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Bottom line: We may live in an era of incredibly powerful GPUs, virtual reality, and lifelike graphics, but the retro gaming market is as popular as ever. There are numerous current and upcoming “mini” versions of old consoles, but check out the video above for something a little more authentic, if less practical: playing old games using a floppy disk drive connected to a phone.
YouTube channel LGR, which covers retro tech, PC gaming, and other subjects, created the video. It sees a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive with a very snazzy woodgrain coating attached to a Galaxy Note 8. An OTG adaptor is used to connect the Note’s USB Type-C port to the USB Type-A connector.
While the phone can read the floppy’s files, it can’t run MS-DOS titles. To play the Commander Keen game that’s on the disk, an Android variant of the popular DOSBox emulator program is used, called Magic DOSBox. After a little bit of configuration, the game is booted directly from the floppy disk and playable on the phone.
As it hasn’t been made for a handset, there obviously isn’t any native touchscreen support, so Magic DOSBox provides a virtual keyboard overlay. This obscures a lot of the action, but being able to add a virtual joystick and specific keys make everything a lot easier. For an even more authentic experience, a full-size physical keyboard is attached via another adaptor and a USB hub.
There are much easier ways of playing retro games on a phone, of course. The likes of Grim Fandango and Beneath a Steel Sky have been available on Google’s and Apple’s app stores for some time now, and they have been remastered to support modern handsets. But the video shows how old tech can still be made to work with today’s hardware. Now we just need to attach a tape player to a smartphone so it can play Spectrum games.