Written By: John Preer
I recently got the urge to play a lot of the video games from my childhood.
That wasn’t the best idea.
Unfortunately, I either no longer had the system or couldn’t find the game cartridges. No Super Nintendo to fix my Super Marion Kart craving, or PlayStation 1 to satisfy my nostalgia for Megaman 7.
Fortunately, not all hope was lost; a bit of searching turned up a software program called an emulator. There is an emulator for just about every major gaming system released in the past 20 plus years. If you could picture the emulator as the actual gaming system then ROMs would be the cartridges or discs.
Though there are sites that offer free downloads for both the emulators and ROMs, shop around discerningly. Some sites only want to infect your computer with viruses while others just want to spread the joy that comes with retro gaming.
Of course, the software isn’t flawless. Rapidly swapping ROMs may cause the emulator to crash, wiping any save data along with it. Also, the more complex the gaming system (XBOX 360, PlayStation, Wii) the larger the file will be. These larger files can slow your games down considerably. To avoid this problem, I tend to stick to emulators for handheld systems. The rudimentary 2D programming runs a lot more smoothly.
My emulator of choice is the Visual Boy Advance. This particular emulator allows the user to play a host of Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance games. Since the emulator can play games from three different systems, the range of playable ROMs is pretty expansive.
I try to get all my ROMs from the same site to minimize the chance of crashes or freezes.
I download my emulators from emulator-zone.com and my ROMs from coolroms.com. Neither of these sites has given me problems over the years and the content is updated when new games become available.