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derFunkenstein
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Retro console gaming

Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:12 pm

We got our house about 4 years ago, but it seems like I'm still digging through stuff that we just packed away in the basement when we moved. A few weeks ago I dug through the handful of boxes that were left to find my old stuff. Among that, as the thread title might imply, is my old game console collection. I mentioned a few weeks ago Super Star Wars. I was on vacation this week, though, and I've been fully immersed in

In two boxes I found everything I owned:

Two model 2 Sega Genesis consoles, a 32X and a model 2 Sega CD, along with a Pioneer CDX, which was a combination Genesis and Sega CD
A Super NES Jr. (late model rev with a smaller body)
Two NES consoles

No controllers for the Genesis, for some reason, but I had all the hookups for everything (including the easy-to-lose passthrough cable for the 32X) and some controllers for the Nintendo systems. About 130 games split fairly evenly among the consoles. I went to Mega Replay in Peoria and found Retro-Bit makes a pretty fantastic 6-button Genesis controller (Amazon link) that's reminiscent of the Sega Arcade Pad that I originally got in 1994 with Street Fighter II SCE. Got a pair of them for $14, which was roughly what they'd be on Amazon after third-party shipping.

And then to my surprise I discovered my 46" RCA 1080p TV doesn't have RCA inputs. The 32" Westinghouse from 2006 does, though, and so I hooked them up with an RCA switch I also found in the box.

Anyway, the kid is at camp and my wife had to work at least part of the week, so I've spent a lot of this stay-at-home vacation week playing retro games. And it's now that I realize just how different retro gaming on the Raspberry Pi (which I built this winter running Lakka) is from the original hardware. I wish I'd done this sooner - especially in the case of the NES and Genesis. Emulators just don't quite have the sound exactly right in some subtle ways, and the 8Bitdo SNES controller isn't as responsive as the real thing. In 8Bitdo's defense, that might be the difference between HDMI lag on my bigger TV vs. lag-free analog input on the Westinghouse.

Some of my battery back-up carts have dead batteries (NES Final Fantasy and Zelda 2, though not the original Zelda, Genesis Shining Force, and a few others). Looks like the batteries are soldered on all three systems so I've got some learning to do. I'm not very good with a soldering iron, so I'll pick up a couple of cheap games with battery backups as tests.

Anybody else playing anything retro? What's your method of choice - emulation, micro-console, ports on newer systems, or the real thing?
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bthylafh
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Re: Retro console gaming

Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:27 pm

I do emulation, generally. I've only kept a few of my NES and SNES cartridges and both my NES units have bum cart connectors that I can't be arsed to fix. I've got a RetroPie-based emulator box hooked to the TV and several emus on my PC; on the latter I mainly use higan and Nestopia Undead Edition. Higan's one of the few programs that will really make my i5-2500K sweat and demands at least some overclocking to run smoothly.

I've got one of those iBuffalo controllers for my daughter, which IMO feels better than my two original SNES controllers... come to think of it, they could stand a disassembly and cleaning.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Fri Jul 07, 2017 6:33 pm

My biggest issue with playing old games on their original console is having to find (or dig out) an old tube TV. Trying to play the Genesis on the 55in LED is plain awful.

Having to put in new batteries in the N64 memory pak has become obnoxious. As anytime I go to play Road Rash 64, Rainbow Six, or any other of the saving games, I have to start over due to the saves being lost.

So with all this and due to the wife being able to hear the loopback transformer in the tube tvs from rooms away, I don't play the original consoles much anymore. With modern day emulators, you get full saving features, and wonderful graphics tweaks (AA, AF) to make games look a little better.

So in short, emulation for me anymore. I actually had my PC hooked to the TV on the 1st. We had a N64 throwback party. Goldeneye, Hydrothunder, and Mario Kart 64. Four 360 controllers, and in 1080. Not bad!
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The Egg
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:50 am

Yeah....I'm exceptionally sensitive to input lag with retro games. All those years playing with wired controllers on analog CRTs means that I have the timing of the jumps and actions hard-coded into my brain with 0 input lag. Even the smallest amount bothers me, and beyond a point is unplayable because I'd have to un-train muscle memory.

