Emulating a video game console system on a personal computer has been pretty accurate since the release of the first Sega Mega Drive / Genesis and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulators that ran on MS-DOS back in the mid ’90s. Soon after the release of Sony’s PlayStation, there were emulators available that almost perfectly emulated the console’s games on, now very outdated, Pentium II-based home computers. As the computer technology progressed the developers gained more experience with practice, and some still maintained emulators got much better results in video and sound processing than the actual consoles they emulate. Video and audio filters and post-processing plugins made even the oldest games look more pleasant to the eye and in the case of many, the picture can actually be clearer on the emulator than on the console itself.
Since this is old news in the year 2013, when computers are ten times faster than most of the hardware they emulate, ThePixelPress made a comparision video of Twilight Princess, played on both an actual Wii console and on the Dolphin emulator, which is capable emulating both the GameCube and the Wii because of the similarities of the hardware. The output from the Wii was the native 728×480 resolution and the output from the Dolphin was set to an astonishing 2560×2112, four times the native Wii resolution, downscaled to 1920×1080. The results were mind-blowing: Dolphin makes Twilight Princess look younger than some recent Wii games.
No jagged edges, pixelated textures and wandering pixels, just clean, smooth visuals that will make you want to replay the game just for its beauty. Since Dolphin uses plugins for filtering, anti-aliasing, v-sync etc, the results are far better than simply upscaling the image. Nintendo rushed the Wii release of the long expected Zelda sequel and the most notable difference between the GameCube and Wii versions of the game is that the Wii version is mirrored, so that Link uses the sword with his right hand so that players can use the Wii controls easier. No one thought of the left handed people, or to simply enhance the visual presentation of the game so it looks better on the Wii. But now, it is possible.
This is achieved, as the video explains, through software enhancing that includes anti-aliasing, smoothened textures and such. The downscaling effect then amplifies all the results, thus making the game look incredibly smooth and clean. But some of you may ask: “what is downscaling and what is upscaling?”. Well, I think explaining through a simple example will make it easier to understand.
If you try playing a GameCube or a PlayStation 2 game on a smaller analog TV, you will get excellent smooth picture. Although it will be smaller in size, it will be eye candy. Since the image resolution is higher than the TV’s, it “compresses” more pixels in less space on screen. This is downscaling. If you try playing the same game on a big family LCD HDTV, it could look worse than a PlayStation 1 game. Now the monitor has higher resolution than the source of the image and it has to “stretch” each pixel so the image as a whole fits the monitor, which in turn makes it look worse than it actually is. This reversed effect is naturally called upscaling.
To try this out for yourself, there is a simple test. Take any photo of you and your friends or any random image from the web. Open it in any photo editor that can resize images. If you try doubling the resolution of the photo, you will get something horrible and pixelated. If you try cutting the resolution to half, even pixelated images can look clean.
The main downside of all this is – you need a very capable computer configuration so all this works without lagging and crashing. ThePixelPress recommends at least a 3GHz CPU, because Dolphin needs a fair CPU and you may be able to pull it off with a fairly outdated GPU.