Archive for the 'Emulation' Category

Internet Archive's Historical Software Collection is the Best Thing That Has Ever Happened to Software Preservation

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Internet Archive Historical Software Collection

Three cheers for Jason Scott and his push to create a JavaScript-based port of the MESS emulator platform. The result, the Internet Archive's Historical Software Collection, is nothing short of brilliant.

The collection puts dozens of vintage computer games and applications at your fingertips by allowing you to run them, emulated, from a browser window. It's a huge step forward for preserving the heritage of our software culture. Here, ease-of-access is key.

I've been horribly remiss by not mentioning this earlier — but better late than never for something this important.

Kotaku's Emulation Fear Mongering

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Ouya Console

Over at Kotaku, Tina Amini recently wrote a piece titled "Ouya Tries To Dispel Fears That The Console's Nintendo Emulators Will Promote Piracy." It's not a good piece.

First of all, the author isn't clear whose fears Ouya is trying to dispel. By my reading, it is only the author herself who "fears" what may happen if Ouya allows Nintendo emulators on its console, and only because she wants to drum up controversy for a blog post. Fear mongering bullshit.

Tina, don't use fear over emulation or piracy as your traffic-boosting media pawn. It doesn't help anybody.

Emulation isn't the enemy. Piracy isn't even the enemy. They're bogeymen that help preserve a system where media companies overcharge and re-charge for their works over and over and over again. (I'm talking all media here, not just video games.)

The never-ending war against piracy isn't a war against pirates. It's a war against consumers. The content industry has dressed it up to look like a battle of good vs. evil when it's really just a battle to keep your wallet pried open while dollars pour out.

That war has real casualties for everyone that are far worse than piracy: things like consumers' fair-use rights over products they have rightfully purchased or licensed, free speech, security research, and our historical legacy.

Piracy, if left completely unchecked, would definitely hurt publishers. But it's not unchecked. It's illegal.

Let people do what they want with open platforms. Let the law be the law, and let the people decide if it's in their best interest to respect it or break it.

You could always put people in straitjacket if you didn't want them to break any laws, but it wouldn't allow them to be free, would it?

DRM is a digital straitjacket, and a "walled garden" is a fancy name for a comfortable prison. If a company like Ouya is brave enough to let their console be used for whatever purpose, that should be commended, not discouraged.

P.S. Fix the DMCA

Virtual Console Makes Nintendo Look Incompetent

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Wii U Virual Console

In light of the news that Virtual Console games on the Wii U won't be able to use save files from the Wii's Virtual Console, I would like to point something out.

Just today, I found a NES save file for The Legend of Zelda dated May 28th, 1998 (created by legendary NES emulator Nesticle) and continued that saved game in Nestopia in the year 2013.

I did it to spite Nintendo, because this is ridiculous.

That emulator save file originated on a PC I owned 15 years ago, and it resided on a long-since-decommissioned hard drive. Now it's saved to a SSD in a computer a bajillion times more powerful, with a different emulator, and it still works.

[ Continue reading Virtual Console Makes Nintendo Look Incompetent » ]

Fashion Model Seeks Freelance ROM Hacker

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Cory Holtz - Legendary Wings

Before we go any further, I must clarify that I am not making this up.

I recently received an interesting message on Myspace from one Cory Holtz, a male actor and model. His question dealt with Legendary Wings. Specifically, he's looking for someone to hack the game for him:

Hello Vintage,

I am so happy to see that hacking is at it's best with you guy. I am looking to hire someone for a freelance gig to hack and edit one of my favorite childhood NES games "Legendary Wings". It's a vertical shooting game and should be fairly easy to program. I'm just a pro at the game and would love a more difficult version, more guns, and extra levels. Please let me know if you would be interested with this freelance gig.

Can't wait to hear from you!
Best,
Cory Holtz

[ Continue reading Fashion Model Seeks Freelance ROM Hacker » ]

Buying Real Copies of Wii Virtual Console Games…Ouch!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Wii Virtual Console Prices[ This is JJ Hendricks' first contribution to VC&G. He is the author of the Video Game Price Charts Blog, which analyzes and charts video game prices. Additional contributions and layout by Benj. ]

Since the Nintendo Wii's release in November 2006, the Virtual Console service has been one of its most popular features. Yet almost instantly after its launch, people began complaining about how much VC games cost. The most common argument against the VC pricing scheme (aside from the illegal emulator option) is the presumed "low price" of the original games if you bought them used. But how much would it really cost to buy physical copies of all the Virtual Console games? Is Nintendo's retro service a good deal, or are you getting ripped off?

