It’s the long time argument about what is better: Playing on real hardware using real cartridges and discs on a real TV, or playing via emulated ROM images on a modern PC. Obviously, each one has advantages and disadvantages, and the beauty of each one is in the eye of the beholder. For those out there that prefer the emulation route, you know it can be pretty boring just selecting a game from a list of ROM images that you have on your computer or tablet. But what if there was a way to take your existing files, and instead of selecting from a list, converted your entire collection into an 80’s style arcade? A new front-end from Digital Cybercherries called “New Retro Arcade” does just that not only for computer users, but for VR users in the future.
Using Unreal Engine 4, the arcade is built as a way of experiencing, playing and enjoying your personal slice of the life of an 80s gamer. While originally developed for use with the Oculus VR for use in a virtual reality world, it is also compatible with non-VR equipment. Similar to Microsoft’s “Game Room” concept for Xbox and Windows, this software takes your ROM images, and turns them into arcade cabinets, giving you an interesting experience. This is done by using artwork packs that can be found online. These virtual cabinets will feature marquees and visuals, reviving the look and feel of an authentic 80s arcade. Walk through a virtual arcade with all of YOUR own ROM images, and see what a complete collection of cabinets could really look like! Then play the games as if you were looking at a real machine!
Aside from being a frontend for MAME, it is also compatible with some home consoles as well, including NES, Super NES, Game Boy and Genesis. Throughout your personalized arcade, you will find random Game Boy handhelds for example, each with one of your “cartridges” loaded up and ready to play. Same with the other consoles. You’ll find a console hooked up and ready to go, just select your cartridge! Plus, the buttons on the controller or console will depress as you press the real button your computer or joystick, to make it even more realistic looking. And just like the real world, with Game Boy emulation, feel free to walk around the cabin.
To make this a complete experience, the arcade also offers streamed internet radio in which you can select the tunes that are most tubular to you and your taste. There are also virtual cassette tapes available to play your favorite classic and retro music. Aside from this, there are also a few original games that you can play with, including a 10-pin bowling alley, dartboard and basketball machine. Add to that a variety of neon signs and movie posters from the era, and it is literally a complete experience, unlike what you would get from selecting a ROM image from a menu.