I really enjoy owning my classic game consoles and collecting games. I enjoy the simplicity of putting a cartridge in a console and only having to master the control of a joystick with one or two buttons. Why, then, consider emulating these classic systems?
First of all, emulation has made the Atari Flashback series possible. The first Flashback was based on a ‘NES on a chip’ and all 20 games ran in emulation. In the latest Flashback 4, the emulation has improved to the point where it is so good that the games play almost as they do on an original 2600. Emulation has helped make it cost effective to provide 75 games (with wireless controllers) for as little as $30-40.
I was one of the lucky people to be able to get an HP TouchPad when HP sold them at fire sale prices. I am among a smaller group of people that still use their webOS devices on a daily basis. Believe it or not, there is a 2600 emulator for webOS! Emulators also exist to allow you to play classics like Asteroids or Space Invaders on your Android or IOS smart phones and tablets. This is great if you are travelling and want to bring some of your favorite games along.
The main reason that I wanted to set up an emulator on one of my PC’s was to help test new homebrews for the 7800. The 7800 was one of the later systems to have an emulator developed for and there are a couple of different choices. I chose ProSystem to install on a Windows 7 laptop. Not wanting to have to use the keyboard to play games, I also picked up a USB joystick made by Curt Vendel of Syzygy. Curt has designed these joysticks to look and feel just like an original Atari CX40. I was surprised at how good the emulation is on ProSystem and how much fun it is to play Atari games on a PC, when you have a joystick. With guys like Bob, Ken, Mark, and Perry still developing and enhancing games for the 7800, I am now looking forward to being able to test and provide feedback on their latest creations.
Whatever your system of choice is, there is probably an emulator that has been developed for it. If you are an Atari fan, consider setting up Stella or ProSystem on your PC and getting one of Curt’s awesome USB joysticks. You too can help improve homebrews by testing and providing feedback!