why it was better on CRT TV

Retro games may seem more pixelated to us today than we remember. It is not the fault of our memory, but of the screen used.

Aerith’s face in Final Fantasy VII can change drastically between two screens // Source: @ ruuupu1

Playing an old game again can sometimes turn out to be a disappointment. A game that we cherished at a younger age, and that we found technically completely ruffling, then appears to us like a vulgar mush of pixels. Is it an effect of our memory, which modifies tend to modify memories to embellish or distort them? Or the evolution of graphics in video games that has opened our eyes since? Not at all, the reason is actually technological.

A difference only visible to the eye, or in photo

The difference actually comes from the screen used. Until the 2000s, we mainly used CRT screens, that is to say cathode ray tube, before the switch to generalized LCD screens with the arrival of HD.

The two images are identical, but the one on the left is displayed on a CRT screen

The two images are identical, but the one on the left is displayed on a CRT screen // Source: @ ruuupu1

To better understand the difference, the Japanese account Ruuupu1 made several comparisons between screenshots taken on a contemporary LCD screen, and a photo taken of the same image on a tube screen. Without having your eyes directly in front of the screen in question, taking a photo is necessarily the only way to transcribe the difference in display between the two technologies.

We then see how the display on a tube screen seems to erase all the pixelation defects and even goes so far as to give the impression of a more detailed image, with finer writings.

A question of pixel display

As recalled Fenarinarsa sur Twitter, tube displays have a completely different operation for displaying pixels. The artists who worked on these games, like here Final Fantasy VII, took into account the peculiarities of the display on a CRT screen and played it for the display of the game.

1.electron guns / 2. electron beams / 3.red, blue and green mask / 4.phosphorescent layer / 5.close-up on the inside of the screen

1.electron guns / 2. electron beams / 3.red, blue and green mask / 4.phosphorescent layer / 5.close-up on the inside of the screen // Source: wikipedia

More specifically, in a CRT screen, the electron guns (one per primary color) project electrons which react with the phosphorus in the screen. This technique implies that we have a set of light points on the screen, but not pixels in the contemporary sense of the term. The video signal is sent line by line across the screen, regardless of how many pixels the source may want to display.

It is these peculiarities, and the fact that a pixel does not therefore necessarily fall on a bright point, which means that the display of an image on a CRT screen will have a very different rendering than that of an LCD screen.

Technological evolution has happened there

Obviously, this does not prevent games from having also evolved technologically and therefore from being more sophisticated today than they were in the days of cathode ray tubes. The rendering definition jumped, but also the number of polygons in 3D games, and the processing effects calculated in real time, until the famous ray tracing new generation games, a sweet fantasy at the time.

In addition, a display respectful of the artistic vision of the time is not completely out of reach on our LCD screens. More and more emulators are incorporating options to try to imitate, with varying degrees of success, the display that a tube screen could give.

Final Fantasy VII on emulator with the CRT-Royal shader which simulates the display on a tube screen

Final Fantasy VII on emulator with the CRT-Royal shader which simulates the display on a tube screen

We now understand better why certain games appear to us today more pixelated than in our memories.


Source: Frandroid by www.frandroid.com.

*The article has been translated based on the content of Frandroid by www.frandroid.com. If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!