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Daniel K Jan 15, 2009

I often seek out games out of instinct and intuition. Sometimes, I'll see screenshots from a game that I know nothing about and feel something resonating in me by way of the game's look, style, and artwork. Over the years, I've learned to act when I get that kind of gut feeling, because more often than not, my hunch turns out to be vindicated. I've found some of my dearest favourites through this process (like for example the Persona series).

This process means that it often happens that I do backtracking across the console generations to check out games that really sparked by interest back then, but went unplayed because of a lack of time, money, or opportunity. Sometimes, a long buried memory of a game I "missed" will for some reason jump into mind, resulting in me going back to check it out. Many people here are seasoned gamers, so most of you have probably done the same thing.

One of the generations I often find myself returning to is the Saturn/PlayStation 1/Nintendo 64 era, mainly for PS1 titles. I've noticed, though, that there's something peculiar about this generation as opposed to the others I usually explore. For some reason, the graphics in "new" PS1 games really get on my nerves. When I say "new" PS1 games, I mean games released back then but that I try out for the first time now. I've found that, most of the time, I'm really hindered in my enjoyment of the games if they have 3D graphics, I just think it looks so hideously ugly most of the time with the choppy, blocky designs, the hazy, washed-out colours, and the outrageously lame framerates that usually characterize this generation. Here's the funny thing, though: this aspect never presents any problems when going back to PS1 games with 3D graphics that I actually played back then. I can play Silent Hill, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Threads of Fate, or any of my old favourites without even blinking at the graphics of noticing that they're "flawed". I assume this is because I got used to their looks back then when "better" wasn't available. But when I go back and try old 3D PS1 games I never played until now (the latest examples were Blaster Master: Blasting Again and the Clock Tower games), I usually develop a headache pretty quickly. Its not that I'm completely unable to play the games or anything like that, but to be honest, it does shape the experience in a negative direction. I hate to admit that, because I've often been one to hold contempt for true "graphic whores", but with respect to the PS1, I've found that I have, over time, developed "graphic whorish" tendencies myself (although not entirely, since I'm always in it for the game itself first and foremost, not the graphics).

The interesting thing here is that I have never had any graphics-related problems whatsoever going back to earlier generations, like the NES/Master System era of the Mega Drive/SNES era. I still love 8- and 16-bit graphics as much as I ever did, and I can easily get into "new" games on those consoles without the graphics bothering me one bit. The difference I can think of is that I must have problems with bad and "primitive" 3D graphics, and that those weren't around yet in the pre-PS1 consoles. With 2D graphics, its more like the graphics are "cartoonish" and thus can look pretty low-tech without looking offensive, but with 3D graphics, there's always (or at least very often) an element of and emphasis on "realism" involved, many games tried/try to present characters looking like actual humans. And when subsequent generations have raised the bar considerably in this aspect, the old primitive 3D graphics the PS1 managed to barely crank out just look bad in every way, at least in my subjective opinion the difference between PS1 and PS2 graphics in this way are way more noticeable then that between for example NES and SNES graphics. With NES and SNES games, there are many games I'd still call beautiful, but very few such games on the PS1. Trying out Clock Tower 2 just after experiencing the beautiful madness of the new Silent Hill: Homecoming really underlined this. I'm not trying to dis 3D graphics here or set up some bullshit "old-vs-new"-dichotomy, although I'm more of an oldschool gamer, I do like beautiful 3D graphics, its just the PS1/N64 butt-ugly Lego characters and nausea-inducing framerates that put me off. I'm also not out to dis the PS1 console here, in my opinion it has one of the strongest game libraries in gaming history, with some of my all-time favourites (including my all-time number 1, SH1). Its just the graphics that irk me after having experienced better 3D for many years now and getting used to that.

Anyway, these are my thoughts. Can you identify, or is your experience different? I suppose this is kind of a poll also... Do you have a special affinity or dislike for any particular console's/console generation's graphics? And if so, what's attracting/repelling you?

brandonk Jan 15, 2009

Right there with you....About 8 months ago, I was looking forward to re-playing Final Fantasy VII on my original model PS3....Not 30 minutes into the 'experience' of original Final Fantasy VII (this just after finishing the excellent PSP title 'Crisis Core'), I was dumbfounded by the lack luster display on my screen.

