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The UKFF Retro Gaming Thread

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I had a bit of birthday money and didn't really have anything I wanted or needed. I'd recently been reading about the PS Vita and how they've been quite hackable for a while now. I had an original Vita from new when they first came out in 2012, but sold it a few years ago when I reaslied there was little worth playing on it, and given how expensive the memory cards were, it wasn't a particulary cheap gaming platform. Since then, I'd gained a bit of a crush on the Japan-only aqua blue slim model they released a few years back. So, I decided to try and track down a brand new one and to see if I could set it up as some sort of ultimate portal emulator machine.

First thing I realised was that despite being 7 years old and a format that largely failed, Vitas hold their price. They've also increased in price a bit since Sony stopped making them, meaning it was gong to be a bit of an investment rather than a punt.

A few UK eBay listings had the unit I was after, but nothing was new and condition varied. I then found a seller in Japan with some new-old stock in hand and who would ship to the UK for free. The cost in sterling was fluctuating daily, but on the day I decided to pull the trigger it worked out at almost exactly ÂŁ200. Luckily, on said day, eBay had a voucher for 20% off some electrical items and it worked on the Vita, making it a slightly more palatable ÂŁ160 all in. (In the 3 weeks since buying the Vita, the cheapest I've seen for a new unit like mine is now around ÂŁ240)

Shipping took about 3 weeks, but I had constant SMS updates from Royal Mail, even when it left Japan. When it arrived, the seller had described it on the outside of the packaging as faulty and with a value of 2,000 Yen - about £14. That meant, no import tax to pay. Brilliant!

As it was new, the seller wasn't able to tell me which version of the firmware it had installed. This was quite important, as different firmware version provide slightly different possibilities of installing custom alternatives. From the serial number and a bit of digging around online, I was able to guess the likely version of firmware and so hopefully knew it was going to offer a good hacked experience. 

Luckily, when it arrived, my detective work proved to be accurate. I was now the owner of a brand new, Japanese aqua blue PS Vita running stock 3.63 firmware - the holy grail! Having never held the newer slim model, I was surprised at how much slimmer and lightweight they are compared to the old OLED models. They were always applauded for the screen, but I actually prefer the LCD in the slim version. I always felt the OLED screen made things feel a bit flat, so I'm very happy with the upgraded hardware.

Since ordering it, I'd bought a few more bits that I would need. The expensive memory card problem was solved a few years back by something called SD2Vita, which is a plugin that can run on custom firmware that allows for a standard micro SD card to be inserted into the game slot and mounted as the console's primary storage.

I also bought a 256gb micro SD card (I wasn't messing around here!), a case and little bag to keep it in.

As soon as it came, I followed a guide that I'd read online and was able to downgrade the firmware to 3.6. I was then able to install custom firmware (ENSO) back up to version 3.65 and all the plugins that I would need to start loading non-signed apps and games.

I also made use of something call NoPayStation (I'd suggest Googling this stuff, rather than break any forum rules by posting links to such things). NPS allows you to download any (yes really!) PS One, PSP, PS Vita or PS3 game straight to your PC. It also allows you to download any DLC released for each game, and also compatibility packs for Vita titles that require a newer version of the firmware that you've hacked. It's all very clever and I have no idea where the games are coming from.

Using NPS, I've been able to download and install around 60 (so far) PS Vita games, and there are some real gems that I totally missed the first time I was a Vita owner.

But, the important part was retro gaming. I did quite a bit of research as to what was the best way to emulate each system. All leads came back to RetroArch, which is a popular front end for many different emulators. I've looked into this before (if you've ever tried RetroPie on a Raspberry Pi, this is basically built on top of RetroArch, and obfuscates a lot of the crapness of it). I've never been keen on RetroArch and have found it unnecessarily complicated and obtuse, but the online Vita community seemed to suggest it was the best option. So, I stuck with it and through a lot of reading, trial and error, and a bit of luck, I've managed to get it setup to emulate 16 different systems.

Since the Vita arrived around 3 weeks ago, I've spent many hours tinkering and trying stuff out. My wife asked me if I've actually played anything on it yet, and the truth is I haven't really. I've been busy getting all the ROMs sorted, cataloged and sorted into system-specific playlists with all the correct thumbnail images. It's geeky, for sure, but I've really enjoed doing it and I've got lots left to do.

