Bliss-Box 4-Play

bliss-box 4-play

This is the retro product I want to love. With Bliss-Box 4-Play you are supposed to able connect almost any genuine game console controller to your emulation box, and everything should work out-of-the-box. In many ways, 4-Play indeed is a great product. It’s well built, it supports great number of controllers, it introduces minimal lag and you can even install individual firmware to each of the 4 ports of the device. I am personally using 4-Play with Linux / RetroPie, and was a bit disappointed as the promise of “works great on major system” and “preconfigured for most emulator needs” was not fully fulfilled.

On Linux, only emulators and frontends supporting HID-interface will work (UPDATE: Looks like the support SDL is coming, see: Some software, such as EmulationStation, has migrated to SDL dropping HID, therefore making 4-Play unable to connect. I had to buy (cheap) 8Bitdo Zero controller for EmulationStation, but luckily RetroArch still supports HID-interface using “linuxraw” setting for input_joypad_driver. As you can see from my postings on my RetroPie series, I had to go through the same hassle of configuring each emulated system with custom controller mappings.

Things are probably bit better if you are running your emulators on Windows. Looks like it’s the main platform of the 4-Play developer, and in my quick testings Windows recognized 4-Play without issues. I did not test it with any emulator (I still use Retro-Bit adapter for Atari-style joysicks there), so I cannot say if there would have been a lot of configuration to do (or none at all).

Supporting all kinds of gaming controllers is really hard. If controllers only had simple buttons, it would be easier, but they also have all kinds of analog controllers, force feedback and may come with small displays or other special features. 4-Play is trying hard to support many of these. These special features are again more likely to work on Windows. I am personally emulating older consoles so I am happy if buttons and analog thumb sticks work on my RetroPie (they seem to do so with RetroArch-utilizing emulators).

So how much do I love 4-Play? After the initial disapointent with RetroPie, I do like the product. It’s perhaps flawed the similar way than the emulators themselves are flawed by not giving you perfectly accurate experience and sometimes just not working at all. What 4-Play certainly is, it’s the best effort to connect your old controllers to an emulator via USB-port. You can buy 4-Play from the Bliss-Box, or you might prefer an European distributor to avoid additional import taxes.

Some notes of how to use 4-Play on my setup:

  • Changing between Sega and and other controllers requires a “reset” on 4-Play port (there is a tiny – somewhat hard to detect – button to press next to the each port).
  • The 4-play documentation and firmware details are a bit confusing, but indeed you may/need to update all four ports separately
  • The port numbers are not marked on the device, the one right-hand side of the USB-connector is port #1 and the other ports are followed counter clockwise.
  • For a reason or another 4-Play did not work almost at all if connected to the first (upper left) USB-port on Raspberry Pi. The connection was dropping or controller was not recognized at all. Plugging it into other ports worked better, and I now connect to the second port (lower left).
  • If you also connect other controllers/adapters, the order in which these are connected matter! /dev/input/jsX are assigned in the order of USB ports.

MAME [RetroPie series]


My original plan was to put MAME into a tiny Raspberry Pi based cabinet. I could not get the set-up stable (SD-cards kept corrupting) and finally the little screen also wanted to break. Being lazy I ditched the cabinet and moved MAME to my RetroPie.

The MAME emulator runs on RetroArch, so you may want to check out common RetroArch stuff I posted separately.


By far the easiest way to get MAME games is to download a full set of MAME games instead of trying to download individual games. Different MAME versions often need specific version of games, and downloading individual games from random sources simply might not work. MAME 0.78 (2003) is a good choice for Raspberry Pi as the emulation is not “too” accurate for low-end hardware. Some games might still not work, but you can always try another emulator with suitable ROM.


Using PlayStation controller via Bliss-Box 4-Play

The configuration utilizing 4-Play at /opt/retropie/configs/mame-libretro/retroarch.cfg:

# Settings made here will only override settings in the global retroarch.cfg if placed above the #include line

input_remapping_directory = "/opt/retropie/configs/mame-libretro/"

input_joypad_driver = "linuxraw"
input_player1_joypad_index = 0
input_player2_joypad_index = 1

# Player 1: PS Controller on Bliss-Box 4-Play port 1
input_player1_b_btn = 2       # Button 1
input_player1_y_btn = 4       # Button 2
input_player1_x_btn = 1       # Button ?
input_player1_a_btn = 3       # Button ?
input_player1_l_btn = 7       # Button ?
input_player1_r_btn = 8       # Button ?
input_player1_select_btn = 5  # Insert coin
input_player1_start_btn = 6   # Start
input_player1_up_btn = 11     # D-Pad up
input_player1_down_btn = 12   # D-Pad down
input_player1_left_btn = 13   # D-Pad left
input_player1_right_btn = 14  # D-Pad right

