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IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 06:52 AM)
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This thread is all about getting the best possible picture and performance out of your old SD video game consoles. If you're a retro game enthusiast, you might have noticed that your old games look like crap and don't play very well on your HDTV. We're here to help you, either by acquiring some equipment to make your consoles and existing HDTV work better together, or by suggesting displays that are specifically tailored for the retro game experience.

There are of course other avenues to play old games today: backward compatibility between some systems, download services, emulators, and clone consoles. Each of these methods come with unique drawbacks, some of which may matter to you and some of which may not. While the pros and cons of these options are sometimes discussed here, there's not enough room in this OP to delve into all of that, so if you're the type of person who prefers to use original hardware for the genuine experience when possible and want to know how you might be able to do it better, then read on.

Direct Captures: Because seeing is believing

Here are some comparison videos to start with. If you've only used these consoles with composite video cables, then check out the difference that other cables offer. Click a thumbnail to download the corresponding video. (x264 video, MP3 audio, Yadif filter for 480i sources)

















RGB and You: The hierarchy of video signals and cables

Before worrying about your TV and any extra devices, you want to make sure you're feeding them the best possible signal in the first place. In most cases, that will be some form of RGB. Let's cover all the bases.



Radio frequency modulation (RF), composite video, and S-video are the lowest rungs. S-video isn't terrible, but you can still do better, often without having to mod your system!

SCART carries, among other things, an RGBs video signal: red, green, blue, and sync, each separated into individual pins. This offers better clarity than the above formats and is also the signal that is natively produced by the graphics hardware in most retro consoles, even in consoles that don't output RGB through their A/V ports. 15khz RGB is the best video format that you can expect to get out of any pre-Dreamcast console, and much of the discussion in this thread encompasses how to do exactly that. In a lot of cases, you don't even have to mod the system! You just have to find the right cable.

Component video & D-terminal carry a YPbPr signal, which is different than RGB. AFAIK, RGB is superior on full-range displays, while YPbPr is better for limited-range displays, so your specific TV's capabilities should influence your choice between the two when they're both available. SCART maxes out at 240p/480i, though, so if you're playing a game that runs at a resolution of 480p or greater, then component should be your choice.

VGA carries an RGBHV signal: red, green, blue, horizontal sync, and vertical sync. It uses the same color space as SCART but supports higher resolutions as well. The Dreamcast is the only console you're likely to use with VGA, and it's the best option for that console.

No console has DVI output, but it can be transcoded to or from VGA (DVI-A) or HDMI (DVI-D) with no signal loss, which is relevant for certain processing or capture equipment.

HDMI is the standard for modern consoles and is your likely destination format if you're using an HDTV/upscaler combo.

240p Gaming: How retro consoles and televisions handle video content

Standard definition NTSC video is 720x480 pixels at 60 interlaced fields (not frames) per second. When viewing 480i content on an interlaced display, the picture is displayed and updated somewhat like this. The picture is divided into two fields: one for the odd numbered lines and one for the even numbered lines. The TV refreshes the odd field at one moment, then the even field 1/60th of a second later, and then alternates back and forth. This is how SD video content and displays generally operate.

Classic video game consoles work slightly differently. Generally, their graphics hardware wasn't robust enough to utilize a full 480 resolution at once, so most of them output 240p video instead of 480i (usually), like so. This only uses one field, but it's still updated at the same 60hz rate as normal SD video. The other field is left blank, creating what are often referred to as scanlines. (FYI, scanlines aren't necessarily as rigid and dark as this GIF suggests. Intensity and color bleed can vary a lot between different CRTs!)

That's fine on old TVs that are interlaced by nature, but this stuff can lead to problems when we're using progressive scan equipment, which basically includes every consumer flatpanel TV and monitor. Progressive TVs process an entire frame at once instead of alternating fields. This means that 480i60 video is basically fed into the TV like this. Compare this GIF with the first GIF. Instead of updating 1 field 60 times per second, it updates both fields at 30 times per second, which results in choppier motion and more apparent artifacts.

Modern TVs tend to have a built-in deinterlacing process to account for this by splitting the fields apart and doubling their resolution before they're even displayed, producing something that ideally looks a little more like this. Unfortunately, this has some drawbacks. The picture quality isn't always great due to the guesswork involved in resolving the two fields, and it takes time for a TV to apply all of that processing to the image before it gets displayed. This can result in a very significant amount of input lag. (And perhaps contrary to popular belief, it is this deinterlacing process, and not upscaling per se, that often accounts for a lot of extra input lag when playing retro video game consoles. Upscaling lag is also a concern of course, and that also can vary significantly between TV sets, but you can often eliminate a significant chunk of lag by making sure that you feed the TV a progressive signal in the first place instead of forcing it to handle an interlaced one. If you're in the market for a new HDTV and want to make sure that it has low input lag in general, check out sites like displaylag.com.)

The other major drawback is that a lot of modern TVs have no way to distinguish between 240p and 480i content! They assume that 240p consoles are actually sending a 480i signal, so they'll still go through all of this deinterlacing junk and add extra processing to the signal that doesn't have to happen! Some TVs can correctly identify 240p content, but many can't do it at all.

Finally, most HDTVs are just bad at upscaling a 240p image to their native resolution. Between a lot of questionable post-processing that you may or may not be able to turn off and internal scalers that just aren't built with an eye for pixel art, you're usually going to get something that looks bad or worse if you plug an SD video game console straight into an HDTV.

