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Old Doesn't Have To Mean Ugly: Squeezing Better Graphics From Classic Consoles

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the what's-old-is-new dept.

Graphics 167

MojoKid writes If you're a classic gamer, you've probably had the unhappy experience of firing up a beloved older title you haven't played in a decade or two, squinting at the screen, and thinking: "Wow. I didn't realize it looked this bad." The reasons why games can wind up looking dramatically worse than you remember isn't just the influence of rose-colored glasses — everything from subtle differences in third-party hardware to poor ports to bad integrated TV upscalers can ruin the experience. One solution is an expensive upscaling unit called the Framemeister but while its cost may make you blanch, this sucker delivers. Unfortunately, taking full advantage of a Framemeister also may mean modding your console for RGB output. That's the second part of the upscaler equation. Most every old-school console could technically use RGB, which has one cable for the Red, Green, and Blue signals, but many of them weren't wired for it externally unless you used a rare SCART cable (SCART was more common in other parts of the world). Modding kits or consoles cost money, but if you're willing to pay it, you can experience classic games with much better fidelity.

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Just buy a CRT (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770851)

Seriously, just buy a good CRT. Stop fooling around with all this line doubler crap

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771025)

I picked up a nice 27" JVC CRT tube TV with every connection on up to Component in and even audio out for free off of Craigslist a few years back to keep my old consoles looking great and have working light guns.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771113)

You must admit, though, that CRTs chew up a LOT of space. Space is at a premium for some people, hulking CRTs aren't always a viable choice, even less so when it's for a once-every-now-and-then application.

Re:Just buy a CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771423)

Eh, I just sit the LCD screen on top of it with it pushed all the way to the wall and use right angle cables. I keep the old kit plugged into their own surge strip so that they don't suck down power at all when not in use.

In all actuality he NES has seen more use in recent years then the newer consoles, but nowhere near as much use as the Linux HTPC.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771301)

Yes, yes. Seriously "just" do the more expensive, bulkier option.

Fucking hipsters.

Re:Just buy a CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771447)

CRT is not more expensive. It's all used now. Can probably even get it for free if you offer to take it away for free.

Exactly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771757)

That solution will only last as long as there are used CRTs, so it's not really a solution, sorry.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771901)

Original AC proposed acquiring a good CRT. Those are definitely not free. Even is someone is willing to give you a used CRT for $0, it's only "free" if your time is worth nothing and someone else pays for gas/shipping and disposal of the "not good" CRTs that you accepted in your quest to get a free CRT.

Disposal fee for a monitor-sized CRT is typically at least $5 in large US cities. If only 10% of CRTs are "good", then that alone raises your cost to at least $50 for a "good" CRT. Oh, you were planning to dump them on goodwill? Yeah, let the charitable organization subsidize the cost for your "free" CRT. That's a sustainable model that everyone can take advantage of.

Re:Just buy a CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771699)

Am I a hipster for never not having had my NES hooked up since I got it in 1989? For me it's never been retro gaming, it was just cheaper gaming as up till the used games shops all got put out of buisness by the assholes at Gamestop I used to get "new to me" NES titles long after they where released along side my PS2, GameCube and Dreamcast purchases because the NES games ranged in price from $0.03* to $5 for common games, with rarities going for much more.

*Mario/Duck Hunt cart that came with every NES and everyone had 5 compies of. Shops wouldn't even take them unless you brought itin as a box-O-games you where trading in.

Re:Just buy a CRT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772031)

First, you're a packrat.
Second, if you haven't been playing at NES as your primary console since 1989, then yes you are definitely a hipster.
You might even be responsible for starting the retro console movement by showing a friend, who just had to go get one and then tell his hipster friends...

Re:Just buy a CRT (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771567)

Or just use emulators which produce a much better end result [tinypic.com] .

Re:Just buy a CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771841)

Jesus fucking Christ, why would you want that?

The blocky pixels were put there by an artist on purpose. Using an algorithm to draw shitty triangles between the pixels so your eyes aren't subjected to square edges is ridiculous.

Re:Just buy a CRT (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772365)

The blocky pixels were put there by an artist on purpose.

Oh fuck off. The developers were dealing with 240 line hard limits, that's why the sprites have fewer pixels.

Re:Just buy a CRT (3, Interesting)

Z80a (971949) | about 3 months ago | (#47772339)

I personally prefer the NTSC filters [imgur.com] over those hqx filters because it breaks the "blockyness" without creating weird "vectorlike" artifacts, also it looks more authentic.

