I just wanted to provide a little background information about why I’m doing this review. I originally purchased four Bliss-Boxes several years ago at $100 a piece to allow my wife and I as well as our children play games together. These were the first four Bliss-Boxes that were ever made which is why they look a little rough around the edges. I recently found out about the Kickstarter campaign and contacted the developer to ask if I could demo the hand built proto-type he showed off in his video. He accepted my request and sent me the prototype to test out and post a review about. So, I hope you enjoy the review.
What is a Bliss-Box and 4-Play?
Bliss-Box was the original PC to USB Adapter that was made to connect a variety of video game controllers to your computer. These were boxes custom built to order and made by hand in a garage. He even had to mold plastic sometimes if a suitable connector wasn’t readily available. Here is an example of one of the original Bliss-Boxes I bought several years ago. The only limitation was you had to buy 1 Bliss-Box per controller being used, so if you were playing a 4 player N64 game, you would be required to have 4 Bliss-Boxes. The image below is one of the Bliss-Boxes I bought several years ago. It’s a little rough around the edges but it gets the job done.
The 4-Play is commercialized version of the Bliss-Box with the added bonus of being able to connect and use 4 controllers at once. This is basically like having 4 Bliss-Boxes in one small adapter.The smaller compact size was accomplished by using HMDI input (controller connects to the 4-play via an HDMI cable) instead of having an adapter for each controller mounted on the box. It’s a much smarter design. Please note the image below is of the proto-type (case & circuit board) that I’m doing this review on. This product is still subject to change in color and design.
Here is a closer look at the circuit board
For being a proto-type, everything appears to be very professionally done and manufactured with quality products. I saw a few comments on some of the forums advising that the 4-Play looks cheap and appears to be made in china. After holding and testing the 4-Play, I have to disagree. It feels like a solid product. It’s not too heavy but it feels sturdy to the point where if I happened to drop it on my tile floor, I don’t think it would break.
What kind of controller ports does the 4-Play support?
• Wii Remote Expansion Port (Nunchuck, Classic Controller, etc.)
• Game Cube
• Nintendo 64
• Turbo grafix 16
• Dream cast
• PC engine (6 button turbo gafix 16)
• PlayStation (1 and 2)
• DB9 (Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, etc.)
• DH15 (Atari 5200, Neo Geo, etc.)
Please note that the Virtual Boy port is also supported by the 4-Play, however I did not receive that cable so I was unable to show a picture of it.
The cables and connectors are very solid and indistinguishable from those found on the actual consoles. If you are a completest and require 4 or each type of controller you are looking at 68 total cables (4 players x 17 cables). If you are concerned how much space this will take up in your home, then I have some good news for you. All 68 cables and 4-Play adapter can easily fit in a small shoe box.
How well does this device work on the computer and was it easy to use?
I was very impressed with how easy the product was to use. You literally just plug your controller into HDMI cable adapter which plugs into the 4-Play, then plug the 4-Play into a USB port on your computer and that’s it. You have afully functional game pad. You will still need to set the input selections in an emulator just like you would with any other gamepad. See the below example of how to do this.
• In Kega Fusion, select “Options” then “Set Config”
• Navigate to the “Controllers” tab and change port 1 from “Keyboard” to “Bliss-Box”
• Click the “Define” button to input the controls (↑↓←→ A B C X Y Z Mode & Start)
• Click on the “Apply” & “OK” buttons
That’s it, you are good to go! Each emulator has its own method of selecting inputs so the set up will be slightly different based on the emulator you are using.
Please see the video below for a demonstration of me using the 4-Play with an emulator. In the video, you will see me showing off the auto-pausing functionality, hot swapping controllers, as well as verifying the updater and that fact that it supports multi-player without any special requirements. I apologize about the quality of the video, this was the first review I’ve ever done. I realize the TV is hard to see, but you can still see the characters moving on screen when I’m using the controllers.
What controllers did you test?
After the video was done, I tested out all the controllers listed below just to see how well it handled different official and third party controllers. I was impressed because they all worked perfectly. I didn’t have issues with any of the controllers seen in the image below.
• Super Nintendo (Official & third party version)
• Nintendo 64
• GameCube (Original and Wavebrid version)
• PlayStation 2 (Original and Street Fighter version)
• Sega Genesis (Official 3 button, Official 6 button, 3 other third party versions)
• Sega Saturn
• Sega Dreamcast (Official US, Official PAL, & third party version)
• Neo Geo
• Also pictured are the original 4 original Bliss-Boxes that I purchased, just so you can see how much the product has evolved
• Very small compact size compared to the original
• Allows 4 controllers to be connected at once
• It’s ready to use right out of the box, no special software required with the exception of firmware updates
• Auto-pause if controller is disconnected
• Hot swapping capabilities
• Easily upgradable via firmware update
• Future proof /expandable (all that is required is a new cable and a firmware update)
• Each port is independently upgradable so they can run different firmware’s if needed
• Price - at $125 for the full package and all the cables this is a steal compared to the $400 it would cost to buy 4 Bliss-Boxes
• Supports complex features like
– PS2’s pressure sensitive buttons
– Force Feedback
– Communication with Dreamcast LCD screen (currently, no emulators support this… yet)
The 4-play has a reset button that is next to the HDMI port. The reset button is hard to find because it’s very well hidden. I had to contact the 4-Play developer to find out where it was located. It’s only used to reset the device if you’re controller isn’t recognized or if you are upgrading the firmware. Once you locate it, it becomes a non-issue. I spoke with the developer about this and they advise it will be more clearly labeled on the final product.
In order for this product to be manufactured / mass produced, the Kickstater campaign has to reach $150,000. If you are reading this review I making the assumption you have or are looking for a USB adapter. If that’s the case, then I strongly recommend this over product over other products based on its versatility, price, usability (no software), and quality. If you have any questions or need any clarifications about anything in this review, please let me know.
• Bliss-Box / 4-Play Homepage
• High Resolution images from this post can be downloaded here
• Controller Compatibility List
• Button Layout / Configuration