Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 7, 2014

Email: NES

Unfortunately there is a real problem with playing on the original
console. They just don’t work with modern TVs. You did not mention this
problem so I’m assuming you have an older TV to play them on.

The problem is that the resolution output of an NES is way lower than
the number of pixels on an HDTV. And it’s not just a simple doubling
either. So the HDTV has circuitry to upscale it but this requires
calculations and takes time. It’s not a problem if you’re watching a
movie, but once you have player input, you’re not able to respond as
quickly to what’s happening on the screen because it already happened in
the console a half second earlier.

People first started mentioning this when the Wii came out and they were
playing virtual console games. One guy said he was worse at Punch Out
because of it. I remember thinking, “yeah, you’re just a bunch of nerds
who count frames in fighting games and take yourselves too seriously.”
But when I finally got my own HDTV and tried Mario 2 I saw exactly what
they were talking about. One level has icy platforms and little white
fluffy things that run at you. I COULD NOT react to the white things
quick enough to get Mario over them. I don’t remember Mario 2 being that
hard but I was never able to get past that part of the game on Virtual

I mention all of this because it’s part of the appeal of Wii U. If you
like twitchy NES games (Punch Out is actually a perfect example) then
you either need to emulate or play it on one of the tube-style TVs that
no one sells anymore. There is a guy who has a website pretty much
devoted to this single problem ( If
you have lots of money you can buy units that do the conversion while
still keeping the game playable. But we’re talking no less than 200 bucks!

Meanwhile the Wii U should be able to provide a solution. It’s an HD
console so the TV upscaling is bypassed. But even better is the fact
that you can play on the GamePad, which is completely lag-free. The only
problem is Nintendo itself and the many ways Virtual Console sucks.
Nowhere is their contempt of the customer more apparent than Virtual
Console. Nevermind the fact that we have to buy the games again. Wii had
VC right at launch, while Wii U forced us to wait like 6 months, which
was painful for those of us looking for relief from the dismal Wii U
software landscape. And even then they started off with a ton of shitty
games (Balloon Fight and Yoshi were hyped up like the second coming of
the Messiah on Nintendo’s social media). The new releases come out at an
absolute trickle pace. We just got Super Mario Kart! Why do the games
come out slower than they did on Wii, let alone all at once like we
would have expected? And there aren’t even any N64 or Genesis games. I’m
sure they’re trying to control … something by doing this. VC isn’t
going to be a wow-factor system seller this time like it was on Wii, so
maybe they’re trying to save filler for the weaker second half of the
console’s life. But that doesn’t make it less infuriating.


Note: I’ll get to other emails soon. Too distracted with my NES.

Of course I’m using a tube TV. I got to have that Duck Hunt action! “Quack! Quack!” Nintendo was the Duck Dynasty back then. (If Nintendo marketing was smart, they’d get Phil to play Duck Hunt on the NES.)

The lag factor I didn’t think about. I have great faith in my brother gamers to figure out ways around it. The issue isn’t the TV as it is the signal display lag. That might mean changing the TV or putting in some mod or something. If Brother Gamers can figure out how to play Ultima VII on modern PCs (Exult), then they can solve anything!

I actually bought a big ass giant tube TV (it is SO HEAVY) right when the flat panels were coming out. I did it on purpose because I KNEW I needed a TV to tide me through my classic gaming. However, you don’t want a 1980s TV. Oh no. The TV I’m using huge but has component outlets. Not historic TV but last one of its kind. By the time it dies out, I expect Brother Gamers to have found solutions to the lag.

Playing on a ‘not 40 inch plus screen’ is nice because NES graphics are terrible and the sound is in mono. (SNES is actually in surround sound, did the reader know this? I bet the reader didn’t!) I think we have gotten distracted from what gaming is when we do the ‘omg big tv’ and ‘zomg theater surround sound’. Gaming really is about the interaction between the gamer and the game. It is not about how ‘nice’ the outputs are. Super Mario Brothers 3 on original NES hardware? OMG. It doesn’t get any better than it. I know. I’ve been waiting for it to get better, and it never has. While some people see gaming as getting better, I see it always in the reverse. And to think in 1990 I was so excited because with how amazing SMB 3 was, it would certainly be surpassed in the future! Yeah.

I have spent a considerable amount of time READING and TALKING about NES games instead of playing them today. This reminds me of old times. NES games are very fast and extraordinarily intense. I like how the NES prevents me from sitting in front of it all day like a zombie. Yet, I count down the hours until I can play again like a druggie needing his next fix.

I prefer my gaming like how I prefer my drinking and women: fast, hard, and intense. When I’m really old and have anxiety, I won’t be prescribed with Xanax but with Zanac.



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