Monday, March 15, 2010

Castlevania Dracula X Chronicles - PCE version

I actually rather liked the 2.5D remake of Dracula X for the PSP, although a lot of people don't. The saving grace of the package, purportedly, is that includes the original PC Engine version, translated into English, no less. However, beyond the sound synch issues, some complained about it looking muddy. Since the Virtual Console version just came out today - untranslated, but still the best, cheapest way to experience it - I thought I'd snap some comparison screens to highlight the visual issues between the PCE version and the PSP ported version.

The PSP version offers two display types - regular and large. Here they are, from top to bottom, the original PCE, the "regular" PSP version, and the "large" PSP version.

ARGH MY EYES. It's hard to precisely tell what's wrong on the PSP screen, but here's the gist of it.

PC Engine games usually run in a 256x224 resolution. This is very small - horizontally it takes up slightly more than half of the PSP's 480x272 screen, leaving a lot of empty real estate. Instead of letting the game run at the native resolution, though, the smallest you can set the game is the "regular" setting, which is 296x224. It keeps the vertical resolution but expands the horizontal resolution by 40 pixels. You can't just stretch the image though. I took the original PCE image for a simulation, so it would look like this:

That looks like crap - note the line doubling in the score, because those extra pixels have to come from SOMEWHERE, so it applies a filter, which smoothens the image like this:

Now it looks cleaner, but notice how blurry it got in the process. This is what filtering does. But it doesn't help that, for whatever reason, the PSP version uses a slightly darker color palette, so, for the final picture again:

The "large" version resizes the image to 362x272, using the full vertical resolution of the PSP and stretching the horizontal width to maintain the same ratio as the "normal" version. It's still obviously filtered though, though technically no worse than the normal version.

What crap! I haven't mucked with Symphony of the Night to compare, but how on Earth did Konami screw this up? It's not like those 40 pixels were really THAT valuable so it needed to filter the image? But then again, shoddy emulation on these types of compilations are typical, because they figure they're cheap, and no one will notice.


  1. It just goes to show that shoehorning a console game to handheld isn't always the best idea...

  2. If you were to run the PCE version of Dracula X on the PSP at its original pixel resolution with no scaling, stretching or would be fucking tiny. The PSP has issues with motion blurring, which is especially obvious with graphics that are both small and high-contrast, both of which Drac X falls under.

    I mean, geez. I've pretty much gotten used to having the graphics be filtered by now. I won't say that filtering makes the graphics look better, because it really doesn't, but I won't say it ruins them either.

    TL;DR: I don't really give a shit about the filtering because the alternative is not being able to see what the fuck is going on.

  3. But even the default mode is simply 20 pixels wider in each direction. It really is a small gain to muddy things up like they did.

    NES/etc emulators on modded PSPs look pretty OK, since you can run them at 256x224, and they're crisp to boot. There's no reason that shouldn't have been an option for Drac X.

  4. I'm going to hazard a guess and say aspect ratio correction. The original game would be running on a 4:3 TV, so it would be stretched by the hardware to match. Applying the 4:3 ratio to a vertical resolution of 224 gives a horizontal resolution of 298.6, which is 42.6 pixels wider.

    Wasn't there a blog post about this on HG101 already? Or maybe it was a different site I visit..

  5. At least the Wii version is correct.

    This is not Castlevania related, but where is dai ja bu? I miss her posts. ._.

  6. It is pretty bad that emulators look better on PSP than professional ports that cost companies money to make. I am glad it is on Wii though, it sure beats paying out the ass for the Turbo Duo version.

  7. And Virtual Console emulation is fantastic. Not to be ungrateful or anything, but a Symphony Of The Night port would be pretty awesome. It'll probably sell well, and considering SotN is on at least one of Nintendo's competitors' console (e.g. Sony, Microsoft, Sega), it might as well come to Nintendo too. It'd look pretty cool besides Rondo Of Blood. :)

  8. This is why I hate console games getting ported to handhelds. I remember back when Dracula X Chronicles was announced. I was like "YAY!!!! =D" then I read "for PSP" then I was like "GODDAMNIT!!!!! >=O". Though you and guarantee I downloaded the version the second it was put up for download. Much better than the PSP version.

    Also on a side note: I don't like in-depth games on handhelds. Handhelds are suppose to be something you pick up when you are out bored or waiting on something. I hate having to stare at a tiny screen to play through a long game.

    I hope CV games start going back to consoles. The years of handhelds CVs are killing me. I want my HD 2D CV game on a console! Get on that Konami!

  9. What I think just FUCKING SUCKS is that the PSP makes you play their ABSOLUTELY UNREASONABLY DIFFICULT remaster to unlock the games I really goddamn wanted in the first place. They should fire the STUPID FUCK that thought that would be a good idea. I hope that dumb ass is forced to play his stupid fucking remake for eternity in hell, and every time he loses whatever weapon that's needed to possibly make it through the stage he gets an electric shock up his ass. BURN, motherfucker, whomever you are.

    1. That man has been fired. Koji Igarashi. This game was his idea.
      So yeah, he should get an electric shock up his ass because he remade the (storyline) predecessor to a game that defined a genre more than anybother - and decided to make the original game and SOTN as unlockables. You're so funny and right.