MayFlash Retro Gamepad / Joystick to USB Adaptor.

When it comes to retro gaming you can’t beat playing on the original  system and I’d favor it over emulation any day.That’s not to say I’m not an emulation fan of course, quite the contrary I use them a lot and relish the advantages that emulation brings….like turbo loading for instance!

But the thing about emulation is, although it can look and sound, in some circumstances, pretty much indistinguishable from the original system, I often find something is missed from the experience by not using the original games controller. Stella is awesome Atari 2600 emulator but playing Berzerk on a PC keyboard instead of a classic Atari joystick doesn’t feel quite right.  Mario Kart via ZSnes using a PS2 styled PC controller is o.k but give me a proper SNES pad and I’m a happy chap. Then of course, there are the oddballs controllers like the  analogue Vectrex pad, Atari paddles and the N64 joystick/gamepad ‘thing’ which might be a little tricky to replace with modern pads and sticks.

Adapters, that’s what we need and there are many of them out there allowing one to attach a classic controller to a PC or modern games console.

I came across this particular adaptor on eBay the other day. It’s very cheap, small and promised support for Sega Megadrive/Genesis controllers (and thus hopefully other standard DB9 based sticks and pads), Nintendo NES and SNES controllers in one tidy package. Buy buy buy says I.

….a few days later.

May Flash USB gamepad conveto

The little adapter box has two input ports, the first is a 9-pin DB9 type connector and the other is a 7-pin SNES connector. Also included  was a DB9 to 7-pin converter cable for connecting NES/FC pads.

No drivers are required according to the instructions and it states it’s compatible with Win XP thru to Win 8 including both 32 and 64 bit flavors.

Sure enough, after plugging it into my Win 7 netbook, the device was detected and appeared as a standard HID game controller.

I’ve dug out a selection of classic controllers to test.

Classic gamepads and sticks

It started off well –  the SNES pad worked flawlessly with no lag or any issues detected when multiple buttons were pressed simultaneously and after a round or two with Street Fighter 2Turbo and Super R-Type (where the adapters programmable turbo button came in handy) I moved on…..and well, it’s all went a bit downhill from there.

I couldn’t get it to work with my Megadrive mk2 pad,  third party or original mk1  pad.  No go either with the classic Atari stick, Commodore Vic-20 stick, Commodore CD32 pad or Sega Master System pad. I haven’t tested it with my NES pad though as they’re still packed away. No keystrokes detected with MS notepad open therefore  Joy2Key is out too.

I’ve tested the device on another Win 7 PC (SP1), a Win XP PC and my Raspberry Pi. Each time, nothing worked apart from the SNES pad (I had to fiddle around to get it working on my Raspberry Pi).

I’ve removed the adaptors case screws to have a looksee inside and as far as I can tell everything looks o.k. When I get time I’ll have a probe around with the multimeter.

Although it’s a cheap adaptor, for sole use as a SNES adaptor  it’s still  more expensive than getting a dedicated SNES ‘styled’ USB gamepad (although I guess that defeats the object of using an original controller) and probably more expensive than getting the pats to USB mod a pad yourself. In the end I decided to contact the seller and ask if I could return it for a refund.  As it happens, the seller had tested a few adapters himself and found that he was having the same issues too. As a result he kindly gave me a full refund and told me to keep the adaptor anyway. A win in the end then!

 

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Raspberry PiCade – Lunchbox edition.

Following on from the other day (see blog post https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/raspberry-pi-arcade-controls/) I thought I’d make a quick and simple case for my Raspberry Pi and no stranger to a spot of lunchtime retro gaming fun, I thought why not combine the two?

Here’s my Raspberry Pi Arcade – Lunchbox edition.

mame_board (Custom)

Starting with a fairly thick and robust  two litre lunchbox as we don’t want the lid wobbling about too much,  I cut out a couple of 28mm holes for the  buttons/Joystick and then gave them a bit of a sand down.  It then has a bit of a clean as we don’t want any loose bits ending up ones sandwich nothankyouverymuch!

IMG_3992 (Custom)

A couple more holes cut into the sides for the HDMI, USB , Power cable and SD card.

IMG_3994 (Custom)

The fun bit next – putting it all together.

IMG_3996 (Custom)

Referring back to my wiring diagram/pinout notes from the other day to ensure that I’m connecting them to the correct GPIO pins

IMG_3997 (Custom)

A quick test to ensure that all was working o.k before I start wrapping up the wiring and getting everything positioned inside the lunchbox.

IMG_3998 (Custom)

Sorting out the mess…..and making a Sandwich.

IMG_4001 (Custom)

I FTP’d the default Mame4All splash screen over to my  PC  and jazzed it up a bit with Photoshop.

mame_lunchbox (Custom)

Game on and snacks for later 😉

mame_dk (Custom)

Here’s a quick video of my PiCade in action.

A.I. program taught to play NES games.

Now this is impressive! This gentleman (Tom Murphy) has created a program that actually learns how to play classic Nintendo games.

The video itself is pretty amazing and well worth watching all the way through to get an understanding of how the program works. However, if you just want to jump right in to see the results, fast forward to around the 6:10 mark.

Are we seeing the beginning of Skynet? First it learns how to play Space Invaders and then think’s ‘woo, I wonder if I can get a higher score shooting humans?’……..and so it begins 😮

Rise of the Robot, a hidden gem?

Surely not? Rise of the Robots on any platform was a monumental of bag of rusty scanners and if you parted cash for it back in the day, then like myself, its probably something you’d like to keep quiet about…and certainly not to admit it to the intern….dammit!

Today, the only thing that Rise of the Robots is any use for is as a booby prize for game competition s (still enjoying your copy Mike?) and it’s still interesting to look back at the classic gaming magazines of the day and reread some of the hyperbole that seemed to go on for ages and ages until the darn thing was finally released.

20120929-091859.jpg

C&VG online periodically look back at classic issues of their own printed C&VG magazine and it was their latest article that prompted further investigation as it seems that the Nintendo SNES version of ‘Super Rusty Spanners’ received a whopping 91% when reviewed.

Hidden gaming gem or bribe?

You can find the article here

Incidentally, this issue also has a feature about the proposed 32X-like addon for the SNES, which of course never materialised,and a look at some of the games released around this time. Check out some of the prices for early SNES/Megadrive cartridges…where did we ever find the money!

Back to Rise of the Robots, I’m curious about this SNES version and as i’ve never played it before thought i’d at least check it out (with one hand on the power switch as we don’t want to go through all of that trauma again).

Yep, it’s bad…very bad…in fact, I don’t want to talk about it 🙂