Have You Played… Emulators?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Emulation often feels like a similarly shady cousin of piracy, but where one means you don’t give money to currently jobbing developers, the other is often an act of preserving and making accessible games that otherwise would be borderline or outright unplayable. I confess I feel little guilt about having taken money away from opportunistic eBayers, and considerable gratitude that my PC unlocked gaming’s history even beyond its own platform borders.

It’s been a while, but I spent a lot of my time in my teens tinkering with Gameboy emulators, Amiga emulators, Spectrum emulators, MAME and more in order to play games that were for one reason or another unavailable to me. This seems to me to be legally murkey but morally pure, at a time before console manufacturers started producing HD remakes or selling emulated versions of their own back catalogues, as Nintendo now do on Wii U and 3DS.

Through these emulators I learned not only about gaming’s past, but some of its technical present. Most software doesn’t simply set out to make old games playable, but to make the playable under modern conditions. Sometimes that means offering quality of life features like the ability to save anywhere, and other times it means upscaling textures and anti-aliasing edges. I know more about games and how they work because of emulation.

If you’re intent on replicating the experience of a currently available console or game, then I’ve no time for you. But more power to you, says I, if you’re opening a portal to a world of games no longer being manufactured or sold. It’s one of the great abilities of the PC.

Oh, and it enables things like tool-assisted speedrunning.


  1. Zankman says:

    I’ve “played” them, mainly to play wrestling games like Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.

    I was introduced to emulators long, long ago, though; An older friend gave me a disc with ZNES and loads of SNES games.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Interestingly enough, that was my introduction to emulation, word-for-word.

      • G-Lord says:

        Wow, exactly the same situation here. A 3.5 Floppy with ZSNES + Super Mario World…

        • Scoutkirby says:

          I’m extremely surprised that there’s others who got into emulators in this exact way. My old man worked at a computer repair shop and came home one day with a disc full of NES and SNES games and a few emulators from a computer that had come in. Most of the roms were broken from the transfer to disc (There was a lot of them, and whoever burned the disc was an idiot), but it didn’t take me long to start looking on Google to find more about them. The rest is ancient history.

    • Snacko says:

      Same here! I always ran it right from the CD, so the save functions never worked. I left my PC on for a month once and got about 1/3 of the way through Lufia II, then the power went out.

  2. Sir_Deimos says:

    Fun fact: The legality of emulators (in the US, no idea about UK) is that if you own a physical copy of the game than it’s totally fine to have an emulator. But downloading something you don’t own? Tsk tsk.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Pretty sure it’s totally illegal in the UK, at least going by the letter of the law, given we’re not allowed to backup and/or format shift anything.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Not exactly. Format shifting isn’t legal which is different to being illegal.

        British Law is primarily based on precedence followed by statutes. Statutes of course over ride precedent laws. This means that if there is no statute law relating to the act in question it then falls down to precedent law. Precedent law is based on a judge’s ruling from a previous court case for a similar situation.

        The courts threw out the last attempt in making it legal because it was too reaching and didn’t offer enough financial safe guards to creators. That doesn’t mean you will automatically be found guilty if Sony took you to court for playing an emulated version of a game you owned. The judge would have to listen to both arguments, look at existing statutes ad precedent and then make a decision. It’s essentially a legal Schrödinger’s cat.

        • Asurmen says:

          Pretty sure that’s the wrong way round. Precedent overrules statute. When a judge rules on a case involving a statute, they set a precedent, that following cases have to refer to.

          • Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

            That’s actually incorrect. There are two forms of law within common law and they interact. So an Act is created and then common law is created by judges as they interpret the meaning of the written statute. Then those precedents become the authoritative way of interpreting those Acts. When those Acts are amended then the common law may or may not apply anymore – so the statute can erase the common law. But there is common law that existed before the codified Act, but often the codified Act is written so that we don’t have to remember cases from the 1600’s and the ratio decendi is simply codified and the facts of the cases are forgotten. Of course judges rule on all forms of law and so they can endlessly distinguish the facts if they prefer one of the parties.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            They can rule on ambiguity or add clarification to statutes but they can’t change or over rule them.