I still get upset when I think about my Sega Master System. We had 50-60 games in pristine condition (all in the original cases with manuals), plus a myriad of controllers, light guns, etc. At some point in the mid-late 90's, my dad silently gave the whole thing away to my younger (out of town) cousins, and it was likely tossed in short order. It was so inconsequential that the oldest only vaguely remembers seeing it. They already had an N64 and Playstation at that point, and likely considered it garbage.
 
derFunkenstein
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:24 am

The Egg wrote:
Yeah....I'm exceptionally sensitive to input lag with retro games. All those years playing with wired controllers on analog CRTs means that I have the timing of the jumps and actions hard-coded into my brain with 0 input lag. Even the smallest amount bothers me, and beyond a point is unplayable because I'd have to un-train muscle memory.


I'd say that digging out a CRT (as ClickClick5 mentioned) is actually a feature rather than a detriment for exactly this reason. Like you, I've got jump timings and so on hard-wired in my brain for specific intervals. When I tried to play Sonic 3 on my big TV via HDMI on the RPi3 system, I found that I was falling off the edge of cliffs a ton. Those same jumps on my OG hardware are perfect today.
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bthylafh
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:52 am

Newer versions of RetroArch have a couple options for reducing lag: you can switch the input driver to "raw", the video driver to Vulkan, and audio to wasapi. The audio part doesn't work well on my system--too much stuttering--but the other two seem to help some.

There're also adapters you can get for the RPi that connect the GPIO pins to real NES, SNES, and probably other controllers directly; this should eliminate USB-related lag.


edit: just went back and fiddled with RetroArch's configuration on my PC, and the wasapi-related stuttering seems to be gone now. Used settings from the May 12th post here: https://github.com/libretro/RetroArch/issues/2771 (except with Vulkan).
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The Egg
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:01 pm

bthylafh wrote:
Newer versions of RetroArch have a couple options for reducing lag: you can switch the input driver to "raw", the video driver to Vulkan, and audio to wasapi. The audio part doesn't work well on my system--too much stuttering--but the other two seem to help some.

There're also adapters you can get for the RPi that connect the GPIO pins to real NES, SNES, and probably other controllers directly; this should eliminate USB-related lag.


edit: just went back and fiddled with RetroArch's configuration on my PC, and the wasapi-related stuttering seems to be gone now. Used settings from the May 12th post here: https://github.com/libretro/RetroArch/issues/2771 (except with Vulkan).

Interesting. I also have a Pi-3 and an 8bitdo SNES30 controller, but still haven't taken the time to really sit down and hammer out the lag issues. Have folks found that bypassing the USB controller has a significant impact? I assumed the majority was being caused by the display/TV (even in "Game Mode") and the emulator itself, though I'm sure every little bit helps.
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:06 pm

I have an NES which I play infrequently at best. Have a box full of games for it in the basement. I recently downloaded SNES9x and a hole truck load of ROMs and have been trying them out using my XBox360 controller. Strike Gunner was my personal favorite SNES game. Super Mario World and Mario Kart are goodies also obviously.

For some strange reason I feel like the games are harder than I remember. I wonder if there's additional latency though the controller ->emulator -> TV that wasn't there on the original wired console and CRT tvs. Maybe I'm just out of touch.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:25 pm

Funny coincidence that this thread came up now. I purchased a NES console off eBay and received it in the mail yesterday. It's the newer revision released around 1993 (which I didn't even know existed until a week ago) so it's quite a bit smaller and the cartridge loads on the top (just like the SNES). It's supposed to be a much more reliable connection than the original front-loader, and easier to clean.

Anyway, in my research, I found that there's a place online where you can buy an HDMI output converter board for both versions of the NES (plus the Famicom). It's over $100 and requires some soldering and some minor cutting of plastic, but it's looks really well designed and executed, and claims to have zero lag. It'll even add scan lines if you're into that sort of thing.

I'm still debating what direction I should go. Would it be better to upgrade what I've got using the HDMI kit above, or could I get an equivalently enjoyable/playable experience using a Wii/Wii U, the Virtual Console, and a controller adapter to connect original controllers? I don't have a Wii, so I've never tried the VC option. I'd be interested to hear what others here think of it.
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:32 pm

You could also try an RCA to HDMI adapter, which is also relatively cheap.

There are lots of Famiclones out there that have HDMI built in. The Retron 3 and Retron 5, for example.

But none of that fixes the lag in the TV.

