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newtmonkey

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About newtmonkey

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    Male
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    Nagoya, Japan
  • Interests
    PC & video games (#1: RPGs), horror movies (esp. pre-1990s), boxing & jogging, piano & guitar

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  1. I wasn't 100% happy with the picture quality when using the RetroTINK as I had calibrated the TV using a Famicom over composite video, so I went in and recalibrated the TV using my Dreamcast over S-Video. This was my best choice available, as I don't have component cables for any system other than the PSP Go (which does not have a port of the 240p test suite). Anyway, S-Video is generally just a step behind component in most cases, and the DC in particular has very high quality S-Video output. ----- Here are some new shots I took just yesterday. These, again, are the PSP Go through the RetroTINK Pro over component cables, running at 240p scaled to 480p (RetroTINK) and then 4k (TV). You can click on the thumbnails for the full sized images. Here's Legend of Dragoon. I wanted to show off how nice low res pre-rendered backgrounds can look when properly scaled up. I'm particularly happy with how the scanlines give the background a smoother look. Notice how the scanlines "fade" into shadow on the roof, rather than simply ending on a hard edge, for an almost anti-aliased look rather than the "stairstep" pixels you'd get without a good scanline effect. Here's another scene from Legend of Dragoon. I feel that the early polygonal systems benefit a lot from scanlines, which make the simple polygonal models look less like, well, simple polygonal models, and a little more like sprites. Here's a detail shot of a Jet Moto menu screen running in 480i. Taking photos of 480i is difficult due to the deinterlacing method used by the RetroTINK. It's a very "CRT-like" interlacing method, but the king of deinterlacing is still the Framemeister. Notice how the image is "smudged" in the middle; this is the deinterlacing effect in action (you can literally see the scanlines switching position halfway across the screen). This isn't noticeable when you are just looking at the screen of course. Still, 480i content (especially still menus and images like this shot) look very sharp indeed regardless of the low resolution. 480i resolution does not benefit as much from the scanline effect, but the effect does help to "antialias" it a bit. ----- Once I get a chance, I'd like to upload some Famicom and PC Engine composite video screenshots. The RetroTINK really excels in cleaning up composite video sources (far better than even the mighty Framemeister in my opinion).
  2. I loved the NES growing up, and I remember being thrilled initially with the outstanding graphics and sound the SNES of which the was capable. However, I definitely lost interest in gaming during the 16-bit era, and only regained interest when I purchased a Playstation. The problem with the SNES for me was that it just seemed like a retread of the NES library, but with much less representation by smaller developers that made the NES library so fun and varied (examples off the top of my head: Faxanadu, Golgo 13, Ninja Gaiden, Guardian Legend, Magic of Scheherazade, Blaster Master). Sure, titles from Nintendo and the top-tier third-party developers (Square, Konami, and Capcom) are some of the best games ever made (and, thankfully, these developers were very prolific during this generation), but I have trouble getting interested in the unambitious platformers that make up much of the rest of the library. It feels like the SNES brought the truly talented/well-funded developers into the stratosphere, but reduced everyone else to slumming it by (often poorly) cloning whatever genre was hot at the moment. Now, in the age of flash carts and emulation, it's easy for anyone to go back and take a comprehensive look at a system's entire library, and my opinion hasn't changed. The NES has it all, masterpieces from top-tier developers, hidden gems, weird experiments that somehow work, weird experiments that don't work but are worth playing, and of course tons of garbage. It's a lot of fun to explore the library and you have a good chance of finding a hidden gem even by picking random games. In contrast, it's almost a chore on the SNES to sift through the licensed garbage, by-the-numbers platformers, and Japanese mahjong/pachinko/pachislot/baseball games on my SD2SNES flash cart!
  3. This is a really bizarre poll, as though the only way we can compete with Japanese games is to combine forces worldwide lol. I voted for "rest of the world" even though I've never played games from 99% of the countries in "rest of the world" haha. The Japanese excelled at side-scrollers during the 8-bit and 16-bit console generations (after all, their hardware at this time was designed specifically for scrolling tiles), but fell far behind companies like Origin, EA, New World Computing, Interplay, and Sir-Tech when it comes to such crucial genres as sports (other than baseball, I guess), RPGs, simulations, and adventure games. On the other hand, Japanese developers seemed to really enjoy exploring the new possibilities offered by consoles with built-in 3D hardware (i.e. the PSX/Saturn [and to a lesser extent the N64 due to that console's somewhat shallow library]). It's as though they finally had access to hardware that wasn't "just" a tile-scrolling monster and suddenly you had bizarre experiments like Germs: Nerawareta Machi and LSD (both PSX).
