Does Emulation Really Hurt Someone?

You can spend hundreds of euros to retro video games. Where do these games come from? Some games are sold for a low price to shops that sell games that sell them forward at a more realistic price. This is how this field functions. You really cannot blame them for running a business like this. You have to get your living from somewhere. And game shops are very valuable for us game hobbyists in that they deliver us many games, consoles and all this other stuff, also, that we need to keep our hobby in a big role in our lives.

How about individuals that are selling their old video games? Once again there is this issue of money involved. You have something valuable and someone wants add just that game to his or her collection. Why not sell your game? Of course you cannot sell it at such a high price that the game shop is selling it. This makes sense, right?

Well, some people try to find a game at a low price and then sell it to someone with a higher price. This is familiar to many of us. It’s called scalping. I did notice this rice in prices. I bought Silent Hill 3 for PS2 in 2017 from a game shop. It cost me 15 euros back then. Recently I saw this same game. Its price was 75 euros. Actually, I don’t want to get rid of this game so I am not going to sell it. But if I was after an economical win situation I would probably sell this game.

So the money goes right here to the individual that is selling the game. Alternatively this amount of money goes to a game shop. This doesn’t make a lot of sense when you consider that big game companies are telling us that it is harmful to their business that consumers are installing emulators and running rom files on them instead of buying a physical copy of that game.

It might be the case that these huge companies would like to make more remakes out of old games. Why not bring more of those mini consoles to the markets? There would certainly be a demand for original Xbox mini console or a GameCube one. This isn’t however anything close to the reality. This is only a dream. While we have seen many classic mini consoles there isn’t going to be one made out of every legendary retro game console.

What if you bought a really powerful computer that would have enough disk space for a huge collection of game roms that could run these games on different emulators? I certainly find this option appealing. I do like buying and collecting old hardware and games. Just that I have faced issues with old hardware. They don’t seem to last for a long time. Dust might be the enemy. And I don’t have the skill necessary to fix these consoles. Currently I have several broken consoles in my storage in my apartment. It might be nice to get them repaired but I am currently also considering of getting a computer with some retro emulation so I wouldn’t have to worry about games not functioning.

Where should you start with this new idea? There are complete operating systems dedicated to retro game emulation. These are open source so they don’t actually cost you anything. You just have to have a powerful enough computer if you want to run games of PS2 or GameCube. If there is enough power in your PC you can even run PS4 games on an emulator, today. You can install, of course, emulators on your laptop or desktop. I myself am interested in this idea of having a PC that I would only use for console emulation. So, I don’t want to run Windows 10 or even any regular Linux operating system. There is something better for retro gaming.

I am talking about a retro gaming operating system. It works like this. You just install the OS and then upload the rom files, that are the actual games, to it. Then you plug your game pad and start up a game. You only turn the PC off or on and you have this simple but effective user interface that you can operate with your game pad. This is what I am talking about.

I am going to mention Lakka OS and Recalbox at this point. I have some experience with Lakka OS as I had it on a PC for maybe some months some time ago. I really liked this system. Although I found out that I wasn’t able to play anything that would require some serious power. I could run PS1 games but I would have liked to run PS2 and GameCube on this system. I just lacked the power. I am hoping that I would be able to get a more powerful PC for this purpose.

You can definitely find out more about Lakka OS and/or Recalbox. You will find them through your favorite search engine. These kind of setups can also run earlier games, like SNES or NES or something else, smoothly. Recalbox is supporting several tens of different video game consoles. Always also be critical about these thoughts I have provided here. Please use your own caution and thought when trying to accomplish your game library. Remember who put these games together and have an appreciation towards them. That might be another topic for another blog post. So, I think that’s it for this time. Thanks for reading!

Some Problems with Retro Hardware

As you have probably noticed I have been lately playing lots of PlayStation 2 games. My console is fairly new. What I mean is that I have only owned it for under a year or so. It is now malfunctioning. I am having problems with audio and video being cut off in the middle of playing a game like Need for Speed Prostreet or Tenchu – Wrath of Heaven. They come back after some seconds but what it comes to playing this is very disturbing.

Well what can you expect? This device is old. PS2 was released over 20 years ago. Would you expect some similar device, like computer, to function after this long of a time? Probably not.

This isn’t the first time that I am coming across issues with old hardware. I have had Xbox, Xbox 360 and earlier I had one other PS2 that started to malfunction. It couldn’t read the disc anymore. Dust can be one issue. One issue is that these old parts just aren’t reliable anymore after all this time that has passed.

