Emulators have finally arrived on Steam - and they've landed on Valve's storefront with a bang. This week, developers Geod Studios brought their long-running NES emulator 3DSen PC to Steam. The twist? This virtual console turns old-school pixel pushers - whether they're modern homebrew throwbacks or legitimately-acquired Marios - into adorable, fully-playable 3D dioramas.
It'll work well enough for a demonstration, but 3DSen's store page reckons the following trailer "doesn't do it justice". Have a little confidence, eh?
Over the past five years, developers Geod have been bashing away at their somewhat unique emulator. Not content with simply getting games running on virtual NES hardware, 3DSen PC extrudes a whole third dimension from any given game - whether it's a console classic from back in the day, or a more modern homebrew attempt.
The extent of the 3D "upgrade" seems to vary from game to game, mind. Only a select list of games fully support fancy features like modelled characters, lighting and shadows, dynamic skyboxes and full camera controls. By the time it launches in 1.0 later this year, Geod hope to have added first-person views and different rendering modes to that list.
'Course, it'll pay to see how long 3DSen remains on Steam as a paid product. Nintendo are notoriously touchy over emulation, shutting down that neat Super Mario 64 PC port only last month. Emulators aren't illegal, but they're also rarely sold in such a professional manner - and while the devs are careful not to feature officially licensed SNES games in their trailers, this is very much still an avenue one could use to play their ill-gotten Marios outside of Ninty's ecosystem.
But emulation on Steam is about to become a whole lot more commonplace, it seems. While 3DSen beat it to the punch, Libretro this week listed their open-source emulator front-end RetroArch on Steam - bringing support for a whole range of ancient console and handheld emulation to the platform later this year.
3DSen PC is available on Steam Early Access for £6.47/€7.37/$8.99. If you like your pixels strapped to your face, there's also a VR edition on Steam going for the slightly higher price of £15.49/€16.79/$19.99.