kitsunebi77

What emulators do you use?

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kitsunebi77    730

So back in the day I played Medal of Honor Underground, and after meticulously beating every level in the main part of the game with a 3-star rating in order to unlock the final bonus mission, I was confronted with a silly and extremely difficult set of levels featuring dancing dogs standing on hind legs and firing rockets, as well as exploding robots and life-size tin nutcrackers.  I never could beat them.  Until now, thanks to emulation and save states.

Especially since I moved to Japan and left all my consoles in storage, I've depended entirely upon emulators to play console games.  Often the games are ones I own physical copies of, and sometimes they aren't.  But I'm not really interested into getting into a debate on the ethics of emulation.  What I want to know is, if you DO use emulation, which programs for which systems do you use?

For me:

DOSBox is my #1 most-used emulator.  I can't run any of my old DOS games otherwise, since I no longer own a computer with 5.25" or 3.5" disk drives.  And even if I did, I'm not sure how easily I could get them to run.  Using DOSBox correctly has a bit of a learning curve (even companies like GOG don't seem to understand it and sell all of their DOSBox-run games with incorrectly configured config files).  However, once you know what you're doing, it's a pretty flawless emulator that can run pretty much any DOS game ever made.  The official program doesn't support save states, but there are unofficial builds that do (although I've never personally tried them.) 

ePSXe is a really good PS1 emulator.  Using an Xbox360 controller, I even get rumble effects on the games that supported the Dual Shock.  I've never encountered a game that ran poorly on this emulator.

PPSSPP is a PSP emulator that works with varying results.  Some games aren't supported at all, and some games run with weird glitches.  Even so, most games will run, and will generally look far better than they ever would on an actual PSP.  The emulator will bump up the resolution to whatever you set it to, so you can game in 1080p if you like.  Of course, while anything built from polygons will look vastly improved, sprite-based artwork will simply be stretched to the larger size, making some things appear more pixelated than they do on the PSP's small screen.

PCSX2 is a PS2 emulator that I haven't got a lot of experience with.  Some games run well for me and some games have terrible framerates.  The emulator's recommended specs are quite high and my laptop (i7-6500 2.5Ghz 8GB RAM) probably isn't up to the task.  Those with a more powerful desktop PC/graphics card may have better luck.

VisualBoy Advance - It's been a while since I used this, but it is a good one-in-all emulator for GB, GBC, and GBA games.  Never had any problems.

As for the older classic consoles, I hardly ever play those games anymore.  However, when I did, I used ZSNES for the SNES and Fusion for Master System, Genesis, Game Gear, and Sega CD.  I've used too many NES emulators to pick just one, but I don't remember any of them standing out as the definitive choice.

I tried an N64 emulator once (Project64) that worked well, but don't have enough experience with it to comment.  I've never even attempted to emulate a Saturn, Dreamcast, Gamecube, or Wii, so I have no idea how useful those programs are.  (The Xbox is still pretty much emulator-proof.)

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sandplasma    1

I personally don't use any emulators because I don't need to but I can see myself using ZSNES if I had to travel for work. It is hard to keep to one game in today's day and age because there is just so much available out there. Back in the day I would spend 8 hours playing Sonic 1 because I didn't have any other games and because I had all the time in the world. Nowadays, as an adult, I have money to buy games but less and less time.

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kitsunebi77    730
On 7/21/2017 at 4:59 AM, sandplasma said:

I personally don't use any emulators because I don't need to

I found this part interesting..."because I don't need to"...

I presume you mean because you own every system you would want to play and either already own or can purchase every game you might want to play.

But that isn't the main reason why people use emulators.  It's true that currently all of my game consoles and games are in storage (moving to a different continent will sometimes necessitate such things), but I used emulators long before that, emulating mostly systems and games that I owned.  Why?  2 big reasons.

