Dreamcast VGA Box - Page 2

2. Comments
I plugged everything in and powered up the Dreamcast.

The swirl logo appeared in crisp high resolution, running at 640x480. While this might be low resolution for most PC gamers, it is surprisingly sharp and detailed. I checked my monitor’s controls and realised it was running at 60Hz refresh rate non-interlaced. So far, so good.

"The TV, on the other hand, filters the image due to the imprecise nature of the circuitry, and the overall effect is, at least in my opinion, more pleasing to the eye than sharp jagged images."

The first game I tried it on was House of the Dead 2. I wasn’t too sure if the gun would work with the monitor, since most light guns are designed for use on direct-view (cathode ray tube) televisions only, which are interlaced displays. But the gun calibrated correctly and worked like a charm.

So what are the visuals like in House of the Dead 2 with this nifty device? In a word: Arcade Perfect. OK, so that’s two words.

What does that mean, considering the game has been rated arcade perfect by EVERY review I have read so far?

What I mean is this: arcade machines have the benefit of using good monitors and the images are usually sharp and crisp. This is especially apparent on the smaller HotD2 cabinets.

For your information, there are usually two basic designs for the HotD2 in the arcades. One is the smaller unit (29" inch screen reflected off a mirror). The second is a deluxe 40" rear projection unit. The visuals on the former are usually sharper (since the screen is smaller)

With normal TVs, however, you lose some resolution and the images appear a little blurry. This is an inherent problem with television screens, and explains why you pay so much more for a monitor of an equivalent size.

Good news, folks. With the VGA Box and any half decent VGA monitor, you get back the crisp visuals from the arcades.

Next I booted up Get Bass. This was where the sheen of the VGA Box began to lose a little of its lustre. For those of you with Get Bass, you will probably recall that it has atrocious load times (OK, it isn’t really that bad compared to most Playstation/Saturn games, but after you get used to Marvel vs Capcom, VF3TB, Powerstone, etc it does seem awfully draggy).

"So what are the visuals like in House of the Dead 2 with this nifty device? In a word: Arcade Perfect. OK, so that’s two words."

Anyway, one of the first screens that greet you when you start Get Bass is the bland "Now Loading" screen with some animated icon (Fish? Reel? I can’t tell).

It doesn’t look too bad on the TV, but with a VGA monitor, it looks really bad. This is how best to visualise the "Now Loading" screen.

Remember how in the old days of Windows 3.1 before TrueType/ATM scaleable fonts became the norm, and you displayed 24-point Times Roman text on the screen? Remember how jagged the text was? That pretty much sums up the image.

How about the rest of Get Bass? Well, the images seemed a lot more defined. That’s a good thing. Nice to have, but not worth blowing a hundred bucks for, if you ask me. Same thing happened with VF3TB and Sega Rally 2 which were the next two games I tried. Nice high resolution, well defined images, but all the images seemed highly aliased (jagged).

The TV, on the other hand, filters the image due to the imprecise nature of the circuitry, and the overall effect is, at least in my opinion, more pleasing to the eye than sharp jagged images.

I then tried a 2D game: Marvel vs Capcom. Again, the precision of the VGA monitor revealed jaggies in the animation. The best way to describe it is to recall the visuals from the Street Fighter Alpha games (PC version), running at 320x200.

I guess the VGA monitor was doing too good a job at revealing details and showed flaws in the original material.

At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel, when I plonked in Powerstone, and was blown away by how GREAT everything looked. This, I can’t find the words to describe. It was just incredibly amazing how crisped and detailed everything looked. Fonts were anti-aliased, colours were vibrant, and every single detail was there. It actually made owning the VGA Box worthwhile again, and made up for the lousy pictures I got from my other games.

 

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