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Thread: Interest in a system that plays multiple systems' games?

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    Default Interest in a system that plays multiple systems' games?

    Hello everyone,

    I would like to know if you, or if in your opinion, a multitude of people would be interested in a dedicated console that effectively played carts from many different systems in one contained unit. Whether it would be done by existing carts themselves or by ROM's on some storage unit isn't the real focus yet ( it would be neat to do both ), but basically the idea is that you have a system that you can plug in a NES, SNES, Hu Card, Genesis etc. cart into and turn on without any sort of selection process.

    There would be a generic controller that had a mapping for every system, or the use of special connectors would allow for console specific controllers to be hooked up.

    I know that some dedicated gamers have shelves of consoles everywhere, and the wire snaking that results is a great hassle.

    So, the basic question is, do you think this community would have enough interest in justify making many of them? From a personal standpoint, I would take on the project just for myself, but I'd like to know if there is a larger interest.

    Now, this isn't something I would be taking up right away because I'm still only an undergraduate in Computer Engineering. However, by the time I've completed two bachelors ( computer science and engineering ) and have a master's in engineering, I feel I would definitely be technically competent to take on this task.

    Yet, I ask this ahead of time because I just want to know if this grand idea is just a silly one, or if I could really count on a considerable number of people wanting it.

    As far as the size of the task goes, it really depends on what kind of access I'll have to processor architectures and their instruction sets, and I'm thinking that if this project were tackled by one person, it would probably take a decade of work. I realize a FPGA NES is in the works by Kevin Horton, but I want to do a console that consolidates all of the gaming goodness into one console.

    Now, in my mind, I've fantasized about making it a group project, where several competent software and hardware engineers dedicate their free time to this project, but that may be unrealistic. However, I don't think I'd have any problem getting testers for my hardware

    I also realize that Messiah has produced the NEX and has a lot of professional resources, but I think the fear of being sued would be too great for them to even fathom a project of this scale.

    Anyway, post and let me know if this is something you would be interested in it ( in the distant future ). Thanks

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    Banana (Level 7) SkiDragon's Avatar
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    I am interested in this, but only if the end product looked professional. A lot of people have taken two systems and shoved them in a box together. It would be a good idea to think about how to make a single pin connector connect different cartridge types.
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    Peach (Level 3)
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    The idea isn't really generous to the idea of a professional look. I can't imagine any way in which contacts would work for multiple carts, as their sizes are always different. Due to multiple cart connection points, it would most likely be tolerable in a appearance at best, but that's not really the point. The point is mega functionality.

    Also, it's more than just shoving some innards in a box together... it's about recreating the systems' processor capabilities to allow one processor to recreate, not emulate, the hardware performance.

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    that would be intresting to see largest being the neo geo and smallest gameboy (not includeing ds,n gadge.) Plus how would the cart adapt to it again large neo geo nes carts then come the ataris and the super nintendos genesis n64,the list goes on. A multi cart port whoa that would take some thinking and a probaly alot of adapters
    "...leave love bleeding, in my hands, in my hands again..."

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    As I read this, first thing that comes to my mind is 'Hey, what about computers or current gen systems (mostly xbox) and emulators and just using roms?'. The next thing that comes to my mind is 'I would defently want this even if it used some form of media such as a cd-rw with roms is i could use the origional controllers to the system that the game was origionaly on as you say you may try' but that would proably only be if the thing covered enough systems (i know i would not by a system with the description in this system if it did not use genny controllers btw). And one of my later thoughts is 'if there was some way to use the origional carts, even if i could not use the origional controllers, and it covered enough of a good variety of systems (and please NOTE: that is could cover genny but not SMS because of the available adaptor already out as with GB games if it coverd SNES) then a for sure yes again.' And as i thought of that last idea, i thouught, what if you could get one cart input and a bunch of diffrent adaptors, and you wouldnt even need to cover them all (see above note)!

    Along with all of this though, i do agree that it must look at least fairly nice, partiulary the later system description if it had multiple cart inputs.
    I will get around to editing this thing again.

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    I guess one point I'm not getting across very well is that it would not be "Emulation." If the processor was built customly, you could make it support all the various instructions that all these systems implemented. Thus, you are not emulating a certain console's technology... your technology completely supports it.

    edit:

    Yes, the idea would be to support as many controllers as possible via adaptors. The idea is also to support as many consoles as possible, however priorities would be placed on NES, genesis, SNES, and Turbo Grafx. But hopefully it could eventually expand to include SMS, Jaguar, N64, Atari etc.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    PLEASE, Please please Please please PLEASE consider adding, if nothing else, Sega Genesis to the formula! I think it would be awsome to have all the 16-bit, and hopefuly 8-bit systems in this creation.