Re:Just buy a CRT (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 3 months ago | (#47771575)

Seriously, just buy a good CRT. Stop fooling around with all this line doubler crap

I still have 3 Commodore era monitors I use for my older console gaming. In fact, I like to have my wii hooked up to it because I get the best looking emulators running that way. (going to point out while I have some consoles, I don't have them all, so emulate I must)

On top of this, at least in my city, you can get a big ass free CRT TV for free, all you have to do is pick it up. Check Craigslist free section.

Trying to use old consoles on modern TV's is silly, as they don't scale well at all. Even the Wii, which does 640x480p looks crappy on a 1080p TV.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Rei (128717) | about 3 months ago | (#47771743)

On top of this, at least in my city, you can get a big ass-free CRT TV for free,

My hobby... [xkcd.com]

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47772373)

Slight difference: a big ass-free CRT is desirable, while a big ass-CRT would be undesirable.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 3 months ago | (#47771739)

That high pitched whine is irritating, and I don't have room for a CRT. After a while you won't be able to find them anyway. I wouldn't be able to use it for anything else so why bother? I want the convenience of having my consoles look good on my HDTV. Don't dismiss the problem here. A lot of retro gamers want 240p on HDTVs.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

Powercntrl (458442) | about 3 months ago | (#47771861)

Seriously, just buy a good CRT. Stop fooling around with all this line doubler crap

This.

Fancy upscalers and scaling filters can make retro games look (debatably) better on modern displays and maybe for some people that is good enough. But it's hard to beat a Craigslist CRT for an authentic classic gaming experience. Thankfully, there's still plenty of 'em that haven't been dropped off roofs, used for target practice or shipped to the third world for "recycling".

Eventually when the cheap used CRT supply dries up, with luck we'll all have cheap 4k OLED displays and CRT emulation won't look like such a steaming pile of dog shit.

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

antdude (79039) | about 3 months ago | (#47772051)

Where can we buy a good quality CRT?

Re:Just buy a CRT (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47772403)

rgb is still nice to have, even with a crt.

Shameless Advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770853)

Seriously, this warrants a front page posting? It's clearly an ad for a product with a niche audience.

Re:Shameless Advertisement (0)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#47770895)

The bigger problem is that the slashvertisement has almost as much information as the linked page, most of it word-for-word.

Where's the link for modding our old consoles?

Ah well, back to emulating everything...

Re:Shameless Advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771315)

Yawn... If I had a nickle for every time some said "oh that's a slashvertisment" I'd be a wealthy geek. It gets SO old. No, an advertisement would point to a shopping link in the source article.... oh wait, that gives me an idea! Seriously, get some new material.

I'm old... (-1, Offtopic)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47770871)

...and I'm very handsome..

No device necessary (2, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 3 months ago | (#47770873)

Pretty interesting idea and a nice slashvertisement. How about instead, using an emulator,pushing a resolution that looks good onyour panel, and even possibly applying AA and other filters till it looks how YOU like, You have far more options for less cash that way. This reeks of monster cableitis to me.

Re:No device necessary (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47770961)

I'm not going to buy an "expensive" upscaler, but I'd rather use the real consoles. I actually run into emulation errors with games I want to play on a semi-regular basis. I don't think that it's unreasonable to think about buying a scaler, even if it's unreasonable to buy this one.

It would be nice if someone would kick out a television with a fancy scaler built in. AQUOS and Bravia televisions (among others... I have an older example of the former, just barely pre-LED-backlight) have scalers which provide pretty good results for video sources at typical resolutions while also adding minimal latency, which is their primary appeal as compared to other lines — especially since the competition caught up in the black level department. But someone like Vizio (which is commonly favored by gamers due to sharp, clean scaling, if a bit jaggy at times) might consider offering some models with a seriously upgraded scaler and offering them to gamers as a means of improving their old-school gaming experience. Even people who don't own classic consoles, or who keep them in a box in their closet, might consider spending some extra money on such a feature even if they wind up never actually using it.

Not me, but some people :) Never know what the future holds for my TV, though.

Re:No device necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771185)

...good results for video sources at typical resolutions while also adding minimal latency...

I'm not all that concerned about picture quality but (low) latency is essential. I connected my old Nintendo Wii to my new HDTV and the latency makes it unplayable. I mean, you can barely play it by pressing the controller buttons a second ahead of what you're seeing on the screen but overall it's such a frustrating experience that it's just not fun.

Re:No device necessary (1)

russ_allegro (444120) | about 3 months ago | (#47772083)

Many TVs have a game mode, where they do less post processing and the lag will go away in this mode.

Re: No device necessary (1)

Rhaban (987410) | about 3 months ago | (#47772195)

Still not enough to play Duck Hunt on the Nes.

