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Videogames emulation on the PC/Mac computers

Videogames emulation on the PC/Mac computersGo to bottom of page/contents to skip this page. I've been here before.

     The PC Computer these days is a very versatile computer, if you can get one that is fast enough. Something like a 800MHz PC is a pretty good standard speed machine to go for. If you can, go for something faster still - you won't regret it. There is more power here, than you realise.
I don't use a Mac Computer, so I can only comment about PC Computers - I know there are emulators available to run on the Mac - fewer? I would guess...

Emulators and the PC Computer

     Emulators are programs which mimic what they emulate, such as an earlier model computer or a different type of computer. This is possible because a Fast Computer can almost always emulate a slower (older) computer. Videogames consoles or machines, are simply computers too. Nowadays, there are emulators that emulate almost every popular computer there was, or videogame system. There are emulators which even emulate coin-op videogame machines.

     The graphics are so close to the original games, you'll swear they are the original games? Yes folks, they are. You can play Space Invaders in all it's original glory, plus others of the classic coin-op era:    Galaxian, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Battlezone, Commando, Ghosts n Goblins, etc.

Cheap games for everyone?

      What this means is that, you can download emulators and their games [often called ROMs because the oldest original coin-op videogames were on ROM chips on a Printed Circuit board] to have a big library of video and computer games that are still playable today as they once were. If you cannot afford the latest PC games, then you can play the great games of yesteryear. It's a matter of knowing what emulators and games to go for, that suits your gaming pleasure. If you haven't played these games before, they are still playable. Or maybe you will like to revisit old games you once played? Or perhaps play those games you've missed?

      Basically you download the emulator, and then the game ROMs down to your computer. I only mention the emulators for the IBM PC compatible computers, which have the most available, but there are some available for the Macintosh computers too. Here's the list of what is emulated at the moment. This does change as time goes by, there's still a few systems/coin-ops yet to be emulated?

Please note: The majority of this text, was written when I was running a slow 200MHz PC, actually it was a 40MHz PC Computer (of 1990 vintage?) in which I finally decided to get some kind of upgrade done on it. And so it was a 200MHz motherboard upgrade in 1995? And it was in 2003 that I finally purchased a new PC entirely, with a 2400+ MHz speed. What this meant is that I can finally run the Coin-op emulations with Mame, Neorage, Kawaks, Nintendo 64 emulation, etc etc etc.
Thus this text concentrates on the lower end machines via emulation - especially for PCs of around 400MHz and less. As I said elsewhere in this text - it is best to play the original coin-op game being emulated, rather than a C64 or Atari 800 version of the same coin-op game, because the graphics are so much better in the original coin-op.
eg. Zaxxon - the coin-op game is superb with it's ground breaking graphics of it's time. The next best version, is the C-64 version done by Synapse (not the Datasoft version, if one was available - or was this only for the Atari?). The Atari 800 Datasoft version was a disappointing conversion experienced by most players. And the IBM PC version, of that time, was even worse with jerky scrolling (no fine scrolling is available/possible for IBM PC of that time. I wasn't impressed by the Coleco version too.
There are some amazing coin-op conversions for the home, such as Donkey Kong for the Atari 800 series computers, so very close to the original in look and play. The same for the Pacman game too.
Another example is the excellent coin-op version of Sunset Riders for the Super NES console. It's rather brilliantly done, and is excellent for 2 players. Of course, if you play the original coin-op game on Mame - you can have up to 4 players, and the graphics are even better still.

You may well be asking - how do I get access to these games - ie. these game ROM images, since there are hardly any sites around that have them available to download? The many sites that had the ROMs have been forced to close because of legal threats, as to copyright reasons. These days, the easier way to download such ROMs (I'm not at all familiar with MIRC which has always been available as a means to) - I think - is to use such filesharing programs as eMule or Xolox. It helps to have a broadband/ADSL connection that allows for very fast downloads - of 256K or faster preferably.
With a 56K modem you can use the eMule and/or Xolox alright, it's just the download speed is so slow, you'll only want to download the very small files. Although with a broadband connection, you do end up leaving your computer running all night and morning (and day too?) for a couple of days to download just the one 600-700meg of CDr data. With a 56K modem, for the same amount of time you could be downloading only 50 meg of data in comparison. That would be a fair number of game ROMs still, in 50 megs - like the oldest coin-op games, which are only around 32 to 100K? each.

Please note - that computer game ROM files [actually they're not really ROMs anymore, never were, unless they were Atari game ROM cartridges for the Atari 800 etc computers, or C64 game ROMs - they are just disk or tape images in reality] are available to download at various sites.
eg. is a good example for Atari 400/800 series computers.
Videogames consoles, of course used actual game ROM cartridges too - and because these are copyrighted, and legally enforced - there are few sites that have these ROM images available for downloading, because they do face legal prosecution --- that is why so few ROM images are available.

    The Emulators                                                                                                    
      Going from High Quality towards lower quality, the ones at the top of the list, require a 800MHz or faster PC. Those at the bottom are fine with slower PCs 200MHz?

   Arcade coin-op videogames & Home videogames systems                             
      Name of Emulator ------ EMULATED SYSTEM / GAMES

        Personal Computer Emulators                                                                           

Note: Don't expect many emulators to run at a decent speed on a very slow 200MHz PC. You really need a 400MHz or better to run them like they should, at their original speed. Anything over 600MHz is an ideal PC to use.

Some comments
If you like the action arcade games, then you can run the coin-op emulators, down to the home consoles such as the SNES and Genesis.

      For more thoughtful / strategy games, you will enjoy the adventures on the 16-bit Computers - Amiga and Atari ST Computers. Those wanting to revisit the good old 8-bit days, may be disappointed seeing the C64 running, because it's limited colour palette highlights it's sore points.

     Don't disregard the 8-bit systems completely because there are still some very original games there which may surprise you? Miner 2049'er and Star Raiders are the forerunners for Mario and 3D Star Wars games, on the Atari 800.

     You should be able to find the old IBM PC games somewhere? on the Internet, in some archive or newsgroup, which can be downloaded, but I haven't gone on a search for them. There's bound to be some playable PC games of old too.

Here are the site links to access downloads of the various emulators, etc.

             CLASSIC VIDEOGAME HITS OF YESTERYEARS Pre-1990            
These are worth checking out
These lists are in no particular order, check them all out?

These games are still playable and fun today - as they always were.
There are some truly innovative game designs here, serving as an excellent lesson in videogame design. eg.
Bristles - very nice concept and execution in platform madness & hiliarity.
Necromancer - Truly unique in every way using a fantastic imagination.
Alley Cat - How cats get into very sticky situations.
Cytron Masters - Unique boardgame of realtime strategy.

         Atari 800 / 800XL / etc --- Atari 8-bit Computers                                         

and also....Rescue on Fractalus, Ball Blazer, Flip & Flop,BC's Quest for Tires, Juice, Cytron Masters, Montezuma's Revenge,Tail of Beta Lyrae, Thrust, Elektraglide, Spelunker, Pharoah's Curse,Pastfinder, Shamus, Shamus Case II, Sands of Egypt, Scott AdamsAdventures, Laser Hawk, HawkQuest... ... ... and many more

               Commodore C64 Computer Games                                                             

and also.... Samurai Warrior, Katakis, Nemesis, Salamander, Slapfight, Commando,Ikari Warriors, Track N Field, Summer Games II, Raid over Moscow, Green Beret...

                Sega Genesis/MegaDrive Videogames Console                                    

               Super Nintendo 16-bit Videogames console                                            

      The Most Original Games - Check these out for Videogame Design           

Emulator NOTES -----
      If you want to play the best version of a coin-op title, eg. Donkey Kong, then it's best if you did play the original coin-op game, rather than an Atari 800 version, although an excellent conversion, rates second.

     And if the same game is available in different computer versions, then usually the better version is on the bigger computer, eg. Wizball although well programmed on the C64, looks and plays better on the Atari ST. Some games though, are the same on both Amiga and Atari ST, as to be practically identical. The Amiga has 32 colours in it's standard low-res mode, whereas the Atari ST has 16, and the Amiga has better sound capabilities over the Atari ST. Some games may not use the extra colours available on the Amiga?

     Back in the hey day of the Amiga, this was considered THE Computer to own and use, when 286 PCs were clunky and boring. The Amiga had much improved graphics and sound capabilities over the humble PC. And multi-tasking too, before Windows there was Workbench on the Amiga, a colour version of the MacIntosh finder/etc. At this time, it was unthinkable that the PC would eventually triumph, getting faster and faster all the time, so much so that an emulator on the PC can imitate the Amiga after all. How times have changed.

      While I am impressed by the older games, there is the likelihood that new players who have never played these before, may find that the graphics are somewhat basic compared to today's games. But if gameplay is king, then these old games are a treasure trove to any videogames player who love innovative gameplay.

     These lists are not definitive, they are merely my pick. For example, I have not listed all the notable text and graphics & text adventure games, mainly because I have not sampled a great many of them. I have tried enough and know which ones are agreed upon as being of interest though.

Further Notes ------

     Old games never die, they are reborn via emulation. Some may consider the old text adventure games, to be dead and buried, but I believe these are still as playable and as interesting as they once were. Children, I believe would learn to appreciate the written word through playing them. An old favourite of mine is Lords of Karma for the Atari 800 computers. It does however takes about 5 minutes to initialise itself, before it's ready to play, it displays the message "working..." for five minutes. The Scott Addams Adventure games are varied and ingenuious. I'm sure many new players will still find them interesting and fun.

     It is worth noting any special games, no matter what hardware they are on. Alien vs Predator and Tempest 2000 are truly great games on the Atari Jaguar. And Mario on the N64 is another great experience in itself. Don't be prejudiced against a game, purely because of the company name and label.

Email Harvey, if you want to chat over anything videogames related, whether old or new?

                          Harvey's Videogames background                                             

     I have been using personal computers since December 1982, when I purchased my first computer, an Atari 800 with 48K and cassette recorder. One of my first games was Star Raidersand Shamus. Since then, I have moved onto the Atari 1040ST, Commodore C64, Commodore Amiga 500, and a 486 40MHz IBM PC clone computer --- now it's upgraded to a P200 motherboard, etc.     The only computer I have now, is a PC, and find the emulators very interesting to run. I also own a Sega MegaDrive and a Nintendo Super NES. For the SNES, I have one of those disk drive/copier devices --- it is used once a week by my 10 year old nephew, who loves the SNES games. And I have a Sony Playstation. The game consoles are all NTSC machines because I always prefer 60Hz over 50Hz anyday. I have also been able to borrow and play games on the Atari Lynx, Atari Jaguar, Panasonic 3DO, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2,and Microsoft XBox consoles..

     The first game I worked on, was Laser Hawk, was completed in 1986, programmed by Andrew Bradfield, a local friend. That took a year to finish. Andrew did all the programming and I designed the graphics in the game.
3 years later, Hawkquest was completed ---it was a huge game. Laser Hawk was 32K, HawkQuest ended up taking up 4 x 90K of data = 360k! Both games was released by Red Rat in the UK for theAtari 800 / 800XL / etc computers.
I'm to be blamed for the game design of HawkQuest - insisting upon a 2 game concept, where you start with a Xevious like vertical scrolling game, bombing surface targets over a planetary landscape - to gain entry/reach the entrance to the planet's interior - where you enter the second game - our own unique version of a 8-way scrolling game, in which you're alone in a enemy infested, booby-trapped bunker filled with surprises in store. You do have many lives, dependent upon how many copters made it with you, in the first game. There are 5 planets with unique landscapes and bunkers/caverns/installations - and you have a control interface/menu. Ummm, it all adds up to a relatively complex game, for an all out action game.

With Paul Lay I have designed graphics for some Atari ST games. Floyd the Droid, Crossland and MAD. XFrog was in progress that never got completed. We decided to develop for the SNES console and put together a demo of Astrohawk, that got to a semi-playable stage. Rockfall a small game for the SNES got to a semi-playable stage too. XFrog was resurrected and finished in time for the 1988 Enix VideogameProgramming Contest, in it's PC version. Sadly we didn't get a placing.

Strangely now, Paul has ported AstroHawk across to the Game Boy Advance whose graphics capabilities is similar to the SNES. Go to to see it's current progress.

Other pages to go to, on this site....

HawkQuest............ -------------- Introduction to HawkQuest...............................
HawkQuest............ -------------- Hidden targets in HawkQuest...............................
HawkQuest Maps --------------- Solutions shown for Level 1 in Secondary game of HawkQuest
HawkQuest Maps --------------- Solutions shown for Level 2 in Secondary game of HawkQuest
Emulators...... ----------------------- Looking at emulators for videogames on the PC................
The Unexplained -------------------- The fascinating world of unexplained phenomena................
Dunedin ............ -------------------- Dunedin, New Zealand......................................................
Social Volleyball.... ----------------- Social Volleyball FAQ - almost every question answered?