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fuctfuct
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What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by fuctfuct Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:54 am

Recently i have been playing some Xbox (Crimson Skies) and 360 (Modern Warfare 3) on my Xbox One. Having a blast replaying Crimson Skies (Play it immediately if you haven't yet). It got me thinking about all those people who swear by OG hardware. They always claim some sort of "feeling" and I don't understand it. What is that feeling, precisely?

In an attempt to understand it i played some SNES on two setups last night..

Setup one is a 1Chip SNES VIA S-Video on my 27inch Samsung flat CRT. Forget the model number.
Setup two is RetroArch on a 32 inch IPS monitor with CRT shaders. I used a Super Famicom Classic controller VIA a Raphnet USB adapter.

Other than setup two looking an order of magnitude more pleasing to my eyes.. The experience was exactly the same.

I like holding carts in my hands (I have a particular love for Game Boy carts). Seriously, sometimes i just hold them in my hands for a while thinking about how cool they are, lol. I like owning original consoles. I like original controllers, mostly (N64 :| :| ). But switching back and forth last night i failed to feel anything different between the two. I can say that If i was back in the 90s and was given these two options by a time traveler, i would choose setup two.

I am in my 40s and played these old games back then. Maybe setup one should have been a smaller curved CRT VIA RF, haha :D

Thoughts?
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by SamuraiMegas Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:17 pm

Largely, I agree. IMO, anything 16 bit and below is best played on an emulator. 32bit+ is when OG hardware becomes more important, as the emulation starts getting a little choppy as time goes on. Personally, my favorite way to play retro games now is emulated on my high end PC with a Sega Saturn controller with an adapter.
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fuctfuct
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by fuctfuct Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:00 pm

I try to use original controllers for each system. Or as close to the original as possible.

N64, oXbox, PS3, 360 and Saturn are kinda dodgy still but everything else is pretty great emulation wise. Even the Switch is very close to fully playable now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN_Yr9uXjpo

FPGA is pretty cool too. But i like emulators a bit more.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by o.pwuaioc Wed Aug 19, 2020 9:29 pm

For my it's a combination of accuracy and nostalgia. I probably wouldn't mind LCD TVs so much but for the latency, and the pictures don't look quite right. An HD CRT is best picture, even if that's not what I'm using anymore. And as for nostalgia, there's just something very satisfying about the physical medium as you noted, but what's the point of having them if you're going to play digitally? I don't like the idea of having things for the sake of having them, so I opt for the setup that I prefer. Same with books, though music I play both vinyl and digital, depending on how and where I want to play it.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by pook99 Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:42 am

fuctfuct wrote:
I like holding carts in my hands (I have a particular love for Game Boy carts). Seriously, sometimes i just hold them in my hands for a while thinking about how cool they are, lol. I like owning original consoles. I like original controllers, mostly (N64 :| :| ). But switching back and forth last night i failed to feel anything different between the two. I can say that If i was back in the 90s and was given these two options by a time traveler, i would choose setup two.


I think you nailed it here, the fact is that there is no difference in gameplay between an emulator and original hardware for many systems, but I think some people enjoy the feeling of actually physically holding the cart, popping it in, and playing it that way. In every conceivable way, emulators are superior, you can enhance the graphics, use any controller you want, have built in turbo fire, can use save states instead of incredibly long and obtuse passwords, and so much more, but the one thing you do lose is rifling through your physical collection, picking a game off the shelf, walking it to your system, and popping it in, that ritual means a lot to people, especially those who grew up with x console.

There is definitely an annoying (and ignorant) group of people out there (especially on youtube) who pretend that emulation is not authentic, and does not match playing the games as "they were intended" but those kinds of people generally know little about emulation and are just trying to brag about their huge collections to increase the size of their e-penis, and are definitely in the minority.