  4. @Steven Pendleton Sadly the PSP Go gets no love these days, even though, when hacked, it's absolutely amazing. If you use one of the higher res settings on the OSSC, you might want to give 480p a shot. I previously was using the Framemeister for my PSP Go and noticed that 480p looked way sharper than 720p or 1080p (for the PSP only, other systems looked way sharper at 720p). Dunno why!
  5. Here are some example shots of the PSP Go playing PSX games through the RetroTINK-2X Pro, on a 4K OLED. These are all taken off the screen of course with my cellphone camera, so the colors might seem a bit off. Rest assured the picture is quite vibrant and accurate in real life. (You can click on the thumbnails to get full sized images). Note that the PSP Go image quality is pretty lackluster to begin with compared with that of a genuine PS1 or PS2 (it's quite dark and soft), and there is no 240p test suite that works with the PSP so I had to adjust all the picture settings by sight. Still, these are 240p images scaled to 480p by the RetroTINK and then scaled to 4k by my TV, and look pretty damned nice imo. All the images are with the RetroTINK scanline option enabled. I cropped the black bars on the sides from the images just to save space. Here's R-Types zoomed in to show scanline detail. The RetroTINK-2X Pro is very simple when it comes to scanlines; they are either on or off, and all the TINK does is blank every line it would have doubled. I have the TV set to "dynamic contrast," and note how the TV actually varies the scanline thickness based on brightness, like with a CRT (note also how the scanlines "trail off" slightly on the ends of colors for a very smooth, almost CRT-like effect). The effect is a bit exaggerated in this shot by my cellphone camera but it's actually apparent to the naked eye also. It's pretty close to how a PVM/BVM looks in person, imo. Castlevania Chronicles. Maybe not the best game for showing off 2D graphics, and this stage in particular is probably not the best for showing anything off due to its simple colors, and the overall darkness of the image made it difficult to photograph. The important thing here is that the simple graphics show off how surprisingly sharp it looks regardless of the low resolution. Here's that same photo above zoomed in for detail. Rayman, one of the best looking 2D games of all time. The scanlines look broken in the thumbnail, but the full image should look fine. I don't like how this photo came out too much, the colors look saturated and the overall brightness too low, so I might take another shot with better lighting conditions.
  6. I agree except for this. I know we are being hurled rapidly into a world where we no longer own the things we pay for, or have any control over the products that we do buy, but I expect a display to, well, display things. I 100% understand that TVs are not "displays" anymore but are instead quickly becoming (very expensive) terminals to access subscription services, but I don't like it and expect better from manufacturers selling us expensive hardware. I expect to plug an HDMI cable into an HDMI port and get an image, or what's the point of having hardware standards in the first place (answer: licensing fees). Now, if manufacturers are gonna start giving away 60" TVs to one and all, by all means lock it down to Netflix streaming for all I care :).
  7. This is very alarming and would be VERY disturbing if it becomes a trend with TV manufacturers going forward. 480p has been seen as the "rock solid" (or, "last resort" if you like) option for getting modern TVs to handle older stuff. There's no reason not to accept 480p signals over HDMI, other than to save $$$ I guess through incorporating a poor scaler, as it would not only break compatibility with older video game consoles (many TVs already do not properly recognize or even support 240p!) but could affect compatibility with DVD players as well. Having said that, I wouldn't put it past these manufacturers in this age of disposable hardware and subscription services.
  8. Screenshots are always a good idea, though there will obviously be differences from TV to TV. I might upload some pictures (if I remember...) of how my OLED TV handles 480p with the "dynamic contrast" option on. Typically, I would disable all these "dynamic XXX" options as they make it impossible to accurately tune the image, but this option in particular adds no lag and results in a very pleasing "CRT-like" effect. It's similar to the "hybrid" scanlines on the Super NT/Mega SG (or, I assume, the OSSC) in that it varies pixel brightness based on color; at 480P with artificial scanlines, this means that the height of pixels on each "scanline" vary based on the color/brightness, for a look very similar to a BVM/PVM, actually.
  9. @Steven Pendleton The scanlines on the RT are pretty basic. Since it only line doubles to 480p, it just blanks every other line so there's nothing to configure. There's sadly no gamma boost option, though I understand the Retrovision cables have a contrast/gamma boost switch built in?