# Player 2: PS Controller on Bliss-Box 4-Play port 2
input_player2_b_btn = 2       # Button 1
input_player2_y_btn = 4       # Button 2
input_player2_x_btn = 1       # Button ?
input_player2_a_btn = 3       # Button ?
input_player2_l_btn = 7       # Button ?
input_player2_r_btn = 8       # Button ?
input_player2_select_btn = 5  # Insert coin
input_player2_start_btn = 6   # Start
input_player2_up_btn = 11     # D-Pad up
input_player2_down_btn = 12   # D-Pad down
input_player2_left_btn = 13   # D-Pad left
input_player2_right_btn = 14  # D-Pad right

# Hot keys etc.
input_enable_hotkey_btn = 5
input_exit_emulator_btn = 6

#include "/opt/retropie/configs/all/retroarch.cfg"

Macintosh 68×00 [Emulation on Windows series]

macintosh 68x00.jpg

Macintoshes were so expensive that you did not see them much in mid-eighties of Finland, but my friend’s parents happen to be rather well-paid researchers in the local university and they used Macs for work. We were lucky enough to use the Macintosh 512K and, a bit later, a Plus model to play games. I also loved painting pixel perfect images with the mouse. Macintosh and especially the UI / UX of the operating system was decades ahead anything else at the time. Atari ST GEM and Amiga Workbench stole many ideas, but oh boy they look ugly today – unlike the Mac OS which still is fully pleasing watch and use.


A list of Macintosh emulators is found at Wikipedia. The choices of emulating old macs on Windows are somewhat limited.

  • WinnerMini vMac
    • Emulates Macintosh Plus model by default
    • Macintosh II with color display can be emulated with a custom build
    • Keyboard based UI is a bit weird but still decent to use
  • Also installedBasilisk II
    • Even more classic Macintosh models  (up to 68040 processor) can be emulated
  • Honorable mention: SheepShaver
    • Emulates PowerPC-based macs
    • These PowerMacs are just too modern (and too ugly) for my taste 🙂

ROMs and Operating System

Macintosh emulators need a system ROM to boot, and you often need to boot with an operating system diskette (unless the game comes with a self-booting image). You can find some ROM suggestions on this blog post, or you could try the ROMs from this collection. The System version 1.0 – 6.0.8 can be downloaded from this resource and 7.0.1 is available here.

Mini vMac


Mini vMac, once compiled, cannot be configured. Therefore, if you download a stable release, it will be a Macintosh Plus model with fixed amount of memory. However, it’s possible to compile your preferred setup yourself, or use Mini vMac Variations Service to e.g. “build” a Mac with color display and huge amounts of memory. I used these setting to get Macintosh II with 256 colors launched in big fullscreen:

-t wx86 -m II -hres 512 -vres 343 -fullscreen 1 -magnify 1 -sound 1 -mem 4M

No matter how you build your Mini vMac, you will need a ROM to boot your emulator up. For the stable Mini vMac distribution, you need to copy vMac.ROM to the folder  also containing Mini vMac.exe. In case you built Macintosh II, the ROM name should be MacII.ROM.

There seems to be some kind of video driver problem in the color mode – Crystal Quest complains about “Color QuickDraw Erro (ID=0) whilst doing a Set Entries call. Thins are looking dodgy…” but if you just Continue a couple of times, the game seems to work just fine showing the nasty enemies in all their vibrant colors (Crystal Quest was the first Macintosh game ever using colors).

Crystal Quest Mini vMac color complaint.PNG

Keyboard shortcuts

  • CTRL – Access to help and any commands by holding CTRL-key
  • CTRL+O – Open disk
  • CTRL+Q – Exit (a preferred way to exit is to Shutdown from menubar)


Integration is pretty easy as you can simply pass a disk image to Mini vMac executable.

vMacMini on LaunchBox.PNG

Many Macintosh games do not come with a bootable disk, so you might want to mount an Operating System disk and the game disk at once. Point the ROM File to the game disk, and then under Emulation tab, choose Use Custom Command Line Parameters, and give the full path (starting with a drive letter, not with “../”) to the operating system disk.

Basilisk II

Installing Basilisk II requires quite many steps (including first installing an old version, then updating new version, installing SDL libraries etc.) but the process is pretty well covered in the guide by

I did get Macintosh II with colors working, but I did not hear any sounds. It’s also sometimes hard to exit the emulator, as you might need to kill the process (CRTL+ALT+DELProcesses) if the emulator was not shut down cleanly. Crystal Quest does not complain about color mode (like Mini vMac sadly does) but is missing all those 300K of sound effects the game box advertises.



