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How should a 2D pixel art game look nowadays?

Sep 8, 2018
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Hello everybody! :)

I just recently fell on this article (it's in French, but here it's translated): Retro gaming: why it was better on CRT TVs

And I think I understood something... :unsure: All these years I was trying to find the perfect way to display old 2D games on a LCD monitor and I was always disappointed, whatever the filter I used. But it's pointless to hope to have the same thing on a modern screen that we had with CRT TVs, just because the technologies are different and the manner how the pixels are displayed.

In the article (translated), it's said:

A QUESTION OF PIXEL DISPLAY​


As Fenarinarsa recalls on Twitter, tube displays work completely differently for displaying pixels. The artists who worked on these games, like here Final Fantasy VII, took into account the peculiarities of the display on a CRT screen and played it for the display of the game.


1.electron guns / 2. electron beams / 3.red, blue and green mask / 4.phosphorescent layer / 5.close-up on the inside of the screen // Source: wikipedia

More precisely, in a CRT screen, the electron guns (one per primary color) project electrons which react with the phosphorus in the screen. This technique implies that we have a set of light points on the screen, but not pixels in the contemporary sense of the term. The video signal is sent line by line across the screen, regardless of how many pixels the source may want to display.


It is these peculiarities, and the fact that a pixel does not therefore necessarily fall on a bright point, which means that the display of an image on a CRT screen will have a very different rendering from that of an LCD screen.

So, it's because of these peculiarities that the old 2D games have not the same look than on a modern screen. After reading this article, I did some researches to better see in image the differences between the look of the pixel art games how they are represented on CRT screens and on our modern screen nowadays. And I fell on several great images, particularly some of this Twitter account: CRT Pixels

Here are some pictures to compare the RAW image (which is generally the look that have the pixel art games on our modern screens)! I will let you judge by yourselve.



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(source: https://www.frandroid.com/comment-f...-pourquoi-cetait-mieux-sur-les-tv-cathodiques )




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And here is the difference between the same image on a Sony PVM and a LG OLED:



(source:
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So, it's clearly since we have LCD screens that we call the old 2D games: "pixel art" games! By the way, I don't remember that I saw the pixels of these games or the scanlines of my CRT TV at the time, except when I was too close of the screen 😐 So I think that there is a kind of madness or a cult between two opposite things today: the illusion that the old 2D games were always these big blocky pixels on one side, or that the image on a CRT TV was always these clear visible scanlines on the other side.

Of course there were scanlines and there were clearly a part of the renderer for the 2D games, but except on professional monitor (like PVM and BVM), there were never so prominent on our classic consumer TVs.

But now that we are used to the big pixels since it has become fashion with the renewal of the modern pixel art games, it seems that we can't represent the 2D games like they were. So we can imitate the renderer like it was on a CRT (but badly I think), or we can keep these big pixels or use all kind of filters to change the image. But in all cases, nowadays we need to reinterpret what our idea of a low resolution 2D game is on our modern screen. There is no good or wrong choice, there are only tastes now, it's different!

At the time, we could have lots of different resolutions and a CRT always displayed the image how it should be. But now we have high resolution TVs, in 1080p or even 2160p. So we have to go from a RAW image in a very low resolution (256 x 224, 320 x 224, 320 x 240, etc.), we start from zero and we have to adapt it by ourselves to a high resolution. It's definitely different, a different manner to think. I think that in this case, we need definitely to forget, what a 2D game was on a CRT screen. Because it's healthier...

There was a before and an after!


So we are free to have the picture that we want for the old 2D games! And otherwise we have modern 2D games. The majority is based on big prominent pixels, and sometimes we have some shaders in addition.
Here are some example of these modern pixel art games and the renderder that they propose:

Sonic Mania





None filter / Clean filter
CRT-sharp filter / CRT-soft filter


Blazing Chrome









None filter / Linear filter
CRT A-0 filter / CRT A-1 filter
CRT B-0 filter / CRT B-1 filter
5XBR filter



You Have to Win the Game



CRT Simulation OFF / CRT Simulation ON

Celeste - The Messenger

Axiom Verge - Carrion








So all of this just to ask you this ridiculous question: How should a 2D pixel art game look nowadays? 😄
 
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BPX

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daveonezero

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just as with art direction in polygonal games it is important in 2d too.

Some of these I like some I don’t.

it is now just different with the displays. Some things look good others don’t.
 
