el_pollo_diablo's EG Emulation Group for MOAR.|
Big subject this, but I'm not one to shy away from anything much, so armed with balls of steel and a tentative grip on the English language I bring you another in my series of shonky guides for beginners.
Emulation for the PC in 3 easy steps *
The PC is easily the best piece of kit for emulation, through sheer number crunching brute force and a dash of slick coding it can disguise itself as anything from a teeny weeny Pokemon Mini to the slightly less diminutive Xbox. the Emulation scene is vast, with everything imaginable and more on offer. Obviously this is me that's writing this, and I can't be arsed to create myself more work than I have to, so I'll just cover the basics and try and show you some of the odder sights along the way. Okay? Okay.
Before I lead you by the hand through the finer points of playing games you haven't paid for, I'll slap a disclaimer in to appease Lutz: Emulators are perfectly legal piece of software, it's the games you'll be playing on them that aren't so I'll avoid all reference to the thousands of ROM and bittorrent sites that pepper the net and yap about the ways to play instead. They're all out there with a mere tinkle of google after all.
Emulators come in various types, the simplest of which is an executable file and a rom directory, put a rom in the directory, select it in the exe and play. No problem. Where it begins to get complicated is for the more recent systems such as the PSone or the N64. You'll find you have plugins which cover everything from controllers, graphics, sounds, image mounters, etc. I'll try to cover each of these as I cover the emulator in question. Suffice it to say, it's normally down to a little effort tweaking different options for 10 minutes and once it's done, you needn't bother messing about with it anymore. Emulators that use plugins are not really the best solution, they bottleneck the emulation process where a complete program should ideally run games as they were intended.
Another big boon to accurate emulation is the speed of your computers processor. Take into account that console X should run at speed Y, you'd need to have a computer at least triple the speed of the consoles to get close. With more recent consoles, this poses an obvious problem that only time will solve.
Another necessary evil are bios. As with your PC, your console needs a basic operating instruction to start loading a game. These bios aren't normally included when you download an emulator, so need to be leeched from the original hardware. Some scallywags are said to have put them up on the net though. Disgusting.
Only one way to start this, really. The daddy of all emulators, it's practically a household name up there with the likes of Hoover and Sellotape. MAME, Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, started life 10 years ago when a young programmer named Nicola Salmoria began working on single hardware emulators. Eventually merging them together to create what has to be the best emulator of all time.
Now with a vast team of coders, MAME boasts support for 6147 games spanning dozens of arcade systems, has up to 5 incremental updates per month and comes in more shapes, flavours and forms than any other emulator. Admittedly not all of those games are supported, but it's only a scant matter of time and the list grows with each of those frequent updates. At this time, the official version stands at 0.105b.
Of course, the best version is the original, but for those of you not so comfortable piddling about with command line operation, there's always MAME Plus! which is updated just as frequently (although usually a week behind) and has all the usual options available with a click of a mouse.
Some of the games such as the require a BIOS to successfully emulate hardware such as ST-V and NeoGeo, they can all be found here should you need them.
The most loved set of consoles have a big following on the emulation circuit and unsurprisingly are some of the best emulated around. They are many and varied, but I'm not about to start from the bottom up, I'll just give you the ones that are essential instead.
Only two spring instantly to mind, [link=">ZSNES and Project64 and Gens and Cassini which is considered by most to be a complete rip off of Giri Giri, not even bothering to change the file icons. In fact the only difference I can see between the two is a few filename changes and the "programmers" responsible have been ripped appart from every angle. Their forum is still awash with fans of the original Giri Giri trolling about, looking for a fight. Anyway, the war wages on. I've actually found the easiest version of Cassini to use isn't the one on the site (which is frankly complete shit), but the Chankast is about the best one at the moment, sadly the project has been on "hold" for about 18 months (dead as a coffin nail to you and I), but it's very playable if you've got the power to throw at it. You'll need to sap the dc_bios.bin off your DC and pop it in the dir before you can play.
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