Atari STE [Emulation on Windows series]


I never actually owned Atari ST as a kid, but I used my neighbour’s ST so much that I felt like owning a piece of it myself. Now I naturally have a real Atari ST in my collection, and this is possibly my all time favourite gaming platform.

Just like Amstrad CPC Plus models, enhanced Atari ST should have been released a couple of years earlier to gain real success (and to compete against increasingly popular Amiga lineup).


Atari-Wiki Forum has a good list of Atari emulators. My choice of Atari STE emulation:

  • Winner: Steem SSE
    • “Old school” Windows UI, but it works fine
    • Improves already great (but somewhat abandoned) Steem emulator
    • Decent disk drive sounds
    • Simple scanlines support (every other line not rendered)
    • Support SCP-format (SuperCard Pro)
    • Open source, but single (committed) developer
    • Failed to run Stardust 😦
  • Also installedHatari
    • Pretty poor user interface
    • Open source and many developers
    • Not just ST and STE (e.g. runs Atari Falcon)
    • No scanlines
    • Runs Stardust just fine
  • Honorable mention: SainT
    • Written especially for Atari ST demos
    • Should come with accurate SC1425 emulation with 3D curved effect, accurate colors and realistic “scanline pattern”
    • Launches on my Windows XP, but crashes when trying to access menu

Steem SSE


All the Atari ST TOS-versions can be downloaded from TAVTANDIL TOS Images collection. STE supporting versions are 1.06, 1.62 and 2.06. Add them to the emulator via TOS-section on Steem SSE Options.


  • Machine
    • STE model
  • On screen display
    • Turn off On Screen Displays icons & indicators
  • Sound
    • Drive sound ON
  • Fullscreen mode
    • Scanline Grille ON

Steem SSE options.PNG

Controllers might need to be configured as well (you may need to assign every direction and button manually).

Support for STX files

To load STX-files (bypassing some disk-based copy protection schemes), Pasti‘s DLL needs to be included. The problem with the DLL downloaded from the author’s site is that you will see a dialog that pasti.dll is being used before the emulator and game is launched. This is naturally a bit annoying, so you are better of downloading a “no nag” pasti.dll from Steem SSE site. Just copy the file to the same folder with Steem executable.

 Keyboard shortcuts

  • F12 – Setting, Toggle fullscreen, Exit, etc.


Atari ST games on Launchbox.PNG

To enjoy less disk swapping, I saved each game settings to a configuration file, and LaunchBox I just point “ROM file” to this config. The /FULLSCREEN option is needed as a command line parameter.

Steem SSE on Launchbox.PNG

NOTES: To play Startdust, I also had to setup Hatari for LaunchBox. To play Zool, a “virtual code wheel” needs to be used.

Amstrad CPC Plus / GX4000 [Emulation on Windows series]

Amstrad Plus & GX4000.jpg

I have my original Amstrad CPC 464, but I was interested to see how “Plus” games look like. Rick Dangerous 128+ is a great example how awesome machine Plus models would have been if released several years earlier. Amstrad emulators will also get useful when I’ll test my cassette preservations.


A definite list of Amstrad CPC emulators is found at CPC-Wiki. My choice of Amstrad Plus emulation:

  • Winner: WinApe
    • “Old school” Windows UI, but it works fine
    • Plus models / GX4000 supported
    • Developer more than 20 years, and the guy is planning to do it for at least next 20 to come
    • Simple scanlines (every other line not rendered)
    • Some scrolling artifacts
    • Not open source ;(
  • Also installed: JavaCPC Desktop
    • Perhaps the most feature rich Amstrad emulator out there (including features such as “automatic game mapping” tool)
    • Real monitor emulation with 3D curved screen effect
    • Requires Java ;(
      • Installing JDK on Windows XP is these days tricky, but possible.
  • Honorable mention: Arnold
    • Open source and has versions for Mac, Linux, ARM, etc.
    • Too buggy on my Windows XP
    • New alpha released 2016 (on CPC-Wiki forums), so it has hope become better



A good start point for Plus / GX4000 games is “6128 Plus” settings. Some tweaks I made:

  • Render both lines OFF
  • Hide Menus (etc.)


Cartridge games

Cartridge games work just great on WinApe, but they are not as well “supported”. There are no command line options for these, and WinApe does not “eject” cartridge between boots so you might be surprised when your disk game was not loaded.

Keyboard shortcuts

  • F2 – Change disk
  • F10 – Toggle full screen
  • F12 – Settings
  • ALT+F4 – Exit


Amstrad games on Launchbox.PNG

If my emulated games list only had tape / disk titles, launching from LaunchBox would be easy. /A command line option is needed to autostart games.

WinApe on Launchbox.PNG

Due to issues with cartridge games on WinApe, and the very lacking command line options, I had to use some trickery. First, I saved a configuration for each game, making sure no cartridge is installed with disk games. Then, using Additional Apps tab, each game is initialized with a batch that copies the config as WinApe default.

