i want to buy GP32 but.. should I wait?


ralp99

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"odd questions" indeed. ok not THAT odd.

Ok after seeing that a PC-Engine emulator has been released for GP32, I am officially ready to plunk down the $$$ and order myself one. That's enough of a reason for me!

Before I commit I have a couple questions, perhaps those of you here "in the know" could enlighten me.

I have been following the fringe of GP32 emu scene for a good while. Not to the point where I read many of these dedicated boards, but enough to knwo what software/etc was coming out for it and what it's capable of. I have GB and GBA flash sets and I know how that all works already. So getting to the point..

1. Is GP32 screen as godawful as GBA screen? Can i see it or do I need a light device? Is there any inkling of someone in the scene doing afterburner-style mods, has it been successully attempted yet? I know it is nowhere near the scale of GBA to be worthy of.. well, that level of commitment. But I can see some freak in his basement modding on for himself, if the visibility is terrible enough. (Freak, I want to pay you to mod one for me too!!)

2. other emu's. Ok so SNES emulation is getting there but still slow and chunky.. that's ok. I am not too concerned about that. Howabout sega megadrive/genesis emulation though? If PC-Engine then sega can't be too far behind can it? i heard rumours of a possible emu for this system some time ago, but it was little more than a whisper. What is the consensus then?

3. I am really happy with the NES emu on GBA... SMS emulation is way far behind though. i get the impression that SMS emulation on the GP32 is really well done. What's the story, how's the compatibility/speed? Likewise withthe NES emu (for argument's sake). How are the screen sizes, is everything legible enough?

4. i guess that's it, besides these... what can I expect for battery life with this thing? is there some sort of cradle/adapter type thing like you can buy for GBA? (wishful thinking) How is the ergonomics of the unit, is it durable/compact/comfortable/flimsy feeling? Can I shove it in my pocket indiscreetly?

thanks for taking the time to read and please clue me in, I'd appreciate it. I would like to get my hands onone of these things ASAP if it's really worth the dough, for the things I mentioned.

-r

http://www.slipthru.com
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GurtyGurt

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1. Pretty much, but most emulators have gamma options which improve visual quality a LOT.

2. No word on megadrive emulation yet, which is surprising. Someone will start something one day, but as best I know, nothing is on the tables yet. One can only hope. And wait. (the other week, I would have said the same about C64 emulation, but now...)

3. SMS emulation on GP32 is pretty much perfect. Full speed, no frameskip, with sound. With SMS32, PCM sound doesn't seem to work and FM emulation isn't added, and for save states to work you have to go to the menu before you turn off. (If you load a game then turn off without going to the menu, it actually wipes the save! Owch!). So no problem there! It also has gamma control, as I said. NES emulation is...incomplete. Quite incomplete. Frameskip is probably 3 or 4 fixed, sound is horrible, compatibility is average. Some games (SMB3) run slow, some games (punchout) run REALLY slow and glitched. Needs work. But it's free!

4. Battery life, well it uses 2x AA batteries and they last at variable times depending on clock speed. You should get 6-12 hours per set I guess. Buy rechargables if it's a problem. The unit is perfectly comfortable and the same size as a GBA, the only complaints I hear are the L and R buttons are 'too sharp' (they're not rounded at the edges, but they don't exactly cut your fingers! Wierdos) and I at first had problems with the stick, which was sensitive. I'm used to it now. No complaints at all.

Also, GPengine is pretty close to being as well rounded as SMS32, but it lacks SuperGrafix support and some games don't work (Photograph Boy didn't work for me, for example, and Impossamole sometimes reset the machine!). Also, games with 3D effects slow down without frameskip (Outrun being the most obvious one). But it plays almost everything else.

Everyone I show it to definitely agrees it's worth it. If they can afford it, that is. If you can afford it, it's definitely worth it, basically!
 

ralp99

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hmm. that's a lot of very convincing arguments.

NES- well like I said I am the proud owner of a GBA + flash card (hmm, how many of you other GP32er's are also GBA flashers?) so I have no issues with getting my NES fix on the better-functioning emu over there. 'specially with a lighted screen.

SMS- I don't care if I have to reset. I am one of the older "play a game, turn it off" types more than I am a "take advantage of save states" person. If they are there, that's just icing onthe cake as far as I am concerned. And if it's buggy -- well, i'd rather have buggy save states that shitty framerates, you dig?

PC-Engine. Man, I wanted one of these when it first came out. galaga 90, Legendary Axe, victory lap, blazing lazers, a bazillion shooters.. rytpe, vigilante, dungeon explorer.. hell i don't care if they never emulate the supergrafx (again, icing on the cake). If it looks + sounds like a turboduo, but I don't have to carry 900 hucards with me then hell I am game!

