Nostalgia, Gaming, and You!


#101

I do have a CRT. I have a Sony that’s quite nice actually. All CRTs eventually kick the bucket, though, and the picture quality while amazing can be better.

The main task here was to bring some of that stuff back to my living room though, and to provide for better picture quality easily and affordably. As I noted in the original post, to do what this device is doing before now you had to spend a lot of money. It’s about double the cost of the 2x for an OSSC.

The OSSC also requires a lot more time and effort to get the picture that you want. It does a lot more than the 2x does. Note also that it only accepts RGB or Component inputs…

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That means you have to do mods and/or buy new cables for all your retro consoles to get that to work. It gets pricey. Again, as noted, Ferraris vs. Mustangs. Will I do that someday? Maybe. I still really like to buy and play modern games so the retro hobby doesn’t consume me like it does some other folks. Money is finite. You can go crazy at the RGB boards reading up on what people there are doing. RetroRGB is another good site for info on cabling and just general “How do I get RGB output on X console” information.

I fully admit this stuff fascinates me and has since long before this became more realistic. I used to read Diehard Game Fan and marvel at their screenshots. I discovered way back then that they were using RGB output to get the cleanest possible picture. When I saw it for myself later on with Commodore monitors, I was blown away at the picture quality. Now it’s about preservation of the original hardware experience for me, so I’m not too terribly picky about picture quality which is why composite through an HDTV at 480p is doable. But again, might I dabble in RGB later? Possible. Will I buy a component cable eventually for the Genesis/Neo Geo? Definitely. They’re out of stock at the moment at HD Retrovision or I probably would have already.

So yeah, I do have a CRT and I use it! It’s really nice to be honest. I’ll take some video of that next time I’m mucking around up there in the retro cave. When I saw the RetroTINK-2x and what it did though, I was sold. I love being able to put those consoles back in my living room easily and affordably with original controllers, no lag, and the wholly original gameplay experience. All this thing does is double the lines so it can be displayed at 480p. Everything else is original perfection.

@Rock8man The Neo Geo CD shipped right around the same time as the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation, which as you know was the dawn of the 3D era of consoles. Neo Geo was somewhat quaint for a lot of gamers because there was a massive backlash against 2D games in general. Sony had a policy in place specifically restricting 2D games on PlayStation. Sega had to quickly overhaul Saturn’s design before release to make 3D more of a priority. Nintendo was working with Silicon Graphics. SNK was a small player in Japan and in the world that was focused on arcade games. They made incredible stuff that frankly has proven to be timeless in its appeal as the legend of the Neo Geo has probably only grown since then. It was a true enthusiast machine though, whether you bought an AES or the CD unit later on. $399 for a Neo CD that had a single speed CD drive was just not gonna fly against Saturn and PlayStation with their faster CD drives and better hardware. Cart systems were five years old by then, but the carts sold for $300 each new. It could never be a mainstream home system, although you got the exact arcade experience at home that everyone else put quarters into in the arcades.

I had a Neo AES in 1994 as they started blowing them out. It was worth every penny. It’s still probably my most prized gaming system today.


#102

That’s crazy. I actively disliked the original Playstation for this reason. Early 3D, especially on the original Playstation, looked terrible. But I guess you’re saying it wasn’t Sony’s policy that was crazy, they had it right. The general zeitgeist at the time really was against 2D? So Sony was right? People were crazy. 2D at that time looked so much better than early 3D.


#103

I was reading that OSSC doc a bit, all the stuff it has to deal with is quite insane: and I have no earthly idea of the whys! It’s fascinating.
I guess an optimal setup is to have such a converter plugged to each of your console/computer with the proper settings?

Egg and chicken if you ask me. Was the PSX successful because people were into 3D? Did we go all 3D because Sony took everything over? We need a proper uchronia TV series about gaming!
That being said, I distinctly remember people going crazy over Star Fox, which was just a boring and sluggish shooter to me, so the fascination is most likely there.


#104

Yeah, I always thought it was the other way around too.


#105

The proposed alternative to 3D was FMV back then, so please embrace 3D!


#106

Oh yeah, crazy ugly, that and the N64 too. But don’t you remember how blown away you were with those early 3D titles, that things had depth and mass, like in Tomb Raider and Super Mario 64 where you could walk around in a world? Man I do, that was like an explosion, and when Sony’s ads were all saying “Welcome to the next level” they weren’t kidding.


