Monday, November 30, 2015

A Tour of the Game Room

Like many of you, my game room has seen a lot of changes over the years. Before I was married I had everything in the living room, but that quickly changed after I said "I do". When my wife and I were looking to buy our first home and get out of the town home I owned before I met my wife, we found a nice sized home that we thought would be perfect to grow into. What I mean by that is the house was far larger than what we needed, but we knew we would want to start a family some day and didn't want to have to move to a larger home after having kids.

That said the house we ended up buying had two living rooms on the main floor. My wife was gracious enough to give me one of the living rooms to set up my games, arcade machine and stereo. It would stay this way for many years, however after having two little girls and my wife needing to supplement my income as a stay at home mom, I had to give up the dream and turn the room over to her. For the better part of 6 years this room downstairs would basically be a large play room for my girls and the children my wife would watch. All my stuff, including the heavy arcade cabinet had to be moved upstairs and crammed into my toy room. A few months ago my wife and I were talking about making some changes and low and behold she offered me the room downstairs once again. Obviously I didn't hesitate to jump and accept her offer. Her only requirement this time around is that I keep the room clean, organized and clutter free.

The first order of business in setting up this new game room would be to follow my wife's orders and keep it organized and clutter free. This meant I needed to come up with a new way to organize all of the game consoles, after all I have a lot going on at one time. The modular furniture commonly found at the likes of Target and Walmart just didn't cut it any longer for me. From the thin particle board to the narrow cubes, I had to find something better. Ironically enough the wife and I were at the local IKEA store a few months back and I noticed the new Kallax series of shelving and thought that would be perfect for what I had envisioned. I purchased one set of shelving that consisted of 8 cubes for my then setup in my toy room. Now that I was downstairs again, I had far more room to work with so without wasting any more time I made a trip back to IKEA and was lucky enough to find another Kallax shelf already assembled and on clearance! I also grabbed a Trofast cabinet and 3 plastic bins to store the controllers and accessories to help keep the room clutter free.

The nice thing about these Kallax shelves is that they are wide enough to accommodate some of the larger home consoles, such as the TurboGrafx-16, original Xbox or the Neo Geo AES. No longer did I have to stack consoles as now I would have room to give each cube it's own console. I did have to cheat a little as my Sega Mega Drive set up had to go up on top beside the CRT television and the Xbox 360 would end up on the other end beside the HDTV. The other nice thing about these shelves is that they are sturdy and I had no issues with the shelving unit support the mammoth weight of the Sony CRT television.

The last piece of the puzzle if you will was transporting my arcade cabinet back downstairs. Luckily for me I was able to borrow a U-Haul appliance dolly to assist with the daunting task of moving the machine down the myself. Now I could have waited for my wife's help or called over my older brother, but I'm an impatient man. I so wanted to put the proverbial cherry on the top and get this machine in place. Thankfully I was able to get it downstairs without any problems that a few Advil couldn't resolve. 

I've owned several arcade cabinets over the years, however this one will always be a permanent fixture in my game room setup. Rewind 10 + years ago to when I was still dating my wife, I had always told her owning a cabinet was a dream of mine. I can still remember her saying that I had better put a ring on her finger before I bought an arcade machine. Well as luck would turn out my fiance would call me at work and tell me to look up this eBay auction she found for a arcade machine. She told me if this was something I was interested in it would be her wedding gift to me. The seller was located near the coast of North Carolina (my wife and I were living in Charlotte, NC at the time), but the seller had the game listed wrong. I don't remember how he messed up the listing title, but it was wrong and his pictures didn't help much either. I had already been doing some research on cabinets using the KLOV website so I started looking carefully at the marquees for several vertically scrolling shmup games. After a little searching I was able to figure out that the game listed on eBay was none other than Raiden Fighters II: Operation Hell Dive. My my wife's approval I placed a bid and ended up being the only bidder. I was now the proud owner of my first arcade cabinet for a mere $100.

Since bring this machine home, I've bought one additional game for the cabinet that I switch out every so often. I grabbed the PCB for Thunder Dragon for a steal.

Working the way, left to right, top to bottom across the shelving units we'll start with the Sega Mega Drive set up. To date this is my latest addition. Even though I was able to play most of my Mega Drive games on my JVC X'Eye, I so wanted to play my Sega Mark III games again (I sold my MIB Mark III earlier in the year due to space restrictions I was facing at the time). I also wanted to dive into the world of Mega CD games and there was no real adapter that would allow me to play so why not just buy a Mega Drive and Mega CD add-on? Both the console and the CD add-on would come from a Yahoo! Japan auction. I chose to go w/ the model one Mega Drive due to the better sound chip and the model 2 Mega CD due to the better design. I would then track down the Mega Adapter (aka the Power Base Converter) so I could play both card and cartridge Mark III games again. This console is hooked up to the Sony Trinitron television.

