Recommendations for optimal video settings

This thread was split from Wii/GC pixels are not square. See that thread for some additional background info.

Here’s the in-theory “correct” resolution settings to simulate each of the RetroArch cores’ original display. I’ve also included hypothetical video encoder scaling which could be used to correct their PARs where I know them (based on the work of editors on the Pin Eight wiki). This information is useless right now but could become useful in future.

First off, it’s assumed that your Wii and TV are set to 4:3 mode, not widescreen or any kind of “wide zoom” feature your TV has. If your Wii is set to widescreen 16:9, RetroArch does some additional scaling which will make everything wider by 6%. In most cases, Default Filter should be set to “Point filtering”. If you don’t like point filtering that’s fine, but that’s the assumption I’m making here. Aspect Ratio should usually just be set to “Custom” in order to avoid further unnecessary adjustments, but “Core provided” should also be fine most of the time. We’re also going to assume Integer Scale is set to OFF because it mostly just gets in the way of positioning the screen (it doesn’t currently center the image, so if we use it we’ll get a picture that just sits in the top left of the screen being annoying).

Wii-to-TV Connections There’s a few ways that your Wii might be hooked up to your TV: you might have an HDTV with component cables (the kind with five plugs: red/green/blue, plus white/red), an HDTV with composite (the red/yellow/white cables), a CRT with component cables, or a CRT with composite. The resolutions you’ll want to use will depend somewhat on these.

For CRT (any cables), you’ll almost always want to use the “double-strike” resolutions (240p and below). If you have component cables and your TV is an “EDTV” or even one of those super weird late-model CRTs that does HD, you could also try the 480p and below resolutions and see if you like them. They’re less accurate to the original consoles, but you might like how it looks, so it’s up to you if your TV does both. Some CRTs have component input but don’t support 480p resolutions, so it’s OK if you’re limited to 480i and below, just use the 240p resolutions.

On an HDTV with component, you’ll almost always want the higher resolutions–most HDTVs can’t handle “double-strike” because TV manufacturers don’t really care about NESs working on their sets any more. You could try them just in case (see below) or use something like Godlance’s scanlines filter to simulate what it might look like otherwise.

If you’re on an HDTV that’s connected over composite, things are kind of complicated. You should try the double-strike resolutions just in case you got lucky and your TV handles them. Most of the time, the TV will interpret the signal as 480i and cause some kind of awkward juddering; a fun way to test what your TV does is to set RetroArch to 512x240p fire up Sunsoft’s Batman - The Video Game on one of the NES cores. The story intro in this game rapidly flickers some text over background images. You should be able to see this flickering with the naked eye, it’s very obvious and kind of unpleasant (this is the intended behavior; Sunsoft is really weird). If, instead of flickering, you see the text and the background at the same time, your TV can’t do double-strike and is incorrectly deinterlacing the image, which it thinks is 480i.

If you can’t use the higher progressive resolutions (above 240p), you’ll need to use a 480 interlaced mode for custom ratios, unless a future update allows custom ratios at double-strike resolutions. This means any cases where you need custom ratios won’t look as good as your progressive-mode stuff.

If you can’t use any progressive resolutions at all (240p, 480p, etc.), you won’t be able to get quite as sharp a picture and some effects (like Batman) will be kind of broken. You’ll just have to put up with 480i. If you’re in this scenario, all I can really recommend is picking up some component cables for the Wii. You don’t need to buy the $40-ish Nintendo brand cables, most third-party ones are fine. Some of them are poorly made, but as a general rule, cables are cables and they’ll pretty much do the job. Check Amazon or something for reviews if you’re not sure whether a particular brand is garbage.

If you’ve got something more exotic going on like a VGA adapter or a Wii U over HDMI, then you should be fine to use the same settings as below, with the disclaimer that I have no personal experience with those circumstances so if everything goes terribly wrong, then that sucks.

This post generally assumes that you’re on an HDTV with component, so the stated resolutions are the ones in the 480p range. If you’re using interlaced resolutions like 480i, then ignore the “p”. If you’re using 240p and similar, simply divide the figures listed here by two (e.g. 448/2 = 224).

Arcade (Final Burn Alpha) Seriously? C’mon. This is just impossible. Just about every arcade machine has a different aspect ratio to the last; not to mention, the displays they run on aren’t really TVs and sometimes might not adhere to NTSC specifications. This means adjusting these games to look right on a consumer TV set may mean something other than the values below. That said, the majority of games do run on NTSC-compatible displays, so here’s a few machines with known PARs.

