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Retropad32: the (almost) ultimate controller adapter


buttheadrulesagain
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Since this is a relatively obscure piece of hardware, I wanted to highlight it and give my general impressions about how well it works, some shortcomings, and how this can be useful in certain set ups and needs.

Long time ago, I started to focus more on gaming than in collecting, so I started to build my ultimate gaming center. I won't be talking about that here, I'll just say that part of this "perfect" set up includes the best sound, the best display, the best consoles, all the flashcarts and ODEs, and video mods. But I also wanted to have the best controller setup possible as well.

I mostly settled with original controllers for each console, since most of them are best for that purpose... but I wanted to have arcade controllers for shmups, fighting games, beat'emups, and in general, arcade ports. I discovered a company named Tototek which made adapters for most consoles that I had, to connect Playstation controllers to them. I sought someone to build quality arcade controllers with Sanwa sticks and buttons, using Playstation controllers as the base, and suddenly I had what I wanted for most of my consoles.

Unfortunately, there wasn't an adapter for the NES, and apparently no solution was available. Also, for Wii, OG XBOX, Dreamcast, and Gamecube, there were old timey adapters that were elusive and expensive, but I did not mind that much because those were 3D games mostly, and for 128 bit ports of arcade games I had the PS2.

So I just shrugged and focused on other things.

From time to time I searched for different options to connect PSX controllers to the NES, I even tried daisy-chaining two adapter cables and failed miserably. I finally had found the adapter that promised to do what I wanted, plus much more.

 

retropad32_case.png.770b1d61185fa7c81741e4388887e3a6.png

http://www.brunofreitas.com/node/84

This marvelous device can connect any controller to any (popular) console, modern or old. You can check all the details in the link above. It even allows to use 8bitdo wireless controllers and usb keyboards.

Such flexibility does not come cheap though. The base unit above costs 72 dollars (62 if you settle for acrylic instead of aluminum case), and that alone won't get you anywhere. Each console needs a special input cable, and each controller needs it's output cable, and each is 15 dollars. So for the most basic setup, it exceeds 100 buckeroos. Only for 1 controller and 1 console (except Neo Geo controllers, those don't need a cable). I guess if you are savvy enough you can build your own, as it uses RJ45 to connect to the RP32.

I was very hesitant to do the investment, since my main need was NES, but after considering what it would cost to get additional adapters for the 128 bit consoles, I caved in. I got only the cable for the PSX controller, and cables for all consoles I did not have Tototek adapters for.

Later on, I realized I could use the RP32 to connect the same arcade controllers to my PS4, and also to use my 8bitdo SN30 Pro as the universal 2D and 3D controller of my dreams, so against better judgement, I bought more cables, and additional modules. I ended up spending a small fortune, around 300 :,v .

So, was it worth it?

The RP32 delivers great performance with no lag, great default mapping, so it is almost unnecessary to do any changes in most cases. And all the consoles recognize the controllers with no hassle. It would be a great competitive grade adapter too, I use it online on my laptop (it also does that) to play with the arcade controllers, and it's much better than my old PSX to USB cheap adapter.

So, it can save some clutter (SOME, as you still need a lot of different cables) if you are into adapters for many consoles.

Now, for the shortcomings:

1. It does not support rumble, nor memory packs (N64, Dreamcast). 

2. For complete functionallity you need 4 modules, and sometimes you need to have up to 3 connected at the same time, and it looks inelegant. I solved most of that by taping all of them together, and buying a super short ethernet cable for two of the modules (the seller sends you a long one).

16323617834083301263762338499883.jpg.f90591e9945092fcb306a3e292f8204e.jpg

3. For N64 it uses the full range of the analog stick travel space, so for the 8bitdo it goes very fast from zero to max. This can be bad for FPS like Goldeneye, but it's forgivable in most cases. Other consoles work fine.

4. For the few cases you need to customize button mapping, one change in a particular controller will change the mapping in all consoles. Mostly irrelevant, as the default mapping is excellent, but for the arcade stick I wanted to arrange something different for the N64 and was unable to do it. You can save different mapping profiles in your computer, and reflash as needed, but it's not ideal.

5. No macros or button combinations. I would like to have that for games like NES Double Dragon where you need to press A and B for jump, and map it to a single button, but there's no such possibility. I asked the maker of the RP32 about this, and he said that adding more functions like this could add lag to the adapter, so he has refrained from implementing more stuff. Too bad.

 

In general, I recommend it for very particular setups like mine, but in most situations paying 300+ dollars to connect a lot of different controllers to a lot of different consoles is... extravagant but unneeded. At least for 10+ consoles and a couple of controllers it makes up for the price of having a lot of adapters, which can be about 20 dollars a piece). But hey, if you want to play old collections of games in the PS4, Switch or XBOX One (and possibly newer consoles) with the originall controllers, no other adapter can give you that.

Now excuse me, I will play Killer Instinct Gold on the N64 with Sanwa stick and buttons 🙂 .

Edited by buttheadrulesagain
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