mGBA vs VBA graphics quality?

Hi, everybody. Been on the site for a while, played lots of great projects. I’m trying to make the switch from VBA to mGBA, but I’m having trouble getting the graphical quality of the mGBA to match up to what I’m used to on VBA.

For reference; below is quality on mGBA

And this is VBA in comparison


I think the difference in quality might be due to the video filters I’m using, but I’m not certain. Oh, and the images provided are from the amazing Seven Siblings game, created by WarPath. Check it out if you haven’t already!

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Is there… Supposed to be a difference between these two images?

Anyway if you want MGBA to resemble VBA you can just load the shader called VBA colors or something similar in the settings, it should look pretty similar to how VBA loaded roms look.

Sorry, it’s probably not super clear; I’m more interested in the difference in quality in the text than the character portraits/sprites/combat animations. The text when using mGBA just seems, I don’t know, less polished or something.

Just to be clear, this isn’t a huge deal to me, it’s just a minor question I couldn’t get out of my head. I’m well aware that mGBA is considered superior by just about everyone.

EDIT: You know what, I’ve been staring at the pictures some more, and I think the question just stems from me not being used to the slightly bigger screen size on mGBA- screen 3x versus screen 2x (which I’ve been using for VBA.) Go ahead and ignore this question, I don’t think there’s enough of a difference that it really matters.

The only difference I can see for text is the dropshadow is far more subtle with the filter on.

If mGBA doesn’t have similar shaders or filters to what you’d like, you can use Retroarch as a front end. It has terrific shader libraries available. Some shaders have also been ported for Reshade as well.

ShaderGlass is also an alternative for software Reshade cannot hook.

If you notice strange pixels that don’t seem to be uniformly scaled, it may be an option you can change. An example of what I mean:


The second image looks to be using the TV Mode filter in VBA. The closest equivalent shader in mGBA would either be Scanlines or Soften. To change shaders, go to Tools → Settings → Shaders → Load New Shader, both of these are packaged with mGBA so they should be there in the default shaders directory.

For reference, on real hardware there are no scanlines or bilinear filtering on the video output, and on an optimal screen the default video settings should perfectly mimic the real thing. set the window size to 1x for the true GBA experience

Yes, that is correct- I was using TV mode filter on the VBA emulator. Thanks for pointing out how to get the shaders to work, I was having trouble figuring that out on the mGBA.

I might just leave it as is without messing with the shaders, as I think I’m getting used to how the default graphics are.

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real GBA screens (AGB-001) don’t have real scanlines but are shitty enough to kinda look like there’s an interlacing thing going on irl, the other models aren’t like that. That said a tv mode filter wouldn’t replicate it but y’know preferences, I guess the game boy player does exist so there’s grounds for that anyway. Outside of that, in my experience mgba has very slightly clearer output unfiltered but I haven’t looked at it in a hot min (because vba is bad and I only use mgba and you should too)

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In my experience mGBA has a smoother gameplay display and motion than VBA.