A.B. Cop; After Burner; After Burner II; GP Rider; Last Survivor; Line of Fire; Racing Hero; Super Monaco GP; Thunder Blade Screen Resolution: 640x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 692 Most TVs are going to lose some of this (at least 4 pixels). We can’t really do anything about that, though; the same thing would happen if you hooked up the original boards to a consumer TV.

Bubble Bobble; Ikari III - The Rescue; Mario Bros.; P.O.W. - Prisoners of War; Street Smart These and Double Dragon below are kind of complicated because of their rather slim aspect ratios on the original hardware. For that reason, I’ll provide two setups. Basically, use the first one, which looks sort of close to right, whereas the second relies on hypothetical (and maybe impossible) video encoder scaling to make it look right.

Real world (looks a little too thin): Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 64 , 16 : 512x448p

Set your Wii to Widescreen to fatten it up a bit, but it’s still a long way off wide enough.

Theoretical (looks a lot too fat): Screen Resolution: 512x448p

Double Dragon Just to reiterate, Double Dragon has the same problem as above.

Real world (looks a little too thin): Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 64 , 0 : 512x480p

Set your Wii to Widescreen to fatten it up a bit, but it’s still a long way off wide enough.

Theoretical (looks a lot too fat): Screen Resolution: 512x480p Aspect Ratio: Core provided (4:3) or Custom (16:9) Custom Ratio: 0 , 0 : 512x480

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 720 (running 640 wide), 684 (running 608 wide) 576 (running 512 wide) Relevant to all of the above. First off, is the last of these possible? I’m not sure where the video encoder’s scaling bottoms out, but some software like Genesis Plus GX won’t go below 640. Assuming that this is the minimum, we won’t be able to get the correct 45:44 pixels for these games using a Screen Resolution that’s 512 wide. Thus, we’d need something like 640-wide with video encoder at the full 720, or 608-wide with video encoder at 684.

Demon’s World/Horror Story; Double Dragon 3 - The Rosetta Stone; Hellfire; Zero Wing; Wardner Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Core provided (4:3) or Custom (16:9) Custom Ratio: 0 , 0 : 640x480

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 618 Again, this is below 640/might be impossible, depends on the minimum value for the video encoder. There’s really nothing we can do about this, as we need all 640 pixels for these games. We could go thinner by enabling bilinear and tweaking the custom ratio if necessary, but feh. I’ll come back to this with an ideal config for bilinear.

Enduro Racer; Hang-On; Space Harrier; all games on Sega 16B hardware Screen Resolution: 640x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 686 Right on the borderline of overscan for most sets, likely to lose some of the picture.

Snow Bros. Screen Resolution: 512x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 676 This is entirely guesswork, since I don’t see any direct references to the Snow Bros. dot clock. Thus, I’m just looking at the snowballs, which have a 5:6 ratio, and adjusting the PAR in order to make them appear circular. It may not be precisely accurate, but something close to this was clearly intended by the developer.

(Horizontal) games on NMK-16 hardware The NMK-16 hardware underwent a few revisions, so there’s a couple of resolution setups for those.

256x224 games (e.g. Bio-ship Paladin, Black Heart, Bubble 2000, Fire Hawk) Screen Resolution: 512x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 644? The NMK pixels clocks aren’t documented currently, so this operates on an assumption that these games have a 5.37MHz pixel clock, like the NES, SNES and similar. This guess is being made on the basis of Bubble 2000, a Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move clone. The bubbles are drawn with dimensions (14*16) which exactly match an assumption of 8:7 pixels. To be clear, this number is not arrived at through any technical means.

384x224 games (e.g. Saboten Bombers) Screen Resolution: 384x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 678? Again, this is kind of guesswork. We’re assuming a 7.635MHz pixel clock, which is frankly arbitrary; it’s half of the HSYNC used by Bio-Ship Paladin, but there’s little reason why that should be correct for other games’ pixel clocks. That said, using Saboten Bombers as an example, 678 results in a title screen which looks like the game’s flyer: the bomb on the title screen becomes circular instead of an oval. Extremely unscientific. On the upside, 678 is the scaling used by RetroArch when the Wii is set to widescreen, so it’s convenient. The true clock is probably somewhere in the 7.5-8MHz range, so the correct video encoder scaling could be anywhere from 648 up to 692.

All (horizontal) games on Toaplan/Raizing second-gen hardware Oh man, these are exciting! The pixels are 10:11, just like the Wii, so we don’t even need to tweak the video encoding. 640 (RetroArch’s default setting when the Wii is set to 4:3) is already correct. Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Core provided (4:3) or Custom (16:9) Custom Ratio: 0 , 0 : 640x480

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 640 (hooray!)

