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Emulation (Games) NES (Games) Nintendo

How The 1997 'NESticle' Emulator Redefined Retro Gaming (vice.com) 83

Slashdot reader martiniturbide writes: For those who lived the console emulator and retrogaming boom on the late 90's there is this interesting article about the story of NESticle posted at Motherboard. NESticle was a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console emulator that had a huge success in the early internet era and helped to start the emulation scene. The author of the story, Ernie Smith, also posted an extra second part of the story... NESticle was "the product of a talented programmer who designed a hit shareware game while he was still in high school," according to the article, which credits the 1997 emulator with popularizing now-standard emulator features like movie recording and save states, as well as user modifications. Programmed in assembly code and C++ and targeting 468 processors, NESticle was followed by emulators for the Sega Genesis and the Capcom arcade platform before Icer Addis moved on to a professional career in the gaming industry, working for Electronic Arts and Zynga. Leave a comment if you're a fan of classic game emulators -- or if you just want to share your own fond memories of that late-'90s emulation scene.
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How The 1997 'NESticle' Emulator Redefined Retro Gaming

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  • 486... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:03PM (#54368615)

    It's 486, not 468. Easy mistake - but that's also one that should have been ridiculously easy with even a casual proofing.

    Yeah, I'm not new here, but that's a pretty bad one for a nerd site.

    Ryan Fenton

    • Re:486... (Score:5, Funny)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:05PM (#54368629)

      It's not open sores software on a pentigram processor.

    • Sure, if you're talking about the 486 in general. A specific model of the 486 is an alphanumeric soup (DX, SL, SX, DX2, DX-S, DX-S2, etc.). I largely skipped the 486 processor and went Pentium for custom PC builds.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_80486#Models [wikipedia.org]

      • You went four years without bothering to upgrade from your lowly 386? The 486 came out in 1989, and the first Pentium didn't arrive until four years later in 1993...
        • You went four years without bothering to upgrade from your lowly 386?

          Nope. I had a 286 and ran a WildCat! BBS for the 1994-95 school year before I got kicked out of the university.

          The 486 came out in 1989, and the first Pentium didn't arrive until four years later in 1993...

          I had the 486 in 1996 and I didn't start building custom PCs with Socket-7 processors until 1997.

        • I had a 486 dx2/66 in 1997 (a Packard Smell :) Spent countless hours playing Doom 2 mods on it. Fun times.
          • Same here. I grew up on a 486 DX2, which was the sweet spot for the golden age of PC/MS-DOS gaming. I played lots of games that are now considered classics on that machine. Those years with Doom, Ultima 7/8, TIE Fighter, Command and Conquer, Warcraft... were the years that defined me as a gamer.

            • I joined Slashdot at a relatively young age (this is my second account). It's posts like these that make me realize I'm slowly becoming one of those old farts that post stuff from ages long past on the Internet... :-/

        • I did that as well. One word: Quake.

          Went from 386SX16 to Pentium 100, to Pentium Pro 200 (was 180 MHz overclocked.)

          AMD was doing their 40 MHz, and 80 MHz thing, while Intel was doing the 33 MHz and 66 MHz. The 486 was bit a clusterfuck era.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      But will it work on my Penmiut?
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:07PM (#54368637)

    I remember when it came out, and I'm really not surprised that it was written by a teenager. No one else would've chosen such a name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Was it the name that tipped you off, or was it the disembodied cock-and-balls dripping blood that was used as a cursor? Because personally, I was a teenager, and the name was just sorta "tee-hee", but that mouse cursor... yikes.

      • [...] the disembodied cock-and-balls dripping blood that was used as a cursor?

        I came across a shareware game that had a disembodied cock-and-balls cursor with a cock ring that went up and down. I immediately deleted the game. It was even an adults-only game.

        Because personally, I was a teenager, and the name was just sorta "tee-hee", but that mouse cursor... yikes.

        When I worked as a lead tester at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, different owners, multiple personality disorder), I found a black-and-white picture of someone's dick in a game. Just so happened that the CEO and the developer were both standing behind me when I made that discovery. The dick in question belonged to a pro

      • by Scoth ( 879800 )

        I've never been able to see it as that. It looks like a hand with a bloody stump at the wrist. Even going back to look at it now I can't see anything other than a hand.

      • It was a disembodied hand, and it was markedly inferior to Carmageddon's mouse cursor. It was also a disembodied hand, but if you moved it quickly, it would cause blood droplets to fly all over the screen.

    • by faraway ( 174370 )

      #snesemu / #emu on EFnet was where the scene started in late 1995.

      Zophar, The_Brain (VSMC in shades of piss yellow unless you paid up), MindRape, Y0shi (Jeremy Chadwick), Daves Classics, AR, etc.

      NINCEST 64: Get sis or get out!

      Shout out if you're around #emu crew!

  • I remember that (Score:5, Informative)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`evi' `at' `evcircuits.com'> on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:19PM (#54368667) Homepage

    There was also a PS1 emulator called Bleem in the late 90s (Windows 95/98 era).