1. Convenience.  At the time I stopped buying home consoles, I owned an NES, SNES, Game Boy, N64, Gamecube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PS2, PSP, Dreamcast, and Xbox.  Having all of those systems connected to a TV at once was impossible, and unpacking/repacking systems to play a game was a major hassle.  Yet, all of those systems (except the Xbox) can be emulated on my PC, which is always connected and accessible.  I would often emulate a game I owned just because doing so was more convenient than hooking up the equipment to play the real thing.

2.  Save states.  I owned lots of games, particularly older ones from the 8/16 bit era, that I never had the skill or patience to finish.  Thanks to emulators with save states, I no longer had to be a gaming master who could work my way through Ninja Gaiden in a single sitting in order to see the ending.  Thus, the first thing I did upon discovering emulators was play all of the games I owned but had never been able to finish.

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♦te72♦    102

It's ironic to me that you say the Xbox is emulator proof, as that is the system that I use to play the vast majority of my emulators ON. I recall reading an article on the potential that the system had for stuff like this in an unofficial Xbox magazine (can't recall the name of the magazine), one thing led to another, and a friend of mine and I were cracking our relatively new Xboxes open and stuffing large (for the time) hard disks in them, full of all sorts of goodies.

 

Still have my box, still use it on occasion. When I finally upgrade my PC, the current rig will likely be turned into a home server / emulation machine for the basement arcade that is currently a figment of my dreams.

 

To answer your original question, apart from zSNES and Final Burn Alpha, I can't recall any particular program names off the top of my head. Personally, I started with emulation because I was poor, and games weren't always easy to come by. Now, expendable income is available, but supporting secondary markets does nothing to help the folks who made the original games, so it's rare that I buy an old school game anymore. I do make exceptions for great games that are offered in digital form such as PSN, just to funnel a bit of money to the original developers. I also support official re-releases, if possible. Nintendo would get my money with these classic systems, if I could buy them from Nintendo, but that's a dead horse around here if I ever saw one.

 

That said, I tend to limit emulation to PS1 era or older, similar to how Retromags draws its lines on publish dates, I do something similar with games. Like Kitsunebi said above, I too always loved the ability to play games MY way with a good emulator. I'm not a particularly skilled gamer, but I love those older games. Save states and built in hex editors, cheat code databases, etc? I'm all for them. After all, we're already waist deep in an ethical grey area, so spare me your "true gamer" blah blah blah. :P

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kitsunebi77    730
2 minutes ago, te72 said:

It's ironic to me that you say the Xbox is emulator proof, as that is the system that I use to play the vast majority of my emulators ON. I recall reading an article on the potential that the system had for stuff like this in an unofficial Xbox magazine (can't recall the name of the magazine), one thing led to another, and a friend of mine and I were cracking our relatively new Xboxes open and stuffing large (for the time) hard disks in them, full of all sorts of goodies.

Alas, being able to run emulators and being able to be emulated are completely different things.  Due mostly to it's relative dearth of Japanese-developed games, the Xbox has less exclusives than most other systems, but it would still be nice to be able to emulate it.  After all, once old hardware starts to break down, emulation is one of the only ways to preserve the continued playability of old games.

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KiwiArcader    480

Microsoft have been talking about bringing original Xbox games to the Xbox One now that they have Xbox 360 emulation running pretty well on the console. Given both the oldest and newest console are PC hardware based I should think it wouldn't be a difficult task for them if they choose to make it happen. 

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♦te72♦    102

Right, I totally understand what you were getting at. As I understand, PS3 has always been very difficult, even for powerful systems, to get emulation working properly.  I never looked into it though, my PS3 is newer than my computer...

 

I'd be curious as to the number of Xbox exclusive games that weren't also available on PC though? I know many were PS2 / Gamecube / Xbox releases, and often were different on each system... the odd thing to me is that if an Xbox breaks, can it not simply be repaired using PC parts? I've opened mine up several times, it never looked all that different than a typical PC to me.

 

As for the Japanese developed games on the Xbox, Sega really knocked it out of the park, if you ask me.

