Widescreen Sega Saturn Gaming – NiGHTS Into Dreams At Its Best in 16:9

Back in 1996, Widescreen TVs were just a distant possibility for nearly everyone, but in typical ahead-of-their-time fashion, Sega added widescreen support to a small handful of their Sega Saturn games. Of course, I couldn’t have chosen a better title for widescreen support than the crown jewel of the Saturn library, NiGHTS into Dreams. Both the original NiGHTS game and Christmas NiGHTS are playable in the 16:9 aspect ratio and look incredible.

I recently hooked my Saturn up to my Dell 2007WFP 20″ Widescreen LCD in my office via its built-in S-Video connection. I was pleasantly surprised to see how crisp everything looked and how much more dramatic the game felt on the widescreen LCD. Now, I’m still having a hard time figuring out if the screen is actually stretched, or if you actually see more of the game. Either way, I’m quite happy with the way it looks

In addition to the Sonic Team classic, Panzer Dragoon Zwei also supports widescreen resolution as well. In fact, I found this video clip of widescreen Zwei on YouTube.

The only other Saturn game I am aware of with 16:9 support is High Velocity (a rather obscure racer).If you are aware of any other Saturn games (or other classics as well), feel free to leave a note in the comments section below or this forum thread. I will do my best to keep this list updated with any other titles we may find.Sega Saturn Games With Widescreen (16:9) Support
Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams
High Velocity
NiGHTS into Dreams
Panzer Dragoon Zwei (II)

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grittykitty says:

that might explain why some of the text in panzer dragoon zwei got cut off by my tv. also, widescreen tvs seem to be commonplace in japan, and judging by the number of very old tvs they have been popular there for some time

Anonymous says:

Holy crap, how did I not know this? I know the first thing I’m doing the next time I get out the Saturn…

I’m confused. How would you hook the Saturn up to a widescreen display and get the correct aspect ration? S-Video doesn’t pass a widescreen resolution as far as I know. So unless their was a component adapter for Saturn, or a VGA adapter, I’m not sure how you’d actually be able to do this.

racketboy says:

Louis, I really don’t know, but somehow it does.

The Dreamcast can do the same thing — which I will get to later

kevinski says:

Saturn doesn’t output true widescreen. What you’re seeing is called anamorphic widescreen, and it’s still 4:3 content. However, when stretched, the content will appear to be widescreen, and it usually doesn’t look bad.

The benefit to using anamorphic (as opposed to matted) widescreen is that you retain far more of the vertical resolution, thus allowing things to look better than they’d typically look when rendered in matted widescreen.

For the record, matted widescreen is typically called letterboxing. With letterboxed content, content is still 4:3, and the black bars that you’ll typically see on 4:3 televisions are rendered as part of the scene, thus subtracting from the vertical resolution and reducing the overall picture quality.

Just check out your DVD collection and look on the back of the boxes. You’ll notice that they typically list the aspect ratio as anamorphic widescreen, letterboxed or matted widescreen. Depending on the type of widescreen, you have to change the view on a television accordingly. If it’s anamorphic, you’d choose whatever option will stretch the image to fill the screen. For the other two, which are – essentially – the same, you simply choose to zoom in on the picture. That would typically cut the top and bottom off of 4:3 content, but it’ll only cut off the mattes in this case.



kevinski says:

For the record, most people who are unfamiliar with anamorphic widescreen usually complain about people in movies looking really tall or thin, which generally indicates that the picture is intended to be stretched. That’s why I never sell widescreen movies to people with 4:3 televisions at work unless they’re matted.

Likewise, people who have widescreen televisions and complain about the people looking too fat or too short don’t realize that standard-definition content isn’t formatted for viewing in a widescreen format. My roommate is the sort of person who watches everything stretched, and it annoys me to no end.

kevinski says:

One more thing: All standard DVD’s contain 4:3 content ONLY. Only Blu-ray and HD DVD discs contain true widescreen content.

kevinski says:

By the way, since you’re adding a Dreamcast section of the same nature, I figured that I’d let you know (in case you were unaware) that Fur Fighters and Rayman 2 on Dreamcast are both have widescreen modes. I’m reasonably certain that there is a full list of widescreen games for Dreamcast online somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment.

Anonymous says:

I own PDZwei, Nights and Xmas Nights. I have a 27″ HD CRT tv.

Do I need to go into options on those games’ menus or do I just adjust the aspect ratio settings on my TV and the game is programmed to take advantage of that?

This is a very cool feature and things like this are why this has been my favorite site for months now.

kevinski says:

You’ll have to adjust the settings in the game’s options in order to really take advantage of widescreen aspect ratios in your games. Not all games are playable in widescreen aspect ratios, but you always have the option to stretch the content to fill the entire screen. Problem is, the characters and whatnot will be kinda fat-looking if you aren’t playing with widescreen settings enabled in the game, itself.

