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 monitors 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
The first game I tried it on was House of
the Dead 2. I wasnt 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 thats two
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
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 isnt 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 thats 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 cant tell).
It doesnt look too bad on the TV, but
with a VGA monitor, it looks really bad. This is how best to visualise the "Now
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
How about the rest of Get Bass? Well, the
images seemed a lot more defined. Thats 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 cant 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.