Building an Arcade-Powered Collection That Feels at Home in a Console World

RB Retro Collecting Interview 006

Check out Interviews #1 , #2#3 , #4 and #5

As great as console of the 80s and 90s are, games rooted in the arcades of yesteryear are often some of the most exciting and impressive two-dimensional games in history. Sure, we have received some excellent console ports of arcade classics over the years, but there is just something about those original arcade games — and many times you really do need original hardware to get the full experience.

Of course, financial resources aside, most gamers might think that arcade game collecting is outside of their capabilities purely based on space requirements and maintainance. In this conversation with arcade [and console] collector, RetroEscape, you will learn that while storage and maintenance are still concerns, it is not as severe as you might assume.

This interview isn’t purely about arcade collecting, however. We touch on a handful of other topics such as fine-tuning video and audio output, curating a console collection, storage, and even balancing emulation with hardcore physical collecting.

After listening to Xavier/RetroEscape, you know he is passionate about his collection and his projects and its a pleasure to soak it all in. I hope you find this informative and entertaining.
Lets dig in…

Basic Bio:

  • Name: Xavier
  • Age – 42
  • Current Location:
  • Collecting for: 36 years (mostly accumulating since a kid)

So what is your gaming background and how has it evolved into your hobby?

I don’t really collect with the exception of arcade boards for the past five years; I may pick up a console game here and there if the price is right. I have managed to retain most of the video games, systems/consoles that were either purchased for me or that I have bought on my own since my childhood that has turned into a “collection”.

My love for video games started when I played the Atari 2600 for the first time at my cousin’s home, that same system was eventually given to me as a hand-me-down. That year was 1984, I was 6 years old and I haven’t looked back since.

What segments of your collection and/or hardware are you most proud of?

I’m very proud that an overwhelming portion of my console collection (90+%) is in immaculate condition as I’ve been the only owner and have bought the items/games at the time they were still being published/produced.

In the case of my Arcade Game/Board collection where I’ve bought all second hand/used I’ve managed to obtain boards that from first looking at them you wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole due to all the grime and gunk on them. I’m proud that I have been able to restore them to their former glory, I definitely take pride with my restoration projects.

It seems like you mostly share arcade and Neo-Geo games/hardware/setups. Is that pretty accurate of the bulk of your collection, or do you do a lot of typical console stuff too?

You’re absolutely right stating I share/post mostly Arcade/Neo Geo on Instagram, especially as of late because I moved into a space (home) that allows me to connect these larger items that take up real estate. I couldn’t do that living in a small apartment.

I also own about 50 different video game systems and games to go along with them.

What sparked your interest in starting to pick up arcade boards?

My interest began with two questions to myself – “Why am I playing inferior ported (to console) games that are emulated when I can play the original hardware/game where the game runs as intended/designed?”, second “Wouldn’t it be nice to own a SNK MVS (Arcade) unit since I already own several AES (Home) units?”.

What types of items are the biggest collecting challenges for you?

Easy Question! Arcade Boards! Why? They take up a lot of space, especially if you’re going to store them properly. Also properly storing games for preservation purposes is a real pain. Dust is evil!

Were there certain aspects that intimidated you before beginning? 

There were two aspects that intimidated me initially before I began collecting Arcade Boards – First was due to the age (30+ years) of the majority of the boards I was interested in, what the condition would be as in “where would I find parts if it needs repair?”. The other was how not to get ripped off on pricing, no one wants to get burned and end up with a super over-sized paperweight.

You mentioned you were nervous in the beginning about finding repair parts… how did that play out in reality?

Yes, at the beginning of my Arcade quest it was a bit nerve racking due to what if I need to replace parts that aren’t manufactured anymore.  I ended up purchasing a few junk boards just to have as a just-in-case, this even applies to consoles.

I acquired a complete Capcom MERCS (all three boards – A, B & C) for dirt cheap that had graphical glitches and would get worse as you play, where the screen would be completely full of artifacts and would end up being unplayable after 20 minutes.  I traced the issue back to the CPS1 A Board (Motherboard) and a faulty A-01 custom chip.  One of the spare boards I had was a CPS2 A Board (Motherboard) which utilizes the A-01 chip, I sent off the two boards to a buddy that transferred the working chip to the broken CPS1 Motherboard.  MERCS was back in action.

