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Which systems to buy or emulate?

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I am a huge fan of flash carts and modchips. They make classic gaming so much better in the face of insane game prices.

 

My point exactly. :)

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Like the OP mentioned getting all the hardware and flashcarts is not practical for most people. The OP didn't ask about Intellivision but I've only noticed one minor glitch with only one game emulating with jzintv. And that glitch doesn't effect gameplay. Intellivision controllers and usb adaptors are easy to get.

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Looks like I'm the one to post the unpopular opinion.

 

I really despise emulation, it is almost never 100% accurate. ROMs are not functional games until they are executed. Realizing that, shouldn't the most important factor be the "executing" part? That's why I am pro-original hardware and the occasional clone hardware (single chip type varieties, not software emulators).

 

I am however not against ROMs. As stated above, a ROM is just a set of instructions. As long as the ROM is not damaged, it will be played as the correct game if used on accurate hardware. The container of the ROM is completely meaningless, be it a cartridge or digital file. I am a huge fan of flash carts and modchips. They make classic gaming so much better in the face of insane game prices.

 

Right. It is true that emulation isn't exactly precisely 100% accurate, but it comes very close. Sound is usually very good and gameplay is usually spot on. Inaccuracies usually involve the synthesized image. And that is often related to the type of display device, the LCD. Devoid of artifacts and distortions, the image looks too pure and harsh. Some emulators can be tweaked to come closer to the CRT displays we had back in the day - and surprisingly the result is like having a modded console.

 

Some emulators work hard to distort and downgrade their image.

Some consoles have mods that work hard to improve their image.

 

The two contestants meet in the middle. And while they may not overlap perfectly, it's just a flavor of presentation.

 

The mass population seems to prefer modern emulation (as showcased in flashbacks and mini consoles). Well I'll be damned! Emulation is popular enough to invade the modern retail chain. And that's no small feat. And consumers prefer it because of the convenience and reliability and speed-of-access. I would even suspect the small size and space savings are important factors too. Though small size = cute.

 

---

 

Regarding roms. Roms are not functional till executed. Cartridges are not functional till power is applied and their program executed. It's just a container. Whether it be a ROM chip in a plastic box or a file on SD/HDD.

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'Course for turbo CD games you'd have to burn (or buy them)... but again you can just turn to emulators if you don't feel like going down that path. It's funny because at this point people like to "take sides" and think it's either one or the other.. real vs. emus. I say have it all and game on man :)

 

People have to take sides, because, emulation is constantly looked down upon as unacceptable and inferior by a vocal minority. Thankfully that gang is dwindling in size through attrition, frustration, and other reasons. The new crowd of gamers is more open to the superior experience afforded by emulation.

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Right. It is true that emulation isn't exactly precisely 100% accurate, but it comes very close. Sound is usually very good and gameplay is usually spot on. Inaccuracies usually involve the synthesized image. And that is often related to the type of display device, the LCD. Devoid of artifacts and distortions, the image looks too pure and harsh. Some emulators can be tweaked to come closer to the CRT displays we had back in the day - and surprisingly the result is like having a modded console.

 

Some emulators work hard to distort and downgrade their image.

Some consoles have mods that work hard to improve their image.

 

The two contestants meet in the middle. And while they may not overlap perfectly, it's just a flavor of presentation.

 

The mass population seems to prefer modern emulation (as showcased in flashbacks and mini consoles). Well I'll be damned! Emulation is popular enough to invade the modern retail chain. And that's no small feat. And consumers prefer it because of the convenience and reliability and speed-of-access. I would even suspect the small size and space savings are important factors too. Though small size = cute.

 

---

 

Regarding roms. Roms are not functional till executed. Cartridges are not functional till power is applied and their program executed. It's just a container. Whether it be a ROM chip in a plastic box or a file on SD/HDD.

 

I am willing to trade a little convenience for full accuracy. Granted, sticking with original hardware does depend heavily on keeping CRTs around, but I'm not a TV snob, my only TVs are CRTs. I don't believe in today's HD nonsense.

