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Hondo's Bar

NZA's Classic Game Room


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so yeah, i've been watching a lotta CGR, and going down to that arcade i found last year. and like my idea for a bar & comic shop, i don't think it's commerically viable, but i've been thinking it's something i'd love to do on my own for a while now, so here's where i'ma write about that.


right now, it's essentially the same living room Ly, JZA, CJ, & co saw at Hondo's Con, but i'm constantly revamping it - this year so far, I've bought a model 1 (best sound quality) Genesis, modded for S-video & proper stereo outputs, and several dozen games, many of which are classic co-op titles. Each was cleaned with a q-tip & rubbing alcohol and works great, and i took the time to open up & clean my Sega Arcade Power stick for similar reasons (some WD40 got rid of the squeak! stick cost me $10, i love that ebay doesnt care about non-SNES stuff at the moment).


said genny came with a Sega-CD (model 2 this time) and almost 20 games, which are a mixed batch of course but the real gem was me finlaly figuring out (and @#$% bishopcruz for not telling me this years ago) that much like the turbo CD and 3DO, Sega-CD lacks any kind of copy protection...needless to say, i'm hard at work burning everything from Final Fight CD to Snatcher to all those japanese SHMUPs we never got (and bless little kertins for cutting out all these custom covers).


The final batch for this leg of the project was a Saturn modded for imports & backups (because fuck buying stuff like Panzer Dragoon Saga for $200+ second-hand) off a guy on craigslist, already got Dracula X, Falcom Classics & Thunder Force Gold ready for the import section, plus a ton of stuff i never got to play having basically missed out on that library. I've had to make room for at least 2 more shelves of incoming stuff, but i'll have pics up when it's all together.


The idea is to have retro game nights, i thought i'd be cool to have an anything-goes-16-bit night, a brutal Sega-CD one (think something fun/multi like Eternal Champions, but every other game is a FMV title chosen by someone else...bishop is so getting Ground Zero Texas), and the like, with sep. 9th reserved for the Dreamcast.


future phases/projects include:

  • the biggest current gaps are N64 (tempted to just emulate this + USB docks on PC supporting the original pads, i sold off my library years back but it was less than 10 titles anyway) and the still-far-off goal of a Neo-Geo one day, preferrably the original one more than the recent portable as i hear the connection over HDMI don't look so good.
  • I'm debating between SCART > component converters for the systems currently on S-video later (Genesis, SNES, Saturn), but hopefully by that point i'll have picked up an SD TV, i've seen 36" sony trinitrons go for $50 or less on CL. someday i'd love to get a top of the line XRGB japanese scaler for the best possible setup but they typicall venture close to $4-500, so no hurry on that one
  • As i'm hoping to finally own property sometime around/right after 2015, i thought it'd be awesome to take an entire room (or convert a garage?) for said project to work on the lighting & such, as well as setup a full bar in one corner to really bring the whole thing together...this is obviously pretty far off but i'm trying to work a bit this year to make this happen

it's a little project i've had running around in my head since Dante gave me that Playstation 2 hanging light years back, but i think it'd be pretty cool & a fun idea for hangouts when it's done. Taking suggestions here, as well as essential titles!

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I've always wanted a bar/gameroom myself. Actually i'd like to make a replica of Flynns arcade and when you go behind the Tron machine it takes you down to a speakeasy. But pipe dreams *le sigh*


That being said, I can't wait to see pictures. Might have to make a FL trip to see it live.

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So here's something I've been meaning to try, maybe someone here knows why it doesn't work or can give me a good reason not to.


So I get something like this (not specifically, this was just my first google hit), an RF modulator that can do RF/Coax to S-Video. Then I get something like this , which converts S-Video/RCA to VGA.

Then I plug all my old consoles into a monitor and speakers.


Y/N? I really don't want a shitty old CRT TV taking up my valuable real estate. I don't care about it being too pixelated.

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I believe that Belkin RF modulator is actually the opposite of what you want. I think it's for connecting equipment with s-video or composite cables to a TV that only has a coax connection. It's got s-video in/coax out.


I'm pretty sure you want a converter with coax in/s-video out so you can then connect to svideo in/VGA out converter and THEN to the VGA in of your monitor.




There has to be an easier way...

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It should work. You typically get signal degredation anytime you introduce a splitter/converter into the path, so it might look really bad, but it should work.


What old consoles are we talking about. Didn't even the original NES have composite output.....that'd be easier to deal with.

