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Playing Nintendo is like riding a bike.
Playing Nintendo is like riding a bike.

Nintendo emulator brings back floods of side-scrolling memories

It's not a stretch to say for that guys (and some girls) of a certain age, most of our waking hours between about 1987 and 1991 were spent glued to a Nintendo in our bedrooms. I know that for me, I'd come home after a long day in junior high school, crank up the Sex Pistols and play Tetris, Metroid or Super Mario Brothers until those games worked their way into the plots of my dreams that night.

And this is probably the part of the blog in which you'll either click elsewhere or read on with retro enthusiasm. Because this weekend, I stumbled upon a Nintendo emulator for my MacBook. I found about every game every created for the console and started downloading in earnest.

Tonight, I loaded up these old favorites: Super Mario Brothers, RBI Baseball, Contra, Rush n' Attack and Excitebike. The weirdest part is that I remembered how to play these games almost 20 years after I bought the cartridges.

I came halfway to winning Super Mario Brothers on my second try, and it's not even "muscle memory," since a laptop keyboard feels nothing like an old keypad. Somehow, I remembered the "warp" tricks. It came flooding back quickly. I was 14 again. I've gotta say, it felt great.

This time around, I only played each game for a few minutes. While they can't compete with today's technology, it's astounding to see what frugal programmers did with these eight-bit titles. Contra, for example, is about 132k. That's about five words of dialogue in Grand Theft Auto.

Maybe if I could somehow find a USB Nintendo controller, I'd download the rest of the games I spent so many afternoons trying to master. Next up, however, is trying out emulators of Intellivision, Commodore 64 and Sega Genesis. We'll see if memory is as sharp on those platforms, too.

Talkbacks

alba | Feb. 12, 2008 at 9:09 a.m. (report)

It's most-likely not legal to download these games, even if you already paid for them once 20 years ago. Nintendo has shut down game-sharing sites in the past. That being said, there are also emulators for Super Nintendo, the Sega systems, and many Arcade games (search for MAME).

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upofan | Feb. 11, 2008 at 9:48 a.m. (report)

Get a Wii. Yeah you have to pay for the games again (Only $5 for orig. Nintendo games) and the selection isn't the hugest (more games added every month), but the Wii remembers where you left off if you want to stop playing.

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davebobn | Feb. 11, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. (report)

Just go to Best Buy and pickup a cheap $20 USB controller. It's worth it.

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legal | Feb. 10, 2008 at 5:12 p.m. (report)

Not a thief (and it's "I" before "E"). If he paid for the titles the first time around, then downloading them again isn't piracy. Anyway, chill out. I don't think the makers of videogames produced in 1987 are clamoring to recoup royalties.

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bmc249er | Feb. 10, 2008 at 1:45 p.m. (report)

THEIF!!!

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