Other parts such as Motorola Z80 CPU, capacitors, resistors, crystal oscillators, etc. can be found brand new on sites like eBay, Console5, Digi-Key and Mouser. A great website to find specific parts or compatible parts is octopart.com.  Please Note – With the exception of removing and popping in ROMs/EPROMs you will need to be able to desolder defective parts and then solder in new ones.

As for consoles I had a NEC DUO-R unit that had a bad HuC6260A chip, replacing it with a non-working TurboGrafx-16 that has the same chip.  The great part is I’ve purchased many “for parts/junk/broken” boards and have been able to fix them in most cases, those that I can’t are spares used for spare parts to save others or if a working board fails and needs attention.

Was there anything about refurbishing and using arcade boards that surprised you in your earlier days? Anything you wished you knew earlier?

There definitely was/is – These Arcade PCBs are made to last unlike many of the modern game systems/consoles. I found it absolutely incredible that these boards (in the majority of cases) have withstood so many years of abuse and neglect where there would be so much dust, grime, and debris on them and yet they still worked as if they were fabricated yesterday.

As far as knowing something early on with Arcade Boards would be the fact some boards have different power requirements in order to function properly. Atari arcade games are a perfect example – most of their boards (if not all) require -5 volts in addition to 5 volts. Most Power supplies will provide 5v and 12v but not -5v, in the case of Pit Fighter not having -5v resulted in zero/no audio. Then there are other Arcade Boards that require 3.3v as well (later Sega arcade games/platforms).

So how did you handle the discovery of those power issues (like the example of the Atari boards) early on and what is the process like of resolving it? 

It’s interesting because when I first dived into Arcade Board collecting I used a Computer Power Supply Unit for power to a Supergun (shop on eBay), the PSU has 5 Volt, 12 Volt and -5 Volt, a game like Atari Pit Fighter worked perfectly fine.  When I started to shrink the setup real estate, I picked up a few of those PICO Mini-ITX power supplies, when I powered on Pit Fighter……NO AUDIO!

I noticed the sound board didn’t have the -5V light on, switched back to the original Computer PSU audio played and the -5V light was on.  Many Atari and Midway games need the -5V otherwise no audio whatsoever from the daughterboard.  The PICO PSU works great for the majority of Arcade Boards but I ended up connecting that to my test bench and purchased a few Meanwell RT-65A units and Suzo/Happ Power Pros for my primary setups.  Lesson learned – Not all PSUs are created equal, and certain Arcade Boards have different requirements in order to function properly.

The same applies to Superguns as well.  Some are better than others and safer for your equipment/boards!

When I started years ago, I needed to get a grasp on the inner workings of arcade setups and went the cheapest route possible just to test the waters and see if I wanted to fully commit to the arcade endeavor.  The cheapest Supergun on the market was the Retroelectronik (R2TRONIK / eBay).  This unit was roughly $45.00 (USD) for the basic and $65.00 for the “Pro” version (has more features) compared to others I checked that were $200.00+.  The unit worked perfectly but I noticed a few things – the soldering job wasn’t the best and I had to reflow what looked like cold solder joints, when connecting to a six button game like the Capcom fighting games the Punch and Kick Rows are reversed which I had to make a custom cable to fix the issue, headphone audio jacks not attenuated (I don’t use them). And the two biggest issues with the Supergun is the fact the unit does not attenuate (device does pass-thru) RGB signals and over time it could damage devices like an OSSC and Framemeister and when powering the unit on there can be voltage spikes that can damage arcade PCBs and other equipment.

I needed to find a safe solution but with some research I found that there were other Superguns with similar issues, just not as many as the Retroelectronik.  The Superguns I recommend are as follows in no particular order:

  1. Home Arcade System (known as the HAS Supergun) [Source / RetroRGB Info / eBay ]
  2. Parsec [Source / RetroRGB Info + V1.1 updates / eBay ]
  3. Sentinel [Source / RetroRGB Info / eBay ]
  4. Minigun (open source, same creator as the Sentinel) [Source / RetroRGB Info / eBay ]
  5. JNX [Source / eBay ]

Before anyone commits to a Supergun purchase, they need to do their research as these units have different features, connectors and add-ons.  Also, folks will have to sign up for a waitlist that can take months.

