In the weeks since Square Enix announced new editions of the older Final Fantasy games along with Dragon Quest III, the discussion around how to best view and revive older 2D video games flared up again. There are very old memes making fun of indie developers’ love for hard pixels, but people now seem to be talking more about the science and cultural history behind Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) scanlines and hard pixels.
This piece at Waypoint goes pretty deep into it, but what really started the new conversation was a tweet from the @CRTpixels twitter account comparing how Castlevania: Symphony of the Night looks with its raw pixel data on a modern LCD screen and how it looks on an old CRT. The art was originally designed to be seen through CRT scanlines, and there’s a sense of implied detail you only really get through them. The ensuing replies for or against either side show that over time we’ve developed preferences despite the fact that the CRT look was the original intent in pretty much all pre-HD video games.
I’m starting to think it’s a generational thing — a difference between people who grew up with CRTs and people who grew up with LCD screens, and it’s turning into an artistic choice as much as anything else.