There's really never been a better time to be a retro gamer. Thanks to digital stores, micro consoles and DIY emulation boxes, we now have access to decades of gaming content – most of which can be played on our modern-day HD televisions without having to invest in expensive custom AV cables or dust off original hardware. The appetite for vintage gaming has arguably played a huge part in this deluge of content, which means that, should you feel the urge to sample the classics of yesteryear, then it's not hyperbole to say you're practically spoilt for choice.
Of course, not all of these options are created equal. The NES Classic, for example, is the perfect entry point for casual players – it offers excellent emulation and comes with an authentic controller; another big plus is that it's created by Nintendo itself so is legally watertight and buying it allows you to reward the copyright owner of the original games (before reading on, yes this piece will indeed be talking about the shady practice of using ROMs, so if that kind of discussion brings you out in hives, we'd advise you navigate away from this page immediately). However, critics will point out that, although the emulation is superb, it's still software-based and therefore cannot be considered totally accurate – you're also limited by the fact that the NES Classic cannot be (officially) updated with new games.
Field-Programmable Gate Array chips are essentially chips which can be programmed to behave exactly like original hardware
That leads us to the other end of the retro gaming spectrum – the hardcore hobbyists who crave accuracy, freedom and customisation over officially-sanctioned product. The history of retro gaming emulation stretches back decades, and modern-day emulation boxes based on the Raspberry Pi are all the rage. These allow you to load up hundreds of ROMs (assuming you're at peace with that kind of behaviour), connect any USB controller you like and much more besides, but even these multi-faceted devices have one glaring flaw in the eyes of purists – they're still based on software emulation. To most people, this is perfectly fine and they probably won't be able to tell the difference from the real thing, but purists crave perfection – and while some would argue that is only possible by using the original hardware, there is an alternative.
Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips are essentially chips which can be programmed to behave exactly like original hardware – so we're talking hardware emulation rather than software emulation. Software emulation is, as the name suggests, a piece of software (an emulator) which replicates the performance of an old piece of gaming hardware, and this software then runs on top of the chipset of whatever device it's loaded onto (be that a PC, smartphone or games console, like the Switch with its many arcade and retro titles). With hardware emulation, there is no software layer, and the chip itself is configured to run 'cores' which behave just like the original hardware. The jury is still out in retro gaming circles as to whether or not this can be truly classed as 100% perfect (and FPGA cores are, like emulators, an almost constant work in progress), but cycle-accurate emulation is the objective of many FPGA core developers, and this makes it the option of choice for really dedicated retro fans.
We've already seen FPGA chips inside Analogue's amazing Nt Mini, Super Nt and Mega Sg consoles, as well as RetroUSB's AVS, but the MiSTer FPGA project is a much more ambitious undertaking. It's based on MiST, an effort to replicate the Amiga and ST in a single device (the 'er' comes from "MiST on Terasic board", apparently) and is best summed up as the FPGA equivalent to a Raspberry Pi emulation box; it offers the same level of customisation options and is totally reliant on you loading up ROMs, but it boasts hardware-level accuracy via a range of cores which cover a massive number of consoles, computers, arcade machines and handhelds.
Unlike Analogue's consoles, the MiSTer FPGA is very much a do-it-yourself proposition. The core components consist of the DE10-Nano board, which contains the FPGA chip and RAM. The modular nature of the system means you can create the setup that suits your own needs, but you'll almost certainly need to add an I/O board, fan and powered USB hub so you can connect things like input devices and a WiFi dongle. Many stores sell 'complete' MiSTer units which combine all of these boards into a single device, complete with a protective case.
An extra 128MB RAM module is also highly recommended so you can run some of the more demanding cores, like the Neo Geo one. You'll also want a USB keyboard (which is needed for high-level stuff but doesn't have to be connected all of the time) and a USB mouse (which comes in useful if you want to emulate systems like the Amiga and ST). Finally, a power supply to run the whole thing is naturally a must (a 'split plug' option is available, so one plug supplies power to the DN10 while the other powers the aforementioned USB hub) as well as a MicroSD card to house all of your data. All-in, our setup cost well over £300, including elements like a case, keyboard and so on. That may well be too rich for some, and a decent Raspberry Pi setup can arguably scratch the same kind of itch for significantly less.