What methods do you use to track down pieces that you’re interested in?

The only method I’ve used is eBay, I know many forums (networking within the forums) and even Facebook live auctions/sales can be fruitful and, in many cases, can be cheaper but I’ve been extremely successful with eBay.   However, with the searching ability and more robust feedback system, eBay has been a better tool, in my opinion.

When I hunt for a game, I do an initial targeted search – the specific game’s title first and then check prices and trend the pricing to have an idea of what to expect. A lot of time the pricing will be higher (always these days), now this is where I start wide spread, generalized search. I search for the arcade platform such as “CPS1” or “CPS2” and the search provides just about anything and everything, another search term would be “Capcom Arcade” or “Capcom CPS2. Other examples would be “Konami Arcade” and “Konami PCB. These generalized searches turn up items that obviously you have cull through the search results which takes time but might strike gold and find a gem that wasn’t listed under the targeted (game name) search. This method can be used for console game hunting as well.

My most recent dirt-cheap acquisition was a CPS (Capcom Play System – Capcom Mitchell Hardware) Super Buster Bros. board. The widespread, generalized eBay search turned up a board that was mislabeled as a Buster Bros. board with all original components and ROM labels, it was posted as a “Buy It Now” for $50.00 with free shipping. This board on eBay sells for $150.00+ in terrible shape, with reprogrammed ROMs that have blank stickers over the EPROM windows/glass. Legitimate Super Buster Bros. boards sell for more.

What types of precautions do you take when evaluating an item and seller before committing?

Make sure the seller has a very high positive feedback, some may have a few negatives against them. Check the negative feedback to see what claims were made about the seller.   Sometimes the negative marks on their record could be for something outside their control or just a difficult buyer.  Doing some digging into their feedback can be worth the time.  You get to know who you are dealing with much better.

You should ensure the item pictured on the listing is the actual item (board) you’ll be receiving. Some listings have stock photos or one single photo taken from the web. Once confirmed it will be the item pictured start looking at all the photos in detail.

I scrutinize the hell out of the photos, inspect section after section of the board. The first thing to check is if the board powers on and does the graphics display properly, most sellers will have these screens. I then move on to the following:

  • Check for oxidation (rust) throughout, water damage, insects (do you wants roaches or worse yet bedbugs in your home?)
  • Any components that are broken or in poor condition (capacitor swelling is an example)
  • Parts that look to have been replaced, broken traces, heavy scratches on the board or chips
  • Ensure not a single pin from any chips are bent, lifted or broken, the condition of any and all labels/stickers and if any are missing
  • Also if the labels are original and not reproductions.

For boards that have enclosures such as Capcom CPS2:

  • The condition of the case exterior, are there any cracks, missing black front casing plugs, again check the case labels.
  • For a CPS2 case that is still factory sealed and the seller doesn’t have interior (board) pictures check the outside of the case if you see any yellowing or orange coloring especially by where the battery resides and the rear fan vent area that means the board has been compromised the battery has leaked on to the board. This is an instant deal breaker as the battery acid has probably caused extensive board damage.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for more pictures, if the seller truly wants to sell the board, he/she will provide them to you.

Did you already have some electronics restoration experience before collecting boards?

Yes, I did. As a child I would take apart electronics and learn how to clean them at first then fix them (in most cases) like TVs, VCRs, CD Players.  This was before the internet existed and I had to self-teach myself and do lots of trial and error. My first console hardware mod was the region select on a Sega Genesis around 1992 or 1993 when Sega introduced the region lockout on their newer games.

I am a firm believer in hands-on learning — there is no better way. I did learn some electrical basics from a cousin that did facilities management. He taught me safety which is absolutely critical. I cannot stress it enough.

Are there any guides out there that you recommend to help learn the basics of board restoration?

I have yet to see a truly all-encompassing/comprehensive guide (maybe there is, again I haven’t seen it), the issue is each board has its challenges and must be addressed accordingly hence so many repair logs for individual boards. It’s just like a doctor’s office, each patient (board) is different and can/will have different requirements (if that makes sense).

As far as a complete board restoration you have two basic areas of concentration:

PCB Cleaning (+ inspection/testing/diagnostics) and PCB Repair.

