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  #1141  
Old 03-14-2019, 04:41 AM
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Bloodlines was also Michiru Yamane's first soundtrack for the series, and one of her best.

On emulation: I never want games filtered through interpretive software to look "as I remember them"; a big part of the appeal for me is that it's a transformative process, especially when things like polygonal upscaling are introduced into the mix. To be able to see the "seams" in games under the lens of anachronistic technology and displays does not take away from my immersion or interest or what-have-you for them--if anything it's broadened my appreciation for everything I've ever applied it to. But that's why the best emulation is always defined by its user options, to fit anyone's personal preferences.
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  #1142  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:15 AM
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In Bloodlines the grass attacks you outside Versailles. The skeletons wear army helmets in Germany. Frankenstein has a giant yo-yo. How can any other game possibly compete with this???
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  #1143  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:17 AM
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Easy, by being Sotton obviously.
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  #1144  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
In Bloodlines the grass attacks you outside Versailles. The skeletons wear army helmets in Germany. Frankenstein has a giant yo-yo. How can any other game possibly compete with this???
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  #1145  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:38 AM
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You get to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is positively wobbly, concluding with a battle against a devilish gargoyle bat. I drew crummy fan art of it ages ago!



Later on, traversing the Palace of Versailles, there's a battle against the ghost of Marie Antoinette, who transforms into a giant moth. Bloodlines is beyond reproach.

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  #1146  
Old 03-14-2019, 10:20 AM
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I like Bloodlines, but I don't love Bloodlines. I've never quite been able to escape that "something's off" feeling when I play it.

Still great, though! Strangely enough, I think my favorite classic Castlevania these days might be the original NES game. All the 16-bit games fall into the 8.0 to 8.5 range for me, including the much-maligned Dracula X.

Except for Chronicles. Hooooo boy, running that in original mode was a really, really frustrating experience. (And yes, I'm counting it as 16-bit since it was originally an X68000 game.)
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  #1147  
Old 03-14-2019, 11:27 AM
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See, I feel like that "something's off" feeling is part of what makes it so interesting. It's still a rock-solid game from a technical and mechanical perspective. But rather than taking baby steps outside of series conventions and introducing only a small amount of new material while repurposing and remixing existing concepts, Bloodlines took a great big flying leap into new territory and introduces all sorts of new enemies, areas, bosses, weapons, etc. It feels like a Castlevania game made by relative outsiders who weren't worried about shaking things up.

It was always going to be weird and different in its time for that reason. Today, though, I think the only reason it feels so "off" is because Konami decided for whatever reason that it was going to be an evolutionary dead end for the series, and has taken very little from it to use in later games. If more of its elements had been borrowed for the rest of the series, it would seem a lot less off.

Bloodlines isn't my favorite Castlevania. I've dabbled in it, but haven't really gone into it in enough depth to rank it in reference to the rest of the series. But I do think it's a remarkable, delightfully over-the-top game that should get a lot more love than it has over the years, and I'd love to have the chance to buy a legit new release of it.
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  #1148  
Old 03-14-2019, 11:34 AM
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I should probably clarify a bit, actually! The setpieces and whatnot are really cool, and I love those aspects. It's more the control, the way the whip or spear "feels" when hitting an enemy, the way jumps feel slightly different, that makes it feel a bit off-kilter to me. So I'm just speaking more from a mechanical standpoint.

I absolutely agree that it's rock-solid from a technical perspective. This is just more old-man Sarge griping like I do about physics differences between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, because I can totally be a pedant in that way.
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  #1149  
Old 03-14-2019, 11:48 AM
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https://twitter.com/majornelson

harmony of despair on xbone backwards compat now. Neat
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  #1150  
Old 03-14-2019, 12:53 PM
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If only I had any *other* reason to pay for Xbox Live again.
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  #1151  
Old 03-14-2019, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
Bloodlines is a Castlevania that was made for the Genesis.
Oh! Oh yeah, that whole thing. I dunno, I'm lukewarm on that one. It hews a little too closely to the NES games, give or take some nifty special effects. There are some really bad sound effects too... when you open a heavy door, it sounds like it's made of cardboard.

