General Old Game Hardware Thread

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Thad
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Wed May 18, 2022 4:56 pm

Got me one of those Retro-Bit Saturn controllers. I went with the 2.4GHz version over the Bluetooth version, because I've had some problems with lag on Bluetooth controllers. I know Retroarch's got lag compensation, but I'm not using Retroarch for Saturn emulation on my Pi, so that's not going to help me.

The packaging is really nice. It comes in a plastic case, and it comes with two receivers, one USB and one for a Saturn controller port. I don't actually have a Saturn, but it's still nice to include both options right out of the box. (And who knows, maybe I'll buy a real Saturn someday.)

Build quality feels a little flimsy; I think it'll get the job done but if I ever get another one it probably won't be another Retro-Bit; I expect I'll wait and see what 8bitdo's got coming.

I also ordered a couple of wireless N64 controllers. Seems like those might work for Saturn games that use the stick.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 20, 2022 12:19 pm

CRT TV resolutions continue to be the most baffling and vexing thing in the goddamn world. And a good argument for playing on original hardware or an FPGA instead of emulation if you're using an old tube TV. The problem, by and large, is that developers mostly don't even have CRTs to test on, and if they do, odds are pretty good it's something like a Sony PVM, not the Magnavox I'm using. And they're probably testing with RGB, not YPbPr -- but YPbPr is what my TV has, and RGB never really caught on in the US (whereas YPbPr was at least briefly a thing here).

I currently have my Pi hooked up to said Magnavox using an HDMI-to-component converter recommended by RetroRGB. It works, sort of, except I've found that it's really fucking finicky and I get different results depending on positioning and what cable I use. I moved some shit around and a setting that had been working fine before turned magenta. I swapped out HDMI cables and it wasn't magenta anymore but the picture started slowly rolling.

So I'm considering other options. There are analog video adapters for the Pi like the RGB-Pi. That's RGB, not YPbPr, but as it happens I have an adapter -- the A/V switch I'm using is this monstrosity: 6 Port RGB Scart/RCA/Component Switch with built-in RGB to Component converter, which includes a SCART-to-YPbPr converter. All my gear up to this point is YPbPr because that's what my TV takes, but I think switching between YPbPr inputs and SCART ones is as simple as flipping a switch. (And buying a power adapter, which isn't necessary for switching but is for signal conversion.) Something to look into, anyway.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri May 20, 2022 6:27 pm

Thad wrote:I currently have my Pi hooked up to said Magnavox using an HDMI-to-component converter recommended by RetroRGB. It works, sort of, except I've found that it's really fucking finicky and I get different results depending on positioning and what cable I use. I moved some shit around and a setting that had been working fine before turned magenta. I swapped out HDMI cables and it wasn't magenta anymore but the picture started slowly rolling.

Oh also some of this shit seems to persist on reboot. So, note to self, it's probably a good idea to shut all the way down and then boot cold if I'm testing a new resolution.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon May 23, 2022 6:09 pm

Thad wrote:(And who knows, maybe I'll buy a real Saturn someday.)

I should probably hold that thought and see how things go on the Saturn MiSTer core in the coming months.




I haven't tried the PlayStation core but it sounds like everybody's really impressed by it. Saturn's going to be trickier -- its complicated dual-processor architecture is infamous -- but I don't see people calling it impossible anymore like they were a couple of years ago. The developer, srg320, has already released a 32X core and made impressive progress on the Saturn, despite the significant fucking barrier of being in an occupied part of Ukraine with limited Internet access.

Seriously; it's fucking wild.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Wed May 25, 2022 6:03 pm

Thad wrote:If you've been thinking about getting an EverDrive but haven't gotten around to it, you may want to get on it. Krikzz, the guy who makes them, is Ukrainian and unable to make any more for the foreseeable future due to the Russian invasion. (According to RetroRGB, he's left the country and is safe.)

Stone Age Gamer still has some models in stock at regular prices, but it's not going to be long before you'll only be able to find them overpriced on eBay. I went to snag one of the N64 models while I still could but they're already gone.

Krikzz has restarted production and reopened the store at krikzz.com; supplies are still restricted but if you keep an eye on his Twitter account (@krikzz) he'll announce when he has product in stock and you might be able to catch it. (Caveat: if you scroll down his feed a little ways there are some retweets of war photos you may not want to see.)

