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Thriving on Teenage Nostalgia with a Sega Emulator

27 July 2008

On a recent visit to Los Angeles, I stayed with a friend who had his SEGA GENESIS hooked up to his TV. I had been pining for my Genesis and MASTER SYSTEM games, so I jumped at the chance to play Altered Beast, which I duly beat in order to hear the cheesy ending music that I always loved.

When I returned to New York, I still had that music in my head, so I did some internet searching and found the Altered Beast soundtrack, as well as the music for other favorite games, like Sword of Vermillion, Revenge of Shinobi and the Space Harrier series. I used sites of dubious legality to download these “albums”, so I won’t post them here, but a simple Google search for “altered beast mp3 download” should get you pretty close.

Of course, hearing the music just made me want to play the games. Fortunately, I talked to a friend who told me about video game emulators, which are programs that you can download to your home computer that read the ROMs from old video game cartridges, which are also downloadable.

There are a lot of emulators out there and picking a good one can be overwhelming. I happened to find an excellent one my first time out. It’s called FUSION and it’s available here. It’s a Windows program, so Mac users will have to do some more searching, but it plays games from three Sega platforms: Master System, GAME GEAR and Genesis. It’s a very small file, even when unzipped (2.37 MB), and, so far, I haven’t noticed any glitches. It’s also simple to use – when the program is opened, you see snow, like from old television sets tuned to a blank channel. Click “File” and then load the type of game you want to play and open the ROM for that game.

Now, Fusion doesn’t come with any games, so you have to download the game ROMs separately. I’ve been downloading all my games from ROM-World. The site is easy to navigate and they seem to have every game from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. The games are available as .ZIP files, and, wouldn’t you know it, Fusion reads and plays games as .ZIPs.

If you have any qualms about downloading legality, these games are available for free, which allows ROM-World to distribute these games on their site under Fair Use. There are a few games (like The Legend of Zelda) that are not available because they are currently in distribution. Anyway, these games are, for all intents and purposes, long out of print, so making them available is more of a public service than anything, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve really been enjoying playing games from my past, like the ones mentioned at the beginning of this post. In fact, right before writing this, I completely finished Sword of Vermillion and loved every second of it. Other favorites I’ve been thrilled to play again are Starflight, Maze Hunter 3D, Action Fighter, Zillion, Alien 3 and the original Phantasy Star, which I never actually owned.

There are also a lot of sites dedicated to the memory of old games. I’ve been using for my Role Playing Games (RPGs). It has entire “shrines” dedicated to most of the best old RPG video games, including helpful “walkthroughs,” which act as guides to the games. Some may call it “cheating,” but, personally, I have more fun when I can get somewhere in the game.

Well, there you go, yet another way to waste time. But what a wonderful way it is! And don’t forget to