Uncommon graphics mode games

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A list of games that use less common graphics modes.

See also: Tricky-to-emulate games

Hi-Resolution and Interlacing

PPU Register $2133 SETINI can enable hi-resolution mode, allowing a 512-pixel horizontal resolution. This causes every even column to display the main screen, and every odd column to display the sub screen. Outside of mode 5, this is usually used as a way to do a 50% blend of the main and sub screens (a.k.a. "pseudo hi-res"). Under composite, this resulting blend can look somewhat smooth, but through S-Video or RGB the vertical stripes might be clearly visible.

In Mode 5, hi-resolution is automatically forced, and the main and subscreen are automatically overridden with alternating columns of the BG layers, allowing an effective double-width resolution.

PPU Register $2133 SETINI can enable interlacing, causing the scanlines of every second frame (field) to be offset downward by half a line. In mode 5 this allows an effective double-height resolution.

Game Notes
Syvalion Mode 5 and interlacing for high resolution text screens at the beginning of the game.
Seiken Densetsu 3 Mode 5 for text boxes and menu screens for a higher resolution Japanese text rendering.
Rudra no Hihou Mode 5 for text boxes and menu screens for a higher resolution Japanese text rendering.
Desert Fighter / Air Strike Patrol Mode 5 and interlacing for high resolution mission briefing text.
Radical Psycho Machine Racing (a.k.a. RPM Racing) Mode 5 and interlacing for high resolution graphics throughout the game. The Japanese release replaced the high-resolution gameplay with low-resolution mode instead.
Jurassic Park The HUD overlay and a notification box during gameplay uses pseudo hi-res for a transparency effect.
Kirby's Dream Land 3 Uses pseudo hi-res for a foreground transparency effect.
PPU Bus Activity Demo Demo by lidnariq which includes mode 6, among other things.

Links:

Overscan (239 lines)

PPU Register $2133 SETINI can choose either 224 or 239 lines of visible picture. Most games used 224, allowing a significantly longer vblank period, and the extra lines weren't normally visible on contemporary NTSC televisions.

Game Notes
Rendering Ranger R2 NTSC (Japan), often manually blanks several lines at the bottom.
Super Mario All-Stars PAL version only.
Super Mario Kart PAL version only, but with some "manual" letterboxing.
Super Mario World The launch PAL release did not use overscan, but a later PAL revision did.
Super Tetris 2 + Bombliss NTSC (Japan).
Super Tetris 3 NTSC (Japan).
Tetris & Dr. Mario Both NTSC and PAL versions used the overscan area.
Tom & Jerry NTSC and PAL.
Yoshi's Cookie NTSC and PAL.

Vertical Offset-per-tile

See: Offset-per-tile

Game Notes
Tetris Attack Used for independently shifting columns of gameplay.
Timecop During the introduction, used for a wobbling effect on the time machine.
Yoshi's Island Used for the 1-7 "Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy" effect, and moving platforms in 6-4 "Tap-Tap The Red Nose's Fort".
Bust-a-Move Used to make the playfield jitter vertically, to warn that the playfield will be moved downwards. This game also uses background mode 4.
Star Fox Used for the slight rotation effect on the background behind the SuperFX graphics.
Prehistorik Man Used on stage 21 (Icebergs) to simulate rotation on the ice platforms.
Aladdin Used on the final boss fight.
Axelay Used for large vertically moving obstacles on the second level.
Battletoads in Battlemaniacs Used for a wavy effect on a flag in the game's intro.
Super Turrican 2 Used in the fourth area of the first level.

Horizontal Offset-per-tile

The horizontal version of offset-per-tile is especially rare, since scanline horizontal scroll changes can already do a smooth horizontal offset, and this hardware feature only provides a coarse one.

Game Notes
Chrono Trigger During the introduction, this is used for a "shimmering" effect on the Black Omen ship: video
Super Genjin 2 Used for a screen transition effect on the title screen, when the intro animation isn't skipped. Uses mode 4.
Super Mario All-Stars Used in Super Mario Bros 2, for a screen transition between title screen and character select.

Direct Color

See: Direct color

Game Notes
Actraiser 2 The mode 7 overworld map uses direct color.
Aerobiz The title screen uses mode 7 direct color.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms II The title screen and introduction sequence uses mode 7 direct color.
Secret of Mana The spherical world map uses mode 7 direct color. The flat world map uses mode 3 direct color. While riding Flammie, press Start for the spherical map, then press R to switch to the flat map.

Mode 0

Mode 0 is somewhat uncommon, but provides 4 independent layers of 2bpp graphics.

Game Notes
Super Mario Kart For the layered "Choose your driver...." screen with separately scrolling text and ground.
Yoshi's Island The title screen uses mode 0 for the upper portion of its title screen. 6-8 "King Bowser's Castle" has a room for Kamek with 4 layers of parallaxing pillars: video
The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare Used during gameplay.

Mode 3 8bpp

Mode 3 is uncommon, but provides 8bpp graphics. Direct color mode 3 cases are listed above instead.

Game Notes
Toy Story Used for many high-color screens throughout.
Zoop A single 8bpp layer is used for gameplay.
Sim City 2000 Used to display the city itself - the interface uses the 4bpp layer.

Mode 7 EXTBG

While Mode 7 was very popular, Mode 7 EXTBG was not very common.

Game Notes
Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Used to put the level over the player's feet on a rotating level.
Super Turrican 2 Used for a boss fight.
Contra 3 Used on the second level.
extbgtest Test ROM for EXTBG. (BG1 vs BG2, Indexed vs Direct color.)