One of the systems the Vita emulates perfectly is the PSP. This runs outside of RetroArch, using it's own app called Adrenaline. When you launch it, the Vita actually becomes a PSP, with the startup screen and sound. You then arrive at the PSP menu system and it works just as if you had an actual PSP in your hand. You then select the memory card, and all the games you've added to your SD card show and can be launched. I can finally spend hours playing Ridge Racer again. Heaven.

An interesting thing about this is that there is no N64 emulator for the Vita. However, they is one for the PSP. So, I installed it onto my virtual PSP memory card, entered the PSP app, launched it, and it worked! It's very much a proof of concept, as No Mercy runs at about 3fps, as does Goldeneye, but Mario 64 is fully playable. That's madness to me.

Anyway, here are some pictures in case you're interested.

 

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Edited by scratchdj

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I recently ditched my laptop to use  a tablet, and I don’t regret the decision at all.

However, I’m now without a way of playing Monkey Island.

Whats the best ways outside of a laptop to play it, any advice? 

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6 minutes ago, RedRooster said:

I recently ditched my laptop to use  a tablet, and I don’t regret the decision at all.

However, I’m now without a way of playing Monkey Island.

Whats the best ways outside of a laptop to play it, any advice? 

ScummVM to emulate it.

I'm pretty sure you can use the touchscreen to play too.

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Konami announced a few more games for the PC Engine Mini a few days ago. Apparently they've done a little deal with Namco and Splatterhouse is going to be one of the games included in what's now 57 titles. 

https://www.polygon.com/2019/8/8/20791763/turbografx-16-mini-games-list-pc-engine-konami

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Of all the classic consoles that one looks the most interesting to me, maybe as we never got the system and it's even more obscure than the Neo Geo.

The new Megadrive mini is getting good but not perfect reviews, it's much better than the atgames rubbish but there's still some issues like audio lag. It's not typical M2 quality but most won't notice anything wrong.

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I wonder whether the issue i because M2 are generally software guys.

I agree @Merzbow, I always wanted to play/own a PC Engine. They looked truly fascinating. I have an emulator and a shedload of ROMs on my PC. For a machine that is technically 8-bit there are some brilliant games  on there. The port of Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition is brilliant. Better than the Megadrive version, and I'd say it gives the SNES a run for its money. It'd be awesome if Konami could wangle a deal with Capcom to stick that on there.

It's  not out until March, but if I get the money for it at  Christmas I'm seriously contemplating pre-ordering one.

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It's a really good selection of games, but it looks like unless you stick it on a table it'd be a bit awkward to use. It'd be good to build a cabinet around it.

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I have the Raspberry Pi 3 and it’s spot on. It came pre-loaded but I went out of my way to learn very basic Python Coding and changed  some of the visuals and settings. Got wireless Ps3 pads working on it too. Drag and drop games on and off, real easy.

They just released 4 which by the sounds of it finally has near-perfect emulation of N64, Saturn and Dreamcast which the 3 can’t handle.

 

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My mate's over from Colombia for a few weeks. We're having a geeky day today and I spotted Bubble Bobble is on PS4. I'm pretty sure I've got it on a Taito compilation somewhere for PS2, but this'll be more immediate fun when we've had enough of Street Fighter and SoulCalibur. 

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On 8/18/2019 at 8:58 AM, FelatioLips said:

I have the Raspberry Pi 3 and it’s spot on. It came pre-loaded but I went out of my way to learn very basic Python Coding and changed  some of the visuals and settings. Got wireless Ps3 pads working on it too. Drag and drop games on and off, real easy.

They just released 4 which by the sounds of it finally has near-perfect emulation of N64, Saturn and Dreamcast which the 3 can’t handle.

 

Thinking of doing a bit of python coding myself . Just to learn . How did you find it ? What resources did you use ?

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54 minutes ago, RancidPunx said:

Thinking of doing a bit of python coding myself . Just to learn . How did you find it ? What resources did you use ?

https://github.com/RetroPie/RetroPie-Setup/wiki

Mostly this but I googled specific things I wanted to do and then used some of these codes as references to experiment a bit.

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As a software developer of over 20 years, I would say Python is the easiest and simplest language to learn, so its a great place to start.

Whilst I haven’t looked at these and therefore can’t comment on their quality, these may (or may not) be helpful to you.

https://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/free-learn-programming-ebooks-python-sql-html-css-ruby-java-more-at-google-play-books-3284389

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