I'm one of those weirdos who thinks bloom is just awesome. It's the single best thing in video game graphics these days. For all I cared, they should stop improving graphics hardware, because it's fairly self-evident that nothing will ever displace bloom as the most awesome advance in video game graphics. Take any boring ol' scene, add a little bit of bloom, and boom! Instant awesomeness.

I just like subtle but effective effects.


I don't usually get people who say bloom is disastrous. It's just an effect. I usually point out that the graphics might have other flaws.

reach_sparklyzombies.jpg"Thanks, bro. We need to keep these sparklyzombies at bay. Those who say sparklyvampires are bad ain't seen no sparklyzombie horde with their flashin' swords. For the bloom!"


But I have to make a small exception in case of Game Room.

I like Game Room on principle. It's a nice, cheap way to get some really cool arcade games. With a rewind button. I've so far gotten Centipede, Battlezone and Tempest, and you may start to notice a pattern emerging. (Won't be getting Asteroids. Always thought that was boring.)

But here's the thing: The vector games (Battlezone and Tempest) have an annoying side to them. Guess what it is? Bloom. Or, more accurately, "some additional Gaussian blur for the antialiasing".

Now, I'm all for antialiasing if it's done right. I have tried playing Tempest on MAME (boo, hiss, I don't own the arcade PCB, but I bought Microsoft Arcade back in the day and now have the game on Game Room, so sue me), and the OpenGL antialiasing works just nice. Nice, easy-on-eyes lines. Awesome stuff.

Game Room cranks the antialiasing too high. I know, they were probably designing the games look awesome and authentic on HD televisions, but I'm playing these on a normal CRT television which already introduces its own softness. The end result is a bit of a mess.

Here's how Tempest looks like (courtesy of KLOV):

tempest.pngAnd here's an Artist's Interpretation™ of what it looks like in Game Room:

tempest_bloom.jpgThe major difference is in the bottom of the well. See these little red dots?

tempest_dotties.jpgIn Tempest, those little pixel-sized (but vectorised) thingies that mill in the bottom of the well represent the remaining enemies. Seeing them is kind of crucial for playing the game; you need to be aware of how much stuff you still need to blast through and when is the optimal time to use the superzapper.

But with the blur that the game introduces, it's almost impossible to see what the hell is going on in the well.

Sometimes, I really wish there was an option to turn this next gen rubbish off...