NESBy analyzing the current market prices of every game offered on the Virtual Console service, I've come up with an answer. In the charts below, you'll find an exhaustive price breakdown that compares the current market value of real cartridges to the cost of their VC counterparts. The prices for the cartridges themselves were determined by using the daily updated prices at VideoGamePriceCharts.com from January 24th, 2008, which, in turn, are taken from multiple sources, including recent eBay auction results, Amazon.com, and Half.com. All prices are in US Dollars.

[ Continue reading Buying Real Copies of Wii Virtual Console Games…Ouch! » ]

The PowerPak NES Flash Cartridge

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

NES PowerPak Flash CartridgeFor a Nintendo Entertainment System fan, it's a once-impossible dream finally come true: a thousand games at your fingertips in a real NES console. RetroZone has done it first with the PowerPak, a new NES flash cartridge. With the PowerPak, you can fit every NES game ever made, around the world, onto one cartridge. Dumped ROM images of the games are copied to a compact flash card, which slides into the PowerPak unit itself. Turn on the NES with the PowerPak cart inserted, and you'll see an on-screen menu that lists all the games on the cart. Pick one from the list, you'll be playing the game as if you had the game's original cartridge in the console. With a flash multicart like the PowerPak, NES users no longer need to switch cartridges between games. As an owner of over 250 NES games, I personally have been looking for a product like this for a long time.

Perhaps even more exciting is the PowerPak's potential to jumpstart homebrew development in the NES community. Unlike the Atari 2600, Nintendo's most famous console is woefully lacking amateur home-programmed software. RetroZone is out to change that with their new PowerPak products, which significantly lower the barriers to entry in developing games for play on a real NES unit.

[ Continue reading The PowerPak NES Flash Cartridge » ]

A Long, Strange Trip Comes to an End

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Benj Finishes EarthboundJust a few hours ago, I completed an epic journey that I began over ten years before.

I finally finished the game EarthBound for the Super Nintendo.

I know, I know. Usually, completing a game is no big deal, and most people probably finish EarthBound in the span of a week. But in this particular case, the accomplishment meant something much more to me. I began playing the game in 1996 when I first acquired my copy of EarthBound used from a local Blockbuster store (a video rental chain in the US). I have slowly played through the same saved game a little bit at a time, usually about once every year. There might have been a period or two over the last decade where I didn't play it for a few years straight, which would partially explain why it has taken so long. Picking up the game again every year was always a challenge because I'd have to spend hours just reacquainting myself with what was going on in the game's storyline at the point of my last save, and I'd also have to figure out what to do next. Sometimes, I'd get too overwhelmed and just give up figuring it out…and promptly put off the task until the next time I picked up the cart.

Benj Finishes EarthboundWell, just this month, I felt my yearly EarthBound cravings coming on again (they usually hit sometime during the first two months of the year), so I pulled out the 'ole SNES and fired it up. This time would be different, though: I dedicated myself to finally seeing the game through — all the way to the bitter end! 2007, I figure, is a good enough year to finish a game that came out in 1995. I'm usually a traditionalist about these things, but my original SNES wasn't feeling quite right on my fancy new TV, so I figured I'd put a little modern technology on my side to aid me in my quest.

I've recently been playing a number of SNES games on an old iMac that I have more or less turned into a dedicated SNES emulator machine. I thought it would be nice, for a change of pace, to play EarthBound on there. Using my Super WildCard DX2, I transferred my EarthBound cart's SRAM data to a file (which contains all the game's save information) and Benj Finishes Earthboundloaded it up on my emulator. I played through the rest of the same game I started in 1996 on the emulator with an authentic SNES pad (via a Super SmartJoy USB adapter, which I've been meaning to review for a year or so now). I'm not going to lie to you; save states are the Emulator God's gift to gaming, and without them, I probably would have completed a few bosses as usual and put off finishing the game until next year. The save states made playing through the game an absolute joy over the past few days, removing all sorts of time-wasting save-related hassles and just generally smoothing out the experience. Screw the purists — it was incredible fun, not a logistical pain in the neck, like playing a game should be.

Now that the journey is over, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. In one way, I'm ecstatically happy to have finally accomplished something by playing my way through such a masterful game, and in another way, I'm heartbroken that it's over, as EarthBound is probably one of my favorites of all time. But if it's one of my favorite games ever, why did it take me ten years to complete?

Maybe I'm just weird like that. Or maybe I didn't want it to end.

Benj Finishes Earthbound

Hacksterpiece Theatre: Luigi vs. Mario (Mario Adventure 2)

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

VC&G's Hacksterpiece Theatre[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]

Ever since DahrkDaiz released Mario Adventure over two years ago, fans of the NES hack masterpiece have been ravenously hungry for a sequel. After my coverage of Mario Adventure earlier this year brought the hack back into the public eye, DD and I planned a full-scale release of Mario Adventure 2 on VC&G when it was complete. He sent me a demo version back in March, and as much as I wanted to show it off, I decided to hold off until DD completed the project. Unfortunately, that hold became indefinite as DahrkDaiz abandoned work on Mario Adventure 2 over six months ago and has since moved on to other things. It seemed that the sequel that everyone was waiting for would never see the light of day.