Cave Story (NXEngine) Cave Story is a tough one to deal with, because it uses 320*240 square pixels. We don’t have square pixels, and even with hypothetical scaling, we’re going to lose some pixels to overscan (on most sets, anyway). Oh well. For a PC game, Cave Story does a really nice job of sticking to a pretty reasonable safe area (10%), so the HUD shouldn’t be impacted on any standard TV, you just won’t see a little bit of the edges.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Core provided

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

CPS-1 / CPS-2 (FBA) CPS-1 and 2 games run natively at 384x224p.

Screen Resolution: 384x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 644

Doom (PrBoom) I’m not certain at the moment (will confirm later), but I think Doom in RetroArch runs at 640x400 (pixels are intended to be square). We’re probably going to lose some picture to overscan if we use the video encoder to square them up; since this is a PC game, it’s not designed to take overscan into account, since that’s a TV problem. Oh well, too bad.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 0 , 40 : 640x400

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

Game Boy / Game Boy Color (Gambatte) Game Boy and Game Boy Color games run natively at 160x144p. The Game Boy is one of our problem cases at the moment, because RetroArch doesn’t have a way to display square pixels, which the original platform used. Thus, a couple of settings are provided here. The first will look “thin” compared to a real Game Boy. If you want to use it (or other platforms where the pixels are noted to be thinner than they should be), you might want to switch your Wii to 16:9, for the 678 video encoder width, which brings the pixels a decent chunk closer to square.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 80, 24 : 480x432

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

This second option will look “fat” compared to a real Game Boy. It might be worth noting that it does actually look “thin” compared to the old Super Game Boy, so it’s closer to correct than Nintendo got way back then.

Screen Resolution: 530x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 25, 24 : 480x432

Game Boy Advance (VBA Next) Same problem as on the Game Boy/Color, we need square pixels but RetroArch doesn’t provide them at present. So, same deal as before, a couple of options. First up, the “thin” look.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 80, 80 : 480x320

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

And the “fat” look:

Screen Resolution: 530x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 25, 80 : 480x320

I’ll make a third note here to describe what Nintendo seems to be doing for its GBA stuff on TV (e.g. the official GBA emulator on GameCube). I’ll use the “RetroArch names” for settings for best clarity. Their emulator runs at a Screen Resolution of 608x448, with a Custom Ratio of 480x320. (The difference is filled with Nintendo’s border, but in practical terms it’s the same as leaving it black in RetroArch.) They then use the video encoder to scale to 668 pixels wide, resulting in ~square pixels. This is practical on GBA because you don’t need a full 640-wide framebuffer to display its screen, but not for something like Cave Story or Quake where we need all 640 columns.

Bonus: widescreen. The Game Boy Advance uses a 3:2 aspect ratio, which is wider than 4:3, so here’s an excuse to set your TV back to widescreen for a bit. I’m going to offer a couple of setups here. The first one doesn’t require bilinear filtering, so you’ll have very sharp pixels, but on most TVs, some of the picture will be cut off due to overscan. This is a larger issue on a handheld platform like the GBA where the display has no overscan at all, so games weren’t designed to keep things like HUDs inside the “safe area” and you might not be able to see things like health bars if you do this.

As always, we’re going to assume that the Wii itself is set to 4:3, not widescreen. However, the TV set should be set to widescreen for this scenario.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 16 , 0 : 480x480

This is an exact 2*3 integer scale of the graphics. This means we’re working with all kinds of pixel ratios. First, I’ll explain in words, math equation below that. We’ve got the 10/11 “Wii constant”, the 640/512 video encoder scaling, the 2/3 integer scale and the 4/3 scaling your TV will do. (I know this is kind of obnoxious, but 16/9 is exactly four thirds wider than 4:3. When I say 4/3 scaling, I mean the scaling by a factor of 4/3 from 4:3 to 16:9. Don’t worry about it.)

