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Nostalgia Vs Reality: The Harsh Truth About Old Game Graphics on Modern Displays – PART 2


In our previous article, we looked at the challenges which are encountered by gamers and developers when attempting to play retro games on modern displays. On high-definition televisions, the once-beloved visuals can appear jagged and blurry. Fortunately, advancements in upscaling technology have emerged to breathe new life into these retro games, preserving their nostalgic charm while enhancing their visual fidelity for contemporary displays.

The Challenge of Retro Gaming Graphics

Retro games, crafted in the era of cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, utilized resolutions ranging from 240p to 480p, snugly fitting the cozy confines of those old screens. Fast forward to the age of modern TVs boasting resolutions soaring from 720p to 4K and beyond, with widescreen aspect ratios galore. When retro games land on these sleek, high-resolution displays, they’re stretched and contorted to fit, resulting in a visual pixelation and blurriness.

Modern TVs come with fixed resolutions, exacerbating the dilemma. Upscaling algorithms attempt to bridge the resolution gap, but the process often introduces its own set of distortions, marring the nostalgic charm of retro games.

CRT Screens

The cathode ray tube, the stalwart champion of yesteryear’s gaming realm. Within its glowing depths lies a world of wonders—phosphor glow, scanlines, and smooth motion—all integral to the retro gaming experience.

Phosphor Glow: The phosphor-coated screen of a CRT monitor emits a gentle glow when struck by electrons, enhancing colors and imbuing retro games with a vibrant aura that modern displays struggle to replicate.

Scanlines: A hallmark of CRT displays, scanlines weave through the fabric of retro game graphics, creating a distinctive texture that’s etched into the memories of gamers. These horizontal gaps between lines add a layer of authenticity, evoking the nostalgic allure of classic gaming.

Smooth Motion: Picture-perfect motion without a hint of blur or lag—that’s the promise of CRT displays. The scanning electron beam paints images on the screen with precision, delivering a gaming experience devoid of the jitters and stutters that haunt modern displays.

Depiction of how the scanning electron beam operates on a CRT display. Credit: The Slow Mo Guys
Depiction of how the scanning electron beam operates on a CRT display. Credit: The Slow Mo Guys

The Modern Dilemma:

In the land of LCDs, LEDs, and OLEDs, the rules of the game have changed. Pixels reign supreme, forming a grid that lacks the continuous phosphor glow of CRT screens. While modern displays boast faster response times and smoother motion handling, they struggle to capture the essence of retro gaming.

Pixel Grid: The discrete nature of pixels on modern displays introduces a loss of detail and smoothness, altering the visual landscape of retro games designed for the continuous glow of CRT screens.

Motion Handling: While LCD and OLED displays excel in motion handling, the absence of scanlines and phosphor glow alters the visual aesthetic of retro games, robbing them of their nostalgic charm.

Upscaling Technology: Bringing Retro Games into the HD Era

Upscaling technology aims to address the challenge of displaying retro game graphics on modern televisions. By employing sophisticated algorithms and image processing techniques, upscaling algorithms analyze the original low-resolution image and extrapolate additional detail to enhance its visual quality when displayed at higher resolutions.

One popular method used for upscaling retro game graphics is called “nearest-neighbor interpolation.” This technique involves duplicating existing pixels to increase the resolution of the image without introducing new visual information. While simple, nearest-neighbor interpolation can produce sharp images that closely resemble the original graphics of retro games.

Nearest-neighbor interpolation operates on a simple principle: duplicate existing pixels to increase the resolution without introducing new visual information. The result? A faithful recreation of the pixel-perfect graphics that adorned beloved CRT screens. For these purists, this approach is sacrosanct, maintaining the integrity of retro game aesthetics with unwavering precision.

However, within the community, there’s an acknowledgment of the merits of alternative smoothing interpolation methods, particularly when it comes to 3D games. While nearest-neighbor interpolation excels in preserving the raw charm of 2D pixel art, its rigid adherence to chunky pixels can prove less forgiving in the realm of three-dimensional graphics.