Choosing a Display: A dedicated SD CRT, or a supplementary solution for your high-end HDTV?

Your choice of display has the most ramifications on what, if any, extra hardware you'd have to throw into the mix in order to get better performance out of your retro systems in addition to how much you might spend. If you're willing to keep two TVs in your setup, one for retro games and one for HD consoles, then it would be wise to inform yourself of various CRT options, including not only run of the mill consumer TVs, but perhaps VGA computer monitors or even professional broadcast monitors. If the prospect of hoarding a bulky tube TV sounds inconvenient or unsavory to you, then finding a good converter to pair with your flatscreen TV is an advisable alternative. First, let's discuss the CRT options in brief.



Consumer CRT televisions: Not always the best option for a CRT, especially if you live in North America, but it's the one that requires the least money and effort. Trinitrons are generally well-regarded. Be wary of HD CRTs, which sometimes have bad post-processing that you can't disable. If you still have an old tube set laying around then it might be worth considering putting it to use. At the very least, they don't have some of the disadvatages that flatscreen displays do (input lag, poor upscaling). Overscan can be a pain, though, and video connector options are likely to be limited. If you're in a PAL territory, you should look for a TV with SCART input. If you're in North America, consider picking up an SD set with component inputs and pairing it with a SCART-to-YUV transcoder.



CRT computer monitors: These tend to only have VGA input, so you'd probably still have to invest in additional hardware to use them with anything but a Dreamcast. However, if you still have one laying around the house or know someone who'd be happy to get rid of theirs, and if you don't mind incorporating it into your console gaming setup, then it could be very much worthwhile to do exactly that. Picture quality for monitors often tends to be a significant step up from ordinary TVs, and positioning/convergence/scaling options are more robust. Be aware, however, that scanlines will be virtually non-existent on a 31khz computer monitor when compared to other CRTs, if that's something you care about.



Professional CRT monitors: Sony's PVM/BVM product line is among the best for 15khz gaming. Size and supported inputs vary between models, and retro gamers would want to use an RGB-capable model via SCART-to-BNC cables. The NEC XM series is also a highly regarded option that can support both 15khz (240p) and 31khz (480p) sources. Finding a good deal on these types of monitors on the second-hand market can be tricky depending on where you live, as they were never marketed to the general public, but I've seen people in this very thread pick up quite a few in the vicinity of $100 apiece from businesses that had no further use for theirs, so you never know!

Converters and Upscalers: How to properly bridge the gap between your retro console and your HDTV

So you have a phenomenal, massive flat panel HDTV in your home theater setup that's awesome for Blu-rays and your HD game consoles, but it makes your retro systems look like ass. Fret not, as there are options to mitigate this problem as well.

First, you should pick up the best kind of video cables that you can get for your systems, which is SCART for most of them, as discussed above. For the consoles that don't output RGB natively, consider modding them so that you can use SCART cables, or get someone to do it for you. (Some Gaffers are capable of performing this for you. Ask around!) Details on SCART compatibility for various systems can be found at the bottom of this post. Even if you have the best cables, though, you can't plug them straight into an HDTV and expect amazing results. For one, SCART sockets on TVs are rare outside of PAL regions, and even if your HDTV has one it probably handles 240p video poorly. So, let's go over a few types of devices that you can get to remedy this.



Transcoders (SCART-to-YUV and others): If your TV can handle 240p video through component, and handle it well, then this might be a viable option, although quality can vary and I can't vouch for any particular model. This is something you'd get if you're on a limited budget, just need something to convert a specific signal to something you can use, and can let your TV (or another device) do the actual upscaling. These probably won't be of help if your TV has a poor internal scaler. You can check your TV's 240p performance by using component cables with (1) a 240p PS1 game on a PS2 (doesn't work on PS3) or (2) 240p Wii Virtual Console games (doesn't work on Wii U).



Simple Line Doublers: Retro consoles output 15khz (240p/480i) video. Most modern monitors will only sync to 31khz (480p) signals. These converters double the video signal of a 240p source so that it properly displays the picture on a 480p monitor. This involves very little processing and is likely the ideal solution if you want to use retro consoles on a VGA CRT monitor with the best video quality and virtually no lag. It might also be a viable, if less than ideal, solution for HDTVs that handle 480p content well. Crafty Mech has a low-cost one in the works, although the details and an ETA aren't finalized.



Full HD Upscalers: These are more complex all-in-one devices built to scale your input source to your display's native resolution, many of which have extra functions such as scanline emulation. Quality, prices, and features between different upscalers vary vastly, ranging from some really cheap and really crappy generic Chinese converter boxes with terrible motion blur to some pricey high-end stuff designed specifically for gaming. The most popular line of upscalers among retro gamers is Micomsoft's XRGB series. The XRGB-1 and XRGB-2 models were actually basic linedoublers, produced some time ago for the primary function of hooking retro consoles up to CRT monitors. The XRGB-3 and XRGB-mini (Framemeister) are more complex units intended to serve the needs of flatscreen HDTV owners. Fudoh's website has a phenomenal cross-comparison of these devices and is a great starting place for determining what best suits your particular needs. The Framemeister is the most user-friendly unit and the only one to directly offer HDMI output. The XRGB-3 is a more tempermental and cumbersome--but versatile--device that offers VGA output and an option between a fully-featured upscaler mode and a lag-free linedoubler mode. Older XRGBs can be worthwhile for more limited use cases. Read the full article for more details.