#107

I agree with you that 2D was amazing then. We were frankly denied a golden age of 2D in the 32-bit era. I mean, this says it all… from the Wikipedia article on the Neo CD.

Reviewing the Neo Geo CD in late 1995, Next Generation noted SNK’s reputation for fun games but argued that their failure to upgrade the Neo Geo system with 3D capabilities would keep them from producing any truly “cutting edge” games, and limit the console to the same small cult following as the Neo Geo AES system although with less expensive games. They gave it 1 1/2 out of 5 stars.

That’s what everyone was up against. Next Generation and Edge magazine were really hammering the 3D future home. They were always reviewing games up against this lens of “Is it 3D?!” and if it wasn’t, you could almost assume a full point/star lost in the score or worse. It was maddening for those of us who loved 2D games because you could see in arcades at the time how amazing animation was getting in 2D fighting so if we got even more incredible stuff in all the genres, well that would have be to amazing.

Sony was right though in the sense that their marketing convinced everyone that 2D was old and 3D was the new hotness for everything. I think also, you have to remember that PC gamers had a lot more time with 3D games by then. 1995 is also prime 3D accelerator startup times. Rendition cards, 3DFX with Monster 3D…these things were on the horizon and we were really seeing the start of where we are now. These were the buzzwords. Also, DOOM was huge in 1993 and it made it to consoles and obviously first-person shooters, racing games, and 3D fighters were all the rage then too. Quake arrived in 1996. It just turned everything on its head. Console gamers especially were like, “3D OMG!” Ridge Racer was almost identical to its arcade release which stood firmly alongside something like Virtua Racing and Daytona.

I think today’s fascination with 2D specifically through indies is actually a backlash of sorts against that time. Obviously now we see some really amazing work with 2D characters, game design and animation. A game like Towerfall Ascension would’ve been massive on SNES or Genesis but it took until just a few years ago for something like that to exist because EVERYTHING was 3D for awhile there or at least seemed that way.

Anyway, one final thing that the Neo Geo CD has against it that I mentioned above I demonstrated last night but didn’t upload the video til now because it didn’t seem necessary. It does show a down side… Just a couple minutes of your time…

That’s for a shooter where everything is loaded into memory and you don’t load again. Fighting games did that between rounds sometimes… it’s just not doable for most folks, especially in 1995 when all anyone knew was cartridges before that.


#108

That’s an excellent point! I even remember I stopped buying and reading magazines because of that 2D bashing.

I don’t know if you have had the pleasure to play the Neo CD “prototype”, aka the Arcade Card powered PC-Engine conversions of SNK Titles (Art of Fighting, World Heroes, Fatal Fury Special).
They were loaded from CD onto a special RAM cartridge, and they had the exact same issue of super long loading time… or I should add, it was even worse for one game: Fatal Fury would frequently exhibit read errors between rounds, and you could see the progress bar jumping back, like a Windows 95 installation process. The horror.
That being said, praise be the Japanese developers, who don’t merely show a progress bar, but bless us with little animations.


#109

I didn’t find the 3D of that era to be ugly. It was as you say, totally incredible for the period. While we had seen some really amazing things in arcades by that point, the stuff we were getting at home was just brilliant. Air Combat, Ridge Racer and Battle Arena Toshinden shipped alongside PlayStation! Sega was racing to put out Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally and Virtua Cop.

Looking back, it was a heady time because we really were getting some great games that did the best of both. Sega’s Saturn had some excellent 2D games, but Sony had such a push on 3D that it mooted anything Sega did that made you say WOW. Astal is a fantastically beautiful 2D side-scroller. It is forgotten.


#110

I did not get to play the PC-Engine stuff. That is honestly the one console that I have very limited experience with (and plan to rectify over time… it’s basically what’s left for me to investigate heavily… but also expensive) but I do remember reading about that stuff at the time. Sega was so ahead of the game with the Saturn RAM cart too for fighting games. I mean, we got near arcade perfect ports of most of the great stuff on Saturn thanks to that. SNK used it too when they started porting Neo Geo games. It also saved load times significantly.

If you guys are interested in more really cool looks at this era, I highly recommend Retro Core on YouTube. Specifically you want to look at his Battle of the Ports series where Yakumo shows you all the different versions of arcade games from the era. Some of the PlayStation ports of those 2D fighting games are truly laughable, but it’s a product of the hardware and its design being focused on 3D almost to exclusion of anything else.