            For example there was a court case last year over parking charges. A guy stayed in a 2hr parking zone for 3hrs and was billed for £80. In the statutes you can only bill for “pre-estimated loss” but that term was never defined. The over parker’s argument was that as the car park was free the person he hypothetically denied a parking space to would not have paid to park, therefore the hourly cost was zero so the “pre-estimated loss” was also zero.

            The judge ruled against that interpretation. I won’t bother saying why as it’s a lengthy description and largely irrelevant to the topic. The end result is that a precedent has been set on that specific interpretation of the term “pre-estimated loss”. The statute wasn’t changed and if you had a different circumstances you could still argue against the issue of a parking charge notice based on the “Pre estimated loss” clause.

          • Asurmen says:

            No they can’t change the law but that wasn’t my point. If statutes overrules precedent than we wouldn’t have a common law system and precedent would be irrelevant. Precedent however is relevant and is followed. It is incorrect to stay that if no statute law exists than precedent law is followed. Both always apply. If there was a statute that said regarding copyright but a precedent set during a case then the precedent is followed in subsequent similar cases regardless of what the statute says.

            Yes, NEW statute can overrule but that isn’t the same thing.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        It’s somehow comforting to be reminded that, depending on the issue, there are first-world nations more backward than the US.

    • Alien426 says:

      There’s a great talk from GDC by Frank Cifaldi on the topic of emulation: link to gdcvault.com

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The legality is basically irrelevant, but… no, it is not legal to dump a ROM of a board you own, nor is it legal to download a ROM of a board you own. Format-shifting, as relates to game cartridges and arcade boards, is illegal under the DMCA; one of the chief reasons there was no challenge to making it illegal is that people have this ludicrous idea that it is, somehow, legal.

  3. Det. Bullock says:

    I used a Sega Mega Drive and Master System emulators to try games I would later buy on eBay if I liked them enough and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
    I used a SNES emulator to play Super Metroid, and tried once to configure a PS2 emulator to play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night but without much success.
    Also, MAME is essentially compulsory if you want to play most vintage fighting games with an arcade/fighting stick on PC, it’s a pain to configure correctly at first but it’s the only arcade emulator that actually supports modern USB arcade sticks without using third party programs like joy2key like winkawaks (I used it for a while, it’s much easier to set up but controller support is VERY buggy with arcade sticks).

    • Palodin says:

      Well, yeah. You probably wouldn’t have much success getting Symphony of the Night working on a PS2 emulator, it’s a PS1 title. epsxe runs it wonderfully

      • Jalan says:

        I think the notion might have been that they were assuming the PS2 emulator emulated the PS2’s backward compatibility feature.

      • Det. Bullock says:

        Nope, just a typo, while on a rational level I know the first two sony TV boxes require separate emulator backward compatibility or not my first thought tend to meld them toghether.
        Also the problem is that the graphics were glitchy, non enough to hamper gameplay but still rather annoying.

  4. Faults says:

    “If you’re intent on replicating the experience of a currently available console or game, then I’ve no time for you.”

    Good job that basically any console produced in the last decade / still commercially available (Wii U aside) is basically un-emulatable, I guess.
    That said, part of me is kind of nostalgic for the days when the N64 and Playstation were viably emulated just a few years after launch. Those felt like real frontier times.

    Sure, there’s that PS3 emulator that’s starting to gain ground, but that’s years off being usable.

    • BTAxis says:

      Emulation is also starting to become a bit meaningless, with recent consoles gaining more and more overlap with PC gaming. Why emulate a platform when most of its titles are available on PC anyway?

      • Faults says:

        This is very true. There are still quite a few games that will likely never come to PC though. I’m hoping that PS3 emulation improves to the point I can play The Last Of Us sometime in the next decade or so. Being able to play Halo 3 / ODST / Reach / 4 would be great too. Of course, because of the way Destiny works, we’ll likely never even see an emulated version working on PC, but one can dream.

        All that is to say that although I agree that there’s much less point emulating modern systems, even from an academic standpoint as the hardware is so PC-like anyway, there are still a lot of games out there that, as a pretty dedicated PC gamer, it feels weird that I have to buy additional proprietary computers just to play.

