Do you have something a little less retro?
Marseille talked about how good the results were from the GameCube with progressive scan outputting to an HDMI adapter like Insurrection Industries’ Carby. I don’t have a GameCube or a Carby, but I do have the original Xbox. This system outputs a native 16:9 480p image in just about every single game if you have a component cable, which I do.
The Xbox is plugged into an inexpensive Portta YPbPr to HDMI converter box. This converter doesn’t have a frame buffer and therefore no upscaling in the box but it doesn’t add any perceptible lag. The downside is that this particular converter can’t handle 240p content (480i is the lowest resolution supported), so many PlayStation 1 and 2 games are right out. It’s perfect for the Xbox, though, and should work well with a Wii outputting 480p, too.
It’s connected to the Xbox using a third-party YPbPr component cable. There’s some analog noise in these images, but that’s not the mClassic’s fault. That noise is representative of the kind of analog signal that many folks will be feeding a converter, so it’s a good real-world test.
Need for Speed Underground 2
For a 480p game test, I busted out Need For Speed Underground 2, which a fun open-world racing game with great-feeling arcade controls and a high-adrenaline early 2000s soundtrack. It also looks pretty nice and has some high-contrast areas that should make it easy to see what the mClassic can do.
NFS Underground 2 original
NFS Underground 2 processed by mClassic in Retro mode
Ignore the weather difference, as the game’s weather changed while I was taking screen caps. I kept flipping the mClassic processing effects on and off, and eventually the Live Gamer Mini stopped acknowledging the unprocessed 480p signal. I got my picture back by restarting the console, but getting the car in that exact spot again was impossible.
Anyway, even with the change of weather, the mClassic’s effects are obvious, but I’m not sure that it helps. What was a blocky, pixellated wall is totally smoothed over by the antialiasing, and then sharpened. While the textures weren’t highly detailed to begin with, even more detail gets lost.
The upscaling isn’t magic, either. You still can’t read the license plate, which would be possible if the resolution was actually higher (it says UNDERGROUND, by the way). Like everything else with the mClassic, it’s a matter of taste, but it’d be nice to have a way to set the effect’s level to get exactly what you want.
Amped 2 at 720p unprocessed
The same game at 1080p, processed by mClassic in Retro mode
Some games on the OG Xbox support higher resolutions, too. Amped 2 looks decent at 720p, for instance, and the mClassic antialiases the image nicely. Unfortunately, the analog noise is amped (heh) up quite a bit. The Xbox has just awful, noisy high-def YPbPr output, so there’s rainbow banding, but we can ignore that. In the above photo, the boarder’s model is pretty clean, all things considered. Even though this guy won’t stand still, you can still see that the mClassic neatly rounds off the puffs of his coat. I think we might have just found mClassic’s calling—we’ll find out when we test the PlayStation 3.
On the other hand, a handful of 2D games on the system, like Capcom’s Arcade Classics Collection or Marvel vs Capcom 2, the smoothing turned to smearing like Street Fighter II on the Genesis. Thankfully, bypass mode is just a flick of a switch away.