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"Superior" = highly debatable of course. but ok there are some obvious answers to the original question. I don't think anyone but a purist would say you should buy a Supergrafx vs. just emulating it. That is one console that it probably just makes sense to stick to emulating :lol:

 

But what about a turbografx.. or heck, the NES which is the friggin most emulated console around (didn't someone even emulate it on a Nikon Camera?) So, just thinking of all the various ways to play the NES library at least here in my household off the top of my head:

 

1. PC-based Emulators (various)

2. Xbox console (on tv)

3. Wii Console (on tv)

4. PSP emulator

5. Nintendo DS emulator (on flashcart)

6. Raspberry Pi (Retropie emulator in a "barcade")

7. IOS emulator on a jailbroken ipad/iphone (not sure if it works anymore.. been a while)

8. NES Classic (ok.. not gotten yet. But hopefully soon!) :P

 

I take no sides..and despite the stereotype, as someone who's been into the emulation scene since the mid 90's, there is zero frustration here, nor do think they're "inferior'. but yeah experiencing all them in depth, I still will honestly say I'd rather play a real NES (with an Everdrive ;)) on a CRT tv than those any given day since it 100% "feels right" to me.. Just saying! Why map your xbox analog sticks to play NES Crazy Climber when you can just press the button on your NES, flip your two NES pads vertically, and get to playing immediately, the way it was designed to be.

 

But to answer the original question.. I'll say it again: Emulate everything. But man if you like a console and you're a real fan of it, you know it as much as I do it's so much better to get the real thing, and play it. ;)

Edited by NE146
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Let me go back rephrase part of this:

People have to take sides, because, emulation is constantly looked down upon as unacceptable and inferior by a vocal minority. Thankfully that gang is dwindling in size through attrition, frustration, and other reasons. The new crowd of gamers is more open to the superior experience afforded by emulation.

 

The new crowd of gamers is more open to the superior experience afforded by emulation and how well it integrates into their newer purchases. Namely the HD sets of today.

 

They aren't nonsense, they've been a standard for quite some time now. And everybody wants them.

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Popularity isn't much of an argument for quality. Think McDonalds and Wal-Mart.

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elections as well lol

 

what always amuses me is the purist stating THE ONLY WAY IS TO PLAY ON A REAL MACHINE OR ELSE ITS NOT 100% ACCURATE

 

accurate to what, you special snowflake of a NES from 1987? here's the deal bub, digital doesnt change over time, but analog output does, your 1987 NES is NOT the same NES today, nor is your 1987 NES the same as a 1987 NES made 6 weeks later or before

 

with analog output threre's component tolerances that change from part to part * how many million did they make * how many billion lots were produced of said component with a +-25% tolerance? did your local power station run at 58.9Hz 20 something years ago and today its at 61.2? how much has all the output filter caps drifted from original values after tens of thousands of hours?

 

now I will admit there's some pretty bad emulation going on here and there, but all in all its pretty durn accurate since a lot of it has matured over the last 15-20 years, and its not going to runin the game for me if your NES displays red as 255,16,32 and my emulator does 255,0,0 ... or your nes plays A-440 at 443hz and my emulator does 440 on the dot

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Eh, even the amazing Stella emulator is not perfect. That's why new editions keep coming out.

 

And no emulator is going to give you the physical experience of using the hardware. So I can understand when folks balk at emulation.

 

But, most of us don't have the time or money to own and care for every system we might ever play, so we have to figure out where to draw the line. For me, it's pre-crash consoles and computers, and only those that I enjoy using enough to justify owning them. I emulate the rest, and put up with the deficiencies because they're outweighed by the benefits in my case.

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Eh, even the amazing Stella emulator is not perfect. That's why new editions keep coming out.

 

A TIA rewrite is undergoing R&D for Stella. That's major considering how few chips are in the system, and how integral this one is to timing. In the meantime the current version plays all my favorite games from back in the day with seemingly perfect accuracy as it stands now. What more could one want?

 

And no emulator is going to give you the physical experience of using the hardware. So I can understand when folks balk at emulation.

 

It's going to be a different experience. Anyways, I always wanted an all-in-one console or machine that could play ALL my videogames. How else would one achieve that goal without emulation? I know that's not exactly your point, but humor me.

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It's going to be a different experience. Anyways, I always wanted an all-in-one console or machine that could play ALL my videogames. How else would one achieve that goal without emulation? I know that's not exactly your point, but humor me.

 

That's cool that you're able to achieve something you've always dreamed of. For me, it was being able to play the actual arcade games at home. There's no way I could own all the arcade cabinets I'd ever want to play, but with emulation and good controllers I can get really, really close to that. So I can definitely see where you're coming from.

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I clearly recall baggie-chasing the home ports of my fav arcade games. This means I'd get like the Atari 800, C64, Apple II, and Colecovision ports of say, like, Zaxxon, or Gyruss. And I always wondered why there wasn't a home port of Assault or I'Robot.

 

And while ports were good in their own right, they never were the arcade versions. I always wondered why a COMPUTER couldn't handle some dumb old game..?? Emulation came up from behind and used magical unorthodox methods to switch-change that around.