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Kuranghi

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With a good filter, if its 240p input then I like to render at 2160p (9x) and use something like CRT-Royale, CRT-Geom, CRT-Lottes or CRT-Hylian depending on the game. It really needs to be 3x or 9x the input res for the best results, here is a panasonic 21 inch CRT vs Royale:



I think Royale is meant to match a specific really expensive PVM or BVM so its sharper than the panasonic CRT and he's getting bad reflections on the LCD screen photos so the colour looks more faded/altered than it would in person.
 
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I know, it stings the eyes! :messenger_grinning_smiling:

But my goal was to create a reflexion around all of this and to have your opinions, because I think it's very interesting. With the time, it's strange to see, that something that we loved (and still love sometimes) can change in another thing, even in the memories of the people. So how do we react to all these changes?

Is it still like before despite the changes? Can we still enjoy all of this in the same way? Can we enhance it?

Lots of interesting questions I think, because it's not only video games, it's a part of our childhood, of our lives :messenger_winking:

just as with art direction in polygonal games it is important in 2d too.

Some of these I like some I don’t.

it is now just different with the displays. Some things look good others don’t.

Yes, I agree. But what kind of recent pixel art games do you like for example?

i prefer the cleaner look of up-scaled games without any shaders or extra filters.

So upscaled with a bilinear filter?
 
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With a good filter, if its 240p input then I like to render at 2160p (9x) and use something like CRT-Royale, CRT-Geom, CRT-Lottes or CRT-Hylian depending on the game. It really needs to be 3x or 9x the input res for the best results, here is a panasonic 21 inch CRT vs Royale:


I think Royale is meant to match a specific really expensive PVM or BVM so its sharper than the panasonic CRT and he's getting bad reflections on the LCD screen photos so the colour looks more faded than it would've.

Yes, this is not bad, I have to admit :messenger_winking:

The only problem that I have sometimes with the CRT shaders, is that the scanlines are too visible. It's too much like if we were very close to the screen. I prefer something more discreet, even if I find that some shaders are really well done.
 
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Kuranghi

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Yes, this is not bad, I have to admit :messenger_winking:

The only problem that I have sometimes with the CRT shader, is that the scalines are too visible. It's too much like if we were very close to the screen. I prefer something more discreet, even if I find that some shader are really well done.

Yeah I know what you mean, Geom is super intense scanlines and I really only use it when the game has "photo sprites" like Mortal Kombat, some of the ones I listed there have very faint scanlines though so you should try them. If you don't have 4K display then use 720p instead maybe and see how that looks, it might rely on the scaler in your display being good if its 1080p though. Probably a 1440p display with 720p input is much better than a 1080p display with 720p input.
 
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Top picture looks the most changed from all of the examples, it somehow gets more detail than what's actually there.

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Yes, on this image it's very impressive, I agree! :messenger_open_mouth:

Yeah I know what you mean, Geom is super intense scanlines and I really only use it when the game has "photo sprites" like Mortal Kombat, some of the ones I listed there have very faint scanlines though so you should try them. If you don't have 4K display then use 720p instead maybe and see how that looks, it might rely on the scaler in your display being good if its 1080p though. Probably a 1440p display with 720p input is much better than a 1080p display with 720p input.

I tested lots of shaders, including CRT shaders, but even if some are good, I was always frustrated to notice that it's too different that what I remembered on a real CRT TV :messenger_confused:
 
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I think the scanlines tend to be really over exaggerated, as everything blurred together as well. And PAL users had barely perceptible scanlines, and various technologies such as aperture grilles only affected certain types of TV / Monitors.

Shadow masks would look different.
 
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Holammer

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CRTs performed magic tricks back in the days, here is Super Contra raw compared with the tender loving care of a CRT filter + settings tuned to perfection.
The raw image looks devoid of color, but it's there and an early 80's arcade monitor will bring it out. Even give the illusion of more colors and higher resolution.

That's the beauty of CRTs and pixel art game should try to emulate the effect. If they don't, I inject ReShade anyway.








 

daveonezero

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They should try to emulate the 90's arcade and Neo Geo/ Sega Saturn look instead of the endless hard on devs have for the NES days.
This. They should be pushing more details. I can’t stand the NES look.

even something like Axiom Verge I do not like the look of it. And have no interest in playing because of the look.

I like the 2d looks but with modern touches. It really has to be an evolution.

I do like Dead Cells.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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The irony is, even something like Celeste looks better on a CRT. What that technology does to raw pixels is the reason why games were designed in a certain way back then. Only with Gen 6 graphics arguably got to a point where CRT artifacts became more of a hindrance than a tool.

