Author Topic: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation  (Read 2446 times)

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Offline King Bowser Koopa

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Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« on: September 21, 2013, 09:26:14 AM »

Why U treat NES so bad?

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/feature/35444

A topic of recent discussion behind the scenes at NWR is one that I feel so strongly about that it actually makes me reluctant to review NES Virtual Console titles on Wii U. You see, it's not that I don't like NES games. I love Virtual Console, I still love the NES, but the way Wii U handles these gems of gaming history is deplorable. I fear that any attempt I make to objectively look at a NES game's merits on the new system would eventually be tainted by this one glaring issue and my review would degenerate into criticism of the Virtual Console service and not the game itself.

“Ah, but Andrew!”, I hear you chime in. “The Wii U Virtual Console adds Restore Points, which make otherwise impossible games tolerable! Off-TV play is a great new option, and the Miiverse community for every new game encourages fans to mingle together and reminisce about these classic titles in an unprecedented way! What could possibly be wrong with that?” I'll let our puffy friend Kirby demonstrate my main complaint for me.

I'd say the difference is clear, but it's really the opposite.

Looks a little puffier than usual, does he not? I may look at old games with fond nostalgia, but I certainly don't remember the soap opera Vaseline-cam effect. Granted, that's not an actual screen capture, but merely an image manipulation to show what I mean. Sure, I cheated, but the issue still stands. It's not just the image displayed on your TV screen either, which negates any arguments that one might simply be using the wrong brand of television - the blur is present on the GamePad screen as well.

What is going on here? Well, the NES games, which were originally displayed on TVs with a much lower resolution, must be enlarged considerably in order to display properly on our new high-definition TVs. Due to the image scaling method used, these games now have a high degree of anti-aliasing in the image sample resulting in the blurred picture. This is also seen if you play a Game Boy or Game Boy Color game on your 3DS, but on the small screen it's much less noticeable. Where the 3DS succeeds, however, is on the handheld Virtual Console you are given the option to play the game at its original, crisp resolution if you hold the Start button as you launch the game. There is no such option on the Wii U.

To their credit, the Wii U version of these NES games doesn't force the aspect ratio into 16:9 like the Wii version did when your console was set to a widescreen display on HDTV. But many HDTVs come with a handy "aspect" button on their remote which allows you to simply squish an image into the classic 4:3 ratio, instantly correcting the stretched picture that the Wii version gave us. With this factored into consideration, NES games on Wii Virtual Console look far superior to the same games on Wii U. Since they are still available to purchase through the Wii Shop Channel which can be accessed on your Wii U, it may be hard to choose which version to buy.

Letterbox conveniently cropped by Nintendo, makes it even more noticeable.

Why is it that NES games are given the lazy "MS Paint resize" treatment while SNES games look arguably the best they ever have? Without knowing the actual image scaling process used by Nintendo I can't say with certainty, but it seems that SNES games are upscaled using a nearest-neighbor interpolation, which simply multiplies every pixel of the original image by the same amount, so the colors and "jagged" edges remain true to the original.

What I desperately want is for Nintendo to either change the image scaling of NES games to the same method used for SNES games on Wii U, or at the very least to give players the option to display the true sharp-pixel look if preferred when they launch the game. Additionally, features like Miiverse should not be a trade-off.

Anyway, that's my rant for the week. Is there anything about the Wii U Virtual Console service that rubs you up the wrong way? The lack of N64 titles? The price? The absence of Game Boy Advances games that were promised to "come soon" way back in January? Let us know in the comments below, and keep submitting those ideas for future Paving the Way We Play articles!

Andrew Brown - NWR Australia Correspondent

Offline zeeroid

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2013, 10:05:27 AM »
Someone needs to communicate this problem to Nintendo ASAP, it's extremely annoying.

Offline smallsharkbigbite

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2013, 10:20:12 AM »
VC is one of the best ideas ever, with very poor implementation.  I was a huge supporter during the Wii early years, before I realized that many of the games that I wanted to play would never come out for the system. 