SCART Survival Tips: European vs. Japanese formats, sync issues, and miscellaneous concerns



European SCART vs. Japanese 21-pin RGB: 21-pin video connectors were used in both PAL territories and in Japan, but their pin arrangements are completely different, which can complicate matters depending on what kind of equipment you're using. European SCART cables and equipment is often easier to find, especially in English-speaking territories, but Japanese devices like the XRGBs require the Japanese format on their input. This can be especially dangerous on the XRGB-3 and earlier models, as plugging a European cable directly into them will fry the unit! In short, if you're using a Japanese upscaler, you need to either obtain a SCART-to-JP21 converter of some kind or obtain cables that are already wired to match the Japanese standard.



Sync: A potentially bothersome issue with RGB cables, system mods, and processors is how they handle sync. VGA cables carry RGBHV format video: red, green, blue, horizontal sync, and vertical sync. SCART cables carry RGBs: red, green, blue, and sync. SCART sync is often called composite sync (c-sync) because it's a combination of both horizontal and vertical sync. It's important not to confuse the difference between composite video and composite sync. Composite video is the combination of ALL video data (brightness, color, and sync), while composite sync is just sync. What makes this a potential issue is that the designated sync pin on SCART cables can actually carry either of these signals, c-video or c-sync! Many TVs and upscalers can utilize either of these signals for sync without any issues, but others specifically require one or the other.



Switches and misc daisy-chained devices: Every time you add another device into your analog A/V chain, you run the risk of degrading the signal. Take precautions against this by using well-shielded cables, cables that aren't much longer than you need them to be, devices that are confirmed to draw enough power to function properly, and no more intermediate connectors than you need for your convenience.

The 240p Video Test Suite: Calibrating your setup



Artemio's 240p Test Suite is a great way to determine how well your setup handles video content from a video game console. It is freely available for Genesis, Sega CD, Dreamcast, Gamecube, and Wii. If you have a way to run homebrew games for any of those consoles, then give it a shot. With the Sega CD and Dreamcast, it's as simple as burning a CD-R.

System-Specific Information

This chart lists all of the video signals that you can get out of these systems without modding them. I don't pretend to be intimately familiar with all of them so feel free to correct any mistakes I might have made.



Y (green) - This output is available on all commonly used models of the system.
Y (yellow) - This output is available only on certain versions of the system.
NTSC - This output is available only on NTSC (US/JP) consoles.
PAL - This output is available only on PAL (EU/AU) consoles.
N - This output is not available on the system unless you mod it (or find an obscure specialty version that supports it).

Composite sync has been listed for completeness. In most cases, composite video can be used for sync instead. Do note, however, that the difference in the c-sync pin between regions on some consoles (SNES, Saturn) means that you may have to obtain SCART cables specifically designed to match the region of your console.

Detailed information to help you find RGB-capable models of your consoles, as well as instructions for how to add an RGB mod to other systems, can be found here.

Where to Buy Your Gear

- Solaris Japan sells brand new XRGB upscalers and related equipment, such as component/D-terminal adapters.
- Yahoo Japan Auctions might be a more viable second-hand market than eBay for XRGBs, provided that you can find a decent third-party courier to ship internationally.
- retro_console_accessories is a great US-based manufacturer for SCART cables. Specialty versions for different sync handling, audio handling, etc. are often available upon request.

Supplementary Reading

- RetroRGB: Tons of useful information on most of the above topics and more in even greater detail.
- Fudoh's retrogaming hardware page: A staggering amount of information on various video hardware that can be used for video game consoles. Fudoh is among the most experienced and knowledgeable enthusiasts on this subject on the entire Internet, and some of the above pictures were clipped from his website.
- XRGB wiki: Tips and recommendations for various XRGB units.
- Shmups hardware forum: Lots of knowledgeable gamers and hardware modders post here.

Originally Posted by Azar

I also recently interviewed Fudoh, who writes Hazard-City, and a fellow gaffer, about scanlines, upscalers, nostalgia vs. purity, and the hunt for the best CRT ever made. If you're new to the scene, I think it's a good primer to introduce you to some of the technical stuff--modding consoles and learning how RGB signals work. There's infinitely more to learn after that if you really get into it.

Anyway, here's the feature.

Last edited by IrishNinja; 06-24-2014 at 08:21 AM. Reason: OP entirely re-written by Sixfortyfive, all love goes to him - thanks again man!
Dereck
(07-22-2013, 06:54 AM)
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So.....what if I use just a SCART to component cable adapter? How does that compare?
Pappasman
Member
(07-22-2013, 06:57 AM)
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Awesome thread. I was looking at getting an XRGB mini today actually. Although I think I'll save up for a couple more weeks before I drop that kind of cash.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 06:58 AM)
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Originally Posted by boutdown

So.....what if I use just a SCART to component cable adapter? How does that compare?

RGB for most classic systems is gonna look infinitely better than RF or composite, and markedly better than s-video. i'd say you're likely getting the best that you can natively from your system of choice.

Upscaling is going that extra mile - i do so becuase i love my panasonic plasma & wanna game there (plus my current apt doesnt have room for another set, heh) but it also helps me with inputs...i debated a SCART switch but most ones in my range were said to lose some color/signal so i just switch them from said XRGB as needed.

but if you're specifically asking about SCART RGB to Component adapter vs upscaled, the first link i posted should have some comparisons, if not i'll find you another!

Originally Posted by Pappasman

Awesome thread. I was looking at getting an XRGB mini today actually. Although I think I'll save up for a couple more weeks before I drop that kind of cash.

