Well, here I am.  After months of not contributing to the site or doing streams.  I could make a ton of excuses of why not.  I’m sure no one wants to hear about it.  But, I’m going to tell you all anyway!  Back in November I welcomed a little friend into my home.  She’s a little baby shiba inu named Momo-chan.  She’s a great dog, but if anyone has ever raised one of these dogs of this breed they know they’re quite rambunctious and difficult to train.  I’ve finally gotten her to the point I don’t have to keep eyes on her at all times and let her do her thing.  Also, around the time I stopped doing writing and streams I transferred offices to Akihabara here in Tokyo.  Needless to say I’ve been super busy.

All that aside, it’s time to get back to work!  So what have I been doing aside from the aforementioned things?  Well, I’m still playing games as much as I can.  Monster Hunter World has taken up a bit of my time, and I can never seem to get away from playing Binding of Isaac for a few runs a day.

In February, fellow contributor and friend Chris, was nice enough to take a trip to my parent’s house not  too too far from where he lives and take some boxes of their hands.  Most of these boxes contained A LOT of video games.  I’ve taken this opportunity to start cataloging my old games and things.  Luckily, there are things on the web that can easily export Steam libraries to an Excel file.  I used Steam Gauge to export my list.  There are some great programs out there like the Collectorz app, but do cost monthly or a somewhat pricey tag for the standalone prog.  I still have a few large libraries to catalog, such as PS2, Xbox (OG), Xbox 360, and 3DO.  However, I’m already up to about 2,500 games so far.

It’s been a joy logging all of this stuff in.  Firstly, because I like to be as organized as possible.  Secondly, because I actually KNOW what I have now.  I have a good memory, but once you start reaching this level of games you have to stop and ask yourself sometimes if you have something or not.  Lastly, this will make it useful if anyone wants to watch something on stream or requests a review or write-up on something (yes, we take requests!).

One of my big plans for the next year or so is to try and get all my consoles able to output in a digital format.  This will make playing more enjoyable, seeing as I do not currently own a CRT here in Japan.  Also, it will make capturing video and screenshots MUCH MUCH easier.  So, I’ve started out with ZeldaXPro’s Gamecube adapter.  This adapter caught some heat off of MetalJesusRocks’s video  about how it destroyed is Gamecube.  Admittedly, it was a fault of the product, but if you’re not moving your console while it’s on this shouldn’t have been a problem.  Since then, ZeldaXPro has updated the model to 3.0 that solves this issue.  The downside is…it took about 193 days from the time I placed my order to get it.  He’s started having a company produce the boards, and another doing the cases, and then he builds them.  The price isn’t great (about 100 bucks), but compared to the cost of the insane component cables for GCN, it’s not that bad.  The EON HD is also a good alternative and somewhat accessible and runs for $150.  Anywho, I’ll be testing this thing out and capping some footage and maybe some comparisons to show what it does.

Next, I jumped on the FPGA bandwagon and got a Super NT, which should hopefully be shipping out any day now.  I’ll be writing as an extensive of a write-up and maybe video review of this if possible.  For those who don’t know FPGAs (Full Programmable Gate Array) can be programmed in a such a way that they can simulate hardware and act basically 100% to the original.  Some on the internet have said that the Super NT actually takes it a step further and may be slightly better than the original Super Nintendo.  Of course, there have been a number of clones for the SNES for years, but a majority of these are software emulation based and dump the cart onto a rom.  The prime example is the infamous Retron and their Retron5.  I won of these things, and mileage seems to vary, but mine was an utter piece of trash that barely seems to work or even turn on.

Some of the next steps are to get the Ultra HDMI mod for N64.  Which, for the moment is the best option for getting a decent signal from the N64.  The system suffers from a blur that seems to be caused by a kind of anti-aliasing the hardware is pushing on everything.  This option is however, SUPER expensive.  Pre-modded consoles will set you back about 400 bucks, and the mod itself runs for nearly 200 bucks not including installation.  Would really be nice to see someone do an FPGA of this bad boy and name it the Ultra 64…just sayin’.

Following the N64, a big goal is to get an NES with similar capabilities.  There are few options for this, such as the AVS made by retroUSB, and the more infamous Analogue NT (and NT Mini).  The latter is currently unavailable, but if it were readily available it’d run you about 500 bucks depending on which you choose.  The AVS is much more reasonably priced at about 185 bucks.  Analogue’s system is seen as the superior of the two due to sheer options and outputs.  However, the latter is what’s suspected made the cost so high.  The NT is built with an FPGA and old original NES parts.  So my fear of running out to get an FPGA NES is that Analogue may see the success of the Super NT and just make a cheaper version of their first two FPGA iterations they did for the NES.  I’m sure I’d be happy either way though.

Now, it may seem like I’m really focusing on Nintendo systems here.  Because…I am.  Nintendo was my first love, and while I started on a C64 and Atari 2600 the NES really pushed me into the console world.  Though, the Dreamcast is probably one of my favorite systems.  On that end, the DC does VGA with the right cables, so I would just need an VGA to HDMI adapter to cap stuff from that.  I never owned a Genesis or Master System and these are high priority.  The great thing about most all Sega systems, is that they’re all RGB ready but just need the right cables.  Of course, to the get best picture an upscaler like the OSCC or the super expensive Framemeister is necessary.  The latter being one of the biggest things I want in order to get the best quality on my HDTV as well as offering content on YouTube/Twitch.  I’ll get there someday soon.

The great thing about focusing on retro recently is that, for those who don’t know (even though I mentioned it above), I live in Japan.  Japan is an amazing place to pick up old retro games, especially here in Tokyo.  Working in Akihabara also helps (but not my wallet).  Also Japanese people generally take excellent care of their things and it’s rare that I’ve come across a game that just didn’t work at all without a bit of cleaning with my friend isoproply alcohol (91%+).

So in the future expect a steadier stream of content from Chris, hopeful guest contributors, and myself in the near future!

 

Author EJ Howson
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