A short time ago we reported on RetroBlox, the world's first modular HD retro gaming system. Designed to support a wide range of games via swappable modules - including CD-based systems, which is quite unique - RetroBlox will be hitting Kickstarter soon, but it will have a new name: Polymega.
The team behind the console have also shown off the system's user interface, as well as the wireless controller it will ship with.
The Polymega base unit will offer CD-ROM support for systems like the PC Engine, PlayStation and Sega / Mega CD, but that's not all - another CD format will be confirmed next week:
This system is shaping up to be one of the most interesting "clone" consoles we've yet seen - we'll be keeping a close eye on Polymega as it develops.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Tue 6th June, 2017.
I'm highly tempted to get this after I fried my Retron 5 by putting the wrong AC Adapter into it...
Their logo reminds me a bit of the BMW M series.
The "A new challenger approaches" line suggests maybe Nintendo related. Gamecube? Though probably not. More likely Saturn or Dreamcast.
I won't be purchasing it because I've out-retro-d myself on virtual console already, but this seems like a neat and new way to play old games.
I wonder why they used the Xbox button labels. Seems like it would make more sense the use the SNES ones.
Color me interested. If the next platform support is the Saturn, I just might get this thing.
It's an almost perfect anagram for polygamy.
Controller actually looks solid.
The fact that you can rip your own physical games to this is really cool. Not sure if other similar systems offer that function.
I'm highly tempted by this.
@sevex My guess is that they'll eventually add Dreamcast and Xbox support to it at some point too but if you're a Nintendo player seeing the letters mess up does become a bothersome.
Imagine if this thing works as advertised. I'm all over the Kickstarter when it's announced.
I like it.
@retro_player_22 Oh man, Dreamcast support would be amaaaazing.
My guess would be Dreamcast over Saturn. We've had the Dreamcast cracked open for over a decade now, while the Saturn just got cracked last year.
Still, if they manage to pull off Saturn, consider my interest piqued... hell as if it isn't already.
If Polymega can read ALL PS1 games regardless of its Region, ALL SNES Cartridges......
I'm going to guess Neo Geo CD
Looks like a nice attempt at cloning and playing old century games but still need a lot to prove for me to get excited. Also would be nice if they would at least put more controller ports on the NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn modules so we don't have to rely on using multi-taps anymore.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE If it's Saturn then this will be a must-have.
@bstoppel My thoughts exactly. They're cheap, easy to come by, and emulation of them has already been perfected, so it would be a logical choice, especially to widen the appeal and give it some more variety.
@retro_player_22 There's no Saturn module (yet)...
Two words: me likey.
If this cam get shipped to the U.K then consider me sold. It's far more viable than those awkward Sega Mega Drive clones...
Important question, though: can you stack modules? That hasn't become clear from the video. I'm potentially interested, depending on the quality of the emulation (or is it FPGA?) and the prices, but I would really hate to continuously have to switch out modules all the time if I'd decide to play some games from various systems...
Yeah, this is starting to sound like it could be something pretty awesome.
I still wonder about Internal Memory Card inside Polymega.
Will it work like PS1 virtual memory card inside ps3 ?
I believe every supported game can save to the console's onboard memory (plus SD card support).
EDIT: I mean, they're also letting us take screenshots, record clips and I think even stream from the system itself. Having virtual memory card support should be basic necessity at this point.
Thats pretty awesome
If I understand, the big deal about this is that it is hardware, NOT emulation right? Wasn't that the point of the swapable things? It actually plays your game FROM your game, not just by dumping a rom. But still able to apply patches like translations?
If so then THAT is what i'm interested for.
@sevex I know, right?
I doubt you could stack the ones with carts anyway because it looks like the cart is inserted vertically.
Also, PolyMega is a terrible name.
Wow fantastic interface and idea. That controller look noice!
I'm pretty sure the reveal next week is Neo Geo CD: I seem to remember them dropping one or two hints on their forum some time ago. But I would love it to be Sega Saturn or Dreamcast.
I was pretty disappointed when I saw the controller was just a standard-format dual analog controller. Genesis (and N64 and Saturn, if they do those) games really need six face buttons to work naturally. The only options for that anymore are the Retron's controller and Hori's old EX2 Turbo Xbox 360 controller (which can go for $100 used now). I was hoping that a modular system that's meant to encompass just about every old console all in one would have more thought put into its controller and not just be a generic PC gamepad.
At least it can use original controllers.
The controller looks exactly the same as Gamesir's pad
That looks pretty darn sleek I must say.
WOAH... this is kinda what I was hoping the Switch was going to be. I'm going to have to keep my eye on this one.
I actually really like the look of this. It will be great to have a substitutre to using my TG-16 as i fear it will break one day. My only issue is the controller, this is a fairly cheap android controller that can be found online for about £15. I have personally never tried one so i just hope it feels nice.
@speedracer216 You got a point there, so perhaps you could stack one cartridge based module on top of one CD-based module. Would be a nice combo...
And yes, the name isn't really great, but RetroBlox also wasn't all that special, so what else should they name it?
