Emulation – turn your PowerPC Mac into a time travelling machine

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of emulation. I always prefered the “real thing”. Two things have recently changed my opinion: Lack of money/place and a new Super Nintendo style USB controller.

Many people don’t know, but there are really plenty of very well-done emulators out there for PowerPC Macintoshs. Most of them were ported to the Mac by a guy named Richard Bannister. Which is pretty awesome, because all the emulators share the same layout / settings. Know one, know all. Mr. Bannister also supplies a so-called “emulator enhancer”, a small utility that needs to be put into your library folder and enables stuff like USB gamepad support or instant save among a few other things.

He asks a well deserved shareware fee of 29 $ which may look pricy at first glance, but then again it will work with all his emulators. And he covers almost all major machines from the early 80s to the late 90s. You’re free to try out Emulator Enhancer as long as you wish before registering, there is no limitation. So Richard trusts that those using his software will be honest and eventually signing up. I registered two weeks ago via paypal and it worked fine.

Development has progressed and the latest versions are all optimized for Intel machines. However, Richard offers an archive of older versions that run under 10.4.11. I did some testing over the past two weeks and the last versions for us Tiger users are:

Emulator Enhancer 2.3

GameBoy: KiGB v2.0.5
Game Boy Advance: Boycott Advance v0.4.0
NES: Nestopia v1.4.1
Super NES: BSNES v0.5.0 (requires a fast G4 or better!)

Master System: SMS Plus v.1.3.3
Mega Drive: Generator v0.4.4
PC-Engine: TGEmu 0.3.4 (Hu-Cards only)
Colecovision: Mugrat v0.4.3

Commodore64: Frodo v4.4.0
BBC Model B: Horizon v1.3.9
MSX: fMSX v3.5.1
Atari 800: Rainbow v1.5.6
Amstrad CPC: Arnold v1.7.8

Atari Lynx: v0.9.7
NeoGeo Pocket: v0.5.1 (no sound emulation)
WonderSwan: Oswan v0.8.1


Now that we got all the emulators that we want, we care for a fancy front-end, do we? So go and check out emulaunch, a great front-end that is exclusive for Mac OSX 10.4.10 – 10.5.6. Emulaunch basically allows you to set up organized lists for your emulators, making it so much nicer to navigate through the masses of software and picking the one you desire.

All you have to do is to create a “roms” and a “screenshots” folder inside your emulators folder and fill them with good stuff. Voilá! Have fun!

Download emulators at: http://www.bannister.org/software

Download emulaunch at: http://www.emulaunch.com/

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2 Responses to Emulation – turn your PowerPC Mac into a time travelling machine

  1. Bloodstar says:

    Honestly, I believe the shareware fee is not really warranted in this case. Read on, before you just think “oh this guy wants things for free” – that’s not the case at all. (Free is nice, obviously, though!)

    I’m all for paying for quality software, but only when it is their work. Sure, Bannister -ported- the emulators, but they were largely others’ work – he just removed some of the features from them (e.g. controller support) and implemented Emulator Enhancer to try to profit off of it. Not cool. If he coded the emulators themselves, however, I could certainly justify and even support his decision. The unified UIs, while nice, don’t quite justify it… (Ironically, the software I’d be most willing to pitch him a few dollars for is free. Audio Overload works nicely on my Intel machine, although it doesn’t stack up to old CocoModX for playing my old Amiga/PC modules… or, well, work at all on my G4s/G5.)

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of many decent PowerPC-compatible emulators. I know Snes9x still has PowerPC code maintained within… and I’d suggest Kega Fusion for Genesis/SMS emulation if it weren’t Intel-only. (A shame, but I believe it uses some x86 assembly…)

    I do like your blog, though – as one who still gets use out of a few PowerPC Macs running Tiger, I find it a very valuable resource and plan to keep up with it. My apologies for going on a bit of a rant, here!

  2. Mike says:

    Here, here re: Bannister’s ported emulator collection!

    VICE, for example, is an excellent C64/C128 emulator for all platforms and it is free. It has been around a very long time and even spurs development of new C64 software by hobbyists. (It’s easier to cross-compile on a modern computer and test on an emulator than try to edit assembly language source on a 40×25 column TV set!) There are many other nice free emulators, too. Surprisingly, they’re getting hard to find and commercial crap emulator software is becoming too easy to find.

    I am opposed to paying for software because it has NO RESALE VALUE, largely due to ridiculous copyright laws in the US. Isn’t there some Ferengi Law of Acquisition about that? While I must comply with the law, I am under no obligation to buy the rubbish churned out by software companies and, asking myself “Is this software purchase really necessary?” I almost always discover that there are free open source alternatives. Maybe not %100 percent polished UIs, but stuff that will get the job done. I have been so often disappointed by the stuff sold by software companies that I find I am more than patient enough to figure out the free stuff, bugs and all.

    Spend your money on hardware, not ephemeral trash.

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