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 Post subject: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:14 am 


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It's incredibly difficult to find this information. Of the many MAME/MESS and arcade machine catalog sites, none of them appear to list this outright and/or have incorrect or misleading information. (For example, arcade-museum.com lists Darius as "standard resolution" which I guess is technically true since all three screens were normal 4:3 individually but the game as a whole certainly wasn't "standard").

edit:
I'm changing the title (again) because this isn't about ye olde "square pixels" debate and people are getting confused. I'm looking to make a list of all classic PCB arcade shmups (ie; MAME games) that had abnormal display setups, including but not limited to:
- multiple linked screens
- screens with uncommon proportions for the time like square/16:9/etc
- games that officially told the operators to adjust the geometry of the screen to something unusual
- games that were officially single-screen 4:3/3:4, but all operators did something else for some reason

I'm only interested in games that were obviously designed or set up this way where everyone agrees the screen situation was abnormal. I'm not arguing that most games were meant to be something other than 4:3 nor am I looking to make a list of every game whose graphics look stretched.


Last edited by komatik on Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 7:07 am 


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Going by the screen(s) you play them on or by pixels? i.e. Dodonpachi Daioujou (and other games on the same hardware) have a 1:2 pixel ratio but it's still played on a 3:4 screen (so non-square pixels).
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:51 am 


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Almost literally nothing. Any JAMMA PCB is meant to play on 4:3. Since LCDs were introduced, there are some games that can play on "high res" displays, which are traditionally 1360x768 (don't ask), which is slightly thinner than 16:9. These are almost entirely relegated to PC-based JVS standard boards, which don't have a JAMMA edge. There are also ones since then that display to more normal 720p or 1080p displays.

This is mostly due to CRTs being only easily available in bulk in 4:3, and no other display technology was remotely suitable at the time. Any JAMMA board needs to be compatible with JAMMA standard cabinets, which implies 4:3 CRTs. Non-JAMMA boards will typically still do 4:3 (unless they're the later kind doing 16:9-ish), because the only other displays used were likely going to be weird segmented displays or other "not monitor" type displays.

As far as 4:3 games go, many don't use a square pixel aspect ratio, preferring thinner or wider pixels in an effort to increase detail or decrease cost without breaking the display standards at the time. Over time, CRT monitors advanced from 15kHz (approx. 320x240) to 24kHz (approx. 512x384) to 31kHz (approx. 640x480), and games sometimes took advantage of these as well for increasing their display resolution. But at times, it made more sense to support the lowest common denominator. So, due to the analog nature of CRTs, games were able to increase horizontal resolution without changing the horizontal refresh rate, allowing for greater detail (for example: majority of Capcom games are 384x224, all games on IGS PGM are 448x224, etc). But they still display to a 4:3 screen, meaning each pixel is actually a thin line rather than a solid square.
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:36 am 


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I mean a display-aspect-ratio of something other than 4:3 or 3:4, I don't care what the pixel-aspect-ratio was. Darius is 4:1 (3x 4:3) for example, and I know some other non-shmups like X-MEN was 8:3 (2x 4:3) and Street Fighter III 2nd Impact had a widescreen option in the dipswitches for those few cabinets using a 16:9 CRT.

These games do exist, I'm just trying to compile a list of what they were. Darius is the only shmup I remember offhand but I know there were others.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:30 am 


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Shepardus wrote:
Going by the screen(s) you play them on or by pixels? i.e. Dodonpachi Daioujou (and other games on the same hardware) have a 1:2 pixel ratio but it's still played on a 3:4 screen (so non-square pixels).


No matter how you look at it, the intended screen is the only thing that matters.
Almost no games inteded to be played on a CRT have a 4:3 pixel resolution (ie. perfectly square pixels). Actually, I think it's probably safe to say that none of them do. It just doesn't make sense from a technical standpoint.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:21 pm 


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The intended screen is very rarely 4:3. A lot of older arcade and console platforms do use square pixels at strange resolutions and were not designed against a regular CRT at all. You can tell by looking at basically any circular object, projectile trajectories, character movement, etc. Look at basically any NES game (256x224), basically any PC Engine game (256x224), basically any SNES game (256x224), basically any Mega Drive game that uses the 256x224 mode, etc. Even the Mega Drive's 320x224 mode still isn't 4:3, but it's so close that it doesn't really matter. Come to think of it, I'm think these are all actually 240 horizontal and they just display 224 due to overscan/scanline quirks? This is beside the point, though.