Thanks man! and again when you do that, be sure to hit up Yakumo on the buy/sell thread, he's a good guy and made an awesome YT video about it as well!
Orayn
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(07-22-2013, 07:03 AM)
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Originally Posted by boutdown

So.....what if I use just a SCART to component cable adapter? How does that compare?

It would depend heavily on the display you were using. There are some CRTs that are well equipped to handle an RGB signal over component, but scalers like the XRGB are there for everything else.
Frolow
Banned
(07-22-2013, 07:16 AM)

Originally Posted by Orayn

It would depend heavily on the display you were using. There are some CRTs that are well equipped to handle an RGB signal over component, but scalers like the XRGB are there for everything else.

Would a CRT, capable of handling RGB of course, look better than a Plasma with an upscaler?
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 07:37 AM)
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Glad you did the thread Irish! I wasn't ever going to get around to it, obviously ;)

XRGB upscalers have revolutionized how I play retro games. Yeah, I had the bedroom CRT going on for awhile, but it's so much nicer to have everything in the main setup, big, loud and looking as its supposed to.

Originally Posted by BroBuzz

Would a CRT, capable of handling RGB of course, look better than a Plasma with an upscaler?

I would say "not really". They look roughly equal.

The upscaled image on a plasma is basically as perfect as on a CRT (and with better screen geometry, to boot. Probably larger, too).

Now, many old school purists will argue that even though the XRGB reproduces the old school image very accurately... It still doesn't quite look like a CRT. But that's more of a fetish for minute details of the old technology than it is a real "picture quality" difference.

tl;dr they both look great.
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 07:45 AM.
Chacranajxy
I paid good money for this Dynex!
(07-22-2013, 07:40 AM)
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Hey, now this is a thread we needed to have happen. Nice work.



Still haven't gotten the Framemeister, myself... I found out it had the issue with switching between two different resolutions... like, there's a delay in switching, and that kinda killed my enthusiasm. I wanted to get it primarily for the newer systems (well, PS1 onwards), but considering that games like Chrono Cross and some others switch between low res and high res modes... that's kinda a dealbreaker. Might still get one just for the really old stuff.
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 07:40 AM)
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I don't upscale mine, just run RGB into my Sony PVM for now. In the future ill definitely have an XRGB, but for now I'm extremely happy with my quality on all my retro systems (sans NES. Goddamn expensive Playchoice 10 PPU).
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 07:41 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon

Glad you did the thread Irish! I wasn't ever going to get around to it, obviously ;)

haha - i was like "man watch half this shit be incorrect, dammit bocos" XD

Originally Posted by Chacranajxy

Still haven't gotten the Framemeister, myself... I found out it had the issue with switching between two different resolutions... like, there's a delay in switching, and that kinda killed my enthusiasm. I wanted to get it primarily for the newer systems (well, PS1 onwards), but considering that games like Chrono Cross and some others switch between low res and high res modes... that's kinda a dealbreaker. Might still get one just for the really old stuff.

this is a factor, yeah - ive noticed it more on games where the startup menu has a different res than the game itself, and it does take a few seconds to switch. ive mostly been doing 16-bit though, gonna hook my PS2 into it soon so ill try CC - did that game switch in-game, like with menus or something? because ill admit, that could get annoying
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 07:49 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja

haha - i was like "man watch half this shit be incorrect, dammit bocos" XD

Seems more or less correct to me!

PS3 technically does upscale PS1 and PS2. Right about dat lag, tho.
theSlacker
Member
(07-22-2013, 07:53 AM)
Subed, even if I love my PVM.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 07:56 AM)
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Originally Posted by Chacranajxy

Hey, now this is a thread we needed to have happen. Nice work.



Still haven't gotten the Framemeister, myself... I found out it had the issue with switching between two different resolutions... like, there's a delay in switching, and that kinda killed my enthusiasm. I wanted to get it primarily for the newer systems (well, PS1 onwards), but considering that games like Chrono Cross and some others switch between low res and high res modes... that's kinda a dealbreaker. Might still get one just for the really old stuff.

Very, very few games switch resolutions mid game.

It should be said that the XRGB mini does a really nice job cleaning up later console images too. PS1, PS2, Xbox, Wii, etc.

I'm gonna try out CC now and I'll report back if the lag is annoying.

Originally Posted by theSlacker

Subed, even if I love my PVM.

I still want to pick up one of those... Continue to use the XRGB as a daily driver and use a PVM when I'm feeling a retro fetish.
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 07:59 AM.
Timeless
Member
(07-22-2013, 08:01 AM)

- Irish can't i just emulate this shit and save mad cheddar

+ I don't want to invite a morality debate, so: yes, of course you can and frankly if you were after rare Satrun/SNES/Neo Geo etc games it'd cost you quite a bit, but for some of us emulators just won't do; there's always imperfections and even very old scenes like N64 don't always play right. for me, proper retro gaming is about one thing: original hardware or bust.

You can emulate a video game that you own. You can back it up yourself. It's trivial to do this for some systems, and it requires special equipment for others.

For for anything equally obscure as or more obscure than a Sega Master System, the hardware probably isn't readily available and you'd probably save a lot of trouble by sticking with the real thing.

Your thread lacks one thing. Where's the evidence from any developer that retro games were designed around scanlines? There should be 20+ years of developers allegedly "targeting" CRTs. So one of them should've spoken about the phenomenon by now.
Azar
Member
(07-22-2013, 08:04 AM)
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Hey, those are my Secret of Mana screenshots in the OP!

