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casterofdreams
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The Micro-Console General Discussion Thread

by casterofdreams Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:21 pm

Hi Everyone,

I recently made this topic that I will now repurpose to have a general discussion, tips, and experiences, about a fairly niche segment of the gaming industry: the Micro-Console segment. You can also discuss other related topics like where you think the industry is going, things like that.

Below I will be sharing my experiences so far with the three micro-consoles that I own: the Apple TV 4K, the Nvidia Shield TV 2017, and lastly the PS Vita TV. I will be updating my experiences in the original post as I go. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve experienced and observed thus far:

Apple TV 4K:
This is Apple’s first streaming device with 4K and HDR support and it has the hardware to back this up: it has the A10X chip (@ 2.38 GHz) which powers the second generation of the iPad Pro, 3GB of RAM, and comes in either 32 or 64GB of flash memory. I have the latter which cost me $199. The user interface is very Apple for the people familiar with other iOS devices.

The operating system is familiar to those who have used other Apple products. As someone who is heavily invested in the iOS ecosystem, I have a decent collection of games that are compatible with the console. The biggest stand out for me is Geometry Wars 3 and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Both look vivid on the big screen and run smooth as butter. The controller I am using is the SteelSeries Nimbus. By itself its $50 but if you purchase from Apple directly you can get a $40 bundle that comes with a copy of Minecraft Apple TV edition which runs great. The controller has the same layout shared with many controllers such as the Xbox 360 but is closer to the DualShock controller due to the placement of the sticks. The controller works well but the sticks are not clickable (no R3/L3).

Here are some of the games I have for the platform: Geometry Wars 3, Pac-Man Championship Edition, Badland 1 & 2, Transistor, Minecraft TV Edition, and Real Racer 3.

As for streaming it has the usual standard kit (at least for me): Amazon Video, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and YouTube. All work as you’d expect. YouTube does not run on 4K however so be aware of this. Amazon Video is not capable of renting or buying directly from the app. You’d have to purchase or rent movies and the like from a different device.

NVidia Shield TV 2017:
This streamer is the same one released in 2015 including the internal hardware but has been refreshed for 2017 and now is smaller, includes a remote, and a controller in the box for $199. The hardware is as follows: Tegra X1 chip (@ 1.9 GHz) (GPU @ 1000 MHz), 3GB of RAM, and comes in 16 GB or the Pro version with 500GB hard drive. I have the former as the unit can support external drives (currently have 1TB WD drive). The controller layout is similar to the SteelSeries mentioned above plus clickable sticks.

The software is Android and has the strength and weaknesses of the platform: it is an open system capable of running many types of apps such as what is found on the google play store, and many apps which can be side loaded. The experience is not as smooth as Apple TV as not all aspects will work 100% of the time (compatibility issues and the like – it is a stable operating system but I did have a few apps crash on me). As a result, the biggest draw is the ability to run emulators. I personally have Dolphin (GameCube), PPSSPP (PSP – fun fact: the article on the front page is what got me to buy this streamer), and an all-purpose app called RetroArch which has the ability to run many emulators (currently running SNES, GB, GBA, and Lynx).

One thing to note about apps: the marketplace on Android TV does not have a section which lists previously purchased apps like Apple. The only way to see if you have compatible apps is using a PC and visiting the Play store, selecting the Android TV from a drop down menu and clicking on every app to see if it is compatible. Even then, there is no guarantee. It may run on the unit but you may not be able to get past the title screen. It may not even show up on the home screen (you need an app called Sideload Launcher - Android TV to see hidden apps).

I haven’t had much experience with the NVidia software side of things. I have not used the streaming service where it’s similar to PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass. I haven’t linked up my NVidia equipped PC either for TV streaming. They have a store where you can buy PC games as well as Android games but I haven’t purchased any. I have some games compatible with Android TV like KOTOR.

Streaming-wise it’s similar to the Apple TV with the added support for YouTube in 4K and the ability to buy or rent movies and shows from the Amazon Video store directly.

PS Vita TV:
The Vita is the lightest, smallest, and weakest of the three. This discontinued product released in 2013/2014 with two retail configurations: the unit by itself or in a pack with a DualShock 3 controller and an 8GB proprietary memory card. The PS Vita's Arm Cortex A9 Quad Core CPU runs at 333 to 444 MHz and has 512MB in RAM. It has 1GB of memory but becomes inaccessible when using a memory card. The memory cards are proprietary as mentioned earlier and very expensive (beware of fakes).

Software-wise, it’s the Vita blown up for the TV. Speaking of TV, the maximum resolution is 1080i and 720p. It looks decent enough on a 4K TV. It runs most PS Vita games. I say most because games that relied on the front touch or back panel for gameplay input will not run outside of hacking (which I have not done). It can also run PSP games downloaded through the PS Store as well as PSOne Classics.

Streaming is a major letdown. The only app it has outside of the obscure ones is Crunchyroll. No Amazon Video, No Netflix.

Still, given all this, the Vita TV is great for playing Vita and PSP games on the big screen. There are limitations but I like that its part of my little collection of micro-consoles.

So there it is. What are your experiences with this niche segment? Have any tips or tricks?

Since I became heavily invested into the iOS platform recently with an iPhone I picked up this last Summer and an iPad in the Fall (read: I bought a sit ton of gaming apps), I decided to get myself an Apple TV. I got the 4K model aka the 5th gen version.

