You might wonder what an emulator is. Emulators allow your computer to act like a console system such as the Apple IIe or the Atari 2600, which are used to emulate the hardware of a variety of classic arcade games. byuu is an emulation developer, and the author of bsnes (an SNES emulator) and higan.
Are all classic arcade games emulated? No, but those games made before 1992 are. Not all systems are easy to emulate.
Why is there a need to emulate classic arcade games? There are three major reasons why:
- Popularity - if the system is popular, even if it is classic, the more effort is pushed to emulate it.
- Availability of the Information - if the system contains a lot of information, it will be easier to emulate. If a game has never been emulated before, it will require a lot of reverse engineering, which could at times be frustrating.
- Technical Hurdles - the hardware limits restrictions that are hard to avoid. For example, it took quite some time before the Atari 7800 was emulated, due to the encryption algorithm which prohibited games from being loaded. In addition, newer systems may lack the absolute horsepower to have the game run at a playable, and faster speed.
Although emulators are difficult to run, especially if it is your first time, you must download an emulator and unzip it. If you are not familiar with the procedures, you must read the documentation carefully.
Emulators are compound pieces of software. Most emulators may not perfectly emulate the capability of the system it is trying to copy. The imperfections in some emulators may be minor, sometimes timing problems may occur. Some emulators won't run games at all, or worse have some display problems. Some emulators may be deficient in joystick support, sound, and other significant features.Byuu is an emulation developer; the author of higan and bsnes.
In writing an emulator, you will undergo a difficult process which requires attaining the precise system information, and figuring out how to emulate it with the software code.
There are two different types of emulators. The first one is the single-system or the single-game emulator. Examples of these are an Atari 2600 emulator, NES emulator, and an Apple II emulator. These emulators can only emulate one kind of game or system. The second type of emulators is the multi-emulators. The best example of this is the Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator or the MAME. MAME can emulate hundreds of arcade games, although not all arcade games can run on the same kind of system. That is a huge generalization, but the reason multi-emulators require more resources compared to single system emulators, in most cases.
The start of emulation has opened a lot of opportunities for companies to take advantage of their resources. Why spend a lot of time reprogramming or porting the classic arcade games to a new console when you can easily write an upright emulator. Emulation is the solution to these problems, and gives the gamers an exact replica of the classic games they love and want to acquire.
By Simon Oliver