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highinfidelity

Classic gaming on Android?

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I was recently forced to purchase a smartphone (with Android OS) as my previous phone deceaded unexpectedly. Frankly, I've never been a phone geek as I actually consider cellphones and being "always reachable" much more a big big pain (anywhere...) than an opportunity, so I never really kept up to date with phone technology. However, I always figured that these devices, being so "smart", could give great classing gaming experiences. Actually: I took it for granted! Now that I own one, saying that I'm disappointed by this "smart" technology is a huge understatement. |:)

 

First thing that I did was to install the MAME app for android. :woozy:

 

I want to affirm clearly that I really appreciate what the MAME developing team does (for free!) and that I consider MAME for android a fair endeavour, which must have taken hours and hours of work. However, in my experience, results are such that it is almost unenjoyable. The raster is resized so grossly that both the menu voices as well as the games are horribly pixellated and unintelligible. The on-screen simulated joystick and buttons are - in one word - atrocious. Not only they give a horrible feedback (actually: they don't give ANY) but they also grab so much space on the screen that the game itself needs a microscope to be seen.

 

I'm impressed by how unimpressed I am by smartphones and their apps. Perhaps I took it the wrong way. In general, what would you install and/or do, should you want to play a decent port of - say - Space Invaders or Pac Man on your smartphone?

Edited by highinfidelity

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Agreed in part - emulation support for Android in general is pretty good. The likes of Atari 8-bit, ST, C64, Amiga, most old 80s consoles and arcades fairly well catered for.

 

What lets the whole show down is that the touchscreen interface has little practicality for old games that used joystick, especially the ones where the action might mean 3 or more directional changes per second, or operating more than 1 button.

 

It's not a total loss though - Android allows various input devices like Bluetooth keyboards and gamepads, and in some cases the USB port is the OTG type which allows host mode so you can plug USB controllers in.

 

But of course all that takes away from the portability. There are a few controllers around that were designed to use with phones, the one I saw on Kickstarter acts as a sort of cradle then you use the phone similarly to a PSP.

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Yes, most of the fault is in the thouchscreen design, which falls short compared to any controller. I have read that new recommendations by Android developers are to remove even the three touchbuttons below the screen in the forthcoming devices; this goes exactly in the opposite direction that a decent gaming experience would require.

 

The other problem (the horrible raster rendering) could be addressed in some way, I suppose, should MAME developers have some time to devote to the matter. But the lack of a decent controller is essential.

 

By the way, my phone actually has a built-in full QWERTY keyboard, but MAME ignores it completely. Perhaps there is a way to send game control to the keyboard, but as said the menus are unreadable and it's totally impossible to figure out how to do it.

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Raster rendering is an issue for some in practically all emulation of old machines, personally I don't give a crap. I'd rather see solid pixels than some slowed down kludge attempt to capture the look/feel of an 80s CRT.

 

The 3 button thing is mainly an Android system issue. Personally I prefer the offscreen buttons to those that are rendered onscreen and can appear/disappear depending on if the application or OS wants them there or not.

 

The UI in emulation, really it's a case of making do with what you've got. We suffered similarly on the old 8-bit systems in the 80s when the GUI came on scene and games/applications on older computers tried to emulate that look/feel and use a joystick to control the pointer with obvious annoying results.

 

Really, the potential market for integrated keyboard and/or controller solutions for smartphones is enormous and largely untapped. I just don't bother with emulation because of the control issue mainly. Even my phone can emulate a PS1 and play Abe's Oddyssee at practically fullspeed but doing a PS1 controller as a touchscreen interface is an instant excercise in futility.

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Raster rendering is an issue for some in practically all emulation of old machines, personally I don't give a crap. I'd rather see solid pixels than some slowed down kludge attempt to capture the look/feel of an 80s CRT.

 

I think you say so because you can't figure how bad the broblem is. A screenshot may help. The "game" menu is that small rectangular blob of pixels on top of the simulated controllers.

post-4222-0-99835800-1399980560_thumb.png

Edited by highinfidelity

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I agree that the touch screen control kills the whole experience. I downloaded Atari's Greatest Hits for Kindle and it is nearly unplayable. As stated if someone could create a plug in joystick it would help greatly, but that would affect portability as well.

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OK, I see the graphics problem. That being downscaling which just throws pixels away in many cases.

The problem generally exists when the emulating device has similar or smaller resolution than the emulated device.

 

When using a decent tablet, the problem is generally much less since the tablet resolution should be much greater than any classic system.

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OK, I see the graphics problem. That being downscaling which just throws pixels away in many cases.

The problem generally exists when the emulating device has similar or smaller resolution than the emulated device.

 

When using a decent tablet, the problem is generally much less since the tablet resolution should be much greater than any classic system.

 

Actually, I think that almost any smartphone has a higher resolution than Space Invaders or Pac-Man. But if more than half of the screen is cluttered by the (unsatisfactory) virtual controls, the room left for the game will obviously be as tiny as a postage stamp.

 

This is almost an offense if I consider that most coin-ops had vertical screens just like smartphones. It should have been a benefit, considered that PCs have 4:3 or recently even worse 16:9 horizontal screens. But the screen space is used so oddly that, basically, there is no room left for the game!

 

Also, I can easily figure that things may look better on the bigger screen of a tablet, but on the other hand tablets are way less diffused than smartphones, so it would make sense to address the smartphones with more accuracy than the tablets.