Math: (10/11) * (640/512) * (2/3) * (4/3) = 1.01…

This is our pixel aspect ratio when we use this setup. Expressed as a fraction, that’s 100/99. This is so close to square that if you can tell the difference, you’re an even bigger jerk than I am. Now, on the matter of overscan: assuming you’re not losing a great deal of picture (personally, I lose 16 lines, or about 5 and a third GBA lines), you might feel that’s a negligible amount and not enough to impact your experience of your games. If you do encounter a game that pushes its HUD right to the top or bottom, you could always reposition your image vertically so that you’re losing content from the other end, where there’s hopefully less important information. e.g., Let’s say you’re playing Metroid Fusion, and you can’t read the current location on the map screen. You could try setting your Custom Ratio to something like 16 , 8 : 480x480, moving the entire image down off the bottom of your TV. Basically, make an executive decision about how much to sacrifice in any given direction. Otherwise, you could switch to bilinear and use an arbitrary scale (see below).

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 634 (impossible?), 656 with different settings as discussed below Since we’re a tiny bit wide, we actually would need to scale to below 640, which I’m not sure is something the Wii video encoder is capable of. Assuming this is an impossibility, we could instead shoot for a slightly wider framebuffer so we’re not fattening it up quite as much. Let’s see, if we went with 530x480p (a resolution that’s already available in RetroArch), scaled to 656 … (10/11) * (656/530) * (2/3) * (4/3) = ~1.0002. There’s our closest, at 0.02% wider than square, and less than 0.1% more accurate than what we can already do in current RetroArch. These differences are so minimal that none of this matters unless you just want to be unreasonable.

OK, if the overscan was too much for you, then we’re going to have to go off-integer, so we’ll need to turn on the bilinear filter. Now, I can’t tell you how much overscan you have, so you need to figure that out yourself. RetroArch’s RGUI (the checkerboard menu) is as good a place as any to test this. Have RetroArch on 640x480, and set your Custom Ratio to the same. Go get right up by your TV, and start adjusting your Custom Ratio. Move the picture down, pixel by pixel, until you see the black area outside the RGUI menu. That’s the edge of the picture, so the number right before you hit black is your upper overscan. Your lower overscan will be similar, so do the same thing by moving the bottom of the image upward. For me, there are 10 lines outside the top of my screen, and 6 lines outside the bottom.

Once you’ve figured out your overscan, you can use a tool like this one to calculate the ratio you should be using. Just put 594 and 480 in the left boxes, and in the lower right box, put the height of your display. The correct width for you will automatically be filled in. If you want to do the math yourself, it’s simple: [your display height] / 480 * 594 = [your custom width]. So on a TV which displays all 480 lines, you would want the following settings, but you’ll need to do the math to get yours if this isn’t you.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Default Filter: Bilinear filtering Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 23, 0 : 594x480

Neo Geo Pocket / Color (Mednafen Neopop) First up, this core is currently (as of v1.0.0.2) broken in RetroArch. You’ll need to use the core from v0.9.9 to play games, and since this core is from before per-core settings were implemented, it won’t save yours. As a workaround, you can rig up all these settings to apply to the current/broken core, and load it before loading the legacy version. The legacy core will simply take the settings of whichever core was launched before it, so if this was the other Neopop core, you’re golden.

Second up, more square pixels, at 160x152. Yay. First up, the “thin” look:

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 80, 12 : 480x432

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

“Fat” look:

Screen Resolution: 530x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 25, 12 : 480x456

Neo Geo (FBA) In theory, all Neo Geo games run at 320x224. In practice, a lot of games only actually use 304 of those pixels and fill the rest with empty black or garbage. Rather than display this garbage, Final Burn Alpha trims many games to only display the 304 columns, cutting off the extra stuff entirely. So we need two different setups for Neo Geo. First up, games which use the full 320:

Screen Resolution: 640x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 720

It’s potentially interesting that that 720 scale would actually solve the “garbage overscan” problem for us, because a decent chunk of that scale is actually in the overscan area. Anyway, here’s the cropped resolution for many other games:

Screen Resolution: 608x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 684

A reasonable idea in this scenario might be to switch your Wii (not your TV) to 16:9 for Neo Geo, which will bring both of these a bit closer to the correct ratio, with a video encoder scaling of 678. For games in the “304-wide” family, such as the Metal Slug series, this is very close to correct.