There’s a number of CRT filters out there that are convincing enough at this point. The point of the CRT effect isn’t the scanlines— which, like someone already said, were barely noticeable in PAL back in the day, and mostly just make the image darker. The problem with raw pixels is that the image has no depth: foreground and backgrounds all look on the same plane. When we had CRTs, it was possible to create depth from a 2D image. This isn’t possible on flat digital screens, which is why so many pixel games look ugly as sin on modern TVs, even those that were the absolute best of pixel artistry at the time.

Good filters that simulate a CRT correctly is the answer. There’ll always be people who prefer the raw pixels, and that’s OK. There’s also lots of people who’ll hate pixel graphics with the force of several million polygons until doomsday, and that’s OK too (albeit a bit obnoxious). It’s just a matter of understanding that a good CRT filter isn’t about the scanlines - nor, God forbid, is it about the curved screen effect.
 

Rayderism

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I ALWAYS add scanlines to pixel art games. You can pick whichever style looks the best to you, but pixel art games need them scanlines so as not overly blocky. Besides, back in the day, when all we had were CRT TV's, that's how they looked, so it looks weird to me without them. It gives an illusion of more detail and softens the hard edges of each pixel. Even systems like PS1 and PS2 look better with scanlines.

It really annoys me when some of the indie devs make a pixel art game and don't give an option for scanlines. Or they add these ridiculous huge bars and it looks stupid because no CRT ever looked like that.

A good example of scanlines done wrong are Slain and Valfaris.

I guess I can understand how some younger gamers may not like scanlines, maybe they're just too young to have ever really experienced real CRT TV's, so the scanlines look like an abberation to them.
 

GymWolf

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I'm okay with every type of artstyle tbh.

Usually are the care for the animations and micro-details in the characters\enemies that pick my interest.
 
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What model display are you using?

I don't have a CRT TV anymore, but I remember that I played on a Grundig TV, rather big (not very big, but enough), and the image was not bad :) It was a classic consumer TV.

I think the scanlines tend to be really over exaggerated, as everything blurred together as well. And PAL users had barely perceptible scanlines, and various technologies such as aperture grilles only affected certain types of TV / Monitors.

Shadow masks would look different.

OK, interesting! Maybe it explains why I barely saw the scanlines on the old TV of my parents, because it was PAL :messenger_winking: I only saw them when I was close to the screen.

I remember that sometimes I envied the Americans the NTSC format, because we only had 50 Hz (the games were slower) and often black bars on the top and the bottom of the image. For 3D games like "Devil May Cry", it was a shame! :messenger_confused:

yes, by filter i meant the ones that enable certain effects,

Personally I use a bilinear filter with a "simple 4X" filter.

The irony is, even something like Celeste looks better on a CRT. What that technology does to raw pixels is the reason why games were designed in a certain way back then. Only with Gen 6 graphics arguably got to a point where CRT artifacts became more of a hindrance than a tool.

There’s a number of CRT filters out there that are convincing enough at this point. The point of the CRT effect isn’t the scanlines— which, like someone already said, were barely noticeable in PAL back in the day, and mostly just make the image darker. The problem with raw pixels is that the image has no depth: foreground and backgrounds all look on the same plane. When we had CRTs, it was possible to create depth from a 2D image. This isn’t possible on flat digital screens, which is why so many pixel games look ugly as sin on modern TVs, even those that were the absolute best of pixel artistry at the time.

Good filters that simulate a CRT correctly is the answer. There’ll always be people who prefer the raw pixels, and that’s OK. There’s also lots of people who’ll hate pixel graphics with the force of several million polygons until doomsday, and that’s OK too (albeit a bit obnoxious). It’s just a matter of understanding that a good CRT filter isn’t about the scanlines - nor, God forbid, is it about the curved screen effect.

Yes, I saw these images of Celeste on CRTs some days ago! :messenger_winking:




I totally agree that on a CRT the depth was a lot better! In fact yes, there is nothing on a modern screen and I totally understand that some people prefer to use a CRT shader for this reason. But as you said, the scanlines often make the image darker with shaders. It's why I prefer to not use them.

But as I said, I find that lots of CRT shaders are well done. It's just that I'm always frustrated to not find the natural and the smoothness of a real TV. I can't forget that it's not real and really it's frustrating me. So I always prefer to forget what it was on a CRT and find a new way to represent them on a modern screen. I often wonder how it could look convincing if these games came out in our current era.

