Hail to Emulation, Hail to Preservation

This week has been pretty eventful. A Zelda CDi sequel, a revitalization of the cancelled Shantae Advance game, and tons of re-releases of games like Tomba, Clock Tower, and even the best game ever made, a revolutionary piece of art with perhaps the best ludo-narrative in any video game ever made before or since, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties on the 3DO. It is quite exciting to see, but I have to be completely frank: emulation will ALWAYS be the herald of game preservation, and re-releases are absolutely meaningless. I don't really see the point of them, to be fully honest with you. Firstly, some may say that it combats piracy. Now, let me ask: why is pirating obsolete video games wrong? Or rather, why is piracy wrong period? The original developers aren't seeing a cent, and all the money is going to whoever owns the copyright. I do pay for games sometimes, but I only really pay for indies in order to support the developers. This is kind of cliche, but I think it's worth saying. Stealing is bad because you deprive someone of their rightful property. Piracy does not do that. You aren't subjecting the game to scarcity. Secondly, disregarding piracy, a great deal of retro video games will never ever be re-released. Many are simply too obscure and simply float in the Aether, or at least they would without emulation. Here's a good example: Hong Kong 97. The game was dumped to the Web sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s and became a cult classic rather quickly, but really skyrocketed in popularity because of the AVGN's review of it. However, it took 2 decades for a single actual copy of the game to surface and be found. And even worse, it required a special machine to play. You see, it came in the form of a floppy disk with a SNES ROM on it, and required a Magicom to play. The Magicom is a machine used to copy SNES ROMs to floppies and play them as well. Without emulation, a lot of games would be lost media. Another thing that has to be mentioned is that games and consoles degrade over time, and need more and more care in order to keep them running as time goes on. Restoration work may require electronic know-how, especially in cases like recapping. Furthermore, the barrier to entry of even playing these games grows higher and higher. It is no longer true that you can get a bunch of games and consoles from a second hand store or eBay for cheap. In the dystopian year of 2023 AD, an NES console (one of the most popular consoles of all time selling millions) will net you $100, and rarer NES/Famicom games like Gimmick! and Little Samson can range from a few hundred bucks to literal thousands. I highly recommend you read Proxima64's article on the matter here. It is a great read. And the final complaint: those who say that re-releases allow the game to reach a wider audience. Somehow, according to them, there's a considerable amount of people who either can't or don't emulate. Frankly, I don't see how. You can play emulated games on a smartphone, or even a crappy PC. Some may say that installing emulators is a hurdle to playing retro games, and to that I say: if I could figure out how to use DOSBox when I was 8 years old to play DOS games on my Windows 7 craptop, I have no doubt in my mind that your average person can use DuckStation or SNES9x. Those are even more streamlined and simple than DOSBox. It really doesn't take any more than knowledge you should already have if you own a computer to use an emulator. I'd think this is down to "ease of access", where Windows and Mac attempt to pander to the Elois among us who have no ability to use a computer properly. In short, re-releases are gay, emulation rulz, and piracy is awesome. That's enough ranting for now, I hope you enjoyed this spergout. El Psy Kongroo.