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A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing deviceto emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications (like GameShark), one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or more rare consoles.
The code and data of a game are typically supplied to the emulator by means of a ROM file (a copy of game cartridge data) or an ISO image (a copy of optical media), which are created by either specialized tools for game cartridges, or regular optical drives reading the data.Most games retain their copyright despite the increasing time-span of the original system and products' discontinuation; this leaves regular consumers and emulation enthusiasts to resort to obtaining games freely across various internet sites rather than legitimately purchasing and ripping the contents (although for optical media, this is becoming popular for legitimate owners). As an alternative, specialized adapters such as the Retrode allow emulators to directly access the data on game cartridges without needing to copy it into a ROM image first.
By the mid-1990s, personal computers had progressed to the point where it was technically feasible to replicate the behavior of some of the earliest consoles entirely through software, and the first unauthorized, non-commercial console emulators began to appear. These early programs were often incomplete, only partially emulating a given system, resulting in defects. Few manufacturers published technical specifications for their hardware, which left programmers to deduce the exact workings of a console through reverse engineering. Nintendo's consoles tended to be the most commonly studied, for example the most advanced early emulators reproduced the workings of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Game Boy. Programs like Marat Fayzullin's iNES, VirtualGameBoy, Pasofami (NES), Super Pasofami (SNES), and VSMC (SNES) were the most popular console emulators of this era. A curiosity was also Yuji Naka's unreleased NES emulator for the Genesis, possibly marking the first instance of a software emulator running on a console.
This rise in popularity opened the door to foreign video games, and exposed North American gamers to Nintendo's censorship policies. This rapid growth in the development of emulators in turn fed the growth of the ROM hacking and fan-translation. The release of projects such as RPGe's English language translation of Final Fantasy V drew even more users into the emulation scene.
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As computers and global computer networks continued to advance and emulator developers grew more skilled in their work, the length of time between the commercial release of a console and its successful emulation began to shrink. Fifth generation consoles such as Nintendo 64, PlayStation and sixth generation handhelds, such as the Game Boy Advance, saw significant progress toward emulation during their production. This led to an effort by console manufacturers to stop unofficial emulation, but consistent failures such as Sega v. Accolade 977 F.2d 1510 (9th Cir. 1992), Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. v. Connectix Corporation 203 F.3d 596 (2000), and Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Bleem 214 F.3d 1022 (2000), [ better source needed ] Accordingly, video game publishers and developers have taken legal action against websites that illegally redistribute their copyrighted software, successfully forcing sites to remove their titles or taking down the websites entirely. Most emulation projects work in cleanroom-style software development, reverse engineering the hardware and software emulation from observation to avoid running into copyright issues for emulation. For example, in 2020, a large trove of information related to Nintendo's consoles was leaked, and teams working on Nintendo console emulators such as the Dolphin emulator for GameCube and Wii stated they were staying far away from the leaked information to avoid tainting their project.have had the opposite effect. According to all legal precedents, emulation is legal within the United States. However, unauthorized distribution of copyrighted code remains illegal, according to both country-specific copyright and international copyright law under the Berne Convention.
Under United States law, obtaining a dumped copy of the original machine's BIOS is legal under the ruling Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc. , 964 F.2d 965 (9th Cir. 1992) as fair use as long as the user obtained a legally purchased copy of the machine. To mitigate this however, several emulators for platforms such as Game Boy Advance are capable of running without a BIOS file, using high-level emulation to simulate BIOS subroutines at a slight cost in emulation accuracy.[ citation needed ]
Due to their popularity, emulators have also been a target of online scams in the form of trojan horse programs designed to mimic the appearance of a legitimate emulator, which are then promoted through spam, on YouTube and elsewhere.Some scams, such as the purported "PCSX4" emulator, have even gone so far as to setting up a fake GitHub repository, presumably for added trustworthiness especially to those unfamiliar with open-source software development. The Federal Trade Commission has since issued an advisory warning users to avoid downloading such software, in response to reports of a purported Nintendo Switch emulator released by various websites as a front for a survey scam.