Here's a fairly solid (but by no means comprehensive) list of MiSTer stockists:
- MiSTer Addons (USA)
- Ultimate MiSTer (EU)
- zerohimself (USA)
- Antonio Villena (Spain)
- Manuferhi (Spain)
- Retro Bench (UK)
- MiSTer FPGA UK (UK, Parts only)
- Oz MiSTer Mods (Australia)
Depending on where you purchase your MiSTer, you may find that the seller has kindly populated your SD card so that all of the current emulator cores are in place, but if you're not that lucky, then the initial setup can be slightly daunting – especially if you've never dabbled in emulation before. Files and folders have to be in the correct place for everything to function and cores have to be updated to ensure you're on the latest version, but thankfully, you can use 'scripts' to streamline this process massively. These are executed via the MiSTer's basic but easy-to-understand front-end, and take a lot of the heavy-lifting out of getting it configured – such as updating the cores to the latest versions, organising your folders and downloading BIOS files. Theypsilon's "update all" script is the one we used, and it really did make a painful process much easier to stomach. To use this update script – and perform any kind of online activity – you'll naturally need to be connected to the web, either via a wired ethernet connection or using a WiFi dongle (these cost less than £10). It's highly recommended that you download an FTP client for your computer when it comes to manually transferring files to the MiSTer – it will save wear-and-tear on the machine's MicroSD card slot, at least.
Creating an FPGA core for an old retro gaming system is a truly involved process, but there's an active community which has grown up around FPGA technology and the MiSTer benefits directly from that
Creating an FPGA core for an old retro gaming system is a truly involved process, but there's an active community which has grown up around FPGA technology and the MiSTer benefits directly from that. Since the project began back in 2017, a wide range of platforms has been successfully supported, including pretty much any console and computer prior to the 32-bit era. That includes NES, Master System, Mega Drive, SNES, Mega CD, Neo Geo, Game Boy Advance, Amiga, ZX Spectrum and much, much more besides (YouTuber SmokeMonster has an excellent playlist which showcases many of these cores). Support is also included for arcade games, although many of these have to be treated as individual cores because, outside of a few examples (like Capcom's CPS standard) many arcade games are totally unique in terms of their hardware. At the time of writing, though, an impressive selection of games is available, including the likes of Donkey Kong, Radar Scope, Bubble Bobble and Double Dragon. CPS1 support is also available, and CPS2 support has been achieved but is still in beta (at the time of writing, only Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo is available). Cave's legendary bullet-hell shmup DoDonPachi is also fully playable on MiSTer, which is awesome in itself, and support for Sega's System 16 board is on the way. This could perhaps be one of the most exciting applications for MiSTer, because many arcade games remain out of official distribution and emulation is the only way to experience them.
In terms of performance, the MiSTer really does leave other devices of this type in the dust. The accuracy is astonishing, and once we'd gotten everything configured properly, we didn't encounter a single game that refused to run (something that couldn't be said with software-based platforms we've tried, like the Polymega and Raspberry Pi). What's even more striking is the almost complete absence of input latency; in most cases, we're talking less than 1ms of input lag, which makes it almost indistinguishable from playing on original hardware. When it comes to controllers, pretty much any USB joypad or stick will work (we've been using the controller than comes with the Mega Drive Mini as well as the excellent Astro City Mini arcade stick).
Add to this the fact that you can tinker with your experience with filter effects – such as integer-scaled, pixel-perfect scanlines – and even order extra components which allow you to plug in your vintage controllers and connect the MiSTer to an old-school CRT television or PVM, and it's easy to see why MiSTer has become so beloved amongst passionate retro aficionados. It's arguably the most accurate way of playing classic games – beyond owning the original hardware and software, of course.
However, MiSTer isn't going to be for everyone. As we touched upon, the initial setup is rather demanding, and even when you've got it working perfectly, the experience isn't as user friendly as it is on, say, the SNES Classic Edition or the Mega Drive Mini – or the aforementioned Polymega, which is perhaps a closer point of comparison. And, because you've got to load-up ROMs and make sure all of the cores are up-to-date, there's a degree of maintenance which goes beyond what console owners are accustomed to, even when using the "update all" script (which throws up a bunch of DOS-style text on the screen that gave us flashbacks of the early '90s and spending days trying to get a sound card to work on our 486 PC). This is not a device which casual gamers are going to feel totally comfortable using, but the more effort you put in, the more you'll get out of it.