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it did (model 1), but only 1 audio out, which is easily rectified by a splitter, it's what i do - of course, you're just putting out mono in 2 speakers, the system can't do stereo sound unmodded.


and yeah loggins, composite would be a lot better (and easier, no?) than RF, but let me warn you, it still might take a bit - specifically, don't try adapters on their own, if it's not too much more i'd go with something powered. for instance, different scenario but i could not get my dreamcast's VGA adapter to work on any other format, even though component is supposed to be a very similar signal. i got a powered VGA > HDMI converter for $30 off monoprice, and it works beautifully.


...and even in that example, i'm still sending a VGA signal (600x480, i wanna say?) through HDMI, there's no upscaling/conversion done by said adapters, they're just there to fit different holes. i'd google for specifics like you were doing, but always check monoprice first, they have most of what you'd need and i'm told their return policy is fair too.


one more thing! i know you don't like me baggin' on your LCD, but moreso than pixelation, look into input lag, as i'm told that's a common problem. as with any of this, it's subjective, so maybe 1/3 of a second (let's say) doesn't bother you in mario, but it might in f-zero or SF II turbo.

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  • 2 weeks later...

an update! so, Phase 1 is going swimmingly.


- The saturn arrived, but sadly didn't read discs...good news is, i made contact with a modder out in california who's great with this, got the original seller to front the bill for repair, and i added $25 to have region free BIOS installed, plus a free model 2 controller. It's on its way back here already, cannot wait.


- Landed a 32X for $20 shipped, which was cool - got about 6 games already (complete), most are on the cheap with the exception of stuff i don't really want anyway, like say Blackthorne or Spider-Man: Web of Fire (holy shit). i was worried about needing 3 freakin plus to power the Genesis, Sega-CD & this until i found the Trio, which is awesome.


- Picking up another bookcase in the morning, and will be painting it to go for eras/themes, plus i really hate stacking games horizontally because they're not very accessible that way. im trying to find some empty master system/genesis game cases since the universal ones i got for NES/SNES dont feel right here, hopefully a nearby swap shop can help with that on the cheap.


pretty much down to B tier games for my Sega collection, many can be found for sub $10 but i need to pay off this leg off first, unless i see a few of them in a bundle.


Phase 2 will likely be odds & ends, as well as any chances to pick up old hardware on the cheap: Turbo/CD, 3DO, etc. Might mod a few more systems (mostly for region locking) if i can't sort out some good workarounds; again Game Genie is largely excellent for Genesis but disables saving in too many titles.


Again, Phase 3 (house! bar!) is pretty far off at the moment, but Neo-Geo aside, there's one more expensive step i'm keeping an eye on:



ive got some homework to do, but that model seems to be the lexus of the Upscaler lot. they are very much not cheap, but i'm in no hurry. lowest estimates ive seen come from the guy making that video, which'd ship somewhere around $425...anyway, some great info on it here too.


Should finally have pics up in a few weeks when everything's sorted, following a hiatus. Wait for them!

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  • 1 month later...

okay, it's coming together! i should have a new plasma (with 3D!) setup soon, waiting on XRGB mini (japanese upscaler/soon to be crown jewel of the setup, natch), here's how its looking with most of the games either in or on their way:




Sega shelf:




Nintendo shelf:




Genesis shelf




Master System shelf




SNES shelf




NES shelf





Sony/MS shelf



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thanks man! i'm anal about keeping things in uniform cases, so Universal Game Cases turned out fantastic for SNES (you need to mod them a bit for NES though), plus the art inserts come from here...it's cool that they keep the carts clean too.


Genesis was trickier, as loose carts are way cheaper (i don't really need manuals for most games anyway) but spare ones are overpriced for collectors, thankfully someone gave me the idea of buying cheap sports games & using the cases, heh

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  • 3 weeks later...

finally had some time with this XRGB mini (upscaler), and...it's a thing of goddamn beauty. there's so many settings to mess with.


for those still wondering what all this is for, this is the single best page to show you what they do, but it essentially goes like this: have you ever taken a small .gif or .jpg and tried to make it your wallpaper, especially on a modern/widescreen monitor? what happens when you take what's basically 40 x 40 pixels and stretch it to say 1080? that's right, it looks like shit because you're not magically making it an HD sized file, you're just stretching the shit out of it & exposing its flaws. modern HDTVs do this with all these 240 images (480 if we're talking say PS2), hence the upscaler: it does the heavy lifting of re-rendering the image to whatever resolution you set it at, and this fancy one can instantly make that a widescreen 16:9 or keep it 4:3 if you're a weird purist. on that note: you can customize scanlines (i know, i didn't think much of them till i messed with em myself...some games do look better with them on though, after all the visuals were designed around them in the day), and basically do anything down to crop the screen edges to round them off if you for some reason want your modern TV to look like it's a that fishbowl/round screen most of us grew up with. it's crazy.