  10. I dragged my AV Famicom out and tested it with the Retrotink-2x Pro, and you are 100% right! It looks fantastic with the comb filter set to "retro" mode. I may even prefer it to the clean output of the RetroUSB AVS, to be honest. The NES/FC has a certain unique grittiness over composite video, which is lost with RGB (even if the palette is corrected).
  11. I had some free time over the weekend, so I went in and fooled around with the video settings for the Super NT and Mega SG, both at latest firmware. The standing issue is that scanlines are broken in 720p for both systems. They do not line up correctly with the image unless you move the image upward a few pixels until the scanline filter "locks on" correctly (this resolves the problem but leaves the image off-center vertically, of course). I suspect this is not more widely known or discussed for two reasons: People probably just set the video to 1080p without scanlines Any discussion of anything these days takes place in Discord, making it impossible to search for anything unless you get into that whole thing The off-center image began to bother me, and I never liked the ultra-sharp "emulator" look of these consoles, so I decided to just set both to output 480p. Now, this is interesting! This provides scanlines that look more natural (my 4K LG OLED even varies scanline thickness by color as on a CRT, when scaling up 480p!), for a look VERY close to a PVM/BVM. There's also nothing to worry about with regard to aspect ratio; just set it to 640x480 and your TV to 4:3 and everything will scale to fit a 4:3 image just like on a CRT.
  12. The Sega Saturn was actually the last system of that generation that I bought back in the day (N64 first, PSX next, then Saturn when it was failing and could be picked up cheap). The local Software Etc. (at which I worked part time for the discount) was staffed with Saturn fans, and was even selected as a test store to carry a limited selection of import games, and I remember buying a few imports there. I remember being impressed with the 2d games, which looked way more colorful and sharp than 2D games on the PSX. Fast forward 20 years and I decided to pick up a used Saturn. I was surprised to note a couple of interesting things: - Saturn image quality is so clear and colorful compared with the PSX. This is due to how the PSX often uses full-screen dithering, usually to blend color gradations for an overall smoother image (most polygonal games) and sometimes for no reason at all and to the detriment of image quality (prime example: Castlevania Chronicles). - The Saturn is woefully underrated as a polygonal system. It has much less texture warping than the PSX, due to it rendering 3D objects using quads rather than triangles. This gives Saturn polygonal games a much more solid feel compared with PSX games. Of course, the PSX is a polygonal monster for its time and can render more polygons per second with more effects and at generally at a higher frame rate than the Saturn, but the Saturn was no slouch in performance. Look at Sega Rally, which compares very well with the best PSX racing games... or Sonic R, which is EXTREMELY impressive. Some other good examples are Grandia and Thunder Force V, which are actually more impressive on the Saturn with more detailed environments. However, as a fan of turn-based RPGs, I find the Saturn library a bit lacking. It has the best version of Grandia, which is truly a standout RPG for the generation, and has the unique (but short) Azel (aka Panzer Dragoon Saga), but not a whole lot else other than hybrids (primarily strategy RPGs). It does have the excellent Phantasy Star Collection, but any SEGA RPG fan worth his salt probably has completed the games already on the Megadrive! Some other exclusive RPGs include Shining the Holy Ark (fun, but a huge step down in complexity from the classic computer RPGs that inspired it), Dungeon Master Nexus (basically, Dungeon Master III), Albert Odyssey (kinda generic), and Tengai Makyo: The Apocalypse IV (AWESOME 2D graphics, but pretty goofy).
  13. One of the reasons I wanted to start this topic was so that we'd have a central place on AA to give recommendations and ask questions about these devices. With that said, I'd like to comment on my experiences using the Retrotink-2X Pro over the last week or so. First of all, I am very impressed with this little device. I didn't expect it to compare with the Framemeister (and in terms of features and tweaks, it does not)... but it offers VERY impressive image quality even at 480p, and imo works wonders with composite video sources (or for consoles that don't benefit from having their flaws magnified by something like the Framemeister [i.e. N64]). One thing I'm not sure of is whether the RT outputs full range or limited range RGB over HDMI. Everything I've read indicates it outputs limited range, but setting my TV to limited results in crushed blacks and grays from the RT, making the image almost unplayably dark. Setting the TV to full range RGB brought back details in dark colors for a much more natural looking image. I've found the RT to be the ideal device for playing PSX games on the PSP Go through the component video cradle. (For those who are unaware, PSPs that support video output will run PSX games fullscreen in their native resolution [240p or 480i depending on the game], but the output mode needs to be set to "interlaced" in the PSP menu.) The 480p output of the RT does a lot to hide the flaws of the image output by the PSP Go (dark, blurry), and the scanline filter looks really excellent at this low resolution. One of the benefits of the RT is how smoothly it handles resolution switches, so games that switch to 480i resolution for menus (such as Silent Hill and Chrono Cross) are much more playable on the RT than the Framemeister. Finally, the lack of aspect ratio correction in the RT is not much of an issue for PSX games, as most run at 320x240 and will display at 4:3 just fine.