NES / Famicom (FCEUmm / NEStopia / QuickNES) All NES games run natively at 256x240p. While Crop Overscan is a useful feature, it changes the output resolution of the core, so we need two different setups depending on whether it’s enabled or disabled. Like the thing says, reload after changing this setting. First up is the ideal settings when Crop Overscan is OFF.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Crop Overscan (reload): OFF

If you’re wondering what Crop Overscan is for, the short version is, some NES games drop garbage in the areas on the edges of the screen where, on contemporary TVs, it wouldn’t be seen. Since nobody would ever see it, it didn’t matter if it looked all messed up or something. On a lot of modern TVs, you’re seeing more of the picture than you would on an older CRT, so now all that crap is visible. Crop Overscan simply cuts some of the edges out of the picture so that this stuff is hidden again. Here’s the ideal settings for when Crop Overscan is ON.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 16, 16 : 480x448 Crop Overscan (reload): ON

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 644

PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (Mednafen PCE Fast) The TurboGrafx-16 and variants is another platform with a variable resolution. Annoying. I don’t really have enough TG16 experience to say which (if any) resolution is the “de facto standard”, ala 256*224 on the SNES, so here’s a couple I’ve encountered.

256*224 (e.g. Alien Crush) Screen Resolution: 512x448p

256*232 (e.g. Bonk’s Adventure, Dragon’s Curse/Adventure Island) Screen Resolution: 512x464p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 644

Quake (TyrQuake) RetroArch lets you set a resolution for Quake to run at in the Core settings. I’m away from my Wii right now, so I can’t test at the moment what the ideal resolution is. I know Quake under RetroArch is a little slower than the alternative QuakeGX homebrew, and has to be run at a somewhat lower resolution to get fullspeed. Personally, I’d recommend using QuakeGX instead, but if you want to use RetroArch, just make sure to match the resolution you choose for Quake in the core settings to your Custom Ratio. Once again: PC game, not intended to account for overscan; you might have some HUD problems.

Screen Resolution:640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: match to your Quake resolution

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

Sega MS / GG / MD / CD (Genesis Plus GX) Oof, this one’s four (technically more) platforms in one. Without meaning any disrespect to RetroArch, JUST USE THE ACTUAL GENESIS PLUS GX. The standalone emulator handles its platforms’ resolutions and aspects phenomenally and includes a massive raft of tweakable features not in the RetroArch version. It is also able to do resolution switches in real-time for the games that do that, which would require exiting to the menu each time you need to change it. On any other platform, genplus-gx’s libretro port is a revelation, but on Wii it’s trumped by the original. Also, I don’t feel like listing all these resolutions.

SNES / Super Famicom (SNES9x Next) The SNES can run at a variety of resolutions, from 256x224 up to 512x478. What a jerk. This means there’s not one correct resolution for the SNES. Fortunately, the wide modes are exactly twice as wide, which suits us fine, and the majority of SNES games run at the de facto standard of 256x224, so we’ll start with that.

Screen Resolution: 512x448p

That was easy. Now, RetroArch does feature a 239/478p mode, but it seems the SNES9x output isn’t actually giving us the full 239 lines, so if you use one of these modes in RetroArch for a supported game (Super Mario World PAL is probably the best-known title) it’ll come out looking kinda janky. So let’s rig up our own custom ratio for those games.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 0, 2 : 512x476

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 644

Virtual Boy (Mednafen VB) This is another case where you might want to use a different emulator, WiiMednafen. Virtual Boy emulation has advanced greatly since the WiiMednafen port, which also means it’s gotten very slow. Still, if you really want to play Virtual Boy on RetroArch, the following are the suggested settings.

Screen Resolution: 384x448p

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704?

I don’t know the technical details of pixel width on Virtual Boy. They look pretty square in photos I’ve seen, but if we try to use square pixels, we’ll lose some picture to overscan, which wasn’t true on the original hardware. If we assume square pixels (might be questionable), it might be best just to use bilinear filtering and an arbitrary scale, maybe something like 640x364 with video encoder scaling to 686? Again, this might all be moot, because Virtual Boy performance on RetroArch isn’t really all that playable. Incidentally, I didn’t bother looking at what the anaglyph modes do to the set resolution, because what a hassle. Maybe later.

[u]WonderSwan / Color (Mednafen Cygne)[/u] More square pixels (224x144 of them), and as a bonus, the WonderSwan is a weird thing. Instead of the usual two sets of inputs on the face, like a Game Boy, the WonderSwan (and Color) have three sets, so that the device can be rotated for playing vertically-oriented games. There’s even at least one game that involves rotating the screen upside-down. This is another case where it might be reasonable to recommend another emulator: WiiMednafen is specifically rigged up to support the WonderSwan’s rotation (you can map rotation to a button), and switches up the control scheme, too, since your d-pad is now your face buttons and your … other buttons in the top left are now your d-pad. RetroArch currently won’t allow you to map the controls in a sensible way for vertical games–I’ve already posted an issue regarding this. All that said, if you want to use RetroArch to play WonderSwan and you’re not interested in playing games that use a vertical orientation (or multiple orientations; Klonoa being the most prominent of these; the console is rotated between stages), here’s the deal. No vertical setup is given here as the games aren’t currently playable. I will add one if/when they become playable in RetroArch.

