• This guide is for someone who has no idea of where to get started in emulation.
• This guide is intended for someone using a Windows machine.
• This guide may seem long, and I might make emulation sound more difficult than it really is. But give it a shot, it is really not difficult once you get the hang of it.
1. ROM – Stands for Read Only Memory. This is the microchip inside of the physical game cart that contains the game program. The game is transferred, or “dumped”, to the computer via a “reader” of some sort, and stored as a “ROM Image”.
2. BIOS – Stands for Basic Input Output System. Similar to what you have inside of your computer. It basically tells the machine what to do. You may or may not need a BIOS Image for the emulator to run correctly.
3. Emulator – This is the program that acts like the game console that you want to play the ROM Image on. This is where the hard work of emulation comes in. Someone has to program an emulator to emulate/mimic the actual hardware of of the system, and “trick” the ROM and BIOS to think that it is actually running inside of a real game system. Luckily for you, there are many smart and generous people out there that are willing to spend their free time to program an emulator, so you don’t have to create your own.
The Legality of Emulation
1. I’m sure that you have heard that emulation borders on the edge of being illegal. If you own the game and system that you want to emulate, then it is perfectly legal. Most people feel that emulating old “retro” systems should not be considered illegal even if you don’t own the system or game, because you simply can’t find these in the store anymore.
2. You are unlikely to have the FBI knocking on your door in any case. The most that would possibly happen is having the IDSA or Nintendo send you a cease and desist letter if you are running a ROM site or selling ROM images illegally. So if I were you, I wouldn’t worry. A simple analogy might be the counterfeit model for precious metal jewelry. So for example if you were selling faux silver rings as if they were silver rings, and advertising as such, you probably are breaking the law. One difference is that the value of jewelry, sterling silver or fake silver, is subjective, so one might actually value the fake more than the real thing if (1) you don’t know the difference, or (2) you don’t care and prefer the fake because of the design. Jewelry ’emulation’ as it were is widespread. You can find ‘knockoffs’ of any popular design in lower end jewelry shops. But the makers of the high end items will only press charges if you are infringing on their profits, not their designs (because this is so hard to prove). Add to this the fact that ’emulation’ of silver jewelry may be profitable, but will never replace the real thing, just as a computer emulator will never replace the original game console.
3. If you are interested in reading more about the legality of emulation, see this site that I created.