Re: No device necessary (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47772739)

For Zapper games, you may need a PowerPak or EverDrive and an IPS patch that lets you use a mouse. I've developed an NES game that uses a Super NES Mouse through an easy-to-build adapter [pineight.com] .

(pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 3 months ago | (#47771267)

You know, modern emulators for old school games are a 'pretty good enough' substitute for the 'real thing'.

Add on a decent bluetooth joystick to them, you're pretty much there.

I just got the ''A Moga Pro" joystick a few weeks ago, and it makes all the difference when I revisiting older games like 'Defender', 'Joust', 'Ms. Pac Man', 'Tetris', 'Contra', 'Elevator Action', 'Galaga', 'Qix', 'Q-Bert', 'Rolling Thunder', 'Punch-Out' (et al ad nauseum).

Re: (pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47771353)

My kids 6 and all the kids at school were talking about the new Mario Kart game. He wanted it sooo bad but I wasn't about to get him started on consoles so I downloaded SNES and the orgional Mario Kart game... now he's bragging to all the kids he's got the "FIRST" one, and they have the lame version. lol

Re: (pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 3 months ago | (#47771509)

My kids 6 and all the kids at school were talking about the new Mario Kart game. He wanted it sooo bad but I wasn't about to get him started on consoles so I downloaded SNES and the orgional Mario Kart game... now he's bragging to all the kids he's got the "FIRST" one, and they have the lame version. lol

Right? The 'oldies' really are the 'goodies' in gaming, as it turns out. Adding extra great graphics does not always equal more fun gameplay.

Jeez, I'm having a blast just replaying the original 'Starfox'. Tightening up the framerate won't make a bit of difference to it's playability, IMO.

Re: (pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771591)

My god did I have a blast playing original Starfox. Man that game was hard as balls, at least for me who was around 14 at the time. I was a god for like 1 month after I beat it because no one else could.

Re: (pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 3 months ago | (#47771895)

Right? The 'oldies' really are the 'goodies' in gaming, as it turns out.

Well... let's not go overboard here. Even the most nostalgic X'er will admit that the 2600's graphics looked like total ass, even in 1980, and 98% of Atari 2600 games have almost zero enduring fun value. Seriously, play 'em for 5 minutes for the first time in 20 years, and the last minute before you hit reset will seem to LAST for 20 years.

Well, besides Circus Atari & Warlords (the original 4-player "party game"). It's kind of ironic that two of the 2600's least graphically-sophisticated games ended up among the small canon of unique 2600 games that are still kind of fun and have never really been improved upon on other platforms.

It's really a shame Colecovision's short-sighted licensing deals and messy bankruptcy left their games covered in the legal equivalent of toxic sludge that nobody will ever be able to scrub away cheaply enough to make a $24.95 embedded Colecovision-in-a-(joy)stick with the dozen or so most popular games ever viable.

Re: (pre-emptive to 'New-Age' gamers...) GOML! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772751)

120 Colecovision ROMs equals about 1.4MB of space. Over 400 Atari2600 ROMs equals about 1.2MB of space. An Android smartphone of even the lowest specs will run the emulation.

Re:No device necessary (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 3 months ago | (#47771335)

I actually run into emulation errors with games I want to play on a semi-regular basis.

Which emulators are you using? For NES/SNES/GBC/GBA, I've been using higan [byuu.org] , and I've yet to find a single emulation error. Checking the forums, the kind of emulation bugs still getting reported are literally "on the Super Game Boy player for the SNES, an obscure series of cross-system memory writes with multiple joypads enabled ends up writing the wrong value to a register, which breaks this contrived test case". So it seems to be exceptionally solid. For more recent systems, yeah, I haven't found any truly good low-level emulators, but those are also not the ones you'd be breaking out the CRT display for.

Re:No device necessary (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 months ago | (#47771927)

the kind of emulation bugs still getting reported are literally "on the Super Game Boy player for the SNES..."

What kind of lunatic plays his Game Boy games on an emulated adapter for a different console entirely instead of just using a Game Boy emulator?!

For more recent systems, yeah, I haven't found any truly good low-level emulators, but those are also not the ones you'd be breaking out the CRT display for.

I don't know about that; I think anything up to and including the PS2, GameCube/Wii and (for all I know) Xbox probably looks better on a CRT.

Re:No device necessary (1)

mrfaithful (1212510) | about 3 months ago | (#47772481)

What kind of lunatic plays his Game Boy games on an emulated adapter for a different console entirely instead of just using a Game Boy emulator?!

Someone who wants to see the Super GameBoy enhanced features some games had.

Re:No device necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772737)

This. While an average typical game will usually not notice any differences, there are MAJOR issues.

