Hello from MiSTerland, your source for new MiSTer FPGA updates on Shacknews Cortex. This week, we have some bad news after years of trending upwards but to no fault of the project. Also on deck, the latest and greatest games in the on-going CPS-2 beta from my favorite FPGA developer Jose 'jotego' Tejada. Let's dive on in.
When the chips are down
DE10-nano prices are going up due to supply chain constraints. Expect price bumps soon-ish :(— Porkshop Express (@MisterAddons) April 21, 2021
First up, the retro scene—like any other industry reliant on printed circuit boards—is not immune to the chip shortage that has affected every sector of technology during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused a recent spike in prices for the Terasic DE-10 Nano board that is the heart of the open-source MiSTer FPGA project. Heavily subsidized by partner Intel, the DE-10 Nano board is estimated to contain around $300 worth of tech that was initially offered for only $110 through websites like Digikey or directly from Terasic.
Prices had climbed to around $140 in the later half of last year, when the crunch of this transistor drought was first being felt. That's the price I was able to purchase one for from Amazon in January of this year, and now the going rate is around $170 on any retailer that carries the feature-rich project board. Unfortunately for enthusiasts and those still waiting to get on-board, it looks like the trend might be only going upward with major manufacturers giving estimates of the chip famine lasting until 2023.
This project board was being subsidized from the start for educational purposes and to foster enthusiasm of HDL FPGA development. Retro game replication wasn't exactly the goal for this board to find mainstream appeal but the MiSTer FPGA project is sparking increasing interest all the time. People will have to pay a little more to build their own kit and start a digital game museum of their own for a little while, but I believe the end result is far worth it. Terasic and Intel could start selling the board at cost to retro game and MiSTer-focused shops like Castlemania Games or MiSTerAddons due to the demand for the project solely to facilitate classic game preservation. Even at $300, I would consider the overwhelming open-source support and excellent core availability to be worth it.
Wild and wacky CPS-2 shmups
Next up we have the latest from jotego and his on-going CPS-2 arcade beta core. Making their debut this past Friday, a couple of horizontal shooters that I had never seen before. Developed by CAVE but published by Capcom, Progear is a bullet-hell shmup with an incredible art style and interesting co-pilot system. The sprite work evokes a sense of Studio Ghibli with gorgeous backgrounds and impressive aircraft design.
I've definitely never seen a cabinet for this game in the wild and I've yet to play through the full campaign, but I did spend a couple minutes just getting a feel for the game. What I experienced so far was excellent and I can't wait to go back and feed the game credits until I roll its credits.
Jose also released Eco Fighters, an odd shooter with a Captain Planet bend. You take control of pods that have their weapons fixed to a rotating arm. This allows the players to shoot around the screen in any direction while dodging enemies and their attacks. Anyone familiar with Capcom's previous title, Forgotten Worlds, will be instantly at home with this control scheme.
This was made by the same team behind the Mega Man Power Battle series and that same kind of fun and playfulness shows. I played through the entire game over the weekend with a friend and we had a blast going through the varied stages with incredibly unique enemies and bosses. The weapons were also really fun to learn, with each one featuring vastly different mechanics.
If you haven't played either of these games, I definitely recommend you give them a try any way you can. Stay tuned for more updates from MiSTerland and keep classic games alive.