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Do we really need any new retro gaming hardware?


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I don't like clone consoles, I would rather use the original hardware. But, when clone consoles are available, it helps keep the price of original hardware from going way up, because people have other options. I am in favor of people having as many options as possible, and I am in favor of anything that helps to keep the prices of original hardware down.

In terms of new retro consoles such as the Retro VGS/Chameleon, I already have a butt load of retro consoles from Coleco to Commodore to Sega, Nintendo, and of course Atari. I don't need anymore. I just put a Raspberry Pi 2 in a broken Genesis, so I now have an awesome retro gaming emulation console.

You don't have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a case for your console, you can upcycle a broken console for less than $20. And that price give you a good case like a Genesis, 2600, or NES. There are plenty of old consoles that are broken beyond repair, or have been used for parts, so they are non-functional. It would be great for someone to develop a project to reuse all these old consoles that otherwise would get thrown out, or just sit in someones closet because they don't want to throw it out. We don't need to make new Jaguar shells, with nothing to put in them.

Remember the times that were good, don't remember the console that killed Atari.

Edited by Hannacek
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I think there's a niche to obtain perfect replication (i.e. correct timings) of retro systems in HDL and make that information open source.

 

Once those schematics are available you can (in theory) build perfect clones of the original in an FPGA or ASIC, and they could be used to replace broken originals.

 

Emulation already gives us a way to preerve the games themselves but this extra step will preserve the "experience", for what it's worth.

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Cool stuff, John. I didn't know you had your own YouTube channel (I've just seen you on MJR's show), so I just followed and left a comment there.

 

In relation to the question at hand, I'm all for someone making a new system, but don't think it's necessary. As older consoles begin to fail though, I do feel clones/emulation boxes are needed.

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Do we really need any new retro gaming hardware?

 

How do you pronounce your username? I usually end up saying "swollen fist."

 

I need one of these:

 

atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/

 

Something that will let me play all of the games I used to play, but will fit in a small space and look good on a modern HDTV. I don't have room for 5 consoles and most of them look like crap on an HDTV anyway.

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How do you pronounce your username? I usually end up saying "swollen fist."

 

I need one of these:

 

atariage.com/forums/topic/242970-fpga-based-videogame-system/

 

Something that will let me play all of the games I used to play, but will fit in a small space and look good on a modern HDTV. I don't have room for 5 consoles and most of them look like crap on an HDTV anyway.

my user name is hard to say, just call me John :). It stands for Star Wars Lovinist, and was given to me during a session of drinking back in my college days with friends.

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A good pertinent topic. There can never be enough consoles and replacement hardware, the more the merrier. But I don't think we need new platforms, or new proprietary hardware.

 

The state of emulation can continue on its present course and continue to evolve using existing platforms, even like with R-Pi 3, now.

 

It would be nice to have replacement parts for older hardware. That's sorely needed. As well as the expertise to get those parts installed in ailing consoles.

Edited by Keatah
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I think there's a niche to obtain perfect replication (i.e. correct timings) of retro systems in HDL and make that information open source.

 

Once those schematics are available you can (in theory) build perfect clones of the original in an FPGA or ASIC, and they could be used to replace broken originals.

 

Emulation already gives us a way to preerve the games themselves but this extra step will preserve the "experience", for what it's worth.

 

A common misconception is that software emulators stutter and skip and do all sorts of glitching. Not entirely true. They did in the Windows 95/98 era and early XP era. For many reasons including slow-ass CPUs and buggy OS'es. So.. Proper emulation means running on a machine with plenty of power and minimal host OS interruptions. Something like a fast i5, preferably a top-of-the-line i7. And the machine should be dedicated to emulation so it doesn't have to constantly interrupt you with with updates and other bullshit requests. And there is no need to put an emulation machine online, so you don't need hefty security - which is overrated anyways. I mean you can, for emulator updates and rom acquisitions and stuff like that that. But that can be done with USB sticks.

 

Software based emulation is ahead of FPGA emulation - and has been in development since the early 1990's. Software emulation is full of options (sometimes too much) and amenities and extras. IMHO this really adds to the experience. FPGA is emulation/simulation as opposed to replication. And it's still relatively new. FPGA's don't replicate anything. They're full of lookup tables and logic elements. That's different than a transistor-by-transistor replication of a custom chip.

 

Furthermore we don't need the likes of a RetroVGS. There's millions of consoles and emulators already out there, and billions of phones and tablets. And thousands of smaller ITX boards and R-Pi boards and now some FPGA rigs to cater to the hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers. We're pretty well covered.