It is why, for example, no speedrunner of worth will emulate.
It is terribly unpredictable and most times most games will play completely different on an emulator.

There is yet to be an emulator that runs right.

Re:No device necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770975)

Difference between monster cables, which cost much much more for no gain, vs. this device, which costs more for a little gain, is that this actually *DOES* give you gain.

Sure you can run emulators but I have some friends who love fixing up old cabinets. Is this expensive? Sure but the cabinets were thousands of USD when they came out. You can pick them up for free if you don't mind putting some $$ into repair, and if you're a serious enthusiast and love your console and love playing with the plastic and power buttons and cartridges, this is great.

Mind you its expensive for little gain. But if you have money, there's *nothing* else that will fix this for you other than pushing RGB. You don't have to buy this if you have a rare 1st gen LCD that has this sort of RGB input but they're becoming more rare.

Buy what you want, this is a fun toy for those who can afford the market, and its definitely for geeks.

Re:No device necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771261)

Nice astroturf, well played.

Monster cables not always expensive (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47772759)

Monster cables aren't always more expensive. When I first bought my Wii console, I wanted a component cable to go with it. At Best Buy, I could get the Nintendo cable for $35 or the Monster Game cable for only $25.

Yes it is (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 3 months ago | (#47771731)

This is not a slashvert, these solutions have been around for a long time, and as for the NES RGB board it's constantly sold out so they don't need our help on that. Actually this was posted on Kotaku a day ago and someone probably found it geekworthy, and it is. Getting 240p to display properly on HDTVs is a huge pain for retro gaming enthusiasts.

Use an emulator?! No thanks, that's like telling vinyl enthusiasts to get MP3s. Accuracy is important, and emulators are a mixed bag, and to ask someone who wants the original feel and the convenience of a console to fuck around with emulators is missing the point. Also try finsing a good legal Saturn emulator that works on Linux. Besides, there's nothing like using the original hardware, control pads, and media.

Re:Yes it is (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 3 months ago | (#47771795)

Besides, there's nothing like using the original hardware, control pads, and media.

Emphasis mine.

So basically you're saying cassette tapes rule? ;D

Well. For a vinyl head I guess they may..

Re:Yes it is (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | about 3 months ago | (#47771935)

Getting 240p to display properly on HDTVs is a huge pain for retro gaming enthusiasts.

It largely comes down to the quality of the scaling hardware within the display and the assumptions it makes about the signal. I knocked together an RGB-to-component converter for the Apple IIGS [upverter.com] recently and tried it out with the LCD displays I had on hand: three TVs (two name-brand and one not-so-name-brand) and a monitor that also has component input (and S-video and composite, in addition to the usual VGA and DVI). The monitor kinda worked, but it chopped off the first line of text IIRC. The not-so-name-brand TV didn't work at all. The other two TVs worked: the entire screen area was visible. Color quality and 40-column text were pretty good. 80-column text was usable, if a bit fuzzy. I had hoped to use it with the monitor in the computer room, but the missing line of text would be a bit of a problem (it's like it's not syncing up until it's too late). None of them are as clear as the ancient NEC MultiSync 3D I normally use with it, but who knows how long that will continue to work? It already takes several minutes to settle down and run right after a cold start. I suspect a CRT TV with component input would be better than the LCDs, but I haven't had one of those for several years.

(While the adapter is intended to plug straight into the IIGS's RGB output, you could lash up an adapter to use it with other devices. In addition to red, green, blue, and composite sync, it also needs +12V and -5V. It only cost me about $50 to build, and maybe $20 of that was two extra boards from OSH Park, which ships in multiples of 3.)

Re:No device necessary (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47772763)

How about instead, using an emulator

That'd be fine if more people had a PC in the living room.

Commodore RGB monitors were the best... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770875)

... for super Nintendo and retro gaming.

The image of these little monitors were the best one could get for a reasonable price.

Re:Commodore RGB monitors were the best... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770955)

I adore my 64: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Seriously though, are you keeping up with the Commodore? https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Commodore RGB monitors were the best... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 3 months ago | (#47770971)

I'm still looking for a 'good' C64 emulator (for Android). I've got the roms, it's the emu I need. Any help here would be greatly appreciated...

Pretty neat device (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 months ago | (#47770913)

Pretty neat if you can afford it plus the cost of modding your console for RGB-out, which by itself is at least $100 for just the parts, and there are a limited number of those - the ones I've seen were stripped from old PlayChoice 10 cabinets. For us common trolls, a good emulator + a warezed ROM collection does the job.

Pretty neat device (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770945)

That's only for the NES. Pretty much all other consoles newer than the NES output RGB natively - you just need to build a cable. And for the few that don't (NES/N64), the mods are not impossible.