@samuelvictor Thanks for the support, but unfortunately, @speedracer216 popped that soap bubble for us, and he makes a valid point about it...
There is a lot of scepticism for this console among the more technical communities. They've made some claims regarding their "hybrid emulation" that many people who have written emulators or FPGA consoles would argue is, if not technically impossible, is so incredibly difficult as to be effectively impossible. Having written an emulator, I can tell you that even achieving "good enough to play fine" timing accuracy is hard, cycle-accuracy is much harder, but then adding electrical-signaling level timing accuracy on top of that?
Kevtris thinks it's flat out BS. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt since it's not technically impossible, and I'd love to be proven wrong (there are benefits to their claimed approach), but they've made some very incredible claims that they need to back up.
EDIT: It's worth pointing out that they have yet to demonstrate or prove anything from a technical standpoint at all, all public progress they've shown to date has involved marketing changes or user interface mockups/prototypes.
To their credit, they have shown it running games at various conventions and the like. Here it is at SoCal Retro Gaming Expo:
But truth be told, the Coleco Chameleon did the same thing with SNES games and... we all know how that turned out.
@SmaMan They didn't actually demonstrate two of their largest claims: their "hybrid emulation" or their claim that they will not be relying on any copyrighted BIOS files for the systems that rely on it. In fact, I saw a report that a demo that they did with the Sega CD did use the copyrighted BIOS, which they can't do in a shipping product.
I don't have any doubts that they're working on the system or that it's real. What I'm worried about is that they're selling the thing with some quite outlandish promises that I think they're going to walk back on, leaving us with a more generic ARM emulation box that isn't nearly as capable as their initial promises.
@Guspaz Right, and that's where a lot of my skepticism stems from as well. Who the hell knows what "hybrid emulation" even means?
The BIOS issue is also concerning. I didn't see the PS1 bootup screen in the above clip, but I've seen PS1 emulators that can skate around the need for a BIOS file. Sega CD, not so much.
I'm far from being sold on this, but I've been checking on their site every few weeks or so. I'm interested in what I can do with the system's own features. Being able to stream right from the console sounds like a neat idea, for example, but if the emulation of the games isn't up to par, what's the point?
What they mean by "hybid emulation" is well-understood (they intend for their emulator to interface with the real cartridge and/or CD in the same manner the real hardware would, which has benefits in terms of accuracy and the use of carts with co-processors, as opposed to all existing emulators for all platforms which rely on simple ROM dumps), but the actual implementation of that is extraordinarily difficult.
My understanding of the state of HLE emulation for PS1 BIOS replacement is that it's imperfect at best, but IIRC they've claimed that they're not using existing implementations, and there aren't even pre-existing implementations for most platforms. It's certainly possible for them to implement emulation of the BIOS for all these platforms: this one isn't a technical concern, but a time one. It doesn't seem possible that a team that small could do that much work in such a short amount of time.
@samuelvictor Yeah, mine too. But I do like the possibility of Neo Geo CD, though. Combine that with either SNES or Megadrive, and I'll be good for some time to come.
Now let's first wait and see if this system is going to be fully realized and what the actual retail price is going to be, and the price of modules. If they're going the FPGA way, it could become a pretty hefty price, especially with several modules...
@samuelvictor only CD support for Neo Geo wouldn't be that strange at all: the CD versions are cheaper, more easy to come by and those cartridges are HUGE, so I don't know if they could even make them fit into a module. The units seem to be quite small.
But since the other formats also support both CD and ROM, it could still be both, provided that the to be announced format actually is Neo Geo.
@samuelvictor As far as I can tell, most games that were popular back then, were also released on CD, and there were even a couple of exclusives. Most games that weren't released, were parts in a series, so for example: from the 12 or even more Fatal Fury/King of Fighters games, only half of them got a CD release, but those they did release, were the best games in the series, so not having the other six on CD isn't really a big loss.
But it is true that they were slow, though: single speed drives and because of the HUGE bump in sprite size, animations and such compared to other systems of the time, it did take way more time for games to load from those CD's.
But if you can back them up to the module, then that would actually be a moot point, so you'd have the best of both worlds: CD versions, which had better audio and frequently additional stuff, and because of the option to back them up, faster loading times as well.
Unless the system also emulates the loading times exactly as they were...
@samuelvictor True, and pretty much what I said, if you hadn't noticed yet.
They didn't make CD versions for ALL the games, but there were at least several CD versions from various series, and that would be enough to cater to most people.
You are more of a specialist/fan than the average gamer, I'd reckon, so no wonder you would want the specific games that they did NOT release on CD as well.
As for the Metal Slug example: personally, I liked the first two games the best, and in general, there isn't all that much variety to them, so missing out on 3 to X doesn't seem to be that much of a loss, but that is just my personal opinion.
I agree on Mark of the Wolves, since that was one of the best, if not THE best in the series.
But to make up for the losses, some really great CD versions of the cartridge based games were made, such as shown here in this video:
And then there were some great exclusives, such as Crossed Swords 2 and Ironclad (both also shown in the video), the latter is one of my favorites.
