How to play retro games?

People all over the world are attracted to Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 these days. However, for gamers in the 80s and 90s, these new devices didn't matter much. Nothing seems to be better than playing your favorite retro games in your spare time. For this reason, we have mentioned some retro games below (even though it was not easy to find them) which were most famous and will bring you nostalgic feelings. But the original games with hardware aren't so easy to play on your modern TV.

Some of best retro games favorites by past players include Metroid Prime Trilogy, Donkey Kong Country, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy IX, Space Invaders, Pokemon Blue/Red, Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Super Mario Galaxy, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater II, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Metal Gear Solid, Pac-Man, Tetris and Goldeneye 007. Many gamers want to play the same old retro games in this modern era that is not surely not that difficult.

To that end, we've mentioned some of the best ways to play retro games below that will remind you of the good old days of your childhood. Moreover, we have also compared the devices to let you know how you can use modern devices to play retro games.

Summary :

  1. Modern TV or CRT TV?
  2. Real hardware or emulation?
  3. Upgraded Hardware or Vanilla Hardware?
  4. FPGA or emulation?
  5. Flash carts or original carts?
  6. Original or current controllers?
  7. Original or upgraded wires?
  8. Conclusion

1. Modern TV or CRT TV

As a 90s gamer, you first have to decide if you want to play your favorite retro game on an old cathode ray tube or simply on a modern TV. You may think that using the modern TV is a bit easy, but it can also bore you. The reason is that you won't be able to plug your old video and audio cables directly into it. There is also a greater chance that the TV will show lag. Also, some old attachments such as light guns won't work at all.

As far as a CRT TV is concerned, it has nothing to do with all the problems mentioned above. However, they also have some drawbacks. They are quite heavy and cannot be found very easily these days. In addition, it takes a lot of space to keep them at home. So it's up to you now whether you want a CRT TV or a modern TV.

2. Real hardware or emulation

The main question here is whether to imitate or not. If you love playing emulated games without any hesitation, all you need to do is download a few emulators and legal backups to get the job done.

In order to have the console experience, you have the option to buy Raspberry Pi which covers all emulators and allows you to play your favorite retro games on your modern TV.

Some gamers like to play games on real hardware. However, hardware maintenance is not an easy task for which you need to consider all these factors before getting started. You can also think of SNES Classic or NES Classic, but they are limited to just a few games.

raspberry pi emulator

3. Upgraded Hardware or Vanilla Hardware

If you're trying to play your old favorite consoles on a modern TV, you might run into some issues because these TVs aren't specifically designed for these kinds of games. For this purpose, you can use your technical abilities as well as some money to upgrade the stock hardware.

Modding services, as well as kits, are available to install an HDMI or RGB output for your old consoles. Even though this method is not that cheap and also not easy to adapt, it will help you to play any type of game whether new or old on your TV with clear images. and without lag. There's no better option than this for a gamer who's seen the era of retro gaming so close.

retro hi-def nes

4. FPGA or emulation

If you don't like playing your favorite retro games with an old console, you may wonder if you want a FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Array) or regular emulation? There is also a software emulation called traditional emulation. It's basically a computer program that pretends to be a console. You are allowed to load ISO files or ROMs from there in order to play them. However, you may encounter issues regarding the speed of the game you are playing.

FPGA is mainly associated with hardware emulation in which a new device or a new machine pretends to be an old machine. The main advantage of using FPGA is that it is faster and more accurate compared to an emulator. However, it requires you to spend some money on it in order to build a proper setup.

Let's take an example, you can benefit from totally free software emulators. But for FPGA games, you will either have to build a MiSTer (it's cheaper but time consuming and also requires technical knowledge) or buy an FPGA device from a reputable company to make things easier for you.

fpga video game console

5. Flash Cart or Original Cart?

Game cartridges have managed to dive into the whole retro-gaming community. Some players believe that you will only get an authentic experience if you play with an original cart. Others believe that this cart is nothing more than a container for the ROM present inside. The only way to have the best experience is to look into these carts.

It is possible to have the entire system library as well as all the custom ROMs on one cartridge if you plan to play your favorite games on original hardware. There is no cheaper way to play cartridge games than this. Some of the flash carts also have emulation style features to offer and they are best for playing old games that have bad password systems.

everdrive nintendo 64 cartridge

6. Original or current controller?

If you play games on original hardware, you will have the advantage of using original controllers. However, using these controllers is often annoying. The reason is that most of the controllers we played with in the past weren't really comfortable. For example, SNES and NES controllers won't favor you much for playing old games. N64 is another addition to the controllers which were painful for your hands as well as the brain.

Now you have so many options to deal with such problem. You can choose any controller you want if you are emulating. The designs of these controllers can vary from classic imitation to more ergonomic ones. However, there's no better view than playing your favorite classic games on a Raspberry Pi using an older Xbox 360 controller.

One of the best options is to look for a new controller design that can be used for older consoles as well. There are many companies in the world that make such designs. For example, Retro Fighters currently offers controllers for N64 and Dreamcast systems specifically designed for fighting games only.

playstation 4 controllers play retro video games

7. Original or upgraded cables?

If you want an older NES plugged in, you'll have to use something else because nearly all modern TVs don't have inputs for these connectors (red, white, and yellow cables shown below). At this specific time, you will either have to choose stock threads or opt for the scaling option.

If you have an older CRT or TV that can support RCA, you are eligible to use it. Otherwise, you will have to buy an adapter (RCA to HDMI) even if the quality of the two is different.

If you get an upconverter such as a Retrolink or an Open Source scan converter that would be great. For an even better option, you'll need to see if your TV and console support S-video. You can avail another option to upgrade the original hardware. However, it's not that cheap.


8. Closing

We just walked you through the basics of retro gaming here. You can also think of a number of things other than these. Professional Video Monitors (PVM) provide you with the best quality screens if you are interested in CRT games. But PVMs are not so easy to find and are really expensive. However, if you manage to get one, you won't be able to use it without modding your console, which isn't what you actually want.

Keeping systems in a safe place is another consideration you need to think about. If you manage to get the required number of old consoles, you need to find a way to plug them all in or just store them somewhere safer so you can pull them out whenever you want to use them.

We haven't discussed optical drive emulators yet. The Terraonion company offers these emulators just like SNES and NES offer flash cards. These Drive emulators will help your consoles live longer. Additionally, downloading specific ISOs is the only way for gamers to discover rare games that weren't possible to play through another source.

Flex Arcade

Flex Arcade

Flex Arcade


At FLEX we love video games, it is this passion that rocked our childhood (and perhaps yours!?) that drives us on this adventure, to design and manufacture superb machines to replay the best titles of the young history of video games. We produce a “ready to play” range but also make special orders for unique and characterful arcade terminals using for example the base of a 300L wine barrel or a French army ammunition box ! We are at your disposal for your projects, share your wildest dreams, we love to make them come true.

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