 

As far as replacement chips using CPLD or Arrays, I'm pretty sure this has been done for some C64 parts. And next up is the TIA for the VCS. The beauty part of this is that the chips can be modified with a flash of the firmware. In theory you could get your "replacement TIA" to output extra vivid colors or do other simple and different things. Or perhaps access more memory.. Whatever.

 

The same idea applies to software emulation (and other FPGA rigs eventually). You can crank up the clock speed of certain parts to improve functionality.

 

My favorite example: Try Ballblazer on a stock Atari 400/800. It's cool. Now try it in Altirra with a simulated 7MHz cpu. It's buttery smooth and you'll never want to play on original unmodified hardware again. Clarity, speed, it's all gussied up. You'll be wanting either emulation or a fast cpu mod forever more. This was the way BB was intended to be played!

 

Not all games respond that well, most would become too fast. But games that rely on timings of custom chips sometimes let you remove CPU bottlenecks by overclocking and yet maintain original speed.

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I think a Zimba 3000 and Retro VGS FPGA type console that could serve as an all-in-one retro console with playing games through SD cards, original carts through cartridge adapters, works with all controllers and accessories, you have choices with the A/V hook ups, etc. would be good for replacement hardware but I think it could also be good for it to also have its own proprietary carts for homebrews of those systems. I'll try to explain that.

Granted you could just buy those homebrews for their original consoles on their original carts or on such an all-in-one console though buying cart adapters but also having a proprietary cartridge would kind of bring all the homebrews from different consoles into one and kind of unify the different retro gaming communities together. I'm imaging something like this:

A lot of people buy this all-in-one console for various reasons. Some just want to save space for all of their consoles, some don't want to A/V mod their consoles, some just want to put every retro game on SD cards and avoid carts to use it as the ultimate emulation machine, some are anti-piracy so they buy the cartridge adapters, some want to use it as a dev kit for homebrew, etc.

 

So, all these retro gamers and developers who bought it for different reasons and have different favorite consoles now share one console in common. I can see some benefits in a proprietary cartridge slot also being shared in common with them. For an example, let's say one bought it originally just for playing SNES and NES games through SD card only. Then they get into SNES and NES homebrew and decide that all the old games they will use on SD cards but they want to start collecting homebrew carts. So, they could buy the two adapters for them but they decide to just get the games for the proprietary cartridge slot because while owning the system they got introduced to the SEGA Genesis and now want homebrews for that which would also require another cartridge adapter when they could just buy the SEGA Genesis, SNES, and NES games for the proprietary cartridge port. This process continues on by them getting into the homebrews of multiple systems that they either weren't too interested in back in the day or got introduced to on this new all-in-one console. Ultimately what their set up ends up looking like is SD cards for all of the old games and then a collection of homebrew games for multiple systems but they all have a similar cart in nice matching clam shell cases. It looks like a collection for this one system but the games are really homebrews for many systems.

 

So, in a way, it wouldn't just be an all-in-one console but an all-in-one homebrew console. It would still be an option but people wouldn't have to have separate consoles with different kinds of cartridges to enjoy a variety of homebrew games and homebrew developers would have a bigger audience because they could potentially get customers that originally weren't interested in the consoles they choose to develop for because a variety of retro gamers would have a shared console with a shared proprietary port.

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(FPGA and replication)

 

FPGAs can replicate the electrical timings of a chip. Regardless of what is done inside, that yields something that can be used to replace the original item and duplicated at zero cost if your user base is equipped with FPGAs. For example it means something like the Analogue NT can be done without cannibalizing existing consoles.

 

As you rightly say that only provides something identical to the original, and emulators are way ahead on terms of features. I find this especially true for 3D games, you can run a PS2 in a PC with 4x the original resolution and have really good graphics. Some emulators even allow overriding textures so the whole game looks better.

 

I should try BB on the MiST to see. I think it can be overclocked... :)

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I think no. We have been spoiled with tons of retro game hardware, that never fully went utilized. With xyz obscure console, there was only a handful of games released for it. Imagine a re-release of the console, but with any solved problems(bad controllers, etc) & new games, that might work.

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I think some of us can enjoy the different flavors of Pac-Man or Zaxxon or any other classic - and we do this by playing all the ports on the different systems.

 

I don't think there is a need for any more new & different systems. But there is a need for replicas and emulation and continued software development for what we have already.

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