View Full Version : Emulator Tips for Retro Gamer Rookies

17th June 2013, 02:32 PM
Hello I am going to show you the basics and importance on using emulators from 8-bit to 1990s 32-bit Machines.

Before you ask I know some expected FAQs that will occur in this tutorial:

Q: Isn't emulators illegal and can impact on my reputation?
A: Well most emulators are under the GPL license for making freeware apps legal, but Nintendo had asked most Emulator sites that they no longer have permission to share Nintendo ROMs anymore. Also Amiga Inc. and Cloanto IT srl, deny sharing KickStart ROM files online, which are like BIOS Firmware files required for the Amiga emulators, like UAE for it to work. You can also try RetroArch as well as RetroPie for the Raspberry Pi, that is a useful and clever way to play Retro games as well bring the Pi around to your friend's place to play 2 player, and a VPN isn't really needed if you aren't using the Pi for downloading ROMs.

Q: I have not many HDD space and if I downloaded a series of ROMs approximately 600MB or more - is there anyway I can save my HDD storage space or my USB Flash Pen?
A: Yes you can. If you got the binary ROMs stored in a neat and organised folder, you can compress it as a .zip file by using WinZip or 7Zip. Don't worry if you leave your ROM as a zip cos the emulator will still work when you load your ROM file as a zip file. But not all Zipped ROMs for some emulators may work.

Q: Is it possible I can play a game with enhanced GFX and faster speeds without crashing the system?
A: Well technically yes, but remember those ROMs aren't designed to run on a overclocked system for faster FPS. Overclocking the Genesis/Mega Drive from an emulator does work but for Sonic the Hedgehog that wasn't designed for the Motorola 68000 CPU to exceed it's stock speed will cause a graphical glitches. As for SNES games with the SuperFX Chip, you can also overclock the SuperFX from Snes9x but so far they won't make Star Fox nor Yoshi's Island run smoother near 60 FPS. The best method for enhancements is using GFX filter - xBRZ and bilinear filtering for most retro games. https://sourceforge.net/projects/xbrz (https://sourceforge.net/projects/xbrz/)

Q: I got a C64 and Amiga emulator but I don't know how to run it and select with configuration that will make it work.
A: Well for C64 try using VICE and start using ReadMe.txt if you are stuck but try not to bother using C128 disk images or that as well using C128 Mode to often. For Amiga like WinUAE you need a KickStart OS ROM like Kickstart 1.3 for OCS/ECS A500 mode, use the quick start menu and try using A500 mode when you got the KS1.3 ROM in place. Or try buying Amiga Forever as they have the essential ROMs like for CD32 and Kickstart 3.x range for AGA Amigas from www.amigaforever.com (http://www.amigaforever.com). But you won't find other KS ROMs for Amiga UAE in many Emulator sites, so you maybe just left with KS 1.3 A500, until you pay for Amiga Forever.

Q: My old emulator doesn't appear to work on my newer Windows OS, is there any way I can make it work?
A: Yes, but I cannot guarantee it - try using Compatibility Mode in Windows 98 mode by right clicking on the emulator .exe app. But if you have a laptop like the Dell D400 series then you best get one of those, with a Windows 98SE OS but DON'T use it for the internet due to net threats. The reason why you can use a old renovated laptop around 2001-2004 is the floppy disk drive and printer port which can be useful for transferring your actually floppy disk games and GameBoy data which is explained in here: https://apg-clan.org/showthread.php/14-Game-Boy-and-GBA-Gaming-Tips (http://apg-clan.org/showthread.php/14-Game-Boy-and-GBA-Gaming-Tips)

Q: Where can I download those ROMs and which site I can trust?
A: Well try to be careful on which site you browse at where it has those dodgy adverts that contains misleading applications. But my best recommendation is www.theoldcomputer.com (http://www.theoldcomputer.com) as they are reliable for ZX Spectrum ROMs go to www.worldofspectrum.com (http://www.worldofspectrum.com).

