When I had put together the Adding a Scanline Generator article, a little over a week ago, I had hoped on quickly capturing some sample output. While already having a capable HDMI capture solution in place for my day-to-day needs, capturing 800×600 VESA output proved a bit more difficult, and required an additional upscaler to get usable captures. Capturing the upscaled and converted VGA output does capture the gist of the differences between running with the scanline generator on or off, but it still does not capture the quality of the output on the monitor. Without further ado, I’ll get into the first captures from the full setup and add some more over the next day.
Comparison: Vs. Super Mario Bros.
From the arcade adaptation of the ever-so-famous Nintendo Entertainment System launch title, Vs. Super Mario Bros. is still one of my favorite go-to arcade games. It plays just like the NES version, a game which I have spent countless hours on over the years.
Side-by-side, the difference is fairly apparent. These stills are taken from the exact same pause state, with the only difference being that the left-most image is without the scanline generator turned on, and the right-most is with it turned on. The initial captures were very dark, so I did adjust the levels on the images, taking care to apply the exact same adjustments to each. The immediately noticeable difference between the two would be the color saturation. On the left, the colors are overly bright and lend a blotchiness to the look of the game. To the right, the scanlines actually subdue the colors and make them a lot more close to how they appeared on televisions and in arcades. The moire pattern that is visible in the image is not from the scanline generator, but is an artifact of the capture device that I am using. In real-life, the scanlines are even more uniform in appearance than in the screenshot.
Updated: A Couple More Comparisons
I had hoped to provide more comparisons, but on the true “classics”, I need to get the color leveling a bit more consistent. With primarily black backgrounds, games like Pac-Man, Donkey Cong, and Centipede have very heavy artifacting due to the lack of color and compression of the screenshots. I will try to get those adjusted separately and post them in a new article in the next day or so. In the interim, however, here are two vibrantly colored arcade classics that better show the true power of this scanline generator.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
There is really not much to say about this game, other than the fact that it is likely one of my favorite arcade games at all times. This game, alone, is what keeps me going back and forth on if I want to build a four-player control panel for my upright cabinet. On the one hand, how often am I going to have four people to play the game? On the other hand, it just feels magical when you have four players rocking this game.
An obvious classic. Not only does this game capture the before and after of the scanline generator best in captures, it is one of the better examples of how scanlines were effectively used to provide more detailed shading.