    They've come a long way since, back in the day I could barely get one to work and required sometimes hardware and software hacks as well as the original disks to make them work and were often slower than the console. Now they're prepackaged and you can download ISOs and ROMs anywhere.

    • Bleem was junk. It was the first attempt at going beyond perfect emulation (which already existed in the Connectix Virtual Game Station). There was always "one more bug" that needed worked out, and it never quite worked right
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well VGS and Bleem! were released within a few months of each other, so not sure how "it already existed" + Bleem! was x86 Windows whereas VGC was PowerPC mac.

  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:19PM (#54368671)
    Many games that were fun to play but are no longer available live on because of emulators. Dodging missiles and avoiding getting eaten in Space Invaders, spinning the controller like mad to shoot tube climbers in Tempest or dodging and fighting robots while saving humans in Robotron all were part of teh early gaming experience and cost many millions of quarters to be put into arcade slots. While popular ones get redone and reissued, many others would simply disappear which is a shame from ahistorical sense of how gaming has changed and showing that games can be quite fun and engaging even with simple 8 bit graphics. Games like Moon Cresta, Pipe Dream, Zaxxon, Gauntlet, Tank, Battlezone, and a host of others are as playable and enjoyable today as they were when they were in the arcades. Perhaps game companies will realize the importance of early gaming to the history of gaming and put some effort into making emulators work with them so they can be enjoyed and studied even as VR and other technologies bring new experiences to gaming.
    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Many games that were fun to play but are no longer available live on because of emulators.

      You can say that again! I'm a huge emulation fan! I still use ePSXe to play Final Fantasy 7 from time to time, MameUI64 for arcade, Fusion (I think it used to be called Kega?) for SMS/Genesis, ZSNES for SNES and FCEUX for NES. I keep going to back to my old favorites:

      - FF7
      - Space Gun/Star Wars/Galaga
      - Phantasy Star 1/2
      - FF2, SMB World
      - Dragon Warrior, Bionic Commando, Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania

      So many good times! I highly recommend this t-shirt [redbubble.net] Devo + Castlevania = Epic geekness.

  • I remember most of those names and some of the drama.

    Sardu was a living legend. We were all hooked on his stuff and he was kind of a mystery figure. Most didn't even know his real name.

    Glad to learn he is doing well

  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Saturday May 06, 2017 @04:29PM (#54368703) Journal

    Bleem! was a really cool PSx emulator, and the graphics actually looked better. Often game textures were higher res in the files, but the PSx couldn't display them. Your PC could, however, and many games looked far better on the PC.

    I bough several copies of Bleem! in order to throw money at them, while they would face the inevitable lawsuit from Sony. They did, and they were financially crushed under the legal boot when Sony eventually brought it to bear. Never even went to court.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Programmed in assembly code and C++ and targeting 468 processors, NESticle was followed by emulators for the Sega Genesis and the Capcom arcade platform before Icer Addis moved on to a professional career in the gaming industry, working for Electronic Arts and Zynga.

    Zynga? Damn, what a sad end to such a promising career.

  • Story about efficient emulation of old games that produced great results with minimal resources, displayed on a web page that eats CPU and memory with abandon.
  • I've just now completing sweet ass retro gaming setup intended for one 7 y.o. child and his father and only NES games. I've used Raspberry Pi Zero W +original case (with red accent) +two 8bitdo zero control (also with red accents). Running retropie. The hardest part was finding matching white Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable. :) Everything costing less then $40. I guess this will give somebody lots of fun.

    I own it all to NESticle and later zsnes emulator makers. Cheers!

  • Virtually no NES emulator ever got the "bleep" menu noise in Final Fantasy right. That was literally my yardstick for choosing NES emulators. 90% of them sounded like a robot trying to fart quietly.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Virtually no NES emulator ever got the "bleep" menu noise in Final Fantasy right. That was literally my yardstick for choosing NES emulators. 90% of them sounded like a robot trying to fart quietly.

      Given the level of technology we have today, no NES emulator should exist unless it can be cycle-accurate. The SNES has a cycle-accurate emulator which results in an emulator that pretty much works with every game. The only problem is cycle-accurate emulation takes a lot of CPU, limiting us to around PSX levels o

  • Is that a later version of the 6205 CPU?

  • I think "snotsicle", something a co-worker called oysters back in the 80's. And I have to say, after eating a couple I agree with him.

    They may be tasty, but they are gross as hell and I don't eat them.

    Sorry, did I just hijack a thread? Should have done this on fark.
  • Previous to this, the Amiga was the emulator platform of choice -- which I guess sort of limited the audience for emulation in the U.S. Emulators on the Amiga used all sorts of trickery to get performance improvements (and was mostly focused on emulating 8/16-bit micros, rather than consoles).

    Still, I remember being amazed at what emulators could do with the brute force of post-Pentium x86 systems. I guess that's what was really needed for an era of pervasive and accurate emulation of such a wide array of

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