I guess the official name for the cancelled Dreamcast game was Castlevania: Resurrection. Just looked it up.
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  #1152  
Old 03-14-2019, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Ludendorkk View Post
Everytime I see N64 emulation it looks like garbage. Razor sharp polygons on top of blurry-ass textures looks terrible. N64 needs that CRT fuzziness to gel properly.

Okay I'll stop yelling at the cloud
Counterpoint: blurry-ass polygons on top of blurry-ass textures looks terrible. And the system's default output options make real hardware look even worse on modern displays (the best a 64 will do out of the factory is s-video, which looks a lot better than the noisy composite signal from the system). Both RGB and HDMI mods will allow you to turn off the hardware-based anti-aliasing, which also makes, well, everything even blurrier. But so will an emulator.

Further counterpoint: if you hate the textures, replace them! Just look at this stuff.
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  #1153  
Old 03-14-2019, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShakeWell View Post
Counterpoint: blurry-ass polygons on top of blurry-ass textures looks terrible. And the system's default output options make real hardware look even worse on modern displays (the best a 64 will do out of the factory is s-video, which looks a lot better than the noisy composite signal from the system).
Oh yeah, the "runs like molasses" look of so many Nintendo 64 games was one of the reasons why I gravitated more towards the pixelly warbly textured worlds of the Sony PlayStation. Also the PSone could do 2D without it being rendered a blurry mess.
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  #1154  
Old 03-14-2019, 03:18 PM
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They could make a little Forgotten Genesis Collection just out of Rocket Knight Adventures, Castlevania Bloodlines, and Contra Hard Corps.
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  #1155  
Old 03-16-2019, 12:21 PM
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Unfortunately, Digital Eclipse is NOT involved. Per Frank Cifaldi himself:

Quote:
Despite dozens of pitches over the years and a BEAUTIFUL business plan I spent a long time on telling them how we could get all of their games back in print cheaply, no, it is not us working on whatever this is (if it's a real thing).
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  #1156  
Old 03-16-2019, 04:29 PM
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Bad news for lavish gallery modes, good news for being able to play the old games in pixel-perfect clarity.
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  #1157  
Old 03-16-2019, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
Bad news for lavish gallery modes, good news for being able to play the old games in pixel-perfect clarity.
Does digital eclipse not do that?
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  #1158  
Old 03-16-2019, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
Bad news for lavish gallery modes, good news for being able to play the old games in pixel-perfect clarity.
Even judging from the fact that so little about this collection, including if it actually exists, is known, You are far more optimistic than I.
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  #1159  
Old 03-16-2019, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
Bad news for lavish gallery modes, good news for being able to play the old games in pixel-perfect clarity.
I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of SNK arcade cabinets by any stretch, but the SNK 40th Collection looks pretty fantastic to my eyes. (Now, if you wanna talk about Johnny Turbo's output, I have some serious bones to pick.)

Also, I mean, at this point, unless it's M2 (who does have a history with Konami) or HAMSTER (who doesn't seem to do anything outside the Arcade Archives, but also has a history with Konami), I'm not sure anyone else will do a better job.
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  #1160  
Old 03-16-2019, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chud_666 View Post
Does digital eclipse not do that?
I know the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection doesn't have a screen mode with a 1:1 pixel aspect ratio, and I've been told none of their other stuff does, either, except for the 3DS version of Mega Man Legacy Collection. Here's what Crystalis looks like in the mode that lets you get closest to the original resolution:



This is apparently on purpose. Cifaldi is a hard-liner for the 4:3 aspect ratio, calls 1:1 PAR a "misconception" that needs correcting, and doesn't even want to provide an option for unaltered pixel art. Meanwhile, M2, Hamster, Nintendo, Capcom, Zerodiv, and just about everyone else is getting this right.
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  #1161  
Old 03-16-2019, 07:40 PM
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Yeah, I don't get that. Like, it's fine if he personally prefers 4:3, but 1:1 PAR should still be an option available for anyone who wants it. I mean, if these Digital Eclipse compilations are willing to provide those stretched widescreen modes, I don't see why they can't offer 1:1 too.
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  #1162  
Old 03-17-2019, 10:33 AM
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Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps are two I've waited a long time to be able to purchase legitimately on modern hardware, but I'm getting impatient.

