clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Retrospecs is Instagram for console collectors

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Sure, there's a lot of widgets out there that can turn your photos into something that looks 8-bit. What the Retrospecs app does is offer a level of fidelity and specificity that is, frankly, unnecessary. But it sure is fun.

Haven't you always wanted your photos to look like they came off a Sinclair ZX Spectrum? What about a Game Boy Color? Or the Sega Master System? What about an Acorn Archimedes, or the SAM Coupé?

Above, you see a self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh as if it were being displayed on the two-color version of the Acorn BBC Microcomputer. Below, my cat Nikon viewed through the Intellivision.


You don't really need Retrospecs, but the quirky apps are often the most fun. Spend $1.99, hit the button to take a picture or pull one from your photo library, and then select from the following treatments:

  • Teletext
  • Apple ][ (Low res)
  • Atari 2600 (NTSC, PAL & SECAM)
  • Commodore PET (PETSCII)
  • Intellivision
  • ZX80/81
  • IBM CGA (6 variations)
  • BBC Micro (Modes 0, 1 & 2)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum
  • Commodore 64 (Low res, high res & CBMSCII modes)
  • Colecovision
  • Dragon 32 (PMODE 3)
  • Thomson TO7
  • Mattel Aquarius
  • MSX (Screen mode 2 and (for comedy value) 3)
  • Sinclair QL (Low res & high res modes)
  • Apple Macintosh (Original 1984 model)
  • Thomson MO5
  • Amstrad CPC (Modes 0, 1 & 2 in both colour & green screen versions)
  • Commodore C16/+4 (Low res, high res & CBMSCII modes)
  • Commodore Amiga (OCS - 320x256 in 32 colours and 640x256 in 16 colours)
  • Atari ST (320x200 in 16 colours and 640x200 in 4 colours)
  • Sega Master System
  • MSX 2 (Modes 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8)
  • Acorn Archimedes (11 modes)
  • IBM VGA (Mode 13h)
  • Sega Mega Drive
  • Nintendo Game Boy
  • SAM Coupé (Modes 3 & 4)
  • Amstrad 464/6128 plus (Modes 0, 1 & 2)
  • Sega Game Gear
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo Game Boy Color

Retrospecs takes care of the rest by cropping the photo to match the system's aspect ratio, translating the color palette and texturing it to match one of several dithering patterns. It's everything you never knew you wanted, and probably the last thing you need cluttering up your phone.

It's a great way, as the app's website says, to "squander what little time you have left on this planet."