The Most Important Part Of My Retro Gaming Collection

The most important thing in my retro gaming collection is not a rare game or a specific console (though if I had to pick, I'd say the PlayStation 2, as it's most-used DVD player in my home). Nor is it my CRT, the venue through which all my retro games are played. The most important thing in my retro gaming collection is the glue that holds my entire retro setup together, the Pelican 5-Way System Selector.

I consider this particular video switcher the key to my retro gaming collection because it is perfectly suited to how I play retro video games by providing great utility at a reasonable price. Costing around $20 used, there are cheaper and more expensive solutions, but this one offers me the best value proposition for my personal setup, because...

MiniDIN-4 Diagram.svg
I bet you needed an S-video diagram.
It has S-video in all 5 inputs and it uses external power, two surprisingly uncommon features in similarly priced alternatives. This switcher isn't for people interested in the best possible video quality or upscaling; that's an awesome adventure in a separate price bracket. However, if you're playing original hardware on a CRT (like me), you'll find that jumping from composite (the red/yellow/white ones) to S-video is probably the best possible single step up in video quality. You might be surprised how many of your TVs and consoles support it (and the switcher has composite for the consoles that don't), and the cables are cheap, too. Think of S-video as a "best within reason" approach to enjoying retro game consoles within their originally intended scope. It wouldn't be worth the trouble of upgrading only to have the switcher degrade the video signal quality; thankfully the underappreciated external power prevents degradation.

Finally, I'm going to close with some less important side notes:

  • 5 is an acceptable number of inputs (my setup requires a minimum of 9, e.g. two of these daisy-chained together);
  • The RF input/output is useful for cord organization;
  • The quality is fine (set aside all preconceived notions of pelican as a creator of crappy third party controllers, because I bought mine used 6 years ago and use it daily); and
  • It's convenient for "inexpensive" upscaling (I recommend the retrotink) and video capture (there are tons of S-video/composite video capture devices available).

In summary, the Pelican 5-Way System Selector offers tremendous utility at a low price, especially in conjunction with S-video consoles. It's not for everyone - modern component solutions and upscaling hardware are really cool (if really expensive) - but it's the best combination of utility and price for the original-hardware-on-CRT aficionado.

Last (and absolutely least), for those who are interested, here is...

Shawn's 2x Pelican 5-Way System Selector Setup
(Daisy-chained together, 9 total ports)
  1. Sony PlayStation 2 (backwards compatible)
  2. Nintendo Wii U (primarily for Wii games, naturally)
  3. Nintendo GameCube (w/ GameBoy Player)
  4. Microsoft Xbox
  5. Input from the second system selector
    (Switcher #1)
  6. Sega Dreamcast
  7. Sega Saturn
  8. Loose Nintendo A/V cable for SNES, N64, GameCube
  9. Atari 7800 (composite mod, backwards compatible)
  10. Sega Genesis (composite, w/ backwards compatible Power Base converter)
    (Switcher #2)