Recently, I’ve been looking forward to enjoying my childhood nostalgia, and as a lifelong gamer this has mostly involved spending money on a retro gaming setup. In a rosy attempt to relive the games of my youth, I went all out and bought a PS1 (the impressively small overhaul that’s still pretty, aesthetically), a bunch of games, and most importantly, a 14-inch screen. Bush 1473T CRT TV to play them.
But with CRT being such an outdated display method, why bother buying one? After all, surely any modern TV should suffice if all you have to do is connect a console to it, right? Not exactly. The problem with even the best 4K TVs is that they don’t have input for a SCART adapter, the main method for connecting older consoles like PS1 and N64, to AV.
Going down to a 1080p display, you’ll likely find a SCART port. But another problem arises where older games — particularly pixel-based or low-polygon-count games — were never designed with flat-panel TVs in mind. This has the knock-on effect of making retro games worse. Edges can look excessively jagged and pixels are not blended as seamlessly. As a result, you lose a lot of visual depth when playing older games on more modern screens.
That’s where the appeal of a CRT TV comes in. The slightly rounded screen, as well as its sweep lines, hide many of the imperfections of older games when it comes to visual quality. In fact, most retro titles were designed with these screens in mind as they allow for a much smoother image that can blend pixels. Objects look much less jagged as a result, and pixel-based characters and backgrounds look as they should rather than an ugly smear of colored squares.
So when every important part of the setup arrived at my house, I was eager to get everything up and running as quickly as possible. I hooked up the PS1 to the CRT, made sure everything was connected and working as intended, and strapped myself in for the ride. Little did I know it was a tour I wish I hadn’t taken.
the nightmare begins
In my desperation to create a lovely little retro gaming setup, I completely forgot to consider that setting up a CRT TV can be an absolute nightmare. Needless to say, they don’t have any of the conveniences of a more modern display like the superlative LG CX. But beyond that, there are some pretty obtuse hoops you have to go through to make a retro setup work.
If you don’t have component cables, for example, your only other option is to use an RFU adapter, which is included with boxed PS1 consoles. This adapter does not go through AV, but requires you to first find the channel the adapter is set to and then manually adjust the display until the image is how you want it. And generally, you can’t tune into a CRT TV without the added functionality of a compatible remote.
Fortunately, I was able to dig up a set of component cables and a SCART adapter to use them. But that wasn’t the end of my problems as I didn’t think about the fact that I would need a compatible TV remote to access the AV output in the first place. The Bush CRT TV I bought on eBay did not come with one.
a comedy of errors
After fiddling with the buttons on the TV to no avail, I realized I would have to track down a remote just to be able to access the AV output on my CRT. Little did I know that this would be by far the hardest hurdle to overcome, as finding a remote that would work with my CRT was easier said than done.
I’ve tried several universal remotes and second hand remotes ordered from aftermarket parts sites, which is one of the few reliable options left when it comes to buying an old CRT TV remote. None of them worked and I was starting to panic. Did I really spend all that money on a retro gaming setup, only to fall for the final hurdle? I felt exactly like when I fought some of the toughest bosses in the Elden Ring: hopelessly stuck in an endless cycle of trial, error, and despair.
The whole fiasco did one thing for me, though. It made me realize how much I had taken the conveniences of modern TV for granted. Most modern 4K displays are phenomenally easy to use. Whether it’s because of the simplicity of HDMI or the abundance of streaming apps built into these smart TVs, convenience dominates modern screens compared to old TVs.
It pains me to say that this story does not have a happy ending. At least not yet. While the joy of being able to play games like Tekken 3, Ridge Racer Type 4, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on a screen they were intended for still eludes me, my search for a working remote will continue.
After all, I’m not going to give up when I’ve already spent a decent amount of money on setup. Rome was not built in a day, as they say.