The Polymega is an all-in-one retro console worth your attention

Over 4 years after being revealed as the RetroBlox, being relabelled simply a couple of months later on, moving from FPGA innovation to software application emulation a year later on, and after that opening for pre-orders a year after that, the all-in-one retro video gaming console, Polymega, is lastly shipping on September 12.

That labored chronology is simply part of the obstacle designer Playmaji has actually had bringing this gadget to life however, after investing practically precisely a year with a pre-release gadget, I’m happy to report it might have deserved it: The Polymega is, after all that, an exceptional retro video gaming console deserving of your attention.

The Polymega is a software application emulation-based console with a custom-made, Intel-backed motherboard working on Linux with a custom-made interface. The hardware consists of the typical lineup of HDMI, Wi-Fi, ethernet, USB and SD card assistance, while consisting of a couple of other more special additions, significantly a CD-ROM drive, assistance for the small, however fast m.2 SSD format and assistance for 4 console-specific growths called “Element Modules.” These $80 modules bring cartridge and controller compatibility for NES, Super Nintendo, Genesis, 32X, TurboGrafx-16 … and all of their European and Japanese equivalents.

In addition to those optional cartridge modules, the out-of-the-box Polymega supports Sega CD, TurboGrafx-CD, Neo Geo CD, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn. It’s the Saturn that deserves your attention here. The Polymega utilizes the Mednafen emulator paired with a custom-made BIOS file so playing Saturn video games is as easy as appearing your beautiful copy of Panzer Dragoon Legend or, if you’re actually paranoid, your backup burned CD-R copy (yes, that works).

For any video games with compatibility concerns — though it’s worth keeping in mind here, I didn’t find any — the Polymega will support packing a main BIOS file onto an SD card, if you have access to one.While the Polymega might be liberal when it pertains to BIOS files, it isn’t when it pertains to video game files. If you’ve currently ripped your video games to ROM or ISO files, or if you’ve (*ahem*) got some ROM or ISO files in other places, you can’t by hand fill them on an SD card. The only method to get video games packed into the Polymega is by ripping them yourself off of a cartridge or a CD. If you’ve currently disposed your valuable video games then … well, you’ll need to do it once again here.

When you link the Polymega to a web connection, it downloads the enormous video game library database which it utilizes to recognize which video games you’ve placed into the console. Place a disc or a cartridge and you’ll be offered an alternative to either run the video game straight, or install it to the console’s storage, at which point you can put your valuable (and most likely important!) video game back on a rack someplace.

With a little 32GB inside the system, you’ll wish to broaden your storage with either an SD card or an SSD immediately. Ripping CD images, specifically those multidisc video games, is going to fill your interior storage rapidly. I bought a 500GB SSD and instantly got to work ripping my whole PlayStation library, a few of my Saturn and Sega CD titles, and my Super Nintendo carts through the EM02 growth module they consisted of. In overall this was someplace around 130 video games.

There was something physically pleasing about protecting my aging optical media library by doing this. It was likewise similar to doing all of this almost twenty years earlier with my music when I got my very first iPod. It didn’t take long and with couple of exceptions — Pandemonium on PS1 and my THQ variations, instead of JVC variations, of the Super Star Wars trilogy — my whole library was on the Polymega.

While it definitely wasn’t beautiful, I don’t believe my copy of Pandemonium was too scratched to be checked out here. In reality, a few of my other, more mistreated discs packed fine and didn’t even misstep throughout the ripping procedure. And when it comes to the THQ variations of the Super Star Wars video games, Playmaji states it’s currently bought those copies so it can by hand dispose the special ROMs, and we must see them supported in the console’s October software application upgrade.

The Polymega with optional EM02 Super Nintendo module connected.
Chris Grant / Polygon

After ripping all these video games, I might utilize the consisted of cordless controller which highly looks like a DualShock 4 and was a great option for the majority of 3D PS1 video games. That stated, I chose utilizing some other controllers for other consoles.

My cordless Retrobit Saturn controllers worked completely, and when the USB dongle was placed it was quickly acknowledged. The EM02 module consists of a SNES-alike controller, however I in fact chose utilizing my cordless 8bitdo M30 controller, which likewise worked instantly. Some other tests, consisting of a wired Xbox 360 controller and a wired Retrobit Sega Genesis 6 button controller, both worked with no difficulty. I’m sure again individuals get their hands on the Polymega, we’ll get a much better sense of its total controller compatibility and, preferably, Playmaji can include assistance for extra controllers.

Playmaji states the growth module controller ports must supply a lower-latency input than the USB ports on the base module, however I discovered the benefit of a cordless 2.4Ghz USB controller more suitable to a wired controller. Obviously, there’s constantly the choice of a cordless 8bitdo controller and SNES (or Genesis) Retro Receiver, so you can have it both methods, depending upon what you’re enhancing for.

That concern — What are you enhancing for? — actually appears vital to the Polymega. It’s an all-in-one console that utilizes your initial video games to provide an engaging software application emulation-based experience for modern-day Televisions. That suggests an expensive UI, conserve states for your cart-based video games, and strong controller assistance. However it likewise suggests a great deal of pricey hardware and, let’s be truthful, numerous countless dollars of software application if you plan to have a decent-sized library.

If you have the massive retro library, like I do, it’s a really worthwhile offering … but if you don’t, now isn’t the time to start collecting. (Have you seen auction prices lately?) While there’s the opportunity of an online storefront to sell games directly inside the Polymega, it’s not there yet, and I imagine licensing will be a nightmare. Instead I’m left wondering if borrowing a friend’s library, along with a friend’s expansion module, and sharing isn’t the most obvious outcome of this format. Or maybe Playmaji figures it out, and a digital storefront is a reasonable outcome, just as the iTunes Store did back for my iPod.

At $400 for the base console, and an additional $80 for each expansion module, the Polymega certainly isn’t cheap. But the dedicated retro gamers out there know just how pricey HDMI mods and optical drive emulators (not to point out modding setup expenses) can be. The Polymega is a luring all-in-one option and while it might not have the FPGA-based authentic of the MiSTer, it bases on its own as a feasible competitor for the supreme retro video gaming console crown.


Polymega will be launched on September 12. This beta evaluation hardware was offered by Playmaji. Vox Media has affiliate collaborations. These do not affect editorial material, though Vox Media might make commissions for items bought through affiliate links. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s principles policy here.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.