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Marseille Inc mClassic Review

Marseille Inc mClassic Review

Getting the best image quality possible out of your console is important, especially on modern displays. The mClassic from Marseille Inc promises to do just that using a range of post-processing effects to enhance the clarity and fidelity of any console you feed into it. But does it work and is it worth the asking price?

mClassic OutRunOnlineArcade

The mClassic’s primary function is to upscale sub-1080p content to modern resolutions, primarily 1080p and 1440p (though it also has limited 4K support). It also applies a variety of post-processing filters to improve the visual clarity of any source it is fed. These effects manifest as increased edge clarity thanks to both sharpening and anti-aliasing, improved colour saturation, and, according to the box although I never saw evidence of it, improved depth of field.

The device itself is not much larger than a typical USB dongle although its distinctive design does present issues connecting it to some devices, plugging it into the Switch for example, its bulky end piece makes it very hard to fit in confined spaces, although the included HDMI extension helps with this. There isn’t much else to the device except for a switch to toggle the mClassic’s processing or enable its Retro mode (which can force non-HD resolution inputs into a 4:3 ratio in case your TV doesn’t have that ability.).

So what does the mClassic actually do? As mentioned above, the main use is to take a sub-1080p input, for example from an older console like the Wii U or PlayStation 3, and provide a sharper, clearer image than just connecting the system up directly.

Purely from an upscaling perspective, the mClassic does an admirable job, with older hardware especially getting a visual boost, with a crisp-looking image scaled much more pleasingly than my TV set’s own scaler. As a test, setting the Switch to output 720p and allowing the mClassic to upscale the output to 1080p gives a genuinely impressive facsimile of the native 1080p the Switch can generate. The upscaling function definitely works as advertised but there are caveats.

Visually the effects are frustratingly inconsistent.

It’s important to note that the device only upscales progressive output, so this means no early consoles like the original NES, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, or Super Nintendo out of the box (though you could use it with, for example, the NES Classic and similar devices). Combined with only accepting an HDMI input means that you can’t gain this upscaling benefit with older systems than the Wii U, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 anyway unless you splash out more cash on more devices (or happen to have your retro consoles modded for HDMI already).

This is a shame as despite advertising on the box that it enhances retro systems like the aforementioned Super Nintendo and the Sony PlayStation: without something like a RetroTink or the Open Source Scan Converter this isn’t something you can do with the mClassic alone.

Which brings us to the other processing the mClassic performs, it advertises that it performs sharpening, anti-aliasing, and some form of a depth-of-field effect, and it is here that it starts to get very hit-and-miss. It definitely applies these effects to the signal it is receiving, although I didn’t see any evidence of depth of field at all in all the games I tested. The sharpening and anti-aliasing effects are relatively easy to notice and depending on the game can make a clear difference, but therein lies the main issue with the mClassic.

When it comes to the effect it has, it boils down to a system-by-system, game-by-game basis. Which is frustrating as it would be nice to say it has an obvious benefit at all times, but sometimes you literally can’t see a difference at all and at others it can be transformative. The sharpening effect is usually the most noticeable, often improving HUD elements and making details in a variety of places more visible. Combined with the upscaling this alone can really aid image clarity if you can notice it at all.

The post-processing is much more noticeable on 2D artwork.

The anti-aliasing effect is a lot more variable, in 3D games it can definitely make a difference, softening stair-step aliasing artifacts. But in 2D games it can actually change art in a way that you may or may not find appealing. Smoothing pixels as it does with 2D art can make things appear blobby or turn diagonal lines into a perfect slope which might look odd depending on the game. Because of this, it is a shame that you can’t choose to disable the effects but keep the upscaling or vice versa.

This inconsistency of results is the main issue with the product. Even looking very closely, the differences between Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 3D titles I tested were extremely minor but the Switch did fare better, with Tears of the Kingdom and Super Mario Odyssey getting some nice improvements to edges. Whether these differences are significant or not while a game is in motion is debatable but at worst the mClassic offers a competent upscaling solution for most people even if the post-processing isn’t something you can rely on noticing in every game.

The mClassic then is a niche product: being able to upscale your consoles to a 1080p or 1440p display in a plug-and-play manner is nice but the console generations that would benefit the most from the upscaling the device provides would require more hardware. All in all, it’s a nice piece of kit that does what it says, even if you can’t be certain you’ll get every benefit in every game. But for a simple-to-use upscaling solution for recent consoles, it does the job!


Marseille Inc mClassic Review

A well-made device that does exactly what it says, the post-processing effects have a variable success rate but as an upscaler for older consoles it is a competent piece of kit and produces a nice, clean image.

This item was supplied by the manufacturer or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Simone Brown

Simone Brown

Staff Writer

Often reminiscing about the 'good old days'. Simone has almost perfected her plan to enter the Speed Force and alter the timeline.

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