Showing posts with label retro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retro. Show all posts

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Retro consoles

The modern retro gaming revival with retro-consoles and dedicated consoles started around 2001 with some Jakk's Pacific TV games. 2004 saw the Atari Flashback. The same year the C64 Direct-to-TV was released. A joystick modeled after the Competition Pro joystick with some 30+ games built-in, then the C-One. But it really kicked off in the 201X with for example the Nintendo Classic Mini from 2016, the C64 Mini from 2018 as well as the Atari VCS, formally known as Ataribox.

Don't get me wrong, I love retrogaming. But I would not go with any of these. Well may be the Jakk's Pacific, as it doesn't claim to be any computer. And the C-One at least had a 6502 clone as hardware. But in my opinion most are just software emulators with a modern CPU (usually ARM), running on Linux in a fancy box. And like in the case of the C64 Mini not even have a functioning keyboard. You can instead go with any emulator, like VICE, running it on your modern PC. That is free of charge.

It's okay for me though to recreate an original main board, add the vintage CPU (or a modern clone) and other support chips to a new retro console. Even add some logic to handle USB for an external keyboard or joystick and an HDMI jack.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The M.A.M.E. emulator

M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator), or short MAME, is a software emulator, allowing to play original video games from the arcades, starting from 1975 to today and tomorrow. Its main purpose though is to preserve decades of software history. Besides the emulator itself you also need roms from the game you want to play.

An emulator in general is creating a hardware environment (called "driver" in MAME), like chips in a video game (CPU, RAM, I/O and other support chips) by software. Thus you can "have" what ever video game hardware you want in your PC or smartphone. Then you can load up the original code, usually dumped from the original chips of a video game, into the emulator, and play them. Since it's all original you can even experience bugs and glitches which came with the original game. But you also have the option to activate cheats, speed up or slow down the game and more.

Since 2015 MAME's sister project M.E.S.S. (Multi Emulator Super System), or short MESS, was merged into MAME. MESS allows to also emulate any computer, if somebody wrote a driver for it and the BIOS rom was dumped. You could run an Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, (Super) Nintendo Entertainment System, SONY Playstation, XBOX, SEGA... Well anything existing. In theory you could play on a Playstation or other which would only exist in say three years - if someone would get hold of it specification. But that's just theoretically. And even if, no actual of today's PC hardware is powerful enough to run it in a decent speed. Even on older systems or video games modern PCs cannot run the emulation in a speed to match the original speed of the emulated machine. There are also prototypes or hard to come by systems you can emulate. Like the Apple I or Commodore 65 you can run.

If you want to bring back some fond memories you had when you had your first game console, first home computer or video games you played as kid in the arcade back in the day, the MAME emulator brings back nostalgia.

Legal mention: Obey the ROMs copyright!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How to keep vintage game consoles alive

In November of 2017 The 8-Bit Guy on YouTube created a video featuring new (2016 or 2017) games for vintage consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis. Although he isn't a big fan of beat-em-ups he tried to give an objective view. He concluded that buying new games will keep these consoles alive. Although I agree one should support new games if one is fan of vintage consoles I don't agree that these new games are the (only) way to keep them alive. In my opinion only the love of folks who owned and used them back in the day already will do just that. That said, some things can kept alive without spending a dime. If you still own a working machine and (old) games, play them, to bring back memories from decades ago. If you don't own one, there are emulators and fan pages in the internet dedicated to a certain machine. Lot of documentation, tips, questions and answers, as well as discussion forums. One might as well find some game code dumps to use with these consoles.