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Emulation is nice but original hardware rules. Thoughts? :)



  • @John_RM_70 said in Handheld Gaming:

    Emulation is nice, but you can never beat the real thing.

    Figured I'd move this to a new topic since it was going to derail the Handheld Gaming post.

    Exactly. I love my arcade cabinet and my RPi setups and I REALLY love my PSP but ...

    I have been buying Everdrive carts over the last 2 years so I can play on original hardware. Next one will be an Everdrive GBA-X5. I already own the Everdrive N8 (NES), Super Everdrive (SNES) and Everdrive64 v3 (N64). I also have a Harmony cart for my Atari 2600 and an LTO Flash for my Intellivision. Not a Sega fan but they also make Everdrives for Genesis and Master System.

    All my older systems run through a Sony Trinitron KV-20S20 I found on Craigslist. They look amazing on the tube televisions (obviously) and you can find these televisions cheap(sub $20) or free most times.



  • I am currently playing around with the AdvMess emulator for the Pi, and one particular machine is the BBC because literally right next to the Pi (on the same Sony TV) I have a real BBC Master. The emulation is good, more so on a real CRT, but it's not quite there. The image is squashed vertically, and stretched horizontally, and doesn't quite look right. The composite image quality will never match the Master's RGB Scart output, but it's pretty good for composite.
    Thing is, my Master has a modern internal Data Centre IDE system, a Flash Floppy drive - external, and a modern co-processor using a Pi Zero. There is simply no substitute for the real BBC Master. The keyboard, for a early 80s keyboard, is fantastic - awesome caps with a "alps" feeling to them - matching my modern RGB gaming cherry switches keyboard. You can't beat having this beast next to my Sony Trinitron beast. The Pi does a admiral job, and I would stick to this if it weren't for my real hardware. I have the Pi for times when I want something instant, not have to unbox some of my real hardware, set it all up and even find room for it all.

    I think most computer emulation just doesn't come close to the real thing, especially if you are running your Pi on a modern HDTV via HDMI. Shaders are nice, but they are nothing like a real CRT. No shader, even on PC, has been able to reproduce that lovely warm glow of a CRT - that sort of slight bloom-look you get on high-contrast games. Amiberry is wonderful, but my Amiga 1200 is better. Although, my Pi will never "Yellow" due to age. Whereas my Amiga 1200, will yellow faster than a banana in a warm window.
    And one thing never reproduced in emulation, vector emulation. I have a real Vectrex, and those vectors on a real vector monitor look stunning. Never has a shader come close to how a real Vectrex looks. I have had my Vectrex next to my PC, and I can't come close to it, no matter how much I try.
    Of course, there is no denying that the Pi is freaking amazing, especially for the money. I could never afford to own a real arcade, yet the Pi has come the closet for me to owning a few hundred arcade machines, thanks to it's 240p on a CRT. Not as good as true 15hz on a real wells and gardner arcade monitor, but I will settle for the next closet best thing.
    Pros for emulation, COST. My real hardware is, by current ebay prices and sells, is worth around £15,000. Thats taken me nearly 40 years to get there, from a humble pong machine, to a Atari 2600, to 80s and 90s consoles and computers. This isn't for everyone, and not everyone can afford to do this. The Pi is the best solution for anyone who can't afford the real thing, can't be bothered with all the hassle of owning these machines (They break down, need maintenance, go yellow, cables everywhere), and want a modern visual solution like a HDTV, not a CRT. Some do prefer the sharper clearer images.


  • Global Moderator

    @John_RM_70 said in Handheld Gaming:

    Emulation is nice, but you can never beat the real thing.

    I totally agree. Except maybe for cost, convenience, space and modern display. ;)

    In all seriousness, I get what you mean. The appeal of original hardware certainly has technical merits that can't be duplicated with emulation. There's also the indescribable allure of the physical items themselves that even goes beyond a logistical reason for their use, but is very real all the same. Based solely on technical merit, I see a strong future for FPGA with adapted original controllers. That should afford users the advantages that come with using real hardware, alongside the modern conveniences and low cost of emulation.



  • I've sold all my original hardware. I don't want to keep crt tv's around, or invest in expensive tech that can make retro consoles look good on hd tv's. I don't miss the Game gears crappy screen or the unergonomic Nes controller.
    To me retro games on the Pi, with the right filters applied, have never looked or played better. I have a small apartment so it's wonderful to have a tiny device that holds enough information to completely fill a room.
    I only have 20-30 ps1 games left that I enjoy displaying in a cabinet, but that's pretty much it.

    Building a physical collection can feel rewarding for sure, but I feel comes with quite a bit of worries too. You need to pay lots of money for the rarer games. Games, consoles, controllers etc. are all old and can break down at any moment. Stuff can get stolen or lost in a fire.
    I've got multiple backups of my Pi image, so in my case losing anything at all is highly unlikely.