first step was to order RGB SCART (euro format) cables, cause i don't know who knows this, but our Genesis, SNES, Saturn & several others are capable of putting out RGB (best possible signal!), its just our TV's didn't support the format. i also got a cable to convert said SCART to a japanese RGB signal, with no loss. this means a quick switch when you wanna play a different system, but ive got them lined up so it's readily accessible...i'll take pics of the setup later.


so, what does all that effort get you? well, RGB gives you the nicest colors you've ever seen these things put out...i can't take any pics that do justice (most shots ive seen don't, honestly) but here's some i've grabbed from other users:










(i was just calibrating it with LTTP, it can look even crisper than that)


some lesser shots to show scanlines (again entirely optional, and you can even tweak them as you like)






now, here's one i can't quite get, because NES didn't support RGB (i won't knock them for this; it was '85 and most shit pre-Genesis had monotone audio, so i think it's understandable...the fact the N64 needs modding for RGB though is horseshit)



you see that shit? you can cut your fingers on those pixels, they're so goddamn sharp!


so why don't i/many others have that? because get this: from what i've read, the components you need to even do the RGB mod come from an old PlayChoice kiosk, which as you can imagine, aren't plentiful - certainly less so for gutting their board for said component. you can find em on ebay, but they ain't cheap.

so for now, i'm upscaling a composite signal, which looks better at least.


I've got the Gamecube over component (you always wanna send the upscaler the best original signal to work with that you can, natch), Dreamcast over VGA (via HDMI), and am debating both the PS2 (because PS3 even with BC cannot natively re-render the pixelated mess that is most PS1 games, natch) and my Wii-U (since Wii was 480p, it'd be nice to see stuff like Metroid Prime Trilogy looking more modern). there's another HDMI slot, so i'm debating a Neo-Geo X Gold if i can find it on the cheap, but i just missed Amazon selling those things for $100 so i'm kinda bummed, as well as broke, heh.


so, that concludes most of my 16 and 32 bit libraries for the moment, might still grab NES games if i see em on craigslist/swap shops for cheap, but once i pay this lot off i might finally shop around for more obscure TurboGrafx/Duo, 3DO etc type shit..it's genuinely fun plugging various shit into this device & tweaking it to see what you get.


ps dude sold me a broken R.O.B. unit for < $20, he's part of the Nintendo display now, heh

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  • 3 weeks later...



$40 on craigslist for the whole lot - the 25 NES games have a few throwaways, but a badass bunch otherwise...found this just looking for cheap N64 games, glad i stayed up to grab it early. CL and swap shops really are the only spots left around here for deals like this.

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it was actually a couple about my age, clearing out space for an in-law moving in...yeah, it's pretty much desperate/etc people not checking ebay value that you get by on this price. even goodwill figured out the value of retro shit about 2-3 years ago, so this might get rarer for me, sadly...very satisfying when it happens, though.

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ANd it's the grail these days, man. Like you said- the opportunities get rarer. And you got a helluva bargain

until they break in one night and take it all back, along with those wonderful giant teeth of yours. British tooth art is an underground economy more stable then the Euro.

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true, but you saw our elite spanish secruity


the best stuff on CL ive scored outside this was one of the bookcases for $20 literally off a downtown crackhead, and some dude in hialeah that posted a baller sega auction early in the morning and i caught it within 10/15 minutes after...it was a model 1 genesis, awesome condition model 1 sega cd (that sounds like whatever but check ebay, a good one can net $150+), 2 arcade power sticks and like a dozen games, and he was happy with $50. dude even messaged to say how many bitter people hit him up right after i left...weekends/mornings are when i get lucky on these things.


like, last year there was this dude, i thought he was bullshitting but i was down south anyway, so i swung by the ale house...he sold me nearly 3 years of nintendo power (mostly from the 90's) for $20 of beer money. most of those issues go on ebay for $20/each just for the retro posters in em, but he just wanted someone to buy drinks and listen while he ranted about his recent ex. i've put up with 20 minutes of small talk for so much less. again i only catch these a few times a year but man it's great when it pans out.

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Those shelves are beautiful.


Admittedly, I have no idea what all the technical mumbo jumbo means cause I'm just a plug n play type, but even I must concede the setup is pretty sweet. Also, everyone deserves a space of their own. Get your gamer cave on when you have room. Anything that you've put this much time, effort, and monies into deserves a shrine.


But don't tell Ryan I said that or he'll want his own movie theater...

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