What was your first/formative emulator experience?

FAST6191

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Often enough we do first console you had/played on/put real time into, first gaming experience of a given genre and get some interesting answers depending upon age of the person in question, circumstances and more besides. If we have done emulators then it has not been for a while and thus here we are.
Technical firsts in emulation get debated to this day ("porting" dynamic translation efforts between the commodore 64 and things using similar chips, which is most things, being where that usually ends up) and https://www.vice.com/en/article/9a4...mbitious-emulator-that-redefined-retro-gaming (who knew Vice could do something interesting) is about when it got real for most (read those with high end computer and internet talking) people.
Do try to make it an emulator in the sense that most here would think of it in that you pick and choose what you want to play or have to construct it from ROMs rather than "well technically a NES emulator was written for this PS1 game".

In my case... probably 1998 or 1999 my friends and I would go to a computer fayre in a village near one of their houses. One of them would sell CDs including bundles of ROMs (and hacker compilations but that is a different discussion).
To that end Genecyst, a megadrive/genesis emulator, is the emulator that forms my earliest memories of such things.

Even got a little box to turn VGA signals into RF to play it on TV (main way to have a large screen at the time) from the computer fayre a few months later, still have it somewhere around here as well.

Several months later a friend would get the SNES equivalent one but I never really got into that and while I shared with all then others were a bit precious about copy-paste (whole £5 or maybe even £7 I think it was that cost) so it never spread as far in the group, he might however consider that his formative one. The internet was a thing but it was also something you either booked in the library, went to the town library during the weekend, later begged parents to use (cost on your phone bill in the UK) and there was even a kid in school whose dad worked for a big company and consequently paid for an ISDN connection (basically two lines stapled together to double the speed). To that end new ROMs were not a common occurrence at all and we mostly played the several hundred bundled with it (I was slightly upset to find Crusader of Centy was the same game/different region as Soleil), occasionally leading to a bit of what is dubbed pirate syndrome around here but with Streets of Rage 1,2 and 3 ever the option that was largely mitigated.

Today I know what all those fancy options do but back then I might have clicked on them to see (that is the sort of thing you did pre internet). Load ROM, change region, savestates to the point of hammering keys and keeping a bunch in rotation... all good. No cheats though beyond what any menus might have provided (no real intro/cracktro scene on the megadrive unlike the Amiga) which is perhaps an odd one as we did have things for the megadrive, N64 and PS1.
Sourcing ROMs would more likely come in earnest in during the Amiga phase that followed soon after (we all various played Amigas which meant cracktros and copied games were the default there, plus PC) as we could not figure out how to dump games to PC (click these three banners and then click download, naturally we deleted it after the 24 hours).
Game revolution (the main gaming site yahoo used, google was not yet the dominant search engine) even had an emulation section https://web.archive.org/web/2000101...revolution.com/download/emulator/emulator.htm so that was where I learned a lot more, though that was a year or two later.


However I am both old and not old enough/rich enough to have had a computer during the earliest days so maybe you came in during the early N64 instead, maybe the nesticle stuff linked at the start is stuff you were there for, maybe it is many years later. Share your experiences.
 

KiiWii

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I remember nesticle. Someone I know had Doom and that emulator on some floppy disks and we used to abuse the “tech lab” at high school. I thought it was a miracle playing a console on a pc.

Edit: I think that was before we all got N64’s and Goldeneye and Mario Kart took live our lives…

I also remember Snes 9X coming out a little bit later.
 

Marc_LFD

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It was either an emulator of N64 or GBA.

Smash 64, Mario Kart 64, and Road Rash 64 (it gets trashed a lot and yeah it's not a great game, but I did enjoy due to Genesis nostalgia).



Those blurry N64 still look good.
 
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The Real Jdbye

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Man, that takes me back. One of my teachers in like 5th grade had a zip disk or similar with roms on it and showed me that he could play Sonic on a PC. I barely knew what Sonic was since Nintendo was far more popular here, but my mind was nonetheless blown.
I thought that the zip drive somehow contained the hardware to run the game and the PC was just acting as a display input and output, since he needed to plug in an external drive and I had never heard of external drives before. Somehow, that was still mind blowing, imagine being able to plug a console straight into your PC and not need to occupy the TV, especially a magical console that is somehow able to play games without needing the cartridges.
 
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Dust2dust

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I bought my first PC in 1999, and I quickly got interested in emulators. I think my first one would be the ATARI800 emu, which, as you can guess, was emulating the Atari 8-bit computers. As I had an Atari 800XL in the good old days, it got me interested. It certainly wasn't perfect (it still isn't), but I was having fun with nostalgia. I remember clearly playing with the Genecyst and ZSNES emulators, too. I had both consoles, so it was fun comparing how the games played when emulated. I remember Genecyst couldn't handle Burning Force at all, but played Castle of Illusion ok. ZSNES was generally better, but that's just the impression I had then. I was also having lots of fun with the early releases of MAME back then. As you mentioned, I was aware I had to delete any roms downloaded after 24 hours, as every rom sites warned. But as I was just starting on the PC, I had no clue how to delete a file. :rolleyes:Maybe I should have asked experienced users how to do it.
 

