The RetroBlox Wants To Be A Virtual Console For All Of Your Old Games 

There's no shortage of third-party retro gaming consoles promising all sorts of advantages over their proprietary predecessors, but the RetroBlox wants to be the biggest and most comprehensive of them to date.

Unlike the Game Freak, the RetroBlox will have an optical drive to support discs from both the PS1 and Sega CD in addition to cartridges and Turbo Chips. The console is also supposed to support online, connectivity, a modern user interface, and a "hybrid emulation" mode that will allow it to play games whose cartridges have special graphics chips embedded in them, like the original Star Fox.

RetroBlox, Inc., the company behind the console, has even gone so far as to claim that it will have "full hardware compatibility with every game" in a player's library of old games.

At launch, the RetroBlox will support games from consoles like the NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari 2600, and TurboGrafx-16, while the optical drive module to follow will add support for the PlayStation, Sega CD, and PC-Engine CDs. Because of the modular design, the company intends to keep updating the console with support for more formats down the line.

More importantly, the creators claim the RetroBlox will be able to save local copies of game ROMs directly to the console, putting less wear and tear on people's game collections and also making it easier to swap between them on the fly. The company states,

"You will not be able to simply load up an SD card full of roms, plug it in and suddenly have a huge library available as we do not support or advocate for piracy, no matter how ubiquitous it has become. However, in the interest of minimising the use of and further preserving classic games, RetroBlox does allow you to back up the games you personally own on physical cartridges or discs to the system in an iPod / iTunes type relationship."

The ability to store all of the games digitally and access them through what appears to be a sleek, no frills UI is probably the consoles most appealing feature. That and the capability of streaming games in 1080p to Twitch. Developers will also be able to sell their own games on the platform, but it's not really clear how that would work at this point. In effect then, the RetroBlox will be a third-party virtual console that will help people store their video game collections digitally.

Of course, there are other ways of doing that, and no shortage of devices to emulate roms you can find all across the Internet on, but there's always room at the table for one than do all of those things legally and more easily, with a UI that doesn't feel like it's from the late 90s.

The PlayStation's library of RPGs was rivaled only by the SNES, and it would be great to finally have a box that could fuse both of those worlds together. It's something that's not lost on RetroBlox, Inc. whose website includes shots of the discs for Parasite Eve and Xenogears alongside the cartridges for Final Fantasy II (i.e. IV) and Secret of Mana.

RetroBlox, Inc. hasn't put a price tag on its console yet, and while the folks there promise it won't cost as much as a Nintendo Switch ($US300 ($391)), the different modules and Bluetooth controllers could start adding up fast. There's no release date for it yet either, although the company says it's targeting April for a Kickstarter campaign and hopes to bring the RetroBlox to market no more than ten months it concludes (so probably some time early next year).

Meanwhile, you can watch a demo of the console from when it was shown off at last weekend's Retro Gaming Expo in Southern California.


Comments

    I wonder if you could use an ever drive cart with roms to get around not being able to run roms from an sd card.

    I'd like one of these if it let me run roms on it and play my physical copies of games.

    I see DB9 connectors on the front, no USB :(

    In a world where physical media continues to disintegrate, lets continue to enforce copyright protection. Unless this is incredibly awesome at upscaling and compatibility, this just became a pass.

      I'm sorry, are you upset that you would need to actually pay for the games you'd want to play on this device instead of playing illegal copies? My sincerest condolences.

      I actually applaud the stance they are taking in regards to piracy for this.

        Please continue to tell me how I just want to 'pirate all my games'.

        http://steamcommunity.com/id/camm

        And thats without the over 500 PS1/PS2 games I have in collection, plus other various bits and pieces.

        No, I'm annoyed because physical media degrades over time. If this cannot play digital copies of it, it simply won't be able to play many games.

        Last edited 13/02/17 9:13 am

          1. I didn't say you want to "pirate all of your games"

          2. It **CAN** play digital copies:

          More importantly, the creators claim the RetroBlox will be able to save local copies of game ROMs directly to the console, putting less wear and tear on people's game collections and also making it easier to swap between them on the fly.

          To me this just looks like you're complaining that it won't play your collection of illegal ROMs.

          Last edited 13/02/17 9:23 am

            It'll play it, only if your physical copy still works well enough for it to dump it. Ergo, back to square one.

            Preservation is a thing, and this thing won't work unless you own a working physical copy.

              If your physical media doesn't work well enough to read the game, then you don't actually own the game anymore.

              Yes, that sucks, and yes, I wish there was a better way... but giving someone access to a ROM because they may or may not own a degraded physical copy is a copyright shitstorm just waiting to happen.

                Its past ownership however, it comes down to preservation. Without accessible ways to access and store content, much of this will be lost to the ages. Considering most other retro aimed systems turn a blind eye to it, I'm sort of sad this isn't.

                  The other retro-aimed systems will re-sell you the games through, no? I'm thinking something like the mini-NES - even if you already own the game, you're still paying for the games bundled with the system.

                  I think it comes down to the fact that when you buy physical media, technically you're buying the media rather than the game. Once that media degrades to the point it can't be read anymore, you don't really own the game anymore. This system will let you preserve media that's readable, but it can't restore the ones that are already too degraded. Technically once you have the ROM you won't need the physical media anymore, which will actually help you to preserve it while still letting you play the game.

    Gotta be honest, after the whole Coleco Chameleon thing I'm a little reserved on whether this ends up coming through the way it says it does. Fingers crossed though!

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