(The PC Engine also has some weird higher resolutions, but very few games use them because they don't allow you to push more sprites onto the screen. One of those is something close enough to 4:3 that it doesn't look off when you stick it on a CRT. R-Type uses this, so it's basically a 4:3 game.)

A really big exception is the CP System series; far as I know, every single game on all three of these platforms actually were designed against regular 4:3 CRTs, despite using a strange internal resolution (the same one for all three platforms). There's also some hardware that actually does use a 4:3 internal resolution; Toaplan's platforms and CAVE's first-gen platform (a Toaplan derivative) did.

So yes, strange as it sounds, playing many old games on a regular CRT gives you a completely wrong picture. I don't know why people keep denying this, the proof is plain as day. USAAF Mustang is a great example: it uses 256x224, and when they did the Mega Drive port they just made it a 256x224 game as well. Play it any other way and the game looks and feels very strange.

Sometimes you'll get an arcade game that seemingly wasn't drawn for either the internal resolution or for use on a CRT. Other times you'll get a mix of internal resolution graphics and CRT-intended graphics. Unfortunately I don't remember great examples of these cases at the moment. I don't remember this ever happening with any console game, though. Maybe some NES game I've forgotten about, God knows how sketchy NES game development could be at times...
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Last edited by Despatche on Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:28 pm 


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Despatche wrote:
The intended screen is very rarely 4:3. A lot of older arcade and console platforms do use square pixels at strange resolutions and were not designed against a regular CRT at all. You can tell by looking at basically any circular object, projectile trajectories, character movement, etc. Look at basically any NES game (256x224), basically any PC Engine game (256x224), basically any SNES game (256x224), basically any Mega Drive game that uses the 256x224 mode, etc. Even the Mega Drive's 320x224 mode still isn't 4:3, but it's so close that it doesn't really matter.


Correction... the "intended" screen was definitely 4:3. The pixel resolution of the source wasn't. You aren't "meant" to be playing NES games (which are 256x240 btw, but SNES is 224p even without overscan) at a 16:15 aspect, even though most programmers/graphic artist maybe didn't bother adjusting for the tiny offset this represent, which I guess is mostly apparent in games with 8-way movements.

Arcade games even tend to come with the test mode that allows you to adjust V. and H. hold to fill out the entire 4:3 aspect of your monitor without overscan, no matter what the internal resolution of the video chip was.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:32 pm 


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The intended screen clearly can't be 4:3 if everything looks and feels wrong on a 4:3 CRT. This isn't a small effect at all, this is almost as big of a jump as making a vertical shmup for a horizontal screen.

Yes, I know some hardware handles the 224/240 problem differently, I just edited that in.
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:19 pm 


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All monitors that have ever displayed any of these games is created to display them at a 4:3 aspect, and that's the hardware they had to test with during development. If developers haven't been good at taking that into account, that's on them.
And that's not even taking into account the horrors of PAL TVs.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:02 pm 


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Despatche wrote:
The intended screen clearly can't be 4:3 if everything looks and feels wrong on a 4:3 CRT.
Despatche wrote:
I don't know why people keep denying this

Unfortunately life isn't that simple. It depends a lot on what your definition of "intended" is.

For all systems (NES/SNES/Genesis/PCE/arcade/etc), ideally the people making the game would have pre-scaled the graphics and adjusted the angles and everything so that they appeared correct when viewed on the 4:3 screen that the video was output to. However as we know, humans have a tendency to be cheap and lazy. Pre-adjusting takes extra design effort, makes the math more complicated, and frequently wastes valuable memory (since sprites are no longer even multiples of 16). Many many game designers, including famous beloved ones, took the attitude of "it'll look wrong when you actually see it on the screen, but fuck it the kids won't care and the few who do aren't worth our time".