I also recently interviewed Fudoh, who writes Hazard-City, and a fellow gaffer, about scanlines, upscalers, nostalgia vs. purity, and the hunt for the best CRT ever made. If you're new to the scene, I think it's a good primer to introduce you to some of the technical stuff--modding consoles and learning how RGB signals work. There's infinitely more to learn after that if you really get into it.

Anyway, here's the feature.
Madao
Member
(07-22-2013, 08:10 AM)
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i'm interested on the best way to get an N64 signal to show on a Plasma without any input lag.
Seik
something about preservation I guess
(07-22-2013, 08:10 AM)
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Nice thread IrishNinja! I'm an IQ fanatic so I'll be hanging around here for awhile. :P

Still wanting an XRBG soon, dat money.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 08:11 AM)
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Originally Posted by Timeless

You can emulate a video game that you own. You can back it up yourself. It's trivial to do this for some systems, and it requires special equipment for others.

For for anything equally obscure as or more obscure than a Sega Master System, the hardware probably isn't readily available and you'd probably save a lot of trouble by sticking with the real thing.

Your thread lacks one thing. Where's the evidence from any developer that retro games were designed around scanlines? There should be 20+ years of developers allegedly "targeting" CRTs. So one of them should've spoken about the phenomenon by now.

It's not like anyone consciously said "we're developing around there being scanlines".

They had RGB CRTs next to them as they designed the art. They'd make sure the art looked good on those monitors first and foremost. Their reference for the final look of the game had those lines, whether they were thinking much about them or not.

The proof, for me, is in the pudding. Old games look weirdly ugly in crisp high resolution.. I add the lines and it suddenly looks much better.

And if you disagree with my eyes, that's fine. On the XRGB it's a matter of toggling a button.

I leave the lines on for 8 and 16 bit... Later 3D consoles probably don't need them unless its a sprite game.

Originally Posted by Madao

i'm interested on the best way to get an N64 signal to show on a Plasma without any input lag.

The XRGB mini will do that for you.

Plasmas have very high refresh rates, so the whole reason you get lag is because of the clunky upscaler in the plasma. The XRGB takes care of the upscaling, and apparently has less than a frame of lag.
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 08:18 AM.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 08:16 AM)
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ah, thanks for the shots Azar!

Originally Posted by BocoDragon

PS3 technically does upscale PS1 and PS2. Right about dat lag, tho.

ah, i shouldve just said "not well" i guess, heh

Originally Posted by Timeless

You can emulate a video game that you own. You can back it up yourself. It's trivial to do this for some systems, and it requires special equipment for others.

For for anything equally obscure as or more obscure than a Sega Master System, the hardware probably isn't readily available and you'd probably save a lot of trouble by sticking with the real thing.

Your thread lacks one thing. Where's the evidence from any developer that retro games were designed around scanlines? There should be 20+ years of developers allegedly "targeting" CRTs. So one of them should've spoken about the phenomenon by now.

yeah, ebay makes a lotta systems less obscure for me, but honestly emulators do it for most people's gaming needs, that's why i threw it out there.

i can look stuff up if you want, but it's treated as a given in a lotta discussions that scanlines were a fact of life with CRT's, i kinda take it at face value. that's not necessarily a superior feature for me unless you fancy it; you can set the options of an XRGB mini to mimic the bubble/rounded screen of most old CRT's as well but that struck me as a more a flaw we got used to than a feature.

i'm down to discuss scanlines here though, ill look around but im willing to bet Retro Gamer has addressed it at some point.

Originally Posted by Madao

i'm interested on the best way to get an N64 signal to show on a Plasma without any input lag.

ah, see again mine's SCART > Upscaler and maybe it's the titles im playing but i'm not noticing any noteworthy lag, what set do you have & what's been your experience so far?
Gillian Seed
Banned
(07-22-2013, 08:18 AM)
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Very cool! More money than I am willing to spend though. I hope the Retron 5 does this pretty well when it drops soon.
See You Next Wednesday
Banned
(07-22-2013, 08:18 AM)
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Jeez, XRGB mini is over $300.00.

Kinda steep.
The Broken Ska Record
Member
(07-22-2013, 08:19 AM)
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I'm going to have to come back to this soon. I;ve been wanting to connect my Saturn to my TV for some fighters, lately.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 08:20 AM)
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Yes.. It looks like Chrono Cross does lag the XRGB mini as it switches between resolutions when it goes to the menu.

Again though... So few games do that. I wouldn't call it a major issue. Just play CC on a PS3? :)

And actually it is only a couple seconds. I don't think I'd mind. It's not like youre going to menus in the midst of actual gameplay.

Originally Posted by Azar

Hey, those are my Secret of Mana screenshots in the OP!

I also recently interviewed Fudoh, who writes Hazard-City, and a fellow gaffer, about scanlines, upscalers, nostalgia vs. purity, and the hunt for the best CRT ever made. If you're new to the scene, I think it's a good primer to introduce you to some of the technical stuff--modding consoles and learning how RGB signals work. There's infinitely more to learn after that if you really get into it.

Anyway, here's the feature.

Oh that was you on This Is Only a Test podcast, right? I thought you covered all the facts very well.
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 08:35 AM.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 08:24 AM)
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yeah, just re-read Azar's post - im gonna put that in the OP man, good stuff!

