Update (Tue 17th Oct, 2023 11:15 BST): More exciting news has dropped for the MiSTer rival MARS FPGA.
As revealed yesterday on Twitter, MARS FPGA will not only allow players to use USB controllers but will also apparently feature interchangeable front controller ports, letting owners switch between different SNAC modules in order to use their original controllers and peripherals. MARS FPGA has announced that it will support the NES, SNES, Genesis, Neo Geo, NEC (PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16), and N64 with these front ports, with even more expected to be announced in the future.
Obviously, it should be noted, that it is already possible on MiSTer hardware, but the presentation and implementation here look incredibly clean and user-friendly.
Original article (Thu 5th Oct, 2023 00:05 BST): The arrival of powerful and capable FPGA-based retro gaming systems has given dedicated retro fans the ability to replicate the performance of classic systems as accurately as possible, with platforms such as MiSTer and Analogue Pocket offering the kind of accuracy that software emulation often lacks.
However, as is the case with any technology, progress is inevitable, and MiSTer – which is seen by many as the de facto leader in the realm of FPGA-based retro gaming thanks to its modular and open nature – would appear to have a rival on the horizon.
Formally announced back in August, MARS FPGA ("Multi Arcade and Retro System") is an exciting new project which is based around the Titanium Ti180 FPGA chip. When compared to the decade-old DE10-Nano Cyclone V FPGA found in the MiSTer, its specs are seriously impressive.
Since the system was announced, the MARS FPGA Twitter account has been teasing support for Capcom CPS-3 games, including Street Fighter 3.
It has also been confirmed that Wizzomafizzo (developer of MiSTer Extensions), Flxel (developer of 3DO and Dreamcast emulators), and ToddsNerdCave (industrial designer behind cases for products such as the OSSC, MiSTer and Retrotink 5x) have joined the MARS FPGA team.
It's all looking pretty positive, but some members of the retro community remain sceptical about the entire venture. For starters, it is believed that MARS FPGA could cost as much as $700, which makes it around twice as expensive as MiSTer.
It also remains to be seen if MARS will be capable of attracting support from the FPGA developers who have pledged their allegiance to MiSTer and Analogue Pocket. These same developers are pushing MiSTer to the limit, getting systems such as N64, PlayStation and Saturn up and running on the platform – feats which were once deemed impossible.
Even so, it's shaping up to be a particularly interesting project and one which could drive FPGA-based retro gaming in exciting new directions. Let us know what you think by posting a comment below.