First post, by WDStudios
The original Command & Conquer was a DOS game. It ran at 320 x 200 with nonsquare pixels to stretch the image out over a 4:3 display. This was 100% intended and the artwork was designed around the fact that the game used nonsquare pixels. And God saw that it was good.
The Win95 port, by contrast, has a major mistake regarding the cinematics and rescaling. It comes with an application that lets you switch between a 640 x 400 resolution mode and a 640 x 480 resolution mode. Both produce 640 x 480 output, but one accomplishes it by rescaling, while the other does it by adding black bars to the top and bottom of the image. Most of the game looks correct in 640 x 400 mode, which is the mode that most closely mimics the behavior and appearance of the DOS version. For example, the main menu screen looks fine and the things that you would expect to be perfectly circular, are perfectly circular:
The same is true when you're actually playing the game.
HOWEVER, the cinematics, mission-select screens, and score screens, which were solid 320 x 200 images in the DOS version, got padded out to 640x400 partially through the use of one-pixel-thick horizontal black lines. Making matters worse, these lines are added before any rescaling is done. When the resulting, finely combed 640 x 400 image is upscaled to 640 x 480 so that things remain the correct shape, the result is horrifying:
You can get the proper combing effect by changing to 640 x 480 resolution mode, which adds black bars instead of rescaling the image, but then everything is too short and fat:
You should theoretically be able to fix this by manually adjusting the Width parameter in the ddraw.ini file to something like 528 (technically 533.33 rounded to the nearest multiple of 16) but I tested that and it doesn't do anything.
Red Alert managed to mostly avoid this issue by being designed specifically for 1.6:1 in both its DOS and Windows versions, though other signs of aspect ratio confusion can still be found.
Since people like posting system specs:
Core i7 Sandy Bridge @ 3.6 ghz
4 GB of RAM in quad-channel
Geforce GTX 780
1600 x 1200 monitor
Dual-booting WinXP Integral Edition and Win7 Pro 64-bit
XP compatibility is the hill that I will die on.