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kitsunebi77    730
Just now, KiwiArcader said:

Microsoft have been talking about bringing original Xbox games to the Xbox One now that they have Xbox 360 emulation running pretty well on the console. Given both the oldest and newest console are PC hardware based I should think it wouldn't be a difficult task for them if they choose to make it happen. 

While it's great when hardware manufacturers implement some sort of in-house emulation service like virtual console or whatnot, the problem is that they will never provide access to all games, just the ones they think they can make money off of.  Which granted, means that most of the best/most popular games will be made available eventually, but one of the appeals of emulation is being able to access any game, no matter how obscure, including ones from other regions you never had the ability to play before.

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kitsunebi77    730
1 hour ago, te72 said:

As for the Japanese developed games on the Xbox, Sega really knocked it out of the park, if you ask me.

Yeah, there were a few good ones on the Xbox.  But the PS2 had almost 1900 games that were never released outside of Japan.  Hence the "relative" dearth of Japanese Xbox games.

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♦te72♦    102

I'd say you can blame US copyright laws for the lack of commercially available open source emulation programs. I'd say after say, 10 years, it would be nice if the company who put out the system in the first place would sell you a solid, bug-free emulator, with all the features that we've come to expect, for a reasonable price.

 

Games would be available for $1-2 each. Yeah, it's not much, but it's better than nothing, and it's a price I think would inspire impulse purchases. I dunno about you, but a few bucks a week to relive the old days on modern hardware? Sure, why not?

 

As for the Japanese gaming scene, wow. I knew the PS2 had a big library, but wow. I see your point now.

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KiwiArcader    480

I agree with you on that point.

My personal emulators of choice are:

  • Project64 ... I still play Mario64, Waverace64 and Banjo Kazooie on that. I have a Nintendo to USB adapter so I use a real N64 gamepad with that
  • Dolphin ... considering the level of difficulty emulating the Gamecube and Wii it's great!!! I use a Nintendo Wii with nunchuk using Bluetooth with this
  • PSPPP ... for those games that run it's a blast
  • ePSXe ... as kitsunebi77 said, it's a pretty stellar emulator for PSX. I use it to play the intro to Soul Blade on occasion. God it's good ......
  • DesMuME ... really acceptable NDS emulator when I want to try a little Mario Kart

I actually use emulators for all things retro nowadays as I gave away my computer/console collection a few years ago.

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kitsunebi77    730
1 hour ago, KiwiArcader said:

 

  • DesMuME ... really acceptable NDS emulator when I want to try a little Mario Kart

My issue with this is that the touch screen is essentially lost.  Hell, even if it were playable on a tablet (not sure if it is, but I don't own one, regardless), it wouldn't necessarily work.  There are several rhythm games I like where you have to be able to rapidly and precisely tap and draw on the screen.  A mouse is far too imprecise, and due to the size of a tablet, you'd never be able to tap the proper locations fast enough.  So for the DS, I still use the actual hardware.  (Of course, I have an Acekard 2 flashcart, so I at least don't have to worry about juggling dozens of cartridges).

I suppose it would be acceptable for DS games that don't utilize the touch screen (of which there are plenty.)

Now that I think about it, I wonder what you would do using an emulator with games like Zelda Phantom Hourglass, where closing the DS screen is part of a puzzle?

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KiwiArcader    480

The only games I like to play are Mario 64 DS and Mario Kart DS and they use the screen mainly for maps etc so it isn't a big issue for me in that regard.

I am tempted to get a Nintendo 2DS XL though. Just need to find a cart that runs standard NDS games on it. My kids wore out my old NDS and NDSi .....

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♦te72♦    102
21 hours ago, kitsunebi77 said:

Now that I think about it, I wonder what you would do using an emulator with games like Zelda Phantom Hourglass, where closing the DS screen is part of a puzzle?

The way the "disk swap" was handled in MGS4 during chapter 4 was a nice touch... If someone merely ripped the files on the DS cartridge, it probably wouldn't be playable past that point. I suspect this is the sort of thing that developers do to combat piracy.