        • Reapy says:

          Hankering to play journey and the last of us. Don’t think that’s going to happen though.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        That leads to another question though. Why should I pay twice?

        I’ve got a good selection of MegaDrive, GBA, GC, PSOne and PS2 games. I’ve purchased the right to play those games. Why should I pay again to play those games when I can just emulate the that hardware?

        • Faults says:

          I can only speak for myself, but generally I’m happy to pay for a good quality port if one exists. I was totally willing to shell over £10-odd to get a good port of Final Fantasy IX with higher quality character textures and the like, even though I’ve bought it twice for my old Playstation already.

          If Squeenix had just wrapped the old PSX disc images in an emulator, that would be a different matter. The amount I’m willing to pay for a port is almost directly proportional to the amount of effort put in to said port.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        There are still a lot of notable console exclusives, and will probably continue to be. Bloodborne is a recent example; it’s Sony-exclusive, despite great interest from PC Dark Souls fans. There’ also, for example, every Mario/Metroid/Zelda/Pokemon game.

  5. FreeTom says:

    I’ve played with a lot of emulators but the two I keep going back to are the ZX Spectrum for Chaos and the GameBoy Advance for Advance Wars.

    Mostly they just highlight how much rose-tinting is going on when I remember fondly the games of my youth. With the exception notable exception of the Nintendo in-house games, most stuff released before the turn of the century is practically unplayable.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I will never understand this perspective. Honestly though, I see it often enough that it just makes me so grateful I apparently have some weird gene that lets me play and appreciate much older games. People miss out on so much great stuff.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Like I don’t even get mad when folks make blanket statements about graphics or poor UIs or “nostalgia”. I just… I’m over here, having so much fun. It makes me sad to think people are missing out on that. New games are good, but old games are good too!

        I’m gonna go take a walk and look at some cute dogs or something.

        • Risingson says:

          He (she?) is right and you are right. Most of the games of the 8bit era are absolutely unplayable, just because they were designed so no one could beat them. You can beat Atic Atac and have a lot of fun with it, but Underwurlde is impossible and nasty. You can beat Manic Miner which is a cute little game, but you will never beat Jet Set Willy.

          What surprises, then, is having some games where the playability is so tuned (and then considered too easy) as Head Over Heels. I’ve always had a problem with the spanish games of the spectrum era which I think, in a whole, are much worse than the uk offerings.

          But, again, I never understood how games like “La abadia del crimen” are so praised when there were many things released at the same time that were much much better and much more player friendly.

          • Risingson says:

            Oh wait.

            “Before the turn of the century”.

            No, that is absolutely bullshit. At the end of the 80s most of the genres were already perfectly tuned. You can find games that are perfectly designed as Prince of Persia or Another World around 1990.

          • Risingson says:

            EDIT BUTTON. I have some kind of dyslexia where I say “most” when I was trying to say “some. Some of the games. Not all. Monkey Island is from the 90s, but Wizardry 6-7 are from around there and I pity you if you try to play them today.

          • FreeTom says:

            On that note, let’s not forget I (and I’m a dude, to avoid your tripping over pronouns) said ‘most’ not ‘all’. It’s the quality of quite-good games that has vastly improved, even in the last ten years. The 80%-ers. Pre-2000, only the classics are worth your time.

          • Risingson says:

            That’s the thing. I say some of them are perfect, you say that most of them are unplayable. Don’t you see the difference?

      • Premium User Badge

        Oakreef says:

        Yeah I played System Shock 1 for the first time in 2013 and adored it. I don’t fully understand why people call it unplayable.

        • Sin Vega says:

          Like a lot of old games, System Shock was, while perhaps not unplayable, certainly very cumbersome and dissatisfying to play for the long period leading up to the gog revival and ensuing indie revolution. Windows 7 helped too, bucking the trend of microsoft “upgrades” rendering half your collection unplayable.

          There were always people doing the grunt work of fixing and fine tuning and staying up all night tearing their hair out to find obscure ways to get old games to run in the abandonware scene, of course, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that their efforts were so well supported or organised. That plus the even greater gains in computing power made a lot of difficult-to-run old games vastly more accessible, in both senses.

        • Ragnar says:

          I think a lot of it is what we’re used to.