  14. Thanks everyone for posting info about the OSSC! I might get a Pro whenever it comes out just to fool around with. @Silverfleet I'll be honest, as a big Framemeister fan I was not expecting much from the Retrotink-2X Pro... but ended up being VERY impressed. I actually prefer it for systems with "problematic" output quality (consoles limited to composite [Famicom and PC Engine], N64 with its naturally blurry image quality, PSP Go with its dark and blurry output). I think you'll be very impressed when you upgrade to a nicer cable for your Genesis. The leap from composite to RGB is MASSIVE for the Genesis (from among the worst quality composite output out there to among the best quality RGB output you'll find). It really is night and day!
  15. Introduction There are topics and mentions in several of the boards dedicated to specific platforms, but I thought it might be a good idea to have a general upscaler thread here in General Gaming, as the typical use of an upscaler is to play older console games on modern flatscreens. First of all, why consider using an upscaler? While the NTSC standard was for 480i (interlaced) video, classic consoles took advantage of a happy coincidence to play games in a much more stable (non-flickering) but lower resolution, 240p (progressive). The problem with (most) flatscreens is that they mistakenly interpret 240p as interlaced, deinterlace it, and then upscale it to whatever resolution the screen supports. This not only can drastically ruin picture quality (interlacing artifacts and a generally blurry picture), but often introduces up to several frames worth of lag. Using a (quality) upscaler can provide several benefits, including less lag and a more accurate (better) picture. --- The Upscalers There are three major upscalers that most people use for gaming. The Framemeister (FM), the Open Source Scan Converter (OSSC), and the Retrotink (RT) family of products (in order of features and cost). Of these, I own and use the FM and RT 2x Pro. Framemeister PRO Generally excellent picture quality that is very tweakable with an easy-to-use menu Can upscale up to 480p, 720p, or 1080p for very sharp video Very nice support for artificial scanlines Accepts composite, S-video, component (D-terminal), and RGB input Up to 20 profiles can be saved for easy switching between consoles CON No longer manufactured Adds a small amount of lag (though less than if the console were plugged straight into the TV) Requires some extensive tweaking to get it looking fantastic Expensive Poor handling of 480p content Some issues with noise in large areas of single color Very poor handling of resolution switching in-game Retrotink 2x Pro PRO Very reasonably priced No additional lag (in real terms) Very clean output Plug-and-play Support for artificial scanlines Accepts composite, S-video, and component input Decent comb filter for composite video sources Much better support for resolution switching in-game than FM CON "Upscales" (line doubling) only to 480p No options to tweak image at all No support for games running natively in 480p at all --- Short Reviews In my setup, both have their uses. The FM looks absolutely stunning with a console that supports RGB video, and it's very easy to adjust the picture to get a true 4:3 aspect ratio even for consoles that rely on your TV stretching a lower resolution to fill the screen (for example, PC Engine, NES, and SNES). The RT, on the other hand, does wonders with composite video thanks to its comb filter, and handles in-game resolution switching much better than the FM (an absolute must when playing certain PSX games such as Silent Hill or Chrono Cross!). There is sadly no one perfect solution (though the OSSC may be close; I don't have one to compare but have heard good things). The FM imo does not handle composite and S-video particularly well, and the added lag can push overall lag past the threshold at which you are comfortable if you are lag-sensitive like me. On the other hand, the RT does not offer any means to adjust the image... so no gamma boost if you chose to enable scanlines and (more crucially) no way to correct aspect ratio issues with particular systems (i.e. those that expect the TV to stretch a sub-320x240 image to fill the screen at a 4:3 ratio). --- Recommendations and Closing Remarks As much as I like the Framemeister, it's hard to recommend it due to it being out of production and the high price it was sold for even when it was still available. If you are just getting your feet wet with this, the Retrotink is your best bet as it is a plug-and-play device that requires nothing but plugging some cables in, supports everything from composite video to component video, provides a nice clean image, and will ensure you are playing with the least lag possible for whatever your setup is. I would like to hear others' experiences with these devices, and would be really interested in commentary on the OSSC (which is actually not much more expensive than the RT 2xPro...).
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