As for the blur versus pixel perfect displays, I feel like few games demonstrate this as well as Donkey Kong Country. It's so much harder to appreciate what was being done in pixel perfect mode; some sort of filter or other compensation is the only way to play.
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  #1163  
Old 03-17-2019, 05:08 PM
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I can understand prioritising aspect ratio over 1:1 pixels, and Digital Eclipse aren't the only ones to take a hardline view that doesn’t match my personal preference, but I do think not giving the user the choice is a bad thing.

Unless you’ve got a high enough resolution to compose the in-game pixels of rectangular blocks of on-screen pixels in whatever pixel aspect ratio you think is correct, stretching the screen is a distortion just like not stretching it is. I grew up in the PAL territories, so I’m used to games that run at the wrong speed with letterboxes, plus whatever distortion the CRT introduced. There is no perfect version. Stretching to match an aspect ratio that the games may or may not have been designed for is just as wrong as anything else.

Last edited by Yimothy; 03-17-2019 at 06:56 PM.
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  #1164  
Old 03-17-2019, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
This is apparently on purpose. Cifaldi is a hard-liner for the 4:3 aspect ratio, calls 1:1 PAR a "misconception" that needs correcting, and doesn't even want to provide an option for unaltered pixel art. Meanwhile, M2, Hamster, Nintendo, Capcom, Zerodiv, and just about everyone else is getting this right.
I definitely appreciate options, but he's kinda right? There are a lot of games that look distorted in 1:1, because the devs knew they'd get pulled to 4:3. (The moon in Chrono Trigger leaps to mind.) I used to like 1:1, but I revisted games in arcades, and, yeah, 1:1 looks too skinny to me now. I can't deal with it.

But I totally get wanting to have the option, even if I, personally, don't like it. I mean, I even get having the 16:9 option, which is absolutely "wrong" if you're talking about how the game was meant to be displayed.
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  #1165  
Old 03-17-2019, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
I know the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection doesn't have a screen mode with a 1:1 pixel aspect ratio, and I've been told none of their other stuff does, either, except for the 3DS version of Mega Man Legacy Collection. Here's what Crystalis looks like in the mode that lets you get closest to the original resolution:



This is apparently on purpose. Cifaldi is a hard-liner for the 4:3 aspect ratio, calls 1:1 PAR a "misconception" that needs correcting, and doesn't even want to provide an option for unaltered pixel art. Meanwhile, M2, Hamster, Nintendo, Capcom, Zerodiv, and just about everyone else is getting this right.
So I can see that the life bar looks janky. But why is that? Is it because the pixels are stretched to 4:3 instead of displaying at 1:1? Would the life bar look better if it were displaying at 1:1?
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  #1166  
Old 03-17-2019, 06:37 PM
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Yeah, the pixels are being stretched out to 4:3. NES resolution is 256x240 (but effectively 256x224). Either way, the pixels don't map out to a 4:3 aspect ratio, but were intended to display in 4:3 since you could have non-square pixels on CRTs.