Due to the high demand of playing old games on modern systems, consoles have begun incorporating emulation technology. The most notable of these is Nintendo's Virtual Console. Originally released for the Wii, but present on the 3DS and Wii U, Virtual Console uses software emulation to allow the purchasing and playing of games for old systems on this modern hardware. Though not all games are available, the Virtual Console has a large collection of games spanning a wide variety of consoles. The Virtual Console's library of past games currently consists of titles originating from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Wii, as well as Sega's Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive, NEC's TurboGrafx-16, and SNK's Neo Geo. The service for the Wii also includes games for platforms that were known only in select regions, such as the Commodore 64 (Europe and North America) and MSX (Japan), [ which? ]as well as Virtual Console Arcade, which allows players to download video arcade games. Virtual Console titles have been downloaded over ten million times. Each game is distributed with a dedicated emulator tweaked to run the game as well as possible. However, it lacks the enhancements that unofficial emulators provide, and many titles are still unavailable.
Until the 4.0.0 firmware update, the Nintendo Switch system software contained an embedded NES emulator, referred to internally as "flog", running the game Golf (with motion controller support using Joy-Con). The Easter egg was believed to be a tribute to former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who died in 2015: the game was only accessible on July 11 (the date of his death), Golf was programmed by Iwata, and the game was activated by performing a gesture that Iwata had famously used during Nintendo's video presentations. It was suggested that the inclusion of Golf was intended as a digital form of omamori—a traditional form of Japanese amulets intended to provide luck or protection.As part of its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, Nintendo subsequently released an app featuring an on-demand library of NES titles updated regularly. The app features similar features to Virtual Console titles, including save states, as well as a pixel scaler mode and an effect that simulates CRT television displays.
Due to differences in hardware, the Xbox 360 is not natively backwards compatible with original Xbox games.However, Microsoft achieved backwards compatibility with popular titles through an emulator. On June 15, 2015, Microsoft announced the Xbox One would be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 through Emulation. In June 2017, they announced Xbox original titles would also be available for backwards compatibility through emulation, but because the Xbox original runs on the x86 architecture, CPU emulation is unnecessary, greatly improving performance. The PlayStation 3 uses software emulation to play original PlayStation titles, and the PlayStation Store sells games that run through an emulator within the machine. In the original Japanese and North American 60GB models, original PS2 hardware is present to run titles; however all PAL models, and later models released in Japan and North America removed some PS2 hardware components, replacing it with software emulation working alongside the video hardware to achieve partial hardware/software emulation. In later releases, backwards compatibility with PS2 titles was completely removed along with the PS2 graphics chip, and eventually Sony released PS2 titles with software emulation on the PlayStation Store.
Commercial developers have also used emulation as a means to repackage and reissue older games on newer consoles in retail releases. For example, Sega has created several collections of Sonic the Hedgehog games. Before the Virtual Console, Nintendo also used this tactic, such as Game Boy Advance re-releases of NES titles in the Classic NES Series.[ citation needed ]
Although the primary purpose of emulation is to make older video-games execute on newer systems, there are several advantages inherent in the extra flexibility of software emulation that were not possible on the original systems.
Disk image loading is a necessity for most console emulators, as most computing devices do not have the hardware required to run older console games directly from the physical game media itself. Even with optical media system emulators such as the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, attempting to run games from the actual disc may cause problems such as hangs and malfunction as PC optical drives are not designed to spin discs the way those consoles do.[ citation needed ] This, however, has led to the advantage of it being far easier to modify the actual game's files contained within the game ROMs. Amateur programmers and gaming enthusiasts have produced translations of foreign games, rewritten dialogue within a game, applied fixes to bugs that were present in the original game, as well as updating old sports games with modern rosters. It is even possible to use high-resolution texture pack upgrades for 3-D games and sometimes 2-D if available and possible.
Software that emulates a console can be improved with additional capabilities that the original system did not have. These include Enhanced graphical capabilities, such as spatial anti-aliasing, upscaling of the framebuffer resolution to match high definition and even higher display resolutions, as well as anisotropic filtering (texture sharpening).
Emulation software may offer improved audio capabilities (e.g. decreased latency and better audio interpolation), enhanced save states (which allow the user to save a game at any point for debugging or re-try) and decreased boot and loading times. Some emulators feature an option to "quickly" boot a game, bypassing the console manufacturer's original splash screens.
