November 14, 2019

Polymega retro console promises to accurately emulate Sega Saturn

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The Sega Saturn is one of the most difficult consoles to emulate, but a new product wants to make it as easy as owning the original hardware. The Polymega retro console is a multi-system emulator box that enables you to play your old games for a number of classic platforms. Most notably, the modular Polymega includes a CD drive, which is something similar devices don’t have. The base Polymega supports Sega CD, TubroGrafx-CD, Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn. And it’s that last one that Playmaji, the company responsible for Polymega, is highlighting a series of videos.

While pure software emulation has struggled with the Saturn (although it’s improving), Playmaji is claiming that Sega fans will get to play many classics just as the original creators intended. In a set of videos, the company showed off Polymega emulation of beloved Saturn hits like Burning Rangers, Virtua Fighter Kids, and Panzer Dragoon Saga. In the clips, all of the games run well. And this means you can now easily play those games on a modern display without putting extra wear on your 25-year-old CD-ROM drives.

Playmaji hasn’t uploaded the new videos to YouTube, so we’re putting the videos on your YouTube. Check them out as they go live in the playlist below:

The Polymega is shipping this fall, and it starts at $300 for the base unit. That base supports all of the aforementioned  CD-based consoles. But you can also purchase separate modules that enable the Polymega to also play Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Super Nintendo, and the Nintendo Entertainment System. You can get those add-ons for $60 each. They include five pre-loaded games and a controller. Or you can get everything together in one bundle for $650.

Is the Polymega retro console worth the price?

Playmaji is definitely trying to appeal to retro enthusiasts with the Playmega, and the device has plenty of features to win over that crowd.

First the device isn’t some dinky Raspberry Pi stuck inside of a box. Playmaji’s engineers are using an eighth-generation Intel Coffee Lake S CPU. That company says that it is running at 3.1GHz, which probably means it’s using something along the lines of the Intel Celeron G4900. That’s not a $500 chip, but it alone costs more than a Pi before you consider all the other components as well as software and design.

Polymega also promises low latency, support for light guns even on LCD displays, and a modern interface.

That user experience goes beyond just a slick way to open your games. It has built-in scaling to duplicate or triplicate pixels to create a crisp-looking image for low-resolution games on high-definition TVs. It also enables you to download your game CDs and cartridges (and save data) to a storage device so you can play them directly from the Polymega without having to insert them.

Playmaji is also including online support to enable you to download more games from an online store.

When you combine all of those features, the $300 base price begins to make more sense. You can pay $150 just for an Ossc (Open-source scan converter), which upscales retro classics. Getting something equivalent and a way to back up your physical media in one box is a compelling product.

Is this legal?

The legality of the Playmega is somewhat tricky. Hardware patents expire after 20 years in the United States. So Playmaji can sell a box that acts like a Saturn or PlayStation. Copyright is different. It lasts much longer. That applies to the games and things like logo designs.

I’m not a lawyer, so don’t listen to me. But you are probably fine. Especially if you own the physical games. If Polymega supports a way to play illegally downloaded ROMs, doing so would violate copyright. But that’s not Playmaji’s responsibility.