I've tried all of the lag-related "fixes" in Lakka/RetroArch including the raw controller driver and it's still very perceptible on my RPi. It has gotten far less use than I imagined because it's fine for Final Fantasy but not acceptable for Mario and Sonic. Even on my monitors (a Dell 24" 2415 and an Auria 27" something-or-other) there's lag. OTOH, Rocksmith 2014 works fine on both those monitors and I'm not affected by lag in that at all, so I know it's in the system and the emulator. I've also fooled around with emulators on my PC. But something feels right about playing on the couch and not at my PC, and I'm not really willing to compromise for it with lag. So the Westinghouse TV it is, even if it's a little ugly due to being an LCD displaying analog low-res signals.

I really should check pawn shops for a 20-ish inch CRT.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:48 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
I really should check pawn shops for a 20-ish inch CRT.

You can still find those? I thought CRT TV and monitors all ended in landfills or such along with VCRs and floppy disk...
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 7:44 am

Well I also have a VCR and some floppy disks. A friend of mine from high school told me he has a "TV guy" and can get me a 20-25" CRT in good condition with RCA inputs for decently cheap.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:57 am

If you're skipping CRTs, take into consideration that LCD TVs usually add a noticeable input lag due to postprocessing. Most of it can be disabled using "Game mode" on the image settings, or disabling one by one post processing features at the image settings. I have used the RPI output to composite with a TRRS connector and cable (you can use the iPod Touch TRRS cable, i had to invert the audio connectors), looks awful on LCD but lovely vintage on CRT.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:21 am

I dont do a lot of retro gaming, but when I do, it is a on modded Wii.

I have emulators on my wii for various Atari, Sega, and Nintendo consoles .
I picked up a few extra Wiis cheap just to make sure I can always game.

Most seem to work great.

I also bought this Component RGB + R/L to HDMI Converter for my Wii and it works great with no noticeable lag for me and my kids at least.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003V ... UTF8&psc=1

You may want to check their other products for your actual old school consoles; the reviews mention they are using these with classic gaming system.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008S ... bw_c_x_1_w
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003N ... bw_c_x_2_w
 
The Egg
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:48 am

My sister still has a 32" Magnavox CRT circa 1995 in rotation. AFAIK, it continues to work flawlessly, so maybe after I finally replace a couple blown caps in a 46" plasma I've been holding for a year, I'll trade her.

At the very least, it'll help me narrow down the source of the lag with my RetroPie setup.
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:00 am

I thought I could be a "retro gamer" and maybe to some degree I can. I could play through Planescape: Torment again, for example.

My wife wanted to try some games recently and installed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Final Fantasy VII. She found them on some list of games ladies tend to appreciate.

She's having fun with KOTOR, but for such an old game her laptop can't really handle it. She is making progress but it's slower than with a decent gaming laptop.

But for FF7 - it was a no go. The graphics are intolerably bad and she didn't like all the random fights.

So I guess our retro only goes back to about 1998. :)

If I had to play an ancient game, it would probably be the original Wasteland from 1986. But that is not available on console.
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:44 am

My first console was the Colecovision during the early 1980's. Reading the linked article it's funny to see it was originally the Connecticut Leather Company. Atari was the leader in home consoles back then but Colecovision's home version of Donkey Kong was a hit. My other favorites on the Colecovision were Zaxxon, Mouse Trap, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mr. Do which was a clone of Dig Dug. I remember having to convince my parents that the game system would not damage our only color CRT television.

Two years later I purchased the first generation NES after saving up from mowing many lawns and other odd jobs around the neighborhood. That was my last console since I got into PC building a few years after that. I always have a fondness for retro gaming since I grew up during the 80's arcade days. I still own and use a 27" CRT so I should probably introduce my kids to the classics.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:13 am

Hawkwing74 wrote:
But for FF7 - it was a no go. The graphics are intolerably bad and she didn't like all the random fights.

I wasn't really aware of this until recently, but Final Fantasy is apparently a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. I had thought everyone loved it, but apparently not everyone likes random encounters as much as I do.

Played some locked-on Sonic 3 and Knuckles the last couple of days. Sonic 3's save battery is among the dead mentioned earlier in this thread. I've bought some CR2032-T batteries from BatteryTex and I have everything else required. Looks like a pretty simple solder operation - desolder the existing leads and re-solder the new ones (getting polarity correct, of course). I also bought a copy of Sword of Vermilion on eBay to practice on. :lol:
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:29 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
I had thought everyone loved it, but apparently not everyone likes random encounters as much as I do.


