(Updated 10/17 after reading an interview with Chris Taber)
Analogue has just teased their next big project: A 4K, FPGA-based “reimagining” of the Nintendo 64 called “Analogue 3D”. There will be no support for OpenFPGA on this, making it a single-use console. There’s basically no more information on the website, however Taber did an interview with Sam Machkovech that was…interesting. More thoughts below the links:
Notification List: https://www.analogue.co/3d
This is obviously an exciting product that – in true Analogue fashion – leaves us with more questions than answers. First, what’s the price? In the interview, Chris said it would be “by far the most powerful and expensive” console they’ve built, but then goes on to say the price will be “in the range of all of our other systems”. So who knows for sure…but price is a huge factor in buying a single-use console without OpenFPGA. If it’s $400, why not just get a MiSTer or MARS? But if it’s the usual $250-ish, then that’s less expensive than just a software-unlocked HDMI mod and installation cost on an original N64.
…speaking of MiSTer and MARS, the interviewer was clearly familiar with the retro scene and asked Chris about them. His response:
“I’m stoked to see the other developments in the FPGA community, regardless of their high price and pretty radical DIY nature.”
Does Chris Taber not remember selling a $500 block of aluminum with cores? Or a $600 piece of wood with Neo Geo hardware badly glued inside? The interview is about as Taber-esque as it gets. Anyway…
Next, their webpage said “Original Display Modes / Reference quality recreations of specific model CRT’s and PVM’s.” So, what are “original display modes”? Does that simply mean it’ll output 240p, but require the DAC? Will it have analog video outputs too?
As for “reference quality CRT and PVM” emulation, Chris addresses this in the interview, spewing typical Taberisms:
“FPGA plus 4K equals 100 percent control over everything, in every detail. Analogue 3D performs like a masterful fucking orchestra—a symphony—because, again, everything is designed from scratch, in house, with complete control over every dynamic. Therefore every nuance is able to be calibrated to an unprecedented degree. To me, it’s either this, or buy a fucking original N64 and a CRT. End of story.”
So, he answered nothing, while also implying accurate CRT emulation has never been done before. And didn’t mention anything about smoothing either. While yes, CRT emulation is something really important to preserving the look of classic games, some people flat-out hate it. Especially when used with 3D graphics. A much more common request from people is smoothing/anti-aliasing, that help make the older 3D graphics feel less messy on modern displays.
And lastly, they’ve once again mis-labeled the product as “No Emulation”. They mean “No software emulation”. This is a small, but annoying “tactic” – I’m sure they do this just to get people riled up discussing it. Congrats, you’ve won, I’m even doing it here…
Anyway, if you’d like to read more of “Enlighted Analogue Cult Leader Chris Taber”‘s nonsense, please check out the interview. Sam Machkovech did a great job being fair and bringing Chris back to Earth just enough to get some sort of information from him and there’s some great bullet-point answers at the bottom that you might be interested in: https://www.pastemagazine.com/games/analogue/analogues-next-retro-game-console-is-a-4k-nintendo-64