DSTWO SFC Emulator v1.0 Beta

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by Lily, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Lily

    Lily One Scary Lady

    Former Staff
    Jun 18, 2004
    British Columbia
    <!--sizeo:4--><span style="font-size:14pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Introduction</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    Finally, the moment SuperCard DSTWO users have been waiting for -- a first look at the upcoming Super Nintendo emulator! It's been promised and delayed again and again, but finally a private beta has been made available for testing. It's going to be open-source, which is wonderful for anyone that wants to learn the SDK to produce their own emulator, or perhaps even enhance this one!

    <!--sizeo:4--><span style="font-size:14pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>The Games</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    So let's get right into it -- what everyone wants to know is, does it work? Is there slowdown? Graphical/audio glitches? Can I play game X? Here is the list of games I've used so far for testing:<ul><li>Chrono Trigger</li><li>Contra III - The Alien Wars</li><li>Demon's Crest</li><li>Donkey Kong Country</li><li>F-Zero</li><li>Final Fantasy II</li><li>Final Fantasy III</li><li>Final Fight</li><li>Killer Instinct</li><li>Kirky Super Star</li><li>Kirby's Dream Land III</li><li>Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past</li><li>Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World</li><li>Super Mario Kart</li><li>Super Mario RPG - Legend of the Seven Stars</li><li>Super Mario World 2 - Yoshi's Island</li><li>Super Metroid</li><li>Terranigma</li></ul>Overall, the games look great -- the rain effects in games like Zelda and Donkey Kong Country display correctly, and Mode 7 graphics in games like F-Zero, Mario Kart and Final Fantasy 2 also display correctly. The audio is a mixed bag -- some games, such as Chrono Trigger and Zelda are mostly true, with complicated samples such as the wind blowing and birds chirping playing with little glitching. The spoken words in Metroid and Killer Instinct play without issue. In Contra III, any weapon you fire sounds like a chipmunk. In Super Mario World, the audio is off-key, while in Super Metroid the audio is filled with crackles during certain sound effects. However considering its beta status, it's pretty far along. Clearly the audio code needs to be cleaned up and the timing worked on, and many of the issues would be eliminated.

    While all games loaded fine, there were some that were completely unplayable. Yoshi's Island was fine until it was time for gameplay, when the game simply became too slow to play. You would move, nothing would happen on screen, and a few seconds later you're in a completely different spot. This is a Super FX2 game though, so the fact that the emulator manages to get it going at all is a small feat, considering we were warned that special chip games were unplayable. Both Kirby games suffered the same issue, and Mario Kart was also slow -- not quite so slow as to be unplayable, but close. Super Mario RPG worked until the first battle, when the game suffered the same slowdown as Yoshi's Island.

    All the games had nice responsive controls with no input lag.

    Here are some screen shots of the games in action:

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02891.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02916.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02897.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02907.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02892.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02886.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02888.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02913.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02906.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02912.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02926.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02927.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02915.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02908.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02905.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02918.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02898.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02904.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02914.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02903.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02910.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:4--><span style="font-size:14pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>The Emulator</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    Now let's have a look at the actual emulator itself. The main menu appears on the bottom screen, offering you 'Video/Audio', 'Save State', 'Cheats', 'Tools', 'Others' and 'Exit'. Games appear on the top screen. (No, there is no option to switch them around.) During gameplay you can bring up the menu at any time by tapping on the touch screen, however you cannot navigate the menu via touch -- only with the d-pad and buttons.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02920.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Video/Audio</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    The first menu item, 'Video/Audio', currently only contains two options - 'Graphic' and 'Game fast forward'. The 'Graphic' option is the most important one in the entire emulator, as it allows you to toggle the display mode. There are 4, labeled '0', '1', '2' and '3'. The 'Game fast forward' option can be toggled on or off, but I could not figure out what effect it was supposed to have on the game, as absolutely nothing changed whether it was on or off.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02924.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    Display Mode 0 (Everything is squashed to fit on the screen.)
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02899.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    Display Mode 1 (Everything is stretched, cutting off top/bottom.)
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02900.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    Display Mode 2 (Bottom is cut off.)
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02901.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    Display Mode 3 (Top/bottom are each cut off less than Display Mode 1)
    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02902.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    Hopefully there will be some audio options in the final version, because audio is definitely where the emulator is suffering the most so far.

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Save States</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    The next menu item, 'Save States', allows you to save and load states, with 10 slots per game. It worked in every single game without any issue at all. However, there are no screenshots or additional information saved with the state, so you'll have to remember which one is which.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02925.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Cheats</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    The cheats menu allows you to load cheats from file, and toggle selected cheat on and off. However I was unable to test this option, as no documentation was included as to what type of cheats the emulator supports, what file format, etc.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02921.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Tools</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    The tools menu only has one option - 'Screen snapshot'. This takes in-game screenshots as 256x192 BMP files, and also allows you to browse the screenshots you've taken directly on the DS. (However, the option to view appears to be broken at the moment.) The BMP are not a special format, they can be loaded and viewed on a PC without issue.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02923.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Others</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    The others menu allows you to change the CPU frequency, switch your language between English/Chinese, reset all settings to factory default, see how much space is left on your microSD, and see the current version of the emulator. Switching the CPU frequency (0 - 4) did not have any noticeable effect in any of the games, so I'm not entirely sure what this option is intended to modify. It defaults to '2' for every game.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02922.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Exit</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    This menu option simply sends you back to the DSTWO main menu.

    <!--sizeo:3--><span style="font-size:12pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>New, Return & Restart</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    Along the bottom of the menu are three additional options, 'New', 'Return' and 'Restart'. The 'New' option is where you load your games. The games are automatically sorted in alphabetical order. Just for fun I dumped the entire SNES collection on a microSD (it's under 3GB), and there was no noticeable delay in scrolling through the ROM list.

    <img src="http://lilsypha.gbatemp.net/images/scds2_sfc/DSC02919.JPG" border="0" class="linked-image" />

    The 'Return' option simply exits the menu and allows you to return to the game you were playing, and restart performs a reset on the game you are currently playing.

    <!--sizeo:4--><span style="font-size:14pt;line-height:100%"><!--/sizeo--><b>Conclusion</b><!--sizec--></span><!--/sizec-->

    For the first beta we've been able to get our hands on and try, this is a very promising emulator. Game compatibility is excellent, and there are a range of graphical options to either fit content on the screen or expand it (hello, text-heavy RPGs!) The audio needs a lot of work still, and preferably some configuration options to tweak it. The games you would expect not to work (Super Mario RPG, Yoshi's Island) do not work, but perhaps with some further tweaking they could. The games you would expect to work (Super Mario World, Super Metroid) do with a few audio issues, but no other noticeable hangups. The SuperCard team have done a great job, and with some bugfixing, this is going to be one to watch.