A few weekends ago Christina and I finally decided to find a way to hook up all of our retro consoles. It’s something that I’ve been whining about for a long time, so I don’t know if she agreed to it because she wanted to play the old games too or if she just wanted to shut me up. Anyway, we made it happen.
A bit of background information before I get into it, though; our place isn’t very big. I mean, we have a good size living room that comfortably fits our two couches, a table, an entertainment center and a computer desk with room to spare. Aside from that, though, all we have is a kitchen, bathroom, walk-in storage room and our bedroom.
The first thing we needed to do was get a CRT television. As you probably already know, trying to play old video games on a modern LCD or plasma TV results in a gross, trashy image due to the television trying to upscale an image that honestly wasn’t very good to begin with. Taking the NES’ native 256×224 image output and trying to upscale it to 1024×768 or higher isn’t a good time for anybody.
This was the easy part. When I first moved to Boston to live with Christina about five years ago, she had an old 4:3 TV that I refused to hook my Xbox 360 up to, so I used the money I had gotten from selling my car and bought us a nice 37” CRT HD TV. There’s not many CRT TVs that are HD, and for good reason: they’re heavy as fuck and due to the extended screen size, the corners have weird coloring issues. We gave the TV to my sister-in-law when we got our badass LED LCD flat panel, but she wasn’t using it so we just took it back. She wanted to play our old games as well so it was an easy transaction.
But where were we going to set this all up? There wasn’t really any room in our living room for what would essentially be an “entertainment center lite”, so that left really only one option: the bedroom.
Now, where I come from it’s kind of a given that you have a TV for your bedroom, but around here, not so much. Christina was vehemently against having a TV in our bedroom, but the promise of retro goodness was too much for her to resist. The way our place is set up we can’t really run the cable TV into the bedroom either, so it’s not like it would be a distraction when we’re trying to fall asleep anyway.
So we made a day out of moving some furniture around the house, buying some new stuff and finally reviving our treasured games and consoles from our youth. The whole experience gave me a very “sleepover”-esque vibe I hadn’t felt in many, many years.
However, with old consoles, old hookups are an issue. The SNES, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast were all hooked up via composite cables and my Genesis was still stuck with an RF connection which made me feel like some kind of caveman or something.
So we hit up eBay and now the SNES, N64 and Dreamcast are all enjoying a sharper image via S-Video. The Genesis is now getting by with a composite cable, as the Genesis is incapable of outputting a signal that can be carried by S-Video, but someday when I have the money to blow I’m going to invest in a SCART cable and a SCART to component converter, as that’s the only way to get an RGB output on the Genesis on an NTSC television, which provides the best picture you can possibly get out of the old girl.
We’re now regulars at the local comic shop, spending every Friday evening thumbing through their 8- and 16-bit offerings. We’re like foster parents for unwanted cartridges, and I absolutely love it.