Filling a niche no one cares about

I really fell off the wagon with blogging last year, so I’m making a commitment to spend at least 15 minutes every day writing something personal during my lunch break… as opposed to my usual routine of not actually taking a lunch break. I guess I’ll still be working instead of taking a break, but it’s not work work, so maybe the change of focus will help me remember how to shift gears more easily.

Anyway, about unenthusiastic niches.

Back when I first started Game Boy World (which has been, yikes, nearly two years now), I really wanted to make it a sort of all-encompassing handheld tribute despite the name. The problem: Game Boy’s the only portable system prior to PSP that lends itself to high-quality video capture, or capture of any sort. Nintendo was wonderfully kind to create the Super Game Boy, which offers pixel-accurate Game Boy graphics through a television-based console whose second model is highly conducive to RGB output. But after that, the only pre-PSP portable system with any video solution I’m aware of was the Game Boy Color/Advance, which could be captured through the GameCube Game Boy Player… albeit with very poor results unless you hack the system and force it to provide corrected output resolution.

But other systems, like the Lynx and Game Gear? Forget about it. All I was able to find was a unicorn-like Lynx mod that some guy in France used to offer, which would allow for S-video capture. But my inquiries proved fruitless, and I gave it up as a bad deal. That is, until a few months ago as I began researching/refreshing my memory on Lynx for the Kickstarter Backer DVD-exclusive episode of Retronauts—as I began scouring the web for info, I stumbled across a link to a guy in Germany who offers a modding service to integrate video-out capabilities to Lynx II systems… and not just video-out, but RGB-out. It seemed too good to be true, but folks on established forums like Atari Age vouched for the reality of this impossible scenario, so I contacted the guy and arranged to buy a modded system.

(Granted, if I’d known BCBSNC was going to jerk us around this month, I’d have waited to make such a hefty purchase, but my inability to predict the future is why I don’t use the stock market or play the lottery.)

Anyway, here are the fruits of my trial run with the completed system:

Actual RGB capture of Blue Lightning, recorded from an actual cart on an actual machine. This trial run isn’t perfect, but it’s no less incredible for its shortcomings. The Lynx outputs via a VGA port at 640×480 resolution, and the black borders are a result of the modder’s decision to have dead screen space rather than scale up the visuals by a non-integer factor, which was the correct choice. The scanlines seem to be baked in, but I can live with that. I need to tweak my capture settings to make the blacks darker and the color saturation more pronounced to accurately capture the intended look of the game. But still. This is pretty unbelievable! Looks like I can finally get to work on those Game Boy World Gaiden episodes…

Now I just need someone to come up with something like this for Neo Geo Pocket. You get an RGB-modded NGPC into my hands and I will devote my free time wholly to celebrating that little gem of a system, I promise.

Hey—15 minutes exactly. How about that.

13 thoughts on “Filling a niche no one cares about

  1. I think someone mentioned on an old episode of Retronauts that it’s possible to play Game Gear games on a Master System with a little rigging of the cartridge. Is that a viable means of capture?

  2. Wow, that’s pretty impressive. The Lynx might not be known for its timeless classic games, but the hardware really put the GB to shame.

    About the NGPC, if you Youtube “neo geo pocket tv unit K2” you’ll actually find two clips detailing a piece of development hardware that plays NGPC games on TV. Chances of finding one in the wild are slim to none, but someone out there has the hardware you need.

    And yes, if you Youtube “super neogeo pocket” you’ll see a French NGPC fan actually made the kind of hardware you really want. The odds are against you, but it’s not totally impossible to capture NGPC footage from real hardware.

      • It’s the stuff of dreams! Still, the tech exists, so maybe someday someone will figure out a cheaper alternative, like that guy with the “Super Neo Geo Pocket” did.

        At least you have a TV-out modded Lynx. How cool is that? I kinda want one now, even though I’d only ever play Rygar and maybe STUN Runner on it.

  3. FWIW, Tim Worthington has built an RGB output board for the Game Gear that may be helpful – – there’s also a US distributor that could assist you Jeremy. I haven’t installed his board myself yet, but his work on RGB boards for the N64, NES/Famicom and Atari 2600 have all garnered excellent feedback. I’m planning on rolling those out to my remaining consoles when I have time to get cracking!

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