Emulation? Yeah right!

I had heard of emulation before. I know what the word means. The dictionary would define it as "the endeavor to equal or to excel another in qualities or actions." I had no idea of the scope of what I was getting into.

I did find a video game emulator once about a year and a half ago. It was a Sega Genesis emulator. I was very excited at first. I had been one of those people who had bought a Genesis all those years ago. I got all the Sonic games and always thought they were great. But I never really had the money to buy all the games that I wanted to. The entire time I was playing the Genesis, I bought probably about a dozen or so games, and about half of those were Sonic. This was about the time video stores got on the bandwagon and started renting games. This helped out a lot as you could test drive a game before you bought it. There was nothing worse than spending $40-$60 on a game and finding out that it was a dog. Or worse yet, having it be SO easy that you finish the game and save the princess(whatever) in one night. So the video stores helped out a little but this was when they first started doing it and they usually only had a few games which I blasted right through. That left me high and dry again.

Back to the emulator. When I first downloaded it, I was thinking that this might actually allow me to play some of the games that I had wanted to buy so many years ago. Getting a piece of software that would allow me to download a game and play it seemed like an idea that was too good to be true. Little did I know, it was. The emulator that I found was poorly written and incomplete in it's emulation of the games. I don't even remember what the name of it was (although I probably would not post it here even if I did). Most of the games it supported were just plain unplayable. Others would run and were even stable enough to play but there was no sound support for any of the games which made game play about as exciting as being at a race track with no race scheduled. I did try to find other versions written by other software authors. I found a few choices available to the PC world but nothing else Mac. At that point, I became totally disgusted with the whole idea of emulation, convincing myself that no one would ever be able to accurately emulate a game so that it played just as the original.

I began to explore some of the links at the first Sinistar site I found (after downloading the ROM file for Sinistar, of course). I had to find the information about how to run this ROM image that I had obtained. There had to be a way to do it otherwise there would be no reason for this site to post the ROM image. As I searched through all of the text and the links, my mind began to wander. "Wow. wouldn't it be cool to play this game again?" My worst fear was that there was a way to play it on a personal computer, just not on a Mac. I have always liked Macintosh better than PC's. I have had to learn to be happy that I liked the OS even though there have never been as many software titles available for it. It was the price I had to pay for being able to do an upgrade or add a peripheral without pulling my hair out because of IRQ conflicts or compatibility issues (sorry for the rant).

Until this point, I was content with the few games that I had for my Mac. Most of them were (are) shareware. All of the games that I had actually bought as retail releases had proven to be too difficult or time consuming to play. Myst, Riven, Starfleet Academy. Great games. Wonderful graphics. Too damn much time to play! Plus, there is just no action feel to these games. Even the pinball games that I have, which do have the action feel and are great pinball "simulations", fell short of the excitment of the arcade games. Maybe it was the room that all the machines are lined up in itself. You never get that feel when you are playing a game in your home. The room was always bustling with energy and sound, especially if it was a busy time in the arcade. Or maybe it was the sound of the quarter hitting the bottom of the change box. Back when I was young, I used to plunk an endless stream of quarters into arcade machines at the local mall. These games were always short in duration unless you were infinitely skilled (which, of course, I never was). So I could play one or two of these games and get on to the next game or get on to whatever it was that I should have been doing at the time. I probably spent enough in quarters to buy one of these machines, even at their original price.