Screen Resolution: 640x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 448x288

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 704

Bonus: widescreen. RetroArch’s WonderSwan looks amazing on a widescreen TV set; it’ll fill most of your TV and you don’t even need to sacrifice sharp pixels, because we’re doing the same as our GBA trick from earlier. Even better, since the WonderSwan’s picture is slightly shorter, we probably don’t even need to worry about overscan! Again, we’re going to assume that the Wii itself is set to 4:3, but the TV set is on widescreen.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Aspect Ratio: Custom Custom Ratio: 32 , 24 : 448x432

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 634 (impossible?). See GBA discussion earlier.

2 Likes

Wow this is exactly what I was looking for vague rant. A thread to understand and optimize the best picture quality to simulate the original consoles through RA on any TV I own. This is magnificent and wonderful you’ve truly outdone yourself thank you Vague Rant. I’m not looking for perfection or exactly 1:1 sound/video emulation and performance. All I feel users needed are some guidelines on how to achieve optimal settings. Thank u for taking the time to write this nice long, descriptive and precise guide. I might have some more questions for there down the road when I’m setting things up but so far this is great.

So with these optimal settings, will we need to configure each core to use these settings each time we load up RetroArch? =D Because this information’s very useful! :stuck_out_tongue:

I think the only setting that doesn’t save (as intended by the devs) are the resolution settings so this info is very useful. U do the math once and that’s it, you’ll always know the resolution you want and it’s a quick setting to change. If in the future the devs can find a stable way to save resolution settings it would be ideal but it’s not a big deal to change it.

I’ve gotten great satisfaction out of setting up all my cores by using this info, thanks so much! I was wondering, is it possible to edit the config file so that you can add an asterisk or change what is displayed for the desired resolution i.e. “Optimum.” So instead of 530 x 480p it would show 530 x 480p* so that I know straight away this is the setting I want?

EDIT: I assume these are shared between cores so this may not work. Perhaps if they could be edited manually to read : NES, TG16 etc.? At least then I could tell it’s the right one for a particular system or systems.

I should’ve posted this a week ago, but kept forgetting/was lazy. Here’s a 512x448 overlay for use with Snes Next. Using the standard one included doesn’t line up right. Most of the credit goes to Godlance; I just cropped his image and changed the config file. Enjoy!

https://anonfiles.com/file/1548cf2653d42aea0e4a045bdd44465b

Dear Vague Rant!

Thank you SO much for this extensive information. It is nice to see that there also is someone out there fighting for the correct screen sizes. I have been drowning on this subject back on old (and first) Xbox scene. I remember to even install many parallel MAME emulators, each one with its own video settings, just to have the games on correct pixel aspect ratio.

Back to the present, on RA Wii, I did the same. I took the RA emulator, and, through HEX edit, made several parallel versions, each one for each core, and each one adjusted to work by factory on the respective correct screen size. I have even two RA for NeoGeo… 320 and 304… =D

And yes, I agree with you on all your math. It is the same math I achieved down here.

Thanks! Keep up the good fight!

AH ~ I strongly recommend: if any of you guys want a perfect setup, just plug your Wii with component cables to a VGA converter, and from the VGA converter into a SLG-3000 (scanline generator) or a Retro-VGA. The results are marvelous.

I had a minor revelation about the Game Boy Advance and WonderSwan that I really should have figured out earlier: you can get an exceptionally nice picture on those platforms using some creative scaling and a widescreen TV, without needing to resort to bilinear filtering. Here’s a photo of the WonderSwan Color title Mr. Driller running with the new suggested settings, which have been edited into the topic post. I have gradually edited in a few other things, like a number of arcade games, but the result here was pleasing enough that it seemed worthy of noting separately.

This information is unhelpful for those not using widescreen televisions, but the improvement, especially for WonderSwan, is vast. It takes the games from a 448*288 window sitting in the middle of the screen to a massive, almost full-screen display, making much better use of screen real estate, with a more accurate PAR than is otherwise possible in current RetroArch, to boot.

Which methods do you use to figure out overscan? I have one of those hybrid 4:3 CRT EDTV’s with a flat screen and component input. Just wondering how many pixels I’m losing to overscan so I can do some calculations u suggested.

