Thanks for the link, Mark (this issue has been bugging me). And thanks for the game too. […]
Thanks for the link, Mark (this issue has been bugging me). And thanks for the game too.
Additionally, I just would like to point out that it feels to me that this kind of art -- handcrafted bitmap -- when done well, does benefit from the chunkiness (and in most cases extreme sharpness) resulting from the low-res-upscaled images, and that even before factoring in the psychological appeal of the retro visual.
Since all images are manually created/reviewed and the pixels are almost individually handpicked to result in aesthetically pleasing images, there is artistic value in the information regarding what-pixel-goes-where and, usually, scaling will mess up that information.
The exception being when scaled up by integer factors (1x, 2x, 3x, ...) with nearest neighbor interpolation.
In this case, the image is being blown up in a way that 1 pixel in the original image turns into 4 in the new one (4=2x2, in x2 scaling), or 9 (9=3x3, in x3 scaling), and so on. Every RGB value in the pixels of the scaled image also exists in the original image.
Since the native resolution of the game is 320x200, the largest possible scaling in a 1920x1080 monitor is 5x (1600x1000).
The game settings tool 'winsetup.exe' does not gives you the option to set x5 scaling; the largest possible value is 4x (1280x800).
Any kind of stretching to make 1280x800 fit 1920x1080 will result in less sharpness (even though aspect ratio might be preserved by lateral black strips -- letterboxing).
Therefore, to have the truest experience possible, the thing to do is give up screen real estate and play in windowed mode with 4x nearest neighbor scaling.
I set an empty black background -- in order to not be distracted from game content -- and fire up the game in windowed mode with 4xNN.
Interestingly, the same issue is responsible for the nicely executed retro feel in Terraria, where everything is 2xNN by default.
PS: The winsetup.exe option 'Smooth scaled sprites (fast CPUs only)' produces egregiously awful results; you end up with an water-oil mixture of crisp background and smooth-blurry sprites. :$