Virge, I choose you!

I finally found a use for the Virge DX. I honestly thought I would never actually use it, outside of benchmarking. But no, there’s a real reason to put it in the PC now: it’s the only graphics card I have which doesn’t create jerky scrolling in Commander Keen. I’m amazed.

After all, why else would anyone want to use a Virge? Although, for all its framerate woes, compatibility was actually somewhat decent. I’ll let these captures speak for themselves. All native resolution… I’m afraid. Pixel-doubling them seemed to show the dithering in an even worse light than it already was on my screen, so I kept them at their original resolution. You may need glasses.

The textures in Blood 2 work, and that's more than I can say for the Mystique. On 320x240 and minimum, bottom of the barrel details, the game runs somewhat decently, but framerate will drop frequently.
The textures in Blood 2 work, and that’s more than I can say for the Mystique. On 320×240 and minimum, bottom-of-the-barrel details, the game runs decently enough, but framerate will drop frequently. As the developers themselves say in the options screen, “performance is questionable”.
Ever wondered what Rogue Squadron would have looked like on the PS1? This is probably a decent approximation. Except for the filtering, but I imagine an eventual PS1 version would have run a lot better than this.
Ever wondered what Rogue Squadron would have looked like on the PS1? This is probably a decent approximation. Except for the filtering, but I imagine an eventual PS1 version would have run a lot better than this.
Terrain issues make Mechwarrior 2 something of a mess. The only solution seems to be disabling ground textures, but then you might as well play the Pentium edition.
Terrain issues make Mechwarrior 2 something of a mess. The only solution seems to be disabling ground textures, but then you might as well play the Pentium edition.

Turok, as one of the granddaddies of Direct3D benchmarks, deserves a few more screenshots.

This is what happens if you run the game with everything on. Clearly the mipmapping causes trouble. Not that it would be any playable, with barely 1fps.
This is what happens if you run the game with everything on. Clearly the mipmapping causes trouble. Not that it would be any playable, with barely 1fps.
On the other hand, disabling everything will make the game run okay-ish. There are still visual glitches, perhaps some issues with Z-buffering.
On the other hand, disabling everything will make the game run okay-ish. There are still visual glitches, perhaps some issues with Z-buffering.
When I de-selected "fancy sky", I was hoping I would still get something a bit better than this. Nintendo 64 owners must have been laughing in our faces. Well, joke's on them, we had a mouse and keyboard.
When I de-selected “fancy sky”, I was hoping I would still get something a bit better than this. Nintendo 64 owners must have been laughing in our faces. Well, joke’s on them, we had a mouse and keyboard.
Dithering is an issue. What's the use of gratuitous blood if it looks this bad?
Dithering is an issue. What’s the use of gratuitous blood if it looks this bad?

Terracide has a specific S3 setting. A nice surprise, since the regular D3D was slow as molassa.

Running the game on 512x384 with low or medium textures and no filtering, will yield the most playable results. It doesn't mean it has to look good though.
Running the game on 512×384 with low or medium textures and no filtering, will yield the most playable results. It doesn’t mean it has to look good though.
By 1997, I guess very few people actually still used a Virge for games. With good reason.
By 1997, I guess very few people actually still used a Virge for games. With good reason. At least the colored lighting works.

DOS games coded for the specific S3 API tend to fare a little better, but just slightly (photos resized to 640×480).

Terminal Velocity is stuck at SVGA resolution and high textures on the Virge. Bad choice. Even with no filtering, the game isn't smooth at all. Also, judging from those textures, I say the regular version looks better.
Terminal Velocity is stuck at SVGA resolution and high textures on the Virge. Bad choice. Even with no filtering, the game isn’t smooth at all. Also, judging from those textures, I say the regular version looks better.
Screamer runs very well at 320x20, but the dithering is overkill, so you might want to set it at 320x400, as shown here. It's still smooth enough, surprisingly, and doesn't look nearly as bad.
Screamer runs very well at 320×20, but the dithering is overkill, so you might want to set it at 320×400, as shown here. It’s still smooth enough, surprisingly, and doesn’t look nearly as bad. Unfortunately, Screamer is still a terrible game.

S3 eventually made other accelerators, including the decent Savage line. But those won’t work with the S3 API, even the Trio3D has trouble with many titles (I only managed to make Croc run). So it’s a Virge or nothing.

But hey, all of the above becomes meaningless if you consider the smooth scrolling in Commander Keen. I had forgotten how good it looked. So, let’s raise a glass to S3, if just this once.

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