Anyone who remembers playing Golden eye 007 on the N64 he probably remembers having to consider “screencheaters” who would take a look at the second quadrant of split-screen shooters to assess opposing locations. There is even a modern game that forces players to rely on tactics of tracking invisible opponents.
Now, 25 years later Golden eyeAfter the launch, the museum managed to do something about these screencheaters, setting up a way to share the game Golden eye on four TV screens without changing the original cartridge or N64 hardware.
GoldenEye with 4 screens on genuine N64 hardware! There is no cheating screen here! …but how?
Come and experience this at our GoldenEye dinner, celebrating 25 years of GoldenEye for Nintendo 64: https://t.co/F918hEQ20v pic.twitter.com/05jA82upb8
– History of Computing (@computeruseum) May 4, 2022
Multi-screen Golden eye gameplay will be presented as part of “25 Years Golden eye“an event in Cambridge, the English Center for the History of Computing this weekend. Proof of the concept of a unique style of play (with all monitors awkwardly facing in the same direction) attracted attention via tweet on Wednesdaywhich prompted Ars to ask for more details on how the museum did it.
Jason Fitzpatrick, executive director and commissioner of the Center for the History of Computing, tells Ars about the idea of a multi-screen Golden eye it began when some museum employees discussed their particular frustrations with first-person shooters with a split screen on consoles. “We talked about it, and they said, ‘The problem is that everyone’s on the same screen; you just look up to the right and see what they’re doing, and you can stand up to that,'” Fitzpatrick said. ‘And we said,’ Oh, actually, maybe we could get around that. ‘ So we just messed up and tried it and thought it was just a little fun. “
Fitzpatrick was in a good position to part Golden eye‘s split screen signal due to his daily job at Pure Energy TV and Film Props, where he says he is often called upon to set up old cathode ray tube TVs on set. That means “he happens to have several pieces of video messing equipment,” he said.
In this case, the key “equipment” is the C2-7210 video scaler, an outdated piece of video production technology that allows professionals to process live video signals in a variety of ways. This includes the ability to zoom in on a specific portion of up to two input signals and then increase the results to full screen display on another monitor or TV.
For multiple screens Golden eye, Fitzpatrick said he simply split the standard PAL N64 signal into four identical copies and then introduced two inputs each into two scaling units. After that, direct each scaler to a different quadrant of the input signal and send the resulting output to different TVs. The other input on one of these TVs also receives an unchanged full screen signal directly from the N64 to make navigating the menus easier.
“It’s not elegant because you’re actually taking 704 × 576 [pixel] image, and you just zoom in on a quarter of it, then take that quarter and stretch it across the entire screen, “Fitzpatrick told Ars.” Although we’re dealing with something around 352 × 288 [pixels]give or take, as a resolution for each of these quadrants, until the moment it pulls to full screen it looks fine. “
This is partly because “the original game didn’t look great anyway” and because the technology of continuous horizontal scanning of CRT lines “conceals a multitude of sins,” Fitzpatrick said. “The old video CDs were 352 × 288 anyway, so we used to watch movies in that resolution,” he added.
This type of signal division can be reminiscent of the massive CRT video walls you sometimes see in art installations or old music videos. But Fitzpatrick says using a video wall controller for this type of processing “would take hours to set up because you would have to work on each one individually … you wouldn’t have fine control over getting into it exactly [split-screen] territory. It would just take the screen and cut it in four. Maybe he was missing some parts. “