Emulators: OpenEmu.

Nostalgia isn’t just a word these days, it’s a commodity. It helps bring you back into a place where you were happy, and enjoyed something profoundly.
With games, its the same principle. With emulators, they can help transport us back to that time more-so.
It’s an open secret that we use them. It’s easy to a load up one and quickly play a level of Sonic or Nights, and then go back to whatever we were doing in the present.
One was even used for Sega’s games on the App Store, before they were either taken down or remastered fully.

On a Mac, there used to be an age-old joke of how you couldn’t play games on an Apple Computer. With the move to Intel in 2006, the Mac App Store and Steam a few years later, it’s only buried that joke into the ether.
With the emulator in question below, it’s only cemented the fact.

This week, I wanted to talk about one that I use almost daily, and how it helped me produce the best images to use for Final Zone.


Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 13.29.50 Currently playing:

  • Super Metroid on Super Nintendo.
  • Warioland on Virtual Boy.

Before, I’d use a mix of emulators to play what I wanted, whether that was Castlevania on the NES or Dragonball Z: Hyper Dimension on the SNES. Every-time I’d have to make sure the settings were correct, while using any setting during a game would be at risk of crashing for freezing.
But with OpenEmu for me, it’s now the primary source of these consoles to play on. Launched in 2013 at Christmas time, it’s the go-to emulator on the Mac, where you can play 95% of game consoles in the last thirty years with ease.
It works by having different emulators at the ready, called ‘cores’. If you wanted to play Mega Drive games, a ‘core’ would be downloaded and installed, ready to play your backed up games.

It works similar to iTunes. Once you’ve copied your game from your own cartridges, you drag and drop them into the app, and if the database finds the metadata, its box-art and title should appear as above.

There’s also some great shortcuts. You can take a screenshot, load or save a state in the game at any point. You can even rewind at any point, similar to the mechanic in Prince and Persia: Sands of Time.

Fallen down that pit in Ninja Gaiden? One key press and you reverse, ready to try the jump again.

But what I really like about this app, is the little things.

The filters are what made the screenshots in Final Zone stick out and make it look exactly as it would on an old cathode-ray-tube television.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 13.34.26
The controller setup is also a great touch. The art of each peripheral especially. It shows the original controller for that console, and if you have a bluetooth controller connected, it will recognise it, and will even map the keys, although I’ve only had a 50/50 success rate with this.
My favourite controller to use with OpenEmu so far is the Dual Shock 4. To play this with Streets of Rage feels very comfortable to use. I’ve never had luck with rumble working, but I hear that’s a work in progress for the N64 and PSX cores.

My favourite method is plugging in the Macbook to the TV, then enjoying the game with the CRT filter. Couple that with the Dual Shock 4, I can easily lose an evening to it. What I’d really like, is to be able to control the library with the Dual Shock, so I can exit a game, select another one, without leaving my couch.

A lazy wish, but would definitely be a blessing.

But with all this, there’s still some improvements I’d like to see. I’d love for better N64 compatibility, as it still crashes from time to time, especially when I save a state or take a screenshot. Alongside PS2 emulation support as well, there’s not a massive amount that I’m desperately wishing for.

It gets updated every now and then, with a major 1.0 release occurring every couple of years. But when it does get updated, you see the changes as soon as you reload the app. There is an experimental build you can download, but at the moment, there aren’t really any changes I can spot.

But so far so good for me, currently with an aim to finish Super Metroid by the middle of September.