Stop what you’re doing.

If you have:

  1. A Sega Dreamcast
  2. A CD-Burner (no, this isn’t headed where you’re expecting)
  3. Some Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) ROMs

Go here. This is the homepage for NesterDC, a port of Nester to the Dreamcast. Nester is a NES emu for Windows that has had the foresight to be open source and portable. The Dreamcast has had emulators before. DreamSNES is a port of SNES9X a SNES emulator – DreamSNES’ only flaw is that it’s not fast enough to be feasible yet. It didn’t take long for someone (a warez group in fact) to figure out that the Sega Smash Pack, Volume 1 for the Dreamcast was in essence a Sega Genesis emulator and 10 ROMs, and equip it with a menu loader system. This went under the moniker “SegaGEN” – SegaGen is good, but it’s rather hit or miss. When a game works, it works more or less flawlessly. When it doesn’t – it doesn’t. Period. The only real qualm is with the sound – it either sucks or doesn’t exist.

This isn’t to say NesterDC is perfect – the sound blows, and the menu interface could use some work. However, it runs NES games either at full speed or really damn close – close enough that, with the sound off (which speeds it up) you can fool yourself into thinking you’re playing a NES on your TV. Well, except that it doesn’t “stretch” the image to fit your screen like the NES did. It needs some work, but I was floored to be able to play Mega Man on my television this morning.

I used to be into NES emulation – really into it. I ran a site called “The Gray Area” – a Blue’s News of the NES. It’s gone now (though on a CD somewhere, I think). This is back when NESticle was king of the hill (still is, for the most part) and there were still NES ROMs to be released. I proposed an open source NES emulator called OpenNES, but no one took me up on the idea to code it (though I did get an interesting email from Mindrape, the guy who stole the NESticle source code). Instead we kept having attempts to code a NES emulator in QBasic. Baffling.

The games NESticle couldn’t run could be run in fwNES, an emulator that had an unprecedented support for mappers (a somewhat abstract concept – the method in which a NES game “mapped” the NES’ resources). fwNES’ only problem then was that is was slow on computers at the time (but not so much now – it runs too fast on my system). fwNES has not been updated in more than 2.5 years, so it’s probably safe to say that it’s dead.

A year or so back an emulator called NESten came out. It’s pretty good and it’s Win32 native. What’s really cool about it, though, is that it uses a plugin architecture (like I proposed in OpenNES) and the author has released the source code for the plugin .DLL files so that people can implement their own mappers, meaning that mapper support is no longer soley in the hands of the emulator author, nor does having them in the hands of the public force the emulator to be open source.

The other “big” NES emulator right now is Nester. Big because, while it doesn’t have the features of NESten, it is open source. There have been other open source NES emulators, but most of them haven’t been worth a damn. Nester seems pretty good in this respect. Nice to see the ideas I proposed (which probably weren’t read) in OpenNES have more or less finally seen their way to implementation. Hopefully NES emulation will someday reach perfection. At the very least it needs some clarification – witness the five categories Zophar divies them into.

Oh, and I saw the new Denis Leary show The Job. It’s an entertaining show, but I’m somewhat disappointed. Mainly in the respect that it’s half an hour – I’m used to NYPD Blue. Hell, that’s the problem – I was expecting NYPD Blue. Still, I’m a huge Leary fan and I’ll keep watching in the hopes that it finds its spot – I just hope it does. The first episode just seemed like it was trying too hard.