Feb 21, 2007

The twisted joy of online emulation

We are all cheap bastards, really. Yes, women too. Isn't it amazing? Even worse (and definitely amazing too), some of us are retro-gaming cheap bastards, who can't even be bothered to download and install stuff. Well, brothers, what follows is a list of the very best (according to traditional gnomish taste) free online emulators, that will hopefully cater to the cheap-ass, lazy and highly refined audience, I hope to have already managed to gather in Gnome's Lair for this little free retro gaming orgy, that will hopefully entertain you between readings of Das Kapital and Ulysses.

So, let's start off with the legendary and frankly quite powerful Apple II home computers, that are beautifully emulated through Java over @ Virtual Apple 2. Expect emulation of both the original Apple II and Apple IIgs, tons of freely available games, game manuals and a brilliant PDF fanzine. Games you should absolutely try include: Dungeon Master, Teenage Queen, Neuromancer, Wasteland, Wizardry and Castle Wolfenstein.

On to another popular machine then, the Commodore 64 and an online emulator I've already mentioned: the too brilliant for words c64s. There, you'll find that almost every C64 game ever released is available to you via an excellent and quite colorful web interface. Suggested games (subjectively selected from a few hundred impressively varied C64 classics) include: Bruce Lee, Dizzy, Giana Sisters, The Hobbit, Saboteur and Boulder Dash.

The hugely popular ZX Spectrum, Europe's beloved Speccy, being a traditionally humble piece of hardware got an excellent java emulator called Hob, which only (?) features 19 games and a version of BASIC, and lacks the bells and whistles of c64s. Thankfully classics like Ant Attack, Manic Miner, Skool Daze and Jet Set Willy are all included and faithfully emulated.

Equally popular to the Speccy, especially in the US and Japan, was the 8-bit Nintendo NES, which I believe arrived in Europe as late as the late eighties. Shame, but it didn't feature no SID chips, did it? Anyway, NES was generally brilliant and all-conquering and so is vNES, an emulator offering 500 English language games, 100 Japanese, 25 in various other languages and 5 unlicensed games. Must-play NES/Famicom games: Super Mario Brothers 3, Mega Man, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Bomberman, ExciteBike and Final Fantasy.

MSX (MicroSoft eX/Cross, see Wikipedia entry), though not particularly successful, has also got it's nice little Java emulator thing going on. It's the aptly named Java MSX Emulator. Have a look and definitely try Raid on Bungeling Bay, Thexder, Nemesis, Dragon Slayer 4 and Zaxxon.

And now for the handheld loving finale. Gaming on the go aficionados, you see, also get their fair share of online freebies to enjoy, be it on their virtual Game Boy, Game Boy Color or Game & Watch. For the first two consoles do try the amazing GameBoy Online Emulator (just don't forget to play Tetris, Super Mario Land, Final Fantasy Adventure and Skate or Die), whereas for the really retro Game& Watch stuff this link should keep everyone happy.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Batari BASIC, Watergate Caper, Alter Ego, Rick Dangerous Freebies

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  1. ...
    (stares whit an empty gaze)
    (continues doing so for about an hour)
    It's been... so,long...

    (gently falls to the floor shedding sweet tears)

  2. (fixes Nikolas some tea, gives some aspirin and calls for the pizza deliverers)

    Wuold you need some Tequila too?

  3. (slowly coming to...)

    Yes please... Do you serve lemon whit that?

  4. Of course. Unless of course it's yellow tequila you're after, in which case, it'll have to be orange...

  5. Let's start whit the usual one, shall we...

    (Gulps down tequila then bites the lemon like an apple)

    Ahhhh... Now that's a pick me up...
    May I have another?

    (hungry eyes fixed on the bottle)

  6. Nice guide Gnome. There are a few NES games I wana play that I never got a chance to

  7. Glad to be of retro-service Tahir... Cheers!

  8. Wow Gnome! I've come over all emotional... I'll never leave again...

    Do you think the Apple emulator will have Lemonade Stand?

  9. That's great Father, provided of course you stop crying that is. Care for a smoke ;)

    No? Good. Here's Lemonade Stand then:


  10. Wow! What an amazing gift! You just took me back 28 years in time! I forgot about the midi version of "We're In The Money" when you turned a profit...

    I'll be showing this one to my littlest son and to my dad who first introduced me to the apple nearly thirty years ago!!!

    Wow! Curse you stupid Resident Evil! I've missed out on such beauty while I've ebeen locked in your stupid zombie world!! PAH!

  11. so let me see if i've got this right,

    you just provided us with the ability to play almost every game for the Apple II, commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum..

    and no one has asked you to bear their children......

    ....freaking amazing, please tell me at least that you'll be cryongenically frozen....future generations will never forgive us.....

  12. Well, I won't be forgeiving you either if you freeze me you know... I don't want to go into the cryo-chamber just yet. I'm too young a gnome... Noooooooooo!

    Ah, better. Even though dear Elderly I failed to find a proper web version of Impssible Mission.

    Oh, and it's so nice getting you in a nostalgic mood dear Father. And Father's father...

  13. (pushs cryo chamber out of the room.......)

    ..so you don't want to go in the cryo chamber huh!.. people dying every day to get into one of these.. and you just don't want to..

    (re-enters room pushing DNA mobile unit in front of him....)

    right well cloning shouldn't be a problem then should it....

    ...the expence we go to.... just cause you dont' want to be frozen.....

  14. Cloning's fine with me really, provided of course it doesn't hurt me or the clone.

    Could we build an army of them? Would be great wouldn't it? Just like Green Tenatacle (or was it purple)?

  15. In my school (where I work) the kids have to look at and evaluate toys (as part of the history curriculum)... So we show them old toy cars, action man, puppets etc..

    We show them vinyl LPs, tapes brick like mobile phones and so on... (and they laugh!!!)

    Thanks to the amazing Mr. Gnome, I can literally show them the beginnings of computer games...

    They can play games on the Apple emulator (that I played on a fledgling Apple PC) over a quarter of a century ago!

    How fucking great is that!!!???

    I'll let you know what they think...

  16. Yes, please do...

    By the way, that's an amazing idea, but really, vinyl records are still being sold widely and there are lots of new releases.

    Anyway, really great you can both enjoy and use the post. Cheers father!

  17. ...an army? of clones?

    right we'll need a bigger syringe then... pain you balk at pain at a time like this..... forsooth!

  18. (sleeps and fails to understand a word the old man is muttering)


    CLONES! Yes! I'll bring the huge one then...

  19. ...oh no not the huge one....

    (runs screaming out of the room........walks back in.....)

    what huge one?

  20. ..a freaking huge syringe......

    oh dear almighty... j....s...

    (runs screaming out of the lair...)

    (a few seconds alter the elderly peaks his head around door...)

    erm what's in the syringe?

  21. Well, guss you should be the one to know... Right?