2006-04-09 0904 Opinion: Emulate me

Emulate me

One thing that I love is old games. Games that look like games, not like badly acted movies. Games that you can play, instead of them playing you. Games that are fun the second, third and hundredth time around. Games from the age of steam when the world was young.

That’s why I love Abandonware and emulation. It’s a privilege to be able to play thousands of games for free – especially if you know where to look – on your own computer. Games that are classics, that spawned a whole genre, and they’re all there for you. The gameplay and depth is every bit as compelling as any modern high-graphics variant. Take a look at Final Fantasy, Golden Sun or the whole Mario series for games that have lost none of their enjoyability through the years. Looking further back there’s classics from my own childhood of C-64s and Spectrums like Sabre Wulf, Paradroid and Uridium. More on that particular era another time.

A few days ago I tossed my old Gameboy to my 4 and 7-years old sons. They had a ball playing Super Mario Land and Worms. It held their attentions for far longer than any console game could. I think it’s the “100% ownership” thing. They could hold the entire game in their hands instead of looking at a TV screen. That’s a compelling motivation for a young child.

When it comes to emulation, I love VisualBoy Advance. It’s one of the best emulators out there and there’s something about Advance games that appeals. There’s a bright innocence to them; sometimes they hold dark overtones, (as in Castlevania), but there’s also a depth to them that can be surprising. It’s as if the graphics were designed for kids but the plotlines are for adults. Going further back, take a look at the original Final Fantasy Legends series for an example of that.

Here’s my all-time top Gameboy and Advance games. I recommend you grab an emulator and take a look. You never know. You might like it! :)

  • Advance Wars – The first Advance game I played start to finish. Advance Wars 2 is a good sequel too, but it’s more of a continuance as it doesn’t add much more to the gameplay mix
  • Super Mario Land 2 – Fun to play, loads of levels and very, very addictive. What more do you need?
  • Golden Sun – Quite simply one of the best computer RPGs ever made
  • Final Fantasy series – I couldn’t pick just one! The series from episodes I-IV are terrific to play on the GBA, and together there’s hundreds of hours of gameplay
  • Metroid Fusion – superb shoot-em up with glorious graphics
  • Racing Gears Advance – Motor racing on the GBA done right. With guns.

So tell me. What classic games to you enjoy, and why?

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