It's supposed to look that way (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770919)

Classic consoles, notably the NES, purposefully used the blur of the CRT for shading and other effects that the console couldn't do. The graphics simply aren't meant to be seen in super clarity. You see all of the pixels, and the colors are overly bright and flat. It's just... wrong.

Re:It's supposed to look that way (2)

WilyCoder (736280) | about 3 months ago | (#47770935)

And that's why the old consoles can output RGB via SCART.../sarcasm

Re:It's supposed to look that way (3, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 3 months ago | (#47771019)

That the (S)NES and Genesis can output RGB via modding doesn't change the fact that game developers did use the artifacts from the composite output and the CRT to do what the GP mentioned.

RGB on Scart (2)

DrYak (748999) | about 3 months ago | (#47772747)

Megadrive (the Genesis in EU and Japan) supported RGB out-of-the box (all the signals are there on the DIN / miniDIN cable), no need to mod the console, just buy the appropriate cable (SCART in EU, or the Japanese equivalent).

(I have no first-hand experience, but I might guess that the situation is similar with Super Famicom vs US' SNES)

That the US market had a crappier output possibility, combined with a worst Video standard (nicknamed Never The Same Color :-P ) doesn't change the fact that everybody else around the world had better quality, including the developers back in japan.

(Dithered pattern on anything but NTSC over composite appear as separate pixels).

(The situation is completely different from the first home computer doing "composite synthesis" and achieving more colours on the screen than supported in the GFX hardware. i.e.: a normally 320x200 4-colours or 640x200 monochrome CGA card in a PC outputing 160x200 16 colours on a composite monitor.
That *indeed* was using composite output artifact. But usually that is software that has a distinct separate "composite" video mode. And it only works on NTSC).

Re:It's supposed to look that way (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about 3 months ago | (#47771073)

Another thing about the NES: its output was purely composite video, even through SCART.

It's supposed to look that way (3, Interesting)

Brendan Robert (2820681) | about 3 months ago | (#47772155)

There are a number of titles on NES that I can think of such as Empire Strikes Back which only look correct on CRT or anything that does proper NTSC color artifact emulation. (and actually sonic games on genesis too!) I've written a game editor for Apple // graphics which uses NTSC artifacts as part of the editing experience -- and also part of the image dithering/conversion algorithms -- and believe me: It makes a huge difference when you are designing graphics with a 6-color palette where you actually get an extra handful of extra "fringe" colors when using some combinations. If you are still unsure, use an emulator with NTSC emulation (Blargg's is great) and then switch over to plain RGB. There is a huge difference. Also, a final note on this (Caveat: I am an emulation author and this information is in a very well written wikipedia article on Y'UV if you want to fact check me...) You will NOT EVER get the same colors from RGB than you get from a CRT. The color spaces are different. Emulators can simulate (and in some cases very well) what an analog display does, but it only goes so far. In the NTSC-to-RGB conversion process you wind up having to transform from one color system (Y'UV) to another (RGB) using some rather simple math but then you also have to alias the results to fit the values (which are often outside the 0-255 range). There are colors in the Y'UV spectrum (I'm talking about the Apple colors but there are some on Atari and NES too) that are so saturated that they look completely neon, and those colors actually don't exist in the RGB spectrum at all so you wind up with a rather muted look compared to the real thing. A scan doubler is okay I suppose for this, but really if you want it to look old school nothing beats the real warm glow of a CRT. If you want to play retro games on an RGB screen, just use an emulator. They're cheaper, and if done correctly you're lucky to ever really notice a difference. :-) I think that you can take a Raspberry Pi and make a dedicated emulator solution for 20% the cost of this scan doubler solution and be just as happy if not happier.

Re:It's supposed to look that way (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#47772511)

There are a number of titles on NES that I can think of such as Empire Strikes Back which only look correct on CRT or anything that does proper NTSC color artifact emulation. (and actually sonic games on genesis too!) I've written a game editor for Apple // graphics which uses NTSC artifacts as part of the editing experience -- and also part of the image dithering/conversion algorithms -- and believe me: It makes a huge difference when you are designing graphics with a 6-color palette where you actually get an extra handful of extra "fringe" colors when using some combinations. If you are still unsure, use an emulator with NTSC emulation (Blargg's is great) and then switch over to plain RGB. There is a huge difference.