Consider the jagged edges of lower-poly models and the blurry textures of yesteryear’s 3D masterpieces. In such cases, a touch of smoothing interpolation can work wonders, tempering the harsh edges and breathing new life into aging polygons. It’s a delicate balancing act—one that requires finesse and a keen understanding of each game’s unique aesthetic.

Opinions vary among enthusiasts, and rightly so. The choice of scaling mode ultimately hinges on the game in question and the desired aesthetic outcome. For some, the rugged authenticity of nearest-neighbor interpolation reigns supreme, while others may opt for the gentler embrace of smoothing algorithms to soften the jagged edges of nostalgia.

Another approach is “bicubic interpolation,” which calculates new pixel values based on the weighted average of neighboring pixels. Bicubic interpolation tends to produce smoother and more visually appealing results compared to nearest-neighbor interpolation, making it a preferred choice for upscaling retro game graphics on modern TVs.

Furthermore, machine learning-based upscaling techniques have gained popularity in recent years. These algorithms leverage artificial intelligence to analyze patterns in low-resolution images and generate high-resolution counterparts with remarkable accuracy. By training on vast datasets of images, machine learning models can learn to recognize and recreate the intricate details of retro game graphics, resulting in visually stunning upscaled versions.

Preserving the Nostalgic Charm

While upscaling technology enhances the visual quality of retro game graphics, preserving their nostalgic charm is equally important. Developers and enthusiasts often prioritize maintaining the original artistic integrity of these classic games, ensuring that the upscaled versions retain the distinctive aesthetic that players remember and love.

To achieve this, upscaling algorithms may incorporate features such as scanline emulation, color correction, and CRT shaders. Scanline emulation mimics the appearance of scanlines that were characteristic of CRT displays, adding a subtle texture to the upscaled graphics and evoking the retro gaming experience. Color correction algorithms adjust the color palette of retro games to match the intended look on modern displays, correcting inaccuracies that may arise due to differences in display technology.

Additionally, CRT shaders simulate the visual effects produced by CRT monitors, such as phosphor glow and curvature distortion. By applying these shaders to the upscaled graphics, developers can recreate the immersive atmosphere of playing retro games on authentic CRT displays, further enhancing the nostalgia factor for players.

In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Retro gaming is a deeply personal experience, shaped by individual preferences and nostalgic attachments. Whether one swears by nearest-neighbor interpolation or embraces the subtle art of smoothing algorithms, one thing remains clear: the spirit of retro gaming lives on, fueled by a passionate community dedicated to preserving the magic of gaming’s golden age.

Nostalgia vs Reality: The Harsh Truth About Old Game Graphics on Modern Displays – PART 1

It’s a fundamental truth about gaming that as technology advances, so too do our expectations of what constitutes visually stunning graphics. However, there’s a curious phenomenon that occurs when we look back at the games of yesteryear through the lens of nostalgia… We remember them fondly, but when we actually try to play them on our high-definition TVs or ultra-sharp monitors, the reality can be a harsh wake-up call.

The Rose-Tinted Glasses of Nostalgia

Nostalgia has a powerful effect on how we perceive things, including the graphics of old video games. Many of us have cherished memories of spending hours engrossed in games that, at the time, felt cutting-edge and visually stunning. Whether it’s the blocky sprites of the original Super Mario Bros. or the pixelated landscapes of early RPGs like Final Fantasy, these games hold a special place in our hearts.

Example of CRT on the left and modern TV on the right – Wizardry

The Reality Check of Modern Displays

However, when we fire up these classics on our modern high-definition TVs or high-end monitors, the experience can be jarring. What once looked vibrant and immersive now appears pixelated, jagged, and, in some cases, downright ugly. The limitations of older hardware become glaringly apparent when stretched across the expansive canvas of today’s displays.

How CRT TV’s worked

Pixel Art: Lost in Translation

One aspect of old game graphics that often suffers the most on modern displays is pixel art. Pixel art, characterized by its deliberate use of blocky, pixelated graphics, was a staple of early video game design. However, this art form was developed with the specific constraints of older display technologies in mind, particularly cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors.

When pixel art is viewed on modern displays, which are typically flat-panel LCD or LED screens, the results can be less than ideal. The sharpness and clarity of these displays accentuate the jagged edges of pixel art, robbing it of its charm and character. What was once a carefully crafted piece of visual design can now look crude and amateurish.

