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CES 2020: NWA's Arabian Prince designed a dongle to make retro games look super sharp

The mClassic dongle upscales games like The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch, Sonic Adventure 2 on GameCube and Borderlands 3 on PS4.

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Marseille's mClassic dongle, seen at CES 2020, enhances your games' graphics.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Marseille caught the eyes of gamers last year with an HDMI cable that upscales low-resolution graphics with a built-in processor, and now the company has packed that feature into a dongle it brought to CES' Pepcom preview event Monday night. The mClassic is a $99 plug-and-play graphics processor for any game console with an HDMI output, and it can upscale a games' graphics so they look sharp enough for your 4K TV (or your 8K one, if you're feeling spendy).

Designed by NWA musician Arabian Prince -- an avid gamer who worked in special effects, 3D animation and video games after leaving the group in 1988 -- the physical dongle certainly grabbed my attention in the sea of CES products.

Marseille demoed the mClassic using The Witcher 3 on Nintendo Switch, Sonic Adventure 2 on GameCube and Borderlands 3 on PS4. In my brief look, it seemed to alleviate some of The Witcher 3's graphical limitations on Switch but made little noticeable difference to Borderlands 3. Sonic Adventure 2 on GameCube looked vastly improved.

I'd need an HDMI converter to get the mClassic working on retro consoles like the GameCube, but it'd be worth it to experience old games on their original hardware on a modern TV. You can turn the scaling off and on with a switch on the side, and toggle it to a retro mode that'll output old games in a 4:3 aspect ratio -- which brought me right back to playing Sonic Adventure 2 back in 2002 (even if the actual gameplay hasn't aged too well).

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"Gamers can now finally access the cleanest and clearest graphics possible and experience their favorite games exactly as intended by developers without having to make any modifications to their console," Marseille's energetic CEO and founder, Amine Chabane, said in a release.

The mClassic launched for Indiegogo backers in September after raising more than $800,000 on the crowdfunding site, and it's available for everyone now. At $99, it's pricey, especially when so many retro games are available through services like Nintendo Switch Online, but it might get you to dust off that Sega Dreamcast or PS2 if you're looking for an authentic nostalgia trip in 4K.