Classic video game systems like the NES were made at a time when television sets were very different than they are now. If you’re playing a modern console like the PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch on a TV, you’re probably gaming in a 16:9 aspect ratio, or something close to it depending on the size of your screen. These days, TV screens are relatively wide, but back in the ’80s, they were more like boxes. That’s why NES games have an aspect ratio of 8:7, which is essentially a square. As a result, they look kind of weird on modern screens. But now there’s an NES emulator that has a creative solution to that problem, allowing players to see more of the vintage games they’re playing (via BoingBoing).
ANESE is an NES emulator that recently introduced a new featured called “wideNES,” which allows players to see more of the game outside of the typical viewing area. There’s a lengthy blog post if you want to go in depth about how this works, but this passage summarizes the process best:
“As players move within a level, wideNES records the screen, gradually building-up a map of what’s been explored. On subsequent playthroughs of the level, wideNES syncs the action on-screen to the generated map, effectively letting players see more of the level by “peeking” past the edge of the NES’s screen!”
This process isn’t specific to how any one game is made, meaning that it will work on any NES game you throw at it. Daniel Prilik, ANESE’s developer, warns that his emulator isn’t the best one out there, and trying out this feature should probably be left to players who are comfortable with command line. Still, since it’s relatively new technology, there’s still hope that it will be more broadly applicable at some point.
What NES game do you think would be most improved by being wider? Let us know what you think down in the comments!
Featured image: Nintendo