Now, I support it somewhat, the $.30 games, the rare games I don't own (Earthbound), games I just love (Mega Man X), and very difficult games where the save state is useful (Super Ghouls and Ghosts).


Price is okay, but I wish they'd be willing to move more on some of the older games.  After I decided to build up my retro library on my older systems and stop investing in VC, I was able to get bunches of N64/SNES/NES games for less than $5.  I know Nintendo isn't technically competing with that market but I really think they need to give more discounts for bulk buying or buying all of a series. 


The lack of games is just astonishing.  I was really hoping that they'd get the NES/SNES/Genesis games out of the way and start really expanding into the Master System, Arcade, Turbo Grafx, Dreamcast, Saturn, DOS, C64, etc.  There are so many game systems that have quality titles out there and it would be nice to have them available without putting in the investment to find a nice system and find the games.  It's just astounding to me that we are in what, year 7 of the VC, and it appears as if the best we are going to do is get back to the point it was a the end of the Wii life.  It's a big missed opportunity. 


The features are still lacking.  No upscaling, would be a nice feature.  One save state?  Just seems like they should have had multiple save states.  I'm sure their next console with have multiple, so they can claim new features and charge you the upgrade fee since you know they aren't going to let you just transfer their library. 


Online MP should be standard with these titles.  Emulators have been doing that for a while, there simply isn't a reason that it isn't.  Maybe that will be one of the "new features" with the next console.  It'd be nice if they allowed you to change filters or graphics on these games.  Again, not much work there. 


I also think they should be willing to pack an unmodified ROM and a modified ROM.  Just minor changes, like with Super Mario Bros.  Awesome game, that I have like 15 copies of on almost every system I own.  Why buy the Wii U version?  What if they added a character and had a Princess Peach mode?  What if they added a level 9?  Even if that brought the price from $5 to $8-10, I think it would make people feel like it was a must buy versus something that would be nice to have on a new system.  I'm fine with wanting to pack the original for nastolgia sake, but they should be doing more remakes.  I'm not talking REmake awesome, just minor changes that I think would really make people want to relive the game. 


So it's not a bad service, I was a big proponent of it, and despite moving mainly to older consoles I occasionally still support it.  I just think this could be awesome and it's not quite there. 

Offline supergtt

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2013, 10:46:33 AM »
I don't think anything about the way nintendo handles the vc is good.

Offline NeoThunder

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 11:41:48 AM »
So am I the only that thinks your being a whinny little bitch about this. Not trying to insult or name call but I think your getting a little picky. At some point, you just gotta take what you can get. I just think you're being served a lobster dinner here and are complaining cause they forgot your dinner roll.


If it's such a big deal. Get your big tube TV out and hook your NES up and play it that way
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Offline King Bowser Koopa

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 11:50:27 AM »
Great points there smallshark. I remember when the Wii VC had an announcement that some games would be improved upon or tweaked to bring them to a wider audience, and then they did it all of twice: translating Sin & Punishment and allowing Pokémon Snap players to move their photos to the Wii SD card.

Even if we don't get a new addition to an old game, does anyone remember Super Mario Bros. Deluxe on the Game Boy Color? I'd gladly pay for that game again on Virtual Console, it added so many interesting features to the original game that it felt almost like a new game. Sadly, Nintendo seems to have forgotten it existed.

One minor problem I didn't bring up in the article, I've noticed the VC versions of SMB and Kirby's Adventure both have a slight, high-pitched buzzing in the background that I can't get rid of. It's really strange and other NES games don't have it. Is that just an issue I'm hearing, or does it apply to everyone else who's downloaded the titles?