Furthermore, emulation software may offer online multiplayer functionality and the ability to speed up and slow down the emulation speed. This allows the user to fast-forward through unwanted cutscenes for example, or the ability to disable the framelimiter entirely (useful for benchmarking purposes).
Some consoles have a regional lockout, preventing the user from being able to play games outside of the designated game region. This can be considered a nuisance for console gamers as some games feature seemingly inexplicable localization differences between regions, such as differences in the time requirements for driving missions and license tests on Gran Turismo 4, [ better source needed ] and the PAL version of Final Fantasy X which added more ingame skills, changes to some bosses, and even more bosses that weren't available in the American NTSC release of the game.[ original research? ]
Although it is usually possible to modify the consoles themselves to bypass regional lockouts, console modifications can cause problems with screens not being displayed correctly and games running too fast or slow, due to the fact that the console itself may not be designed to output to the correct format for the game. These problems can be overcome on emulators, as they are usually designed with their own output modules, which can run both NTSC and PAL games without issue.[ citation needed ]
Many emulators, for example SNES9X,make it far easier to load console-based cheats, without requiring potentially expensive proprietary hardware devices such as those used by GameShark and Action Replay. Freeware tools allow codes given by such programs to be converted into code that can be read directly by the emulator's built-in cheating system, and even allow cheats to be toggled from the menu. The debugging tools featured in many emulators also aid gamers in creating their own such cheats. Similar systems can also be used to enable Widescreen Hacks for certain games, allowing the user to play games which were not originally intended for widescreen, without having to worry about aspect ratio distortion on widescreen monitors.
Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. The company was founded in 1889 as Nintendo Koppai by craftsman Fusajiro Yamauchi and originally produced handmade hanafuda playing cards. After venturing into various lines of business during the 1960s and acquiring a legal status as a public company under the current company name, Nintendo distributed its first video game console, the Color TV-Game, in 1977. It gained international recognition with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), also known as the Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America. In Japan, the system is called the Super Famicom (SFC). In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The system was released in Brazil on August 30, 1993, by Playtronic. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent the different cartridges from being compatible with one another.
The history of video games goes as far back as the early 1950s, when academic computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations as part of their research or just for recreative purpose. At M.I.T. in the 1960s, professors and students played games such as 3D tic-tac-toe and Moon Landing. These games were played on computers such as the IBM 1560, and moves were made by means of punch cards. Video gaming did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when video arcade games and gaming consoles using joysticks, buttons, and other controllers, along with graphics on computer screens and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since the 1980s, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern popular culture in most parts of the world. One of the early games was Spacewar!, which was developed by computer scientists. Early arcade video games developed from 1972 to 1978. During the 1970s, the first generation of home consoles emerged, including the popular game Pong and various "clones". The 1970s was also the era of mainframe computer games. The golden age of arcade video games was from 1978 to 1982. Video arcades with large, graphics-decorated coin-operated machines were common at malls and popular, affordable home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision enabled people to play games on their home TVs. During the 1980s, gaming computers, early online gaming and handheld LCD games emerged; this era was affected by the video game crash of 1983. From 1976 to 1992, the second generation of video consoles emerged.
A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.
This is a list of all video game lists on Wikipedia, sorted by varying classifications.
Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. This can include games developed with official development kits, such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2 or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is simply called hobbyist.
Retrogaming, also known as classic gaming and old school gaming, is the playing or collecting of older personal computer, console, and/or arcade video games in contemporary times. Usually retrogaming is based upon systems that are obsolete or discontinued.
Virtual Console, also abbreviated as VC, is a line of downloadable video games for Nintendo's Wii and Wii U home video game consoles and the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console.
There have been more than a dozen video game adaptations of Parker Brothers and Hasbro's board game Monopoly.
