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The new tech making game preservation more authentic and future-proof

The new tech making game preservation more authentic and future proof Ars Technica


Capturing a faithful experience of an old game on new hardware means paying a lot of attention to small, almost pedantic details. For one, games originally designed for a cathode ray tube (CRT) can look very different when shown on a modern, flat-panel LCD TV or monitor. Simply throwing up the same raw pixels on newer screen technology results in a blocky image that ends up unnaturally sharp and jagged when compared to a CRT's fuzzy, interlaced glow.

Emulator makers have already put a lot of effort into fixing this problemMega Man Legacy Collectionbuilds on those efforts, offering a classic TV mode that tries to emulate the look and feel of an old composite cable being run through those old TVs, as well as a “monitor mode” that emulates a high-end, RGB broadcast monitor.

The team seems to have gone to somewhat ridiculous lengths to make sure that CRT recreation is tuned to what the developers at Capcom would have remembered. "We did sort of reference the screenshots that are in the Rockman 3 manual [in Japan], that appear to me to be photographs of the television that Capcom had in 1991 or whenever it was,” Cifaldi said. “We did go to that extent."

"A lot of the decisions we made were based on what was the artistic intent of these games,” Cifaldi continued. “The TV modes are in there because artistic intent for the pixel art, there's no definitive answer for that. I don't think these games were ever meant to look completely pixel perfect... but who knows, maybe [the developers] would have preferred that?"

Then there’s the matter of the aspect ratio Mega Man Legacy Collection can display its games as they were originally shown on the NES, as well as in a distorted, stretched mode that fills up an entire HDTV screen. "As a fan of those games, I'd prefer no one played it [stretched], but if you're the kind of person that can't stand your screen not being full, we've got you covered,” Cifaldi said.

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I like that there's someone out there sweating the aspect ratios of the original videogames.