PC Classic - new games console based on PC

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outdated_gamer
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PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:11 pm

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sjbrqR36w4&t=1s

It's essentially a small box to play retro PC games on.

It's not a bad idea and the target price will be 99$.

Interestingly, it won't use x86 architecture but ARM, which probably means it won't run native DOS PC games but have some form of emulation or ports.

It'll also come with pre-installed games, with possible additional purchases.

You can read more about it here:

https://unitetechno.com/dt_catalog/pc-classic/

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by DPrinny » Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:11 pm

<Insert the usual post about why not just use a Raspberry Pi>
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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by Matt_B » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:27 pm

I'm not going near this.

Normally the answer to why you wouldn't just use a Raspberry Pi would be that it doesn't look the part and the games aren't licensed.

However, the case just looks generic and fugly; and not at all like an actual PC that someone might have owned in the 80s or early 90s. While there's some ornamental value in having a dinky replica console in the TV cabinet - whether you're using it to play games or not - I can't see many people wanting it for that.

Also, the PC is just too disparate a platform to get a representative selection of games together for. Sony seem to have disappointed a lot of people with what they came up with on the PlayStation Classic and this could only go worse than that. Plus, if you want a selection of classic DOS games, the chances are that you've already gone and bought the ones you want on GoG.

The final nail in the coffin would be that it's crowdfunded. I think we all know how that can go by now.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:50 am

DPrinny wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 10:11 pm
<Insert the usual post about why not just use a Raspberry Pi>
And they have the answer for that... :wink:

"Can’t I just buy a Raspberry Pi, an enclosure, gamepad, keyboard, and mouse, 3D print a faceplate, install Armbian, buy 30+ games, build the source for ARM or install/configure in DOSBox for each and every game, create a menu system with game art, and tell everyone about it at parties?"

"No."

Matt_B wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:27 pm
I'm not going near this.

Normally the answer to why you wouldn't just use a Raspberry Pi would be that it doesn't look the part and the games aren't licensed.

However, the case just looks generic and fugly; and not at all like an actual PC that someone might have owned in the 80s or early 90s. While there's some ornamental value in having a dinky replica console in the TV cabinet - whether you're using it to play games or not - I can't see many people wanting it for that.

Also, the PC is just too disparate a platform to get a representative selection of games together for. Sony seem to have disappointed a lot of people with what they came up with on the PlayStation Classic and this could only go worse than that. Plus, if you want a selection of classic DOS games, the chances are that you've already gone and bought the ones you want on GoG.

The final nail in the coffin would be that it's crowdfunded. I think we all know how that can go by now.
imo, the real sales factor would be portability and the ability to load up real floppy disks, besides SD cards. A laptop version of the system could be attractive to some potential buyers.

I think you could quite easily make a collection of 30 classic PC games from various genres to represent the PC, the problem would be obtaining licenses. If this had GOG support, it'd be nice as it could play the vast selection of classic PC titles which that distribution service offers. But for that I think they'd have to opt for some x86 arch with Linux. I'm not fully sure how these things are like on ARM, altho there are several game ports to ARM created by various individuals.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by Matt_B » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:48 am

outdated_gamer wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 12:50 am
imo, the real sales factor would be portability and the ability to load up real floppy disks, besides SD cards. A laptop version of the system could be attractive to some potential buyers.
It's not that portable though. Sure, the box itself is small, but you're going to need a power supply and a TV, and probably a keyboard and mouse too to play most of the games properly.

You can already buy modern x86 based PCs in around the same form factor too, such as the Intel NUC, Udoo Ultra and Latte Panda. Just install Steam/GoG/DOSBox on one and you're done. You can also run Windows 10 on them and play modern games, albeit with the limitations of throttling and integrated graphics.

If you want a laptop version, just install GoG etc. on your laptop.

If you want to load real floppies, just buy a USB floppy drive. I've still got one that sees occasional use.
I think you could quite easily make a collection of 30 classic PC games from various genres to represent the PC, the problem would be obtaining licenses. If this had GOG support, it'd be nice as it could play the vast selection of classic PC titles which that distribution service offers. But for that I think they'd have to opt for some x86 arch with Linux. I'm not fully sure how these things are like on ARM, altho there are several game ports to ARM created by various individuals.
You can run x86 emulators on ARM cores to get up to Pentium II performance, which ought to be more than enough to run any DOS era games. You'd only need more than that to run Win9X games, which would be a real selling point if anyone could pull it off, as they're a compatibility minefield on modern hardware. However, I'd doubt that they're willing to go there due to the inherent challenges involved.

I think they can probably license 30 classic DOS games easily enough without including any bad filler though. They can just go to the publishers with games already on GoG or Steam, make them an offer, and they're bound to get a few takers. What they almost certainly can't do is come up with a selection that'll hit the spot for everyone. They've got the same problem Sony has had with the PlayStation Classic, where there are just too many bases to cover, but an order of magnitude worse.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Wed Nov 14, 2018 10:03 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:48 am
It's not that portable though. Sure, the box itself is small, but you're going to need a power supply and a TV, and probably a keyboard and mouse too to play most of the games properly.