The other catch with current FPGA technology is that it has a very defined ceiling at present. While efforts are being made to create cores for the PlayStation, Saturn and N64, some retro enthusiasts are sceptical that the current generation of FPGA chips are up to the task of replicating the full hardware setup of these consoles without incurring some kind of performance hit. The developers behind these projects may well surprise us, but there's no getting around the fact that, while software emulation can take strides in-line with the chipsets which power the latest PCs and games consoles, replication via FPGA is a lot more limited because developers are having to fit more and more complex system onto the FPGA chip itself. As more advanced FPGA chips arrive in the future this will change, but right now, we wouldn't buy a MiSTer solely in the hope of playing 32-bit titles.
It's arguably the most accurate way of playing classic games – beyond owning the original hardware and software, of course
So, is the MiSTer the best retro gaming system money can buy? That's a tricky question to answer, precisely because of all those options we mentioned in the opening paragraph. MiSTer certainly scores points over devices like the Raspberry Pi, largely because the quality of the emulation is so much higher – but that desire for accuracy means that consoles like the PlayStation, Saturn and N64 aren't playable yet, and machines like the Dreamcast might never become a reality with the current generation of FPGA chips.
You might assume that the MiSTer also blows away the Polymega, a platform which it has consistently been compared to by the retro gaming masses for the past few years. Priced at $450 (a price which doesn't include the additional 'Element Modules' required to load up the various systems it emulates), Polymega is based on software emulation and therefore has all of the negatives that involves; it's not completely faithful to the original hardware (for example, its Mega Drive emulator is based on Kega Fusion, which is known to have timing differences when compared to the real deal) and there are many incompatibilities with various games, but – and this is a big one – Polymega is not reliant on ROMs as you can load up your original discs and carts thanks to its modular configuration. It also supports original controllers (via the aforementioned Element Modules) and is a lot easier to get up and running than MiSTer; in fact, it's as easy as turning on a Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 5. As is the case with the NES and SNES Classic Editions, the emulation on the Polymega is good enough for the vast majority of players.
It's also worth noting that, although MiSTer is more accurate than the Raspberry Pi, it's also a lot more expensive, and, given that the Raspberry Pi boasts a more diverse range of supported systems at present, those who aren't sticklers for 100% faithfulness might see the price difference between the two as off-putting.
Which really brings us back to that opening paragraph; retro gamers have never had it better than they do today when it comes to options. Which of these options is best? It really depends on what you want. If you're just looking to brush up on the best SNES games, then you're probably better off picking up a SNES Classic and leaving it at that. Got a massive library of classic games and discs, and don't want to spend days tinkering with configuration files and ROMs? The Polymega might be more up your street. Have an urge to dabble in emulation and ROMs but don't want to break the bank? A cheap Raspberry Pi will probably meet your needs.
However, for those who don't mind getting their hands dirty and crave the degree of accuracy that software emulation rarely provides, the MiSTer FPGA is a truly mouth-watering prospect – and one which is only going to get better as more systems and games gain support. Indeed, it's easy to argue that machines like this – based on hardware-based emulation rather than software-based emulation – are the true future of retro gaming.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Thu 11th February, 2021.
Something like this is definitely for enthusiasts and the arcade scene in particular. These though I don't think there's a great deal between software and hardware emulation, outside of those games with compatibility issues at least but by and large they are from the 32 bit era and beyond. Its something I am curious about but doubt it'll really give me better results then what I already have available. I mean you can get a Series S for £250 plus another 20 for developer mode and you can run anything up to the PS2 and Gamecube on it.
Ultimately for the vast majority the accuracy won't make any difference, I mean is anyone playing those Arcade Archives games on Switch or the many compilations or indeed the NES/SNES games and having a worse experience then playing on real hardware?
I've always wondered about this thing, but, my PC does the job of Saturn and Dreamcast etc just fine. I'll leave it at that.