Earlier today he had a limited-edition EverDrive 64 X7 in stock; I decided the $250 asking price was too rich for my blood (and now they're gone) but I'll keep an eye out for when he's got a new batch of X5s ready. I haven't actually hauled my N64 out since...probably when I gave it to my brother when I left for college and took the PS1, but I think about it occasionally; it's got some good games I don't own, I'll probably never be able to replace it with a MiSTer (at least, not the current DE-10 Nano-based model), and emulating it on a Raspberry Pi or other low-end hardware is probably not going to be a consistent experience.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Wed Jun 08, 2022 5:10 pm


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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri Jun 10, 2022 6:20 pm

I grabbed an old 4:3 monitor that rotates and can be used in portrait mode. Not a perfect solution for playing portrait-style arcade games, but I think it'll be a good one.

Plus if I keep it hooked up to my MiSTer and Pi that'll mean less fucking around in the dark when the video output's not working with my CRT. Trying to remember if I have an HDMI switch I'm not using or if I'd need to buy a new one.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri Jul 29, 2022 1:22 pm

Ars: Analogue comes out swinging with Pocket 1.1 update: “We’re not f-ing around”

The most interesting detail (to me):

Additionally, OpenFPGA developers will get access to both of Pocket's Altera chips, including the 49,000 logic elements (LEs, also known as ALMs) on its Cyclone V and the 15,000 LEs on its weaker Cyclone 10. This is a superior processing capability to what we'd previously assumed about OpenFPGA; original Analogue comments suggested that only the Cyclone 10 would be available to OpenFPGA developers. It's unclear how developers will be able to leverage both FPGA chips simultaneously in a way that's useful or efficient, but their combined 64,000 LEs easily meet every existing MiSTer core's technical requirements, as seen in this community-managed spreadsheet.


I'm curious about Neo Geo. PS1 support is probably a little too much to expect, but of course they said the same thing about the DE10-Nano.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Niku » Sat Jul 30, 2022 9:23 pm

Jailbreak is out now for SD loading GB, GBC, and GBA games apparently.

I wasn't sitting on the fence over that 'cause it was coming eventually no matter what, but might finally pull the trigger on putting down my eight-month waiting period money anyway.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 01, 2022 11:56 am

AIUI it's not a jailbreak per se, it's a different set of cores that have been ported to the Pocket.

Though the end result is the same and, assuming those cores are just as accurate as the proprietary ones baked into the Analogue, you shouldn't notice any difference in gameplay.

BTW I ordered one in January and don't have it yet. So far I'm within that eight-month estimate, but we'll see.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Brantly B. » Mon Aug 01, 2022 12:45 pm

The Valve Index is the primary reason I have a "don't join any waitlists" rule now but being cajoled into joining the Pocket waitlist definitely helped cement it.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Tue Sep 13, 2022 1:24 pm

This story seems entirely too good to be true but I so want it to be.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Mongrel » Tue Sep 13, 2022 2:51 pm

I don't know that it's true, but I've heard that story many times and the similarity has been pointed out by many people.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 17, 2022 12:04 pm

Holy ship they're preparing my Pocket order. When it rains it pours.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:00 am

Got my Pocket today. Tried it out briefly with my Game Boy EverDrive. Picture sure looks great. I like the "screen door" filter.

Haven't tried GBA yet, or any of the third-party cores. Loaded up a 32GB microSD card with ROMs to try later, though.

There are third-party Game Gear and TG16 cores, which is nice, but it appears that for now there's no way to play Lynx or NGPC games on it, legally or otherwise. There are no third-party Lynx or NGPC cores as yet, and while Analogue eventually plans to support them officially, it'll require a $130 adapter set that isn't availble yet. Plus, y'know, cartridges. That feels a little too rich for my blood, so hopefully somebody ports the MiSTer Lynx core before too long. As for NGPC, there's no MiSTer core for that, so I suspect it'll be awhile before we see one on the Pocket besides Analogue's official version.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 14, 2022 1:06 pm

Fired up the first level of Mega Man X on the agg23 SNES core. Sounded and played perfectly. Video looked slightly off because it defaults to pixel-perfect 8:7, but I found a setting in the menu to play at letterboxed 4:3 instead, so the option is there. I didn't have time to play any more at that point and see how it looks; the stage select menu looked fine but I can't speak to how it looks in motion (shimmer etc.).

The SNES core doesn't appear to support any more advanced features like save states, suspend, or even scanlines at this point, but hopefully they'll come later.

At any rate, so far at least it seems like a perfect SNES reproduction on a handheld. That's pretty cool!

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Mon Nov 14, 2022 8:11 pm

The Super Game Boy core, OTOH, runs at letterboxed 4:3 and won't allow any graphical adjustments. Which is kinda weird, because that's a correct ratio for SNES but a stretched one for Game Boy.