Chrono Trigger's combat system is far, far superior. That said, I do love me some FFIV.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:49 pm

Chrono Trigger is really good but unfortunately that's one I never got around to buying. It only goes for $100+ on eBay now. Yikes. I might as well buy a flash cart and an SD card.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:22 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:
Chrono Trigger is really good but unfortunately that's one I never got around to buying. It only goes for $100+ on eBay now. Yikes. I might as well buy a flash cart and an SD card.


Buy the PS1 Rerelease? https://www.amazon.com/Final-Fantasy-Ch ... no+trigger
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Retro console gaming

Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:52 pm

I have the Android TV release, which is fine. Some of this retro stuff gets quite pricy, though. Pretty amazing.

Wonder how all that will shake out with the digital era. Fewer physical copies being sold. Maybe once the PSN store is turned off for the PS3 there will be a run on PS3 software?
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Re: Retro console gaming

Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:52 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
I wasn't really aware of this until recently, but Final Fantasy is apparently a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. I had thought everyone loved it, but apparently not everyone likes random encounters as much as I do.


I think my tolerance for random encounters has gone way down. I tried to go back to Pokemon last year, and got a copy of Heart Gold for the DS. Barely made it past the second gym before I gave up. I just couldn't face random encounters with the same handful of trash enemies over and over, grinding for levels. I could literally feel the hours of my life draining away.

Bloated RPGs stuffed with random encounters were a great way to waste entire summers and weekends with nothing to do when I was a kid. These days I'd rather play something with more respect for my time.

(It's kind of a shame, because I'm curious about Final Fantasy III/VI. That steampunk setting, that gorgeous pixel art... it seems really appealing. But I can't face the prospect of fighting the same enemies in random encounters for 100 hours.)
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Tue Jul 11, 2017 5:05 am

4WIW - Most of the PC rereleases for Final Fantasy games have random encounter mode in the settings as something you can turn off. Many also have speed multipliers so if you get to a part you need to grind encounters you can just toggle 4x and spam auto attack. I did this for FFX as I wanted to play the dark aeons which I had never done before but not grind my sphere grid for 100+ hours.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:23 pm

NTMBK wrote:
derFunkenstein wrote:
I wasn't really aware of this until recently, but Final Fantasy is apparently a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. I had thought everyone loved it, but apparently not everyone likes random encounters as much as I do.


I think my tolerance for random encounters has gone way down...snipd...


I can sympathize. As much as I loved Skies of Arcadia on my Dreamcast, once I heard the gd-rom head move, I had that feelinig of "Aw ****... Random fight".

I like RPGs where you can see the enemies in the playing field, and either avoid them, or try to get behind them to "surprise" them, to gain that sweet first-turn advantage.

EDIT: I wonder if the FF7 remake (whenever it gets released) will have a similar mechanic, instead of random encounters.
 
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Re: Retro console gaming

Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:16 pm

Recently I've been digging through the website and forum of Sega-16. I've been floored to discover that folks have been around 50 new games (several of which getting cart releases) for the Genesis since the turn of the millennium. Crazy stuff.
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Retro console gaming

Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:51 pm

Something pretty crazy that recently popped up - chip tunes that you can play on the actual chips:

https://catskullelectronics.com/YM2017

It's a Genesis/MegaDrive cartridge with the music burned on the ROM. There are samples at the link above and it's pretty crazy what people have been able to do with the old Yamaha FM synth and Zilog Z80. I mean, I knew the Genesis could pump out the tunes. Yuzo Koshiro and Tommy Tallarico could do it in their games, but it's fun to see people taking a stab at it.

I'm sure it won't run well on Genesis clone hardware, though. :lol:
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Re: Retro console gaming

Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:23 am

derFunkenstein wrote:
I wasn't really aware of this until recently, but Final Fantasy is apparently a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. I had thought everyone loved it, but apparently not everyone likes random encounters as much as I do.

You mean specifically older ones? I haven't actually found anyone who likes FF13...so far.
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derFunkenstein
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Re: Retro console gaming

Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:33 am

Oh, add me to that list. I played it briefly at launch and couldn't get into it. I never played anything more recent - last one I played with any intent or hope in finishing was X-2, and even that was kind of bad. As far as I'm concerned they never made another after FFX.
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Re: Retro console gaming

Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:15 pm

I just started 15, and it doesn't seem all that bad other than the 'wait is this actually supposed to be driving' part. Haven't gotten too far in it yet though since I've been heavy into Horizon: Zero Dawn.
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