Genesis/megadrive - I am hopeful for this one. If there was the same level of emulation for it as there is for the (almost comparably powered?) PC-Engine, then I would have ordered this thing already and skipped posting. I can wait, that's fine.. if it takes time to make it nice, take your time then!

battery life sounds spot-on as well.

thanks for all the info and the speedy response (other people, feel free to chime in)

ONE MORE QUESTION - SMC size.. what's the best? I keep seeing "64, 128.." I like not to flash so much. Is there a preferred size or size limit? Can I pack a 256 or 512 Mb puppy in there or what?

on a closing note.. I find it funny that we've had decent fully-powerful emulation for much of this software for a couple years now on our PCs, but in light of what's gone on in the handheld scene we tend to feel like we still don't "have" it until it will play on a portable device. Like.. "duh, who wants to sit in front of their computer and play console games?" (it's not like we can't get controllers for the machine either!) It's pretty funny. I mean, where the hell are you when you play it on a freakin' handheld anyway, the couch in the next room? (or the toilet - it's true, the ultimate video game experience!)


-r
 

Tobriand

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SMC sizes are (for now) limited to 128Mb... That's principally because only the 3.3 volt ones work with the G32 - and all the cards larger than 128Mb are 5 volt things...

Genesis emulation IS in the works (Zardoz has an emu being developed that works), but it isn't out yet... Apparently there's a nasty bug that needs to be fixed before release, but exactly what it is, I'm not sure.
 

craigix

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I am still amazed by how good the PC Engine emu is, that is one emu that won't dissapoint. I've also been discovering that the PC Engine versions of games are often the best coversions there are, often beating the genisis ones.

SMS is like people have said, perfect.

I also like the lucasarts emu, a lot of people forget about that - DOTT and Monkey island :)

Unlike the GBA emulation scene which is pretty much at its limits the GP32 is only just begining to show its stuff.

As for the screen i find it much better than the GBA one, maybe its just because its bigger.
 

GurtyGurt

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craig's spot on...I mean, with PC emulators, people have always looked at them and said "wow, that's really pushing it". Because they don't know any better. PC's change speeds constantly. The GP32 and GBA won't, so when you look at them, you know how good they COULD be. The GBA isn't capable of much in comparison, because it's a weaker machine with what is typically a smaller storage capacity. It's also more expensive for more cards. When people mention NES emulation on GBA, they always say they only have a few games on because it can't fit too many and they usually mention about the resolution being too small (NES resolution is bigger). At least this is what I hear. With GP32, the screen is actually too big, which means you have nice black space around the side - which may sound ugly, but keep in mind it's not backlit and if it touched the edges you'd have those damn shadows on the screen. GP32 could emulate NES full speed easily. It's just nobody with intimate knowledge of the system has done it yet. I think. :p

Basically, everything done so far doesn't use the GP32 fully, and probably isn't even close to doing that. People just don't know how to do that yet, I guess. Keep in mind a lot of programs are direct ports (eg SNES9XGP - it's not optimized at all I think!) But it's easy to satisfy people. I mean, I know a lot of different people because one of the places I hang out at is an arcade. There's lots of different cultures there...and there's emulators which get almost everyone's attention. One guy as soon as he saw Action Fighter running on SMS32 said he had to get one (and he's a coder too! Hooray!). Another guy disappeared for a short period of time with it because he was playing Wonderboy in Monderland on PC Engine, and when I found him, he knew where everything was in the game! It turns out he had one. Another friend...well, all I had to do was tell him you could play Megaman on it and he had to get one :)

I haven't heard much on MD emulation in ages, and AFAIK the emulator that was in development was postponed indefinitely. It's always possible someone's making one and hasn't told anyone.

My recommendation on SMC cards: Get a 128mb one. It'll fill up fast anyway!
 

Vanguard

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Everyone else covered your questions pretty well, but I'll add in a few things:

1. The screen is difficult to see in dim light, but it seems slightly better than the GBA screen (Might just seem like it cause the screen is sooo much bigger)

There has been an "inkling" of people doing something like an afterburner (Gamepark is supposedly in negotiations with Nanotek http://www.nanotek.com/sub2_1.htm, )...however if you've been following GP32 stuff for a while you might have noticed that many planned things have a tendancy to fall through for this platform.

4. Battery life is supposedly 10-12 hours on 2 fresh alkaline AAs for MP3s and GP32 games. Emulators crank up the processor speed, so you'll get much less battery life if you spend all your time on emulators. I can't really say from personal experience if the batteries last that long, since I've been using NiMH rechargables. I will say that those have lasted me a cumulative 6 hours before I recharged them (Not saying that's all they would have lasted, it's just better for NiMH batteries to recharge as much as possible, so I try to recharge whenever I'm not using the GP32 and remember to throw the batteries in the charger.