 

Now, if someone were to create a patch of sorts, to get around that? Takes more effort, obviously, but I've seen similar things done with games that you have to have the manual in order to progress, or websites to visit for pass codes, etc... it can be worked around, if someone is willing to put in the effort.

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♦Data♦    77

For the Atari 2600 I use Stella

For Colecovision I use BlueMSX

Nintendo Entertainment System I use Punes

Gameboy or Advance Visualboy Advance

Commodore 64 use Win Vice

Turbografx and CD Mednafen

Sega Genesis & CD Kega fusion

SNES Retroarch and Snes9x

Neo Geo Cartridge and CD Final Burn Alpha

Commodore Amiga CD32  Win UAE

3DO use 4DO

Neo Geo Pocket Color  Mednafen

Sega Saturn SSF Use 2 different versions

Nintendo 64  Project 64

Playstation One
epsxe and mednafen - epsxe has graphical enhancements and mednafen doesn't but, because mednafen is a low level emulator, it plays games that other emulators never could with the drawback of not having the graphical advancements which emulators such as  epsxe could provide.  Last I remember setting my front end to using mednafen for on Playstation was a Tomb Raider game which did not work on epsxe.

Dreamcast  demul and nulldc

Playstation 2  pcsx2

Gamecube Dolphin

Nintendo DS  dsemu

MS DOS D-Fend

Wii Dolphin

Arcade mame different version

 

All these different systems are difficult enough to wield.  There are 3 different people.  One remembers all the games that came out in their environment and may or may not have played or even enjoyed them.

2. Stalks all the games that came out in their environment plus a few which for whatever reason were introduced later with a translation or other means of hack.

3.  Cares nothing but the archiving all games released on planet earth and organizing them.  If you think about it, ten times isn't all that much more records of games released considering they were usually released only in USA, Japan, UK, South America, France and Brazil. 

The problem is when a North American like me browses his games and each game has 10 different versions.  It is tiring an not very appealing.

After you know which videogame systems were released between A.D. 1977 and the current date, 2017, you try to emulate them.  You run into various problems resulting from a Microsoft Windows Operating System combined with a CPU and a graphics card not understanding what the user is asking.  Usually a program begins with high level programming which requires 90% CPU and 10% GPU for advancements and the goal is to have a true low low level one to one interpretation of the computer system being emulated which used to take quite a few years to achieve.  Nowadays, the middle ground is to figure out what a particular game which is usually popular is asking it's console to do an then hacking the program to cater to these whims.

The problem with this is that most other game will not run under the same programming and therfore require their own hacks or programming.

The proper way to emulate a computer or videogame console is to figure out exactly what each component in the host computer is doing and translate it 1 to 1.  This is called low level as well as hardware emulation because it is considered a mathematical equivalent.  In real life, it takes much more time figuring out the computer and when it is, it usual begins with high CPU requirements to relate this 1 to 1 low level.  It is more equivalent to 1 to 10.

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♦te72♦    102

You know Jake, it's posts like this that I both appreciate on a technical level, and causes me to wonder if you're not yourself an AI haha. Mostly kidding bud.

 

In seriousness, I recently read an article on someone describing the difficulty in emulating Pong at the mechanical level. I guess the original version of the game wasn't how we think of games, as digital programs, but was rather a mechanical display of light. The computing power to reproduce Pong perfectly was obscene, and we're talking about perhaps the most simple game ever made. This led into brief descriptions of why perfect emulation of more modern games may take a LOT longer to accomplish.

 

Now that I think about it... I wonder if part of that info came from a thread on here?  It was either on here or in Retro Magazine, most likely.

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kitsunebi77    730
2 minutes ago, te72 said:

In seriousness, I recently read an article on someone describing the difficulty in emulating Pong at the mechanical level. I guess the original version of the game wasn't how we think of games, as digital programs, but was rather a mechanical display of light. The computing power to reproduce Pong perfectly was obscene, and we're talking about perhaps the most simple game ever made. This led into brief descriptions of why perfect emulation of more modern games may take a LOT longer to accomplish.

