Emulate Your Atari!
Computers, consoles, and handhelds all in one place!
By Gregory D. GeorgeSeptember 10, 1997
is the process where one computer mimics the chips and code of another.
Emulators allow you to play classic arcade games on your PC. There are emulators
for the 2600, 5200, Lynx, Atari ST, and even (gasp) Sega and Nintendo.
My first foray into emulation, was on my Atari ST. I found an emulator
called X-Former that would allow you to run software for the Atari 8-bit
computers on your ST. It was cool, but useless without a special cable that
allowed you to hook up your 8-bit disk drive. In addition, this emulator was
actually SLOWER than the real thing! You see, emulators translate processor
instructions to another type of processor. Such as 6502 instructions to a 68000.
Doing this takes a lot of time, slowing the emulator down considerably. My 8mhz
Atari ST was unableto emulate a 1.79mhz Atari 8-bit at full speed. h
Next, I tried a PC emulator for my ST. It worked, but it was slower than
Christmas. My friend A was literally able to eat lunch between
Tetris pieces! After that, I gave up trying to emulate other computers
on my ST.
Back in 1995, I started working around PC's for the first time. I knew that
one day I would have to buy a PC, but didn't want to give up the Atari ST's
capability I had grown accustomed to. So, I purchased GEMulator '95. It is piece
of software that, with a special card containing the TOS ROM chips, would
emulate an Atari ST to perfection.
Once I became aware of the internet, I learned that you could play classic
game systems, like the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, on your PC. Then I later
learned of the arcade emulators. Then the Sega & Nintendo emulators. Now, I've
literally gone emulator crazy!
If you're looking for a 2600 emulator, I'd recommend PC Atari Emulator. I've
tried the others, and some have cute interfaces, but their emulation was not up
to par. PCAE offers excellent emulation, a spot of sound, and joystick support.
The later versions offer true Atari joystick support, near perfect sound, and
the ability to play Pitfall II.
Playing an Atari Lynx emulator on your PC totally defeats the purpose of having
a portable game system. But it doesn't mean BattleWheels or STUN
Runner is any less fun. Handy is my choice for Lynx emulation, and it does a
fine job. It's still not quite up to speed, (you need a FAST processor) but
there is sound, joystick support, and the ability to resize the screen. I'm
hoping there will be some form of ComLynx play in the future. Imagine playing 8
Slime World over the Internet!!
One non-gaming benefit of these emulators is that it allows me an easy way
to capture screenshots in the NL. Hopefully, people will buy the real game
by looking at an emulated screenshot.
Emulation is a lot of fun and a good way to try out a game you've never played
before. However, it is important to realize that these games are all copyrighted
and legal action could be taken against you. But, it's a risk that many people
take in order to play the great games of yesteryear.