Wake me up when it can play N64 and PSX games. At this point I can pretty much play SNES and NES games on my toaster.
@carlos82 actually emulated arcade games are unplayable to many people.
@jobvd which is why I started with this being for the arcade scene in particular. For the overwhelming majority of console games and gamers this won't be an issue
@Dethmunk lag is very noticable once you start paying attention to it. Sure the games are playable. But the difference between original hardware and emulation is there and it's real.
Used the Snes on my PVM, used snes with ossc, used analog super nt and now the mister.
And I have to say: wow. It is as good as any of those solutions I used prior but it has many machines built in and it is a money saver.
It is very versatile in terms of controller options and audio video to apply to many tastes. For me it works.
I have long thought this kind of thing to be someone else 'bag' and just not me. But I read about the desire of accuracy, preservation etc, but it just seems like hacking on games that you won't get in trouble for.
@jobvd That only seems to be the case with a small number of titles. I’ve emulated hundreds of arcade ports over the years with the various MAME releases and the only games that don’t play 100% perfectly are Caves bullet hell games. And even then, the timing isn’t so off that you can’t beat them game. I finish them all the time. I have their ports on PC and I barely notice much difference.
Arcade emulation has improved so much over the past few years, have you played recently?
"before reading on, yes this piece will indeed be talking about the shady practice of using ROMs, so if that kind of discussion brings you out in hives, we'd advise you navigate away from this page immediately"
This was rude and uncalled for. If you the writer cannot handle the honest concerns people have about piracy perhaps you shouldn't be writing a public article like this.
I've bought a MiSTer this holiday season and for the record, I found it far more easy to configure than a Rasperry Pi.
The first installation is almost the same (find the right files, copy them on your SD card) but after that it's far more easy : one click on "update_all" and all the job is done for you. It will always be up to date.
Configurations of cores and controllers are far more intuitiv than with Recalbox or Retropie.
And the MiSTer menu is flawless : responsiv, no slowdowns, ... Again, far from Recalbox or Retropie.
@Dethmunk Games with lag are playable or Raspberry Pies ! But they don't feel the same.
And you will notice it only when you compare to the originals.
A very good exemple : I was playing yesterday SF3 on Switch (docked). It was great ! And suddenly, I decided to play it on Dreamcast (through my DCDigital). This was NOT the same gameplay : characters were far more responsiv, they seemed to jump easily. I went back on Switch (still docked) and nope, that feeling was gone. Jumping felt so heavy.
There you go : Switch version is perfectly playable and enjoyable. But as every modern console has lag (especially docked Switch), I had faaaar more pleasure playing the lagless Dreamcast version.
It's the same for emulation VS MiSTer FPGA.
As much as I like hardware emu devices like this, the fact that it's a do it yourself kind of product means it's bound to featured issues with game performance, sound, and control. Even if you bought an already built unit for massive price, that doesn't guaranteed that what you get will run games accurately.
I feel devices like these are for people who just want to preserve their games and play them on this thing so they don't have to bother hooking up their original consoles. With multiple options for playing retro games out there going this route may be risky and if you had no computer knowledge or knowledge of hardware engineering in general these kind of product won't benefit you in the long term as making one tinkering mistake could end up costing you hundreds just for trying to make old games work on off the market products.
As for should you get this no name product, if you already own an Analogue system like the superior Super Nt and/or Mega Sg console you probably could already tinker with cores for old systems on those devices which are better options anyways as those are more optimized for those system without you having to worrying about making them work yourself. I would only recommend this product if you're a tech savy otherwise best to just go the cheaper route with Analogue or the many software emulation for now.
I just don't play enough retro games for this to interest me. I have a solid collection of them on my Switch, mini consoles and Wii U VC games, but I find myself playing new games more often.
I wonder how much longer retro gaming is going to be a thing. Young gamers really don't even collect games anymore. They play about three or four games (Fortnite, Minecraft, Robolox, Call of Duty) and it's a lot different than when I was a kid, you played a game, beat it and moved on to the next game. With the rise of digital and streaming as well, once older millennials enter their 50s-60s (they are in their late 30s-early 40s now), will there be a retro gaming market?