I find that his commentary is a little mixed up at times, but overall it’s a great series. Really shows you how arcade games would reach other parts of the world in forms we never saw in the States.

Oh… and there is no doubt in my mind that Next Generation and Edge created the culture of “MORE! BETTER! MORE! BETTER!” that has pervaded gaming ever since.


#111

I had forgotten about the Saturn RAM carts! I had stuck to Street Fighter Zero 2, which didn’t use one of those unlike the 3rd one (but the loading times were okay), but I seem to remember we were using different ones for Capcom and SNK games… It’s quite fuzzy, to be frank, and I may well be mistaken. I do remember they basically cut any loading times, in the Neogeo CD Viewpoint way, and that comfort felt so good, as loadings were always the CD consoles’ achilles’ heel.

If you have yet to discover the PC-Engine, I think (and hope!) you are in for a massive blast, as this is by far my favourite system. On CDs, there is quite a lot of junk, but the cartridge games are, incredibly enough, in their majority good games. It is also a console offering some very good multiplayer games, and those tend to age well.
It is probably to me what the Neogeo is to you. I hope you get to enjoy it — the prices have always been a bit crazy around a few titles for that console, which often aren’t that good.


#112

That’s Turbo-Grafx in the U.S. right? I’ve
Got one of those somewhere, should pop it in and give it a run.


#113

Ah yes, and it was even rebranded CoreGrafx in Japan (alongside it’s err… how should I put it… weird yet amazing spawn the SuperGrafx).
Wasn’t it called the Shuttle for a while in the US too?


#114

I know you’ve seen this before, but I think about this article a lot.

That’s a really cool device. I don’t really have an actual retro setup at the moment, but I definitely appreciate what it’s doing.


#115

Yeah, I totally get the gist of that article. When it was written especially, I think there was still a really strong backlash against pixel art games because people complained that “they’re everywhere!” and there’s an inherent bias against them, especially on PC where a lot of Indies were putting them because it was cheap to publish.

What’s more interesting to me now, one year into Nintendo Switch, is how that system has embraced those developers and their games and made many of them stars in their own right. I was at Target yesterday and noticed they’re now selling digital game cards for many Indie games specifically. You can buy Celeste, Enter the Gungeon, etc. as a digital download code. They’re right above the Switch and 3DS physical games.

On a Nintendo system, pixels are praised! Everywhere else, it is still pretty much looked down upon as something that should be cheap if you should play it at all. The PC crowd has gotten a little better with that, but not a ton.

What I also think is happening though, is pure graphical power is not advancing like it used to. We’ve hit a stagnation point where 3D now looks good enough and you can’t really see the massive leaps from game to game we once did. Current games look amazing, but they are not so far up the scale from three or four years ago that you’re getting new screens and saying WOW. It has legitimized all sorts of graphical and gameplay approaches you would be laughed at for trying even five years ago now because there isn’t a Wing Commander-style graphical showcase around the corner to blow the doors off everything else.

Anyway, I can easily recommend the RetroTINK-2x for anyone who no longer has a CRT but does have a bunch of old consoles and games they’d like to play. I played more Viewpoint last night and it’s amazing that it just plain works.


#116

You remember correctly that there were two RAM carts for Saturn. SNK produced a 1MB cart and Capcom a 4MB cart. I have a 4M Action Replay that I use to play imports and it handles all but like one of the SNK games IIRC and of course all the Capcom stuff. It never leaves the cart slot of my Saturn. It definitely makes everything better on supported titles and some games simply don’t work without it.

I have played a number of PC-Engine/Turbografx 16 games. I bought a bunch on the Wii Virtual Console. I also had a friend who owned one and played some other titles he had on there. The TG-16 itself is mostly reasonable to buy (or a CoreGrafx… I think everything is region free on their hardware?) here and I will do that soonish. The games are all over the place pricewise though. That said, it’ll happen, because I do love original hardware more than emulation every time.

Stuff I own there…
Military Madness
Bonk’s Adventure
Bomberman '93
Super Star Soldier
Lords of Thunder
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood

I actually still have points to use on the Wii Virtual Console that may go toward a couple more. I have to figure that out soon as January 30th is the end of that store.


