I used to be a pretty big game collector. Anything that would come along, I’d just buy it if it was retro. At some point I realized this was an unhealthy habit, and it was a hobby that required no skill besides. The only skill required to collect old video games is money. That’s it. With enough money you can buy whatever collection you want, right now.

Gone are the days when you could pick up a box of NES games at a garage sale for five bucks, now everyone thinks their old games are worth a fortune. Sometimes they’re right.

Having sold the majority of my collection, I’m taking a new approach to retro gaming that involves me actually enjoying it as a hobby and not a mindless money sink. For each system, I use this guide:

  • Modify the console to my taste,
  • Flash media to save space compared to shelves of games,
  • Controllers need to be the best for the system,
  • Emulation should be as close to the original as possible,
  • Emulator Controllers or the type of interface to make them work on a PC,
  • Backup media should be original, source-verified by checksum, and,
  • Sell everything else, it’s a waste of space.

Here’s how I’m doing so far:

Atari 2600

  • Modify for composite or RGB output.
  • Flash Cartridge: Atari Harmony Cartridge
  • Controllers: Stock. These are terrible, but no A2600 experience is authentic without that shitty ‘gummy’ joystick.
  • Emulation: Not sure which emulator is best. Probably some RetroArch core?
  • Emulator Controllers: USB Atari RetroPort
  • Backup: Not verified. Good2600 is canonical source?
  • Sell: One extra in inventory plus a bunch of extra joysticks.

Commodore 64

  • Modify: I like to stay as stock as possible, using an S-Video cable into my Framemeister.
  • Flash: 1541 Ultimate II (Discontinued)
  • Controllers: Epyx 500XJ
  • Emulation: Using Vice for now.
  • Emulator Controllers: USB Atari RetroPort works fine for the controllers.
  • Backup: Not verified.
  • Sell: This is one of my favourite systems to restore and repair, so I have a lot of spare units and parts that can be sold.

Microsoft Xbox

  • 220V
  • 16GB CF
  • Xbox Controller S
  • Modify: North American Xbox, TSOP Flash, RGB AV cable to Framemeister.
  • Flash: A regular PC SSD.
  • Controllers: Xbox Controller S.
  • Emulation: None, but I do need to pick up some Xbox-to-USB adapters.
  • Emulator Controllers: Since Xbox controllers are USB devices, I use an adapter to convert from the proprietary Xbox port to USB type A.
  • Backup: Not verified, need to check against redump.org
  • Sell: I have some extra parts for repairs, but not really worth selling.

Nintendo NES

  • Modify: AV Famicom with a SNES-style AV cable into a Framemeister.
  • Flash: RetroUSB PowerPak
  • Controllers: Stock NES gamepads.
  • Emulation: RetroArch has some great cores.
  • Emulator Controllers: Two NES controllers modified with the NES/SNES RetroKit
  • Backup: Not verified.
  • Sell: Extra North American ’toaster’ style NES.

Nintendo SNES

  • Modify: North American SNES with regular AV cable to Framemeister.
  • Flash: RetroUSB SNES PowerPak (Discontinued), Super UFO Pro 8, SD2SNES Pro.
  • Controllers: Stock Super Famicom gamepads.
  • Emulation: ZSNES, but likely to switch to a retroarch core later.
  • Emulator Controllers: Two Super Famicom gamepads modified with the NES/SNES RetroKit
  • Backup: Not verified.
  • Sell: Extra Super Famicom Controllers.

Nintendo N64

  • Modify: North American N64 with regular AV cable to Framemeister. There are HDMI and VGA mods out there that look appealing.
  • Flash: 64drive
  • Controllers: Stock N64 controllers.
  • Emulation: I don’t play this a whole lot, so nothing for now.
  • Emulator Controllers: None on hand. Need to buy RetroUSB N64 RetroPort.
  • Backup: Not verified.
  • Sell: Nothing.

Sega Genesis

  • Modify: Stock North American Genesis, AV out to Framemeister.
  • Flash: Everdrive MD (Discontinued)
  • Controllers: Stock Genesis controllers.
  • Emulation: Retroarch.
  • Emulator Controllers: Need to buy two RetroUSB Genesis RetroPort
  • Backup: Not verified.
  • Sell: Nothing.

Sony PlayStation (PSX)

  • Modify North American PSX with PSIO mods. PlayStation AV to SCART cable, then to Framemeister.
  • Flash: PSIO
  • Controllers: I’m a heathen so I like the PS1 controllers without the analog sticks.
  • Emulation: RetroArch.
  • Emulator Controllers: Generic PS-to-USB adapter.
  • Backup: Currently verifying against redump.org. There are a lot of bad dumps out there.
  • Sell: Nothing.

Sony PlayStation 2

  • Modify: North American PS2 with Free McBoot, SSD in the hard drive bay.
  • Flash: A regular PC SSD.
  • Controllers: Stock PS2 controllers.
  • Emulation: Haven’t delved into PS2 emulation yet.
  • Emulator Controllers: Generic PS-to-USB adapter.
  • Backup: Currently verifying against redump.org.
  • Sell: Lots of spare parts, memory cards, stuff like that.

Sony PlayStation 3

  • Modify: Stock ’thick’ PS3, you know, the one that’s backwards compatible with everything.
  • Flash: Crucial 240GB SATA SSD
  • Controllers: Stock PS3 controllers.
  • Emulation: Haven’t looked into this, but I guess RPCS3 is getting somewhere?
  • Emulator Controllers: Stock PS3 controllers are USB, so nothing special needed here.
  • Backup: redump.org
  • Sell: Why do I have two extra of these? Where did they come from?