          I used to play Wolfenstein 3D and Doom and had a blast with them. But if I tried them now, the low res textures would give me a headache.

          I don’t have the patience for stuff I used to put up with as a kid.

          I remember finding every secret in Zelda, and then beating it again in the hard world. I regeneration beating MegaMan 2 starting with the hardest bosses. I couldn’t do that now if I wanted to, and I don’t want to.

          I played the Metroid remake on GBA and loved it. I briefly tried the original game, and five minutes in I was like, “Nope, I’m out of here.”

          As game design and technology have evolved, we’ve gotten used to sleeker, prettier, more accessible games. At the same time, for a lot of us, our leisure time has dwindled. A lot of old games thus become “unplayable” because we just don’t have the time for them.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      “most stuff released before the turn of the century is practically unplayable”

      L, O, and L.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Yeah, 90% of old games were crap, but you’re forgetting that 90% of new games are [i]also[/i] crap. If you pick games at random from the entire NES catalog, of course you’re going to be disappointed, but there are still plenty of excellent games you might enjoy.

  6. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Emulators are all about convincing myself I don’t actually need to take those boxes of old carts, consoles, and CD cases with me every time I move into a new house, just because I’m afraid I’ll be unable to spend a spare weekend wallowing in my childhood.

  7. Kefren says:

    My favourites are the Amiga and C64 emulators that let me play the games I grew up with. I have a soft spot for some Spectrum games too, such as Knight Lore and Turbo Esprit. Often just hearing the music and seeing the title screen on an old game fills me with joy.

  8. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Remember to delete your ROMs after 24 hours or it’s illegal!!

    • Targaff says:

      Remember to check whether what you post in a comment thread is actually true and not utter nonsense propagated by people determined to try and claim that something they’re doing is legal. There is not, nor has there ever been, a magical “24 hour” exemption.

  9. goon buggy says:

    Theyre my go to games on droid. Better than all the current pay money for energy, more goes games.
    Blast corps forever. Rare need to remake that.Though the thunder hammer bot levels are a bit wonky. It plays pretty well. Rogue Squadron is iffy but playable.
    I could never get the Last Ninja c64 to control correctly.

    • Syrion says:

      You got Blast Corps and Rogue Squadron to work on Android? Using which emulator? I loved replaying Goldeneye using N64oid and got halfway through Majora’s Mask using a recent beta of Mupen64 Plus. But, the two you mentioned only gave me black screens.

    • Ragnar says:

      Yeah, it’s an indication of the sad state of Android gaming that I’d rather use my phone to play turn-based SNES, GBA, PSX, and PSP games that I never got around to or finished than any game designed for Android.

      If you exclude emulators, the best Android games are still almost all PC and console ports.

  10. buschap says:

    Ha! What version of SMB3 is that? Is that a bootleg port to the Genesis? It’s sure not the NES version.

    • notlimahc says:

      That’s id Software’s Super Mario Bros. 3 demo

      • buschap says:

        Thanks. I’d seen it before, but didn’t recognize it at a glance.

  11. Shadow says:

    Since my discovery of emulation around the turn of the century, I’ve delved into NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance, PSX, MAME and Neo Geo (another arcade system). There’s a veritable world of gaming to be accessed through emulators.

  12. Risingson says:

    Discovering emulation was one thing. Having emulation on the PSP was another, and one of the better experiences I’ve had in my life. I could end so many of the spectrum classics then!

  13. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I actually have a gadget for dumping Mega Drive, SNES, Game Boy and N64 cartridges over USB and I’ve used my Wii and PC to make ISOs of my GameCube, Wii and PS2 collections. Emulators are great, especially when it offers things like upscaled resolution and alternative control methods (Rodea the Sky Soldier plays really really well with a mouse and keyboard) and I use it as a way of playing a better version of my games rather than as piracy.

    • Ragnar says:

      Yeah, I was excited to learn that I could play my Wii games on PC and instantly turn them into HD remakes.

      And I love save states. JRPGs prior to PS3 loved placing their save points hours apart, and my life hasn’t accommodated that type of gaming for years. Save states allow me to actually get through those games on my schedule.