  • I think it depends on how you emulate the consoles as people now a days they often emulate the consoles on the go, for ex. gameboy games on their smartphone and by playing the old console games on a smartphone is not the same with physical buttons that actual hardware have.

    I have modded my original hardware. A Gameboy Advance with Backlit AGS-101 screen and 1000Mah lithium battery Micro USB charging and i think it beats all those that emulate it on there smartphone with touch screen.

    On the other hand looking at the raspberry pi that can emulate so many classic video console systems, it is just more versatile since it can be used with alot of USB controllers/gamepads that can resemble the original controller such as a SNES controller.

    That is just my opinion. :-)



  • @tpo1990 said in Emulation is nice but original hardware rules. Thoughts? :):

    I think it depends on how you emulate the consoles

    There is some truth to this as well. I use multiple adapters on my Arcade cabinet to use actual controllers in emulation. I run a USB 3.0 hub even though none of them are 3.0 USB controllers in the hopes of minimizing any latency. Seems like they respond with zero delay when I play.

    2x Atari 2600 adapters - can use ANY 2600 controller including Driving and Paddles. Warlords!
    2x Intellivision/ColecoVision adapters - Intellivision games need to be played on controllers with overlays. Feels authentic.
    1x NES adapter - Usually if there's a player 2 it's played with a SNES controller.
    2x SNES adapters - There are some excellent 2-player games for this console. Mario Kart anyone?
    1x Playstation Adapter - has 2 ports.

    All adapters have authentic controllers connected. I can't stand the "new" controllers that are out now or the USB wanna-be's. They feel so very, very wrong.

    Having said ALL of that I still like to keep the hardware because it's so easy to keep every system now without the need for collecting. My entire classic collection is sitting on a 3-shelf bookcase with the Sony tv on it. Each console has a loader cart that never has to come out. So for each "collection" I have 1x console, 2x controllers and 1x cart for every system. No space at all really.



  • I used to think that emulation was just as good, until I played snes games on my fire stick using a wireless controller. Firstly I could feel lag on the controller and secondly the refreshing of the sprites just didn't seem that natural and fluid. A few months later I went to a gaming convention and they had a load of consoles set up. I sat down and had a game of mario kart on the snes and I could feel the difference. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I know one particular movement you can't seem to do when you have any kind of lag. As you are going round a corner you can do an "S" manoeuver undertaking a character and skid round the corner, you can do this very quickly with the original controller as while you are skidding round the corner you can shoot left and then right and then left again to get back on the corner drift.

    Plus with emulation the software draws each frame individually from ram, slowing down the whole system and visually you will have the appearance of the game stuttering as everything jumps from 1 frame to another. However, playing on original hardware the sprites glide from 1 frame to another in a fluid movement making everything that much smoother.



  • @BobHarris said in Emulation is nice but original hardware rules. Thoughts? :):

    I've sold all my original hardware. I don't want to keep crt tv's around, or invest in expensive tech that can make retro consoles look good on hd tv's. I don't miss the Game gears crappy screen or the unergonomic Nes controller.
    To me retro games on the Pi, with the right filters applied, have never looked or played better. I have a small apartment so it's wonderful to have a tiny device that holds enough information to completely fill a room.
    I only have 20-30 ps1 games left that I enjoy displaying in a cabinet, but that's pretty much it.

    Building a physical collection can feel rewarding for sure, but I feel comes with quite a bit of worries too. You need to pay lots of money for the rarer games. Games, consoles, controllers etc. are all old and can break down at any moment. Stuff can get stolen or lost in a fire.
    I've got multiple backups of my Pi image, so in my case losing anything at all is highly unlikely.

    I agree overall and I still stand behind emulation but sometimes it's nice to have the system right there. I wrote this back in January on AtariAge:

    A little late to the conversation but:
    I used to have a gaming apartment. When I was married my ex-wife and I rented the apartment from my grandmother upstairs. When she passed away my mother kept the house but refused to rent the second apartment to anyone so we took it, paid electric and heat for it and bang! Weekend hangout for friends. [:)]

    At the height of my collecting I had almost every system worth having and I would go out to the flea markets and yard sales every week. I had my Digital Press guide with all sorts of notes and scribbles as well as my Excel spreadsheets in a huge binder. Nothing like standing in front of a guy that looked like he was homeless and an alcoholic trying to decide if I should grace him with my 50 cents for a game until I consulted my lists, spreadsheets, wife and, on occasion, sacrificing a goat for a divination. It was pretty bad. I got to realize that not only was I being a dick about the hobby but I never got to enjoy it. That weekend hangout went to waste for months because I was out buying more stuff for it when I was supposed to be using it. I owned stuff I hated just for the sake of trying to complete a collection. Trouble is when you're INSIDE it you don't see it. It took the divorce and subsequent move to make me realize I had way too much CRAP mixed in with my good stuff.

