No Fideo Friday this week, after that onslaught of Youtube videos this week I feel we could do with a break! Instead, here's a new article!
VGA is the tecchy name for that big blue cable you plug into your computer monitor, because everything electric needs an annoying three letter abbreviation. Remember when I told you guys about the VGA converter box I bought and tried out on my PC monitor, while also trying the Dreamcast out online for the first time in years? Well, now TV's are starting to put VGA ports in the back of them too, which means you can plug your PC up to it, but also...with the help of the converter box, your Dreamcast. Oh, and I've just so happened to blow a lump of money on a new shiny LCD TV to replace my bulky old telly, going from a 21 inch screen to a whopping 32! In case your wondering, I've paid for half of it and will be paying the rest off eventually! It swamps my desk!
Just a word of warning: not all VGA ports in telly's are the same, and I learned this the hard way when I bought one, and the Dreamcast VGA box would not work through it, so I had to take that telly back and get another one, which was a whole lot of hassle and cost me another £50. ADVICE! Don't buy a telly from a electronics specialist like Euronics, because you'll have trouble taking it back, buy it somewhere like Argos instead, because they're easy to exchange with and give you no hassle. Also, if you can, find someone who owns the telly you're considering buying to test your VGA box on before buying! One thing I discovered is Hitachi TV's are good to go, and Samsung ones are not.
The best way I could think of comparing the picture quality would be with photos. Note: colours will look a little off because they're photos, not direct feed shots. First off, here's how it look though the standard aerial port that comes provided with the console:
The quality can all depend on how well your TV receives the aerial, but this is about a good as I can get it.
This is the same shot via an RGB, using the VGA box. This is the same as what you get with a Scart cable, which you can buy separately. It's a lot nicer, with brighter colours and more detail, and looks perfectly fine..
..but this is how it looks with the VGA PC Input. The sharpness ramps up big time and you can see every pixel.
Another advantage of VGA input is that it resizes everything for you, so you don't need to keep switching between 4:3 and 16:9 when a game looks too stretched or squashed. Games feel fresh and new, like you're playing them for the first time again. Even the sound is better! As Racketboy well said on his site many times "once you go VGA, you'll never go back"!
There's only one disadvantage of this device, and that is that not all games will run using it. On the back of most Dreamcast games you'll find a "VGA Compatible" symbol, and if that is not there, than popping in the disc will bring up a message telling you you can't run it through that cable. This isn't always the case, though, sometimes the publishers just forget to place the symbol on the box. Judging from my collection, roughly one in ten games will not use it. The following didn't work for me:
Bust a Move 4 *
Capcom Vs SNK
DDR 2nd Mix/ Club Edition
Gunbird 2 *
King of Fighters Dream Match 99
Last Blade 2
Psychic Force 2019
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Marvel Vs Capcom *
Spawn in the Demon's Hand *
(EDIT: The games that have * next to them do in fact work, if you use a boot disc! Thanks for the tip Denymetanol!)
It seems to depend on th the region of the game as well. According to the folks at DCforums, The American version of Skies of Arcadia works, but the British one doesn't. This is why the VGA box also has a RGB port on the side, and a switch that will let you switch between PC input and second best possible picture quality that will be compatible with any game.
On the plus side, though, you can also use emulators and homebrew games through this thing, so Mega Drive and Playstation games are going to look better than they ever did on the original consoles. For example, here's a shot of the classic Aladdin game in glorious PC quality:
And even closer, so you can see the lovely pixels! The only other way you could get this game to look this good would be through an emulator on your PC. In summary: this is the closest you're gonna get to playing Dreamcast games in HD, and really brings out the best of the system's graphics. It's beautiful, I tells ya.