Luigi vs. Mario Title ScreenFast forward to this month: fans of his work have been so persistent in pestering Mr. Daiz about when Mario Adventure 2 would come out that he finally publicly released the incomplete version last week on Acmlm's Board. Now that the cat's out of the bag, I guess it's safe to take a look at DahrkDaiz's masterful, but incomplete sequel to the beloved Mario Adventure.

But wait a minute: Where did all this "Luigi vs. Mario" business come from?

Identity Crisis

Luigi vs. Mario Panda SuitSome of you may be confused by the names I'm throwing around here. The hack featured in this article started out as "Luigi vs. Mario," but at some point DahrkDaiz decided to use it as the basis of Mario Adventure 2 (likely after seeing the incredible explosion of popularity caused by VC&G's article on Mario Adventure). From that point on, the hack had an instant identity crisis, because the main concept of Luigi vs. Mario was to have two complete games in parallel — a quest for Mario, and a separate quest for Luigi. That plot wasn't necessarily appropriate for a sequel to Mario Adventure, so DahrkDaiz began to change various aspects of Luigi vs. Mario to fit its new Mario Adventure 2 title. Luigi vs. Mario is an incredible feat of programming with tons of new features, and ironically, it might have been the incredible depth and ambition of those very features — and the confusion that resulted when he tried to force Luigi vs. Mario into the mold of Mario Adventure 2 — that made DahrkDaiz abandon it earlier this year.

Panda Suit, Anyone?

Luigi vs. Mario Mouser SuitThere are so many incredible new features, power-ups, levels, and elements in Luigi vs. Mario that I'm not quite sure where to begin. Personal highlights for me include the new Mouser and Panda suits. With the Mouser suit, you can throw Bob-ombs, ala Mouser in Super Mario Bros. 2, and with the Panda suit, you can walk upside down on the ceiling in some areas! It's really absolutely stunning what DahrkDaiz has managed to cram into this hack. Due to the incredible complexity and depth of this hack's new changes and addition, the game is probably best explained by the author himself. At the bottom of this article, I've reproduced the manual that DahrkDaiz created in HTML for Mario Adventure 2 / Luigi vs. Mario, which he sent me back in March 2006. I've edited it some and cleaned it up a lot, but otherwise the text remains all his. For now, though, you should get the hack and see it for yourself.

[ Continue reading Hacksterpiece Theatre: Luigi vs. Mario (Mario Adventure 2) » ]

VC&G Review: Console Classix, The GameTap Alternative

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Console ClassixImagine if I told you that there was a legal alternative to GameTap that nearly nobody knows about, costs half as much as GameTap (yet is partly free), and beat GameTap to market by at least three years. Well, I guess that was a dumb way to start this, because you don't have to imagine — I'm actually telling you: such a service exists, and it's called Console Classix.

Console Classix Client SoftwareConsole Classix could best be described as "the world's first online video game rental service." Its creators have found an ingenious way to circumvent all the usual legal hassles associated with providing classic games for legal play over the Internet and on your home computer. How did they manage this incredible feat, you ask? Well, they take advantage of a loophole in copyright law that all movie and video game rental stores use: it's legal to lend a legally obtained (i.e. bought) copy of a movie or game to someone else, as long as you don't transmit or distribute new copies of said movie/game to others. By extension, Console Classix dumps the ROM data from unique copies of games it physically owns on a one-to-one basis and lends out the cartridges in digital form to users of the service. When a user plays a game through the Console Classix service, that copy of the game is "checked out" and no one else can play it while the first customer is using it. However, if Console Classix owns more copies of the game, other customers may play the same game until all the copies are occupied. It's just like a video game rental store, but in digital form.

[ Continue reading VC&G Review: Console Classix, The GameTap Alternative » ]

VC&G Interview: Aaron Ethridge, President of Console Classix

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Aaron EthridgeFor those of you who don't know, Console Classix (CC) is an online video game "rental service" of sorts that focuses on classic games. It beat GameTap to the punch by a number of years, and yet still remains relatively obscure. To go along with my VC&G review of that service, I recently conducted an interview with Console Classix's President and co-founder, Aaron Ethridge, via email. He was generous in answering the many questions I posed to him, and I find his responses honest and fascinating. The following interview is long, but if you're interested at all in CC, it's well worth the read. His answers were edited for spelling, structure, and minor typos only; everything else is as he wrote it.

[ Continue reading VC&G Interview: Aaron Ethridge, President of Console Classix » ]