In fact, sometimes I tried to create some filters with AviSynth scripts because I like to do some videos of old pixel art games (for my other YouTube account), so I tried to find something with a certain effect, which is not necessarily the same effect that it was on a CRT, but something simple that in our unconscious can bring us a feeling, even if it's not the same feeling than in the past.

The goal is to have something that goes well in video too. With big scanlines is unfortunately often complicated. For the moment, I only use a "Simple 4X" filter and a bilinear filter for the aspect ratio correction and get the final resolution in 1080p (or 2160p, but in this case I use a "Simple 8X" filter). Lots of people are used to this, even if we know that it's not convincing compared to the look of how it was in the past on a CRT.

But I can show you some of my testings. But don't expect amazing things, because it's simple and has to be simple :messenger_smiling_with_eyes: I do this just for fun and as I said, it has to go well in video. For the moment I never used them for a video.

I ALWAYS add scanlines to pixel art games. You can pick whichever style looks the best to you, but pixel art games need them scanlines so as not overly blocky. Besides, back in the day, when all we had were CRT TV's, that's how they looked, so it looks weird to me without them. It gives an illusion of more detail and softens the hard edges of each pixel. Even systems like PS1 and PS2 look better with scanlines.

It really annoys me when some of the indie devs make a pixel art game and don't give an option for scanlines. Or they add these ridiculous huge bars and it looks stupid because no CRT ever looked like that.

A good example of scanlines done wrong are Slain and Valfaris.

I guess I can understand how some younger gamers may not like scanlines, maybe they're just too young to have ever really experienced real CRT TV's, so the scanlines look like an abberation to them.

I think it's because the big pixels are fashion today :messenger_smiling_with_eyes: The young people are used to believe that the 2D games were always like that. They even draw pixel art for fun. I know it because I work with young students which have little handicaps (but in normal schools) and they are really fan of pixel art. But I really think they don't know how it looked on our old TVs.
 
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In fact, sometimes I tried to create some filters with AviSynth scripts because I like to do some videos of old pixel art games (for my other YouTube account), so I tried to find something with a certain effect, which is not necessarily the same effect that it was on a CRT, but something simple that in our unconscious can bring us a feeling, even if it's not the same feeling than in the past.

The goal is to have something that goes well in video too. With big scanlines is unfortunately often complicated. For the moment, I only use a "Simple 4X" filter and a bilinear filter for the aspect ratio correction and get the final resolution in 1080p (or 2160p, but in this case I use a "Simple 8X" filter). Lots of people are used to this, even if we know that it's not convincing compared to the look of how it was in the past on a CRT.

But I can show you some of my testings. But don't expect amazing things, because it's simple and has to be simple :messenger_smiling_with_eyes: I do this just for fun and as I said, it has to go well in video. For the moment I never used them for a video.

I will just show you two filters that I just created 2 days ago. But keep in mind that it's not for playing, it's for videos. So the logic is different because I can't use some shaders like CRT shaders and it has to be simple (and I can't do complicated thinks in fact :messenger_grinning_smiling: ), because it won't look right with the video compression and if it's not displayed at the exact resolution of the video.

I won't show you the images face to face, because the goal isn't to compare but see what feeling you prefer (and try to forget how it looks on a CRT), even if I think it's better in video that with still images.

Generally I just use a "Simple 4X" filter (or 4X PointResize algorithm) with a bilinear filter to achieve the 1080p resolution and correct the aspect ratio. It's exactly like the "None" filter in Sonic Mania.

For my first custom filter, I tried to replicate the filter by default of an old version of the Higan emulator, but adapted to the 1080p resolution. I didn't tried to replicate the colors, so I did something according to my tastes. I didn't want something too distant from the original colors, but something natural that pops a bit more.

For my 2nd custom filter, I tried scanlines, but very light, because I wanted almost that we can't see them. I compensated a bit the loss of brightness with the gamma. I didn't tried on YouTube, so I don't know if it works with scanlines, even light. Generally I don't find this very natural either.

Personnally I prefer the "Higan-like" filter, even if it's a bit blurry, I know.

But I repeat that the goal wasn't to replicate anything, but just to create a certain feeling. It's not extraordinary, I know, it's just to try something. Like I said, I would like to start from zero (even if Higan inspired me for the first filter I did), because I would like to imagine what it could have been if these games have been thought to our recent screens. I think that if we try to replicate how it looked on a CRT, there will always be frustration.