I don't claim to know any of the technical processes at work.  All I know is that PS2 games are technically very primitive compared to whatever else I could run on my PC, and yet many PS2 games running through PCSX2 emulation don't run at full speed while maxing out my CPU.  Part is probably due to inefficiency in the emulator itself, and part is simply because emulating something perfectly requires much more processing power than running something on the hardware it was intended for in the first place.

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♦te72♦    102

I've always understood it to be like translation work. If you're fluent in more than one language, you should be able to act as a medium for people who don't understand each other, right? Except, it takes a LOT of brain power and nuance to be able to do it well.

 

I suspect the situation is the same with a computer. It can understand what you want it to do, it's just very brain power intensive to do non-native processing. I believe the example I was reading about recently was doing perfect emulation of Super Mario World. What the SNES was doing with ease was requiring a MASSIVE amount of PC power to get the exact same result, and this is 25 years later, technology wise.

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♦Data♦    77
21 hours ago, te72 said:

You know Jake, it's posts like this that I both appreciate on a technical level, and causes me to wonder if you're not yourself an AI haha. Mostly kidding bud.

I recently read an article on someone describing the difficulty in emulating Pong at the mechanical level. I guess the original version of the game wasn't how we think of games, as digital programs, but was rather a mechanical display of light. The computing power to reproduce Pong perfectly was obscene, and we're talking about perhaps the most simple game ever made. This led into brief descriptions of why perfect emulation of more modern games may take a LOT longer to accomplish.

I chose these emulators because they best served my needs today.  I plan on building a Hyperspin arcade and I learned through experience that some emulators won't allow you to map keys in the emulator or the front end wont allow you to map certain keys because of technical reasons.  To have this many emulators working together to make an arcade look like a cool new machine which plays not just arcade games but also lets you grab an original controller and play these games, it took slot of trial and error. 

This sounds like the programmers of the multiple machine arcade emulator.  I have been following them since the mid to late 90's and they have not changed their dedication emulating the arcade games perfectly with absolutely no hacks.  People have complained and begged for years about versions of MAME that break a game which used to work or games they want to have working. :o

I never followed the original Pong from 1973 although I am aware that it is a mechanical game similar but completely different from Sega's early machine games.  All of these games were not programmed to run on a modern (1950 - 2017) computer rather, they were machines engineered using electro-mechanical parts which made up the controls and circuits.  Sometimes a phosphorus monitor was used in the case of Pong although most of these early games had nothing this fancy.  If you want something  in your vision to move you would have to make something which physically moves.

21 hours ago, kitsunebi77 said:

I don't claim to know any of the technical processes at work.  All I know is that PS2 games are technically very primitive compared to whatever else I could run on my PC, and yet many PS2 games running through PCSX2 emulation don't run at full speed while maxing out my CPU.  Part is probably due to inefficiency in the emulator itself, and part is simply because emulating something perfectly requires much more processing power than running something on the hardware it was intended for in the first place.

This is very much relative to you're current computer setup.  PCSX2 is a high level emulator which began by making a small number of games working and over time, they added new games, broke older ones and fixed them.  PS2 is interesting because it did not run like a modern computer would with a CPU, RAM, hard drive or optical and a display card.  The Playstation 2 had a CPU which was custom made, multiple co-processors which accompanied it, image processing units, multiple processing units, ram and a scratch pad.

All of these components work at different timings depending on which game is being played.  All of these things happening on the PS2 were individually decoded per game in a programming environment using windows XP and Vista and the only way to compile and run them is with a CPU.  The PS2's CPU was something like 300Mhz alone and even today you still need something between a Gulftown I7 from 2010 to a I6500 from 2016.  A good graphics will add to the visual results and is very much recommended.

 

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