HD Mode 7 Emulation Mod Brings Smooth New Life to Jagged SNES Graphics

HD Mode 7 Emulation Mod Brings Smooth New Life to Jagged SNES Graphics

Mode 7 graphics and steak knives no longer occupy the same branch on their family tree.

The SNES' "Mode 7" graphics inspire nostalgic feelings, but we're darned if those jagged edges aren't serrated enough to cut your finger on. That's why one resourceful programmer developed an "HD Mode 7 mod" that smooths out those nasty jaggies. The result is seriously impressive.

The mod is engineered by "DerKoun," who posted it yesterday on the Emulation subreddit. It's still in beta, so expect bugs. It works with bsnes, a "clean code" SNES emulator by "Byuu."

You can take a look at an Imgur gallery that compares standard Mode 7 screenshots with the "HD" Mode 7 screenshots. The difference is impressive, especially with Super Mario Kart, Pilot Wings, and F-Zero. Fans of the SNES' classic JRPG library will also appreciate the mod's effect on the chunky overworld maps belonging to Final Fantasy 6 and Terranigma.

Named for the SNES' seventh background layer which is capable of being scaled and rotated, Mode 7 graphics are unique to the SNES. The mode can be used to create a "faux 3D" effect that propelled the popularity of games like Super Mario Kart into the stratosphere.

Mode 7 wizardry isn't restricted to 3D trickery, though. Super Castlevania 4 uses Mode 7 to implement backgrounds that spin, including an entire room that rotates on a single pixel and forces Simon Belmont to hang on for dear life lest he be skewered as a spiked wall becomes a spiked floor. You also see massive, swinging chandeliers and towering bosses that come to life thanks to the SNES's seventh background layer.

Mode 7's effects still look cool, and it's good to see a mod that takes Nintendo's graphics option one step further.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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