(I recommend you to watch the full images, not scaled.)

Note: I used the native aspect ratio for games like Mr.Nutz, Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Streets of Rage 2, otherwise the circles will be stretched with the 4:3 AR.


Simple 4X + Bilinear (like the "None" filter of Sonic Mania):















Custom filter 1 (Higan-like):















Custom filter 2 (light scanlines)
















Personally, I don't think that scanlines are great for videos and lots of CRT shader are a lot more convincing that mine for playing, that's clear! :messenger_smiling_with_eyes: I would rather use a CRT shader for playing that for doing videos. I just would like to try, but it's not good.

I'm a lot more convinced by the Higan-like filter, even if it's a bit blurry.

But my goal is really to totally try to forget how it looks on a CRT TV and to try to do something that could be credible on a modern screen. But there is no true answer for that.

At the time it was "plug and play". Now we have to choose :pie_thinking:


By the way, if you have shaders that you like, you can post some screenshots. It will be interesting! ;)
 
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Hello :)

I just would like to ask a question about something that always confused me. It's about the right aspect ratio of the Super Nes games on a modern screen. We generally think that we have to use a 4:3 aspect ratio. So it would give a resolution of "1440 x 1080" with 1080p.

But we can see that the Super Nes Classic Mini or some emulators like Higan v106 or BizHawk 2.3.2, prefer to use an aspect ratio closer to 64:49. Therefore it will give a resolution of "1410 x 1080" with 1080p.

What is confusing me is that apparently the PS1 games should be displayed in the same resolution like DuckStation does, but with the overscan.
To be more clear, the image as it should be displayed like on a CRT TV is cropped from 8 pixels lines at the top and the bottom of the image and then displayed in a resolution of "1410 x 1080".

Here for example is an image of "Hercules" in the native resolution of "320 x 240" (resized 4 times):



And this is the image like displayed with the default settings, so "Auto (Game Native)" for the aspect ratio and "Only Overscan Area" for the cropping:



But I think we are agree to admit that the image would be more correct in its original aspect ratio in 4:3, without cropping, like that ("4:3" aspect ratio and cropping set on "All Borders"):




So, it's confusing me for the Super Nes games, because what is the good aspect ratio if we want a correct image like the previous one?
4:3 or 64:49?

Like I said, the Super Nes Classic Mini, Higan and BizHawk use an aspect ratio of 64:49, but without overscan contrary to DuckStation for the PS1 games.


The Super Nes Classic Mini:



(source: Here are our favorite custom SNES Classic borders )



The Super Nes Classic Mini displays a 720p resolution. The RAW image is upsized 3 times with a Nearest neighbor filter (or Simple 3X) and the the aspect ratio is corrected with a bilinear filter. The image size is 877 x 672 pixels without the borders, so a 64:49 aspect ratio.

Higan v106:





The image has a resolution of 1170 x 896 pixels, so a 64:49 AR.

BizHawk 2.3.2:





The image has a resolution of 879 x 672 pixels, so close to a 64:49 AR.


But BizHaw displays Hercules with the correct 4:3 aspect ratio:





So I suppose that the correct aspect ratio for the PS1 games on a modern display is 4:3 and 64:49 for the Super Nes games, and without overscan in both cases.

What do you think? :pie_thinking:


By the way, what do you think about the CRT filter of the Super Nes Classic Mini? :messenger_smiling_with_eyes:





(source: Nintendo Super NES Classic mini review )
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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I’m pretty sure I’ve always read SNES had more of a 8:7 aspect ratio, and rectangular pixels.
SNES should be supposed to have a slightly squashed image. There’s pics on the internet showing how the “correct” aspect ratio for the SNES isn’t how the images were supposed to be displayed onscreen. Look for a forum post somewhere showing the moon over Magus’s castle in Chrono Trigger.

The CRT filter on the SNES Mini is much less convincing than the one on the NES Mini. Still better than unfiltered Donkey Kong Country, though.
 
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Moonjt9

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Modern pixel art games absolutely must come with a crt filter. As much as I love games like axiom verge and Celeste and whatever, they would look fifty times better with a crt filter, or at least scan lines. Even playing snes or nes games on switch, I have to put the crt filter on. Pure pixels just doesn’t give the correct image for what that art was made to show.
 
