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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rainy Days In The RV Will Never Be The Same! - GAMES!

My LED Pico Projector
    Back many years ago, I used to be a bit of a shark at the old quarter-per-play arcade. Classic games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Defender and Tempest were some of my favorites. Over the last few years, I had found you could play many of those old arcade favorites on your PC with a piece of software called MAME (Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator). If you could find the game ROMs you could play them in all their original glory. That was/is pretty cool. These days, with higher powered computing devices that can be taken anyplace, you can now emulate all that and MORE on just about any platform. Take that little bit of info and add a mid-level Android tablet and you have an entire arcade in your RV. Best of all...no quarters needed!

I use a small tablet with a keyboard dock (it adds 16 hours of battery life and full-sized USB ports!) -- it has really nice 1920x1080 resolution. I usually just use the 10.2" screen to get work done (Yes, even writing these articles on the road!), but for games I've taken to connecting its' HDMI output to my mini projector/screen combo and using the combination to play games on a HUGE screen. They're even larger than they were when playing in the arcade! Sound comes out of the tablet or you can use a Bluetooth speaker for more fidelity. If your tablet has a hard-wired port for sound (like a mini headphone jack) you can simply plug it into a powered speaker system (or even your RV Stereo system).

Since my tablet/dock is an Android device, I used a slightly different program than I did on my PC (though you could download it for your PC/MAC as well) called Retroarch. While the MAME application was pretty simple to get setup and working, it was limited to older coin arcade machine games. Retroarch is a bit different. It uses CORES. A core is a chunk of computer code that allows Retroarch to emulate nearly any gaming machine, either arcade or console. Console? That's just a fancy name for all the machines you could (and still can) buy for home use. Old and New! You'll still need to download the ROMs (Games.) Many of them are freely available under a public license or even in the public domain.

How do you control all the onscreen action? You could use the keyboard of your device (if it has one) or buy an add-on keyboard. OR...you can buy a Bluetooth controller. These come in a myriad of flavors and colors. From duplicates of console game controllers down to micro and mini ones that are really inexpensive ($4), feature rechargeable batteries (they use a micro-USB cord to charge) and work great for more than games. I use mine to click through slides during power-point presentations and control music and videos on the fly. You can configure the buttons to do just about anything you like on your device.

Retroarch is a bit finicky to set up and use, but once it works on your system...look out! You have access to a massive amount of gaming entertainment on board your RV. Rainy days in the RV will never be the same again!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"
www.thewanderman.com

***UPDATE*** If you are having problems with setting up Retroarch on your android device. I know it too me a LONG time to get it working right, you could always install individual emulators for each game type. For example,,,,MAME for old coin-op games. A quick search on the play store reveals lots of choices for almost every video game device out there, past and present. From Atari 2600's all the way to Playstations! As always....YMMV!

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