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I was hoping for more emulators that would be available for Android in general. No such luck. Searching for lesser-known systems like "Fairchild Channel F" or "Bally Astrocade" hasn't popped up anything.

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Tried on my tablet and just don't work. No bluetooth so have to go mini usb route. Any suggestions on which controller is best and cheapest?

Well I have used a Wii and PS3 controller(through an app) and they work pretty good(you can use an Xbox 360 controller but you need to hook it up via a cord as it does not have Bluetooth).no issues yet.For the Wii controller,all you do is open the app and turn on your Wii remote and it's synced.For the PS3 controller though, you need to root your tablet(very easy) and change the master address(what the PS3 controller will connect with) from the PS3's address to the tablet's address(it won't work with the PS3 after this so to fix you hook it up to the PS3 via USB cable and press the home button).

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I'm telling you, get an on the go adapter for your Android device. They cost five dollars or less, and they will transform your 'droid experience.

 

Also, your best bet for a controller is a Dual Shock and PS USB adapter. Use some sort of console controller if it's at all possible.

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So what's the best and easiest choice for a mini usb route? Or where do you get the Wii app? Google Chrome? Can you use the classic controller with the Wiimote? Where to get? Thanks

Edited by thegamezmaster

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Most emulators have the good sense to include BT controller support. There are a few controllers out there with mounts for phones and for tablets you can easily find a case/stand combo.

 

Touch controls are awful though I have found NES and GB emulators with acceptable touch controls. But I own a Note 3 which is a giant monster of a phone. I doubt the experience would be as good on a smaller phone.

 

I don't run classic games on my Android devices to much anymore. Less trouble to just play on my Mac Mini and if I'm "on the go" long enough that I need video games, I pack my laptop which gets the same job done.

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I'm still stumped on how to get to the config menu of that VICE VIc 20 emulator. The rumors of people finding it are just urban legends.

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*REBUMP* after four years! :-D

 

I had to change the smartphone and passed to a Backberry Priv. :)

 

Is there any substantial news about classic gaming on Android phones, especially concerning phisical controllers?

 

Any substantial improvement of MAME for phones? Is it worth trying to re-install?

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The scene is pretty much the same in my opinion. It's easy to pair a Bluetooth controller. Lots of emulators. MAME still works well for the games it supports well.

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It's easy to pair a Bluetooth controller.

 

The problem with me is that I would use an emulator on smartphone only while commuting on trains, so bulky or unstable controllers don't fit my needs. Here is a review of ten Bluetooth controllers. The bigger ones fit to the phone but are bigger than the phone itself and I would never carry them with me. The smaller ones are really cute but the phone won't dock anywhere so they're useless in situations in which there isn't a table or such where the phone may be supported:

 

https://www.phonearena.com/news/10-game-controllers-for-smartphones-and-tablets_id39901

 

About hardware (non-electronic) solutions, there are things that attach to the screen and turn the non-tactile controllers into tactile controllers. These ones are attached by means of suction cups. I ignore if they work fine, has anyone tried them?

 

https://www.banggood.com/Mini-Fling-Joystick-Game-Controller-For-Android-Smartphone-iPhone-p-951552.html

 

These ones are based on the same principle but they have the shape of a joystick and a fire button:

 

https://it.aliexpress.com/item/Mobile-Game-Joystick-Fisico-Fling-Joystick-Touch-Screen-Rocker-Smart-Phone-Gamepad-Per-Android-iPhone-Phone/32837571894.html

 

These ones also have the shape of a joystick. I ignore how they are attached to the screen, but the ad says they're repositionable so I guess it's not adhesive tape:

 

https://www.dhgate.com/product/wholesale-new-funny-joystick-joypad-arcade/404150390.html

 

Did anyone try any of the above? Any comments?

Edited by highinfidelity
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You will never know how much self control it took for me not to paste that first paragraph into the "first world problem" meme image and post it here.

 

Learn to use the touchscreen's virtual controls, use one of the myriad alternatives, play touch native games (sacrelige I know, but many of them are better than old d-pad and button games), or get a 3DS or GPD XD.

 

Stick-on controls are stupid.

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The problem with me is that I would use an emulator on smartphone only while commuting on trains, so bulky or unstable controllers don't fit my needs. Here is a review of ten Bluetooth controllers. The bigger ones fit to the phone but are bigger than the phone itself and I would never carry them with me. The smaller ones are really cute but the phone won't dock anywhere so they're useless in situations in which there isn't a table or such where the phone may be supported:

 

https://www.phonearena.com/news/10-game-controllers-for-smartphones-and-tablets_id39901

 

About hardware (non-electronic) solutions, there are things that attach to the screen and turn the non-tactile controllers into tactile controllers. These ones are attached by means of suction cups. I ignore if they work fine, has anyone tried them?

Somebody really needs to make Nintendo Switch-style controllers for phones that clip on the sides. Surprising they don't already exist.

 

Until then, I have a standard game controller with phone clip, but that sounds too bulky for your needs.

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I wrote about my experiences in trying to play pac-man with a touchscreen here:

http://www.classicarcadegaming.com/forums/index.php/topic,5563.msg66740.html#msg66740

 

End result, it was terrible with swiping on screen, or with the virtual joystick.

Trying to do patterns was futile.

 

Missile command might be fun on a touch screen, but that's about it for retro games.

 

Everything else needs precision, and that's just not there for serious play on a phone without a controller.

 

If you're not good at videogames, then you could get by, because you wouldn't notice the problem.

 

later

-1

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