After an inquisitive search on google. I learned quickly about mods to the PC Version of Final Fantasy VII which improved the graphics, and even re-programmed the sprites... I haven't yet found the time to embark on the prized, and reportedly, incredibly improved PC version of Final Fnatasy VII hack, but, I do intend to eventually.  Until then, I will play no lesser quality FFVII!!

I would wager anything 75% 3D-based on the PS1 was not very memorable, or enjoyable to me.  I was always awaiting a killer '2d' based game on the PS1.  By the time I forgot about and abandoned the system (and video 'games' in a classic sense), Castlevania 'Symphony of the Night' came out.

Enough said there, I hope ;-)

- Brandon

Idolores Jan 16, 2009

I LOVE SNES style graphics, but I lack the funds and space necessary to collect most of the titles that I would want. I also heavily favor PS1 era graphics, and am amazed at what they were able to pull off graphically towards the end of the consoles life (FFIX comes to mind), and the potential for brilliant sounding games appeals to me greatly. I was bedazzled by the quality of the synth behind titles like Vagrant Story, and Chrono Cross.

N64 is not an attractive console since finding the titles that I'd want mint is hard (since you couldn't conveniently reseal the boxes like you could with PS1 and Saturn jewel cases). I also dislike how the graphics had that weird tapestry look to them. I dunno. With that said, there are titles on the console I would dearly love to play again on it's native system, like Jet Force Gemini, or Goldeneye, or Ocarina of Time. Anything by Rare was gold on that system as far as I'm concerned. And I don't know  how anyone else feels, but playing said titles on the VC, or on an emulator just feels weird. I don't know what it is.

I'd collect more Saturn shit, since I LOVE the system, but the thing is, the boxes for US editions of games are awful looking and badly put together.

My two cents.

Ashley Winchester Jan 16, 2009

Graphics Smaphics.

Some of my favorite PS1 games are butt-guly. Get into a fight in Wild Arms 2 and tell me what they were thinking trying to pull that off in 1999/2000. Still, it matters not... I fell in love with the world and the characters, not how many polygons the graphics engine could push.

SonicPanda Jan 16, 2009

Old-school polygons are ugly, no question. But I find myself more concerned with basic art direction than with actual 3D models and/or sprites. As an example, I'll say that though I like them, I have trouble fully enjoying the FF Advances because Amano's hideous designs pervade nearly every text box. By contrast, Chrono Cross is pretty chunky onscreen, but since my mind fills in the blanks from the original lush designs, I'm not bothered at all.

Adam Corn Jan 16, 2009

SonicPanda wrote:

Old-school polygons are ugly, no question. But I find myself more concerned with basic art direction than with actual 3D models and/or sprites.

One of several reasons I bow before the altar of Panzer Dragoon.

Thomas Jan 16, 2009

Probably for nostalgic reasons, I tend to find PSone/Saturn 3D very charming :S

Jay Jan 16, 2009

I find myself in the same boat as you, Daniel. I find it very hard to get into PS1 games I haven't experienced before.

And, Adam, you're spot-on with Panzer Dragoon. Regardless of any technicalities (thought, at the time, PDZwei was a marvel, at least in my memory), the PD games have had some of the best art design I've ever seen in games. Absolutely unique and they created this world that just fit - every piece of design down to the smallest detail seemed specially made for this world. Combine that with the music and you just have design perfection.

I recently tried playing Fade To Black. I hadn't played it back in the day and always wanted to. It was a really early PS1 game and, right now in 2009 (well, it was 2008 when I played it), it's fairly hideous. Clunky, ugly and just not a huge amount of fun.

Yet I can always revisit SH1 and, while the poor main character animation always hits me, the muddy graphics and visibility difficulties give the game far more atmosphere, to me, than the more polished games that came later. Not only can I forgive the shortcomings, they seem to enhance the game.

Had I not played it back in the day and experienced it now for the first time, my feelings on it may well be entirely different.

And I played Metal Gear Solid again last year and adored it. Not once did I even notice a shortcoming to forgive. It's just a great game. Ah, yes, the days when MGS was a game...

Although, you know, I played Jumping Flash last year for the first time. It's one of the earliest PS1 games (it may have been a launch title). The graphics were blocky and basic but, man, I really enjoyed the game. It was great fun. I wonder if its that a game like Jumping Flash embraces the technical limits of the time. The look suited the polygons and textures available.