#117

I didn’t know those RAM carts were compatible! We may have been switching them depending on the game, ha ha. I rarely plugged them in personally: I was using a cartridge extending massively the save capacity of the console. For all its criticizing of the mem card business, Sony’s console was much more friendler on the save game management front than Sega’s 2D queen.

As for the Turbografx,

Snipped, because...

I seem to remember you needed an adapter to plug in Japanese cartridge games into the American model — but I can’t be sure, as I never owned an American one. I’d suggest getting a Japanese one if you decide one day to make the move, as the American library is very limited and the PC-Engine console itself is much sexier. If you are into weird, very bad POS games, the US consoles got a few exclusive titles that might be containders to the worse ever produced on any media. The only bad side of the Japanese console is that… well, most games are in Japanese ;) On the plus side, various RGB Japanese models was (and might still be?) quite easy to come by, as the console was quite successful in France and was sold modded by a little society distributing it officially there. Castlevania became so expensive after Symphony of the Night took on on the PSX, it’s not even funny. The ones on the top of my list of recommandations would be Gunhed (a very expensive cartridge, published by Hudson) and Seireisenshi Spriggan (a super cheap CD, published by Naxat). They are two shoot’em’ups done by Compile, and probably the apogee of the masterworkers officing at that company. If you are into pre-danmaku shmups, of course!


I just checked, out of curiosity, and the “cheap” Spriggan is sold 150 bucks nowadays?! Sticking to the emulation seems the sane thing to do, this is insane.


#118

Yeah, all the Compile stuff shot up. My complete MUSHA on Sega Genesis could probably get me $400-$500 on eBay. I paid $9.95 for it back in like '93-‘94. It still has the sticker on it. :) I’m aware of Spriggan and Gunhed. Gunhed/Blazing Lazers is available on Wii Virtual Console so I may get it there. That one does cost less in the US, though on TG-16. In general, the games on chips are priced ok here in the States. It’s CD stuff that is more expensive typically and also harder to play because the Duo is so friggin’ expensive to get started.

That doesn’t even take into account that a lot of Turbo Duo hardware seems to flake out over time and require recapping (capacitor death is fairly normal on the Duo). You’re basically buying something you know will eventually need to be fixed and as good as I am at understanding the needs of Retro, I do not have the expertise yet to solder in new capacitors all over these consoles much less remove the leaky ones.

Sony’s use of the Memory Card was definitely more elegant than Sega’s solution at the time although Sega’s was cheaper in that you could use the onboard memory for saving at least some games. You have to replace the battery, though!


#119

Makes sense in a sens, in all this insanity, as this is probably their best work :O
Gunhed is very impressive, and some of the levels are super darn fun, but it’s got some pacing issue (as was often the case with Compile) and it features an apocalyptic difficulty spike on its last level.

I wasted a few Duos because, while awesome, as you pointed out they are very feeble. Actually, the first one I bought at a retailer had a non-working CD drive right from the start. I should have gotten a clue.
Now I am using a Laser Active. It is very bulky and a pain to import (a sciatic nerve bout that plagued 10 years of my life started because of it - zero kidding) and it is one of those things you mentionned that cannot be modded into RGB unless you pay a fortune, but it has the advantage of being super sturdy and it’s got a hidden super power, something that didn’t inform my purchase but would have if I had known about it: it makes CD loading times super fast, especially in problematic games!

Oh my, ha ha ha! That console eats batteries like nothing! I have had to replace the darn battery every couple years. The fact it is relatively accessible for replacement purpose makes me think Sega was aware of that. The battery life of the DC’s little memory card/tamagotchi things was very bad too, but at least those ones had the good taste of not forgetting about your saves when they were running out of power!


#120

Do you have the Sega Genesis PAC for the Laser Active too? Those seem super sturdy by comparison with the Duos. Reading up on it, the Duo was made cheaply in Taiwan at the time and that’s why they had a lot of cheap capacitors in them that tend to blow or leak. That sucks. I think if I do get something, I’ll get a Core Grafx or a Core Grafx II. That seems the most affordable route and the easiest to make playable for US games. It’s a tough call though. I do really want the original hardware but nothing for that system is cheap in the US and the best games are expensive everywhere.

Sega definitely knew about that battery. It’s a bad design. The Dreamcast VMUs at least saved data regardless. Those take TWO of those damn CR-2032s. I should just by a big pack of them to last the rest of my life for the Saturn, VMUs and the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Sigh.

Hoping to rearrange everything this weekend to get things more permanently configured for living room gaming.