These games were ultimately output to a 4:3 screen and the people making these games knew that full well. Whether you interpret this to mean that the games were intended to run in something other than 4:3 depends on if you feel the designers were limited in their artistic expression due to technology, or whether they were just too cheap and lazy to do it right. Most people take the attitude that until we can go back to 90s Japan and ask the creators what they wanted the next best thing is to display the games the way they ultimately ended up being displayed on actual TVs and arcade cabinets.

Regardless, some designers clearly were not cheap and lazy and did in fact pre-scale their graphics so that they looked correct. For instance, this famous SNES example showing 4:3 (top) vs the raw internal aspect ratio (bottom).

.... but anyway, getting into yet another debate about "square pixels vs not-square pixels" is getting sidetracked from my original question somewhat. I'm looking to compile a list of games, like Darius, where literally everyone on earth agrees that the overall playfield width x height ratio is not 4:3 or 3:4 with no debate. I know Darius isn't the only one but I can't remember/find the others.

Sumez wrote:
All monitors that have ever displayed any of these games is created to display them at a 4:3 aspect,

This true for home consoles, but I think only 99.9% true for Arcades. I'm pretty sure that that Street Fighter game's widescreen mode used a real 16:9 CRT (as opposed to letterbox on a 4:3).


Last edited by komatik on Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:10 pm 


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The Ninja Warriors and Rastan Saga 3 are, IIRC, on the same hardware as Darius 2 and also feature a non standard widescreen game area
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 2:19 pm 


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Wasn't there a widescreen vertical-scrolling plane shmup? I might be confusing it with 1944 Loop Master but I thought there was another late-era game in that style that was one of the rare 16:9 ones.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:38 pm 


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Despatche wrote:
The intended screen clearly can't be 4:3 if everything looks and feels wrong on a 4:3 CRT. This isn't a small effect at all, this is almost as big of a jump as making a vertical shmup for a horizontal screen.

Or the developers just messed up/didn't care that their circles weren't circular. Surely they weren't just completely oblivious that everyone was playing their games on 4:3 screens?

komatik wrote:
Wasn't there a widescreen vertical-scrolling plane shmup? I might be confusing it with 1944 Loop Master but I thought there was another late-era game in that style that was one of the rare 16:9 ones.

There's Jamestown, I don't know if that's what you're thinking of though.
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:45 pm 


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As for SF3, second impact has the 16:9 mode. I don’t think any other pre-JVS game supports it though.

For multi-monitor games, I know of:

Ninja Warriors, Darius, Darius II, Rastan III, TX-1, Buggy Boy, F355 Challenge

I feel like there are probably some other ride-type games from Sega using multiple monitors, but I think this is most of the list.
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 9:04 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:04 pm 


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Shepardus wrote:
There's Jamestown, I don't know if that's what you're thinking of though.

No, not that late. I know there are a zillion current generation PC/console games that are 16:9 for modern TVs and monitors, I'm not considering any of those. I'm looking for "classic era" (~1975-2005) PCB arcades, the ones you play in MAME. (Ultimately the reason I'm making this list is that I'm considering building a dedicated widescreen MAME cabinet and I'm trying to figure out how many games there are and if its even worth it).

trap15 wrote:
Darius II

Right, that counts. I was mentally filing all of the Darius family together as a single thing but I guess we should list them separately.

Quote:
Ninja Warriors and Rastan Saga 3. TX-1, Buggy Boy, F355 Challenge

I don't want to abuse a shmups forum to talk about non-shmups too much but I didn't know of most of these, I can add them to my master list. Thank you.

tomwhite2004 wrote:
img

Yeah that's the X-Men game I was talking about. That and SF3:2i are the famous ones people mention when talking about widescreen arcades (with Darius a strong runner up).


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:36 pm 


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Sumez wrote:
All monitors that have ever displayed any of these games is created to display them at a 4:3 aspect, and that's the hardware they had to test with during development. If developers haven't been good at taking that into account, that's on them.
And that's not even taking into account the horrors of PAL TVs.