The seventh generation of video game consoles began on November 22, 2005, with the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 home console. This was soon followed by the release of Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3 on November 17, 2006 and Nintendo's Wii on November 19, 2006, the following year. Each new console introduced new technologies. The Xbox 360 offered games rendered natively at high-definition video (HD) resolutions, the PlayStation 3 offered HD movie playback via a built-in 3D Blu-ray Disc player, and the Wii focused on integrating controllers with movement sensors as well as joysticks. Some Wii controllers could be moved about to control in-game actions, which enabled players to simulate real-world actions through movement during gameplay. By this generation, video game consoles had become an important part of the global IT infrastructure; it is estimated that video game consoles represented 25% of the world's general-purpose computational power in 2007.
The Japanese multinational consumer electronics company Nintendo has developed seven home video game consoles and multiple portable consoles for use with external media, as well as dedicated consoles and other hardware for their consoles. As of September 30, 2015, Nintendo has sold over 722.22 million hardware units.
In computing, an emulator is hardware or software that enables one computer system to behave like another computer system. An emulator typically enables the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. Emulation refers to the ability of a computer program in an electronic device to emulate another program or device. Many printers, for example, are designed to emulate HP LaserJet printers because so much software is written for HP printers. If a non-HP printer emulates an HP printer, any software written for a real HP printer will also run in the non-HP printer emulation and produce equivalent printing. Since at least the 1990s, many video game enthusiasts have used emulators to play classic arcade games from the 1980s using the games' original 1980s machine code and data, which is interpreted by a current-era system.
A home video game console, or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.
The Wii U is a home video game console developed by Nintendo as the successor to the Wii. Released in late 2012, it is the first eighth-generation video game console and competed with Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.
The Nintendo eShop is a digital distribution service powered by the Nintendo Network for the Nintendo 3DS family and Wii U, and by a dedicated online infrastructure for the Nintendo Switch. Launched in June 2011 on the Nintendo 3DS, the eShop was enabled by the release of a system update that added the functionality to the Nintendo 3DS's HOME Menu. It is the successor to both the Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop. Unlike on the Nintendo 3DS, the eShop was made available on the launch date of the Wii U, although a system update is required in order to access it. It is also a multitasking application, which means it is easily accessible even when a game is already running in the background through the system software, though this feature is exclusive to the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo eShop features downloadable games, demos, applications, streaming videos, consumer rating feedback, and other information on upcoming game releases.
The eighth generation of consoles includes consoles released since 2012 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home video game consoles, the eighth generation began on November 18, 2012, with the release of the Wii U, and continued with the release of the PlayStation 4 (PS4) on November 15, 2013, and the Xbox One on November 22, 2013. The Wii U was the first home console of this generation to be discontinued, on January 31, 2017, to make way for Nintendo's second home console competitor, the Nintendo Switch, released on March 3, 2017. These video game consoles follow their seventh generation predecessors from the same three companies: Nintendo's Wii, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Microsoft's Xbox 360. Throughout the generation, Sony and Microsoft continued to release hardware upgrades to their flagship consoles. In August 2016 and September 2016, Microsoft and Sony respectively both released "slim" revisions of their consoles, the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Slim. The Xbox One S notably added support for HDR video and Ultra HD Blu-ray, while Sony released a software update to add HDR to all existing PlayStation 4 consoles; the PlayStation 4 Slim does not support UHD Blu-ray. Following this was an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro, which was released later in November 2016; meanwhile, Microsoft also announced an upgraded version of the Xbox One in 2016 under the name Project Scorpio. This would become the Xbox One X, released a year later in November 2017. Both of these consoles were aimed at providing upgraded hardware to support rendering games at up to 4K resolution.
Game development kits (GDK) are specialized hardware used to create commercial video games for game consoles. They may be partnered with game development tools, special game engine licenses, and other middleware to aid video game development. GDKs are typically not available to the public, and require game developers to enter an agreement, partnership, or program with the hardware manufacturer to gain access to the hardware. As game console generations pass, development kits often get sold through websites like eBay without repercussions. This is often because the console manufacturers discontinue certain development programs as time passes.
Video game preservation is a form of digital preservation applied to the video game industry. Such preservation efforts include archiving development source code and art assets, digital copies of video games, emulation of video game hardware, maintenance and preservation of specialized video game hardware such as arcade games and video game consoles, and digitization of print video game magazines and books prior to the Digital Revolution.