That mClassic feeling
If you’re not into original retro hardware, there are plenty of off-the-shelf options for getting your 8-bit and 16-bit game on. We’ll look at two such representatives: Nintendo’s NES Classic Mini, which scales the original 240p image to 720p and puts it in a frame, and Analogue’s Super Nt, which can scale to multiple resolutions.
Something interesting happened to the NES Classic on the way to 1080p. The image isn’t anti-aliased like it was on the Genesis, which is a plus in my book. On the other hand, you can see halos around sharpened objects. If you open the full-sized Super Mario 3 image above, you’ll see a white halo around the clouds’ outlines. The mClassic is over-sharpening the image just a tad, but it looks good in motion to me. Since the NES Classic doesn’t have any horizontal interpolation to get its 256×224 image up to 960 pixels wide, and upscaling seemed to tame the shimmering effect somewhat.
Next let’s take a look at Analogue’s Super Nt. Like the OSSC, this FPGA system outputs at 480p, 720p, and 1080p. Since we’ve already seen what the mClassic can do with 480p and 720p images, let’s take a look at the Super Nt’s 5x scaling mode at 1080p.
By using the Super Nt’s 1080p output, we get processed and unprocessed images that have identical dimensions. That makes it easier to compare images. Again, antialiasing is completely absent, but the image is super-sharp. If you flip between the images, you can again see faint artifacts caused by the sharpening filter. Again, it looks good in motion—to me the image just “pops” a little more as a result of the mClassic’s work.
As I mentioned before, the higher resolutions apply to the OSSC, too, since it just multiplies lines out of a retro console. 720p from the device is line tripling, and 1080p is either a smaller 4x image or a larger (and somewhat cropped) 5x image. Just like with the native HDMI options, those line multiplying options totally the antialiasing filter of the mClassic. That’s not a complaint; super-sharp pixels are my favorite flavor of retro.