Quick Play – Phalanx (Gameboy Advance)

 Phalanx

A stripped down port of the SNES game, which was average to begin with. Perhaps the GBA’s display just isn’t suited for shmups. Anyway, pretty avergage shooter with average mechanics and lackluster music. Super subpar.

Play Time 20 Minutes
Play Again? Nope
Collectible? No
Value $5

 

 

 

Want to try it?
eBay – Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS)
Amazon – Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS)

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Savoring The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

So no doubt every gamer on the planet was playing Zelda for the past month since it came out. I had decided to delay my playing until I was able to secure a Nintendo Switch System. It’s sad that in 2017, a gamer who wants to play the newest system can’t get his or her hands on one unless they pay out of their ass for one on eBay. Seems like everyone and their grandmothers are scalping these days. Buy stuff at MSRP and sell it for profit! Who needs real jobs? I then decided to stick it out with the Wii U and play Zelda on that until I can get a Switch.

Not really surprised, Nintendo Switches are continuing to sell out and the only place available seems to be eBay. I was finally able to get an order in through Amazon when they had a small restock of Grey Switches. At the time, I was already a couple of hours into BotW on the Wii U, the transition to Switch was seamless. The different is so minute I wasn’t sure if it’s a good thing. This means the Switch is not a huge step up in terms of power compared to the Wii U. In any case, this does not take away from how breathtaking the new Zelda game is.

My favorite Zelda game is Ocarina of Time. I think it has storyline, music and gameplay in perfect harmony. I remember many fond memories of OOT, though I can’t say the same about the Nintendo 64. The N64 hasn’t aged well at all, where as other systems(with the help of upscalers) look surprisingly good even today, the N64 is still a blurry mess, except back in the day, alot of forgiven and Zelda: OOT was loved by all. Thankfully, OOT is available in many other forms such as the wonderful 3DS version(the 3D effects are surprisingly good and relevant) and the GameCube’s Zelda Collector’s Edition. Breath of the Wild also invoked that sense of wonder the first time I played it. The world is huge and so far I’ve only seen just a fraction of what’s out there. One of the biggest elements of the game is gathering of loot and cooking the materials into food and elixirs, which is fun and exciting to see what you can cook up with. Combat mostly stayed the same from the other Zelda games, actually, I believe the controls are exactly the same as OOT. The music so far is pretty unmemorable. The different abilities the Sheikah slate grants you are pretty interesting so far and the ability to hunt and mount animals is always fun. The funnest thing would have to be the Hang Glider. Climb to the highest part of the land and just soar and glide, just take in the view!

Overall, I am very impressed with Breath of the Wild so far and can’t wait to see what else the game has stored!

 

 

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Quick Play – Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS)

 Resident Evil: Deadly Silence

An “upgraded” port of the original Resident Evil 1. The upgrades aren’t enough for me, so I’d rather play the original PS1 version for nostalgia reasons. Graphics are comparable but control is a bit weird. Though 180 degree turn is a surprising welcome update.

Play Time 10 Minutes
Play Again? Maybe
Collectible? Yes
Value $25

 

Want to try it?
eBay – Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS)
Amazon – Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (Nintendo DS)

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My Collection – Second Shelf

As of 3/13/2017, this is what I have on my second shelf. I haven’t gotten to alot of these games yet, but hoping to go through them soon!

PCE CD – Ai Chouaniki
PCE CD – Astralius
PCE CD – Bikkuriman Daijikai
PCE CD – Burai: Yadama no Yuushi Densetsu
PCE CD – Burai II: Yamikoutei no Gyakushuu
PCE CD – Chou Aniki
PCE CD – Choujikuu Yousai Macross 2036
PCE CD – Cyber City Oedo 808
PCE CD – Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes
PCE CD – Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes II
PCE CD – Efera & Jiliora
PCE CD – Emerald Dragon
PCE CD – Fantastic Night Dreams Cotton
PCE CD – Farjius no Jakoutei: Neo Metal Fantasy
PCE CD – Faussete Amour
PCE CD – Fighting Street
PCE CD – Final Zone II
PCE CD – Forgotten Worlds
PCE CD – Golden Axe
PCE CD – GS Mikami
PCE CD – Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman 3: Ikai no Princess
PCE CD – The Legend of Xanadu
PCE CD – Mashou Denki La Valeur
PCE CD – Prince of Persia
PCE CD – Puyo Puyo CD
PCE CD – Record of Lodoss War
PCE CD – Red Alert
PCE CD – Seirei Senshi Spriggan
PCE CD – Sidearms Special
PCE CD – Snatcher
PCE CD – Snatcher Pilot Disk
PCE CD – Space Adventure Cobra: Kuroryuuou no Densetsu
PCE CD – Space Adventure Cobra II: Densetsu no Otoko
PCE CD – Spriggan Mark 2: Re Terraform Project
PCE CD – Super Darius
PCE CD – Valis: The Phantasm Soldier
PCE CD – Valis II
PCE CD – Valis III
PCE CD – Valis IV
PCE CD – Xak: Xak I – II
PCE CD – Ys Book I & II
PCE CD – Ys III: Wanderers from Ys
PCE CD – Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys

PCE – Doraemon: Meikyuu Daisakusen
PCE – Doraemon: Nobita no Dorabian Night
PCE – Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman
TG16 – Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
TGCD – Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes
TGCD – Gate of Thunder
TGCD – Lords of Thunder
TGCD – Mysterious Song
TGCD – Valis II
TGCD – Ys Book I & II
TGCD – Ys III: Wanderers from Ys

IMG_1814

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Beginner’s Guide to Upscaling Your Retro Games

Disclaimer: This is called a Beginner’s Guide is because I am the beginner, and I am just chronicling my own experience delving into the world of upscaling. If you want a more technical and seasoned perspective, please visit Fudoh’s site.