You can, of course, try to fix the console yourself. This can be tricky. Not everyone is capable of doing this on their own. You can contact your closest electronic repair shop and ask them how much would they charge for the repairment of your console. There is also one more option and it seems to be an interesting one.

I am talking about emulation. You have retro games but you aren’t able to play them since your gaming console is broken. Why not make copies of them for your own use? I think it is reasonable since the console is broken, right? And with games that are on DVD this shouldn’t be an issue. What we know is that PS1 and PS2 games can be ripped to ISO files (files that end in .iso) with proper tools (software).

There are many options available. Some years ago I came across NVIDIA Shield TV. It is a device that makes your regular television a smart device that is basically operating on Android. You can install RetroArch to it. It is this kind of a forntend that you can run retro games on. It combines several emulator together. I found this to be handy with for example PS1 games. You could even hook your PS4 controller to the Shield TV with Bluetooth. You can install RetroArch on several devices. Windows and Linux are also supported along with Raspberry Pi.

You can also use a full Linux operating system on any PC that you can also hook up to any television that has the connectivity required. That is means to transfer video and audio from your dedicated computer to your television. One popular opertating system of this kind is Lakka OS.

Lakka OS boots up to its own user interface. You only need to go through some menus with your controller. This can be any USB controller that you might have. Lakka OS supports several retro gaming platforms including NES, SNES, Mega Drive and so on. The full list can be found from your favorite search engine. I can tell you that this list is long.

What I am most interested about concerning emulation, like using Lakka OS or RetroArch, is playing games of PS1, PS2 and GameCube. I can currently play my NES, SNES, Game Boy, Mega Drive and Master System games with my Retro Trio console and with the assistance of some adapters (Master System->Mega Drive adapter and SNES->Game Boy adapter). I also have a Mega Drive Mini also for playing Mega Drive games. I also play PC games. I also play games on newer systems like Xbox Series X, PS3, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. As you can imagine my setup is huge.

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas concerning playing retro games. The hardware isn’t perfect. It does wear out with time. Software emulation might provide a more stable way for a gamer to enjoy his/her retro games for a long time.

Could This Be The Answer?

With all these hardware consoles you get a sense that there could be an easier solution. This answer would be in this case one single personal computer connected to the 4K telly with a single HDMI cord. It would take only one HDMI port. This isn’t a hallucination. There already are several computers available for this task. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the power that one modern PC today holds can handle almost any gaming console emulator from NES to PS4.

You would need one PC. This would cost something from 300 euros to several thousands of euros. You would also need a controller. I prefer Xbox Series S/X controller when it comes to emulator gaming. If you would like to change a controller between systems you would need to assign keys over and over again. You could be able to make a profile for every controller of every system. However it would be easier to play all systems with only one controller.

The first thing you need with this kind of setup is a reliable Linux operating system dedicated to emulation. At first it seems I would choose Lakka OS. It is a nice emulator that allows you to run several different emulators of different gaming systems. After setting up you don’t need to actually unplug your controller or get to your keyboard at all. So, I prefer Lakka OS. There are other operating systems available, like Retropie, Recalbox and Batocera. The last mentioned can be run from inserted USB stick without any other kind of installation.

If you want to play emulated games on systems like GameCube, PS2, original Xbox and Sega Dreamcast, you will need a powerful computer. I would say that you need more than a Raspberry Pi 4 can provide. I am not going to give you detailed specifications here. We can of course check what are the recommended requirements for an emulator like PCSX2. We can get to a conclusion that you would need at least 8 GB of RAM and a GPU with something like 4 GB of VRAM and capability to run DirectX 11 or OpenGL 4.5. Well, what about the processor? The processor would need to support AVX2, have a rating of 2600 and have four cores with or without hyper threading.

This kind of an emulation station could be your solution to this very interesting question. As prices of games are ricing this would make your wallet heavier at least for a while and enable you to play lots of retro game content. There is of course also the question about breaking every copyright law that exists. This is a difficult matter. Let’s just say that it is not legal to load hundreds of games from internet for free. While this is illegal there seems to be very few choices. You can pay hundreds of euros of games that cannot or are very hard to rip to ROM file and play with your emulator. Some emulators need also the BIOS of the system they are emulating.

Nintendo has been busy bringing its retro content available for those that have an online Nintendo account. You can probably figure how popular retro games currently are. It must be stated that it would be nice, for us game hobbyists, to be able to somehow get our hands to this content for a reasonable price. Playing original games on original hardware is becoming more and more expensive. And it must be said that game consoles don’t last for several decades and must be at some point at least repaired.

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