Growing up a Nintendo guy, I often ignored Sega until I got my hands on a Dreamcast. I started to work my way backwards with Sega and fell in love with everything that I previously missed. Not sure I was wanting to deal with the Sega CD due to the reputation that I thought was the case, I came across this JVC X'Eye console at my local G2K game shop. After some store credit and a discount, I walked out w/ this complete unit for around $70. I've got the JVC branded 3 button controller and even the sought after official JVC AC adapter. This quickly became one of my favorite consoles. I also grabbed the Powerbase Mini from Stone Age Gamer as I knew I didn't have room for an official Sega Master System. This console is hooked up to the Sony Trinitron television.

Ah, the Sega Saturn. While it may have lacked some great titles in the US this is the system that basically introduced me to importing games from Japan. Using the Action Replay Plus I was able to import all sorts of games from Japan. While this console served as my gateway to imports for many, many years, I've recently picked up a white Japanese Saturn for my import gaming. The US Saturn is now predominately used for playing light gun games as this one is hooked up to the Sony Trinitron while the Japanese Saturn is hooked up to the HDTV. Silly? Maybe. I call it dedicated.

The Saturn really opened my eyes to all the great games that were left in Japan. Wanting to try as many of them as I could, I started looking for ways to play import games. After awhile I gave up on converters and modding my systems and just looked at purchasing a Japanese system. In this case I grabbed a boxed Famicom A/V from a Japanese online retailer and then grabbed a loose Famicom Disk System. One of the main reasons I wanted the Disk System is to play the Transformers Headmasters game that was only released for the FDS. This console is also hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

The Atari 7800 was purchased mainly for nostalgic reasons. If I'm being honest it doesn't get a lot of playing time right now, but as my daughters continue to show interest in games I can see them discovering some of the games I first played in the early 80's. With the Atari being the only console I own that lacks at least an A/V connection, I bought one of those gold plated RCA plugs to hook it up to the Sony Trinitron. The display quality isn't the best, but it's the best I could do w/ the older technology. Not shown (because I'm trying to conform to my wife wishes and keep everything clean looking) are two of the two button control pads that Atari strangely only released to parts of Europe and Australia. In fact I grabbed the controllers from a lady in Australia for a very decent price a year or so ago.

Before I moved my game room back downstairs, I had been using a old Hyperkin bootleg NES as my source for playing NES games. When I had posted some of the first pictures of my set up at the time in some Facebook gaming groups, I was heckled over the fact I wasn't using a real NES. A bit later I made a deal with a guy to bring in the old "toaster" model. Even though the seller installed a new 72-pin connector and I was disassembling all my games and cleaning them before playing them, I can't get this dang monstrosity to work. You guessed it, I get the blink blue screen no matter what I try. Currently I'm still waiting on Arcade Works to ship me the Blinking Light Win product I purchased several months ago. Hopefully that contraption works like it's advertised because my daughters are really missing playing the Little Mermaid! This console is hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

Believe it or not I never owned the original model 1 Super Nintendo. My little brother had one, but I don't know what became of that console once he lost interest. I went the route of the model 2 SNES for a few reasons. 1) It was the cheaper of the two at the time of purchase, 2) It didn't suffer the discoloration that you normally find one model 1 units, 3) the smaller design was more friendly in my crowded setup and 4) It was easy to modify to allow Super Famicom games to be played. One of these days I vow to purchase an actual Super Famicom, but for now this mini SNES will have to fill that void. This is console is hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

Up next is a favorite of mine, the PC Engine. Years and years ago I owned a PC Engine Duo RX, but ended up selling it when I needed some cash for something else. Most Duo units, whether they be TurboDuos or PCE Duos have the same problem of the capacitors leaking and needing replacement. Wanting to avoid that dilemma I opted for the Core Grafx II and separate Super CD-ROM 2 add-on. I was able to buy both of these units, boxed and complete via Yahoo! Japan auctions about 10 years ago for super cheap. I may have $150 invested in both. Other than the annoying design where the power and video cords are plugged into the sides, I love the combined look. You may gave guessed this console is also hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