There are ways around this, though various filters, although those introduce their own problems. If you don't filter it well, you get shimmering artifacts, if you filter too much, the image appears blurry. I think the SNES Classic does a really nice job with 4:3 content, actually, without coming off as looking blurry.
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  #1167  
Old 03-17-2019, 07:34 PM
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Default I'm not totally sure of any of the maths in this

On a CRT TV, there's no fixed horizontal resolution. The beam that produces the image runs across the width of the screen and changes colour as it goes, so for a 256 pixel wide image it would change up to 256 times (fewer in reality because a lot of pixels would be the same colour as their neighbours), so the width of each pixel would be 1/256 of the width of the screen. The vertical resolution is fixed at the number of times the beam draws a vertical line, so the height of each pixel is 1/240 the height of the screen. The screen would usually be a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning 4/3 times as wide as it is tall, so each pixel is 4/(256x3) times the height of the screen wide by 3/(240x3) times the height of the screen tall, which works out to each individual pixel being 1.25 times wider than it is tall. That works on an analogue TV, but a modern display can't do quarter pixels, so it has to insert extra columns in the image as it stretches it, which distorts it.

Displaying the picture without stretching it is also arguably a distortion, because it was always going to be stretched on original hardware. Personally I find the bad stretching more bothersome than the inaccurate aspect ratio. Ideally you'd fix this by using a high enough resolution that the image could be stretched without distorting it. Here's the title screen of Phantasy Star for SMS, with a 1:1 pixel aspect ratio:



Here it is scaled up to get a 5:4 pixel aspect ratio without distortion (this is actually a 5:3 aspect ratio because I've cut the letterboxing from the original image - it would have displayed at 4:3 with black bars above and below):



Zoomed in:



Each "pixel" of the image is made up a 5x4 square of pixels.

The question is, which is more accurate? Designers would have known about the stretch the TV would apply, so they could compensate for it when making the game, but did they? In this example, I think that the words "Phantasy Star" look better in the stretched image - they look squashed in the other one. I think whoever drew it did so knowing it would be stretched. The rest of the text looks better to me in the unstretched image - it's too wide in the stretched one. The reason for this, I think, is that it's a tile font (while the title would be a bigger image made specifically for this screen). Each letter is 8x8 pixels wide, which isn't enough space to compensate for the stretching.

I think when there are big images like on title screens or the moon in Chrono Trigger mentioned earlier or even big sprites like the characters in fighting games it's probably more accurate to stretch to get the original width (though that doesn't mean that introducing distortions is a good thing). When a game's graphics are made up of 8x8 tiles and sprites are 8x8 or 8x16 or similar small resolutions, I suspect the intended pixel aspect ratio is probably usually 1:1 because it's too hard to accommodate the stretch in that space. I don't think that the question mark blocks in Mario are intended to be rectangular rather than square, for example, even if that's how they were on TVs back in the day. I could be wrong, though.
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  #1168  
Old 03-17-2019, 09:41 PM
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There are a lot of examples where artists drew ovals or rectangulars that they knew would be distorted into circles and squares by 4:3 displays, and there are a lot of examples where they drew circles and squares in the first place. I've found that 4:3 die-hards (not anyone here—you're cool) tend to neglect to mention the latter cases, and when presented with them, they dismiss them as incompetence on the original artists' part. To me, this exposes their air of dry rationality for what it is: If your argument is that 4:3 is the only correct way to view games because developers took it into account, but then you say developers who didn't take it into account are in the wrong, then you're clearly just preferring the display—the window showing you the art—over the art itself. This isn't some grave sin, but going all-in for 4:3 isn't the objective position of moral superiority it's often presented to be, either. It's just a personal preference.

It's true that most old games were inevitably displayed on 4:3 monitors, so playing them in that aspect ratio is accurate to how they were originally presented. But that's not the only measure of accuracy. An accurate view of the graphics as they were originally drawn (not necessarily how they were originally displayed) can be one of the greatest joys in playing any game, and blurring, stretching, or distorting them in any way spoils that.