I honestly don't understand how this discussion can still be running. The entire discussion should end at this post.

*ALL* the CRT screens ever made, from consumer to arcade to professional and broadcast (widescreen ones excluded) were 4:3 and that's what everyone used even during the testing phases and that's what artists used during the creation of the game's graphics.
If the circles aren't perfectly round, that's what the artist intended, because that's what they were seeing during development. If that wasn't ok to them, they would have changed them.

How in the world can anyone state otherwise it's truly beyond me. I mean, did they use professional CRTs and adjusted geometry to have the circles drawn round in a custom aspect ratio? That's 100% bullshit because at that time 99,999999999% of the people playing those games were on CRT TVs where they didn't have any kind of geometry adjustment (at least not without entering the hidden menu), so it doesn't make any kind of sense to make games thinking of a custom geometry.

I'm completely at loss to what points could be possibly made that old (pre-LCD era) games should be played at any ratio beyond 4:3, really.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:38 pm 


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tomwhite2004 wrote:
img

Thankfully the real machine was 2 4:3 monitors instead of this LCD mess, I'd forgotten about that one.
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:46 pm 


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trap15 wrote:
Thankfully the real machine was 2 4:3 monitors instead of this LCD mess,

I think that's actually a photoshop using a MAME screencap, the playscreen is too sharp and the bottom left corner appears to overlap the front bezel a bit. Understandable since these machines didn't photograph well.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:05 am 


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komatik wrote:
That and SF3:2i are the famous ones people mention when talking about widescreen arcades


To the best of my knowledge 16:9 crt's didn't exist in arcade cabs so no one would have played with that mode in 2nd impact at the time or knew it existed. 16:9 only appeared nearly a decade later with the Vewlix and they use an LCD. I think Capcom may have seen widescreen crt's in peoples homes and added the option in case arcade machines ever adopted them but it didn't happen.


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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:02 am 


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tomwhite2004 wrote:
To the best of my knowledge 16:9 crt's didn't exist in arcade cabs

To be fair, I'm not 100% certain that the actual physical CRT was 16:9, there's suspicion that it may have been drawn letterboxed on a traditional 4:3 CRT with a custom bezel covering the extra. AFAIK there were actual cabinets that used the widescreen mode but no pictures or documents survive so the design has to be interpolated from people's memories.

Either way it counts for my purposes since it's an official option on the original boards.

tomwhite2004 wrote:
I think Capcom may have seen widescreen crt's in peoples homes

Not in '97 they didn't. I dunno what their rationale was for including the mode, but that wasn't it.


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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:01 am 


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donluca wrote:
I honestly don't understand how this discussion can still be running. The entire discussion should end at this post.

*ALL* the CRT screens ever made, from consumer to arcade to professional and broadcast (widescreen ones excluded) were 4:3 and that's what everyone used even during the testing phases and that's what artists used during the creation of the game's graphics.
If the circles aren't perfectly round, that's what the artist intended, because that's what they were seeing during development. If that wasn't ok to them, they would have changed them.

How in the world can anyone state otherwise it's truly beyond me. I mean, did they use professional CRTs and adjusted geometry to have the circles drawn round in a custom aspect ratio? That's 100% bullshit because at that time 99,999999999% of the people playing those games were on CRT TVs where they didn't have any kind of geometry adjustment (at least not without entering the hidden menu), so it doesn't make any kind of sense to make games thinking of a custom geometry.

I'm completely at loss to what points could be possibly made that old (pre-LCD era) games should be played at any ratio beyond 4:3, really.


You and me both. There are legions of idiots on the Internet who think that DUH DEVELOPPERS INTENDEDDED for games to be seen at some weird-ass display ratio. I chalk it up to people not knowing how ubiquitous 4:3 displays used to be and not understanding what a pixel clock is. Whether they are related to the morons who swear up and down that PS1 games were INTENDEDDED to be seen at 1080p and above I'm not certain, but I do have a hunch.
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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 4:05 am 



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What you are supposed to do is use the hori and vert size adjustments to make the game look correct on a 4:3 moniter. For example, Capcom's in house X68000 ports and Cotton have widescreen modes. But there were no widescreen moniters. You are supppsed to lower the vertical size, resulting in a letterboxed picture.