Not long ago, I was begrudgingly playing retro games on a flatscreen LCD TV not knowing that there is a whole world out there dedicated to making retro games look better on modern displays. Once I dipped my feet in and saw the amazing improvement in display quality, I was in love again. I live in NYC and with the limited space, I could no longer keep a CRT around to play older games. I still owned retro consoles but because of the terrible quality of older games on newer TV sets, I was turned off and avoided playing them altogether pretty much. But now I can enjoy these old classics in their proper splendor once again thanks to upscaling.

Let’s just preface this by saying I am definitely not a pro when it comes to upscaling, I am still very green to the whole scene and still learning the ropes. But what I do know, I want to share with people who haven’t dived in, or people who are afraid to dive into the upscaling circuit due to high prices. Framemeister isn’t the only option! Although everything I have read about Framemeister is very positive, but I have no personal experience with the FM…yet. But hopefully, after reading this article, I would have convinced a few to at least to want to try a few affordable options just to have a taste of upscaling.

How I started?

To be honest, I never thought too much about upscaling. I always thought “Why would I spend all that money into an upscaler when I can pick up a good CRT from the side walk for free?” That was a younger me, who had a spacious attic all to hisself at my parent’s house. How time have changed me! Now I live in a squinty NYC apartment with two kids and a mini corner in the living room I begged my wife for as my “gaming space”. One day while chatting with a fellow GameTZer, somehow the conversation turned to upscaling and he hooked me up with his spare DVDO iScan VP20.  That’s when it all started. I spent alot of time and effort(also some good amount of money) pursuing this rather expensive venture of making my LCD display graphics I remember playing on a 27″ CRT at my parents’ place. It’s been an interesting journey and while I am still looking to experiment with other processors and upscalers, I am very happy with the results.

Here is what I am working with:

  • Samsung 32 Inch LED Smart TV UN32J5205AFXZA
  • DVDO iScan VP30 w/ABT-102 Card
  • Sega CDX System

As you can see these images look quite stunning and the colors are bright and crisp. The TV I have is just a low-mid tier consumer grade smart TV, the specs are rather meh if you want to look them up. But I was able to get these clean images. The DVDO processor is doing the heavy lifting. Let me remind you that I am not a techie with intimate knowledge of upscalers and deinterlacers. If you want a more technical perspective from a pro, you can always visit here. From one beginner to another, with no technical jargon(because I don’t know technical jargon well enough), here is what you need to know to get started.

Note: Keep in mind that alot of these processors and machines are not streamlined like today’s Apple devices, there WILL be hiccups and weird quirks you will have to solve. Some might be easy, and some might be hair-pullingly hard to diagnose. But keep positive and always ask for help. Look for the resources section for more details on getting help.

What Is Upscaling?

Upscaling is converting a low resolution image into higher definition. Everything from the 8-bit and 16 bit era is normally displayed in 240p. So the aim here is to display 240p source material to 480p, 720p, and even 1080p and everything in between while making it look good and proportional. Sometimes a better(high end)display can tremendously help with the upscaling, but let’s assume we are working with a normal consumer grade display(sub $200 LCD TV).

What Do I Need?

Besides having the game system of your choice(though some systems may need additional modification), a TV/display of some sort, you will need:

  • a upscaler/processor (I will only be talking about DVDO machines, there are other options)
  • a cable enabling Scart/RGB
  • a cable connecting to the system

It’s that simple. Of course, if you have multiple systems you would like to connect to the upscaler(at the same time) then you will need to put that into consideration(a scart switch).

This Is What I Use

DVDO iScan VP30 – The DVDO VP20 and VP30 are nearly identical and for the purpose of this article, they will be treated the same. Price range around $100-$160 on eBay, depending on condition and what is bundled with it(power supply, remote, etc.)

Scart to BNC Cable – This cable enables the DVDO to be able to take SCART, which is a European standard.

BNC Plugs – These are connected to the BNC cable so they can be plugged into the back of the DVDO

Scart Cable for Various Systems – Cables varies in price depending on their quality, $10 is fine for a regular cable.

Systems Compatible With RGB Natively

  • Sega Master System
  • Sega Genesis Model 1 and 2, CDX, X’Eye
  • Sega Saturn
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • Super Nintendo Model 1
  • Atari Jaguar
  • Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD
  • Sony Playstation

Systems Requiring Modification to Display RGB

  • Atari 2600
  • NES
  • Super Nintendo Model 2/Mini/Jr.
  • Nintendo 64
  • 3DO
  • TurboGrafx 16/PCE

For more information on each system and the best way to output, please visit RetroRGB

Experience and Thoughts

I am quite happy with the performance of DVDO’s machines. The output quality I’ve tried 3 different models, DVDO iScan HD+, DVDO VP20, and DVDO VP30. The HD+ is quite a bit cheaper than the other two, however, it doesn’t take in any HDMI and doesn’t haveHDMI out(easily solved by using a DVI to HDMI adapter or cable). All 3 models can take in multiple sources including S-Video, Component/RGB, Composite and HDMI(except HD+). VP20 and VP30 are nearly identical in performance, just some small differences: VP30 has 4 HDMI INs and has VGA Analogue in.

I would recommend any 3 of those models, if you must have HDMI or just don’t want to have to deal with DVI then go for VP20 or VP30. All 3 are excellent starter processors to get you a taste of RGB.

Here’s my approximate cost:

DVDO iScan VP30/VP20 – $120-$160

Scart to BNC Cable – $35-$45

BNC Plugs – $1

Scart Cable for Various Systems – $10-$30

For approximately $200, you can get started on RGB!

 

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