Also, a final note on this (Caveat: I am an emulation author and this information is in a very well written wikipedia article on Y'UV if you want to fact check me...) You will NOT EVER get the same colors from RGB than you get from a CRT. The color spaces are different. Emulators can simulate (and in some cases very well) what an analog display does, but it only goes so far. In the NTSC-to-RGB conversion process you wind up having to transform from one color system (Y'UV) to another (RGB) using some rather simple math but then you also have to alias the results to fit the values (which are often outside the 0-255 range). There are colors in the Y'UV spectrum (I'm talking about the Apple colors but there are some on Atari and NES too) that are so saturated that they look completely neon, and those colors actually don't exist in the RGB spectrum at all so you wind up with a rather muted look compared to the real thing.

A scan doubler is okay I suppose for this, but really if you want it to look old school nothing beats the real warm glow of a CRT. If you want to play retro games on an RGB screen, just use an emulator. They're cheaper, and if done correctly you're lucky to ever really notice a difference. :-) I think that you can take a Raspberry Pi and make a dedicated emulator solution for 20% the cost of this scan doubler solution and be just as happy if not happier.

You can't say YUV has colors that RGB doesn't and expect that to apply to reality. You have to compare the actual output of a CRT to the actual output of something displaying an RGB signal. Monitors and TVs have such wildly different physical mappings for given color spaces that you simply can't make such a blanket statement.

Re:It's supposed to look that way (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772285)

I'm not sure I'm buying the "NES relied on blur and shadowing" argument. The first two years of US first-party titles had purposely blocky box art [google.com] . This was apparently done as to not raise buyers' expectations of the graphics (compared to box art for other systems like the 2600).

Re:It's supposed to look that way (5, Interesting)

Parafilmus (107866) | about 3 months ago | (#47772615)

I'm not sure I'm buying the "NES relied on blur and shadowing" argument.

Here's an example that may convince you. From a snes game, but still 240p.

Crisp Blocky pixels: http://files.tested.com/upload... [tested.com]

With NTSC blur and artifacts: http://files.tested.com/photos... [tested.com]

Which do you think is closer to the artist's intention?

old Mrs. Titti Wampus looked that bad, too. (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 3 months ago | (#47770951)

but, we were 10, then...and she was 29.

"..other parts of the world" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770973)

Other than what? The USA part of the world that assumes the entire internet is only written by and read by themselves?

Derp (-1, Flamebait)

Barack Nigama (3779375) | about 3 months ago | (#47770977)

And I just use an emulator. God damn. Get a life, fags.

A Win98SE console ROCKS! (1)

Grow Old Timber (1071718) | about 3 months ago | (#47771021)

Was anxious to use all those cracked programs from the 90s. Rigged up a Win98 machine and what a blast from the past! Sure the drivers can be a pain to hunt down but everything works like it used to. Simple Fast and Free with all the stuff I kept on file. Audio editors MIDI editors, wav recorders etc. The hardest part was finding equip (CPUs and chipsets) that work in the 98 realm.

Re:A Win98SE console ROCKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771151)

A good old system would be an IWILL DVD266u-RN and dual 1.4Ghz Tulatulan P3-S CPUs and 4Gb of DDR. OS you could go Windows 98 or ReactOS as IIRC a few years back they where claiming full compatibility with Win98, with ReactOS you could go as far as a Radeon HD4670 for AGP or just run a modern system as even a cheap Athlon5350 system would beat any Win98 era gaming box.

Re:A Win98SE console ROCKS! (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 3 months ago | (#47771907)

What good would a dual CPU do for win98?

The 4GB is overkill too...

yor mom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771023)

n/c

"a rare SCART cable" (1)

MrCreosote (34188) | about 3 months ago | (#47771047)

obviously this person has never heard of Ebay

Re:"a rare SCART cable" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771087)

Or he's using the eBay definition of 'rare'.

It's Worth The Effort (5, Interesting)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about 3 months ago | (#47771063)

I've done this with all my classic consoles, and the results are worth it. Most consoles can support RGB without any mods, but a few require building an amp or a special board (the NES is the hardest to mod). I'm using RGB for my Genesis, SNES, Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, Neo Geo, NES, PSX, TurboGrafx, and SMS. On systems that could already support S-Video (Saturn, PSX, SNES, N64, DC) RGB isn't a huge step up but it is noticeable, but on systems that were stuck with composite (NES, Genesis, Neo Geo, TurboGrafx, SMS) it's a night and day difference.

I have all my consoles using Euro style SCART cables (these are fairly cheap and easy to find on ebay). The biggest issue is finding a nice CRT that supports RGB as most end user monitors do not. This is where the Sony PVM comes in. It's a high end CRT display that was mostly used by video production and television companies. These monitors support RGB along with S-Video and composite (although why you'd want to use composite after you have RGB is a mystery). They used to be pretty cheap, but now that more people are getting into RGB modding they've shot up in price over the past year or two. 20" models can still be found for $100 or so, but the larger models (27" tubes) can run $300 or more. If you're resourceful enough you can find them locally or on Craigslist as many local companies are finally starting to junk them. I have some friends who use the Frame Meister, but I think the PVM looks better. These systems were meant to be played on CRTs (not to mention you can use light guns).