While it has a 5 week back order (64GB model) I did get the Steel Series controller first which comes with a code for Minecraft. This got my thinking: since the TV supports an actual controller (sticks aren't clickable which is bazaar), does anyone here have experience with gaming on the Apple TV? How is it? Good selection of games available? Can you run emulators on the thing?
Last edited by casterofdreams on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gaming on the Apple TV

by racketboy Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:53 pm

We use our Apple TV for gaming quite regularly.

We use the SteelSeries Nimbus
https://www.amazon.com/SteelSeries-Nimb ... controller

I've been pretty happy with, but there may be better out there.

We primarily play the specular ports of Sonic, Sonic 2, and Sonic CD (best way to play even?) as well as DuckTales Remastered, a few of the Pac-Man titles, Crossy Road, and a few shmups. I'm sure there's probably some way to hack emulators on the thing, but it's not as simple as shopping the App Store for them...

I'd love to see Sega add Apple TV support to more of their games....
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casterofdreams
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Re: Gaming on the Apple TV

by casterofdreams Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:20 pm

That's the controller I picked up. Feels good in the hand but I think it's odd that the sticks don't click in.

I have to wait about five weeks for the thing to come in so I'm pretty excited to try out some games on it. EAs Real Racing works on it from what I've read so it'll be awesome to play with a proper controller. As for PAC-MAN I didn't know they had a port of the Championship Edition DX on the platform. That supports Apple TV along with Geometry Wars 3. I hope for more devs to bring their games over the the TV.
My BTS List: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37219
My 8 Gen portables: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41354
My First Guide: Re-Released games w/DLC (this guide needs work. *UPDATED*): viewtopic.php?f=52&t=44588&p=821770#p821770
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Re: Gaming on the Apple TV

by racketboy Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:46 pm

casterofdreams wrote:That's the controller I picked up. Feels good in the hand but I think it's odd that the sticks don't click in.

I have to wait about five weeks for the thing to come in so I'm pretty excited to try out some games on it. EAs Real Racing works on it from what I've read so it'll be awesome to play with a proper controller. As for PAC-MAN I didn't know they had a port of the Championship Edition DX on the platform. That supports Apple TV along with Geometry Wars 3. I hope for more devs to bring their games over the the TV.


And I didn't know about Geometry Wars! I will pick that one up!
Yeah, there's so much iOS stuff out there yet nobody makes a big deal about Apple TV stuff. They paid games are a great deal for the most part and once you get enough of them you actually have a cost-effective console that is especially kid-friendly.
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Re: Gaming on the Apple TV

by casterofdreams Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:14 pm

I agree. I've purchased quite a lot of games on the iOS platform and I like the fact that I'm able to download them on multiple different devices whether it be an iPhone, an iPod touch, an iPad, or lastly an Apple TV. I was in the market for something with a little more "umph" than something like a roku stick for a fire stick.

I looked at the Nvidia Shield. The plus on that is that I can theoretically side install emulators. The only downside is that I wasn't actually invested in the android platform as heavily as I am on the iOS in terms of purchases. So Apple TV made sense.
My BTS List: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37219
My 8 Gen portables: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41354
My First Guide: Re-Released games w/DLC (this guide needs work. *UPDATED*): viewtopic.php?f=52&t=44588&p=821770#p821770
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Re: The Micro-Console General Discussion Thread

by casterofdreams Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:12 pm

I am bumping this topic with a new title to reflect changes in my first post. I've turned this into a general micro-console discussion thread.
My BTS List: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37219
My 8 Gen portables: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41354
My First Guide: Re-Released games w/DLC (this guide needs work. *UPDATED*): viewtopic.php?f=52&t=44588&p=821770#p821770
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Re: The Micro-Console General Discussion Thread

by casterofdreams Mon Feb 05, 2018 2:32 pm

Hi everyone. I have a quick update on the Nvidia Shield. The Google play store through Nvidia's proprietary game store has some big name games where you can buy. I ended up purchasing Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel. The games both have graphical adjustment similar to the PC version where you can choose between low, medium, and high for most graphical options. On max settings the games run around 30 FPS though it rest closer to 25 FPS (I have no way in testing this out so I'm just eyeballing it). Still, having a large game like Borderlands running on a game console the size of a DVD case is pretty cool. The price for each game was $15 and it only runs on the Shield outside of hacking for other devices.
My BTS List: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37219
My 8 Gen portables: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41354
My First Guide: Re-Released games w/DLC (this guide needs work. *UPDATED*): viewtopic.php?f=52&t=44588&p=821770#p821770
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Re: The Micro-Console General Discussion Thread

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:11 pm

In addition to my PS TV, I also have an Ouya and a GameStick. I've not spent a whole lot of time with either (although the input lag on GameStick is absolutely ATROCIOUS unless you're in direct line of sight with the console and within about two meters), but I plan to hit those a bit more just to see what they have to offer once I get moved.
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Re: The Micro-Console General Discussion Thread

by casterofdreams Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:29 am

The Ouya, I think, was the system that jump started this niche market. I've always wanted one of those but I wasn't too sure where the market would go. It wasn't bad at the time from what I remember. Now however, we've got some powerful little machines such as the Shield. Regardless, the first thing i remember thinking about this guy was its emulation potential as I had an Android phone at the time that had emulators installed (the Gameboid for example).

Game Stick I remember hearing about it but not much info was available. I'm sorry to hear about the poor controller setup.

I'm more interest in the fact that Nintendo is releasing some of its older games for the Shield in China: Zelda Twilight Princess, Super Mario Bros. Wii and Punch Out. It seems that those won't be released in other territories but one can hope.
My BTS List: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=37219
My 8 Gen portables: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41354
My First Guide: Re-Released games w/DLC (this guide needs work. *UPDATED*): viewtopic.php?f=52&t=44588&p=821770#p821770
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