This is one of my blogs for this month, but I felt it should be posted here too. This is a very important subject with serious retro gamers.
The real dilemma is that the composite input of HDTVs is slowly disappearing from newer models. The composite analogue tech is archaic in the modern electronic age. Only if you have an old VCR, or DVD recorder, or an old retro gaming system do you find yourself in the dilemma. (Did I leave anything out?) Really it is when you find yourself with something like the PS2 and backward, those are the gaming generations that are totally effected. And I feel that we are approaching a point when there will not be any composite type inputs to accommodate. The niche market may not be big enough for some company to invest in the tech needed to do it right and with quality. And do it at a modest price point that makes it affordable for the budget gamer. What we see is cheap China adapters.
We all must grasp the truth that the old consoles are in analogue 480 aspect ratio with a need for scan lines to hide the ugliness. No matter what you do, it does not change that inconvenient reality. Pixels and jaggies are the nature of the beast. And when you take that and try to convert it to digital 720p or 1080p HDMI, somebody help me 4K, it does not go well when it comes to expectations. One has to change their perspective and game on. Let’s face it, the old CRTs are gone. It has been years in my own area since I have seen them in my local Goodwill, and then they were $2 and $3. They have become museum artifacts.
Alternatives is the quest of every retro gamer, finding that one unique golden ticket. For the budget gamer, I have found three main routes, the console specific adapter, the very cheap universal adapter, and the clone console with HDMI. Presently, limited on the quality, on shaky ground, the clone console route is marketed mainly toward the Genesis, SNES, and NES. If you are looking for answers concerning your Turbo GrafX 16, N64, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Xbox, GameCube, or PS2, things get a little scary. There are some console specific adapters out there floating around, except for the TG16, but for how long is the question. And for the Neo Geo AES and CD consoles, I see nothing but the small cheap universal adapter as any kind of alternative and that is sad. Thankfully the PS1 has the PS3 for that HDMI experience.
For me, the cheap universal adapters get the job done but they are marred by the attempt to reduce the jaggies with some sort-of, anti-aliasing blurring fuzzy effect. (You feel as if your vision is impaired.) The clone consoles are hindered by their inability to perfectly replicate the hardware that they are trying to represent. So, you have sound and colors along with compatibility issues to complicate matters as that analogue signal is converted to a digital HDMI 720p or 1080p. There are various associated outcomes connected to a clone’s respective manufacturer. The console specific adapters, in converting the analogue signal to digital, can have an effect on the tint of the colors, brightness, darkness, bleeding reds, even a muting of colors. And the adapters themselves can be very hard to get. I have waited for an adapter that will work on the N64, GameCube, and SNES, for over a month before finally showing up at my door this week. The advantage of this type of adapter is, you get to use the original hardware.
I have the Hyperkin HDMI adapter for the GameCube, N64, and SNES. It has a seven-foot cable and it includes a USB power cord. You can use a standard power brick or a USB input on your TV. It has a switch on the adapter for 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. The GameCube comes out on top as the one that gets the most benefit of using this adapter. Looks awesome on screen. The other two, jaggies are very noticeable, but who cares, I have a reasonably priced alternative for my N64 to HDMI hookup. This works for me. And my N64 will probably be the one console that will get the most use out of this adapter. All three consoles played without issue for me. I detected no latency, colors were acceptable, gameplay spot on. I have mainly been looking for a way to play N64 games on my HDTV without using composite connecters, would rather have the choice of HDMI. This serves well and resolves that problem, for me. Without some expensive console mod, I am delighted. Using the original hardware is very satisfying. Hyperkin is getting ready to launch an N64 clone in the near future. I had concerns especially since it had compatibility issues that were displeasing to me. Now? If I do pick up the N64 clone, it will be to review and test its worth and not for serious gaming. If this thing holds up it will deserve a good thumbs up with a $30 USD well spent.GameCube: Final Fantasy Crystal ChroniclesN64: Beetle Adventure RacingSNES: STAR FOX and STREET FIGHTER 2 Alpha Zero