April 20, 2009 6:00 AM | Eric Caoili
Select Button forumer NFG, who was also behind the wonderful Arcade Font Engine, posted a primer on aspect ratios, scanlines, and modern displays as they relate to video games, explaining why typical LCDs and plasma screens have trouble showing games the way we remember them.
"Modern fixed-resolution displays don't do a very good job of displaying older games," he argues. "No matter how they're displayed, some changes are made and compromises have to be accepted. Some of those problems, which NFG says CRTs are able to work around, include stretched or compressed sprites, blurry resampled pixels, and inconsistent resolutions for different consoles.
NFG isn't asserting that everyone should ditch their expensive modern displays, but he does see some intangible value in approximating the look of older games on CRT monitors. "Trying too hard to replicate the failings of old hardware is probably a sign of mental illness, but we do it anyway," he says. "I can't abide the idea that it's better or that the games were designed that way, or even that the designers intended them to be played with scanlines... It's just a silly pursuit which we engage in because we are chasing a personal ideal, a fleeting and enjoyable memory."