At E3 2019 I finally got to go hands on with the upcoming Polymega retro console. For anyone who might not know, the Polymega is a modular emulation based console that can play NES, SNES, Genesis, 32X, PC Engine/Turbo-Grafx 16, Sega CD, Neo Geo CD, PC Engine/TG-16 CD, Sega Saturn and PlayStation. The Polymega is utilizing an Intel processor with licensed and custom versions of some of the best emulators available, like a new 64 bit version of Kega Fusion! A beautiful interface is also in place that can be used to install your retro collection into the Polymega’s 32 gig built in storage, sort titles by various parameters and see different points of info about a title as well as a brief description. What does this all mean for the end user? A very good experience with very little effort on the users part!
The Main Menu
Getting to go hands on with the Polymega at E3 2019 was a great opportunity to finally see how the system handled. The menu scrolled smoothly even with the insane amount of games the demo unit had loaded on it. The menu defaults to a list of consoles (which populates as you install games). A recently played list of games are displayed just below this for quick access to resume titles. From here titles can be further sorted by alphabet, series, publisher, year, etc. Selecting a game will bring up all pertinent information and a description of the game. The team at Polymega has created a database of over 15,000 games to pull information from with boxarts and custom thumbnails included. In each games sub menu a rating and manage tab are also available with the manage tab allowing for games to be either installed or deleted from the system. If you feel the 32 gigs of storage won’t be enough for your CD collection an SD card or an M.2 SSD can be installed into the system to expand the size limit up to 3 terabytes!
To easily test the Polymega I turned on one of my most played titles, the Saturn version of Mega Man X4. Mega Man X4 is a title I have played through so many times that if something is off in audio, video or controls I’d know it in a heartbeat. Bryan, CEO and Co-founder of Polymega, got me set up using a real Sega Saturn controller connected through a Mayflash adapter to the USB ports on the system. After customizing my controls (and accidentally triggering the in-game reset function) I was off on the intro level of Mega Man X4! All graphical effects appear as they’re suppose to and audio comes through crystal clear without a hint of crackling, which typically indicates speed issues in emulation. So yes it looks good and it sounds good but does it play well? Absolutely, everything handled exactly as it should! Dashes, shots, and jumps all activated at their correct times allowing for a playthrough that my muscle memory found very satisfying.
Being able to use a real controller through the use of an adapter was awesome but the system will also come bundled with its own accessories. I was pleasantly surprised by the wireless controller that will come bundled with every base unit. While nice and compact the controller was big enough to accommodate my larger hand size comfortably. All buttons activated very smoothly and triggers were very pleasing to use. Thumbsticks also have a great resistance to them so I can’t wait to really put them though their paces when the Polymega launches this August. Each element module also comes with a controller inspired by their original systems. Each controller looked amazing in person and felt great to hold with decent weight and contouring for each. I was especially fond of the SNES and PC-Engine controllers but check out the photos below and see what you think!
The Polymega features 2 optional shaders to use during gameplay, composite or RGB. As the names imply one is built to mimic the look of an old school CRT TV and the other tries to mimic a high-end professional PVM. After finishing the first half of the Mega Man X4 intro stage It was time to try out what these shaders looked like in motion! Starting with RGB, scanlines are applied to the image which look super authentic to a high-end monitor. Scanlines do darken the overall image as is typical. The composite filter is much more interesting in motion, a slight color bleed and other pixel effects are in place and it looks really good in an old school sort of way! Check out the images below with default on the left, RGB in the middle and composite on the right.
After Mega Man X4 I also got to try out The Last Blade for Neo Geo CD. Thanks to the use of emulation, load times are cut down to a fraction of those found on the original hardware. For this demo I switched over to a Retro-Bit Saturn controller and input was still as responsive as during my Mega Man X4 demo. Although I was terrible at the game, it once again ran flawlessly from my observations. Street Fighter II Also ran without a hitch which will always make me happy due to my weird love of that title! From here I began to check out the in progress retail boxes for the element modules and base unit. The new lightgun design prototype was also on display and it looks so good! Sadly it was being shown in a usable state at this show.
After spending an hour with the Polymega in both gameplay and close observation I am further sold on the promise of the Polymega. An easy to use all in one system that will both allow users to back-up their collections and play them on a modern screen with a beautiful interface. What Bryan and his team have crafted here is one of the, if not the, best all in one setups on the market today! If you are interested in picking up a Polymega pre-orders have been extended for a couple more weeks so get those orders in now!