I'd disagree that this is hard to put together.
Research and buy the parts you desire, and you can put them all together and build the thing in 10-15 minutes. Then put some files on a micro SD card, put it in the system, connect it to the internet, and it sets itself up in minutes and downloads all the stuff you need (minus the console ROMs...). There are a lot of YouTube videos that can walk you through it.
I already sold my Analogue Mega SG for double the price I paid, and soon I am going to sell my Super NT for even more. The MiSTer has replaced those for me.
When the day comes that either my NES, PCE or Genesis dies, then something like this would be a consideration. I’m also not fancy, I use composite input CRTs, and from what I’ve seen composite is never a priority output for FPGA devices. So in that way original hardware is still simpler for me
A MiSTer can output video in VGA, composite, component, etc, depending on what cable you use. That is all possible if you want it.
I think this has all gone over my head
@BloodNinja what setup do you use? Mame is not without lag.
@KillerBOB I was speaking more along the lines of how this compares to a standard console, which requires literally zero setup and just plugs in and works. A lot of people won't want to mess about slotting boards together and using FTP to transfer files. I know it's not a massive task in the grand scheme of things, but compared to say, a SNES Classic, this takes effort to get up and running.
I am one of these "arcade enthusiasts" who owns a MiSTer. I love to tell the anecdote of having a bunch of friends visiting - we were drinking and playing SNES games on my RetroPi. On Super Mario World, level 8, there was a level that was giving my two friends in their 30s who grew up on NES a lot of trouble. They couldn't get past it, and they were saying things like, "I guess I'm getting old. I could smoke this level when I was a kid." These guys are just casual, non-technical guys. Not a part of the "retro-community" or involved with emulation or FPGA.
I took them into my office, fired up the MiSTer - and they both passed the level immediately - and both commented, "I thought that other thing was super accurate - but now that I'm on THIS thing, I can tell the difference. This actually feels like the real thing."
By the way, it is worth noting, I pulled the Intel core PC out of my MAME arcade cabinet and released it with a MiSTer. Fewer games that way - but my wife, who is non-technical - the first time she played Ms. Pac Man, said, "This is totally different than it used to be. It feels like the real thing now!"
Casual players do notice the difference.
So, I disagree that casual players won't notice the difference between emulation on their PC and FPGA. They just won't realize that they're noticing the difference. But their experience won't be what they remember.
This is why people buy the SoC emulator classic systems, use them for a week, then throw them in a drawer and forget about them until they donate them to a thrift store. They play, at first it is all nostalgia, and then they go, "It just isn't the same."
It isn't just the same.
With a MiSTer... with FPGA... it is just the same.
You don't have to believe me. I don't care if you think I'm just some "60FPS purist". But this is the truth about FPGA. It is accurate, and accuracy DOES make the nostalgia better.
Why I love MiSTer so much is that it really pays off the more you put into it especially when it comes to visual fidelity with filters while still providing an accurate and latency free experience. Not to mention it's value grows more and more each day and I'm not speaking in kind of way that benefits a 'scalper' but in the way that actually benefits someone that owns it and loves this stuff.
It really is such a great experience if you can get past the few caveats (using roms, takes a little effort to initially set up, and probably not the prettiest looking thing out there aesthetically). Honestly I even love the interface as I appreciate it being simple and to the point which isn't something I'd say for a lot of emulation UIs. I turn it on (or leave it on as it takes almost no power and is extremely stable anyway), press start on a controller, pick a system, and pick a game. Once i'm playing it more than scratches the feel of the real thing and in a way that's higher quality. I'm not getting the nostalgia of putting in a cartridge but with how it's set up and the controllers i'm using once I'm playing I get lost in it just as I did the real thing.
Is it for everybody though? Probably not. I have a child on the way and once they get old enough where i'd want to even bother letting them try an older game it unfortunately won't be the MiSTer i'll be introducing them on. It'll likely something cartridge based.
I also replaced the core Intel PC in my Mame cabinet with a MiSTer.
The first time my wife played Ms. Pac Man on it, she asked, "What did you do? It really feels like the real game, now."
