For those into the NeoGeo Pocket, Atari Lynx and Atari Jaguar, you maybe familiar with the products created by RetroHQ for these systems. All of the above is the brainchild of James Boulton, someone who has been in the gaming industry since 1997 where he worked for Iconic British Software House, Argonaut. James was the guy that created and managed the tools game developers used to create all the games we loved to play, this creating obsession eventually saw James setup RetroHQ, many of you may know James as SainT on various forums around the net. Here in James own words he describes what RetroHQ is:
RetroHQ is an outlet for my pent up obsession for old computer hardware and electronics.
James will tell you that his interest in computers was alwas at this creative level from the very beginning, making things tick and pushing what is possible to the very limits, although he has always been hands on with electronics, it’s only recently that he has had the time to follow his ideas into finished products. Programming games, his day job, had up until recently been suitably techy enough to keep his inner geek entertained.
Initially the retro scene was not of interest to James but like many of us, modern technology was his first love but it seems to be nVidia this or ATI GPU that, you program through more and more layers of abstraction and that feeling of pushing the limits through really programming close to the hardware just seemed to fade away. It was at this point he thought about the retro systems, how all that old hardware and being able to use them with new technology. TV’s have moved on dramatically since the 90’s and floppy disks no longer really exist any more, so there is a lot of scope for bringing old hardware kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century.
James main passion growing up was Atari. He loved programming on the Atari ST, and was one of those that purchased an Atari Jaguar on launch day! (like me) He never really appreciated how much hardware he’d missed out on at the time, so fast forward to the existence of RetroHQ, a place for James to share his hardware creations for old computers and consoles. The success of the Atari Lynx GD Cartridge was soon followed by the NeoGeo Pocket GD Cartridge and now the Atari Jaguar GD Cartridge which is in the early WIP stages.
What is the reason behind your RETRO HQ name?
It came about when I needed a domain name which would be permanent for my email address, and I’d been toying with the idea of trying to do something with the hardware I’d been tinkering with. So after a lot of domain name searching, I ended up on Retro HQ — it had a certain sound to it which just seemed to work for me!
Where did the handle SainT come from?
It’s something that has stuck with me because of the Atari ST emulator I wrote back in the late 90’s / early 00’s. I named the emulator “SainT” because of a letter that was in ST / Amiga Format back in the late 80’s, which came from someone saying their son had asked “Why is the magazine called Saint Amiga format?”. It’s something that stuck in my mind, and I ended up posting on forums with the SainT handle because of the emulator. It’s now ingrained in everything I do!
What is your mission statement for RETRO HQ?
Retro HQ exists to support the retro gaming and computing communities. To what extent and direction I take things is entirely dependent on what people are interested in! My background is in software development within the games industry, so that, coupled with my abilities in hardware design, means I could really take on anything. I have thoughts for developing new games for old systems and all manner of new hardware for old computers and consoles. What ends up coming to fruition will be a mixture of what I want to try next, and what people want most!
How is the development of the Jaguar GD cart going, and can you share any news on features and so on?
It’s mostly complete now. I’ve just been adding features like firmware updating and writing a nice looking game selection menu. Once everything feels complete I’ll get a few more units built up and get some more people involved in the testing. For me, making sure everything is working perfectly is the biggest factor. There’s nothing worse than having to deal with problems which you could have avoided. Thankfully, I’ve done very well with this so far, having very few issues with the NeoGeo Pocket and Lynx cartridges.
Can you tell us about your products and what each one is for those coming into this new. What you get and the features and so on.
Currently I have the Lynx GD and NeoGeo Pocket GD products being actively produced and sold. Both are “Everdrive” style cartridges for the Lynx and NeoGeo Pocket consoles which support playing games from a memory card. Both cartridges support the full set of commercially released games and all homebrew. I’m currently working on an Atari Jaguar GD cartridge, which is nearing completion. (full interview)
Atari Lynx GD Cartridge
Supports Lynx I & II Handhelds
Review coming soon.
NeoGeo GD Cartridge
Atari Jaguar GD Cartridge
Review coming soon.
A HUGE thank you to James for helping me put this article together.
Retro head and key holder of RVG.