 

I made a list of my fav arcade cabs and it only took a couple of years for everything to get emulated in mame. I wonder how Nicola got the idea for mame in the first place?

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I made a list of my fav arcade cabs and it only took a couple of years for everything to get emulated in mame. I wonder how Nicola got the idea for mame in the first place?

 

I remember it started out as a dedicated Pacman emulator (I think it was called "Pac-em"?) and then it gradually kept building until they announced a name change and an onslaught of supported games. Then it never stopped. :lol:

 

I remember when the Pacman emulator came, while I'd read about it I pretty much ignored it since there were a number of other arcade emulators around that each had a number of games playable, including Pacman in them. But now that you bring it up.. I realize have completely forgotten about all those old emulators during the whole golden age when it was new and exciting. What the heck were the names? Are they even still around? I just barely remember their interfaces.. some had real nice DOS looking gui's. Oh wait! (sorry... stream of thought typing here).. I remember one now. "Sparcade". That was a pretty cool one. Maybe it'd be interesting to pull out a bunch of those abandoned mid 90's emulators again. Or not.

Edited by NE146
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Maybe it'd be interesting to pull out a bunch of those abandoned mid 90's emulators again. Or not.

 

Not necessarily, not yet. Currently the only thing I'd find nostalgic is the user interfaces.

 

Some names:

PCAE

DASarcade

ColEmWin

Raine

Bleem!

Mike Cuddy's Gyruss sound emulator

Dave's Videogame Classics

Moose's Domain

XL-IT

Nesticle

Genecyst

Callus

Digital Eclipse

KEM

Impact

VEctor1

Fen's Ende Software

Rage

Ultra64

Microsoft Arcade

Atari VCS Activision Action Packs

Jrok's Arcade Simulator JAS

Retrocade

TRS32

Z26

Digital Arcade

Satourne

Kat5200

Vector Dream

Sparcade

Rainbow

ColEmDos

X64

Zsnes

kailera

ledhead

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Retroemulation?

 

Would you prefer running old emulators on original '90s PC hardware or in a virtual machine?

:-D

 

I recall that some of the first emulators were targeted toward the faster 386SX machines. The simple games like Amidar, Frogger, Galaxian.. And some of those dot-eaters too.. And they worked at full speed because the APIs weren't yet bloated like today.

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I know when I started getting into emulation was in the mid 90's and I was using dos and a 90mhz pentium, and that was my emulation laptop for many years, able to handle even later SNES and genesis titles

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elections as well lol

 

what always amuses me is the purist stating THE ONLY WAY IS TO PLAY ON A REAL MACHINE OR ELSE ITS NOT 100% ACCURATE

 

accurate to what, you special snowflake of a NES from 1987? here's the deal bub, digital doesnt change over time, but analog output does, your 1987 NES is NOT the same NES today, nor is your 1987 NES the same as a 1987 NES made 6 weeks later or before

 

with analog output threre's component tolerances that change from part to part * how many million did they make * how many billion lots were produced of said component with a +-25% tolerance? did your local power station run at 58.9Hz 20 something years ago and today its at 61.2? how much has all the output filter caps drifted from original values after tens of thousands of hours?

 

now I will admit there's some pretty bad emulation going on here and there, but all in all its pretty durn accurate since a lot of it has matured over the last 15-20 years, and its not going to runin the game for me if your NES displays red as 255,16,32 and my emulator does 255,0,0 ... or your nes plays A-440 at 443hz and my emulator does 440 on the dot

 

Accurate to the original hardware the games were designed for? In the case of the NES, a real 2A03 CPU and real 2C02 PPU. The analog side of the NES cannot degrade the quality of the core digital functions of the console. An original NES will play an NES game perfectly because it has the true CPU and PPU the game was coded for.

 

Single chip clones that integrate the CPU and PPU in an ASIC can also perfectly play NES games. That said, just like the original hardware, the superficial quality can vary. FPGA based clones like the RetroUSB AVS are much the same.

 

Software emulators instruct an incompatible CPU to act like a different one. This conversion works precisely like a weighted scale. The more accuracy you want, the slower the framerate will be. Ever heard of the DICE emulator? It runs Pong with perfect transistor-level accuracy and requires an insanely overpowered PC to run at full speed.

 

Please read this article before mindlessly bashing real hardware purists.

 

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/08/accuracy-takes-power-one-mans-3ghz-quest-to-build-a-perfect-snes-emulator/

 

Because a game ROM is not playable unless it is executed by the hardware it was written for, isn't it logical to conclude that the hardware is what matters most?

