Lately, I’ve been eager to tap into my childhood nostalgia, and as a lifelong gamer, that primarily meant losing money on a retro gaming setup. In a pink bid to relive the gaming of my youth, I gave it my all and bought a PS1 (the impressively small revision that’s still aesthetically pleasing), a few games, and most importantly, a 14-inch Bush 1473T CRT -TV to play them.
But if CRT is such an outdated display method, why bother buying one? After all, if you only need to hook up one console, surely any modern TV should suffice, right? Not quite. The problem with even the best 4K TVs is that they don’t have an input for a SCART adapter, the primary method of connecting older consoles like the PS1 and N64 to AV.
If you step down to a 1080p display, you’ll likely find a SCART connector. But another problem arises from the fact that older games – particularly pixel-based or low-polygon games – were never designed with flat-screen TVs in mind. This has the corollary effect of making retro games look worse. Edges can look overly jagged and pixels don’t blend together as seamlessly. As a result, you lose quite a bit of visual depth when playing old games on more modern displays.
This is where the appeal of a CRT TV comes in. The slightly rounded display, as well as its scanlines, hides many of the imperfections of older games when it comes to visual quality. In fact, most retro titles are designed with these displays in mind, as they allow for a much smoother image that can blend pixels together. As a result, objects appear much less jagged, and pixel-based characters and backgrounds look how they’re supposed to, rather than an ugly blob of colored squares.
When all the important parts of the setup arrived at my house, I was keen to get the whole thing up and running as soon as possible. I hooked up the PS1 to the CRT, made sure everything was plugged in and working as intended, and strapped in for the ride. Little did I know it was a ride I wish I hadn’t done.
The nightmare begins
In my desperation to create a nice little retro gaming setup, I completely neglected that setting up a CRT TV can be an absolute nightmare. It goes without saying that they completely lack any of the amenities of a more modern display like the superlative LG CX. But beyond that, there are some pretty dull hoops you have to jump through to get a retro setup working.
For example, if you’re missing component cables, the only other option is to use an RFU adapter, which comes bundled with the PS1 consoles. This adapter does not pass AV, but you must first find the channel the adapter is tuned to and then manually adjust the display until the picture is what you want. And typically you can’t tune a CRT TV without the added functionality of a compatible remote control.
Luckily I was able to dig up a set of component cables and a SCART adapter to use them. But that wasn’t the end of my woes as I didn’t consider that I would even need a compatible TV remote to access the AV output. The Bush CRT TV I bought on eBay did not come with the box.
A comedy of mistakes
After fumbling with the buttons on the TV to no avail, I realized I had to find a remote control just so I could access the AV output on my CRT. Little did I know that this was going to be by far the hardest hurdle to overcome as finding a remote control that worked with my CRT was easier said than done.
I’ve tried several universal remotes and used remotes that I’ve ordered from parts websites. This is one of the few reliable options left when it comes to buying an old CRT TV remote. None of them worked and I started to panic. Did I really just squander all that money on a retro gaming setup only to fall at the last obstacle? I felt exactly like I was fighting some of the Elden Ring’s toughest bosses: hopelessly trapped in an endless cycle of trial, error, and desperation.
The whole fiasco did one thing for me though. I realized how naturally I had taken the modern conveniences of television for granted. Most modern 4K displays are phenomenally easy to use. Whether it’s the simplicity of HDMI or the plethora of streaming apps built into these smart TVs, convenience rules the day on modern displays versus legacy TVs.
It pains me to say that this story does not have a happy ending. At least not yet. While I still elude the joy of being able to play games like Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on a display they were intended for, my search for a working remote will continue.
After all, I don’t give up when I’ve already sunk a lot of money for the setup. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes.
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