The ultimate arcade game emulator.

MAME, short for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, has got to be one of the oldest freeware programs still in active development. It’s an arcade machine emulator that allows you to play classic video games such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede and Q-Bert at your computer. To play those games, you’ll need the matching ROM image files, which are easily found all over the web.
Unfortunately, getting your favorite games to work on MAME is a trial-and-error process. Not all ROM image files work, and to add to the confusion, there are multiple variations of a certain video game available for download. At least one of those variations will work, and finding it takes some effort. If you’re patient enough and are willing to put forth the effort, you’ll soon be rewarded with being able to play your favorite game in MAME.
This site has a nice collection of ROMS that work with the current version of MAME. You’ll find all kinds of arcade classics there, including the immortal Bubble Bobble. ROM World is another good site for video game ROMS.
If you prefer a version of MAME with a graphical interface, you can get that here. It sports a cool menu system for easy access to your arcade game collection.

Intellivision lives.

I have very fond memories of playing video games on the early video game consoles during the early 1980’s. It seemed everyone I knew had either an Atari 2600 or an Intellivision game system. Now, through the magic of emulation, you can relive those good old days all over again.
Nostalgia is without question the best Intellivision emulator I have used. It sports a very slick graphical interface with easy access to your favorite game ROMS. It does come with some games that can be legally distributed, but none of the classics I grew up with.
In order for Nostalgia to work to its fullest potential, it needs some files that cannot be legally distributed, specifically EXEC.BIN, and GROM.BIN, downloadable from this site. Be sure to grab the IVOICE.BIN file to emulate the synthesized speech present in some of the games.
Now for some ROMS. There are plenty of web sites out there that have Intellivision ROMS but I found this one page that has 176 Intellivision ROMs zipped up into one archive. I’m not sure if that’s every Intellivision game ever made, but it does include the classics such as Snafu along with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.
Have fun!

What a MESS.

MESS stands for Multiple Emulator Super System and is the Swiss Army Knife of emulators. It can emulate hundreds of computer systems, from old computers to classic video game consoles. While it does take some work to set up one of the many virtual machines to work under MESS as you have to locate and install the appropriate ROM files, the work will be worth it as you’ll be able to have various virtual systems at your disposal from one program. How to do this is all described in the documentation.
It didn’t take me long to get this gem up and running. Once I had the Intellivision ROMS in place, I was able to enjoy a quick game of Snafu. I also found that some of the classic gaming consoles will run right out of the box, such as the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis consoles. All they need are some game ROMS, which you can easily find on the Web.
I’m already having a blast with this very cool emulator. It’s well on its way to preserving the memory of the old computer systems of yesterday.

Spectrum ZX Emulator.

This whole thing started when I was looking online for a small Tetris game. I found it here but noticed some other games on the same page with titles such as Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Lunar Jetman. I had never heard of them so I did a search and found out they were originally made for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer, one of the first home computers used in the United Kingdom, way back in the 1980’s. The games have been remade and updated for today’s computers with versions for Windows, DOS and Apple computers.
I then started wondering about ZX Spectrum emulators and found a large list at this page. At random I decided to try SpecEmu. which is a nice small emulator despite its author’s rather low opinion of it. I found some games and programs here. Check out the gamesdisk.zip file to see what the original versions of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy looked like.

Virtual Merlin.

I was lucky enough to grow up in an age of hand-held computer games. One of my favorite toys was Merlin, a strange-looking but very fun toy that could play Tic-Tac-Toe, Blackjack, Magic Square and other mentally challenging games. My favorite feature was the Music Machine where I could program my own melodies. All these games are faithfully reproduced in Virtual Merlin, an ongoing programming project that promises to keep the memories of the original hand held version alive. Its console looks just like the real thing and does not require 6 AA batteries. You will definitely need the manual, available on the site, to learn how to access Merlin’s features. Playing with this program really brings back memories of growing up with a Merlin and I commend the author for undertaking such a worthy project.
As far as I can tell, Virtual Merlin doesn’t write its settings anywhere and runs easily from a USB key drive. After installing it and extracting the contents of the VMERLIN3.ZIP file, just copy the program’s folder to your USB drive. It only needs 640KB of disk space.

Classic DOS games.

My very first computer was a Leading Edge brand computer with a 80286 processor, 640KB memory, 16-color EGA graphics card and a 30MB hard drive. Its primary operating system was MS-DOS 3.20. Here’s a listing of games I enjoyed back then, all of them now freeware and available from Apogee’s web site. They’re still fun to play even with their simple graphics. The games listed below all work with DOSBox.

The Monuments of Mars – This was the very first game I played. I had downloaded it from a BBS and loved it so much that I sent away for the full four-volume saga. It’s still just as fun to play as it was when I first played it, even with its 4-color CGA graphics.

Pharaoh’s Tomb – Another CGA classic that takes you inside an Egyptian pyramid filled with puzzles, prizes and peril.

Arctic Adventure – This CGA sequel to Pharaoh’s Tomb sends our brave adventurer to the frigid world of the Arctic to find the missing pieces of a map that lead to buried treasure.

Dark Ages – Now we work our way up to 16-color EGA graphics with this fantasy adventure in which a brave warrior battles an army of strange creatures during his quest to defeat an evil wizard named Garth. This was the first shareware game to feature actual in-game music.

I once owned these games myself on 5 1/4″ floppy disks.

DOSBox.

DOSBox is a free, open source DOS emulator that’s perfect for playing those old MS-DOS games you still have lying around. I myself have plenty of classic games such as Wolfenstein 3-D, Commander Keen, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adenture and Rise of the Triad. They all play great under DOSBox. This program is one of my favorites and I use it whenever I need to relive the classic days of computer gaming.