Whereas when a game tries to represent something that reaches beyond what is achievable at the time, it can fall flat on its face and the flaws become all that more obvious.

Adam Corn Jan 16, 2009

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Some of my favorite PS1 games are butt-guly.

Is this some new lingo I'm not familiar with or just a catchy typo? smile

longhairmike Jan 16, 2009

Jay wrote:

I find myself in the same boat as you, Daniel. I find it very hard to get into PS1 games I haven't experienced before.

...10-12 years later, do any of us really have TIME for a ps1 game we havn't already played? a game that might have taken 50-60 hours the first time thru can be played thru in less than half the time if we already know what to do.

Im hoping that i can pick up FF9 again and finish my quest i started in 2000... im at the beginning of disc 3,, i just got a boat,, and i hafta go.. somewhere... thats about all i can remember...  i think the most rational thing to do is puss out and print out a walkthru, cause i can barely remember the character names

Daniel K Jan 16, 2009

longhairmike wrote:

...10-12 years later, do any of us really have TIME for a ps1 game we havn't already played? a game that might have taken 50-60 hours the first time thru can be played thru in less than half the time if we already know what to do.

Speaking for myself, I definitely don't have much time to play many games nowadays, last year for example my gaming was compressed to a few intense sessions in spring and summer as well as around Christmas/New Year. That said, I think its in general better to experience something you haven't experienced yet than something you have, which is why I'd rather play a game I haven't tried before than a classic I know by heart. As for going back to earlier generations, there are very few new games that come out that I'm actually interested in, so I guess I have more room for older stuff, because I don't have a huge backlog from the "current" generation to go through.

Ashley Winchester Jan 16, 2009

Adam Corn wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:

Some of my favorite PS1 games are butt-guly.

Is this some new lingo I'm not familiar with or just a catchy typo? smile

Actually, I was hanging out with the younger crowd yesterday and... no, it's just a typo. Now I've heard the word/phrase "ewwgly" used to describe something that's really ugly but that was down in da hood.

the_miker Jan 16, 2009

longhairmike wrote:

Im hoping that i can pick up FF9 again

Funny enough, I just did that.  I started playing it last Friday and I'm already over 30 hours in, almost on disc 4.  I sure do miss that feeling of being addicted to a video game.  I turned it on just to watch the intro again to see if I would remember it and now I'm hooked.  Let me tell you, it's been a while since a game made me feel the way this one does.  So much character development and fun to be had, it's amazing!  And since the last time I played it was nine years ago (man that makes me feel old), I really don't remember much of it anyway so much of it is like a new experience.  I'm definitely gonna play some more PS1-era games now since I'm getting a little tired of newer games lately.

-Mike

Amazingu Jan 16, 2009

Actually, I thought PS1 games didn't look all that bad when I tried them on my PS3 a while ago.
I compared playing them on PS2 as well, but on PS3 they look VASTLY superior, so that will definitely help.

I played Tomb Raider Anniversary on my 360, which made me feel all fuzzy and nostalgic about the original Tomb Raider, so I popped that in and played about halfway through, until I realised it's not nearly as much fun as the remake.

And my girlfriend is really into Crash Bandicoot, so I bought the first game for her, but she gave up after a couple of levels, cos the game is STUPID hard. I mean, seriously, I tried it as well, being the veteran that I am, but it's goddamn frustrating as hell.

Anyway, there's definitely a bunch of PSX games I'd still like to try, but that feeling you so accurately described, Daniel, kinda hunts me as well. I definitely recognize the peculiarity that I can easily pick up an NES or SNES game I've never played before, and even think "wow this looks pretty good for the time" but I can't say the same for the PSX.
On the other hand, I DO have the same feeling with Genesis games though...the color pallette is so depressing sad

Angela Jan 16, 2009

Amazingu wrote:

And my girlfriend is really into Crash Bandicoot, so I bought the first game for her, but she gave up after a couple of levels, cos the game is STUPID hard. I mean, seriously, I tried it as well, being the veteran that I am, but it's goddamn frustrating as hell.

Should've skipped over the first one, and jumped into the second and third games.  They're far more lenient and enjoyable. 

You know, I'm surprised I haven't picked up Jumping Flash! yet on PSN.  I remember really enjoying that exhilarating sense of height during the jumps.  Wouldn't a remake done up in 60fps be absolutely off the hook?

Jumping Flash! 2 isn't out yet on the Store, is it?

