Finding ways to play retro games is getting more difficult with each passing generation. It’s often not enough to dig the old consoles out of the basement; we have to come up with exciting ways to keep our kids interested in the classics like Super Mario World, instead of Angry Birds Seasons. Fortunately, Nerdy With Children has you covered with two unlikely retro portable systems, and a few methods for hooking up your controllers to play PC games and ROMs, without having to spend any extra money on expensive peripherals.
If you’ve ever wanted to take Nintendo Entertainment System games out of the house, or you want your kids to have some of the original Nintendo games with them portably, the FC Mobile II is a great choice. It is essentially a portable NES, shaped as a lengthier NES controller with a 2.5” LCD screen in the center. Since NES cartridges are rather large an unwieldy, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it can let your kids play the same games you grew up with. The FC Mobile II requires NES games to play, but half the fun is letting your kids help you pick out some older games that they normally wouldn’t have thought to try. Getting your kids to play retro NES games is great, and it’s made easier using the FC Mobile II.
The Retro Duo Portable is a handheld Super Nintendo Entertainment System device that lets your kids play all the SNES games you grew up with on the go. With the advent of technology, kids are playing tiny games on their tiny hand-held devices, so it’s interesting to see how they react both to playing the games we grew up with, and to how large the cartridges are. The Retro Duo Portable looks like a Super Nintendo controller with a LCD screen in the center, much like the recent design of the WiiU gaming tablet. SNES cartridges fit in the back, and the system plays all the classics. It’s a great way to introduce your kids to the amazing SNES library, without confining them to the TV, busting out the old system and hookups, or stopping them from gaming on the go, as they’re likely used to by now.
If your kids prefer to game on the PC, but still want to play retro games, it’s often very expensive to purchase additional controllers or adapters that only work on the PC. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives using peripherals that they may already have in your home, by using software and/or drivers for your PC. First up, is a method of updating your drivers to use your Xbox360 controller on a PC, and then we’ll look at a program that allows you and your kids to connect your PS3 controllers to your PC, without having to purchase a complicated adapter.
The Xbox 360 is easier to hook up to the PC, since they both use Microsoft-based communication. Go to http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/downloads to get the actual drivers, and the information to help start your setup process. Your controller must be wired, and you need at least one free USB port on your PC. The drivers require an update to the Windows Service Pack of your Operating system of choice, though this can be avoided if you’re playing your games on MAC OS X. Once the drivers are updated, your kids can play all their controller-supported games and/or ROMS using the Xbox360 controller on their PC.
For other controllers, ControllerMate is a software program that allows your wireless or wired peripherals (including PlayStation 3 controllers, Guitar Hero guitars, and many other devices) to connect to your PC. The program itself has a lengthy tutorial to get you started, but the gist of it is that you configure each button on your peripheral to replace a key on your keyboard. Say you want to use your PS3 controller to play your collection of ROMs. Once configured through ControllerMate, your PC reads button presses on the PS3 controller as a key strokes. Then, you configure your keyboard settings to mirror the setting in Controllermate, and your kids can play using the PS3 controller on their PC. It’s a bit more setup intensive than the Xbox360, but it’s easy enough for your kids to understand, and worth it for not having to buy a specific PC-enabled controller.