    Fast forward to now. Emulation and hardware are so good these days (in my opinion) that I can play what I want on a small selection of hardware. I have one arcade unit running an all-in-one emulation center under GameEx. It uses a gaming tower(true gaming tower not a Craigslist "gaming" system), an X-Arcade tankstick, a USB hub with tons of controller adapters so I can play the systems with the actual controllers and an HD television. In my office I have an Atari 2600, Intellivision, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance and N64 consoles all with loader carts connected to a nice Sony 22" CRT tv. That's my whole collection and I still feel like it's too much on some days.
    I am an emulation convert because:

    • I can enjoy the games.

    • I don't take up the whole house for stuff I don't use.

    • My family gets my money rather than my obsession with the hobby.



  • One thing the Pi has going for it, regarding emulation, is that I can use my Hori Rap 4 on ANY system. The original hardware cannot make use of this great controller, so that is a major plus. A lot of old 80s controllers just plain sucked, especially those with leaf contacts. If I buy old Competition Pro joysticks, I will always make sure they're microswitched, not leaf. Although, not all 80's microswitches were created equal. Some were loud, clicky, and cheap.



  • @ClassicGMR said in Emulation is nice but original hardware rules. Thoughts? :):

    All adapters have authentic controllers connected. I can't stand the "new" controllers that are out now or the USB wanna-be's. They feel so very, very wrong.
    Having said ALL of that I still like to keep the hardware because it's so easy to keep every system now without the need for collecting. My entire classic collection is sitting on a 3-shelf bookcase with the Sony tv on it. Each console has a loader cart that never has to come out. So for each "collection" I have 1x console, 2x controllers and 1x cart for every system. No space at all really.

    Just my thought as well. Some times you just want that authentic feel that you remember from the childhood, but most of the time emulation can be enough for just plug and play. Emulation can be very accurate if you have the correct setup regarding controllers and other peripherals. Also i believe that every hobby has a limit, especially when it comes to collecting retro consoles and games.

    A loader cart is a great idea for minimizing storage usage and convenience. I have one as well for my modded GBA.



  • I'm thinking about adding USB ports to my Amiga 1200 so I can play WHD's on it. It's a pretty high spec machine, Blizzard 68060 card with maxed out RAM, so should not have a problem playing just about anything. I have the ClickBOOM version of Quake I wasted a great deal of my youth playing. I don't suppose there is still a CTF server hanging around these days?



  • Guys, I'm feeling like a stranger here, because I think emulation is better than real thing. I have a hardware classic GBA, and the bad screen doesn't make me feel better playing on it than emulating on Retropie, PC or my jailbroken iPhone. Another reason I prefer to emulate than play in real hardware is the option to choose other controllers to play games that it's not intended to play with other controllers, like N64 and it's easy breakable analog. You could play 007 Goldeneye perfectly with Dualshock or XBox controllers, better than with N64 controller. I really love Super Street Fighter 2 from SNES, but the controller isn't good to play it. To solve this problem, I use a Dualshock and set L to R1 and R to R2 and "voila", Fierce punch on better button than on left hand index finger!!! Some people will say "so play it on Genesis", but I don't like the SF colors and sounds on Genesis. The perfect world for me is get an USB Genesis controller and play the SSF2 from SNES on my Raspberry Pi.



  • For me I still have my original SNES with games and a Sega genesis new in [slightly abused] box with a large pile of games I picked up on ebay for $32. Both are sitting in a box in a closet, along with an Intellivision, N64, and a brand new Colecovision still in the box. (Plan on eventually getting an n64 everdrive) I ultimately want to have a game room where I can display them on a shelf with a CRT and other gaming "paraphernalia" as @ClassicGMR has mentioned. (Along with a full size Virtual Pinball Cabinet I dream of building)

    What I do have set up is

    • an early run Dreamcast, which is capable of playing burned games on a CD-Rs (which I eventually want to upgrade to GDEMU)

    • Xbox360 which I installed custom DVD drive FW to allow playing backup discs

    • Hacked Wii U - a very underrated system
      Wii U contains the entire content of the Wii board for backwards compatibility, including wii's ability to play gamecube discs. Since the Wii U's laser will not read gamecube games, that core is disabled. Wii U and Wii must be hacked seperately as they are 2 different system. The Wii U part is unlocked to play all backups directly from an external hard drive. The wii partition, using Nintendon't, will unlock the gamecube core, and allow games to be read from disc images. It also has an awesome, graphical custom loader which will natively launch wii and Gamecube games stored on a USB thumb drive!

      3 Generations of Nintendo all playing Natively one one system, plus nearly all N64 games playable great using Virtual Console

    • Nintendo Switch is the latest console I have - modded of course ;)

    I know the list contains a lot of newer systems, but for me, those are the ones that benefit most from playing them natively. Especially with how buggy Dreamcast, Gamecube and N64 emulation can be. The older systems I really want more for nostalgic / collectable reasons.



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