Retrogames, or classic games, are a big part of convention life, whether in small classic gaming-focused showcases to massive pop culture extravaganzas. Why should the 2018 Silicon Valley Comic Con be any different? It isn’t different, thanks to a classic gaming and arcade showcase at the show — and the presence of one SKG Retrogaming on the show floor.
The table for the Las Vegas-based SKG Retrogaming was sandwiched in-between several other bigger, splashier booths, but it didn’t keep a steady stream of interested foot traffic from checking out the set-up. On the surface were two demo stations for the two main products the small company offers. the Retro Box – Basic and the Retro Box – Loaded. Two LED monitors were attached to two different palm-sized boxes, both of which were quietly running some classic games — in the original 4:3 standard-definition display format, which by my informal accounting, it seems most classic games purists prefer.
As SKG Retrogames’ owner and long-time classic gaming enthusiast, Patrick Ferre, also known as “The Skeptical Geek,” was quick to inform me that emulation is still considered a touchy subject, or even a taboo, for some gamers and maybe even some intellectual property owners. But the screen aspect is not something to trifle with.
The basic model is a simple $199 palm-sized computer optimized for classic gaming. Reflective of the hardware inside it, the Raspberry Pi logo is etched through the small, lightweight black metal box. While it fits into the palm of my hand, it’s got space enough for the ports for the HDMI cables, the power supply and the USB Super Nintendo-style controllers. The device comes with 2700 emulated games from the most recognizable systems from the 8- and 16-bit gaming era: Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis.
The “loaded” model seems to accurately describe the Nintendo Entertainment System-styled mini console, loaded up with about 7,000 emulated games from 16 platforms. It’s hard to imagine how long it might take to play that many games if one was so inclined.
Both Retro Box models are powered by the emulation-friendly combo of a Raspberry Pi 3 computer and RetroPi, a software layer built upon other emulation programs that enable players to play games with a minimum of blood, sweat, and tears. The main functional difference between the models is the storage, with 32GB SD allocated for storage for the basic model and 128 GB for the larger model
As one of (if not the only) games-focused booth at Silicon Valley Comic Con, SKG Retrogaming stands out. For the company’s two devices, the company stands out for the hat-tip to technophiles, nostalgia buffs, and old-school game geeks.