Last update :- February 19th, 2012

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Introduction

What is an emulator?

In the context of this site, an emulator is a program that can faithfully reproduce an older computer, games console or arcade machines using a PC. Typing the words "computer emulator", "console emulator" and "arcade emulator" into the popular Google search engine return 50.6M, 14.5M and 9M results respectively - so you can see it's quite a popular pastime with a lot of PC gamers.

Why use one?

The reason a lot of gamers use emulators is because it allows them to return to the days when they used their older computers and consoles and play the classic games they used to love. For this reason the emulation scene is often referred to as "retro-gaming". It also allows younger people who never owned such machines to see something of the history of computer gaming and how it's evolved.

Where can I start?

If you're new to the emulation scene a good place to start is ClassicGaming, and in particular their newbie guide. Another good reference site is Emulator Zone, which gives you access to a lot of popular emulators for different systems. Games for use with the emulators are usually referred to as ROMs.

What's included on this page?

Here I'll introduce you to the systems that bring back memories for me and on the individual pages the emulators I use to recapture those memories, some of my favourite games and screenshots. The machines in question are the Amstrad CPC, Sega Megadrive (or Genesis in the US), Nintendo 64 and arcade machines you see in pubs, clubs and gaming centres.

Of course there are many other emulators out there for many other systems - indeed I use emulators for both the Amstrad CPC (PSPCap32) & Sega Megadrive (PicoDrive) on my Sony PSP handheld console.

Amstrad CPC

Amstrad introduced their CPC (Colour Personal Computer) range in 1985 with the CPC464, to be followed by the CPC664, CPC6128, CPC464+ and CPC6128+. They were all based upon the following specifications:

The competition at the time was stiff from the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore C64 and BBC Micro to name a few. It stood up well against the first two as a games machine and was on a par with the BBC for small business purposes and expansion capability.

PC emulators breathed new life into computers like this because of the ability to load and save games quickly from a PC's hard drive. Originally you had to load and save from cassette tape (slow and unreliable) or floppy disc (quicker but with limited storage space). In a lot of cases you didn't have the option to save a game in progress.

Some of my favourite games (of which there aren't PC equivalents except via emulators) are:

Alien 8 Mission Genocide Reflex Starion Super Cars Switchblade
Alien 8 Mission Genocide Reflex Starion Super Cars Switchblade

Sega Megadrive (Genesis)

New 16-bit consoles heralded the demise of the 8-bit computers such as the CPC and their console equivalents such as the Sega Master System (SMS) and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Of the two main choices, I chose the Sega Megadrive (Genesis in the US) released in 1989 ahead of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

The console had the following specifications:

Some of my favourite games are:

Aladdin Cool Spot Flashback Micro Machines PGA Tour Golf II Robocop vs Terminator
Aladdin Cool Spot Flashback Micro Machines PGA Tour Golf II Robocop vs Terminator

Nintendo 64

Nintendo released their N64 64-bit games console in 1996 to jump ahead (technology wise) of the 32-bit Sega Saturn and very successful Sony PlayStation.

The console had the following specifications:

Some of my favourite games are:

Donkey Kong 64 Goldeneye 007 Mario Golf Mario Kart 64 Nuclear Strike 64 Super Mario 64
Donkey Kong 64 Goldeneye 007 Mario Golf Mario Kart 64 Nuclear Strike 64 Super Mario 64

Arcade Machines

If you're into gaming in any way it probably started as a result of visiting video game arcades or playing games in local pubs and clubs. They're still going strong, consuming many a 10p piece (or what ever currency you may use). The only problem is that unless you were good you spent a lot of money and couldn't save your progress. Emulators change all that - using virtual coins and allowing you to save game states to your hard drive.

Some of my favourite games are:

Gauntlet Gyruss Slap Fight Track & Field Xevious Zaxxon
Gauntlet Gyruss Slap Fight Track & Field Xevious Zaxxon

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