I recommend the Tutorial category on the Arcade Otaku website to get started. It lists various elements of restoration.

There are also plenty of Forums a person can read and participate on as well such as Arcade Projects and the International Arcade Museum. Please note – I don’t actively participate on the forums but know there are some knowledgeable people there that will give genuine, useful information.

There are tons of YouTube videos on the subject, I can’t validate if the methods used are legitimately safe (for the board) and factual for those posted due to the sheer number of videos. I did view some years ago, I cringed and never looked again. People have to be very careful of misinformation on this subject unfortunately.

For diagnosing and repairing boards, I highly recommend that the person performing the restoration know some basics such as how to Solder/Desolder, how to program EPROMs/Flash Chips, how to safely pull those ROMS/Chips, how to use a Multimeter and a Logic Probe and even how to read electronic schematics. There are more advanced tools to learn as well. The website Instructables and HACKADAY can be very helpful in this area and then some as well. Remember – You have to do your homework in order to succeed!

****Please Note – for certain boards/games there are specialty sites focused on that particular Arcade Board platform such as Capcom’s CPS2 (Capcom Play System II) or SNK’s Neo Geo MVS.*

So how many boards  do you have currently? And how do you store them effectively?

I currently own approximately 120 arcade boards not counting SNK MVS, IGS PGM or Atomiswave Motherboards or games. I store every single one of them in their own Electrostatic Bag (ESD bags). Should the board be multi-tiered (layered) or should it have a large heatsink where it’s raised much higher than the rest of the components on the board, I use padding in order to even out the dimensions in order to pack it away.

For the padding I use Anti-Static Bubble Wrap (pink in color). To seal the ESD Bags I use good old Scotch tape, take out the majority of the air from the bag, fold the bag opening over and tape it. Should the board have a large footprint such as the Sega System 16/32 or some of the Atari Boards I use two EDS Bags and cut them then fit them as if it’s a much larger bag to accommodate the board size ensuring the board is wrapped completely. I’m simply making a larger bag.

After the board is protected/bagged I use USPS Priority Mail Boxes or FedEx boxes to store them. ULINE boxes are better but will cost you especially if you require 100+ boxes, the USPS and FedEx boxes are free. Smaller boards will require one box either a medium or large, longer boards and Capcom CPS2 A & B Boards require two boxes. Please Note – you can’t fit both the Capcom CPS2 A & B Boards together; each has to have its own boxes. I use two boxes because the board/CPS2 is much longer than a single large box, you will not be able to seal the box. I first build the two boxes sealing only one end of each. I then pad the inside of one of the “built” boxes with regular bubble wrap and place the board /CPS2 (either an A or B Board) inside making sure it’s a nice and snug fit, then pad the exposed top of the board/CPS2. Afterwards I take the other box I assembled and slide it over the box with the board/CPS2 and the boxes effectively seal themselves by sliding into one another, creating a longer box to accommodate the board length/size. You can sometimes fit two smaller, thin boards in one large box but you have to make sure there’s sufficient padding to protect the boards from damaging each other.

For approximately 120 boards I have three 4-Tier Wire Garage Storage Shelving Units (36 in. W x 54 in. H x 14 in. D) up against two walls, with each box marked of what is inside, the condition and including wire harnesses or board converter. It’s better to keep these items together so you’re not running around trying to find it somewhere else.

One very important item that I have yet to see online is storage temperature and more importantly humidity. I have a dehumidifier in the room these Arcade Boards and the rest of my Retro Gaming Collection are kept in. I keep the temperature between 60 and 76 degrees and the humidity no higher than 50%. It is critical that the humidity levels do not exceed 60%. I also do not have the racks near any heaters or vents.

How long do you usually keep a certain board out for play before swapping?

It all depends on my mood, especially what I wanna play at the moment. Some can be for a quick fix where I play for a day or two, beat it a few times or just practice and then put it away. Other boards and especially arcade platforms (think SNK MVS, Capcom CPS, Sammy/Sega Atomiswave and IGS PGM) I leave connected permanently as there is a main motherboard and the games can be swapped out easily. Pretty much there is no time table, it’s all about the mood.

And on a related note, maybe give a run down on what you’re plugging you’re boards into for play.

I try to keep it as simple as possible.