At a glance it looks pretty solid, though. Appears to be using a real Super Game Boy ROM, or else it's a clone that looks and feels enough like it that I couldn't tell the difference at a casual glance.

From a quick glance at Donkey Kong, the palettes work and Pauline's "Help! Help!" voice sample works. Not sure about stuff like border animations -- my recollection is that those played out over a long period of time and were screen-savery things designed to prevent burn-in.

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Fri Feb 24, 2023 7:01 pm

Pocket got a TurboCD core. It's got some limitations; it maxes out at 27 tracks, so for a bunch of the games I've downloaded I'm going to have to combine multi-bin sets into a single bin file if I want to get them to run.

You also need to create a json-formatted launcher file for each game, but the updater script I've been using has already added support to scan your files and generate those for you.

I thought the audio sounded a little crackly when I fired up Rondo of Blood but I didn't play it for very long and didn't have the volume up very high, so I can't swear to that; I probably need to spend a little more time testing.

Meanwhile, I've been playing Donkey Kong '94 on the Super Game Boy core, and it's an impressive technical achievement but I feel like it could use some QoL improvements. The border support is cool in theory, but in practice it greatly reduces the playable screen real estate; it would be nice if there were different screen options, like losing the border and displaying the game full-screen, but with the rest of the SGB enhancements (color, enhanced audio, etc.).

Perhaps more vexing is that it doesn't support save states, and Donkey Kong only lets you save every 4 levels, because Japan didn't believe in letting people just save where they wanted until like 2017. (Nominally you can save anywhere, but you'll lose all your progress since the most recent boss you've beaten.) So on balance I'm kind of inclined to just forego the SGB niceties and play in plain old Game Boy mode off my EverDrive, so I can play the game at full size and save whenever I feel like it.

Provided I can figure out where the hell I'm supposed to copy my save file. It should be GBCSYS/SAVE/gamename.srm but it doesn't seem to be reading from the file I put there.

ETA: That's the right path, but apparently the EverDrive keeps the currently-loaded game's save on the onboard battery and will overwrite whatever's on the microSD card with that. So you have to load another game and then shut down before you replace a save file on the microSD card. Hat tip to this Reddit thread: [EverDrive GB x7] Transfer saves FROM computer TO Everdrive?

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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Niku » Sat Feb 25, 2023 1:11 pm

What's the overall state of the Pocket at the moment in terms of grab and go usability -- like if I just wanna stick to handhelds that are supported out of the box, but don't have/use the original hardware carts, am I better off running things off an SD card or off an Everdrive if I want the niceties like save states, or is there even a practical difference? Do any of the FGPA cores support sleep/save states/etc or are they all still kinda up in the air? Being able to easily put down and pick up games is kinda the most important thing for me when it comes to portable hardware, and I'm really mostly focused on the handheld libraries rather than being too fussed about tv console emulation.
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Re: General Old Game Hardware Thread

Postby Thad » Sat Feb 25, 2023 3:08 pm

I think buying both a Pocket and an EverDrive is probably redundant; I wouldn't recommend it. But I've had GB and GBA EverDrives for years, so I may as well use them. There are some advantages to playing from a cartridge; that means you're using Analogue's built-in cores, as opposed to the third-party cores you'd use if you're just loading ROMs from the internal microSD card, and Analogue's cores have some niceties like screen filters that aren't necessarily supported on the third-party ones. But I don't think those features are really worth the cost of buying an EverDrive (or several of them!) just to access them.

Setting up the microSD card isn't too difficult; there are multiple scripts available that will automatically download cores and firmware updates for you. I'm using Matt Panella's pocket_updater script; for that one you just put it in the root of the microSD card and run the script from a command line. But there are other options, some with graphical frontends.

(Pocket supports FAT32 or exFAT-formatted microSD cards; exFAT is the better option.)

As far as the third-party cores go, functionality varies depending on which one you're using, but at a quick glance, the cores I have for Game Boy, GBC, GBA, Game Gear, and WonderSwan Color all support savestates. I'm pretty sure I've used sleep on the Game Gear core, too, and I think the rest of those are supposed to support it but I haven't spent enough time testing it to confirm. I tried starting a couple of Game Boy games and then putting it to sleep, and on wake it restarted from the beginning instead of where I'd left it, which isn't a great sign, but I guess worst-case you can still take a snapshot, put it to sleep, wake it back up, and restore the snapshot; that would at least save yourself the time of booting up cold and then choosing a core and a game again.

As of this writing, there's still no way to play Lynx or NGPC on the Pocket at all; there aren't any third-party cores for them, and Analogue still lists its cartridge adapters as "Coming 2023", so there's no way of using the first-party cores for them either yet.

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