  14. Urthman says:

    There are a bunch of games I enjoyed playing through on emulators using quicksaves to get through difficulty spikes that I would have given up on in frustration trying to play on a console.

    And games from the PS1/N64 era benefitted enormously from the emulator’s ability to run them in high resolution. I remember the Spyro games looked gorgeous in an emulator.

    PS1 emulation in particular always felt guilt-free because it was so easy to pick up a cheap legit used copy of an old game and just stick it in your CD-ROM drive.

  15. Brand says:

    I probably wouldn’t be so much into games today if it wasn’t for emulation. Which I only got into because of Sailor Moon. Cause I wanted to try these Sailor Moon games so much. The site I got my Sailor Moon games also had some other games they suggested, like FFIV. And that changed the ballgame for me. I mostly played with the SNES9x and I’ve played a ton of otherwise unavailable JRPGs. Now, I have 700+ Steam games I know I will never get around to playing them all. LOL.

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    Filesharing is not piracy and doesn’t lead to lost sales and I’m not going to stop saying it. (Actual piracy, charging money for other people’s copyrighted work, is stealing. Filesharing is not.)

    In addition to that, as a completely separate argument, emulation and filesharing are also 100% necessary for historical preservation.

    It’s necessary to play games that were never released.

    It’s necessary to play homebrew.

    It’s necessary for many things that are no longer for sale and likely never will be for sale again.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oakreef says:

      people who say 1 pirate copy = 1 lost sale are ridiculous but saying piracy never leads to lost sales is equally ridiculous

      and yes I’m using piracy to mean any copy and distribution without licence not just ones involving financial transactions because that is how the word is used

    • XxBrentos9xX says:

      I have to agree with Oakreef, your argument is absurd based on the fact that you are using an extremely
      vague concept, file sharing, to say it can never be used for piracy purposes. The only differences between your two points is that one involves giving it away for free, and one involves charging for it. While the latter
      may be construed more harshly under the law, developers are still going to lose money if one person steals that source code and puts it all over the internet for any other person to have. The fact of whether or not the person stealing it is charging for other people to use it also has nothing to do with the developers and publishers losing money on customers who no longer need or want to purchase the product, except for those who are extreme fans or want to pay tribute to the company.

      That being said, I agree with everything else you said. Emulators make it possible for games to essentially stay with us forever, regardless of age, and the ability to play the first Zelda game after my sister took my NES is invaluable.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      “Filesharing is not piracy and doesn’t lead to lost sales and I’m not going to stop saying it. (Actual piracy, charging money for other people’s copyrighted work, is stealing. Filesharing is not.)”

      No, all of those things are wrong.

      * It’s not called The Filesharing Bay. That’s not a value judgment on software piracy, God knows I did plenty of it when I was younger, but you can’t redefine words in common use just because you don’t like their connotations.

      * The publishers’ assertion that every single pirated copy is a lost sale is obviously absurd, but it is equally absurd to claim piracy has never ever ever led to a single lost sale. I mean, I can disprove that from my own experience, if we’re being honest, and I bet you can too. I personally suspect that less than 10% of pirated software actually pre-empted a sale, mostly based on a couple of half-remembered articles from indie devs tracking pirate copies of their games, but I’m not going to pretend that makes it a fact.

      • Ragnar says:

        I think it depends on the person. My personal experience is that piracy directly led to sales.

        I used to pirate when I was a kid in college – “Free games? Okay!” – but many, if not most, of the games I didn’t even play. I was collecting them, building a backlog even then, just because I could.

        I can only think of one game I pirated that I probably would have bought: Diablo 3. Though I didn’t even pirate it until after the expansion came out, so who knows.

        My piracy did lead to many sales, however. I pirated Neverwinter Nights and then my friends and I all bought copies to play together. And once I stopped pirating and started supporting developers, and I bought most of the games I had pirated.

        I pirated a couple games two years ago, over a decade after I stopped, because I was really afraid I wouldn’t like them and there was no demo available. Turned out I liked both, so I bought both.

  17. aliksy says:

    Why haven’t nintendo and others been selling emulators on Steam for the past 10 years? Seems like all the technical work is already done, and I’m pretty confident that a portion of the people downloading roms would pay a few bucks to the company. Seems like money left on the table.