You’re in luck, as I just added a quick guide to the main post earlier today:

You should keep in mind that many CRTs have rounded corners, so you might lose more in the corners than you do in the center, which may be important depending on whether you want to play games which display parts of the interface there. The amount most TVs will lose from top/bottom is probably somewhere between 6 and 16 pixels each, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the rough area.

I want to play some vertical shmups on FBA, such as 1941 Counter Attack or the Toaplan games. However, the image is horribly stretched when I select their native screen resolution. I can’t rotate my screen (Tate mode), so is there any recommendations to properly display those vertical games in horizontal mode (Yoko mode)? Thanks in advance.

I’ve been putting off detailing vertical games, because there’s not really a wholly satisfying thing you can do short of rotating your screen. As a general rule, the Wii doesn’t have the resolution to fit a 2* scale of most vertical games, since they’re running at resolutions like 256 or 320 tall. This means we have to either use a 1* scale (which will look quite small) or we’re pretty much stuck with bilinear filtering. One quasi-exception to this is CPS games, which at 384 tall, do still do a sort of reasonable job of filling up the Wii’s vertical resolution. So we’ll start out with a 1* scale for vertical CPS-1/2 games, which includes 1941.

Vertical CPS-1 / CPS-2 (FBA) We already know the PAR of the CPS-1 and CPS-2: it’s usually 135:176, but since the screen is rotated by 90 degrees, the PAR is actually 176:135 when it comes to vertical games. This is about 1.3:1. Unfortunately, we can’t really get a pixel of this shape in current RetroArch, so we’ll have to use a bit of a rough approximation.

First off, set your Wii (not your TV) to widescreen, for the 678-wide scaling.

Screen Resolution: 512x480p Custom Ratio: 144, 48: 224x384

Hypothetical video encoder scaling: 720 Without video encoder scaling, this gives us a PAR of about 1.2:1, noticeably slimmer than the original hardware. Even with the maximum video encoder scaling, we’re not going to hit 176:135 pixels. However, the next widest we can go while still using point filtering is about 1.52:1, which is even less correct. I guess what we need is an intermediary resolution somewhere between 384 and 512. Doot-doot-doot-doot thinking, OK, a nice round number would be something like 480x480p. Then we’d drop our 224x384 picture in there, with a video encoder scaling of 688, and we’ve got something that looks, at least in shape, arcade perfect. You’ll just need to sit a little closer because it’s kinda small, but you were stood like a foot away from the screen in arcades, so that’s pretty reasonable.

OK, if the “windowboxed” (black bars on all sides) look isn’t cutting it, we’re going to have to scale to fit the screen using bilinear. The first step is to find how much of the display fits on your screen, vertically. For me, this is 464 pixels; most people should see somewhere between 448 and 480 pixels depending on their TV and its options. We need to know this so that we can fill all the way to the edges of our screens.

For CPS-1/2, we’ve got a resolution of 224*384. We’re going to make that 384 fill our screen, so for me, that means my picture is 464 pixels high. How wide do I need to go? Here’s the formula:

(MyHeight/384) * (11/10) * (176/135) * 224 = MyWidth For me, with 464 in “MyHeight”, I find that “MyWidth” is 388 pixels.

Remember that this assumes your Wii is back on 4:3 again, and more importantly, that you have exactly the same TV as me. Remember to fill in the correct settings for your TV, using the above formula.

Screen Resolution: 640*480p Default Filter: Bilinear filtering Custom Ratio: 126, 8: 388x464p

Other Vertical Games (FBA) As a general rule, we probably just want to use bilinear for vertical games, since they’re otherwise in tiny windows on-screen. So once we know our TV’s overscan, we need to find the original game’s resolution and, if possible, pixel aspect ratio. Unfortunately, there are many cases where the PAR isn’t known, so we’ll try a couple of things. Here’s the formula when the PAR is known.

(MyHeight/GameHeight) * (11/10) * GamePAR * GameWidth = MyWidth

If the PAR is not known, then how wide you should go is kind of guesswork. If you leave the GamePAR portion out of the formula, the resulting width will produce 1:1, square pixels. This will probably look reasonable for a lot of games, so it might work to just go with that. Otherwise, you could try to guess the intended PAR by observing shapes on the screen, like I did with Snow Bros.: by looking at the oval-shaped snowballs and adjusting the PAR to make them round.

Let’s do Toaplan second-gen hardware using that formula. This means games like Fire Shark, Truxton and Vimana, with a known PAR of 11:10 and a resolution of 240*320.

(MyHeight/320) * (11/10) * (11/10) * 240 = MyWidth

For me, with 464 in MyHeight, MyWidth is about 421.1. Because odd numbers suck, let’s call it 422.

