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How to Turn an Old PC into a Retro Gaming Console

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Matoegos
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How to Turn an Old PC into a Retro Gaming Console

Post by Matoegos » September 30th, 2016, 12:50 pm

Ahoy everyone, a little while ago I was bored, needing something to do, and after selling my NES a few years ago I decided I wanted to get back into it. So I had a look at some old computers I had lying around. You don't need a decent PC for this, in fact, getting a Core 2 Duo PC (The one I'm using) will be more than enough. Have you seen the specs on the SEGA Genesis, the SNES or the N64? Ha!

First things first: This build is based on EMULATORS. They require to download files known as ROMS to be able to play games. Unfortunately, some people use this to pirate games. I do not condone piracy. Only download ROMS of games that you own or have owned in the past that you acquired legally.

So, to start off the guide, I will specify the PC I'm using.

Model: Lenovo M58 SFF (Small form factor)
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 @ 2.66 GHz
GPU: Intel G31/G33 Integrated (Surprised? Don't be. Spending extra money on a graphics card is a waste, especially for running old games.)
RAM: 4 GB of DDR2 @ 800 MHz (More than enough to run an emulator in user space.)
HDD: 250GB @ 7200RPM (Plenty for entire libraries of 288 KB NES games, or even 80 MB N64 games.)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (Can be any version of Windows, I just had a copy of this lying around.)

The things you can do immediately:

1. Install a clean copy of Windows.
2. [Optional] I got an 8-bit day wallpaper pack and set it to change to a later day scene every 10 mins. (Just for some eye candy :)
3. Install Emulators of the games you want to get. I got JNES for NES games, Project64 for N64 games, etc. A full list is available at http://www.CoolROMS.com
4. Download the games you want. NOTE: I do not endorse or condone piracy. I recommend only getting games that you own or have owned in the past. LEGALLY.
5. Stop here if you don't want to buy stuff. Continue onto the next section if you are willing to spend a small bit of cash to make your experience more realistic.

Here are some enhancements:

1. There is a company called Retro-Bit which makes USB versions of old Console controllers. For example, they do SEGA Genesis, SEGA Saturn, NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and Nintendo Game Cube (not a complete list). This line of products is called Retrolink. You can purchase them from eBay, or directly from Retro-Bit's website.
2. I bought a USB hub to plug all of my Retrolink controllers into the PC.
3. You can experiment with what buttons on the controllers do what on the keyboard, and then configure the input in your Emulator's settings to match those buttons.

Best regards,

- Matt
Interested in Computer Science, Rugby, Pink Floyd, Archeology, Palaeontology, Physics, Geography and Dragons ;)

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Re: How to Turn an Old PC into a Retro Gaming Console

Post by LokiDragon » September 30th, 2016, 8:14 pm

I'm not really into Pc hacking yet but I am getting into game console hacking stuff. I'm currently gathering parts to make a Playstation 1 portable. Also learning a lot about how the old atarii's and snes's worked. I may be interested in making a gameboy zero (Using a raspberry pie emulator) in the future though. Do you know if any of these emulators would work on such a device? I'm still a bit new to this downloaded games idea. :?

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Re: How to Turn an Old PC into a Retro Gaming Console

Post by Matoegos » September 30th, 2016, 9:30 pm

LokiDragon wrote:I'm not really into Pc hacking yet but I am getting into game console hacking stuff. I'm currently gathering parts to make a Playstation 1 portable. Also learning a lot about how the old atarii's and snes's worked. I may be interested in making a gameboy zero (Using a raspberry pie emulator) in the future though. Do you know if any of these emulators would work on such a device? I'm still a bit new to this downloaded games idea. :?
A GameBoy Emulator for a Raspberry Pi? That sounds difficult, so good luck! As an alternative, I'd consider getting an Emulator for a smartphone if you want a portable device. I have GBA4iOS, iDOS, SNES4iOS, NDS4iOS installed on my iPhone. These work great and if you head over to http://www.iEmulators.com you may find something there. The catch is that Apple tends to reject these apps, so you need to turn your time back to 2012 to open them. It is easier to install Emulators on Android Smartphones because there is less control about what applications can be used. These Android alternatives can include C64 (N64), ClassicBoy (GBA), DraStic (DS) etc.

As for downloading games, it is important to understand how ROMS work. A ROM is a direct copy of the files on a Cartridge compressed into a single file which can be interpreted and opened by an Emulator. For example, the file type for NES is .NES, N64 is .N64, etc. The Emulator then 'tricks' the ROM into being able to run and display on a device which is not the original.

Best regards,


- Matt
Interested in Computer Science, Rugby, Pink Floyd, Archeology, Palaeontology, Physics, Geography and Dragons ;)

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