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The analog side of the NES cannot degrade the quality of the core digital functions of the console. An original NES will play an NES game perfectly because it has the true CPU and PPU the game was coded for.

 

 

last time I checked that digital information gets translated to analog signals at some point in the system no?

Software emulators instruct an incompatible CPU to act like a different one.

 

and fpga's use software to define a incompatible array of logic gates to act like a cpu, its not a magic bullet

 

Because a game ROM is not playable unless it is executed by the hardware it was written for, isn't it logical to conclude that the hardware is what matters most?

 

 

interesting, cause I play rom's on a wide variety of machines it was not written for, so no, me having an original set of hardware is not the most important thing

Edited by Osgeld

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Emulation isn't 100% accurate, but it's accurate enough most of the time, at least for older 8 and 16 bit consoles. Dice and the snes games in that article are corner cases: most games play well enough in emulation on modern hardware and emulators keep improving accuracy as performance of PCs improves. In the meantime, patches and workarounds can be implemented to cover corner cases where a cycle accurate emulation would be too slow on current hardware so that you can still experience the games (which is what really matters for most people).

I'm mostly interested in the Atari 2600, and I keep some CRTs around so that I can play on real hardware (with a/v mod).
That's the best way to experience old consoles, no questions about that, but I can totally see the convenience of using emulation.

I don't consider HD TVs a nonsense. They offer a far superior experience when watching movies and TV shows than an old SD analog set. My only regret about them is the fast obsolescence and lower build quality, but that applies to almost everything produced today...
On the other hand, I think that connecting an old videogame console to an HD TV (with or without a dedicated upscaler or HD video mod) is an abomination to the Lord (of retrogaming :-D ) and that's another point in favour of emulation:

With usb controller adapters and CRT filters, the experience of playing in emulation on modern HD TVs is really close to real hardware. The picture can be tweaked to be quite "right" without looking like a flat bunch of square tiles and I'm sure that more accurate CRT simulation will be developed so that will also get closer to recreate some effects like phosphor persintence that is an important part of the look of old games (especially early ones with bright colored sprites on mostly black background, and whenever flicker is used). Lightguns for PC do exist so you can experience those games as well, and that's not possible with real hardware connected to a digital TV/Monitor.

And sitting on the couch playing games on a 50+ inches display is great fun and something that cannot be achieved on CRT, so emulation can even be better than real hardware in some ways...

Edited by alex_79
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In "Principia Emulata", a treatise on emulation, I have listed 147 ways that emulation is better than real hardware.

 

The basic up-front reasons I'm so enamored with emulation are that it is consistent, convenient, and capable. It allows me to experience and enjoy systems I don't have a practical chance of owning and it allows me to revisit arcade games I thought I'd never see again. Nothing quite like cozying up on a single-digit winter day and playing Star Jacker and I'Robot. Then taking a break and doing some VCS and Intellivision.

 

So.. The way forward for enjoying classic gaming is going to be a little more complicated then simply purchasing a console and cartridges. Display technologies have to be matched. And I think it's great that people are running into trouble with old consoles on new displays and complaining about it. The two technologies are too far apart to practical and enjoyable, and the complaining usually results in lively discussion which then leads to a workable and enjoyable solution. Mods are learned about, emulation is considered, converters are compared. And more.

 

Suddenly the hobby becomes challenging, and then even more rewarding when good results are achieved.

Edited by Keatah
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It would be good if people who know the hardware and games well share their experience with emulation. Which have problems, limitations; and which are near perfect.

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Well I dig Altirra for all Atari 8-bit computers and 5200. It's still undergoing intensive development and is like fine wine. I also like Atari 800 Emulator because it has better television/CRT effects, but that's about the only reason I keep it around. The rest of the Atari 8-bit emulators are exercises in frustration and unconventional GUIs.

 

I like MAME/MESS for ColecoVision because of the versatility in configuring the display and controllers. And it works nicely in full screen mode. While I don't believe it does SGM yet, it will soon enough.

 

For classic arcade? MAME is the only game in town, and that's all you need to know.

 

Other good emulators are: Vice for Commodore rigs. WinUAE for Amiga material. AppleWin for Apple II. MAME for Astrocade and Vectrex. Epsxe for PS1. Nostalgia for Intellivision (but it is getting old, Maybe Bliss is better?). And of course the standard for VCS, Emulator Stella.

 

I also strongly prefer x86 as a host because of the versatility and extra concessions the platform has to offer. You can archive and read documentation and do development work with ease.

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