I didn't tell her I'd swapped it out before she played. I wanted to see her reaction. The MiSTer beat an i5 for feeling accurate to a casual, non-technical player. She scored higher, she enjoyed the game more. With Mame emulation on a PC, she lost interest because the game didn't feel like she remembered it. Now she suggests turning the machine on when we have parties.
It looks weird, and I'm not technologically competent enough to do it myself.
True, it's just that a lot of people are put off by it thinking it's "too difficult", when in reality most of the people who end up getting it realize it's not as daunting as they thought. But yes, it's not just "plug and play"
When I was waiting for my MiSTer to arrive a few months ago, I was playing The Punisher arcade game on Retroarch (PC) with my new arcade stick a day or two before it showed up.
That was one of the first games I played on my MiSTer when it got here, and it ran noticibly smoother and felt more like an arcade game. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't tried it, but I could definitely tell the difference.
A little late to the party but great article. This route is of course the future, but thank god that, for now, until it all eventually degrades, we have the ultimate solution - original hardware. After a generation or two, humans will never be able to say that again.
@jobvd I use a wired Hori Fighting Commander controller (love the D Pad) or a Hitbox all button controller, and I use various MAME versions (for compatibility purposes) on a PC, Windows 8 and Windows 10. I’m emulating about 85 games, mostly shoot em ups, fighting games and action games. The only games I experience slight timing issues on are Espgaluda, Dodonpachi, and Mushihimesama. The rest are running flawlessly. All my mame roms came from planet emu. I like that place because it actually lists the correct folder structure, and tells you which bios is required to run a game. (Let me know if I’m not supposed to post that and I’ll edit it out, sorry moderators, ahead of time. Seems appropriate on an article about emulation.)
Most of these games I’ve played on real hardware, or console, and I’m very sensitive to lag and can tell right away. I’m not noticing any issues with the games I'm running, other than the Cave shooters I mentioned but those are still 99% playable and I full clear them all the time with zero issue.
Games I couldn’t get running, no matter what. Virtual On, Soul Calibur, among a couple others. I emulate those on Saturn instead. Some of the Metal Slug games don’t work, so I use a Wii/GameCube emulator for those, and just run the Metal Slug Anthology, works great.
Pretty much anything else that didn’t run, I have the console port, so that’s not a big deal.
There are thousands of MAME games, and I know that not all of them work properly, but the ones I use don't have lag on my wired controllers. I only play wired, so if you use wireless that could be the cause of lag, that's why I switched to wired in the first place.
With the exception of arcade machines, I physically own everything I emulate, so I have done comparisons and emulation is fantastic. It’s been helping me preserve my physical collection.
Cores and roms. It's a retroarch clone at heart. I don't see anything proprietary about this outside of it's design.
NVM I think I'm confusing emulator cores with FPGA schemas.
@BloodNinja mame on Windows is not as responsive as original hardware. Have you played those 85 games on real hardware?
@N64-ROX It will play PS1 games by the end of 2021.
The guy who is developping the cores has already been spending 1500 hours on it and said he needed about 1000 more to complete it. It's a VERY complex core.
N64 must be hell too.
@ParanoidDelusions This is by far the best description of what's the lag and what are its consequences : it's not because you don't notice it that it doesn't have a impact on you and the way you feel the game.
Would like to have one of these.
Somebody knows where to get it in Europe?
That one hasn't SNES and Megadrive, what i mostly want
Yeah, not at all.
Retroarch runs on another device and emulates the consoles, then interacts with the ROMs.
An FPGA core essentially becomes the device, and plays the games the same way actual hardware would.
Not the same at all, and there is a noticeable performance improvement when you compare both.
That's not what you want, the "Mist" (that thing) is different from the "MiSTer".
MisterFPGA UK has the add-on parts, and you can get the DE-10 Nano board (the main component) from DigiKey or Mouser
I'm getting mine in about a week or two fully decked out, I'm tired of paying ridiculous prices just to play old games on original hardware so this is better and every possible way for 16 bit and under. But it's all said and done it's about $400 Canadian for the whole setup but it's worth it for me I just have to sell two games for my collection to cover it.
@carlos82 there's advantages to both emulation and simulation, for non 3D games the simulation route is definitely preferred and way closer to actual hardware.