Rooster says:

wow, Kevinski … its sad that in all my life I never really recognized what anamorphic widescreen really was. (and I am also completely annoyed by people who stretch standard 4:3 content to fit their 16:9 screens.)

My question is … if the vertical resolution is maintained in anamorphic widescreen, that means a wider perspective must be rendered in order to be stretched to fill the screen.

Does widescreen then, theoretically tax the Saturn more? Does the widescreen mode impact frame rate?

kevinski says:

Assuming that all Dreamcast and Saturn “widescreen” content is, indeed, anamorphic widescreen content, I suppose that it would be a bit more taxing on the hardware than the regular content, and for two main reasons:

First off, widescreen mode typically means that you’ll see more level geometry (or sprites, in the case of 2D) at one time, thus meaning that the frame rate is bound to suffer a bit (unless the level of detail is reduced a bit to compensate).

Secondly, I could be wrong, but I believe that scaling the content to make it anamorphic would be a bit (and I do mean a bit – it would probably be negligible) more taxing on the hardware.

kevinski says:

By the way, the only reason that I said that I was “assuming” that Dreamcast widescreen content is all anamorphic is because I’m unable to verify that any of it isn’t true widescreen. Dreamcast can output VGA, which – obviously – supports widescreen resolutions. I, personally, have never seen a Dreamcast game that featured true widescreen graphical output. As such, I’m going to assume that all Dreamcast widescreen content is merely anamorphic widescreen.

kev says:

One more thing to clarify: Whenever I mentioned scaling the in-game content to make it anamorphic, I was referring to the console itself scaling the content by squishing it to make it look thinner. Your television would, of course, do the work in stretching it to fill the entire screen, not affecting the frame rate, obviously.

Whether or not the initial scaling (i.e. squishing) performed by the hardware will affect the frame rate in a noticable way is fairly likely, but probably negligible.

theMiln says:

I’ve got a Dell 2007WFP 20? Widescreen LCD and it seems it’s having trouble syncing or something. Panzer Dragoon Zwei plays fine but it won’t sync Nights, just displays a flashing S-Video icon in the top left of the screen. Must only like 60Hz or something? #[

racketboy says:

That’s the exact same Dell screen I have I don’t have that issue… Are you running a PAL Saturn?

theMiln says:

Yeah Pal Saturn! Depends on which title I chuck it whether it likes it or not. Daytona CCE works great but Astal wont display, and they are from the same region J. My Dell monitor might be a refurb job which had issues witht the S-Video input. Happens with the composite as well, exactly the same thing.

theMiln says:

I’m in Australia and bought the Dell LCD from America, latest revision and all. Has a silver checkered sticker on the side of the screen and came with No Dell packaging box. So maybe I got a dud – everything else works fine though.

racketboy says:

Hmm — no clue what to tell you 🙁

kurtohboy says:

i just discovered that Mega Man 8 is made for widescreen tv. i always thought that everything in this game was like a little disproportioned. i tried it with my new HDTV in a mode called S.Stretch and believe me, this is how the game is meant to be played. cool isn’t it? Mega Man 8 widescreen… i still can’t believe it!

kurtohboy says:

… oh and same thing with Mega Man X3. ever wondered why they have put “useless” sidebars? for widescreen TVs! i just tried it and it looks just like the SNES version in my S.Stretch mode.

Glenn Burbidge says:

‘I recently hooked my Saturn up to my Dell 2007WFP 20″ Widescreen LCD in my office via its built-in S-Video connection.’

Hmmm. I have Japanese Saturns run through SCART leads. Anyone know if S-video gives a better picture than SCART?

racketboy says:

Never used SCART personally, but I believe it is better than S-Video.

Nate Edwards says:

Interesting. I have a dreamcast with a vga box and yesterday,
attached it to my digital projector while the widescreen function was on. The game screen was only partial and hit the auto adjust button and the dreamcast screen became widescreen with no noticeable stretch in almost all games that I tested.
Rez, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Propeller Arena, Sonic 2, Guilty Gear x,rival schools 2, crazy taxi 2, soul calibur, ikaruga, none of these games stretched and I could see content not normally seen together in one screen. Plus, the graphics smoothed out further. Shenmue 2 really cleared up, with no stretch noticeable except for Ryo, which was slightly stretched. Otherwise nothing. Virtual Tennis had a slightly noticeable stretched court and players but one could see the sides of the court, the waiting ball boys/girls and the side lines. Basically what you have shown above in the nights game. It’s great and I suppose it’s an anamorphic widescreen. I have a NEC 380 projector if anyone is interested, just hit the auto adjust. Rez looked incredible
and again, no stretch apparent.

Neptune says:

I just tested this with nights on my projector. All it did was stretch the image. No additional picture in this mode. 🙁

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