Polymega has just announced that the software running their emulation box will soon be released as a free app that can run on most hardware. There will also be a paid tier with cloud support for games and a hardware module that will allow access to discs and carts from your PC. Normally I save my opinions for below the link, but give this software a chance. Oh and there’s some hardware updates too, but meh…
Press Release: https://polymega.com/blogs/system-software-updates/introducing-polymega-app
There’s a lot to unpack here. But I need to start with a disclaimer: After seeing the Polymega in person, I thought it was very cool and well worth its 2018 launch price of $250. I defended their hardware delays and publicly discussed helping the team lag test the emulation. And now, five years later, the price has more than doubled to an insane $550…and you still can’t even get one. So if my comments below seem harsh, it’s because I’m so sorry I may have misled people to buying one. Okay, let’s go over the good stuff…
First, the Polymega UI is arguably the best part of the experience – Imagine Plex, but for retro games. It’s rare people don’t love it after seeing it. The fact that it’s now available for free, for use on much faster hardware than the original Polymega box is definitely a good thing. And it includes their custom BIOS and config files, so games will just work. That might not seem like a big deal, but it definitely is…and it’s supposedly FREE.
Now, of course, there’s a paid software tier. Polymega has a history of absolute shit public relations, but there’s potential to get this right. Here’s what they said:
“Unlock Cheat Codes, Virtual Display, Patching, Audio Player, and many other premium features with a Polymega XL Subscription. Plus, you’ll get Cloud access to your games so you can share your collection on multiple devices, compete online against friends, stream games to your mobile devices, and much more. More details about Polymega XL tiers, features, and plans for future compatibility will be provided in the coming weeks.“
So, it seems like you can’t use CRT filters or cheats without paying. That’s weird. I mean, their CRT filters are nowhere near RT5x-level of detail, but it would have been nice for people to at least try it for themselves. I hope they reconsider and allow full access with no restrictions…
…but the rest of the paid tier completely makes sense and seems totally fair: Providing cloud storage for games (especially larger iso’s) cost money. Period. So its only fair they charge us for it. And both netplay and game streaming to mobile devices with savestates seems awesome…if they get it right. I’m reserving judgement on that though, as every time I mentioned these ideas to Brian in the past and tried to connect him with companies that did a great job making this happen, his response was “Yeah, our crew can just do it themselves”. Maybe they can? Or maybe it’s the same delusion that led them to think they’d actually ship a product on time. The truth stings, doesn’t it?
There’s hardware announcements too…but we’ve been down this road before: They guarantee a ship date. Then it passes and there’s radio silence. Then trolls accuse the whole thing of being an Amico scam and never actually existing in the first place. Then other people jump in and prove it’s real. And then units still don’t ship.
I’m not doing that dance again. I already feel guilty enough for potentially leading people to buy a product they still haven’t got. Those things weigh on me and I’m not doing it again for Polymega. But the software is FREE. And looks cool. Give it a chance. And keep an open mind about the paid tier…if they get it right, I think it could be really cool. And it’s not hardware, so they may actually release it.
There’s is one hardware question worth asking though: Polymega implied that you can use any CD/DVD drive to rip your discs to their service, just like with their main box. What about roms though? Can I just load my own, or is their hardware box we might never get the only way to get cartridge games on the service? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.