    • buschap says:

      Sega is already with the Mega Drive / Genesis collection.

      The Bubsy 2-Fur is using snes9x and ROMs rather than a port.

      But Nintendo wants you to buy their console to get the emulated games they put up on Virtual Console.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Would make sense esp. for consoles they’re no longer selling anyway like Sega does with the mega drive stuuf.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Leaving “money on the table” has been the MO of old Japanese videogame companies for as long as I can remember. SquEnix and Nintendo are the most baffling.

    • Ragnar says:

      Sega has effectively done just that, and I now own a bunch of Genesis games since I never had one growing up.

      Nintendo, on the other hand, wants me to buy their $250 console to then buy their $15 ROM of a 20 year old SNES game. No thanks.

    • Sin Vega says:

      The same reason for most of the industry’s problems for the last 30 years: most of the big players are idiot cowards.

  18. Megazell says:

    Emulators are not part of course work in many schools that have Raspberry Pi programs. These days I mostly mess with Atari 2600 emulators and Sega Genesis Emulators. Everything else is not my cup of tea. I do like what NeoGeo did recently with the Humble Bundle and all of those games are GREAT. It’s helped curb my hunger for emulation of their system since so many of their games are available on Linux/Mac/PC.

  19. Vorig says:

    Emulation has helped me relive my fraught relationship with my dubious past console purchasing decisions. For example, I used to own a 32X (really). Firing up Kega Fusion and playing some ugly Virtua Fighter helps me remember not to spend my hard-earned cash on hyped up hardware releases! The irony of course is that I held onto some of my 32X games long enough for them to be worth more on ebay today than what I paid for the hardware years ago. Thank you universe and collectors!

  20. SlimShanks says:

    Emulation is amazing as a form of archival. And as much as I love old games, having to own a bunch of old consoles to play them would be a real pain in the ass. And I really don’t feel bad about downloading a game I already paid $60 for when it was new way back in the day…
    Anyways, Shadow of the Colossus on PCSX2 with anisotropic filtering, multi-sample AA, and HD resolution just makes the game even more beautiful/incredibly depressing. Highly recommended.

  21. Halk says:

    With that being said:
    Let ZSNES die!
    It’s inaccurate, outdated, obsolete, has a low compatibility and using it is an insult to the developer of higan, who put incredible effort into his emulator.

    • Halk says:

      I meant incredible amount of effort.

      • Risingson says:

        You have a weird crusade with this. Higan is a great project, but is not something that should exclude the “not that accurate but it looks pretty much than the real thing” in zsnes.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        You were actually right the first time, grammatically.

    • Ragnar says:

      I used to use ZSNES because it was the first one I came across, and it was familiar. But there are much better options right now.

      Snes9x, for example, seems better in every way, with a nicer UI, and also offers more accurate emulation.

      Some of the filters available for it make those old games look amazing. I know we’re all nostalgic for and in love with pixels these days, but the xBRz filter that removes pixels all together looks glorious. It transforms those pixels into gorgeous moving paintings.

    • pepperfez says:

      ZSNES also has a collection of hacks that depend on its idiosyncrasies to work, so it’ll always have a place in the emulation canon.

    • Faults says:

      Higan is awesome, but most laypeople who aren’t interested in how particular pieces of hardware function internally are not really going to notice any kind of substantive difference between Higan and ZSNES. Plus, the fact that you can run ZSNES on virtually any old potato of a computer, whereas Higan needs a relatively fast CPU make me think ZSNES will probably be around for a while yet.

      ZSNES still runs almost anything I throw at it, and does so just fine, so until there’s any kind of real reason to switch to Higan, I’ll probably stick with what I’ve got.

  22. golem09 says:

    The crucial point of my emulation career was when I held my copy of Xenoblade in my hands on release day, looked at my Wii…
    and then played the game on my PC in 1080p. Which the (3D) assets almost look like they were built for. Beautiful.

    • laggerific says:

      So true…I purchased the Skyward Sword bundle, with the gold wiimote, then proceeded to play the entire thing on my PC flawlessly. That game in 1080p is only surpassed by Wind Waker (GC) played in 4k.