In the end it's really not that hard to do, but there is an upfront cost involved. Still, if you're into classic gaming on original systems you should really look into it. This site has a lot of good info: http://www.chrismcovell.com/go... [chrismcovell.com]

Nintendo and TV quality (1)

pjwhite (18503) | about 3 months ago | (#47771089)

When I used to have a Nintendo (NES), I would hook it up to my cheap TV and the picture was fuzzy, edges were clipped, etc. Then I connected it to an Amiga 1080 (?) NTSC video monitor. The improvement was dramatic. Same (theoretical) resolution, but much sharper and better color.

I don't mind old graphics, I mind 10,000 FPS (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 months ago | (#47771125)

My modern card turns on the high gear fans when I play... Asheron's Call 1. I just got it because it is my favorite MMORPG and there are no monthly fees anymore, just a one time fee of 10$. I don't know how to play with my driver software because I'd assume you could frame cap it. If anyone still remembers when Starcraft 2 came out, lots of people's cards fried because they were doing way over 60 FPS, and Blizzard needed to patch.

There's no reasons modern cards should engage into all out maximized FPS mode on old games. I also don't like the extra heat in the summer. I'm thinking of playing some AC1 in a few months when it gets colder. There's no reason AC1 should crank much heat at all, but I guess I just don't know how to turn my graphics card from going all out on an older game.

Re:I don't mind old graphics, I mind 10,000 FPS (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771319)

Get a new GPU and monitor that supports FreeSync/Adaptive Sync IIRC it's part of the DisplayPort 1.2a and HDMI2.0 specs. This way the GPU will only produce a frame when the screen is actually ready, the results are a much smoother picture then vSync or running the card maxed out.

Weither you go for picture quality, color accuracy and viewing angles with a 60Hz IPS panel or raw framerate with a 144Hz TN panel you'll have much better rsults then the current way of doing things.

Re:I don't mind old graphics, I mind 10,000 FPS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771397)

First try vertical sync, which will lock fps to 60. Or try underclocking your video card.

Re:I don't mind old graphics, I mind 10,000 FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771543)

There's no reasons modern cards should engage into all out maximized FPS mode on old games. I also don't like the extra heat in the summer. I'm thinking of playing some AC1 in a few months when it gets colder. There's no reason AC1 should crank much heat at all, but I guess I just don't know how to turn my graphics card from going all out on an older game.

Try MSI Afterburner, and use it to adjust your fan profile and clock rate.

The problem with why it's NOT done is a lack of a programming on the part of the game (and other software) developers, that isn't clocked right, so to speak. It's a hard task to handle, it's like how DOSEMU can slow a game down, while even if it does run in Windows normally, it goes all out because the game doesn't know better.

You need 15K for the Zapper (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47772789)

Proper Zapper support relies on the 15.7 kHz flicker of the horizontal retrace. To play Duck Hunt, Operation Wolf, To the Earth, or ZapPing [pineight.com] without an emulator, you will need either a CRT or another display that can flicker individual lines at that rate.

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771131)

Just get an emulator and put a good filter like HQ2xS, makes older pixelated games look 100x better.

Other parts of the world? (1, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 3 months ago | (#47771159)

SCART was more common in other parts of the world

What other parts? Where are you from? If you include a relative reference, at least mention what it's relative TO. You know, the internet is worldwide, FFS.

Re:Other parts of the world? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772817)

Europe. Started in France. In USA was known as EIA multiport.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

"Better Graphics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771171)

And here I thought the article was going to be about indie game development on older consoles and clever hacks to squeeze more juice out of the hardware. Oh well, I guess I'll have to keep waiting for OpenGL on Super Nintendo.

Re:"Better Graphics" (1)

Z80a (971949) | about 3 months ago | (#47771551)

You most likely can use a raspi to generate an snes compliant snes framebuffer and copy it with the snes DMA just like the super FX chip does.
But you will be limited to 20 fps due being all you can copy during the vblank period.

Bad typo (1)

jgotts (2785) | about 3 months ago | (#47771199)

Very bad typo in the article. Composite is what's bad. Component is excellent. People get the two mixed up.

My HDTV is one of the few picture tube HDTVs ever made, and it does not have HDMI at all. Component is what I use for video, and even though the television doesn't do 1080p, the picture for games for example like Grand Theft Auto V which has to run in 780p is amazing.

Re: Bad typo (1)

anakin876 (612770) | about 3 months ago | (#47771599)

720p?

