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Monday July 25, 2005 12:00 pm

Thoughts on Nintendo Revolution Emulation

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Features, Retro, Wii,

Nintendo Revolution Retro

This last week I was inspired to break my 8-bit NES gear out of cryogenic hibernation and play some classic old school games without any emulation or ports to modern hardware. Call me a freak, but no matter how advanced game system gets I will never get totally bored with the NES era games. I think a lot of them hold up pretty good over the years, and most of the Java based cellphone games are not technically more advanced than what we played in our NES decks back in the 80s.

Nintendo has been making lots of money recently off repackaging older NES games on the Gameboy Advance or a special edition disk of Zelda games for Gamecube.

Nintendo announced at E3 that their next game console the Revolution will be able to play downloaded classic games for the NES, Super NES and N-64 from half a gig of flash memory or a SD memory card through emulation in a virtual console. That is not to shabby since it will also play Gamecube disks and new Nintendo Revolution games and DVDs. They also might include the ability to play Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance games through the virtual console but that has not been confirmed but it is entirely technically feasible.

The awesome thing about this is that this is through software and there will not be any special chips to pull this off so it will not add to the cost of the Nintendo Revolution console. They announced that the games will be encrypted and tied to the Revolution console that they were downloaded over or first played on. I can live with a light DRM to prevent unauthorized reproduction of games since the entire profit of the game market is off game sales.

They have not announced anything yet, but I am willing to bet all the games in Akihabara than there will be an online classic games store sort of like the Apple iTunes Music Store. Most likely we will either set up an account with Nintendo and pay with a credit card or set up a game allowance account. They might sell pre-paid cards with game characters with credits for game downloads. The game would be downloaded to the console via the net or off a disk and it would be encrypted and tied to that particular game console. One has to speculate how much they will charge, but what if they charged $1 for a NES game, $3 for a SNES game and $5 for a N-64 game. The brilliant thing is that it will not really cost them anything since you are paying for your own internet connection and the games will not require any new game developers since it is through emulation of the classic hardware. They don’t have to make any cartridges and physically ship them to you so these downloaded games could be pure profit. The idea of being able to play any NES game on modern hardware is slick. I love emulators on my computers and I think that Nester DC the NES emulator for Sega Dreamcast is righteous.

This is sort of the logical evolution at non-cartridge game delivery systems that Nintendo has tried. Back in the 80s they sold an external floppy disk system for the 8bit Famicom. Disk games were cheaper than cartridge version and they had diskette vending machines but they were limited in graphical capacity since Nintendo started including extra memory and graphic processors in later game carts. The floppy disk was never brought out for the NES outside of Japan. They tried a satellite TV game network in Japan for the Super Famicom but that did not take off. I am still waiting for the Sony made CD-ROM drive for my Super Nintendo. There was the N-64 DD in for the Nintendo64 in Japan. It was a Zip Disk like removable magnetic disk for the N-64. There is the iQue in China that is a dedicated emulator for NES, SNES and N-64 games via a downloaded and encrypted memory stick.

I am sure that there will still be demand for Revolution games but it is super slick that Nintendo is embracing their past.  I am 27 now and the kids that will get the Nintendo Revolution as their first system will never remember a time before PS2 and DVDs.  Now if you will excuse me I have 8bit turtles to stomp and a princess to rescue.

- Jacob Metcalf

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