Of course there are some areas where original hardware is necessary, you have some systems where emulation is non-existent (both xbox and xbox 360 have absolutely no emulation worth talking about), systems where emulation is spotty (like the wii u, and there certainly needs to be some more improvement for saturn and n64), and then there is oddball systems like the wii, which has perfect graphical/sound emulation, but you would want to play on original hardware for the controller, as well as stuff like the DS/3ds which have functional emulators but there really is no good way to emulate those systems on a pc/tv.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by fuctfuct Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:28 am

o.pwuaioc wrote:For my it's a combination of accuracy and nostalgia. I probably wouldn't mind LCD TVs so much but for the latency, and the pictures don't look quite right. An HD CRT is best picture, even if that's not what I'm using anymore. And as for nostalgia, there's just something very satisfying about the physical medium as you noted, but what's the point of having them if you're going to play digitally? I don't like the idea of having things for the sake of having them, so I opt for the setup that I prefer. Same with books, though music I play both vinyl and digital, depending on how and where I want to play it.


Good points. I play digital vinyl rips for any album made before CDs. Usually i DL PBTHAL's super high rez FLAC files and transcode them to AAC for my phone. :P


pook99 wrote:
fuctfuct wrote:
I like holding carts in my hands (I have a particular love for Game Boy carts). Seriously, sometimes i just hold them in my hands for a while thinking about how cool they are, lol. I like owning original consoles. I like original controllers, mostly (N64 :| :| ). But switching back and forth last night i failed to feel anything different between the two. I can say that If i was back in the 90s and was given these two options by a time traveler, i would choose setup two.


I think you nailed it here, the fact is that there is no difference in gameplay between an emulator and original hardware for many systems, but I think some people enjoy the feeling of actually physically holding the cart, popping it in, and playing it that way. In every conceivable way, emulators are superior, you can enhance the graphics, use any controller you want, have built in turbo fire, can use save states instead of incredibly long and obtuse passwords, and so much more, but the one thing you do lose is rifling through your physical collection, picking a game off the shelf, walking it to your system, and popping it in, that ritual means a lot to people, especially those who grew up with x console.

There is definitely an annoying (and ignorant) group of people out there (especially on youtube) who pretend that emulation is not authentic, and does not match playing the games as "they were intended" but those kinds of people generally know little about emulation and are just trying to brag about their huge collections to increase the size of their e-penis, and are definitely in the minority.

Of course there are some areas where original hardware is necessary, you have some systems where emulation is non-existent (both xbox and xbox 360 have absolutely no emulation worth talking about), systems where emulation is spotty (like the wii u, and there certainly needs to be some more improvement for saturn and n64), and then there is oddball systems like the wii, which has perfect graphical/sound emulation, but you would want to play on original hardware for the controller, as well as stuff like the DS/3ds which have functional emulators but there really is no good way to emulate those systems on a pc/tv.


Great points. I beat BOTW on CEMU. Was great. Even used the Dualshock 4 for gyro aim. I'd played it once before on a real WiiU and used a hack to run the Dualshock 4 on that system too, hehe. I recently beat Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 on PC. I used a USB sensor bar and an official Wii Remote / Nunchchuk VIA Bluetooth. Looked amazing in 4k. I've also beat lots of the less "touchy" DS games with a Dualshock 4. Using the touch pad or right analog as the touch screen when needed. :)

3Ds will be even better when the emulator is better. They used the touch screen a LOT less for that system.

Cheers guys :P

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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by marurun Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:07 am

I'm going to argue there are important advantages to original hardware. But whether those advantages are at all compelling is 100% personal opinion.

First, while not all graphic designers were as conscientious, the good graphics folks designed their pixel art for CRTs. CRTs have a certain amount of pixel blur that can help smooth lines and blur colors, especially when there's dithering and gradients. Many pixel artists of the time took advantage of this. Further, CRTs change resolution extremely rapidly, and a few games relied on this as well. The Sega Genesis and to an extent the Saturn as well counted on CRT blur to make the "screen door" effect look more like transparency, similar to how CRT blur smooths dithering. So between smoothing pixel edges and blending colors, much pixel art is designed to look its best on a CRT. Emulators have a variety of filters to help, well, emulate this CRT filtering, but it's very hard to get that looking correct, and the more advanced the filter the less likely a lower-power emulation box can use it, leaving some folks stuck with crappy filters instead.