Re: Bad typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772105)

720p?

Ah, someone hasn't heard about the design compromises baked into the Xbone. The irony is that they are backing away from the mandatory Kinect hardware (supporting which was the cause of so much performance suck). Oh well, too late now.

Emulators? (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 3 months ago | (#47771357)

Graphics look plenty crisp on my C64 emulator. Need to check out a console emulator or two (my old C64 got as much play as a console)

Just a slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771581)

Upscalers have been around for over a decade, including the series this advertisement mentions.

This isn't news, and it's not even a new product. It's and advertisement for something old.

More pothead logic at Slashdot...

I wish HDTVs were 240p-aware (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 3 months ago | (#47771695)

I don't know why the hell they omitted 240p/line doubling mode from HDTVs. It's truly a pain in the ass. I wish I knew what I was doing, I'd try and implement it in the SamyGo firmware. As it is now, game systems that are supposed to display in a line doubling mode instead display as interlaced, so you get a ton of ugly artifacts. I even bought a few HDMI-outputting VHS/DVD players hoping that it would recognize the mode and display correctly, but nope. Now I'm trying to outfit my consoles with SCART cables and convert to component YbPbR, but the NES doesn't support RGB 15khz mode. This is why we need an RGB board, replacement PPU that supports RGB from a VS DuckHunt arcade board for example, or FPGA-based PPU solution such as Universal PPU.

Re:I wish HDTVs were 240p-aware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47771709)

Here's a link with a bit more info on 240p/line doubling modes, forgot to include it in my post: http://retrorgb.com/240p.html [retrorgb.com]

Re:I wish HDTVs were 240p-aware (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47772475)

I don't know why the hell they omitted 240p/line doubling mode from HDTVs. It's truly a pain in the ass.

Because it's only a pain in the ass for a tiny proportion of users.

This is a stupid product only for idiots. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772315)

Old games were designed with the expectation they would be played on a CRT. They look best played on a CRT. Nobody wants pixel perfect retro games, and if they do, they aren't emulating what people actually played. They are emulating something that nobody saw. Nobody ever played a pixel perfect version of retro games, simply because they weren't designed to be played that way.

Re:This is a stupid product only for idiots. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47772549)

Indeed. And I want a box that will simulate the experience of a CRT on a high-res LCD, not make it pixel-perfect. I want subtle screen curvature, I want scanlines that actually look like they're on a CRT (simulating how bright and dim scanlines are different sizes) and not just sticking black horizontal lines on the image, I want NTSC composite artifacting, I want to simulate a CRT's subpixel pattern...

Ironically, I can do all that with filters for emulators, but not with a real SNES. It's surprising to me that nobody has stuck an FPGA between a composite input and an HDMI output and stuck a CRT simulating pixel shader in the middle.

TFA is incorrect (2)

qIroS (597071) | about 3 months ago | (#47772317)

"Component video is absolutely terrible." Incorrect.

Re:TFA is incorrect (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47772483)

Yeah, they meant composite.

Also, these are not "better graphics." They're the same graphics, upscaled differently.

bad integrated TV upscalers

They're not bad, they're just meant for - wait for it - upscaling TV pictures, not console games.

That first link confuses composite and component (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47772341)

It's important to distinguish between these legacy modes. Composite merges chroma and luma information in a single signal. Component video (s-video) that keeps them separate and is a big quality improvement. If you want little rectangles as pixels, well, it's not clear that was ever the design intent of these games. A pixel is not a little square. [alvyray.com]

Do not want (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47772429)

When I use a SNES emulator, I jump through hoops to make it look like it did when I was growing up, simulating a CRT television and the artifacts of composite video. Why would I want to take my SNES and try to make it look like an unmodified emulator? That's the exact opposite of what I want. These games were never meant to be hyper-sharp and pixelated. In fact, some games rely on composite artifacting to make certain effects work.

In fact, I want an upscaler that I can plug my SNES into that will simulate a CRT. When I emulate, I combine a CRT simulation filter (which gives me a simulation of CRT scanlines and subpixel geometry while simulating the curve of a CRT) with a composite video simulator (which simulates the artifacts of composite video), and the results is very pleasing, looking much like I remember things from back in the day. With a real SNES, I don't need the composite simulator, because I can just use the real SNES composite output, but having a hardware device that does the CRT simulation (perhaps doing the CRT simulation shaders on an FPGA?) would make it look much better on an LCD or projector.

I realize that you can get partway there by running the SNES signal through a scaler to get to 480p and then running it through a scanline generator, but that's not simulating the physical properties of a CRT (like how a bright scanline appears thicker than a thin one), you're only getting partway there.

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