The Resolution Conundrum:

Unlike many consoles, which either run at a set horizontal width for analogue video (like the SNES/SFC), or conform to a single broadcast standard that games are all scaled to internally (like the more modern PS3), the PlayStation has a handful of resolutions that games run at.

The 240p resolutions are as follows:

  • 256: Usually pixel art titles, as well as ports from other consoles that ran at a native 256x240, such as the SNES.
Examples: Cotton 100%, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Chrono Trigger
  • 320: Very common resolution for native 4:3 Aspect Ratio with square pixels. Used in 2D and 3D games alike from many studios.
Examples: Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil, Raiden DX
  • 384: Primary used in ports of Capcom arcade titles, though some other games also make use of it. Sometimes referred to as 368 for reasons unknown.
Examples: Darkstalkers 3, Ape Escape, Tomb Raider
  • 512: The most common 'HiRes' output, mostly used in 3D titles. Exactly double the resolution of 256, which is convenient for sampling.
Examples: Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, WipEout 3
  • 640: The least common resolution, more often used for menus than gameplay. Exactly double the resolution of 320, which is convenient for sampling.
Examples: Bushido Blade, Clock Tower, Xevious 3D/G+

On top of these 240P resolutions, the PlayStation can also output a 480 Interlaced signal at each of these horizontal resolutions. The most common resolutions for 480i seem to be 320, 512, and 640, though 256 and 384 do crop up occasionally.

This diversity in resolution, especially the use of both progressive and interlaced signals, poses significant problems for capture, as well as for some scalers. The most widely known instance of this is the signal drop associated with swapping from 240p to 480i menus in games like Chrono Cross. However, even within the realm of progressive signals, this can pose problems. 256, 320, and 384 each have a different optimal sampling rate in order to achieve pixel-perfect capture, and many games use one or more of these for menus, cutscenes, intro cinematics, and gameplay. In theory, we could use a common multiple, but these require beefy scalers and capture methods for 10x or 15x capture. Maybe one day. Until then, we're forced to choose the resolution that is used most commonly, splice together capture of different resolutions, or use generic non-optimal capture settings and sacrifice sharpness for consistency.

Optimal Timings:

The optimal horizontal sampling rates for each progressive resolution can be found below. These are the optimal sampling settings for the three primary resolutions, keeping in mind that 512 and 640 use the same sampling settings as 256 and 320 respectively

On a PS1, courtesy of the JunkerHQ Wiki.

  • 256 - 341.25
  • 320 - 426.60
  • 384 - 487.50

On a PS2, through our own testing, and only confirmed with an OSSC, which is less precise than some capture solutions.

  • 256 - 343.20
  • 320 - 429.00
  • 384 - 490.00

Game Resolution List:

To aid in helping purists find the best possible resolution to capture their games, we've tested and confirmed the primary gameplay resolutions of many PlayStation games.

Resolution List Thus Far: HERE

Methodology as of now is as follows:

Using pSX emulator, boot up a game, press Tab, and check the 2nd line for resolution information. Play the game until gameplay, pause, record all resolutions after the 640x480i PS1 splash screen which all games share. I've skipped resolutions which only appear during small loads with no splash screen.

Using Xebra emulator, turn off all scaling options, then use trial and error with Width and Height options to find correct resolution for any given scene.

With the OSSC, load the game on to a real PS1 or PS2 console, and cycle through optimal timing profiles until you find the right one. There may be a better way to do this, but I haven't gotten to testing with real hardware just yet. Unfortunate the brief nature of intro cutscenes and such make them difficult to ascertain the resolutions of, but also of much less importance than gameplay and primary menus.

To contribute, Fill out this Form: HERE Forward issues to @SoFisht in the Discord, or post on the associated Shmups Forum thread.