Find favorites and emulators on the Web

November 09, 1998|By Michael Stroh | Michael Stroh,SUN STAFF

Digging for digital nostalgia?

Thanks to a small band of techies, you can transform your desktop into a state-of-the-old video game. On the Web, you'll find re-creations of titles ranging from coin-op classics such as Tempest and Defender to Atari 2600 home videogame hits such as Pitfall.

Unfortunately, making this work isn't as simple as popping a disk into your drive and clicking "Setup." It's more like buying a desk at IKEA: some assembly required.

First, download a program called an "emulator," the best of which are MAME and Retrocade. MAME supports 900 classic video games while Retrocade supports 100. To get MAME up and running, read the plain English primer at For Retrocade, try

That done, you have to find the game software, called a "ROM image" because it was taken from the ROM chips on the game's circuit board.

A word of caution: While it's not illegal to have an emulator, putting the game ROMs on your computer may be. Most Web sites warn that you can only hold onto the ROM images if you own the original game. If not, you're supposed to delete the game after 24 hours.

Where to look

At Dave's Video Game Classics you'll find emulators for more than 900 arcade games, along with PC software that emulates Apple II and Commodore 64 home computers and home consoles such as the Atari 2600.

Classic Gaming is another great Web site for nostalgic vidkids itching to play the classics.

The home of Space War. Want to try your hand at the first video game ever created? Three MIT students took the original mainframe computer code and turned it into a Java applet that will run in your Web browser.

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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