Input lag is another issue. While it doesn't present a problem on PC-based emulators running on PCs (usually), it definitely presents a problem on the Mini consoles and even on collections on Switch, PS4, and Xbox. Essentially, the most common and accessible emulation options for most people introduce additional input lag as part of emulation. Additionally, if you don't have an extremely low lag TV or monitor, your modern HD TV is also introducing lag. That means games won't feel as responsive, making it harder to play many of the games well and changing the feel of the action. Despite hyperbole to the contrary, I haven't found any games on any of my mini consoles to be truly unplayable, but I have found them to feel different, and to their detriment.

Last, and certainly not least, is that software emulation is truly not cycle accurate. This is probably the nit-pickiest point. I think there's a strong argument to be made that for many games and most players cycle accurate emulation isn't truly necessary, and I agree. But even though emulation these days is more than adequate enough for casual play, those who want to go for speed runs and records really need cycle accurate emulation. Basically, the lack of cycle accurate emulation means that many aspects of the game may have subtly different timing or behavior. Again, not an issue for most players, but for a few that is a problem. Music is one of those things most often affected by inaccurate emulation and cycle timing. The Sega Genesis in particular for some reason often suffers in emulation. The PC Engine also is often emulated slightly incorrectly, resulting in the noise channel being too loud. Those timing and behavior issues can also cause some games to fail altogether, requiring emulators to incorporate a bunch of special fixes and conditional hacks to ensure difficult games using undocumented chicanery will be able to run. This is why many people are really interested in FPGAs (hardware-based emulation), because you can essentially re-create the behavior of individual circuits and chips with more accurate timing. Emulators can also cause unpleasant surprises for people developing homebrew software, because they'll design and program a game doing most of their testing in an emulator, and then find that things don't work quite right on real hardware.

So yeah, software emulation, including mini consoles and console collections, are absolutely good enough for most players, even most players on here. But everyone has their own preferences. I think we shouldn't denigrate players based on how they prefer to play. I like to own original hardware and play on a CRT when I can, but I also like the convenience and accessibility of the mini consoles and modern console re-releases and collections. We're all extremely lucky that we have so many options for just how to play these games. We can pick the solution that's best for each of us.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by mobiusclimber Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:57 pm

The real problem with emulation is that it's the difference between having a VHS/DVD/Bluray collection and having Netflix. Yeah, Netflix has way more shows and movies, but you'll spend all your time deciding what to enjoy rather than enjoying it. If I emulate a game, I don't give it a chance to get better bc I spent no money on it and it isn't taking up physical space on my shelf. The hardware is secondary, tho I will say that playing with a decent controller made for the type of game I'm playing is more satisfying than playing an SNES game on a modded PSP, for instance.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by stickem Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:37 pm

^slot of what he said, and the other part nostalgia. Digital media just isnt tve same to me for whatever reason. I used to pirate everything back in the day. I enjoyed looking at my cool cd binder.
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Re: What exactly IS that "original hardware feeling" to you?

by samsonlonghair Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:52 pm

Just speaking for myself, I think that the "original hardware feeling" has a lot to do with tactility.

The number one thing is the controller. The feel of the authentic controller in my hands means the world to me. If you gave me the choice between a legit SNES controller plugged into an emulator box vs a crummy third party pelican controller plugged into a Super Nintendo, then the original controller wins.

Another thing about tactility is the feel of the cartridge as you seat it into the cartridge port. I love that feeling.

A really nice joystick with microswitches give me the same feeling.

Come to think of it, that's probably the reason why I'm typing this message with a mechanical keyboard right now.
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