    • Ragnar says:

      Xenoblade Chronicles looked almost criminally bad on the Wii compared to how it could look emulated on PC. Sure, the 12′ between you and the TV hides a lot of the imperfections, but it felt like a game desperately crying out for more powerful hardware.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        To me, it felt more like a game making amazing use of the piddling power available, and I really like that. I also sometimes miss the characteristic moments in well-made games in which they produce so much awesomeness that they hit the hardware limits and start chugging, so I’m still playing Xenoblade on the Wii, amongst other things…

        Xenoblade is awesome on PC, though, yes. That and Metroid Prime Trilogy are the reasons I smash stacked my Wii (for disk backup and hence PC play). One of these days I’ll get around to redoing some screenshots and making new ones. (Assembled, I only have this so far, which was mashed together from a bunch of photos of the screen — a pain in the butt, but I like the result.)

  23. laggerific says:

    I have enjoyed emulators since the mid to late 90s. In fact, in ’98 I was so obsessed with emulation, and then I had to travel to Europe for 10 weeks, and without consistent internet connections, it was like torture since new things were getting emulated daily.

    At that time, Neo Geo had just started seeing functional emulators…and I had no gaming PC to power through those early releases.

    I loved the early days, like when TMNT finally got emulated, when I could finally play a proper edition of Double Dragon (the nes just couldn’t give me my arcade game fix).

    These days, though, I started regressing a bit to owning a comprehensive retro machine collection and setup, including an awesome 32″ SDTV and all the main 90’s (and some 2000s) consoles (including the best connection types, using SCART on all consoles except for those with native component) that would have made me cry to see all together, when I was a kid.

  24. hemmer says:

    I’ve played emulators a lot, I still do in fact. PSX and even PS2 emulation has come to a point where everything works without much of a hassle and they both have a terrifyingly huge catalogue of amazing games. Especially if you’re into JRPGs which I admittedly am…like a lot.

    • hemmer says:

      To clarify: I own almost everything I play, the only exceptions being things that are just ridiculously expensive by now.

      • Ragnar says:

        I feel morally right playing my PSX and PS2 games on my PC rather than my PS2 or PS3. It’s like listening to MP3s on my phone rather than breaking out the record player.

        Out of print games are a grey area, but personally I view overpriced used games as worse than piracy. Instead of supporting the developer that made the game, you’re supporting a person and/or company that had nothing to do with the game. That doesn’t seem right to me.

  25. BlackMageMario says:

    Used to use SNES9X and others back when I was a Super Mario World hacker. Ah, the days when I tried my hand at making Mario levels, twus a glorious time.

  26. emertonom says:

    I’ve been meaning to download Dolphin again since apparently it’s now got a VR mode for the Vive. That’s got be a great way to replay Skyward Sword.

  27. daphne says:

    The Cult of Kefka.

    Never forget.

    • Faults says:

      Legitimately my favourite site on the internet until this day. That guy introduced me to so many good games. My friend and I basically became obsessed with Squaresoft RPGs back then purely by going through his fantastically curated collection.

  28. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Yes! I got started with NESticle and NLKSNES (the latter could play Super Metroid without sound on a Pentium or something, which was flippin’ amazing at the time), and I mostly played friends’ games through college, but I generally stick to emulating games I own nowadays (hooray for virtual console and disk-based games). Still, there are great games like graphical/aural text adventure “Radical Dreamers” for the Super Famicom’s Satellaview (a satellite modem addon), which have near zero chance of being re-released officially or even purchasable on eBay, which are translated and perfectly playable thanks to emulators and the people behind them and the game translations.

    There is so much great work done on these things, even ignoring all the console-related stuff. ScummVM, DOSBox, and even WINE come to mind as things closer to home on the PC, if you’re willing to extend the definition of “emulator” a bit.

  29. Minsc_N_Boo says:

    I’ve played a lot of emulators, mainly Znes or Snes9x. I didn’t feel bad as I’ve given Nintendo more than enough money, before joining the PC master race.

    I picked up a Raspberry Pi recently, and now with Retropie and a lot of tinkering I have gotten a lot of MAME games working. I finally managed to beat Turtles & Simpsons arcade, along with Sunset Riders, and about 10 different iterations of Street Fighter 2.