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Next project: The Cruis'n World 500!


Andyman
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Some of you might've noticed I mentioned my sit-down racing cabinet project in my Pure (4:3) universal theme announcement back in October. Well, the project has evolved a bit since then, so I thought I probably ought to start a dedicated thread chronicling the project...

Rewind a bit to a couple of months ago, and I was fortunate enough to acquire a Cruis'n World cabinet from the wonderful folks at Pinball PA in great condition (although absolutely filthy, as it had been in their warehouse's basement for a bit). Side note: You really must visit Pinball PA if you're in the area - it is incredible.

A 2-hour trip to Pittsburgh with the utility trailer in tow and 2 hours back, and the cabinet was mine. I even managed to dodged that day's rain showers, so the cabinet arrived home nice and dry. Then began the cleanup process, to rid the thing of "that old arcade game smell" - you know the funk I'm referring to: a combination of smoke tar, mold, dust and other crud. I bet I changed my wash bucket a dozen times and went through at least that many rags. It's still not quite as sparkly clean as I'd like, but it's about 1000% better than it was!

The next stop was to my local e-cycling center, to see if I could find a good-quality and working 25" CRT to use for the visuals. To my amazement, I found not one, but three - for free, even! Score! Even better, while I was rummaging through the piles of old TVs, I discovered a stack of discarded office computers. Curiosity got the best of me, and buried in the stack I found what had to be a company mistake - a Dell Optiplex 3020 small form-factor desktop in absolutely pristine condition. i5 CPU and 8GB RAM, but no hard drive (e-cycling centers are obligated to destroy them due to privacy concerns). I had a spare 2TB hard drive, so that worked out fine, and the PC is perfectly sized for the cramped confines of the Cruis'n World cabinet, and plenty fast enough to run the games I planned to include.

Then I did a little research online, to see if I could squeeze more performance out of the little monster on the cheap, because I'm greedy like that. To my delight, I was able to max out the RAM at 16GB and add a respectable low-profile video card (Radeon R7 250), and I now have a whole $70 wrapped up in the machine. It runs Forza Horizon 5 very well, so I'm stoked, and confident that it'll run everything else I want to include.

Next up, CRT testing time! They're identical 2006-vintage Samsung models with a full host of inputs, including S-video and component. Since all 3 CRTs were laying in a very wet section of the yard, I let them air-dry for about a week (see the first photo), then began the process of opening each one for inspection and powering up after making sure all looked fine. Their cabinets were pretty beaten up, so I hoped their guts weren't as abused. To my surprise, the first one I tried was perfect. I ran the S-video feed over from my Gauntlet Legends cabinet for testing purposes and was amazed at how clear and crisp the picture was. I think it's even better than the awesome Toshiba 27" I have in the Gauntlet cab.

I immediately decased the CRT and mounted it in the Cruis'n World cabinet. You can see how it looks in the second photo. Fantastic, but a long way to go! I tested the other two CRTs - one's in equally great working order, and one's DOA. Hey, two out of three ain't bad! I stashed the other working CRT in a cool, dry place for possible future use.

Control-wise, I'm mounting the Logitech G920 wheel, pedals and shifter I was using with my Xbox Series X to the cabinet. I don't have photos of that process, but I'll add pics once the controls are all in place. Here's the very slick Xbox 360 controller emulation app I'm using to make non-wheel games work as if they had wheel support. So cool.

Now for the real meat-and-potatoes of the project: the games. I've spent the last couple of months methodically curating, installing and testing all the games I want in this beast. I decided the total will be 500 - no more, no less. What better number for a racing cabinet? Some games had to be discarded due to not working offline (Forza Motorsport 7), not being emulated well enough yet, or not playing nice with the 4:3 aspect. Surprisingly, a lot of very recent PC racing games work very well in 4:3 aspect. Who'd have guessed?

In that time, I've also created a custom universal theme to tie the arcade, console, and PC games together visually in HyperSpin (see the link at the top of this post), and I've gathered logo wheels for each game and gathered/created video previews for each as well. That's been a job, and I'm glad it's done.