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Holammer

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I’m pretty sure I’ve always read SNES had more of a 8:7 aspect ratio, and rectangular pixels.
SNES should be supposed to have a slightly squashed image. There’s pics on the internet showing how the “correct” aspect ratio for the SNES isn’t how the images were supposed to be displayed onscreen. Look for a forum post somewhere showing the moon over Magus’s castle in Chrono Trigger.

The CRT filter on the SNES Mini is much less convincing than the one on the NES Mini. Still better than unfiltered Donkey Kong Country, though.
There's some arguments for it in games were you have round objects stretched like in Chrono Trigger, but those are compromises due to the limitations of tile based graphics at 256×224 displayed at 4:3. It's difficult to draw a perfectly round circle with four 8x8 pixel tiles. Nobody at Nintendo or any other developer sat with special monitors tuned to 8:7, they drew the art on square graph paper, in-house art editors or Deluxe Paint, where they viewed on results on a regular CRT.

If you go with the logic of SNES being 8:7, that would make PC and Amiga games running at 320x200 wide screen (16:10).
Some resolutions just did not have perfectly square pixels.
 
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I’m pretty sure I’ve always read SNES had more of a 8:7 aspect ratio, and rectangular pixels.
SNES should be supposed to have a slightly squashed image. There’s pics on the internet showing how the “correct” aspect ratio for the SNES isn’t how the images were supposed to be displayed onscreen. Look for a forum post somewhere showing the moon over Magus’s castle in Chrono Trigger.

The CRT filter on the SNES Mini is much less convincing than the one on the NES Mini. Still better than unfiltered Donkey Kong Country, though.

Yes, in fact the native resolution is 256 x 224 pixels and correponds to a 8:7 aspect ratio.

You are talking about this image? I know ;)



(source: SNES/Famicon PCB Revisions and RGB Video )

There is this video too:



But the problem isn't really if I have to choose between a 8:7 aspect ratio and a 4:3 aspect ratio, but between a 4:3 aspect ratio and a 64:49 aspect ratio for games which are looking better with an AR close to 4:3. But in fact it's very close.

Thanks for your opinion about the CRT filter of the SNES Mini!

Modern pixel art games absolutely must come with a crt filter. As much as I love games like axiom verge and Celeste and whatever, they would look fifty times better with a crt filter, or at least scan lines. Even playing snes or nes games on switch, I have to put the crt filter on. Pure pixels just doesn’t give the correct image for what that art was made to show.

Yes, I agree for old 2D games. But I think that the modern pixel art games weren't thought with scanlines in mind, so it's a bit different. Personally, I have no problem with the raw look with the modern 2D games, because there were designed like that. But for the old ones, it's more frustrating, because we can feel that something is wrong on a flat screen.

There is just one thing that I hated for a long time: this kind of fetishism about the big pixels and what a pixel art game was always supposed to look. It's the prove that time tends to alter our vision of History! And it's a bit scary sometimes...

I ended so tired of that art style 30 years ago. Let it die.

Why? :messenger_smiling_with_eyes:

There's some arguments for it in games were you have round objects stretched like in Chrono Trigger, but those are compromises due to the limitations of tile based graphics at 256×224 displayed at 4:3. It's difficult to draw a perfectly round circle with four 8x8 pixel tiles. Nobody at Nintendo or any other developer sat with special monitors tuned to 8:7, they drew the art on square graph paper, in-house art editors or Deluxe Paint, where they viewed on results on a regular CRT.

If you go with the logic of SNES being 8:7, that would make PC and Amiga games running at 320x200 wide screen (16:10).
Some resolutions just did not have perfectly square pixels.

Yes, it seems that even today it's hard to know which aspect ratio is perfectly good, because lots of games like "Super Metroid", "Mr. Nutz" or some Super Mario games look better with a 8:7 aspect ratio, some games have elements which could be in 4:3 and 8:7 and even for games designed with a 4:3 aspect ratio, it's never perfect with a 4:3 aspect ratio or close to it.

By the way, I found interesting threads about this:

https://warosu.org/vr/thread/7216794
Dot clock rates
The Old Console Resolution Aspect Ratio Dilemma
Classic Console Aspect Correction
Retro-gaming Enthusiasts Are Getting It All Wrong



If you have some shaders that you like, don't hesitated to post pictures! ;) It's interesting to know what everbody likes.
 
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Kuranghi

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I’m pretty sure I’ve always read SNES had more of a 8:7 aspect ratio, and rectangular pixels.
SNES should be supposed to have a slightly squashed image. There’s pics on the internet showing how the “correct” aspect ratio for the SNES isn’t how the images were supposed to be displayed onscreen. Look for a forum post somewhere showing the moon over Magus’s castle in Chrono Trigger.