    Edit: Sorry, just saw that you did say Genny in your post. Well with that, I wouldnt worry to much about the SMS if you could get Genesis as all of us Sega collectors/fanboys should already have a SMS adaptor, and if sum1 dont, they can get one!
    I will get around to editing this thing again.

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    Pretzel (Level 4)
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    Intest for $10, yes. Intrest for $2,000, no.

    It depends on what you think the costs would be. However I don't think I'll ever see such an animal.
    Run, run, or you'll be well done! -Kefka

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    If such a machine is ever made, i doubt it would be for only 10 bucks. If it ever was, I think I'd pass out, possibly for good! Wow what a deal! I also must agree that 2000 dollars is most likely much more than i would be willing to pay for such a device.
    I will get around to editing this thing again.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Niku-Sama's Avatar
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    i agree $10 and $2000 are way off for such a thing

    asian pirate companies have designed suchs a thing to run Famicom/NES games as most of you probally already know...NOAC (Nintendo on a Chip) they took some thinking into it and smushed a whole NES into one silicone blobby on a circuit board with a cart connector on it and its ver hack able to your own uses weither its making one portable or making what you want....i guess there has been appearences of similar items for other, newer game consoles. they already exist for Atart and Coleco (of all things) as well...

    and on the looks part of things i am handy with hand tools and paint if needed

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    Right now, for me it's difficult to estimate what it would cost. I am assuming I could use a FPGA similar to that of the FPGA NES for the heart, and I would guess that it may cost a couple hundred to make. Yet, if I was ever able to produce them, I'd only take a marginal profit ( maybe 10 or 20 ) for myself, mainly for the time involved.

    I'm a junior now, so this is a project I'd hope to be able to kick off within a few years, and as I go along, I'll be able to evaluate just how feasable it all really is.

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    Pretzel (Level 4) Goblin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anexanhume
    I'm a junior now, so this is a project I'd hope to be able to kick off within a few years, and as I go along, I'll be able to evaluate just how feasable it all really is.
    I think you will quickly find the it really isn't feasable at all. To make such an all encompassing beast isn't going to happen. The longer you hang around the boards you will see that every year or so someone gets a similiar idea. Would it be nice? Maybe. Will we see it? Never.

    Search around either this board or the web and you will see a few others have tried to emulate/build systems in VHDL.

    http://www.retroconsole.com/tiki/tiki-index.php
    http://www.fpga-games.com/cx2600.htm
    http://www.xilinx.com/publications/x...xc_atari54.htm

    These are all great academic excercises, and if someone succedes, it would probably make one hell of a Master's Thesis. But just proving it can be done is just the small first step. Next comes the true economies of scale.

    What is the potential market for such a product and what could you sell it for. The perfect comparison would be the C64 joystick which contains a complete C64 core. This was originally sold for ~$40, in quantities of millions. (It was sold on QVC, before stores.) For as cool as it was, I waited until it dropped to $15, since $40 wasn't worth it to me.

    For them to get the manufacturing cost real low, the device would not contain an FGPA. The VHDL would likely be converted to an ASIC by this point. The cost involved for this step doesn't make sense for small quantities. Next go one step further and consider manufacturing and assembly. Are you going to solder fine pitch FPGA's to a circuit board? Extremely doubtful, so you need to find a contract assembly house.

    The web is full of people with good ideas, that never seem to materialize. If you are serious about this, work towards a degree in electrical engineering and then start on a smaller project to get your feet wet and gain a following before jumping into the deepend of the pool.

    With that said, there are a number of smart guys releasing creative gaming products:

    http://www.atarimax.com/
    http://www.vgwiz.com/
    and perhaps the most successful of all:

    http://www.schells.com/index.html

    Schells makes some great things, and uses the latest technologies to do it. But that translates into a cost in dollars. I have owned a few of his products in the past and can say they are worth it. But if he needs to charge $200 for a cuttle cart 2, then you aren't going to be able to make your master console for anything reasonable.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    You really are a downer man.


    (thinking) 'Hmmmmm.... I wish he was a horse!!!!'

    ' '

    'Ya, that would be cool, teach him not to be a downer too!' (I one time brained my damage and shut must brain down now)
    I will get around to editing this thing again.

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    Peach (Level 3)
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    That's incredibly informative, and encouraging.

    It's encouraging because I know I'm not alone, and the increase in tech combined with a decrease in cost makes re-creating the hardware an easier task.

    I'm only 20, I've got a lot of time

    And the motivation behind this idea isn't to be able to mass produce them ( can you imagine the copyright/patent lawsuits? ). It's to produce a system that can do it, even if no one else ever wants to buy it.

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