Project Unity mod combines 15 consoles in one box

Written by Edward Chester

April 18, 2013 | 20:02

Tags: #console #hack #hacker #hacking

Companies: #bit-tech #mod

A modder/hacker has brought together 15 fully working original games consoles into one box, creating perhaps the most comprehensive mod of its kind.

The box, called Project Unity, contains the original circuit boards for all 15 of the consoles listed below, giving it the ability to play games from 18 consoles in total, given the backwards compatibility of some units. As well as squeezing all this hardware into a single unit, Project Unity also uses a single universal controller to play them all.

- Amstrad GX4000
- Sega Master System
- Atari 7800
- ColecoVision
- Intellivision
- Sega Megadrive
- Super Nintendo
- Nintendo 64
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- Gameboy Advance
- NeoGeo MVS
- Nintendo GameCube
- Sega Dreamcast
- Sega Saturn
- PlayStation 2

British modder, Bacteria, started creating Project Unity over three years ago and took over 3,500 hours to complete it.

The project is rare in that it uses all original console hardware rather than any form of emulation, creating a significant challenge when it came to fitting all the hardware in the 18inch cube space allocated to it. This raises the obvious question of why Bacteria chose not to use emulators:

"Emulators work well but have their flaws... they're not one-to-one copies of playing the originals." What's more, "Playing original games on original hardware means playing them exactly as they were designed to be played."

Further complicating the build was the fact that Bacteria wanted all the consoles to run off a single power supply and use a single video output. This meant creating a custom 6A, 12V power supply out of two GameCube supplies joined together. To get round the problem of interference, only one console can be powered up at any one time.

Each console's hardware is mounted inside a variety of old game cartridges, though switching between them is done through a slider switch rather than by plugging the cartridges in alternately. Meanwhile the universal controller uses the controller board for each console's controller mounted inside old NES cartridges for easy hot swapping of controller types.

Looking at the internals of the build, it is clearly not aimed at winning any style awards but the level of electrical engineering involved is mightily impressive.

Bacteria runs his own retro game modding forum, for those interested in learning more about the technicalities of creating original game console mods. Here Bacteria also includes a comprehensive 20min video of the build, demonstrating it in action.

So who's going to be first to combine their artistic modding and watercooling skills with a project like this?
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