SonicPanda Jan 17, 2009

Angela wrote:

You know, I'm surprised I haven't picked up Jumping Flash! yet on PSN.  I remember really enjoying that exhilarating sense of height during the jumps.  Wouldn't a remake done up in 60fps be absolutely off the hook?

Jumping Flash! 2 isn't out yet on the Store, is it?

I feel JF wouldn't be the same without Takeo Miratsu, and he passed away a few years ago. As for JF2 being on PSN...they put PS1 games up so infrequently that it always seems like an accident when they DO.

XLord007 Jan 17, 2009 (edited Jan 17, 2009)

I think a big problem with going back to the ugly textures and polys of the first 3D systems is our shiny new HDTVs.  These games looks especially lousy on them.  I tried to play stuff like Star Fox (SNES) and Ghost in the Shell (PSX) on my HDTV, and they were incredibly ugly and framey.  In GITS case, it came out so blocky that I could barely distinguish what the objects were supposed to be.  I never had that problem back in the days of my 13" monitor and RCA jacks. ;-)

Shoe Jan 17, 2009

The graphics for WaterWorld on the Virtual Boy can be summed up in one sentence..

SonicPanda Jan 17, 2009

Shoe wrote:

The graphics for WaterWorld on the Virtual Boy can be summed up in one sentence..

"There's blood in the water?"

Daniel K Jan 17, 2009

XLord007 wrote:

I think a big problem with going back to the ugly textures and polys of the first 3D systems is our shiny new HDTVs.

I don't even have a HDTV and I still have the above mentioned problems with PS1 graphics.

the_miker Jan 17, 2009

XLord007 wrote:

I think a big problem with going back to the ugly textures and polys of the first 3D systems is our shiny new HDTVs.  These games looks especially lousy on them.  I tried to play stuff like Star Fox (SNES) and Ghost in the Shell (PSX) on my HDTV, and they were incredibly ugly and framey.  In GITS case, it came out so blocky that I could barely distinguish what the objects were supposed to be.  I never had that problem back in the days of my 13" monitor and RCA jacks. ;-)

HD Box Pro

I use one of those with my shiny new 46" Samsung HDTV and it really does work perfectly.  I play PS2 and PS1 games via my first-gen PS2 w/ component cables.  The HD Box Pro upscales the PS2's output to the TV's native resolution which results in beautiful (as beautiful as the PS2 and PS1 can be anyway) graphics.  All the text in FFIX is so clear and readable on my TV, you'd think it was coming from a PS3.  I highly recommend the HD Box Pro to anybody looking to play older consoles on a newer HDTV.  I use my Genesis on it as well and holy crap.. Sonic, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage never looked so delicious. smile

-Mike

XLord007 Jan 18, 2009

the_miker wrote:

HD Box Pro

I use one of those with my shiny new 46" Samsung HDTV and it really does work perfectly.  I play PS2 and PS1 games via my first-gen PS2 w/ component cables.  The HD Box Pro upscales the PS2's output to the TV's native resolution which results in beautiful (as beautiful as the PS2 and PS1 can be anyway) graphics.  All the text in FFIX is so clear and readable on my TV, you'd think it was coming from a PS3.  I highly recommend the HD Box Pro to anybody looking to play older consoles on a newer HDTV.  I use my Genesis on it as well and holy crap.. Sonic, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage never looked so delicious. smile

-Mike

VGA box, huh?  How many ports does it have and of what type?  The website isn't terribly descriptive.

the_miker Jan 18, 2009

XLord007 wrote:

VGA box, huh?  How many ports does it have and of what type?  The website isn't terribly descriptive.

In: VGA (video), Component (video and RCA L/R audio jacks), 3.5mm/headphone jack (audio)
Out: VGA (video) and 3.5mm/headphone jack (audio)

Here are some better pictures.

For the price (55 bucks plus shipping), it really can't be beat.  So far I've tested PS1 (via my PS2), PS2, Wii, and even Sega Genesis games and everything looks phenomenal.  You don't even wanna know how I got component video out of my Genesis, heh.  Oh and I didn't mention it before but this thing also eliminates input lag.  I feel like a spokesman for it but it really is THAT good.

Oh and to get more on-topic, I finished my re-play of FFIX earlier tonight and all I have to say is.. wow.  I'm gonna make a habit of playing more older games from now on, that's for damn sure.

-Mike

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