Originally Posted by Gillian Seed

Very cool! More money than I am willing to spend though. I hope the Retron 5 does this pretty well when it drops soon.

yeah, i definitely wanna see a thread of impressions/reviews when that drops. its still software emulation but over HDMI (plus stuff like save states, region-free, controller input choice etc) it should be pretty awesome if they get the sega stuff better this time!
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 08:24 AM)
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Originally Posted by Azar

Hey, those are my Secret of Mana screenshots in the OP!

I also recently interviewed Fudoh, who writes Hazard-City, and a fellow gaffer, about scanlines, upscalers, nostalgia vs. purity, and the hunt for the best CRT ever made. If you're new to the scene, I think it's a good primer to introduce you to some of the technical stuff--modding consoles and learning how RGB signals work. There's infinitely more to learn after that if you really get into it.

Anyway, here's the feature.

Very nice article!
Oublieux
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(07-22-2013, 08:25 AM)
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I've always thought about getting one of these for more recent consoles (in particular, the PS2), but can anyone shed light on how much the image quality improves? I've never seen clear shots of games with a XRGB + PS2 combination, so I wasn't positive it'd do anything remarkable.
Seik
something about preservation I guess
(07-22-2013, 08:30 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja


yeah, i definitely wanna see a thread of impressions/reviews when that drops. its still software emulation but over HDMI (plus stuff like save states, region-free, controller input choice etc) it should be pretty awesome if they get the sega stuff better this time!

I think I'm so hyped for the Retron 5 that I'll blindly buy it as soon as I know it's available.

Anyway, it's going to be only around 100$ and I already consider it's worth more than a Ouya. I really hope it'll work perfectly though, that would be awesome and a good way no to be obligated to spend 400$ to have a descent IQ. :P
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 08:32 AM)
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Originally Posted by Oublieux

I've always thought about getting one of these for more recent consoles (in particular, the PS2), but can anyone shed light on how much the image quality improves? I've never seen clear shots of games with a XRGB + PS2 combination, so I wasn't positive it'd do anything remarkable.

It's not really "night and day" for more recent consoles, because your modern TV is probably not that bad at upscaling 480i and 480p.

That said, the scaler in my plasma made PS2 look a little dirty and it didn't look quite right. Now that I have the XRGB, it creates a more pleasing "digital" image.... It's not unlike how PS2 looks on a backwards comparable PS3, or how Wii looks on a Wii U. My gf was playing Kingdom Hearts 2 and it looked like she was playing the most perfect PS2 emulator, rather than a muddy analog mess. I love how it looks.

I'd say you spend the money to upscale really old consoles, because it is "night and day" difference. Then as an added bonus, it will clean up more recent consoles. But I'm not sure if I'd recommend it just for recent consoles....
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 08:43 AM)
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Originally Posted by Seik

I think I'm so hyped for the Retron 5 that I'll blindly buy it as soon as I know it's available.

Anyway, it's going to be only around 100$ and I already consider it's worth more than a Ouya. I really hope it'll work perfectly though, that would be awesome and a good way no to be obligated to spend 400$ to have a descent IQ. :P

That's me too. I'll gladly drop $100 on it if it'll get my NES games looking nice and crisp. As much as I don't want to, buying a playchoice 10 ppu is so damn tempting. Especially after seeing stuff like that beautiful mega man 3 shot up there makes it hard not to.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 08:47 AM)
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Originally Posted by baphomet 666

That's me too. I'll gladly drop $100 on it if it'll get my NES games looking nice and crisp. As much as I don't want to, buying a playchoice 10 ppu is so damn tempting. Especially after seeing stuff like that beautiful mega man 3 shot up there makes it hard not to.

As mentioned in the OP, this guy is working on producing a custom PPU that will allow for RGB. Hopefully it doesn't alter the colors, like the PlayChoice mod does.

And I believe RetroUSB is working on an HDMI NES mod, fulfilling the same function.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 08:49 AM)
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Originally Posted by baphomet 666

Especially after seeing stuff like that beautiful mega man 3 shot up there makes it hard not to.

...right?!

i picked up a repro of Sweet Home a while back that i'm saving for a Halloween playthrough, and everytime i boot up stuff in the meantime like Shadowgate or Code Name: Viper, i keep thinking how the picture could be so sharp i could cut my fingers on it.

ive had no luck so far on nintendoage, SHMUPs, or other spots for an already RGB modded unit, so im looking around at modders & PPUs at the moment...can't believe i missed out on this one though

Originally Posted by BocoDragon

As mentioned in the OP, this guy is working on producing a custom PPU that will allow for RGB. Hopefully it doesn't alter the colors, like the PlayChoice mod does.

And I believe RetroUSB is working on an HDMI NES mod, fulfilling the same function.

damn maybe i should wait & see how these pan out...also what ive read of the color alteration didn't sound so bad, mostly stuff like level 2 in Castlevania 1 going from brown/burgundy to a more pinkish tone, but that's about it i wanna say.

do you have a link on that HDMI NES project? im really interested in alternatives here!
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 08:53 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon

As mentioned in the OP, this guy is working on producing a custom PPU that will allow for RGB. Hopefully it doesn't alter the colors, like the PlayChoice mod does.

And I believe RetroUSB is working on an HDMI NES mod, fulfilling the same function.

I've been keeping up with both, lol. I honestly just don't know what to think until I see some serious pictures of either product. I have high hopes that bunny boy's hdmi nes is quality, but the custom ppu would (hopefully) allow me to game in rgb on my pvm. The color issue with the pc10 ppu isn't a huge deal to me, but the threat of very prominent jail bars is.