The CRT filter on the SNES Mini is much less convincing than the one on the NES Mini. Still better than unfiltered Donkey Kong Country, though.

I've been wondering about that, some games look proper in 8:7 and others in 4:3 but can I even change the PAR in RetroArch or just the DAR? I tend to just check on a per game basis but it can be hard when theres nothing on screen that you can reasonably assume should be perfectly square/circular.
 
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I never used RetroArch, so I'm not sure that I understand what you ask.

But the PAR is generally the native aspect ratio of the games, so 8:7 for example for the Super Nes games, because the resolution is 256 x 224 pixels.
The DAR is the aspect ratio for the display. Here you can generally choose to use the same aspect ratio than the game, 4:3, 16:9, etc.

It's the DAR that you have to adapt.

The only way to know if it's better in 8:7 or 4:3 is to see some elements of the game like squares or circles. But as I said, some games could be both, because maybe the developers forgot to adapt some of them to the 4:3 aspect ratio. It's why it has always been a complicated question for me.

But generally I choose 4:3. I only use the native aspect ratio for some rare games like the Super Mario games, Super Metroid, Mr. Nutz, and the Sonic games (which are Genesis games of course, with a native 10:7 aspect ratio).


But now, I mostly try to know if the 64:49 aspect ratio for Super Nes is supposed to be the correct aspect ratio for CRTs or flat screens :pie_thinking: It is still confusing me, because as I said, the Super Nes Classic Mini, Higan and BizHawk use it.
And the DuckStation emulator for PS1 games choose by default to crop pixels on the top and bottom of the image and then to display a resolution of 1410 x 1080 pixels to be like on a CRT. But it hasn't really sense for me on a modern screen and it's better to display the whole image in 4:3, so without cropping.

And the question of the overscan with Super Nes and Genesis games confuses me too.
 
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Kuranghi

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Ah okay, I was being a loon I guess the PAR is what I'm changing and outputting at 2160p gives 9x scaling of the original resolution but with borders to make it "pixel perfect"

Anyway, see before I was asking what model LCD you are trying CRT filters on, not what CRT you have/had. If you are outputting 720p to a 1080p monitor/TV it could be the monitors subpar scaling thats making the CRT filters look disappointing compared to perfect scaling.
 
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Ah OK! :messenger_grinning_smiling: I'm using an old Sony LCD KDL-40CX520. It was cheap, but the image is great. I calibrated it with a calibration probe.

I always ouput a 1080p image. But yes, I know that some CRT shaders look better in 720p. In fact, the reason why I don't use CRT shaders is the loss of brightness. And I don't like when the scanlines are too visible. But I already played with this kind of CRT shader on my PC monitor ;):







It's the "Blargg's NTSC (RGB)" shader and I think it's well done! :)
 
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cireza

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All these years I was trying to find the perfect way to display old 2D games on a LCD monitor and I was always disappointed, whatever the filter I used.
Indeed.

it seems that we can't represent the 2D games like they were.
Nope, we can't on modern TVs.

there were never so prominent on our classic consumer TVs
It is difficult to say on a global basis, but I would disagree with this. Scanlines are clearly visible on TVs as long as you are sending a 240p signal, and this applies to all TVs I have used (consumer TVs, not PVMs).

At the time, we could have lots of different resolutions and a CRT always displayed the image how it should be.
That's because CRTs can display rectangular pixels, a thing modern displays cannot do. CRTs simply stretch whatever is sent to them to fill the screen. This is like magic.

Even if you manage to use filters to reproduce the feeling of a CRT, you will NEVER get the motion clarity a CRT has. There is no solution for this nowadays, except maybe for a very few screens or monitors that implement BFI and things like that, but it looks complicated and expensive to get the results. I suggest checking blurbusters, they have been doing a ton of work on this front.

And people should really calm down with the PVMs or whatever. I highly suggest to simply give a try to any CRT that becomes available in the family or neighborhood (this happens all the time). You would be surprised on how many TVs actually still have a very good picture and geometry. Consumer TVs are perfectly fine and more convenient. Mine is a consumer TV, I would not exchange it for anything. This thing has more value to me than my Series X lol.

For information, here is my gaming setup in 2021, so you can be certain that I know what I am talking about :


And yes, that's the Switch Brigandine Collector Edition, a game everybody should buy !
 
