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Why Official Emulators Should Exist

Why Official Emulators Should Exist

I’ve been aware of emulators since before the Game Boy Advance came out. It was always touted as a grey legal area, and a disclaimer “You must own the original game, or delete it after 24 hours!”. Of course, I complied and deleted the first ones I downloaded, within 24 hours. But as I played more, I decided to not delete them. In fact, I wound up downloading games I would never wind up playing simply because I could! Internet!

Being a teenager with no income, I couldn’t go and buy the consoles and games, nor even just the games for the Game Boy Color I actually owned. So I felt justified in ‘sticking it to the man’ by trying out these games -- especially the ones from Japan that had been fan-translated. Heck, all these years later and I still can’t find a copy of Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Densetsu, the only card-based game I will ever truly enjoy.

As I’ve aged, emulators for newer and newer consoles have been getting released, with the most recent rumours (that I’ve read, there may be more!) being that some PlayStation 3 titles are almost playable via emulator. With how quickly technology has progressed, not only can you play Super Mario 64 on your Android device, but there are lists of ‘the best’ Nintendo 64 emulators for Android. Phones as “old” as the Samsung Galaxy S3 can run Dreamcast games! I was honestly astounded by the visuals in Shenmue when I got it, and it would make 17-year old me’s head explode to know that my phone would be able to run it.

super mario 64 android

Nobody said it would be pretty...

Now, to the point at hand. Emulators are buggy, they crash computers and take years to be developed to a stage where they are able to actually run games. Just think how much faster development would progress if emulators were an official project?

You might be arguing that they would never go for it, what’s to stop pirates from still stealing games, etc, etc… It’s a well known fact that people will obtain something legally, if the option is there. I bought all of the Ratchet & Clank games when they first came out -- I bought the HD Collection as one of the first games I got for the PS3 and the original Crash Bandicoot sold so well on the PSN, that Sony publicised it!

So, with no plans on a new addition to the franchise, nor any remaster plans, it’s up to Activision to see the worth in poor old Crash. However, since they’re still for sale from Sony, that must mean they retain the rights to the original games which they produced in-house. There’s only so much market for an original PlayStation game, available only on an old-gen console and handheld.

crash bandicoot1 ss

Proving that graphics aren't the most important thing

However, if Sony worked on a PlayStation emulator for Windows, Mac and possibly more: you suddenly open the possibilities from two old consoles and a handheld to millions of devices!

There are a load of mobile remakes that are sold at premium prices, just think how much Nintendo could charge for the first four generations of Pokémon useable on PC! What’s more, it would allow for great features such as carrying an entire team from Kanto to Sinnoh or truly stable internet matches.

Sega have a long history of bringing games out on PC, even when they had a booming console business. There were loads of Mega Drive games that hit PC, and some have made their way to Steam in the years since -- they're even bringing Sonic Lost World out on Steam!

Sonic Lost World

Jumping off of your TV and onto your monitor

Microsoft have also been getting the cross-platform bug -- though admittedly they have more reason to do so. Any titles that are Xbox One exclusive are still easily streamable to your PC, and that list is pretty short compared to the titles that are on both Xbox One and PC.

My point, though, is that these older titles should be more easily available. How often have you had a fit of nostalgia and wanted to stick on Super Mario Sunshine -- only to realise you have a Wii U which won’t run Gamecube games? What’s more, you sold your copy of the game when you sold your Wii!

The reason for consoles not being backwards compatible that is always thrown around, is that it’s too much work for the console, and would make it much more expensive. Never mind the fact that the PS3 can play original PlayStation discs, or that PlayStation Now lets you play PS3 games on your PS4…

The long and the short of it is: console manufacturers know exactly how their machines work. They could easily create and sell emulation programs for computers. If people can do it in their spare time with little knowledge of the product, think how awesome a £30 program would be that plays £10 games you used to love?

Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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dominoid - 12:27pm, 12th October 2015

You could argue that Playstation Now and the Virtual console service are exactly that. I think the main issue is that for older games, working out who holds the copyright is often a legal minefield. That said, Elite's spectrum conversions and some of the more obscure PS1 games appearing on the PSN store suggests that it's possible to navigate said minefield with enough dedication and effort.

Acelister - 12:39pm, 12th October 2015 Author

The issue there is, people still require a console to do either of those.

dominoid - 08:12pm, 27th May 2019

this comment has not aged well :(

JK Ferret
JK Ferret - 12:47pm, 12th October 2015

I would love an official emulator for older consoles. I never know when my old consoles will finally breath their last (it's always dodgy ground), and of course there's all the games I've enjoyed in the past that I no longer have It's impossible to find replacements anymore because who wants to deal in old games/consoles nowadays?Whilst I do/have emulate/d stuff, I am loathe to do it because of their being buggy and error-prone. I would totally buy a Sony PSX/PS2 official emulator, without even needing to consider it. I would buy all my old games all over again, so I have them in a convenient place and actually be able to play them any time with no worries that I'll lose all my progress (short of a HDD failure).Ah, to have the games of the past again!

Acelister - 01:00pm, 12th October 2015 Author

Heck, I didn't even have to reach for the PSN stuff -- look at how many people buy old games on GOG, or repurchase titles just so they have them conviniently on their Steam catalogue.

nope - 04:55am, 19th October 2015

"Emulators are buggy, they crash computers and take years to be developed to a stage where they are able to actually run games."Fuck you. MAME's Neo Geo emulation is less buggy than most commercial games today.

Don't you dare insult MAME, you smarmy, clueless asshole.

Acelister - 08:29am, 20th October 2015 Author

Well, at least that was the only part of this that you disagree with.

You do realise that MAME has been in development since the late 90s, right? And without constant updates and bugfixes, it wouldn't be able to run even 1000 games, let alone the many thousands it currently does.

Hey, check it out, I managed to present some facts in a calm manner without insulting anyone. Now THAT is smarmy.

dominoid - 08:59am, 19th October 2015

Well that was a rational and measured response. 

Toni Haukijärvi
Toni Haukijärvi - 10:29am, 18th March 2016

Of course pc pirates like you want everything for free.

I despise people like you, who support piracy.

And before you come and rant, that you have those games legally, I say bullshit.

Emulators are like wanking and real console experience is like real sex.

If some game doesn't come to pc, you think you're mistreated some way, right??

For example, as a Sony gamer, should I cry that Nintendo & MS have their

exclusive titles that I won't get unless I buy those consoles.

I ain't no fucking pirate scum, who thinks world owes me something.

Maybe I should go to a 5-star restaurant and order a huge steak and not pay for it.

I'm entitled to it, right??

Talking to a pirate is like talking to a wall.

Go back to your torrent downloading activities.

Acelister - 11:03am, 18th March 2016 Author

I'm sorry you didn't get past the first image in the article. 

The whole point of the article is that it would be nice to have the option of paying Sony for an emulator and games. Currently they can't sell Crash Bandicoot on the PS4, but if they sold a PlayStation/PlayStation 2 emulator, they could easily make money off of it.

The technology is there. The knowhow is there. And the amount of exclusives is rapidly shrinking as far as the Xbox One goes.

VodKaVK - 11:12am, 18th March 2016

Please read the full article if you're insulting anybody or accusing them of being 'like a wall'. Thanks for comment, but please make sure that what you're saying makes any sense before posting it. Thanks.

Dominoid - 12:46pm, 18th March 2016

Well that makes Nope's comment look like a rational and measured response. 

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