While our memories of old game graphics may be tinted with nostalgia, the reality is often less flattering. The transition to modern displays has exposed the limitations of early video game technology, particularly when it comes to pixel art. While we can still appreciate the gameplay and storytelling of these classics, it’s important to acknowledge that their visual appeal may not hold up to modern standards. In the end, perhaps it’s the memories we create while playing these games that truly endure, regardless of how they look on screen.

Retro Gaming Icons

Nostalgia Meets Knowledge: The Educational Power of Retro Gaming

It’s easy to overlook the timeless charm and educational potential of retro games. While these classics may seem outdated to some, their simplicity and engaging gameplay make them an untapped resource in educational settings. This article delves into the realm of retro gaming in education, exploring how these vintage gems can be utilized to teach programming, history, and problem-solving skills.
Retro games, with their pixelated graphics and limited processing power, may appear primitive compared to contemporary titles. However, beneath their seemingly simple exteriors lies a treasure trove of programming concepts waiting to be unearthed. Introducing students to retro game development provides a hands-on approach to learning coding principles.

Classic games like “Pong” and “Space Invaders” serve as excellent entry points for beginners to understand the basics of game mechanics and logic. These games often have straightforward code structures, making them ideal for novices. As students’ progress, they can tackle more complex projects, gradually building a strong foundation in programming.

Time Travelling Through History


One of the lesser-explored benefits of incorporating retro games into education is their ability to serve as historical artifacts. These games offer a glimpse into the past, showcasing the technological limitations and cultural influences of their respective eras. Integrating retro games into history lessons provides a unique and engaging way to connect with the past.

Games like “Oregon Trail” or “Civilization” offer immersive experiences that can supplement traditional history curriculum. Students can witness the challenges faced by pioneers on the Oregon Trail or strategize their way through different historical periods in Civilization. This interactive approach not only fosters a deeper understanding of history but also sparks curiosity and a love for learning.

Leveling Up Problem-Solving Skills

Retro games, known for their challenging gameplay and limited resources, are excellent tools for honing problem-solving skills. Unlike modern games with extensive tutorials and hand-holding, classics like “Super Mario Bros.” and “Legend of Zelda” require players to think critically and adapt to unforeseen challenges.

In an educational context, these games can be used to develop problem-solving skills in a fun and engaging manner. Students learn to analyze situations, identify patterns, and devise strategies to overcome obstacles. The trial-and-error nature of retro games encourages resilience and perseverance, vital qualities that extend beyond the gaming screen.
Social Benefits of Retro Gaming

Retro games, particularly early MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games), offer more than just a solo gaming experience. These classics laid the groundwork for social interactions within virtual worlds, teaching players how to work together as a team, coordinate times for raids, and build lasting online communities. These social skills extend beyond the gaming realm, contributing to teamwork and collaboration in various aspects of life.

Enhancing Reaction Times and Coordination

Another noteworthy aspect of retro gaming is its potential impact on cognitive abilities, particularly in terms of reaction times and coordination. Studies have suggested that playing fast-paced retro games, such as classic arcade titles or early first-person shooters, may contribute to improvements in these areas.

Researchers have found a correlation between engaging in retro gaming and enhanced hand-eye coordination. The rapid decision-making required to navigate through challenging levels or respond to unexpected in-game events can lead to improved reflexes and heightened coordination. This aspect of retro gaming could be leveraged in educational settings to enhance students’ motor skills and cognitive responsiveness.

Retro gaming in education presents a multifaceted approach to learning that goes beyond coding and history. As students explore the past through classic games, they gain insights into game design principles, artistic evolution, and the social dynamics fostered by early MMOs.

The combination of nostalgia and educational value offers a holistic learning experience that not only imparts knowledge but also cultivates essential skills for the digital age. In revisiting the classics, we may find the keys to unlocking a more comprehensive and engaging approach to education, one that extends its benefits to the realms of improved reaction times and coordination.

We’re going to GDC2024!


The Implicit Conversions team is heading to GDC this March 2024! If you’d like to chat about retro/classic games, game preservation, or anything else video games (except Baldur’s Gate 3 because, enough already!), then drop us a line at info@implicitconversions.com

The Enduring Power of Pixel Art and Chiptunes

Super Mario World Map

Allow us to take you through the blue doors of Implicit Conversions Time Machine.