As much as I love the PC Engine, I have a love/hate relationship w/ the US version, the TurboGrafx-16. I've owned so many TG16 consoles over the years that I've lost count. My first came when Toys 'R Us stores had their entire stock on clearance. If only I had a time machine today! Outside of a few games, I never cared for the TG16 that much. Maybe it was the horrible box art or that I never had the CD add-on. Or maybe it was because I could pick up the Japanese versions of many of the games for cheaper. Whatever the reason I went many years without a TG16 in my collection. Eventually I came to my senses and tracked one down again along with the Turbo Booster so I could avoid the nasty RF connection. Like the PC Engine, this is also hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

Wanting to continue to expand on my knowledge of NEC and the PC Engine brand, I eventually crossed paths with the PC-FX. NEC's last home console, this system is often regarded as the hentai machine. A system filled with digital comics, dating simulations, JRPGs and well, hentai. Look it up if you don't know what that is. Outside some of the risque stuff, there are a few good games in the console's game library. The question is does one want to pay all that money to play just a handful of games. For a few years my answer was no, but then Kevin from Famicom Dojo (aka Vinnk) told me he could grab me a loose PC-FX and a few of the more common games for just over $50. I figured why not since the investment was rather low. While the console doesn't get played as often as say my PC Engine, I'm glad I own it. Since I acquired it I did win a Yahoo! Japan auction for Chip Chan Kick (a Parasol Stars type game) and I found some good walk throughs for some JRPGs. With today's crazy high asking prices for many of the games that don't require much or any Japanese language knowledge, I don't see my PC-FX game library expanding much in the future. This is the last console that is currently hooked up to the Sony Trinitron.

The mother of all home consoles, the Neo Geo AES. Never would I have thought that I'd own a Neo Geo. The price tag along is enough to scare most gamers off. However I found what I thought was a good deal on a loose Japanese model so I made the Neo Geo plunge. Since buying the AES, I only have purchased two games. I did pick up a new converter from the Neo Geo store so I could take advantage of the more price friendly MVS games...of which I know have a decent little library. I debated which television to hook up the Neo Geo to. Ultimately I went w/ the Olevia HDTV.

The beast know as the original Xbox. I picked up this from another local G2K game store in the last 6 months as I was tired of the 360 not supporting all the original Xbox games I owned. Since I now had more space to work with, I figured $30 for the console wasn't a bad move. This console is hooked up to the Olevia HDTV.

The only cube that houses more than one console, my two Sony Playstation 2 consoles. The fat model is my original and is currently hooked up to the Olevia HDTV. So why then the slim model you ask? Well simple, I can't play Time Crisis on the HDTV! Just like the Saturn, I have one hooked up to the older CRT for light gun games while the other is hooked up to the HDTV. Now if only I could find a reasonably priced Japanese PS2 Slim...

The Nintendo GameCube is one of the few consoles that I still own that I bought new. It was the first new Nintendo console I owned since the days of my NES Action Set. Today its probably used more for the Game Boy Advance Player attached to the bottom. I also grabbed a Pro Action Replay disc to play Japanese GC games with the hopes of finally buying that remake of Bonk. The GC is hooked up to the Olevia HDTV.

My least favorite Nintendo console, the N64. I loved it when it was new and still remember that feeling of euphoria when I got the call a few days early from Toys 'R Us that my pre-order was available for pick up. However to me many of the games just have aged that well and I just don't find them fun anymore. There are still a few exceptions, but for the most part the N64 is neglected. It is hooked up to the Olevia HDTV as well, but I've often debated moving it over to the Sony Trinitron CRT.

The Sega Dreamcast is the Sega system that made me realize what a fool I was to ignore Sega all those years before in favor of Nintendo. My first DC I bought for $50 when Best Buy was basically selling off their stock. I later won another DC via a Bubble Yum contest. Both of these consoles would be donated to my youth pastor at the church I was attending for a youth outreach program they were running at the time. When I started to compile my game room set up again I opted for the black Sports model just for the look. I haven't played the DC as much lately as I would like, but it's still one of my favorite systems. Too bad it had a short (official) life span. The DC is hooked up to the Olevia HDTV.

The Japanese Saturn was acquired via a guy on Facebook earlier this year, however the AV cables weren't included. Before I expanded my set up, I didn't hook up the white model as I didn't have a real need to. Now that I have more room to work with I decided to split the two Saturns, one on the CRT (US) and one on the HDTV (JPN).

Needing another Netflix solution for the kids downstairs, I recently moved my Xbox 360 Elite from the main living room over to the game room. It's one of the few systems that is hooked directly to the television itself via component cables and not through a AV selector box. Over to the right is the seldom used, but glad I own HD DVD drive.

