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Play your retro games on X-Box One or X-Box Series X|S Consoles


Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

Next gen consoles are selling as fast as stores can get inventory.  Right now the PS5 seems to be getting a bit more press than the Series X|S line of consoles, but for retro gamers. the XBox line has an ace in the hole that might be the tipping point:  you can run emulators on it to have your retro and modern game libraries all in one location.

There are a few catches and hitches, but none of this requires hacking the console.  In the X-Box Marketplace there is an app called Dev Mode, which allows any user to switch their console into Developer mode for game development.  As a bonus, this mode allows users to run unsigned code.  There is a $20 dollar fee for a Dev Mode key for your account, which is the only amount you will have to pay.  When in Dev mode, you cannot run retail software.  That being said, all it takes is a quick reboot to switch back from Dev mode to Retail mode.

Once in dev mode, you will have an IP address to access the system.  Use that address on your PC to access the XBox Device Portal.  Once there you can setup Retroarch from here (be sure to look under the Windows icon in the UWP section) and upload them to your system.  Some consoles will require a BIOS file as well.  I can’t link to those files, but Google is your friend.

Compatibility is quite good.  Any 8 and 16 bit title will obviously work flawlessly, but PS1 era titles also run with no problems.  Handhelds up to the PSP run with no lag whatsoever.  Some games all the way up to the Wii and PS2 era also run not only perfect, but with enhancements such as 60 FPS.  This means that the X-Box Series X|S line has better backwards compatibility with Sony consoles than their own PS5.

For those retro gamers who also want to enjoy their more modern games, the new X-Box consoles are easily the best bang for the buck, especially the Series X which as of this writing is cheaper than a comparatively specced PC.   This also allows you the convenience of having one system handle everything without swapping inputs or running multiple devices.  I won’t be giving up my arcades or older consoles, but I’ll also enjoy the convenience of having one box do it all in one room.

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X-Box Series X Review


Wednesday, November 11th, 2020


Yesterday Microsoft began it’s fourth console generation with the release of the Series X and S, superseding the X-Box One lineup. I love my retro games, but I have also been an X-Box gamer since the first generation, and spoiled myself by making the Series X the first day one console I have ever purchased. With some work and some luck, I was able to procure one (work being refreshing the Amazon page continually for an hour on pre-release order day, and luck from Amazon delaying some of the pre-orders until December 31st.) I’ve spent the past day playing the system, and here are my thoughts along with a Day 1 video that shows some unboxing and console prep.

Upon receiving the package in the mail, my first thought was this is one of the largest boxes for a console I have seen. This is due to the unique design of the console which resembles a small PC tower. The system is roughly the same dimensions of two Gamecubes stacked together. It was well protected in the packaging, being surrounded by foam, and there is a separate box inside that contains the controller, power cable and HDMI cable. Gone are the days of manuals coming with a console; a quick start paper and a small product information pamphlet in multiple languages are all the documentation the system comes with.

The controller is a small upgrade. The D pad is now built so your thumb sinks into it somewhat, and I like the feel of it over the One controller. There’s also a tiny bumped texture that helps with grip. If you get a play and charge kit, the cable is USB C instead of Micro B. There’s a new Share button in between the menu and view buttons (although I still call them start and select). Other than those changes, it’s more or less the same controller you have with the X-Box One.

Series X has a unique setup once you hook it up. I miss the era of simply hooking up a console, inserting a game, and playing, but in this modern era there is more to do before you load your first game. The system can use a phone app to have you answer some setup questions as it downloads an 800 megabyte day 1 update, mostly pertaining to online setup and account information, along with a few television and audio settings. The phone app can use a QR code or a ten digit code to connect; I actually had the system ask for both during setup.

After the day one update, you are met with another update, this time for controller firmware. I’m not sure how often a controller will require a firmware update, but there is at least one you will have to do upon setting your console up.

Finally, the system setup will be complete and you will find yourself in the system User Interface. The interface is almost identical to the X-Box One interface, outside of a few new options for the console. However, the UI is a lot faster that it is on the One, menus move more smoothly and there is little to no lag between browsing. This speedup continues to your game library. The system is backwards compatible with all X-Box One games and any 360 or original XBox game that could run on the One will also run on Series level systems. Games run smoother, and in higher resolution, than on the previous console. This was a large jump in particular for me because I went from the all digital One S model to the Series X, which means all my games upgraded to One X versions from the One S version I was used to, than got yet another upgrade from the upgrade in power the Series X offers.

