At what point does emulation make more sense than blowing on a cart and praying?
Recently I was bit by the Zelda bug – the urge to go back and once again attempt to tackle one of the great Zelda titles. Which one I would throw myself at was undecided – either the classic first one on the NES, the best game of all time on the SNES, or the not quite as epic, but still great one for the Gameboy color.
Eventually, I decided to give the second one in the series (Zelda II – The Adventure of Link) another go. It is one of two Zelda related titles that I have played, but not actually completed. I figured I should probably rectify this, and maybe get the Zelda bug out of my system at the same time.
In what I occasionally refer to as my “den”, I have pretty much all of the classic (NES era onwards) consoles, and along with them some of my favorite games. Among those treasures is my copy of Zelda II. And, to make NES gaming easier, I happen to have both the front loader NES (big, boxy VCR looking thing) and the sleeker top-loader NES (with the dog-bone controller). Personally, I do prefer the front-load, but the top-load is better for when you actually want to play without having to fight the console first.
Yet, when it came time to actually start playing the game, I didn’t move to the den, nor did I turn to any of the classic systems: I fired up an emulator on my Mac, plugged in a USB controller, and started playing.
I’m not even really sure why I did this – I’m normally very opposed to emulation. I thought I preferred the feel of the old controller in my hand, and the slight fuzziness caused by the CRT. Yet, there I was, attempting to play (poorly, I might add) Zelda II and kind of enjoying it.
Does this mean that, maybe, it’s time to pack away the old systems and just keep going with the emulation and roms? Are they, really, superior to how I’ve been playing before? Should I just move the big ass CRT out, and plop a computer in, and just run everything off of that from now on?
And, if I do – what games should I play? Should I limit myself to only those that I’ve bought, only those that I own… Or has that statute of limitations played out, and it’s now time to just grab anything I want, and play it? The original creators aren’t making any money off these games anymore anyway, so what harm would it be to pirate them? Who would have to know? I mean, other than the four or five people who read this blog, of course.
As of right now, I’m not sure… I’m, honestly, torn. On the one hand, I really do enjoy owning and playing with the older systems, but on the other I don’t use them often enough to justify having them out all the time – and when I do play, I’d rather play right now, not “as soon as I can get the NES to stop blinking” or even “If the Dreamcast decides to load Slave Zero this time”.
Either way, I’ll probably just keep walking that fine line – hoarding the older stuff like pirate gold, and playing it on a fancy computer because I’m lazy.