@samuelvictor The most obvious improvement of the CD's of course being the audio...
Sometimes with additional scores as well, so well worth a look in my opinion.
And the pad is definitely a pretty decent one.
A few years ago, I came across a site that offered converted ISO's of Neo Geo CD's that enabled them to be run natively on the Sega Dreamcast, hence my enthusiasm and above average knowledge on them. Nowadays, these discs can be found on any emulation site, like the iso zone or emuparadise, and they can be used with nearly every model Dreamcast without modding, so perhaps worth a look for you as well.
I'd definitely recommend Ironclad to start with, since that is one of the few true exclusives to the format.
@samuelvictor If you do decide to go and check these games out on the Dreamcast, be sure to check that the ISO's are ACTUAL CD versions. Some uploaders have simply slapped a Neo Geo emulator and a ROM on a disc, but obviously that's not the same.
@samuelvictor Yeah, I've read all about those versions. It appears that some "protos", as the unreleased betas of Neo Geo CD games were called, were ripped and reverse engineered into ROMs again, which would explain you being able to play one, but originally, it was a CD exclusive.
In the case of Ironclad, it was reverse engineered from a Wii VC file.
Here's some additional info:
You can also browse that site for more info on other special titles.
@samuelvictor Ha, the CD32. That sure brings back memories. I still got one of them stored in a bag somewhere. I got the SX32 module for it, which inserted into the FMV/VideoCD module slot, and gave the CD32 all kinds of extra connections, such as for a keyboard, mouse, printer, and you could also put a hard drive in there, basically turning it into an A1200 with a built-in CD drive.
Have a gander here...
@samuelvictor You're welcome.
Ah, Escom... yes. And don't forget Gateway, which also made an attempt to reinvent the Amiga brand, to no avail, obviously...
But there's actually still a quite active Amiga community going on both in Britain and in Germany and online you can find all kinds of reboots of systems with the newer AmigaOS, some even made new molds of the A500 and A1200 to put the new hardware in, and they can run 3D games as well.
The original A1200 also had a couple of basic 3D titles, most notably the last couple of Alien Breed games, and even ports of Doom and Quake.
As for the CD32: much like with the Neo Geo CD, there were a couple of exclusives, and CD versions of A500 & A1200 games regularly offered superior audio, and extras such as long intro animations and such, so it wasn't all straight ports of the disk versions.
To get your retro vibe going, here are some links:
And here's some links to show you what has been happening the past 5 years and some ongoing stuff for the future:
@samuelvictor Putting a custom computer in an A1200 case? Utter sacrilege, blasphemy!
They're actually meant to be replacements. The quality of the plastic is better than the original and it doesn't turn yellow after a number of years. They even come in colors. Here's a nice video review about it:
By the way: in my quick resumé of 3D games on Amiga, I forgot the excellent shooter called Gloom. I have that both on the CD32 and A1200 and it was great, especially for the time. Great sound effects and music as well.
@samuelvictor If by stock you mean an ECS A500 or A500+ then yes. Gloom could run on those systems, but you couldn't play full screen or resolution. On the A1200 with some extra fast RAM and on the CD32 it ran like a dream and also looked better:
There was also another one I forgot, an AGA exclusive called Fears. It wasn't as good as Gloom, though:
And to close of the list of what I have previously forgotten in the Amiga 3D FPS/shooter genre, here's two videos from Breathless and Genetic Species, another two games that were actually pretty decent.
Genetic Species: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl1hctZ8HnY
Those two required some pretty beefy A1200's, though. Or of course the almighty A4000...
@samuelvictor By the way: looking at these videos again reminded me how great the music in Gloom was. Also loved the meaty sound effects, VERY satisfying...
@samuelvictor Certainly. The inspiration obviously coming from Doom, which by the way was just as much pseudo 3D as these games were.
The ACTUAL first real 3D shooter on PC was Quake, which by the way also arrived on the expanded A1200 and A4000 in the final years of their existence...
@samuelvictor And then, many years down the line (probably 12 or 15) I was suddenly surprised by a HQ (not to be confused with HD, obviously) port of Quake 1 AND 2 on the (modded) Wii. Even though it wasn't in HD, it still looks and plays wonderfully, and Wiimote & nunchuck controls seem like a match made in heaven.
@samuelvictor Have you never played an FPS on the Wii then? Almost everyone knows that they control best with the standard Wiimote/nunchuck combo, because it's the closest thing to a mouse: point and shoot. No normal controller can compete, but it does take some getting used to, although in my case it was a pretty short time and before I knew it, it felt really natural.
And munchies? That reminds me of eating. Something I would strongly advice people NOT to do in the case of nunchucks...
I could send you a package via WeTransfer so you wouldn't have to go out and search for all the separate files, because it can be a real pain to get the correct file. The Wii program needs a certain Quake file that is of an exact size and has an official header, and a lot of files offered online just don't have that.
Just let me know and I'll send it to you via normal mail.
And obviously, you'd need a modded Wii, but I suppose you've already taken care of that.
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