For my Arcade boards I own a few Minigun Superguns [Source / RetroRGB Info / eBay ] as I can assemble the boards since it’s open source and very cheap to build. I have those plugged in via SCART to a HYDRA SCART Switch, the HYDRA Switch is then connected to either an OSSC or Framemeister XRGB-Mini for modern TVs.

Should I be outputting to say a professional CRT/RGB Monitor like a SONY PVM/BVM I use a Female RGBS SCART to 4 x BNC adapter cable. If I am using a consumer CRT TV such as a Sony Wega I have the SCART output from the HYDRA Switch connected to either a Shinybow SB-2840 or the relatively new RetroTINK RGB2COMP (eBay).

How do you think your collection or hardware setup differs from the typical retro collection? (Even by Instagram standards)

I believe my collection differs because I own games and consoles/systems I am interested in playing and don’t collect for the sake of collecting or having a “complete set” for a console/system, I have specific targeting.

I have been commended on my different hardware setups and knowledge that I share along the way as some are very non-typical, including custom hardware items I’ve made for myself like CPS2 Boards (The Punisher, 19XX), the metal two-slot Neo Geo MVS housing I welded and painted as well as other mods that deviate from the stuff you find on the internet and YouTube.

I am currently working on another Retro-gaming TV Cart specifically for arcade vertical shmups, you don’t see those on Instagram. I’ve also featured certain products that I have purchased (I don’t get freebies or kickbacks) that would work for others in their setups such as various Neo Geo MVS Kits from Lions3, Neo Jamma MVS Supergun, and many of Jamma Nation X arcade products.

What types of things do you do to fine-tune your setup?

This is a topic I could probably talk about for days…There are so many things a person can do to fine-tune a gaming setup and many forks/paths in the road you can take depending on the hardware and yes even the games that will be played on the particular setup.

A few examples are spending hours cleaning and calibrating a CRT TV, tweaking the geometry and picture so that it’s “just right” for each system and having a log for the consoles/systems that were connected to the specific TV.

Depending on the console/system screen geometry (colors can too) will change (screen display may be edge to edge using a Neo Geo, but when you plug in a SNES the screen will be moved to the left or right, not edge to edge). The same goes for someone using a Framemeister (other XRGB units) or an OSSC.

Each console/system has its own attributes as well as the modern Flat Screen TV it’s being displayed on that have to be taken into account as this will affect the display output, these are major factors in proper calibration, scale, other factors such as sync come into play as well.

There are “Profiles” available online for these, I created my own from scratch for the specific TVs I use. For those that use CRTs I highly recommend getting to know the factory “Service Menu” for their specific CRT TV. Modern Flat Screen TVs have them as well but you’re most likely not need to access it. Audio is another aspect many gamers overlook that I take seriously in my setup, planning, modding (when needed) and tweaking accordingly.

Custom OSSC Video Profiles by RetroEscape (click for more detail and info)

For devices such as the Micomsoft XRGB-mini Framemeister (other XRGB devices) and the OSSC there are custom profiles available on the internet, dedicated profiles for many video game systems/consoles. It helps to first understand how to use the devices and then move on to implementing the profiles and then tweaking them afterwards depending on your setup. Please Note – the settings for some of the profiles may not work depending on the Modern Flat Screen TV and even the cables used, if your console has been modded for video output and the type/brand of Arcade Supergun you’re using. Here are some links for folks to get started:

As for CRT TVs and or Monitors I highly recommend folks find the unit’s Service Manual and learn how to get into the unit’s “Service Menu” and how to change the settings. In most unit’s you’ll be able to change options such as horizonal/vertical size and centering, other geometry (bow, pin amp, pin phase, etc.), sub-contrast, sub-brightness, chroma, gamma, and color adjustments such as gain and bias. This is the safest method to calibrate the CRT TV for all. There are more advanced forms of calibration but one would have to open up the CRT TV.

Please Note – DO NOT open up (disassemble) the TV unless you know what you are doing and know about electrical safety. Doing so can result in harm to the person and damage to the TV. Even with the TV powered off it carries/holds an electrical charge. Only an experienced, qualified person should attempt any adjustments as you need the TV powered on in order to see the adjustments being made.

I’m intrigued about the sound customizing — I’ve never really thought about it, so I’m curious what you do there.

