Screen cheating has always been the bane of split-screen gaming. There’s nothing like sneaking around corners only to find your opponent was there waiting for you. Not by any deduction or skill, just the ability to look at your part of the screen. GG really.
This was notoriously bad in the days of the much-loved GoldenEye in 64. The game with such a strong cultural influence is the Arecibo Observatory has become an icon. According to Ars Technica, 25 years later, a museum has finally fixed screen cheating issues without the use of modern hardware.
The Center for Computing History in Cambridge, England, held an event to celebrate GoldenEye’s 25th anniversary. This included conversations with developers as well as the museum’s playable GoldenEye setup. However, when talking about having the game available to play, museum staff began to regret memories of on-screen cheating, which prompted them to come up with a workaround.
They posted their multi CRT screen setup to twitter, which made fans wonder how this could be done by themselves. After all, it seems more effective than splitting the canvas with some glued on cardboard. Unfortunately, it required some old technology and not something many of us could hope to replicate, but that’s what emulation is for.
4 GoldenEye screens on original N64 hardware! No cheating here! …but how? Come and experience this at our GoldenEye night, celebrating 25 years of GoldenEye for Nintendo 64: https://t.co/F918hEQ20v pic.twitter.com/05jA82upb8May 4, 2022
Jason Fitzpatrick, CEO and administrator of the Center for the History of Computing, explained to Ars Technica that the museum’s multi-screen anti-cheating setup is anything but elegant. Fortunately, Fitzpatrick also works for Pure Energy TV and Film Props, a company that specializes in some of these older technologies, which provided access to a lot of older video equipment to make this work.
They used two C2-7210 video scale units to receive the GoldenEye signal directly from the original hardware, which can then split the signals and send them to different screens. It can also zoom in on any part of the screen. Essentially, this allows Fitzpatrick to zoom in on each split-screen section and present them on one of the TVs. They even set up another modified sign for the menus so they can still be used despite this zoom.
“It’s not elegant because basically you’re taking a 704×576 [pixel] image, and you’re just zooming in to a quarter of it and then taking that quarter and stretching it out to a full screen,” Fitzpatrick told Ars Technica. “Even though we’re dealing with something around 352×288 [pixels]more or less, like a resolution for each of those quadrants, by the time it’s displayed full screen, it looks fine.”
Still, it’s nice to see that this was possible even with the technology only available at the time. Of course, most people wouldn’t have access to this, but that’s why we’re always grateful for the creative innovations of those who do.