I've attached the 500-game database as it stands right now. I don't anticipate major changes to it, but I'm still discovering racing games I want to include, so it'll probably continue to evolve as time goes on. I love me some racing games, as you can probably tell.

If you have questions, ask away! Thanks for reading. More to come!

cw_monitor_candidates.jpg

cw_cabinet_wip.jpg

CruisnWorld.xml

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... and then an early Black Friday deal alert lands in my Inbox and I pull the trigger on a 2TB SATA SSD to really make this thing shine. I might need to subtitle this project The Rabbit Hole Edition. 😆

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Great read and great story ! I can't wait to read the future updates.

I have a few questions if you don't mind:

  • I assume you have bought the whole cabinet, with the chair and the wheel. So will it be quite dificult to adapt the 920 wheel and pedals to the cabinet in terms of space available ?
  •  You will use a crt monitor to play modern racing games.  I really hope you will share videos once you are finished. Forza in 4:3 with scanlines must be something really intriguing to watch !
  • Have you already setup the controls of all your games ? In particular does x360ce works well with the emus that requires it (the ones where you can't setup a wheel) ?. I have only used this nice little program for pc racing games that doesn't work with a wheel.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. I have my own setup ready to be taken care of but I always postpone the moment I will start to make a nice hyperspin wheel. Probably because I have the ambition to cover as much racing games as possible as long as they can work with a wheel. Your choice of limiting the amount to 500 is probably the right one.

Seeing your progress and the solutions you have chosen is a great motivation though !

Thanks in advance for your answers.

 
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28 minutes ago, brudibru said:

I have a few questions if you don't mind:

  • I assume you have bought the whole cabinet, with the chair and the wheel. So will it be quite dificult to adapt the 920 wheel and pedals to the cabinet in terms of space available ?
  •  You will use a crt monitor to play modern racing games.  I really hope you will share videos once you are finished. Forza in 4:3 with scanlines must be something really intriguing to watch !
  • Have you already setup the controls of all your games ? In particular does x360ce works well with the emus that requires it (the ones where you can't setup a wheel) ?. I have only used this nice little program for pc racing games that doesn't work with a wheel.

1) I have had to do some minor modifications to the cabinet, such as cutting a larger opening for the G920's floor-mounted pedal unit (Cruis'n USA uses a face-mounted unit). I really like how it's working out, though.

2) I absolutely love how the 4:3 CRT makes modern games feel retro, and the new blends well with the old because of it. It amuses me to watch HyperSpin in demo mode go from the advanced visuals of Forza, to the pixels of Pole Position, to the rough polygons of Gran Turismo 2, to the cel-shaded cartoon look of Wacky Racers... it's great.

3) I've roughly setup all the games, and will be fine-tuning everything once the Logitech G920 is in the cabinet completely and I have the control panel buttons wired up fully. That part of the project will probably take quite awhile - partly because I'm a bit of perfectionist, and partly because there will be extended breaks to play each game once it's setup to my liking. 😁

Thanks for the feedback and praise! And yeah, I could easily put over 1000 racing games in this project, but I wanted to keep the overall quality of the experience high. 500 is more than enough to induce paralysis of choice as it is! Haha.

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Oh, and taking a 3-inch hole saw to the pristine Cruis'n USA control panel to enlarge the opening for the G920's steering hub was enough to make the arcade connoisseur in me cry a little. Knowing the cabinet would never have been restored and knowing there's a lot of them in circulation eased my emotional stress, though.

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Thanks a lot for your answers ! The setting up of the controllers will be quite a fascinating challenge. Sorry to repeat myself but I sure hope you will share your advancements. I will follow them with passion and I am willing to help if required and tests different solutions on my side if needed. I have gathered and setup a great number of racing games already and just need to find the strength and motivation to continue on. I have a G27 so I will encounter the same challenges as you will.

I understand why cutting through an original cabinet makes you feel bad, it's not like creating an homemade replica, but It will definitely be worth it in the end. As you said, being able to to scroll through the ages will be a fantastic experience. The racing games are a very good examples on how the video games have progressed. 

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