We are going on a journey to an era where pixels reigned supreme and chiptune melodies filled our bedrooms.

Memories of retro gaming are dominated by its powerful visuals and memorable tunes. Let us delve into the fascinating world of the pixel aesthetic together and explore how the limitations of the 8- and 16-bit era gave birth to an iconic artistic style that continues to captivate gamers today.

Creating Memories One Pixel at a Time

The charm of pixel art lies in its ability to evoke emotions and tell intricate stories despite the minimalistic approach. Every pixel is carefully placed, and each sprite serves a purpose, contributing to the overall visual narrative. The nostalgia associated with pixel art today is a testament to its enduring appeal, showcasing that limitations can breed innovation

Pixel art, the hallmark of retro gaming visuals, emerged as a creative response to the technical constraints of early gaming hardware. During the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, developers faced severe limitations in terms of processing power, memory, and graphical capabilities. To overcome these challenges, game designers turned to pixel art, a form of digital art where images are created using tiny, square-shaped pixels.

The limited resolution and color palette of early gaming consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Sega Genesis, forced artists to think creatively within these boundaries. Despite the constraints, pixel art became a powerful medium for expressing creativity and storytelling. Characters like Mario and Link became iconic not just for their gameplay but for the charming simplicity of their pixelated designs.

A Symphony of Melodies

Complementing the pixelated visuals, chiptune music became the soul of retro gaming. Chiptunes are musical compositions created using the sound chips found in early gaming consoles and computers. These unique, electronic soundscapes are characterized by their 8-bit melodies and rhythmic simplicity, echoing the constraints of the hardware they were created on.

With limited channels and instruments, chiptune composers faced the challenge of crafting memorable tunes within these constraints. However, these limitations sparked creativity, leading to the creation of timeless melodies that have left an indelible mark on gaming culture. Games like “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda” feature chiptune soundtracks that are not only nostalgic but also integral to the overall gaming experience.

A Perfect Union

The marriage of pixel art and chiptune music in retro games goes beyond mere aesthetics – it creates a cohesive and immersive experience. The synergy between the visual and auditory elements allowed developers to maximize the impact of their games despite the technical limitations. The simplistic yet expressive nature of pixel art blends seamlessly with the catchy and memorable tunes of chiptune music, forming a unique artistic identity.

The pixel aesthetic of retro games, born out of necessity, has transcended its humble origins to become a celebrated art form.

The limitations of early gaming technology fueled the creative minds behind pixel art and chiptune music, giving rise to a timeless and iconic era in gaming history.

As we continue to embrace modern gaming with its photorealistic graphics and orchestral soundtracks, taking a nostalgic trip back to the pixelated worlds of the past reminds us that limitations can breed innovation, and simplicity can be the key to enduring artistic beauty.

Meet us at DICE 2024 in Las Vegas


We’re going to DICE2024!

Implicit Conversions will be attending DICE this year in Las Vegas from February 13-15.

If you’d like to meetup and chat about classic/retro games and how we emulate them, please send us an email at info@implicitconversions.com!

The Psychology of Nostalgia in Retro Gaming


Retro gaming has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years, captivating audiences and creating a thriving subculture within the gaming community. The phenomenon of retro gaming taps into the deep-seated emotions and memories associated with classic games. For example, if I see a picture of Mario, I am instantly transported to holding a Gameboy in my hand and struggling to get past level 2 of Super Mario World.

Let’s explore why retro games continue to hold a special place in the hearts of gamers.

Nostalgia and Timeless Appeal
Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for the past, has an undeniable power to influence human emotions. When it comes to retro gaming, nostalgia acts as a time machine, transporting players back to the formative years of their gaming experiences. The classic pixelated graphics, chiptune music, and simple yet challenging gameplay of retro games serve as a portal to a bygone era, triggering a flood of memories and emotions.

Gregory’s Gaming Memory
Gregory Hainaut our Software Development Engineer remembers a little-known PC title very fondly:
“There was an MSDOS game called Gorilla, it came out on the Amstrad PC1512 and I loved it. You typed in the velocity and distance to throw an object at the other player. It was great fun!”