@doctorhino it's not even close to the same as far as how they work at a fundamental level as it's not emulating the game software themselves but the system hardware in real time.
@NinChocolate there's add-ons you can get that'll go to any type of display type you want but you have to pay more money for those add-on boards.
@KillerBOB I was under the impression the cores themselves are what held together the compatibility of the software. Like you program all the system level operations into the core. Not saying it can't do a more accurate rom representation but it seems like it becomes whatever the core is programmed to be. Can't imagine they aren't basing those off previous projects.
Maybe I am just getting confused by type of cores. So you can program in an instruction set into the fpga as well?
@jobvd Not really in the mood to argue, have a great day!
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@ParanoidDelusions the kind of lag you describe for Super Mario World sounds quite excessive and is not my experience, though I don't have that same setup. I have had no problem going back and forth from original hardware(SNES, Genesis, PC Engine, GBA) to good software emulation. Everything feels the same. If there's a measurable difference, and there may be, it's tiny with my setup. I have, however, noticed considerable lag from one display to another with that being the only variable. I'm not questioning your experience. I just think there are many variables involved to draw those conclusions. Plus, good emulation now has ways that further reduces lag to crazy levels.
@smashboy2000 nice, thanks! I didn't mean to be cynical, I'd love to play PSX and N64 on FPGA.
Haven't been following the scene properly but I always got the impression that the N64 was "too hard"?
As in, emulating behaviour is one thing but once you try to reproduce actual hardware this complicated, you'd need exponentially more power and time?
If you think there is something wrong with me building a PI putting a nes emulator on it and adding a rom of "Barbie" and playing it, you are a complete tool and need to be punched in the face.
Ah, I'm breaking out in hives!
@N64-ROX You didn't sound cynical
Yeah, N64 seems like hell. Emulation is very hard and original hardware is more than ever the best way to go.
So if someone succeed in doing a FPGA core of N64, it would mark the end of more than 20 years of struggling with emulation.
I have been an early adopter to MiSTer since around 2018 and have been emulating since god knows how long. Here are my pros and cons.
Input latency. It's awesome. Blows software emulation latency out of the water. You literally can not go back after playing. Resolution support. If your display can handle it, it can display up to 1440p. 240p games look amazing in 1440p.
Diversity. Right now, MiSTer does not have the power to implement high quality CRT shaders and overlays. You pretty much get black bars in 4:3 and some standard pretty crappy scanline options. Interpolation is good which helps eliminate pixel stutter. I will give it to MiSTer, their GBA shader is nice.
But that is where somthing like software emulation through Retroarch shines. You can add Sony Trinitron CRT Overlays to cover the black bars and add phosphor crt shaders to give a god damn near true CRT like image quality (used on my OLED LG CX with true black). It's a frigging thing of beauty. BUT at the cost of latency. No matter how low lag your TV is, software emulation latency is prevalent. MiSTer shines there.
Mister can’t implement shaders to emulate the CRT look.
Emulation can, but even so it’s inferior, dulls the image and introduces lag
Damnit, if only there was a way of having the perfect vibrant CRT look with zero lag
This'll be all very cool - when it's in a handheld.
@kingbk maybe not - but that generation will maybe/likely try to relive those 'good old days' just as previous generations did. It'll be different for sure - but no retro games scene? I'm not sure about that. I retro game to finish a few unfinished and missed titles of my youth and maybe they will too.
@brunojenso I don't mean there will no retro market, but it's going to look a lot different. Young gamers are completely different in how they game than we were. I know because I watch how my nieces and nephews play games and how kids play them these days. Online gaming is so big now and these kids like games where they can play with and against their friends. And they really don't care about graphics, they care about where they can play, which is why the Switch is so popular with younger gamers. Single player campaign games are more becoming something adults do more than kids. They just don't have the attachment to buying physical games or playing a game, beating it, and moving on to the next game that kids did when I was a kid. It's changing.
@kingbk Yeah I can see that. I have Nieces and a Nephew and although they have both beaten BOTW and a few others, I think generally what you are saying seems true. God I hope there is still Single player campaign games in the future. I was never huge on multiplayer when I had gaming mates around, or online much (I've enjoyed a few online exceptions). For me gaming is best enjoyed as a start and finish absorption - like reading a good novel (again on my own). For that reason I also tend to avoid endless games more and more these days too. I want to see the story end and move on to a new one. Maybe gamers like me are on borrowed time?
