Museum installs multi-screen N64 GoldenEye to prevent “screen cheating”
Anyone who remembers playing GoldenEye 007 on the N64 probably remembers having had to report the “screen cheats” this would peek into another quadrant of the split-screen shooter to gauge an opponent’s locations. There is even a modern game which forces players to rely on tactics to keep up with invisible opponents.
Now, 25 years later golden eyea museum has managed to do something about these screen cheats, by devising a way to split a game of golden eye to four TV screens without modifying the original cartridge or N64 hardware.
4 GoldenEye displays on original N64 hardware! No screencheating here! …but how?
Come and experience it at our GoldenEye party, celebrating 25 years of GoldenEye for Nintendo 64: https://t.co/F918hEQ20v pic.twitter.com/05jA82upb8
— Computer History (@computermuseum) May 4, 2022
The multi-screen golden eye gameplay will be showcased as part of the “25 years of golden eye” Event in Cambridge, England Computing History Center This weekend. A proof of concept for the unique gaming style (with all monitors awkwardly facing the same direction) drew attention via a tweet on Wednesdaywhich caused Ars to ask for more details on how the museum pulled it off.
“It’s not elegant”
CEO and Administrator of the Center for Computing History Jason Fitzpatrick tell Ars about the multi-screen idea golden eye began when some museum employees were discussing their particular frustrations with split-screen first-person shooters on consoles. “We were talking about it and they said, ‘The problem is being all on the same screen; you just look at the top right and see what they’re doing, and you can counter it,” Fitzpatrick said. “And we were like, ‘Oh, actually, we might have a way around this. We have so just messed around and tried it out and thought it was just kinda fun.”
Fitzpatrick was in a good position to part ways golden eyefrom the split-screen signal due to his daily work at Pure Energy TV and Movie Accessories, where he says he is often called upon to install old CRT televisions on the set. This means that it “has a number of equipment to play with video,” he said.
In this case, the “little equipment” key is a C2-7210 video scaler, an old video production technology that allows professionals to process a live video signal in different ways. This includes the ability to zoom in on a specific portion of up to two input signals, then scale the result to full-screen output on another monitor or TV.
For multi-screen golden eyeFitzpatrick said he just broke up PAL N64 standard signal into four identical copies, then feeds two inputs each into two scaling units. After that, you point each scaler at a different quadrant of the input signal and send the resulting output to different TVs. A second input on one of these TVs also receives the unmodified full-screen signal directly from the N64 for easy menu navigation.
“It’s not elegant in that basically you’re taking a 704×576 [pixel] image, and you’re just zooming in on a quarter of it and then taking that quarter and stretching it to a full screen,” Fitzpatrick told Ars. “Even though we’re dealing with something around 352×288 [pixels]more or less, as the resolution for each of these quadrants, when viewed full screen, everything looks fine.”
That’s partly because “the original game didn’t look great anyway” and because the CRT’s continuous horizontal scanning technology “hides a host of sins,” Fitzpatrick said. “Old video CDs were 352×288 anyway, so we used to watch movies at that resolution,” he added.
This type of signal division can recall the massive CRT video walls that you sometimes see in art installations or old music videos. But Fitzpatrick says that using a video wall controller for this type of treatment “would take hours to set up because you would have to do each one individually…you wouldn’t have had the precise control to go exactly into that [split-screen] region. It would have simply taken the screen and cut it in half. He may have missed a few pieces.”