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foone @Foone
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So Taito's 1987 game Darius is interesting for a few reasons, but one of them is the unique aspect ratio it uses: It's a 12:3 (or 4:1) display!
The native resolution of the game is 864x224.
But the part I'm interested in and isn't really talked about much is how they did that
So you can't just make a weird rectangular CRT.
And it's 1987, LCDs are not an option.
You could maybe do it with projectors, but they're hot, expensive, and finicky.
So it instead uses the "obvious" solution: It doesn't have A screen, it has three screens.
There's three 4:3 CRTs providing a combined 12:3 picture. And I thought that was all it did, but I didn't really think about it deeply.
Here's the problem: Bezels. CRTs have bezels, and you can't really eliminate them, because of the shape of the tube.
So if you just stick three CRTs next to each other, you get lots of blank space with no display.
So here's the trick: Only one monitor is actually in front of you while playing Darius. Only one of them is where it appears to be!
The other two are below, facing up.
There's a semi-transparent mirror at an angle reflecting them into your face
You can see this in some pictures of the cabinets, where the CRTs aren't exactly calibrated or the mirror is not very clean. The center screen looks way brighter than the other two.
I haven't yet found a teardown or pictures of the insides that show this very clearly, but it's neat to learn how they did it. I just assumed it was simply CRTs but that clearly wouldn't work, not without ugly bezels.
These days you could just get a super-wide LCD, though.
anyway, the key diagram is from here, read this for some more info on Dairus:
Also check out this flyer they used to sell Darius.
It's just so sweet.
And a screenshot of the game at native resolution.
It's so freakin' wide!
And finally, the other reason you might know of this game: It originated the "A GIANT ENEMY BATTLESHIP "EVIL NAME" IS APPROACHING FAST!" shmup meme.
Some more info because @DaleJ_Dev was asking about it:
The custom system powering it was no slouch either.
It used a dual-processor system using 8mhz 68000s, and for graphics it used a custom Taito tile-mapping chip, the PC080SN.
They just used three of them, in fact, one for each screen.
These were all mapped into the same memory space, so the three-screen display "just worked".
Image from:…
Sound was generated on a board that had two Z80 CPUs, each running at 8mhz, and dual Yamaha YM2203 chips, which each provided 3 channels of FM synthesis.
arcade game development is interesting compared to how nearly all modern game dev works.
Imagine you want to make a game, but you have to design the hardware to run it first. It's a miracle they ever made any money!
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