If you've ever stood in front of a stand in WH Smith and scratched your head over whether or not to buy a GameBoy game, you're not alone. Beyond magazine reviews, there is no way to check out a game before you buy it, other than downloading an emulator and 'warezing' the game's ROM image from a dodgy website. Not any longer, say Simon & Schuster, who are now proudly offering their latest title for download, or at least the first level of it, in ROM image form, alongside a GameBoy emulator. The question is, does this sort of move encourage piracy of GameBoy games, and what right does Simon & Schuster have to do this? The ROM works just great on their emulator, and we can confirm that so does just about every ROM we could track down via popular search engines MetaCrawler and Google. The emulator is called "Virtual Gameboy" and can clearly be used for running illegally obtained copies of Nintendo games, yet S&S have no qualms about offering a direct link to it and encouraging you to use it. Fair enough this is a legitimate use of the system, but how far away from this is offering someone a car with no tyres and hiding the keys to the local Kwik-Fit under the passenger seat? People will find out, and will take advantage. On the other hand though, this is an interesting experiment. Will the game's sales be noticeably larger because of the free one-level demo, or will they suffer because people download the ROM, enjoy it and download the full version from a slightly more nefarious outfit? It could open the doors for more interesting possibilities, like web-based demos of GameBoy games. Something along the lines of the WildTangent setup would work perfectly.
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