You can already buy modern x86 based PCs in around the same form factor too, such as the Intel NUC, Udoo Ultra and Latte Panda. Just install Steam/GoG/DOSBox on one and you're done. You can also run Windows 10 on them and play modern games, albeit with the limitations of throttling and integrated graphics.

If you want a laptop version, just install GoG etc. on your laptop.

If you want to load real floppies, just buy a USB floppy drive. I've still got one that sees occasional use.
Yeah, PCs are everywhere these days, another PC, altho "retro" themed, can just get lost in the sea of other similar products.

With that said, I still think some proper retro PC in small form factor dedicated to running DOS games and maybe Win9x games could have a market for itself.

Imagine something like this scaled down to the size of a tiny box and with pre-installed games, without the hassle of having to configure things and the potential to expand the games library.

I don't know about you but I think it could have a space for itself.

You can run x86 emulators on ARM cores to get up to Pentium II performance, which ought to be more than enough to run any DOS era games. You'd only need more than that to run Win9X games, which would be a real selling point if anyone could pull it off, as they're a compatibility minefield on modern hardware. However, I'd doubt that they're willing to go there due to the inherent challenges involved.

I think they can probably license 30 classic DOS games easily enough without including any bad filler though. They can just go to the publishers with games already on GoG or Steam, make them an offer, and they're bound to get a few takers. What they almost certainly can't do is come up with a selection that'll hit the spot for everyone. They've got the same problem Sony has had with the PlayStation Classic, where there are just too many bases to cover, but an order of magnitude worse.
Fair point with Win9x. Altho there's the "compatability mode" in newer versions of Windows and we have various community patches, wrappers (the Glide wrapper "nGlide" is very useful for 3dfx emulation on modern systems) and some services like GOG fix games to work on modern hardware and operating systems, there's always that one odd game that won't want to run right, or run at all. They'd have to look into the games themselves, which can involve quite some work.

Right, classic PC game licensing is quite bad nowadays, we're far from "unified", like it used to be in the DOS/Win9x times. You have services like GOG that try to preserve classic PC games, but then there's always companies who keep their stuff just to themselves (looking at you, Blizzard), or offer a certain selection of their massive backlogs that still has some holes here and there (e.g. EA, Ubi, MS, Acti, etc).

But as you say, they'd likely still get some support and maybe also be able to include some freeware/abandoware/shareware stuff, altho these things need to be examined, from a legal point of view.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by paranoid marvin » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:30 pm

Would be great to have a mini PC with a PROPER, mega-easy to use front end. I mean one where you have a list of about the top 5000 PC games and it automatically configures EVERYTHING. So one 'click' on an icon for, say , Ecstatica, amd if you have the game on your HD it just works. No choosing sound cards, no fiddling with settings, just a click. Maybe a PC powerful to run anything up to around year 2000. So you can get to play Starfleet Academy, all the ace FMV games, flight sims, Ecstatica 1&2 etc etc. I'd defo pay £100 for that, and happy to provide my own keyboard & mouse with the system hooking up, or maybe even 'casting' to tv. With the resolution of most tvs now, surely the graphics will look as good?
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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by the_hawk » Thu Nov 15, 2018 11:50 pm

I genuinely thought this was a joke.

I thought we'd reached peak "crowdfunded reimagined retro gaming device." with the Ataribox, but looks like there's mileage in these things yet.
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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by kiwimike » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:51 am

Yeah, I'm finally going the emulator way now to have all the old classics in a single machine as these little cash in things are starting to get silly now

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:42 am

So here's some ideas for games:

Tetris - maybe the DOS version isn't the best, still, it's a game I'd associate with the PC. Some sort of "green screen" filter would be nice to give a proper PC XT feel.

Prince of Persia - DOS version was likely the best and showed that there's a bright future for PC gaming.

Sim City 2000 - the classic city builder that made many fall in love with the series.

Monkey Island - DOS version was better than the Amiga and Atari versions, an iconic game I'd associate with PC gaming.

Civilization II - classic turn based grand strategy. Just one more turn.

Wing Commander - another classic, this time a space sim. Chris Roberts and Origin.

Command & Conquer - we can't really talk about the real time strategy genre without mentioning C&C. The original C&C is still fine, but Red Alert and Tiberian Sun is where the series trully shined.

F1 Grand Prix - it might be unlikely to happen due to licensing issues, still, the F1 Grand Prix series were considered the top of PC racing sims back in the days.

Screamer - PC's answer to Ridge Racer was the great Screamer, a trully demanding game in it's time (it really needed a Pentium PC) that looked great (especially in the high-res "SVGA" mode) and played well too.

Ultima VII - often seen as one of the best top down RPGs, Ultima VII is still a gem.

Ultima Underworld - the 3D spin-off Ultima that pioneered real-time 3D dungeon crawlers. If you wonder where the likes of TES come from, look no further.

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall - took Underworld's ideas and made them more expansive.

Jazz Jackrabbit - while Nintendo had Mario and Sega had Sonic, PC had Jazz, the crazy green rabbit. A good-looking and fast 2D platformer that's exclusive to PC.

