Do you miss the old school games you use to play as a kid? Hours spent on your living room floor in front of the TV with your siblings or friends? I’m sure that wasn’t just me growing up.
Through the power of emulators we can claim some of the nostalgia back. We wont have the wonder and excitement as we did as a kid, but we can bring back some of the memories at least.
So what is an emulator?
Well an emulator is basically (in our application) a program that acts like another computer or device. In our case we want our computer to act like a console. So essentially we can make our computer play like a Nintendo, or Sega, or PlayStation. They wont be a perfect replica however you can still play the games you use to that you wouldn’t be able to find in today’s platforms.
You want to play Pokemon on your computer? Good luck finding it in the steam store. Now people do make ROMs that run without an emulator but they are generally edited or not vanilla. With an emulator you can play the original games without the original console.
Before we get into using an emulator lets talk about safety. Regardless of what computer operating system you use, you should always be careful of what you download. No computer system is immune to viruses. How do you check before you download? Ask the internet, good sources would include https://www.reddit.com/r/emulation/ and https://forums.emulator-zone.com/.
The next step would be to run a scan on the file before you open it. With most security software you can get this option simply by right clicking the file and hitting the scan option. Generally things will check out without a problem. Now there are cases where your security will come up with a false positive and the community will vouch for the program as safe. But at the end of the day is it worth the risk? That is up for you to decide.
Now if you really want to protect yourself from the possibility of a virus, you can install it on its own hard drive, or partition. Reformatting it if it becomes a problem.
These are general tips for all programs downloaded on the internet, not just specific to emulators. I don’t want you to feel that emulators are unsafe to use. I personally never ran into any issues with emulators, but it can happen to anyone. These are just guidelines that you should know anytime you download something off the internet.
Alright, now that we got that out of the way lets get onto the fun stuff.
Ill use the PlayStation as an example.
So one of my favorite games growing up was Legend of Dragoon. I spent hours and hours trying to get all the Stardust and armor load outs. A few years passed and I wanted to play the game again, still having the ps1 and 2 sets of the discs (because my 3rd disc wouldn’t play I had to get a new one) I went to hook up my PlayStation. Well my TV now didn’t have the A\V ports I needed, quick search found an adapter for pretty cheap, but shipping was going to take a while and I wanted to play it now. So I found an emulator instead.
Personally I ended up going with ePSXe being the latest updated one at the time and a solid community to support it. I downloaded it from http://www.epsxe.com/ and a quick google search for the ROM got me the game. I use https://www.vimm.net/ for my ROMs, as it seems to be the safest of the ROM sites, but its at a cost of download speed.
Once you download the emulator (and scan it) you install it like any normal application. I recommend making a folder for it so you can easily find it later. Also make a games folder inside it so you can place all your games.
Once it is installed, find your ROM (scan) and unzip it (I use 7-zip), move the contents to your game folder (inside your emulator folder). Now I already have Legend of Dragoon, so I’m going to install Castlevania:
Now that you have the unzipped files in your game folder, open the emulator and click on file>Game List, or you can just click on the screen and it will come up with this page:
find the game folder in your emulator folder (or wherever you placed it) and open it. Now this screen should come up:
If you dont see anything try refreshing.
Before you run the game I recommend checking out the config files to familiarize yourself with the controls. You can set up a keyboard and mouse, or pretty much any controller you want to play the game. I use a keyboard, but some games ill hook up a steam controller for.
Then simply run the game!
Now before you get too far into re living your childhood. Lets explain the saving mechanics of emulators.
You will notice you have save states and load states, usually accompanied by save slots. Its pretty straight forward, you save to slot one, then load from slot one to get slot ones saved data.
You can also use the memory card feature if you want a more authentic feeling.
The main difference between the two is the save slot feature will allow you to save anywhere, where the memory card feature will only allow you save when the game would let you save.
I personally use the save states, and don’t bother with the memory card feature at all. However you can also download other peoples memory card and pick up where they left off.
Both have their uses and its up to you if you want to use them or not.
Are emulators legal?
I am not lawyer, nor do I pretend to understand the laws associated with emulators. Every country is different and may have their own laws regarding emulator use.
Do you already use emulators? Whats your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!