Fingers crossed for both.
Bittercup
Member
(07-22-2013, 08:53 AM)
Thanks for the great thread. I was looking for a solution to connect old consoles to my capture card. With the not so old ones it works fine via component. The big problem are the older ones where I only have RGB SCART or composite to choose from and my capture card doesn't have a SCART input. Does anyone know if a converter like this would be ok?
http://dx.com/p/scart-hdmi-to-hdmi-v...urce=affiliate
Unfortunately the XRGB is too expensive for me.
Borman
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(07-22-2013, 08:57 AM)
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Originally Posted by CopyCat

Thanks for the great thread. I was looking for a solution to connect old consoles to my capture card. With the not so old ones it works fine via component. The big problem are the older ones where I only have RGB SCART or composite to choose from and my capture card doesn't have a SCART input. Does anyone know if a converter like this would be ok?
http://dx.com/p/scart-hdmi-to-hdmi-v...urce=affiliate
Unfortunately the XRGB is too expensive for me.

I have a cheap one. It is not good. It stretches the picture to 16:9. The picture isn't sharp. And the picture is darker than it should be, with no adjustments.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 08:58 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja

damn maybe i should wait & see how these pan out...also what ive read of the color alteration didn't sound so bad, mostly stuff like level 2 in Castlevania 1 going from brown/burgundy to a more pinkish tone, but that's about it i wanna say.

do you have a link on that HDMI NES project? im really interested in alternatives here!

Heres the guy talking about the HDMI NES

http://www.nintendoage.com/forum/mes...eadid=92557%22

And here's a story about it. It's gonna give the NES achievements too! Seems to be behind the schedule they laid out, though.

http://www.retrocollect.com/News/hdm...tendo-nes.html

Yeah, personally the shifted colors are a deal breaker to me. I'm really hoping these projects turn out great.
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 08:58 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja

...right?!

i picked up a repro of Sweet Home a while back that i'm saving for a Halloween playthrough, and everytime i boot up stuff in the meantime like Shadowgate or Code Name: Viper, i keep thinking how the picture could be so sharp i could cut my fingers on it.

ive had no luck so far on nintendoage, SHMUPs, or other spots for an already RGB modded unit, so im looking around at modders & PPUs at the moment...can't believe i missed out on this one though

Dude....that's fucking depressing. I wish you hadn't posted that now, lol.

Originally Posted by CopyCat

Thanks for the great thread. I was looking for a solution to connect old consoles to my capture card. With the not so old ones it works fine via component. The big problem are the older ones where I only have RGB SCART or composite to choose from and my capture card doesn't have a SCART input. Does anyone know if a converter like this would be ok?
http://dx.com/p/scart-hdmi-to-hdmi-v...urce=affiliate
Unfortunately the XRGB is too expensive for me.

I don't have any firsthand experience, but from what I've seen the scart to component boxes have a better picture (and cheaper) than the scart to hdmi ones.
japtor
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(07-22-2013, 09:00 AM)
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About scanlines at higher resolutions, maybe look into this thing:
http://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=46149

It doesn't do scaling afaik, but can add scanlines to 480p to 1080i signals, with some dip switches to control different scanline options.
nkarafo
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(07-22-2013, 09:02 AM)
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All the cool kids use an actual CRT TV or monitor for retro gaming. Because they don't like ghosting, blurred side scrolling backgrounds and input lag.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 09:04 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja


ive had no luck so far on nintendoage, SHMUPs, or other spots for an already RGB modded unit, so im looking around at modders & PPUs at the moment...can't believe i missed out on this one though

Originally Posted by baphomet 666

Dude....that's fucking depressing. I wish you hadn't posted that now, lol.

Guess what? You didn't miss out on anything.

That is a French NES. In France, the standard picture cable was SCART.... but that didn't necessarily imply RGB. You can also send old crappy composite over a SCART cable.

I know from research that the French NES outputs the exact same crappy composite signal as all worldwide NESs. The PPU is the same: incapable of RGB.

Why was it labelled RGB? Well, that's probably just what they called SCART cables back then, or at least Nintendo did in France. It doesn't imply what we are thinking in 2013 when we hear about RGB...
Bittercup
Member
(07-22-2013, 09:05 AM)

Originally Posted by Borman

I have a cheap one. It is not good. It stretches the picture to 16:9. The picture isn't sharp. And the picture is darker than it should be, with no adjustments.

Thanks, I didn't thought of stretching that might occur and disappointing to hear.
Better to make sure first before I buy one.

Originally Posted by baphomet 666

I don't have any firsthand experience, but from what I've seen the scart to component boxes have a better picture (and cheaper) than the scart to hdmi ones.

Good to know, thanks. I will search for component then.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 09:06 AM)
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Originally Posted by nkarafo

All the cool kids use an actual CRT TV or monitor for retro gaming. Because they don't like ghosting, blurred side scrolling backgrounds and input lag.

No ghosting on a plasma.

No "blurring" during scrolling either. I know that effect you are talking about, and I don't have it.

These upscalers have less than a frame of lag. You can play shmups, rhythm games, fighting games.

2 out of the 3 things you mentioned are because of crappy scalers in TVs. That's the point of this thread: a better upscaler. And 1 out of 3 things you mentioned was native to LCD screens, not Plasmas, OLEDs, etc.
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 09:09 AM.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 09:08 AM)
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^okay, i feel better about missing out on that thing now! also yeah, reading about this HDMI option...i love the achievements/scoreboard thing, i just gotta see pics & how it does on XRGB vs RGB mod!