The Olevia television may be a little dated and not the best, but I scored it for a great price back when Circuit City was pulling the plug on their retail stores. One of the things I like about it versus most modern HDTVs is that the speakers are mounted on the side and face forward. Most modern TVs have the speakers on the back or on the bottom and need a sound bar to really take advantage of the better sound.

To the left of the Olevia TV is the Sony Trinitron CRT. I recently upgraded my CRT with this model thanks in part to a neighbor wanting to get rid of this heavy beast. Earlier I mentioned one of the things I liked about these IKEA Kallax shelving units is it can easily support the weight of this Trinitron TV. I don't know what the set weighs, but I'm guessing around 200 lbs? Great picture for the old school retro games and of course it's light gun compatible!

Between the two televisions are 3 AV selector boxes. The two on the left go to the Sony while the one on the right goes to the Olevia. I've always thought if I'm going to have multiple game consoles hooked up the last thing I want to do before playing one is to switch the cords around. Currently everything is playable with the push of a button. The little white sheet of paper you see there is my little cheat sheet. I need to type up a more formal page now that I believe I'm set. (That is until my Japanese Playstation arrives from Amazon)

One the far end of the setup is a IKEA Trofast cabinet w/ three containers. I use these to store all of the controllers and accessories so I can keep that clean, organized look my wife asked for. Works well actually and maybe cost me $30 total?

Situated right in the middle of the room is my dad's old love seat that has been in the family for years. Surprisingly in good condition and very comfortable, I've got this position so you can sit on either cushion and be right in front of either television.

Located behind the love seat on the back wall are all the games for these consoles. The wood colored racks at made by Atlantic, however the one on the right is the newer version that has thinner and shallower shelves. Not a deal breaker, but I prefer the older version on the left. The black shelf is just a little Walmart CD/DVD shelf. I'd like to upgrade it at some point in the near future.

The black shelf houses mostly handheld games like Nintendo Game Boy and DS, but you may also spot some Atari Lynx and Bandai Wonderswan. What little Atari stuff I own is on the bottom.

The Atlantic rack on the left houses pretty much everything not Sega. Nintendo, Famicom, Super Nintendo, Super Famicom, N64, GameCube, TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine, PC-FX, Playstation, Playstation 2 and Neo Geo. Take note that all of the loose carts are housed in some very nice protector cases I buy from Video Game Box Protectors.

The Atlantic shelf on the right houses all my Sega games. Master System, Mark III, Genesis, Mega Drive, Sega CD, Mega CD, Saturn, Saturn imports, Dreamcast, Dreamcast imports and original Xbox games. To save space I don't use the tall, fragile jewel cases the Sega CD and Saturn games came packaged in, opting to print custom covers from The Cover Project and insert them into white DVD cases. I like the look and it saves me some space. Because I enjoyed this so much I also gave the US Dreamcast games the same treatment. Don't worry though, I didn't toss out the original cases or instructions like many have asked in the past!

I do own some of the more modern consoles, but those are hooked up to the Smart 3D HDTV in the main living room. The PS3 doubles has my 3D Bluray player, the Wii U for the kids and the Xbox One for my own guilty gaming pleasure.

And with that we are done. The room is still a work in progress as I'm looking for some tasteful video game related art to adorn the walls with. I'm not looking to add anymore consoles to the room as the current set up is pretty much maxed out, but at least the game shelves have some room to grow. If I make any substantial updates to the room you can rest assure I'll put an update post out there, but for now it's time to give my fingers some rest and get ready to start focusing on the games.


  1. Wow, I'm jealous!! Very cool indeed.

  2. Nice! I've had all the Nintendo consoles at some point in time as well as a Sega Master System. Now I'm just down to a Xbox 360 and an Xbox One

    1. Nothing wrong w/ Xboxs. I recently caved and bought an Xbox One and while my library is really small, I've really enjoyed the upgrade. The 360 is still one of my most used systems.

  3. Love the arcade cabinet, would love to be able to have one at my house at some point ! Man's gotta dream !!

  4. Nice job on the room and the article. We have similar console collections, and the same shelving as well. I totally get the wife and children concerns, I have two young girls as well.

    1. Thank you. I think I'm going to start having some various game company logos printed on canvas to hang on the walls around the room. So far that's the only thing I've been able to get my wife to approve!

  5. Oh man... I haven't really been into video games in years (although I do pick up my PS4 controller at least a few times a month)... but damn this room is SWEET. If I had this room there's a good chance I'd give up cardboard for video games.