Localhorst86

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I think the first time I can into contact with emulators was shortly after we got our first PC with Windows 98 and access to the internet. I remember reading about bleem! and how I could play playstation games on my computer. I then got into ZSNES and Gameboy emulators and ever since then, I liked the idea of being able to play game libraries on systems they weren't designed for.
 

hippy dave

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The first one that sprang to mind was playing Game Boy Tetris on PC, might have been Virtual Boy to start with idk. But thinking back, I feel like I tried out a Spectrum emulator on the Amiga. Maybe even borrowing a tape from a friend and playing it in through our sound sampler cartridge?
 

DanTheManMS

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ZSNES on Windows downloaded from Zophar.net over dial-up, then the constant struggles to get rom files from questionable websites that all forced you to vote for them on three separate "top-ten rom sites" lists just to maybe download or maybe not. Yay Javascript and Internet Explorer 6 without ad-blockers.

That very first day of "I'm playing Super Mario World... on my computer..." opened up a whole new world (pun intended) of possibilities, and I've been interested ever since!
 

The Catboy

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I know my first experience was with a SNES emulator on Windows 98 and I believe it was with ZSNES. I remember the emulator had like a zombie hand cursor and was pretty accurate at the time. My uncle set up a bunch of games on our family computer and I didn't understand how he did it. I ended up spending months trying to figure it out until I eventually got my first ROM running on my own. That sense of accomplishment from downloading my first SNES ROM and setting it up myself really stuck with me.
 
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AlexMCS

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Snes9x back in 2000. I played a lot of the console's library (150+ games) through emulation.
Great times.

Then I slowly got to know the rest, using zophar.net as a knowledge base of sorts and started trying all sorts of emulators (zSnes, Genecyst, no$gb, PJ64, KEGA, MAME etc.).

I never cared for anything older than 16-bit tho, except for some select master system games, since it was my first console.

My PC back then ran Mario Kart 64 at an astounding 3 spf (yeah, seconds per frame).
 

lokomelo

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A poorly translated early copy of Pokemon Gold and no$gmb on a floppy disk
For me was just like the same, I had no$ and some gameboy roms on a floppy disk, the Pokemon one was not named pokemon and had like 5 characters for every pokemon name. Despite having occidental characters, it was a weird language, closer to english, but weird.

My theory is that it was translated from japanese to english, meant to be played on hong kong. It was gen 1 but it had some color too, so I don't know.

I wish I could find this floppy nowadays to analyze it and rescue the save file.
 

zoogie

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First emu experience? I remember it like it was yesterday... <wavy screen fade>

2009, Nestopia, Battletoads NES, on a Core 2 Duo laptop. Thought I was going to jail for sure.
I played it just for nostalgia purposes, and quickly lost my nostalgia after being remind how stupidly hard the game is after the second level. It was just an isolated experience (phew, I didn't go to jail!). I wouldn't get hooked on hacking/homebrew stuff until I got an r4 a couple years later.
 
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LainaGabranth

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I played an extremely shitty, low effort, 2000's humor ridden romhack named Pokemon Dragonstone on the family Windows Vista computer when I was like, 13 or some shit. Ever since that taught me that romhacking was the single coolest shit ever. Like put yourself in the perspective of someone growing up in the 90s and tell them that all the cool games they play will have edits and versions made by other players like them, that are gonna be cooler, or harder, or unique experiences and so on.
 

Alexander1970

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In 1998...yes,Genecyst,that was the first one.:)
Followed by a cracked Version of Bleem! ,but only by my Friend on an Pentium MMX PC because it did not worked on my AMD K6 System...
 
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FAST6191

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First emu experience? I remember it like it was yesterday... <wavy screen fade>

2009, Nestopia, Battletoads NES, on a Core 2 Duo laptop. Thought I was going to jail for sure.
I played it just for nostalgia purposes, and quickly lost my nostalgia after being remind how stupidly hard the game is after the second level. It was just an isolated experience (phew, I didn't go to jail!). I wouldn't get hooked on hacking/homebrew stuff until I got an r4 a couple years later.
Wavy screen fade? You need some degauss in your life if talking in these circles


A poorly translated early copy of Pokemon Gold and no$gmb on a floppy disk
Was that the one that went on a rant fairly early on about someone else claiming to be able to hack but instead passing work of others off as their own?
 
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