As far as the audio for both Consoles and Arcade Boards I restore Stereo where needed. Here are a few examples

  1. Many of the SNK MVS single slot units do not output stereo, I mod them to be able to do so;
  2. Some older consoles such as the Sega Genesis do not output Stereo or have less than stellar audio output. Due to the amount of board revisions not each Sega Genesis is created equal, I modded the ones that need it;
  3. The Capcom CPS2 Mother boards (A Board) has Stereo RCA Jacks that output Q Sound which I connect to an external amp to advantage of the 3D audio effects, if you use the JAMMA connector for Audio it’s Mono, Q Sound is non-existent;
  4. Newly released retro gaming devices such as Terraonion Super SD System 3 for the PC Engine, CoreGrafx, CoreGrafx 2 and SuperGrafx systems shipped with Audio (Video too) flaws where it’s distorted. I purchased the FirebrandX Stereo Bypass Board to correct the issue;
  5. Back in the early 90’s I made a custom cable for my TurboGrafx-16 where I had both Composite and Stereo output instead of using the RF Unit, luckily I had a friend that had the AV TurboBooster for me to trace the pins;
  6. Other things come into play such as if you own both a Sega Genesis and Sega CD – you should take advantage and use the Sega CD’s Stereo RCA Jacks and definitely utilize an Audio Mixing Cable from a Sega Genesis Model 1 to the Sega CD. Little things like this can make a big difference.

To further enhance the gaming experience, I have the majority of my systems going to external audio amps/receivers and speakers as I don’t like the tinny, metallic, aluminum can like sound that comes out of most CRT/Modern TV Speakers. The speakers in the units are too small and are unable to faithfully reproduce bass frequency and certain midrange resulting in more high-pitched audio. High quality cables are also a plus, that goes for video as well.

How does emulation play into your setup/routine?

I’ve been tinkering with software emulation since the 90’s but lost interest because I can just play the games on the original hardware the way it was intended, but for several years now since the inception of the Raspberry Pi (other options out there as well), FPGA as of late and of course the whole Classic Mini craze these have got me back into the emulation scene.

I own a few of the Classic Mini’s which I’ve hacked and populated with games that I own; these are great because you can just power it on and play. I have these put away and plug them in when the time calls for it. Same goes for the Raspberry Pi (others like it) with RetroPie.

Again, I have the Pi loaded with games I own and it’s great cause I can load Arcade games I own and be able to play almost anywhere due to its small form factor and I don’t have to take any boards out of storage boxes, or worry about dust or debris getting on them! The Pi has always been a major hit when introduced at a friend or family members home.

As far as FPGA like the Analogue consoles it’s great cause you don’t have to have all this other gear and be able to play the original game cartridge (or ROM(s) if you jailbreaked it). I own a few and employ them in setups where I wanted/needed to consolidate console footprint (space) as much as possible. The more systems the merrier right? LOL

I have yet to get (purchase) into the MiSTer Project which is gaining major momentum lately, might have to jump on that bandwagon soon.

With all of these pieces of hardware including the EverDrive Cartridges you can play Color Hacked games where many of the authors (Pyron, Lord HiRyu, and Linkuei to name a few) have improved original ports of a game, making them look and in some cases sound better especially certain games for the Sega Genesis. The Arcade1Up craze is also another example where emulation comes into play as I’ve modded a Galaga unit with a Pi3/RetroPie with vertical Shmups and other vertical based games and another Marvel Superheroes with a Pi4 for my brother. I love tinkering.

What parts about owning, plugging in, and playing those original pieces bring you the most satisfaction, making worth all the extra effort and expense worth it?  (Vs Emulation)

With owning and playing the original pieces I have a perfect 1 to 1, mirror representation of the game, the way it was designed and intended when it was released decades ago.  It’s extremely gratifying to step back in time to when I was a kid/teenager and be able to play the original game as it was.  The technical aspect also satisfies my curiosity of how things work, how to make it work.  I was always into the Audio/Video aspect of video games and this further enhances the experience, applying what I knew back then to what I’ve been collecting now.  With software emulation, it’s not a perfect 100% conversion as many games will perform faster or slower, where the original hardware has precise timings, software emulation takes shortcuts resulting in inaccuracies including visible graphical glitches.  With Hardware emulation (FPGA) there is still plenty of work to be done as many of the FPGA Cores aren’t precise (not a perfect 1:1 representation), yet and many systems/games have yet to have a dedicated core.  A good example is both the Mega SG and the Super NT from Analogue.  See how many firmware updates it’s received, clearly, it’s not “perfect”.  It’s a bold statement but factual.