Originally Posted by nkarafo

All the cool kids use an actual CRT TV or monitor for retro gaming. Because they don't like ghosting, blurred side scrolling backgrounds and input lag.

negative; again some of the cool kids have small apts without room for such a setup, and actively research panasonic plasmas & upscalers for the best possible combination to minimize those factors

more power to you if you have a good CRT/monitor setup though!
*edit yeah bocos was more thorough
nkarafo
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(07-22-2013, 09:10 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon

No "blurring" during scrolling either. I know that effect you are talking about, and I don't have it.

So you are talking about backgrounds that are EXACTLY as sharp while scrolling as when they are still? And i mean exactly, not even a slight, barely noticeable blur. Because "barely noticeable" for some is painfully obvious for others.

If yes, i'd like to see that and take my words back.
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 09:11 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon

Guess what? You didn't miss out on anything.

That is a French NES. In France, the standard picture cable was SCART.... but that didn't necessarily imply RGB. You can also send old crappy composite over a SCART cable.

I know from research that the French NES outputs the exact same crappy composite signal as all worldwide NESs. The PPU is the same: incapable of RGB.

Why was it labelled RGB? Well, that's probably just what they called SCART cables back then, or at least Nintendo did in France. It doesn't imply what we are thinking in 2013 when we hear about RGB...

Well that makes me feel better. I thought it was strange that it looked like it came out of the factory like that. It was either a very good quality mod, or it was something I'd never seen. I didn't know they ever put the multiout on the toaster. Either way it still makes me want one just picturing my nes have an actual rgb signal coming out of a multiout installed on it, lol.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 09:14 AM)
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Originally Posted by nkarafo

So you are talking about backgrounds that are EXACTLY as sharp while scrolling as they are when still? And i mean exactly, not even a slight barely noticeable blur. Because "barely noticeable" for some is painfully obvious for others.

If yes, i'd like to see that and take my words back.

Trust me, it's perfect. I know the type of effect you are referring to when I hooked up a NES to a cheapo LCD TV a few years ago. I think most of the people in this thread are ultra picky about that kind of thing ;)

If you get an XRGB mini, you are getting a wonderful and perfect retro image on a modern TV. Some serious tech nerds have compared them to top CRTs and they are nearly the same. Some still prefer CRTs when it's all said and done... but that's because of a fetish for the CRT look, etc, not because of any tangible deficiency in the game image.
IrishNinja
(07-22-2013, 09:17 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon

Heres the guy talking about the HDMI NES

http://www.nintendoage.com/forum/mes...eadid=92557%22

And here's a story about it. It's gonna give the NES achievements too! Seems to be behind the schedule they laid out, though.

http://www.retrocollect.com/News/hdm...tendo-nes.html

going through that thread now:



it's sharp no doubt, but does something look off? cant put my finger on it...ima keep looking through, there's a lotta pages here

*edit aww its the top-loader? i mean i know it's better (and id dig the dogbone controller) but i was hoping for a toaster, haha
Last edited by IrishNinja; 07-22-2013 at 09:20 AM.
Azar
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(07-22-2013, 09:20 AM)
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Originally Posted by BocoDragon


Oh that was you on This Is Only a Test podcast, right? I thought you covered all the facts very well.

Yep. I tried my best! There's so much technical information that's not easy to convey, and even with the amount of research I did I'm hardly an expert. Tried to cover as much as I could but I'm sure I left a few things out. Still, it's a really fun subject.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 09:21 AM)
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Originally Posted by baphomet 666

Well that makes me feel better. I thought it was strange that it looked like it came out of the factory like that. It was either a very good quality mod, or it was something I'd never seen. I didn't know they ever put the multiout on the toaster. Either way it still makes me want one just picturing my nes have an actual rgb signal coming out of a multiout installed on it, lol.

It doesn't look like the multiout of the SNES, N64, Gamecube, AV Famicom either. I guess France had some weirdo standard, so Nintendo had to make a custom cable for them.

Originally Posted by IrishNinja

going through that thread now:



it's sharp no doubt, but does something look off? cant put my finger on it...ima keep looking through, there's a lotta pages here

Well... if ya ask me..... No scanlines! ;)

Colors also look a little crazy but it could be the TV settings, the camera or the lighting in the room... or just the mod's not done yet. That's a 6 month old picture.

Originally Posted by Azar

Yep. I tried my best! There's so much technical information that's not easy to convey, and even with the amount of research I did I'm hardly an expert. Tried to cover as much as I could but I'm sure I left a few things out. Still, it's a really fun subject.

There's a lot to it, isn't there? You should see the emails IrishNinja and I sent to each other just so he knew what to buy, and why. :P

You definitely went to the right guy to talk about the subject (Fudoh).
Last edited by BocoDragon; 07-22-2013 at 09:24 AM.
baphomet
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(07-22-2013, 09:21 AM)
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Looks like really bad compression. Especially around the edges. I think it'll be quality once its finally out.


You're right about that not being the normal multiout I thought it was. Makes the whole thing even more strange.
BocoDragon
or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
(07-22-2013, 09:27 AM)
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Originally Posted by IrishNinja

*edit aww its the top-loader? i mean i know it's better (and id dig the dogbone controller) but i was hoping for a toaster, haha

It will probably be super expensive because of that too :P

I'm leaning toward the UniversalPPU guy at this point in time... You can use that to mod a toaster.

I'll be modding an AV Famicom. Extra sound channels on Castlevania 3 and Disk System!

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