Flat screen TV's and older game systems

ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
Hey all,

I have a 42" Panasonic plasma TV, and I would like to use my old PS2 and the library of games I have. Last time I tried this, the resolution looked like garbage. I have seen people do this in videos and stuff, so I assume this is possible. What am I doing wrong? Also, as an extension I would like to do this with other older systems like the NES and have them work clearly also.

Any tips on how to make this work and look good? Thanks!


  • Jeremy23000Jeremy23000 Indie Developer Halifax, Nova Scotia, CanadaRegistered User regular
    I had stumbled across this article a couple of days ago. It might be useful to you.

  • honkymcgoohonkymcgoo Registered User regular

    I use one of these, and it doesn't seem to mess with my signal at all. It doesn't do anything resolution wise, I still have to play most things in 4:3 mode. But they look like they did originally. Also, turning off any kind of motion enhancer feature helps a lot.

    I didn't even know what the fuck and avitar was until about 5 minutes ago.
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    There's a few different things going on when trying to play older systems on new TV's... and it gets trickier the further back you go.

    1) Use the right connection for what you want to accomplish. Using the RF connection is going to look like crap most of the time. For oXbox, PS2, Gamecube, and Dreamcast, you're looking at S video being the lowest you should go, then component or VGA if your TV can support them.

    2) TV matters, as does settings. Some have nifty features that sound cool. Frame interpolation, etc. Some of these can actually make the picture look worse than normal. Try finding any of these features your tv has and play with the settings. Also the majority of games on most old systems will be 4:3 aspect ration, not 16:9, make sure your tv isn't scaling/stretching/zooming anything. It will just make it look worse.

    3) If you are going much older (like Snes/Genesis and the like) be aware that not every TV will work. Many older systems output a resolution that is well below even DVD quality, and some A/V equipment will just ignore it. You would need to get something that can take that video and scale it up to at least 480p to get recognized in those cases.

    Personally I run my older stuff via RGB SCART cables with a SCART to Component converter. It gives me the best picture I can get on my TV. Another viable option is finding an old CRT TV to play really old stuff on.

    No matter what the case, be aware that it's not going to look perfect. You are taking a decidedly low rez source and blowing it up onto a big screen TV. It can look better, but it's not going to look as good as you probably remember it looking.

  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited October 2013
    It's worth noting that you can use an S-Video cable for Gamecube on the SNES and N64 as well, depending on what systems you have. According to my googling, I guess you can only get a component cable for GCN IF you have one of the models with the digital out port (that was later removed), but that would be the best quality. Getting a component cable for the WII, though, is super-easy, and most Wiis play GCN games (yes, there are Wiis that don't, I swear). Then set your Wii to 480p. You can easily get component cables that have plugs for Wii, PS2/PS3, AND I believe XBox/360 (I know it works on 360, but I don't have an original XBox) all in one cable. Naturally, though, for 360 and PS3 you just want HDMI, since you have an HDTV. I believe the best you can get out of an NES is composite quality, via RCA cables? Beyond that, I'm not totally sure what options exist for other consoles, although I know the Dreamcast has a VGA cable available, which is about as good as component (the max possible resolution may be lower for one or the other, depending on your TV). The Genesis has also made a comeback in recent years (as weird as it sounds), so there are probably more options available for it now than there ever were.

    So yeah, Component > VGA >> S-Video >>> Composite (which is what comes with most consoles) >> RCA (comes with older consoles like the SNES). Then, for maximum effect, try to start your games in Progressive Scan mode! Some games will let you set this in their options in-game, but for some you need to hold a button combo as you start the game. On GCN you apparently hold down B, and on PS2 you hold down X and Triangle. Even for games that don't support Progressive Scan, Component Cables will look INFINITELY better than what you're seeing now, and S-Video won't look bad either.

    Essee on
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    Component and VGA are functionally identical for the most part. The only limitations are based upon the device sourcing and displaying either. Both are fully capable of displaying 1080p video for instance, but very few TV's will allow you to do so. But standard 480p is absolutely simply to achieve.

    Also for the NES, SNES, and some models of the GC and N64 as well as the master system, genesis, and saturn you can get an RGB SCART cable and a simple scart- component converter. That will be the absolute best picture you can get out of any of those systems without opening them up and modding them. There are issues with some of the nintendo systems as the US NTSC versions removed the capability to output RGB (and hence SCART). Kind of a pain that.

    But that's only viable if you're going to go that route... I currently have my gen, sega cd, and saturn hooked up that way with a scart switch box to my 50 inch Plasma and it's pretty awesome.

  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    Yeah, to my knowledge, SCART is pretty rare in the NTSC regions (which is where I presumed the OP was from), so I'm not intimately familiar with it myself. In fact, as somebody from the States, I've never owned a TV with a SCART port, and I think I never would've seen one at all if I didn't have a significant other from Europe!

  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    Essee wrote: »
    Yeah, to my knowledge, SCART is pretty rare in the NTSC regions (which is where I presumed the OP was from), so I'm not intimately familiar with it myself. In fact, as somebody from the States, I've never owned a TV with a SCART port, and I think I never would've seen one at all if I didn't have a significant other from Europe!

    Yeah, I'm in the states as well, never lived in Europe ever... and you don't see SCART here much at all, and very very few TV's or monitors will accept it, which is where the SCART to component box comes in, it just changes it to something that is commonly available on pretty much any TV.

    The advantage is that you can find the SCART cables for most older systems pretty cheap and easy, and it requires no modification of the system whatsoever. The only time things get messy in that regard is if you're looking to add RGB SCART to a system that didn't originally have it available.

    But for any that had SCART available normally (which is most of them) it plugs in no differently than the RF or composite AV cables would, the only difference is you are putting a box in between to allow you to plug it into your TV.

    Easy and great results for pretty cheap. Well worth it if you care about such things.

  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    Wow, thanks for all the advice. Looks like I have a fun little project ahead of me. I will have to take a look at the back of my systems and see what sort of ports I have available. Thanks for the article Jeremy23000, that has a lot of good details in it. Also thanks for the advice on the switch Honkymcgoo, and the SCART cables and converter ElectricGroove.

    I will report back when I have made some progress, or more likely when i have failed to make more progress! =)

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