The Comfort of Familiarity
One key aspect of the psychology behind retro gaming is the comfort derived from familiarity. In a rapidly evolving gaming industry, where cutting-edge graphics and complex mechanics dominate, retro games provide a comforting return to simplicity. Gamers find solace in the straightforward controls and easily comprehensible gameplay mechanics, reminiscent of a time when gaming was a more straightforward and innocent pursuit.

Maxime’s Gaming Memory
Maxime Van Hoof our Technical QA remembers Mortal Kombat 3 due to a family connection:
“I convinced my mom to play MK3 on the Sega Genesis, she picked Kitana and completely kicked my ass by spamming high kick. I never asked her to play another game with me!”

Sense of Achievement and Mastery
Retro games were notorious for their difficulty levels, requiring players to invest time and effort to master them. The challenge presented by these games created a unique sense of achievement when a level was conquered or a high score achieved. This feeling of mastery is deeply ingrained in the psyche of gamers, and it contrasts with the often more forgiving nature of modern titles. The triumph over challenging obstacles in retro games leaves a lasting mark on players, reinforcing the emotional connection to these classics.

Community and Shared Memories
The social aspect of retro gaming plays a crucial role in its enduring popularity. The shared memories and experiences associated with classic games create a sense of camaraderie among gamers. Whether reminiscing about late-night gaming sessions with friends or discussing the merits of different retro consoles, the community aspect enhances the overall enjoyment of retro gaming.

Juanita’s Gaming Memory
Our HR guru Juanita Traver Stine remembers a classic game pairing which sold over a million NES consoles:
“My parents bought my sisters and I a NES and we would play Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on it as much as we could. I remember getting ready for school as quickly as possible each day just to a little extra time on those games”

As gamers continue to seek a connection with the past, retro games stand as a testament to the enduring power of nostalgia in shaping the gaming landscape. The fusion of old and new, as seen in the popularity of retro-inspired titles, ensures that the appeal of classic games will continue to resonate with audiences for generations to come.

Retro Gaming Icons

The Evolution of Retro Gaming: Technological Advancements and Artistic Freedom in Game Development


Retro gaming holds a special place in the hearts of every team member at Implicit Conversions. Every time we slap a cartridge into a NES or flick the switch on our beloved (and well-worn) Gameboy we evoke nostalgia. However, the evolution of retro gaming is not just a trip down memory lane; it’s a fascinating journey that reflects the symbiotic relationship between technological advancements and the artistic freedom of game developers.

Let’s take a moment and explore how the progress of technology has not only shaped the landscape of gaming but has also unleashed greater artistic freedom.

The Birth of Gaming
The roots of gaming can be traced back to iconic consoles such as the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). These platforms laid the foundation for the industry, introducing simple yet captivating games that became classics. However, the constraints of the hardware during this era meant that game developers had limited resources to work with, giving rise to the distinctive pixel art and chiptune music that define retro aesthetics.

Technological Advancements in Retro Gaming
As technology advanced, so did the possibilities for retro gaming. The advent of more powerful hardware allowed developers to revisit the classics and create enhanced versions with improved graphics, sound, and gameplay mechanics. Remastered editions and reimagining’s of iconic titles started to appear, breathing new life into old favorites.

Some of Our Favourite Retro Remasters

Final Fantasy IV Pixel Remaster

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Resurrection

Sonic Mania

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Syrup Emulator Engine
Syrup Emulator Engine

The Rise of Emulation:
The development of emulators played a crucial role in preserving and expanding the retro gaming experience. Emulators allowed players to run classic games on modern hardware, transcending the limitations of outdated consoles. This not only facilitated accessibility but also inspired a new generation of developers to experiment with and build upon the foundations of retro gaming. This is reflected in our mission to develop Syrup, our custom emulation engine which brings 8-, 16- and 32-bit games to modern consoles.
More information is available about Syrup here: https://www.implicitconversions.com/syrup-emulation-engine/

Crowdfunding and Independent Development:
The rise of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter provided a new avenue for game developers to fund their projects. Independent developers seized this opportunity to create games that captured the essence of retro gaming while incorporating innovative ideas and modern design principles. This surge in independent development led to a renaissance of retro-inspired titles that blended nostalgia with fresh perspectives.