As for durability, I've dropped mine twice from desk height to a hard office floor (the plastic stuff designed for chairs to roll on on top of hardwood floor) and I've seen no adverse effects. It feels pretty solid in my hands too. As for indiscrimately tossing it in your pocket, I wouldn't worry much about an occasional bump, but I would worry about scratches and dust on the screen. See http://www.cs.uidaho.edu/~engl1279/gp32.asp for my solution to this problem (not yet complete, but getting close now).

My only complaints about the system iteslf are the slightly weak speakers (sounds great on the headphones though) and the shoddy MP3 player (only plays 128k/s files correctly, won't play if your SMC is too full, etc.)
GP is supposedly working on the MP3 problem with their next version of bios...however, this leads me to my other complaint, which isn't about the system itself, but the company. They sometimes seem to handle things in a not very professional manner.

There is a "mediaplayer v0.5" out there which plays MP3s that I have yet to try out. If that doesn't work well, and GP continues to drag their feet on fixing the current one, I may just have to make one myself...but that's a few months down the road at least.

To answer your main question: Should you wait to get one?

Depends on how you feel about risk. I get the feeling that Gamepark may be on their way to closing down. They keep going back on alot of their announcements, and there seems to be less and less released for the GP32. If they do close down, all the people who have been waiting to get one (like you) will either rush to order one before they're all gone (causing stocks to get depleted rapidly) or will give up on the GP32, since the lack of the company will mean a lack of official support (not that there's been much for overseas users anyway). There is a possibility of the GPi coming out...sometime, but that may fall through just like everything else.

If you like the system, the only reason to wait would be in the hopes that the GPi (or something else) will be coming out soon.

Since this is ending up on somewhat of a negative note, I'd like to add that even if I knew that GP were going out of buisness tommorow, I'd reccomend getting one. The system is that good.
 

esoteric_

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I'll try not to sound like I'm spewing out too much hype, but as you already have a GBA, I don't have to worry about affecting your choice between "one or the other":

Last I heard a MD/Genesis emulator that is being working on runs very fast, though at the moment it's lacking sound (and possibly saving). These always seem to be the last things worked on, so hopefully The Man will be following through on it. He's a good coder, so I don't have any doubts he can get it done.

As for the NES (also high on my list), the source for PocketNes is free and the architectures are so similar, I wonder why there has been no port yet. I took at look at the source myself and my coding skills are definitely not good enough to port something like this. As we know, it runs perfect on GBA, so it should absolutely fly on the GP32.

Now, of course, there's GBA emulation. This is still very much all speculation, though there has been an alpha release. As far as I know, atm, there are 2 different GBA emulators being worked on. Some will say that there's no way it's possible (due mostly to the GBA's custom hardware). Other's say that it's completely possible (due to the similarities in the architectures). I am by far not an expert, but if there is a coder who could take advantange of the similarities in architectures, and knows asm well, I think we could see something impressive (even if not perfect). Time will tell! :)

I also wanted to talk about FLU's (front lighting units). There was a video posted in the archived news that showed an FLU developed by a Korean company called Nanotek. So, we know that a solution does exist. There has been some talk that GamePark is looking at developing something with them, and also a rumour that they may have a solution that doesn't involve completely ripping your machine apart. As with all things GamePark, I'll believe it when I see it. If we could get a straight answer from them, and that answer was no, then there has been some talk in #gp32dev on EfNet about trying to contact Nanotek directly and doing a 'bulk' order. Then, working as a team, trying to hack it together ourselves. I doubt they would give us their plans, but we know that it is possible.

There's been some talk about GamePark. There's also been some talk about GamePark dying. If you talk to them, they still have big plans, so I am going to guess that they aren't in any financial trouble. They have been slack in the past about releasing things, but I am hopeful for this new firmware that's supposed to come out. They are working with another company (and as of yet haven't broken the contract :D) so hopefully we'll see some good things. I use the MP3 player and for my means, it works great (though you want to make sure your mp3's are error free or else it'll crap out on you). I would like to be able to use OGGs or some other format that allows for higher compression while still maintaining the same quality, but I don't know how likely that is. If I *could* do it, I *would* do it.. my skills just ain't up there though. :unsure:

I think that's all I have to say for now. :ph34r:
 

ralp99

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ok, ok! I'm convinced already!! (sheesh) -- just placed my order at cdworld.uk

looking forward to getting my hands on this thingie. Thanks for all the valuable information, everybody! I appreciate the welcome introduction to the community - I often expect the 'newbie forum' to be pretty much ignored by the regular posters, that was pretty cool.
 

The Wub

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One of the first things I did when mine arrived was to down load Tom F's doom port and run it alongside the GBA version.

15 seconds of that was enough to know how much more potential the GP32 has. :)
 
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