I personally am always appreciating pixel art and analyzing it dot-by-dot even when I'm in the middle of playing a game, and I'm not really concerned with how it would have been forced to look on old displays. For other people, of course, that's the end-all and be-all of looking at a game. Neither preference is inherently superior over the other, and it should be simple enough to please both of them (again, most companies rereleasing old games have no trouble with this).
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  #1169  
Old 03-17-2019, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
On a CRT TV, there's no fixed horizontal resolution. The beam that produces the image runs across the width of the screen and changes colour as it goes, so for a 256 pixel wide image it would change up to 256 times (fewer in reality because a lot of pixels would be the same colour as their neighbours), so the width of each pixel would be 1/256 of the width of the screen. The vertical resolution is fixed at the number of times the beam draws a vertical line, so the height of each pixel is 1/240 the height of the screen. The screen would usually be a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning 4/3 times as wide as it is tall, so each pixel is 4/(256x3) times the height of the screen wide by 3/(240x3) times the height of the screen tall, which works out to each individual pixel being 1.25 times wider than it is tall. That works on an analogue TV, but a modern display can't do quarter pixels, so it has to insert extra columns in the image as it stretches it, which distorts it.

Displaying the picture without stretching it is also arguably a distortion, because it was always going to be stretched on original hardware. Personally I find the bad stretching more bothersome than the inaccurate aspect ratio. Ideally you'd fix this by using a high enough resolution that the image could be stretched without distorting it.
Bad stretching can be ugly and I hate pixel shimmer, so I really appreciate that the Super Nt can turn on interpolation just on the X-axis to keep the correct 4:3 and eliminate shimmering (while not introducing blur from interpolation on the Y-axis).

This is also why I have my HiDefNES mod set to 5:3, because while, yes, it's also inaccurate, it's closer to the 4:3 TVs of the time output and because it's integer scaling, it eliminates the shimmer.

This is also reminding me of a very fun thing about several classic Capcom arcade games... they output at 384 pixels wide, knowing they'd be squashed down on a 4:3 monitor, but it allowed for more detailed art, etc. Here's a great video about it. (Also, the same channel has done videos about the Genesis and SNES outputs, and is just all-around pretty good.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kishi View Post
There are a lot of examples where artists drew ovals or rectangulars that they knew would be distorted into circles and squares by 4:3 displays, and there are a lot of examples where they drew circles and squares in the first place. I've found that 4:3 die-hards (not anyone here—you're cool) tend to neglect to mention the latter cases, and when presented with them, they dismiss them as incompetence on the original artists' part. To me, this exposes their air of dry rationality for what it is: If your argument is that 4:3 is the only correct way to view games because developers took it into account, but then you say developers who didn't take it into account are in the wrong, then you're clearly just preferring the display—the window showing you the art—over the art itself. This isn't some grave sin, but going all-in for 4:3 isn't the objective position of moral superiority it's often presented to be, either. It's just a personal preference.
I mean, this is the thing, right? It's a preference, and I get wanting to see them how the machine outputs them. I personally don't like it, but I get it. It's very similar to the discussion around On the Waterfront and its "proper" aspect ratio. (See also: the British Tales from the Crypt movie, which was shot in 4:3, but matted in some theatrical presentations. The Scream Factory blu-ray (paired with Vault of Horror) gives you the option to watch it any way you like.)

People like fake scanlines. I hate them. People like smeary eagle filters. I hate them. People like stretching their classic games to 16:9 AND DEAR GOD, I HATE THAT. But, hey, folks. You do you. But I'm going to be a sharp pixels, no scanlines, 4:3 guy 4LYFE.
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  #1170  
Old 03-18-2019, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShakeWell View Post
(See also: the British Tales from the Crypt movie, which was shot in 4:3, but matted in some theatrical presentations. The Scream Factory blu-ray (paired with Vault of Horror) gives you the option to watch it any way you like.)
Speaking of things that were matte'd that originally weren't, this is a big thing I hate about how old episodes of The Simpsons are presented in the modern day. I was never a big fan of 16:9 movies having the sides chopped off to fit a 4:3 display (mainly 'cuz the 'full screen' DVD was the one that's always more commonly available), and I definitely don't like it when 4:3 shows get the top and bottom sliced off to fit 16:9.

Of course, I get that many people just have to have that entire screen filled, shit getting cut off be damned. =/
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