I also tried a few Series X games. The selection is a little small for now, but will grow in time. Tetris Effect was a wild experience; imagine Tetris mixed with the environment of the old PSP launch game Lumines. The game almost puts you in a daze as you play due to the wild effects going on with the music that reacts to how you move tetrimos. Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a One era game that got an X upgrade, and the difference is mostly in a higher resolution and silky smooth gameplay. It almost feels organic while playing. Finally, Gears of War 5 is another game that got an X upgrade, and shows off the new Ray Tracing feature. It looks quite nice, however it is more evolutionary than revolutionary as an upgrade.

And that, to me, describes this console. Going from the NES to the SNES or Genesis felt revolutionary, like it was a whole new era. Same situation going from the SNES or Genesis to the PS1 or N64. And than again to the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox Original. Since than though, it feels while speeds, fluidity, and fidelity increase with every generation, we haven’t found a revolutionary change in a console generation that feels like it truly changes the game. Nintendo has obviously tried with the Wiis motion controls and tablet controllers and has perhaps come closest to making a revolutionary change again, but for the most part that old magic feeling of moving to a new generation has been replaced. Instead of a “Wow!” feeling, its a “Oh that’s cool.” feeling. I’d still recommend the console, but if you are struggling to find one, there’s no need to go on a hunt for one. Wait til it shows up on store shelves.

You can watch my Day 1 video which has unboxing and setup here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Rc9kEjcF8

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Intellivision Fan Community Live Events


Friday, November 6th, 2020

INTV Prime have a couple of upcoming events that you may be interested in.

November 21st – Intellivision Virtual Expo
This is a 7-hour series of sessions and discussions from independent players, developers, and publishers for the original Intellivision console. Live game streaming of original and 21st Century titles will also take place.
Additional details will be available at http://go.pkg.cc/ive2020

December 3rd – Intellivision Day
The birthday of the original Intellivision Console will once again be celebrated as Intellivision Day!
The worldwide Inty fan community celebrates by simply playing any game in the catalog. There is a registration page at http://go.pkg.cc/ipid2020 which will show you which games are already reserved so as much of the catalog is played as possible, but of course it is non-binding, we just want everyone to play Intellivision.

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RoundUp 159b – Smoke And Mirrors Promo


Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Visit the Smoke And Mirrors website.

Back the Kickstarter.

Grab the Press Kit.

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Brave New World


Friday, May 1st, 2020

In the past couple months, we have seen our world change. Staying home has become the norm, with social gatherings being restricted. Movie theaters are closed, concerts are cancelled, and more and more people are passing the time with video games. Digital downloads are at an all-time high due to many game stores being closed, with outlets such as Wal-Mart that also carry essential items being one of the few places to purchase a physical game.

Due to all this, there is no better time for many to dive into the world of emulation for their gaming fix. Many households are on a tight budget due to workplaces being closed, and others are working from home. Even if you stick to titles you already own to keep everything legal, the simple convenience of having your entire game library available on your PC (or if you choose a device you build) means you can enjoy your games without having to switch carts or discs, swapping cables for consoles hooked to your television, or even hunting down a particular game among bookcases filled with hundreds or thousands of titles.

Perhaps you used to emulate but switched over to authentic hardware (like I did myself around a decade back, although I still dabbled with emulation as well). The good news is that there are now packages such as Retroarch that bundles a good looking frontend with all the emulators (or “cores”) available as a simple download in the frontend. Although if you are willing to put in the work, you can build yourself an impressive customized UI using Hyperspin.

While being stuck at home, you could also start a simple project to build your own emulation setup instead of keeping it on your PC. If you want a handheld, there is no easier kit that the RetroFlag GPi paired with a Raspberry Pi 0 W and an SD card flashed with Retropie. All you have to do is supply your game ROMS and let it scan what you add for it to download artwork and you are set. For under $150 dollars you can build your own handheld with no soldering that can handle any game from the Atari 2600 to the 16 bit era, and some PS1 era titles will play full speed as well. Or you can always get a Raspberry Pi 3, your choice of Retroflag case that resemble an NES, SNES, or Mega Drive, and of course your SD card flashed with Retropie and have a more powerful system that can handle PS1 along with some Dreamcast. Add a controller for the console one and you are good to go!

If you are stuck at home, there is no better time to start an emulation project and create something you craft to your needs for a new old-school gaming setup! All of these parts are available via mail order and can be delivered right to your door, or you can just set everything up on a PC or laptop and grab any USB controller you have laying around (or even something wireless like an X-Box One or PS4 controller) and get to gaming!

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