EDIT: Just saw your comment NeoThunder.
Sucking it up and accepting flaws would defeat the purpose of the feature, now wouldn't it? :)
The fact is that what Nintendo is trickling out of their Virtual Console pipeline is hardly a lobster dinner, more like luke-warm microwaved leftovers. These are modern releases of old games to a new audience, many of which never experienced the games before and are not getting an accurate representation of how they used to look. Likewise, many people don't have access to a NES or an old model TV with which to hook it up to anymore. As I mention in the feature, there's the option to load up Wii Mode and buy the Wii VC version of the game, but when Nintendo is giving us these games on the new eShop and touting them as new and improved ports, why should we have to settle for less?
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 12:18:01 PM by King Bowser Koopa »
Andrew Brown - NWR Australia Correspondent

Offline Pixelated Pixies

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2013, 12:25:07 PM »
Don't even get us Europeans started on the issue of virtual console. Virtual Console has been an absolute cluster f***. For every forward step Nintendo take, it seems to take another backwards. The PAL debacle, the absence of options for how the games are displayed, the lack of cross platform play, an unappealing pricing structure, a release schedule which borders on the bizarre, etc. Overall I have found the VC to be a huge disappointment.
 
Having said that, VC has allowed me to play some fantastic games that I might not have been able to play otherwise. It gave me games like Sin & Punishment, Ufouria, DoReMi, Faxanadu, Ogre Battle 64, Castlevania X etc. The VC is still a great idea, it's just the implementation that has sucked so hard.
Gouge away.

Offline NeoThunder

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 03:21:10 PM »
My point was not to equate the VC games to a lobster dinner, but the fact your complaining about a small insignificant thing. VC games feel and play very close to the original hardware. PAL regions might have something to complain about, but as far as US goes, there are plenty of other issues that I could get behind beside this. How about the lack of third party support? How about GameStop only having 1 copy of Wonderful 101 when it released and it was a preorder?
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Offline smallsharkbigbite

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 11:24:41 AM »
My point was not to equate the VC games to a lobster dinner, but the fact your complaining about a small insignificant thing. VC games feel and play very close to the original hardware. PAL regions might have something to complain about, but as far as US goes, there are plenty of other issues that I could get behind beside this. How about the lack of third party support? How about GameStop only having 1 copy of Wonderful 101 when it released and it was a preorder?

If you don't like old games why post in this thread?  There are buches of threads with similar or exact topics that you mention and most of them have been beat to death. Feel you have a unique take then make a new topic. It sounds like you are trying to say you have lots to whine about just not this. So you created a post to whine about that and your conclusion is the original poster is whiny?

I'm at the point where probably most of my gaming is games older than 10 years old so I appreciate knowing the difference. I can go buy a Super Mario/Duck Hunt cart for 1.99 at a gameshop and SMB is 4.99 on the eshop so I feel they are pricing this as a premium service. So I feel it's dissapointing when the eshop offers a worse experience. Someone else mentioned this but I've noticed it to be true to me, is SMW seems to lag a few frames. The game isn't unplayable, it's just not as tight as the original version and it makes the original a way better and tighter experience to me.

Another thing is the lack of third parties on the eshop vc. Even though they have the perfect set up, Nintendo still doesn't seem interested in selling someone else's games. Some of the issues are minor, but I preordered a retron 5 because I do have an NES attached to my hdtv and I'm looking for better ways to play my games, not worse.

Offline JoshuaJSlone

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Re: Paving the Way We Play: Virtual Consolation
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 02:21:26 PM »
For 1080p, Nearest Neighbor isn't a very good option for NES/SNES resolution. Multiply the standard 224 height by 4 and you get 896, using only about 83% of screen height. Multiply by 5 and you get 1120--oops, we've gone overboard. HOWEVER, scaling by 4.5 with minimal possible blurring should work pretty decently, and I'm guessing SNES games do something like that. Whatever it is they're doing with SNES games, it's puzzling they're not doing the same with NES games; the vast majority of games for both used the same resolution. For Gamepad a simple x2 scale would work decently, and use 93% of image height. However, the compression it uses for all imagery is always going to harm the clarity of VC games.

Here's an image I made quite a while back showing off the 4.5x as I mentioned above, and I think unless you zoom in it's hard to notice any blur. The image on the far right is if they wanted to match the actual old 4:3 TV aspect ratio, rather than just going with the 8:7 pixel ratio those systems produced.

http://i.imgur.com/C9idWq4.png

As long as we're complaining about the NES image quality, though, it's not just that they're blurrier than SNES games, they're also darker.