In fact most standard home CRT TVs sold in Japan from the 90s and 00s have a button to letterbox with one push.


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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:34 am 


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Is this tidbit at all related to many PC-88 and PC-98 games appearing to look correct in letterbox?
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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:53 am 


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SuperDeadite wrote:
What you are supposed to do is use the hori and vert size adjustments to make the game look correct on a 4:3 moniter.

Yeah I'm looking for those sorts of games too. I don't actually care how many screens the game used or what the individual ratios of those screens were, just what the overall display aspect ratio was as ultimately presented to the user.

SuperDeadite wrote:
For example, Capcom's in house X68000 ports and Cotton have widescreen modes.

Oh perfect, that's what I'm looking for. Do you know the exact games? I don't know how to look up which Capcoms were in house ports and there were several Cotton arcade games.


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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:34 am 


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Virtua Racing deluxe cab had a widescreen standard res monitor, afaik the game has a single 496x384 output but it fit as perectly as on a normal 4:3
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 Post subject: Re: Which/how many PCBs were NOT 4:3/3:4?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:49 am 


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WelshMegalodon wrote:
I chalk it up to people not knowing how ubiquitous 4:3 displays used to be and not understanding what a pixel clock is.


The issue is that now there are entire generations that have never even seen a CRT monitor and they only play on emulators which, of course, map pixels 1:1 on the screen, so the aspect ratio is fucked up.

Although it would be easy to blame the players, I really want to call out the early emu devs on this for not putting 4:3 as the standard option on aspect ratio, even on full screen, thus leading to this whole mess.


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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:40 am 


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Xyga wrote:
Virtua Racing deluxe cab had a widescreen standard res monitor, afaik the game has a single 496x384 output but it fit as perectly as on a normal 4:3


wow, it had a 36 inch medium res 16:9 crt in 1992! can you imagine how much that must have cost!

komatik wrote:
To be fair, I'm not 100% certain that the actual physical CRT was 16:9, there's suspicion that it may have been drawn letterboxed on a traditional 4:3 CRT with a custom bezel covering the extra.


the resolution of the widescreen mode is still 384x224, it just looks really squished on a 4:3 screen.

komatik wrote:
Not in '97 they didn't. I dunno what their rationale was for including the mode, but that wasn't it.


true, consumer sets were still one or two years away but they still would have thought that 16:9 was potentially going to be used in arcade machines moving forward.

another game that i dont think has been mentioned is galaxian 3 which used multiple projectors rather than monitors.


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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:57 am 


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tomwhite2004 wrote:
wow, it had a 36 inch medium res 16:9 crt in 1992! can you imagine how much that must have cost!

The whole cabinet smells of ridiculously expensive lol. Had the chance to play it once, really that monitor was terrific.
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 Post subject: Re: Which PCBs used abnormal or multi-monitor displays?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:31 pm 



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Location: Leeds
There's not too many. Honestly there's not too much that jumps to mind. Aside from general curiosity I don't think there's too much need to know?

However, this does give me the excuse to talk about an odd game that I really like: Warrior Blade / Rastan 3. Not the world's deepest game, arguably a bit plain, but responsive and imho really captures that savage-sword-conan feel which some of the higher profile/bright/bombastic brawlers never really did...

Standard (vs med) vs hi-res resolution in arcade terms only really applies to the frequency in khz i.e. 15 kHz (vs 24kHz) vs 31khz, not the actual resolution per se, and therefore not the intended screen ratio, number of screens or even orientation. Unless you had a very funky (/impractical) refresh rate and/or resolution the number of times a beam can cross the screen does dictate the the resolution banding of low / medium / high and ... ofc the only thing that really mattered was ensuring the operator had the right kind of monitor ... which 99% of the time was a low res 15khz (4:3) screen. I'd imagine pretty much anything that required anything else probably came in a custom cab anyway until post 2000...


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