@brunojenso I'm with you on both generally preferring games as a single-player experience, along with liking games that are finite. I also prefer to avoid seemingly-endless games. I think there will always be enough people like that for at least smaller studios to make games for those people. But if that ever dried up, I'd be happy revisiting a lot of older games as well, so that's the one upside if things change.
@BloodNinja I agree, we don't need to argue. I'm happy you enjoy your emulated games.
@Mips you can. Buy a CRT.
@jobvd Apologies, I was joking - CRT’s the way to go.
Ya, let's not enjoy something that exists right now because in 5+ years something else might come along that can potentially do more 😂 Saturn and PS1 cores are being worked on now, so hopefully they will appear, but that seems to be the limit for this FPGA board.
MiSTer exists because a cheap Intel FPGA board (that is heavily subsidized by the company) can be easily purchased by individuals for around $130US. Larger and more powerful ones are available but are out of the price range of regular people. Until several years pass and the prices potentially lower, maybe we will see cores for even more demanding systems, but it's not worth sitting out until that point (I hope you didn't buy a Switch by the way, because what Nintendo is releasing next will be better!)
And have you ever been to any kind of forum for an electronic device/computer before? They are all littered with repetitive questions that could be solved by doing a forum search first, or spending more than 5 minutes trying to figure out the issue yourself.
If you want to plug a MiSTer into a modern display using HDMI, it's hassle free. If you want to display it on a 23 year old computer monitor, yeah, there are a couple visual settings that need to be changed in the menu (which can be trial & error), but many people's first reaction is to ask in forums.
I put mine together in 15 mins (easily identifiable pieces that snap/screw together), put a single file on the SD card, plugged an ethernet cable in, ran a script, and all the file systems and software installed. Then I just added the ROMs to the appropriate folders and that was it. Haven't had to touch a single thing again. And as new updates to the system come out, just plug in the ethernet again and do a 5 min update.
MiSTer is only as complicated as you want to make it, but if you just want to play console games on a flat screen its really quite easy.
The other day I played Darius Twin for SNES via emulation on my PC. It was good, enjoyed it. I then switched to my Super Nt, same game. The difference was immediately noticeable: significantly less input lag on the Super Nt. A much more enjoyable game as a result. It really improved the feel and responsiveness of the game. I would never have realised the difference unless I was able to compare directly.
On the back of Damien’s review of the Mister above, I ordered a preconfigured unit a couple of days ago. I’ve been dabbling in arcade emulation via MAME on my PC these last few weeks. Pain in the arse to set up, but got it working last weekend and have been enjoying a whole bunch of arcade games. But I’m really looking forward to the Mister. I think it will make a noticeable difference.
Many arcade games run at odd refresh rates like 54hz (Mortal Kombat). So do bear in mind that even with "accurate" hardware emulation, you'll still be getting stuttery motion from dupe frames unless you have some kind of FreeSync/GSync or CRT monitor to hook this up to. Right?
I found this article while looking for a platform that can play gamecube games, including a Wii U , with all of the lag and stutter issues I get with the Dolphin emulator.
It sounds like using mister fpga for this is a pipe dream for the moment .
If it can ever do that, I’m in.
@carlos82 hey carlos. the main advantage of mister is being able to get analogue output and zero lag. people moan about how hard 8 and 16-bit games were but i think this is a modern phenomenon that has arisen from emulation and the inherent lag in the hardware emulating and the lcd being played on.
play these games on original hardware with a crt and its soooo kuch easier to react and plau the games, thats how 8 year olds managed to do it.
SF2 on snes mini i just cannot get past Sagat for example, but on my snes and the monitor i use its doable. same with lap times on super marionkart
it really does make a massive difference over other options like a snes classic or a PC or xbox emulation
@N64-ROX wakey wakey PS1 is nearly there
@bryce951 nah I'm all about this cup and ball now. You never know which way that crazy ball is gonna go!
(Just kidding, thanks for the heads up! Is it Christmas already?!)
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