Screen Resolution: 640*480p Default Filter: Bilinear filtering Custom Ratio: 109, 8: 422x464p

Now, if we hadn’t known the intended PAR, the formula for Toaplan second-gen hardware would have looked like this:

(MyHeight/320) * (11/10) * 240 = MyWidth

Which, for me, gives 382.8, which we’ll call 382. As you can see, the square pixels result in a slimmer image than when we were aiming for 11/10 pixels. Still, it’s not so thin that the games will look awful, so it’s a workable solution if you don’t want to try to find an exact PAR to shoot for.

Sorry for all the numbers, I hope this was helpful.

Hey Vague Rant,

Thank you so much for this detailed information!! TBH I’m not looking for pixel perfect solution as I am aware that the unique solution for it is to rotate the screen. However, your suggestions make sense. It should be fine to enjoy those awesome vert games. I’m going to check this tonight after the work and I’ll let you know.

You also have guessed that I was also looking forward to playing vertical Toaplan games, too, hehe. =D

If I set Retroarch to output 240p via RGB does the CRT television deal with the aspect ratios automatically? Do I have to worry about the custom ratios and hypothetical encoder settings?

This thread is fascinating. Thank you.

Yes, any resolution that doesn’t end in x480 is fixed to the center of the screen, custom ratios won’t work with this.

For the hypothetical encoder settings, I would recommend using it because it’s generally a one time thing, GBA games look much better in their correct pixel width. However this feature is missing from the current(1.0.0.2) version, the next version will have it though, it’s called ‘Set Screen Width’ and is in the video settings.

Regarding the info on this thread, every time the op refers to ‘switch Wii to 16:9’ means that the video encoder will use 678 but this will not work in the next version, 640 is the default value now, for both modes.

Thanks for this, but could you or anyone else give a little more insight in getting the height of your TV for the GBA core? I mean what do you do with the upper and lower overscan numbers? I think I got 9 in both but I don’t know if i should use 471 or 462 as the custom height as both seem way off with the custom ratio 23, 0

sorry if being dumb

… I would like to ask something.

But first, thank you a lot for these useful notes.

I’ve been looking into them after a long time being busy with other things and this was very helpful, I even discovered that my LCD HDTV with Component is capable of doing Double Strike (I don’t find the Intro from Batman THAT annoying but it surely would make my sight tired if it was used more) and using your recommendations most games looks much better compared with my ridiculous Custom Ratio “guesses” with 640x480 on everything, lol. Now everything looks near perfect to me.

Now, here you recommend that we should use GenPlus GX over RA Core… And while I think that homebrew application is amazing since the day I tried it, and it’s true that changing RA’s resolution and Custom Resolution would be very, very tiring, If I change the res on RA to 640x448 with Core Provided Ratio, I get a more clear image than the one I get with GenPlus GX with Megadrive/Genesis games.

Am I missing something on GenPlus? Some option or change that I should know? I can get a pretty decent (Even Great) image on it, but RA is a little more clear. If GenPlus can pull that off too, what kind of configuration should I try?

And by the way, I don’t know if it happens with other Genesis games, but I tried LandStalker on RA with a Gamecube controller, and the analog stick would get stuck really often. I don’t think i had that problem with other Genesis games, but it surely is annoying there, the isometric view + stuck direction is kind of fatal, lol.

With a Classic Controller it doesn’t happen, though, which is why I find that curious. And sorry if i’m asking something stupid.

Deflicker perhaps? There isn’t much either could do to change the look of the image. RA uses deflicker in 480i, in 480p I’m still not sure if it’s active. Genesis Plus GX has an option for it, try seeing if the image quality is closer with it off. 240p never uses deflicker. The easiest way to tell is in 480i mode, when the image is sharp but shaky or still but blurry but apps can be coded to not use df in progressive mode.

I dunno about the controller problem but the analog stick is uncomfortably set, it doesn’t read the inputs unless the stick is moved all the way.

Thank You SuperrSonic, I will take a look at that Deflicker option!

I just gave it a check, I think I now recognize the problem and even if you don’t see this it might help someone else.

The standalone version with borders enabled is 384x pixels wide, without the borders it’s 640/512 depending on the game. Notice the problem? In order to cram all game and border pixels into the Wii’s 640 output 384 is used, as you may know the doubled version of this 768 is not a valid frame buffer for Wii and by using the unscaled width you get a more filtered image.

In short set borders to none for a sharper image.