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Yes, in fact we have to admit that CRTs had lots of qualities that even the best flat screens haven't nowadays. The ability to stretch images without using any kind of digital processing is one of them, as you said ;)
And no "sample-and-hold" effect (that's the reason why the "black frame insertion" exists on recent screens, to compensate this), no input lag !

In fact, I believe more and more that our recent quest to always have more pixels on a screen becomes insane. I think it's the wrong quest and that now it is the screen technologies which have to evolve to offer us a better image whatever the type of content and the resolution we have in the input.

Because this was one more quality that the CRTs had. They offered an acceptable visual quality with low resolution and high resolution images, even today.

Somewhere, if we always have to have more pixels, it's maybe because our flat screens aren't enough good from a certain point of view.


In any cases, you must enjoy all your equipment! :messenger_grinning_smiling:

I know the Blur Busters contents (y)

Here is an interesting video:

 
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Here are some interesting things about the correct aspect ratio for the Super Nes games: https://warosu.org/vr/thread/S5314813

I've calibrated quite a few CRTs, yes. I think we're actually arguing the same thing, but getting hung up on terminology. To clarify, PAR is the ratio of width to height of each pixel, so a 1:1 PAR would mean perfectly square pixels. The SNES does not output square pixels. I think we're in agreement here.

For the SNES, and NES for that matter, there are 341 pixel clocks per line (sort of... it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's the number we need to be concerned with). Of those, 280 fall within the active scanline length defined by Rec. 601, with syncing and blanking intervals making up the rest. Ignoring the bezels for a second, those 280 pixel clocks are what will be "displayed" on the CRT, but the area that actually contains graphics is a bit smaller than that at 256 pixels in width. That's where the slim black bars you're talking about are coming from. Like you said, most if not all of that will be covered by the bezels, so you won't normally see it on a consumer CRT.

The SNES and NES have the same PAR of 8:7 even though NES games typically display all 240 lines, so the width of the picture is the same but the height is not. So yes, if you try to adjust the display such that the graphics fill the 4:3 visible area perfectly, you'll end up with an image that's too wide.

Hopefully that clears up any confusion.

OP is right, though a bit ambiguous. The ratios given in the image are PAR, and it's correct to say that SNES graphics should not have a PAR of 1:1 (square pixels), but rather 8:7 (pixels slightly wider than they are tall).

For a practical example, let's say you want to emulate SNES games at a 4x scale with the overscan area cropped out. The correct resolution of the emulator window on your modern square-pixel HD monitor should then be 256*8/7*4 = ~1170 pixels wide by 224*4 = 896 pixels tall. Higan gets this right. Snes9x doesn't unless you manually set its "Stretch:AspectRatioBaseWidth" setting to 293, though the default of 299 isn't too far off.
 
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rofif

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Yes, in fact we have to admit that CRTs had lots of qualities that even the best flat screens haven't nowadays. The ability to stretch images without using any kind of digital processing is one of them, as you said ;)
And no "sample-and-hold" effect (that's the reason why the "black frame insertion" exists on recent screens, to compensate this), no input lag !

In fact, I believe more and more that our recent quest to always have more pixels on a screen becomes insane. I think it's the wrong quest and that now it is the screen technologies which have to evolve to offer us a better image whatever the type of content and the resolution we have in the input.

Because this was one more quality that the CRTs had. They offered an acceptable visual quality with low resolution and high resolution images, even today.

Somewhere, if we always have to have more pixels, it's maybe because our flat screens aren't enough good from a certain point of view.


In any cases, you must enjoy all your equipment! :messenger_grinning_smiling:

I know the Blur Busters contents (y)

Here is an interesting video:

Not sure what oled is he using but my lg c1 48" is quite good compared to crt. Yes, I have 120hz crt which I love to take out once a year to play older games.
But now? way bigger screen, better dark levels (yes, not every crt had amazing black levels), hdr...
And the ghosting is not as bad on this video. It's way better than any lcd but it's still sample and hold. That's why there are bfi modes which bring it to crt levels but I don't are for it. The response times are already so fast on new oleds
 
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Yes, I agree that for the moment, OLED is the best that we can have! ;) It's a lot better than LCDs,without any doubt !

I don't have a OLED TV (I'm still waiting a bit), but I have a 120 Hz Super AMOLED screen on my Samsung phone, and yes, it's wonderful, particularly for watching photos.

I dream to calibrate a TV like that :messenger_grinning: