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Modern Vintage Gamer: The SNES Emulation War of 1997

Wonko_C

Member
I remember getting my first computer late 1998. I found out about emulation a few months after that. "Surely these are just imitations of the games made by fans" I skeptically thought. So when I finally managed to make F-Zero work in Snes 9X, I was floored... literally, I fell from my chair and kept rolling on the floor out of pure joy and nostalgia after realizing it really was a SNES game running on my computer.

I could finally play those games and systems I gave away/sold all those years ago. (In retrospect it probably was less than 4 years prior, but that's an eternity for a kid)
 
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SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Oh this is some nostalgia for me. I remember these times well, and in fact I used to work for one of the big emulation news sites around that time, maybe 1998 or so. It was really the beginning of where emulation was really becoming a viable way to play games and actually enjoy them, and SNES was still a challenge for the processors of the day (like Pentium 1 era).
 
the mid/late 90s were awesome for emulation. I remember finding NESticle back in the day and then quickly discovered Zsnes and SNES9x and the Genesis emulator that was made by the nesticle people (forget the name)

Right around that time Bleem! and UltraHLE showed up. Imagine having working emulators of current gen consoles within a couple years. It was an awesome time
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
the mid/late 90s were awesome for emulation. I remember finding NESticle back in the day and then quickly discovered Zsnes and SNES9x and the Genesis emulator that was made by the nesticle people (forget the name)

Right around that time Bleem! and UltraHLE showed up. Imagine having working emulators of current gen consoles within a couple years. It was an awesome time
Bleem was never quite a working emulator. I remember being sent a review copy back then and in the supplemental materials it had a compatibility list, and only one game was listed as fully compatible (even better, the game was "One.")

But VGS actually came out slightly ahead of Bleem and could actually run stuff which was pretty mind blowing. And it played real games, unlike emus of cartridge based systems so I remember building up a PS1 collection even though I never owned a PS1.

Another mind blowing moment for me, was when someone released a GBA emulator before the system had launched and it could play the only known software at the time, an E3 demo of Yoshi's Story.
 
I recall the first time I tried a SNES ROM on an emulator, then waiting what seems to be forever for emulators like SNES 9X and ZSNES (along with Pentiums).

Back then the emulation scene was pretty exciting (it still it, but the benefits are not as impressive).
 
Another mind blowing moment for me, was when someone released a GBA emulator before the system had launched and it could play the only known software at the time, an E3 demo of Yoshi's Story.
Yeah, I actually ditched my physical GBA (OG model) once emulation was up to snuff (which was pretty quickly) I remember playing Harmony Of Dissonance emulated right around it's release date without any issues.

90% of my GBA playtime was through emulation lol
 

jshackles

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the capability to make the world's first enhanced store. Steam will be that store. Better than it was before.
I remember playing Final Fantasy V on my PC via ZSNES way back in like... 1997? It was several years before it was officially released on the PS1, and it was in Japanese. Amazing stuff. Ran like a dream on my Pentium Pro 100mhz system that had like 16mb of RAM.
 

Knightime_X

Member
Fun fact.
I thought zsnes was a program that allowed people to recreate snes games for pc.
I was like Holy SHIT! Whoever remade this game did a super good job. It's almost like the exact same game!! @_@!!

But later I was like...

:messenger_mr_smith_who_are_you_going_to_call:
hol up....

:messenger_grinning_sweat:
oh...
 
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Wonko_C

Member
Fun fact.
I thought zsnes was a program that allowed people to recreate snes games for pc.
I was like Holy SHIT! Whoever remade this game did a super good job. It's almost like the exact same game!! @_@!!

But later I was like...

:messenger_mr_smith_who_are_you_going_to_call:
hol up....

:messenger_grinning_sweat:
oh...
 

A.Romero

Member
One of the first games I played on an emulator was Chrono Trigger. It was mind blowing and amazing. It was impossible for me to get a copy of the game so for years I had to settle renting it and most times I had to start from scratch.

The performance was crap in my computer and transparent textures didn't work but sill....
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
I was much later to the emulation party, but that first time seeing a NES/SNES game you had never played before running on your home PC was mind-melting.
 

mcjmetroid

Member
ZSNEs used to be the best for me but eventually the interface started to wear and become dated.

Still though great times.
 
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joseph7jk

Member
One of the first games I played on an emulator was Chrono Trigger. It was mind blowing and amazing. It was impossible for me to get a copy of the game so for years I had to settle renting it and most times I had to start from scratch.

The performance was crap in my computer and transparent textures didn't work but sill....
That was the only way to play that amazing game on that time.
 

nani17

Gold Member
I remember my friend playing pokemon gold on pc back in the day which I didn't understand at all. It ran like shit as far as I can remember
 
I mostly used ZSNES, it seemed to be the most performant on my Pentium 2.

I have great memories of playing fan-translated games like Final Fantasy V, Tales of Phantasia, Seiken Densetsu 3, Bahamut Lagoon, Romancing Saga 3. Biggest deal for me was getting to play Star Ocean once they figured out that special graphics chip it had.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
I think it's entirely possible that Silhouette's story is true and that they were cribbing code from SNES96 or SNES9X. It might sound disreputable, but it's actually happened quite a few times that companies have stolen open source emulator code and used it without permission in commercial products. Especially if this was still kind of an internal use skunkworks project, they may have seen this as the fastest way to get up and running.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
This is a retarded question about emulation.

For emulated systems (especially old ones with maybe a composite cable cord or that god awful TV switch box at the back of the TV), how do programmers break into a system and figure out how to code an emulator?

Do they open up the system and somehow get it to link up to a PC? How does a PC recognize an old ass system hooked up to it so a programmer can dig into making software that works?

Or are emulators often originated from old industry employees who have the gear to get PC to recognize a Colecovision is attached and they do their magic?
 
This is a retarded question about emulation.

For emulated systems (especially old ones with maybe a composite cable cord or that god awful TV switch box at the back of the TV), how do programmers break into a system and figure out how to code an emulator?

Do they open up the system and somehow get it to link up to a PC? How does a PC recognize an old ass system hooked up to it so a programmer can dig into making software that works?

Or are emulators often originated from old industry employees who have the gear to get PC to recognize a Colecovision is attached and they do their magic?
Documentation if any but most of the time reverse engineered. BSNES was the first to use cycle accurate emulation.
 

Neo_GAF

Drunken Prophet
This is a retarded question about emulation.

For emulated systems (especially old ones with maybe a composite cable cord or that god awful TV switch box at the back of the TV), how do programmers break into a system and figure out how to code an emulator?

Do they open up the system and somehow get it to link up to a PC? How does a PC recognize an old ass system hooked up to it so a programmer can dig into making software that works?

Or are emulators often originated from old industry employees who have the gear to get PC to recognize a Colecovision is attached and they do their magic?
this is not neccessarily about programming but about electronics. you just need to know how things work. i think older systems did not have this much encryption, so you could basically try to get any signal from lets say an opened NES and the rest was figured out.
documentation makes the rest. and since sega saturn, xbox, ps2 and newer system never have proper documentation or hard to encrypt shit, this is basically the problem why we do not have emulators or cracked games out there.

to this day i wonder why ps2 emulation still sucks while there are already ds and psp emulators which work with no issues.
 
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SScorpio

Member
to this day i wonder why ps2 emulation still sucks while there are already ds and psp emulators which work with no issues.
Both the DS and PSP use standard off the shelf components that have documentation available.

The PS2 is custom silicon and while there is the documentation Sony released to developers, it's not to the same level.
 

SkylineRKR

Member
Zsnes was great. I used to have it on a Pentium 2, back in 1998. There were lots of sites offering roms, but actually didn't. It was fun to search though and finding one with an actual A to Z rom database without any caveats felt like finding a pot of gold. Downloaded them at like 10kb sec, but didn't matter.

That way I could play the likes of Seiken Densetsu 3 and Mystic Ark etc, some even fully translated.
 
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