Artistic Freedom and Diverse Storytelling:
Technological advancements not only provided developers with the tools to recreate classic experiences but also enabled them to push the boundaries of storytelling and artistic expression. Retro-inspired games began to explore diverse narratives, art styles, and themes, breaking away from the constraints imposed by early hardware limitations. This newfound freedom allowed for the creation of emotionally rich and thought-provoking experiences within the familiar framework of retro aesthetics.

The evolution of retro gaming showcases the transformative impact of technological advancements on the creative landscape of game development. What began as a trip down memory lane has evolved into a vibrant and diverse gaming subculture, where developers leverage the latest technologies to pay homage to the classics while pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

As we continue to see the resurgence of retro-inspired titles, it’s evident that the spirit of innovation and creativity in gaming is timeless.

Retro Gaming Icons

The Timeless Charm of Retro Games: What Makes a Classic?


The Legend of Zelda, Sonic 2, System Shock 2, Tomb Raider, we know that these games have been labeled ‘classics’ but what criteria do we use to bestow such a grand title onto a video game?

What makes a classic game a classic?

There are hundreds of definitions out there but each of them points to one factor – timelessness. For something to become a classic it must endure. A classic game is a creation which transcends its era, leaving an indelible mark on the gaming and cultural landscape. There’s also a heady sense of nostalgia, transporting players back to a time where gaming seemed a more straightforward and yet profoundly
enjoyable experience.

  1. Innovative Gameplay
    Classic games often introduced groundbreaking gameplay mechanics that set them apart from their contemporaries. Whether it was the revolutionary level design of Super Mario Bros., the strategic depth of Tetris, or the exploration-driven narrative of The Legend of Zelda, these games broke new ground and became pioneers in their respective genres.
  2. Iconic Characters and Universes
    A classic game is often defined by its memorable characters and immersive worlds. Characters like Mario, Sonic, and Link have become cultural icons, symbolizing not just the games they inhabit but the broader impact of video game culture on society.
  3. Timeless Aesthetics and Art Style
    While modern games push the boundaries of graphical capabilities, classic games are revered for their timeless aesthetics. Whether it’s the pixelated charm of 8-bit or 16-bit graphics or the distinctive art style of a particular era, classic games are visually captivating in a way that
    transcends technological limitations.
  4. Enduring Soundtracks
    The music of classic games is more than just background noise; it’s an integral part of the gaming experience. From the iconic tunes of Super Mario Bros. to the atmospheric melodies of Final Fantasy, these soundtracks have a lasting impact, often becoming ingrained in the
    memories of players for years to come.
  5. Cultural Impact and Legacy
    Classic games not only entertained but also shaped the cultural zeitgeist. They left a lasting legacy, influencing subsequent generations of game developers and leaving an indelible mark on popular culture. The ability to stand the test of time and inspire future creations is a hallmark of a true classic.

    The video game industry is always pushing forward but classic titles help serve as a reminder of where it all began. Their enduring allure lies not just in their historical significance but in their ability to evoke a sense of joy, wonder and simplicity that transcends the complexities of the modern gaming landscape.
Retro Gaming Icons
Retro Gaming Icons

Beloved NES title, Micro Mages, coming to PlayStation in 2024!

Implicit Conversions is pleased to announced that, in collaboration with Morphcat Games, Micro Mages will be coming to the PS4 and PS4 in 2024!

Micro Mages

Micro Mages is a platform game originally created for the NES for 1 to 4 players.

Slip into your wizard robes and enter the Demon Fortress, home of great treasure and ghastly creatures alike…

Originally published on the NES and PC, Micro Mages is coming to the PS4 and PS5 with all new features:

* Trophies
* Network Play
* Wide Screen Support
* And More!


* 8 worlds spanning a total of 26 levels

* Up to 4 simultaneous players

* If you die in multiplayer mode, you’ll turn into a ghost so you can help your friends

* Power up with Fairies and Magical Seagulls

* Spooky boss battles and hidden secrets!

* Checkpoints and password function