Mortal Kombat - Mortal Kombat might not be a game one would think of right away when thinking about PC gaming, but the DOS port was so good that it, imo, should be included. Whereas the Street Fighter II DOS port was poor, the MK port was excellent and nearly "arcade perfect", with full uncensored violence and blood, making it considerably more appealing than the compromised console ports of the time.

Phantasmagoria - a FVM adventure that sent chills down the spine of CD-ROM owners back in the day. It was a golden time for FVM adventures.

Tyrian 2000 - a nice 2D shmup for the PC that's fully playlable with just a mouse. And the best thing is that it's freeware.

Flight Unlimited - the PC was always great at simulators of various sorts, with flight sims being held in highest regard. But while MS Flight Simulator pioneered the genre, there was another game out there that felt even better and that was Flight Unlimited. Amazing graphics for it's time and still fun to play today.

X-Wing vs Tie Fighter - a classic SW space sim. It requires a joystick but is still supremely playlable.

Wolfenstein 3D - we couldn't really do a list of PC games without Wolfenstein 3D, that's how important it was for PC gaming (but still not nearly as important as it's techical successor).

Ultimate Doom - Doom put PC gaming on the map for serious gaming, as simple as that. Enthusiasts agree that the PC version is the best and has a ton of fan-made stuff for it (e.g. mods, level packs, etc).

System Shock - a more "intellectual" shooter that wasn't just about "bang bang" but also "think think".

Duke Nukem 3D - took Doom and made it even more masculine. A macho shooter that is best enjoyed on the PC.

Descent - although Quake is often considered to be the first true 3D shooter, Descent came before and not only had full 3D graphics, but also full freedom of movement. A classic shooter I'd certainly associate with the PC.

Quake - a masterpiece of dark atmosphere, online "fragging" and cutting-edge 3D technology. It was as important for PC gaming as Wolf 3D and Doom were. Also pioneered hardware 3D acceleration on the PC.

Carmageddon - a brutal car combat game that I'd certainly associate with the "undergroundish" PC gaming culture of the 90s. Made some good use of 3D acceleration too.

Dungeon Keeper - this game told us that being bad is good. And they were quite right about that.

Grim Fandango - a great 3D adventure game, could be seen as Lucas Arts' "swan song" in many ways.

Half-Life - one does not make a list of "best PC games" and forget about Half-Life. A genre shaker for sure.

Unreal - a shooter with amazing graphics and sound for its time. It trully pushed PC's 3D hardware to the limits. The sequel didn't manage to deliver the same feel.

SWAT 3 - a CQB tactical shooter where the objective is to disarm the subjects rather than go in, guns blazing. A more "mature" shooter that are quite a rare breed these days.

Grand Prix Legends - again, licensing will probably prohibit this, but GPL still is one of the finest PC race sims ever. With mods, it's still highly enjoyable.

Falcon 4.0 - a combat flight simulator that was too heavy for the hardware of it's time. Still plays great but it does require a joystick.

Outcast - at the time, many described it as "PC's Mario 64". An odd comparison you'd say, but in terms of progressiveness, it was actually quite accurate. A nice 3D action adventure that made great use of voxel tech.


Of course this is all still only scratching the surface of PC's massive game library, but if it was a good selection it might draw in some attention from newcommers to PC (retro) gaming and those seeking a more "convenient" way of playing PC games.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by DPrinny » Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:48 am

The interesting thing is

For years a lot of PC gamers have scoffed at console gamers

Now this happens...........
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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by kiwimike » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:44 pm

DPrinny wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:48 am
The interesting thing is

For years a lot of PC gamers have scoffed at console gamers

Now this happens...........
Good point! :lol:

There'd still be scoffing, suggesting you can use a PC for PC gaming instead. Perhaps that raises a good point about the market it could be aimed at. Console gamers that want a simple way to play PC games, on their lounge TV! :)

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:16 am

DPrinny wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 11:48 am
The interesting thing is

For years a lot of PC gamers have scoffed at console gamers

Now this happens...........
It might be paradoxical to make a "games console" out of a "personal computer", and as history shows us, this usually wasn't greeted all too well (e.g. Commodore 64 GS, Amiga CD32, Steam Machines, etc - original Xbox could be seen as the exception, as could modern game consoles, from a hardware point of view).

On the other hand, although modern PCs are backwards compatible, it can still require some messing and knowledge to run the games. For those seeking convenience and those new to PC gaming, such a "all-in-one" tiny box that can run classic PC titles might be welcome.

It could even run the games native, rather than via emulation, all that would be needed would be some x86 SoC with FreeDOS or similar, with Win9x games being ported over.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:22 am

As for the official controller - I'd go for something like this personally:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnQwL6niQEc

A small/compact keyboard with a touch surface rather than some console style gamepad, as PC games tend to be more mouse & keyboard oriented. Although it should still have ports for gamepads.

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Re: PC Classic - new games console based on PC

Post by The Laird » Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:00 am

I too thought this was a joke when I first saw it. I still think it's a joke, but not in quite the same way :lol:

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