain and I think what's happening here is that it's just taking the stereo signal and doing ONE HELL OF A JOB simulating some kind of surround effect out of it, because I sure as hell enjoyed the game when I played it like this...
Somebody with a modern decoder/receiver that can detect various Dolby encoding schemes needs to answer this question! Someone with a decoder/receiver that has a LED light or something indicating that the current audio signal being processed is either, "Dolby Digital 5.1", "DTS", or in our case, "Dolby Pro Logic", etc. My old-timer receiver doesn't have any indicator like that, it just DOES shit on the 4 audio channels that it can handle.
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