I will say this about FPGA – It is the closest thing to having genuine hardware. I do believe there’s a bright future ahead with FPGA especially with all the support behind it.

And/or are there either existing solutions (or ones in the works) that would let you load a ROM into something like a flash cart that can play it on “original hardware”?

There are definitely existing solutions, known as “Multi-Kits” and new ones on the horizon.   The most popular is the CPS2 (Capcom Play System II) Multi Kit from DARKSOFT.  Other kits are for the Sega System 16B; 18; 24; C2; STV (Cartridge), the Irem M72, and the Taito F3 (Cartridge).  There’s even Sega/Sammy Atomiswave games running on the Naomi hardware.    With all of the non-cartridge-based kits a donor game board is required to be modified to accept the Multi Kit.  A soon to be released Multi Kit is for the CPS1 (Capcom Play System I).

What are the items you are most thankful for adding to your collection?

Within the past five years I’ve been able to obtain most of the Psikyo Shmups Arcade Boards such as the Strikers/Gunbird series, and Sengoku Ace. Also, specific Konami Arcade Boards such as Rush’n Attack (Green Beret), Contra, G.I. Joe and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In many cases I’ve been able to purchase these for a quarter of the current pricing. I’ve been very fortunate as the prices have gone up drastically in that time and availability is becoming difficult for certain games.

Which ones do you kinda regret purchasing?

As far as regrets I only have one – The year was 1995, during the month of August I pre-ordered the original PlayStation from what was then known as Electronics Boutique, this one being an EBX located at Rockefeller Center in New York City which stocked items of a more expensive nature (store sold 3DOs and Neo Geo AES units). I didn’t have the $300.00+ for the PlayStation and made a huge sacrifice – I traded in 28 Sega Genesis games that were in like new condition, registration cards and all for a $10.00 trade in for each game. I’m talking about games like Splatterhouse 3 (I kept part 2, love that one…lol), Strider, Whip Rush, Thunder Force III, Truxton, Troubleshooter, Gaiares, Elemental Master, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts just to name a few. I even pleaded with the store manager that I should receive more of a trade return due to the condition, no dice. Luckily, I was smart enough to keep games like Castlevania: Bloodlines, Contra: Hard Corps, Lightening Force, Gunstar Heroes…thank goodness. I still think about that decision to this very day…

Ouch. Yeah that hurts.

Well at least it sounds like you still have a lot of those older pieces. Any particular items from your childhood that are still a crucial part of your collection?

It’s all about those childhood memories! Two items, first my Model 1 (non-TMSS) Sega Genesis I still have since the day it was bought. I can only imagine how many hours of game time that unit has seen. Plenty of awesome memories with that system/console, especially with my younger brother and cousin playing games like Royal Rumble, General Chaos, TMNT, and Gunstar Heroes to name a few.

Another item that most might end up shaking their heads is the 3DO. I know the system gets a lot of slack but one has to take a step back and look at the entire video game scene at that time. Where were the other system/console manufacturers with their 32-bit units? Nowhere to be found, not even on the horizon. While all my friends were playing the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo, I was playing games like Road Rash, Foes of Ali, Samurai Shodown, Gex, Warp’s D, Demolition Man, Need for Speed, Super Street Fighter II Turbo and in super sharp S-Video (at that time)! The 3DO might not be as crucial as some other systems in my collection but the countless memories gaming on that machine puts it in a special place in my heart.

Thank you so much, Xavier, for the time he spent on this conversation. I feel like we could have kept going, but I hope everyone enjoy this conversation. Be sure to check out his Instagram account, if you haven’t already.


2 Comments

Kelly Greenidge says:

Awesome interview guys. I have been following Xavier on Instagram for the last year and just love his content.

racketboy says:

Thanks, Kelly! It was a pleasure getting to know him and his collection better. Hope you dig around into the other content — let me know what you think! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get a nice roundup of new retro gaming content once or twice a month.