Q: Do I need a controller to make my game play easier or do I stick to the keyboard?
A: Yes if you wish, but for Atari 2600 games range and maybe Amiga games, you really need a mouse to use it as a paddle for Super Breakout as well as Arkanoid.

Q: I want to help the emulator dev team fix the bugs, how can I help them by reporting any bugs?
A: Well it depends if they are active or not, like say if their website been potentially dead or lost its domain then you best move on to a newer emulator that will work on newer OS machines. If you want to report any bugs, please remember to use readme.txt and find their forums, Discord or BugZilla site. They cannot help you if you post bugs with insignificant evidence or persistently keep on reporting bugs in a overdemanding manner as they won't tolerate with that.

Q: I noticed you can get ROMs for NTSC and PAL regions, which Region is best for my emulator?
A: Well unfortunately most Nintendo, Neo-Geo and Sega ROMs for the emulator are mainly for NTSC Japan region as they are originated in Japan - which means that they had more games than the non-Japanese regions. I don't know if Nintendo or Sega will redub on Japanese written ROMs for the Virtual Console like PSN, XBox Live or Nintendo Network as they are mainly focused on the latest games, not 3rd party games. But if you want my advice for which region you should go well, my personal choice is PAL - not because I am in a PAL region but they are few advantages of using PAL ROMs. 1st is the slower gameplay for awkward mental agility needed like Puzzle Bobble or Tetris for trying to compete with a AI player; 2nd is the multilingual menu in the intro as most PAL games are based in Europe for non-English speakers and if you don't understand English 100% try PAL ROMs; and 3rd is getting totally committed to PAL ROMs as you may use Save State for your game but when you displace your PAL for a NTSC for no good reason will corrupt your Save State or make it inoperable and not many emulators have a core speed adjust option for slow motion cheats.

Q: Does those retro gaming ROMs and emulators support or allow Achievements?
A: Yes they do, but not for computer based emulators like the Commodore 64, Apple II nor the Amiga sorry. You need to sign up to RetroAchievements and download the RA Emulators that will work. Also the ROMs you may have in your PC depends on the CRC32 or Hash readings for RetroAchievements to identify your ROM files and activate the Achievements for you to unlock. The RetroPie does support Achievements as well, but it is more complicated to setup. https://retroachievements.org/ (https://retroachievements.org/)

8-Bit Machines

If you have played on a old Atari 2600 or C64, NES or ZX Spectrum, then you might as well download a emulator as most companies have been discontinued or defunct. For ZX Spectrum go into www.worldofspectrum.com (http://www.worldofspectrum.com) to find the best ROMs, manuals, maps and the emulator that is perfect for you. For compressing your ROMs, I suggest you DON'T compress the .c64 tape images or .tzx files as I tried that and it didn't work on my emulator to load a tape image. And to be honest compressing a 8-bit ROM doesn't make any significant difference as they are small as around 50KB and zipping them will make them around 34KB - which is not much. For 8-Bit LightGun games, you need to search carefully to find out which emulator has the LightGun control feature, but the ZX Spectrum LightGun emulator feature is hard to come by. And for Atari 2600 games, try using Stella as that appears to be the only active emulator.

16-Bit Machines

For Mega Drive games (or Genesis for US), you need to choose which emulator that suits you like for Sega-CD .iso files and using Game Gear or Master System games. To load a Sega-CD ROM what you need is to load a .iso or .cue file and a Sega-CD or Mega-CD BIOS .rom file, as it is required to boot the .iso image file. .iso based games are more powerful and have amazing cutscenes compared to cartridge or floppy based ROMs but they have a huge storage space impact on your system. For Amiga games you will need a set of .adf games as Amiga floppy games can only carry under 1MB at a time. Also if you are running on a Workbench 1.3 OS, you maybe best using 2MB CHIP RAM and no Slow or Fast RAM. You don't really need a controller as the gameplay control for a Amiga game is simply the cursor keys and the fire button or the mouse. And yes, you will definitely need a controller for SNES and Mega Drive games.