Retro Emulation

By: David Seaman

Published: October 3, 2009 Posted in: PC Gaming Nonsense

I’d already been thinking about making this week’s post about emulators, and then I looked on AOL – only to find that it was promoting a new (well I think it’s new), javascript NES emulator.  This little beauty is preloaded (well, you know what I mean) with 17 classic NES games – Bubble Bobble, Contra, Donkey Kong, Mario etc – a good selection of games with more to come (I presume). Click here to try out Ben Firshman’s JavaScript NES Emulator.   (It’s recommended to run in Chrome… I don’t really like that browser so ran it in Firefox… just to warn you, it seems a little unstable in FireFox right now.)  The NES wasn’t a system I ever owned so this will be more my wife’s sort of thing, but the possibilities for nostalgic revisits of games you used to love are endless.  For instance…


Did you own an Atari ST in years gone by?  Then you’ll want to download the STEEM Engine.  This emulates a range of the Motorola 68000 based machines, and gives a near perfect emulation of the 16-bit computer.  Of course you can opt to run CPU-intensive functions (depacking, mainly) at the maximum speed possible on your computer rather than wait for it to do things at the old speed.  I wrote a profile of the STEEM Engine emulator in issue 3 of RetroAction if you want more information.  For most people, however, the thought of playing the likes of Kick Off 2, Populous, Defender of the Crown and the like again will be enough to get that download link clicked. Still trying to find Mega-Lo-Mania…

Shadow of the  Beast  Atari  S T  S T E E M  Engine  Emulator:


Of course the Speccy is still a much-loved machine despite its dodgy rubber keyboard (okay, not all models had that) and the unique graphical mess called colour clash.  ZX Spin can help you relive the glory days of the 8-bit machine.  Ever wanted to play Feud again?  Since many attempts have been made to remake this game and recapture the simple brilliance of this game have been made but none, to my knowledge, have been successful, replaying the original is by far the best available option!  Some of the old Speccy games still play brilliantly today, even if they don’t look or sound very polished by today’s standards.


If the C16 was your computer, then you’ll want the YAPE emulator.  This can emulate the C16 and a few other machines – since I owned a C16 way back, that’s the one I’m interested in.  Bandits at Zero is still an extremely playable game, and Timeslip is still impenetrable…  You might have owned a C64 instead, of course, far more of those sold than the humble C16… so you’ll want to check out the C64 Forever emulator - 2 versions, one free, another with extra features paid for. (After a quick look at this the limitations on the free version are slightly annoying, but not too difficult to put up with. It’s only $19.95 if you want the full unlimited version.)


Of course you’ll also need to find the games to download if, like me, you haven’t kept your original copies (I know there are people who’ve kept their ancient machines and games in the attic for more than a decade, but I suspect they’re in the minority!).  Here are some suggestions:



One weird side-effect of all these emulators (the ones I’ve mentioned are only a small smattering of what’s available, and I’ve only mentioned a few of the platforms that have been emulated on the PC) is that it’s easy for hobbyist programmers to actually create new games for their chosen platform.  I blogged about a recent release for the ZX Spectruma while ago, but there are hundreds of games coming out for old systems.  Ironically the more modern systems advance technologically, the more people try to emulate retro machines.  I even thought of doing one… but Commodore Basic drove me round the bend, so I didn’t get very far.  Fortunately for retro gaming fans, there are many people out there who are far more talented and patient than I am!

David Seaman