WinApe batch on LaunchBox.PNG

The batch configure-winape.bat looks like this:

@echo off

echo Copying config for %1

copy "C:\Emulator Files\Amstrad CPC Plus\WinApe\%1-winape.ini" "C:\Program Files\WinAPE20B2\WinAPE.ini"
if [%2]==[] goto :eof

echo ******************************************************************************
echo %2
echo ******************************************************************************


It also supports simple message showing e.g. to remind Robocop 2 should be played with two button controller (e.g. Sega Mega Drive controller of mine) instead of a normal one-button joystick.

Commodore 64 [Emulation on Windows series]

This is sort of update to my C64 post on RetroPie series as I moved the emulation from RetroPie to Windows (for some systems).


I think I wanted to have Commodore 64 as a kid (everyone else in Finland had it was hugely popular here), but one day my father brought an Amstrad CPC 464 to my room and my surprise. I fell in love with Amstrad, but remember being very disappointed on some Amstrad games after seeing them first played on C64.


I did not find a very good list of Commodore 64 emulators, but the most popular ones are probably listed in Wikipedia. My choice of C64 emulation:

  • WinnerWinVICE
    • Surprisingly had more performance issues than Amiga emulator!
      • Could not use more advanced scanlines, as too many frames start dropping out
    • An older version seemed to work better on my Windows XP (performance and fullscreen quality)
  • Also installed: CCS64
    • Quite simplistic UI
    • Installed mostly to cover possible VICE emulation issues (not needed though)



If you have a modern (fast) PC, you may want to launch VICE with x64sc.exe My 15 yeard old PC could not handle this more accurate version of VICE, so x64.exe is the way to go. Even with this version I had trouble running games smoothly enough. I also had issues with the latest VICE 2.4, but older WinVICE 2.1 worked a bit better. Most notably the horrible looking scanlines looked much better with 2.1, and the games seemed to struggle a bit less with the performance. The only issue with version 2.1 was that if you launch directly to fullscreen, menubar will stay visible (2.4 did not have this problem).

The most decent fullscreen mode was using 640×480 resolution, PAL emulation OFF and Double scan ON. In this mode you will lose the right and left borders of the screen (which is a bit sad), but it still the best compromise I was able to get.

WinVICE settings.PNG

Keyboard shortcuts

  • ALT+ENTER – Toggle full screen (use to access menus e.g. if disks need to be changed)
  • ALT+F4 – Exit

WinVICE & LaunchBox

C64 games on LaunchBox

Integrating VICE and LaunchBox is pretty easy. Adjust the settings first, and save them. Then in LaunchBox emulator settings, load this config for all the games. A couple of games come with multiple disks, and I could have been optimized loading these games by inserting more disks to additional drives (if the game supports it), but I did not do this.

WinVICE on Launchbox.PNG

Because of the fullscreen with menubar visible issue mentioned earlier, C64 games are not directly launched in fullscreen – just hit ALT+ENTER once the game launch.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum [Emulation on Windows series]

This is sort of update to my Sinclair ZX Spectrum post on RetroPie series as I moved the emulation from RetroPie to Windows (for some systems).



Spectrum might have been my first contact on personal computing when I was a kid. I was visiting my relatives, and remember my cousin fighting hard to get those cassette games loaded. When they did, I saw my first glimpses of computer gaming in the form Horace Goes Skiing (did not like that much) and Jet Set Willy (liked very much, but oh it was so hard). Later on, I learned to dislike Spectrum a bit just because of some ugly MODE 1 Amstrad games which (an indicator of a lazy Spectrum port).


A huge list of Spectrum emulators is listed at World of Spectrum. Surprisingly a commercial option won hands down the other alternatives.

  • Winner: Spectaculator
    • “Old school” Windows UI, but it works fine
    • Very nice full screen (those rounded edges!) and awesome scanlines
    • Commercial (10 EUR), which is a good thing for a closed source project
  • Also installedFuse
    • Popular
    • Open source
    • No full screen
  • Honorable mentionSpeccy
    • Lots of mobile versions available
    • Broken fullscreen mode



There is not much to configure with Spectaculator. The fullscreen mode with default resolution was broken, but when I switched to 640 x 480, all the weirdness disappeared and the image looked stunningly good (compared to any other emulator I currently have on Windows).

Keyboard shortcuts

  • Mouse – Move the mouse to active dropdown menu for everything
  • ALT+F4 – Exit


Spectrum games on LaunchBox.PNG

One thing Spectaculator is missing is a proper command line interface, but luckily you can autolaunch a game by providing a disk image path as the only parameter.

Spectaculator on Launchbox.PNG