Binatone TV Master Mk.IV
A multisystem emulator originally developed for the Amiga OS, WinArcadia supports a range of more obscure systems from around 1980-1983 period. Consoles such as the Emerson Arcadia and Interton VC4000. It also simulates a couple of General Instruments most popular Pong-on-a-chips TTLs. Namely the AY-3-8550 and AY-3-8600. Chips used in the majority of the Pong clone consoles from around 1978 onwards. So far I’ve not found a better game of Pong on the PC. All four main play styles (Tennis, Football, Squash, Practice) are supported and it feels just like plugging one of those old school Pong systems in to your TV.
Philips Videopac G7000
O2Em is pretty much the only emulator ever produced for this aged Atari VCS2600 alternative. It’s a command line program written way back in the Windows XP days and pretty much requires the Launcher GUI to be useful. Thankfully both are very easy to set up and remain fully compatible with the latest editions of Windows.
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
There’s a vast, vast array of Speccy emulators depending on what exactly you require. For instance ZXSarUX or C-Spect may be the programs of choice if you want support for the latest Spectrum Next system. Fuse is great for just about any non-Windows system and has been ported pretty much everywhere (Softmodded XBoxes and Wii’s included).
While many consider Spectulator the ultimate in Spectrum emulators it is a premium product that you must and over cash for, albeit only around $10. Still, so far, I’ve never found anything that does the job better than the freely available ZX Spin. It’s an old emulator product that the author no longer updates or maintains but it just works. It also benefits from one of the best emulator UI’s you’ll ever find. Everything you need and want in a Speccy emulator is there and easily accessible.
Why don’t more people know about this emulator? Why aren’t the CPC community shouting about it from every corner? This is ZX Spin for the Amstrad CPC. The UI and feature set is second to none. Everything simply laid out and easy to locate, just as on ZX Spin. Even down to emulating a DMP3000 printer. What’s more the author is still actively updating and maintaining it. New versions tend to appear on CPC-Power twice a year – around May and October time.
CaPriCe itself is an old CPC emulator that was discontinued long ago. Caprice Forever is a modern rebuilding and extension of that old code base. The only thing really missing is support for the GX4000/Plus range. But there’s always WinAPE if you really need that.
Commodore Amiga 500
For a long time now there’s only been one name in Amiga emulation – UAE. Indeed if there was ever such a thing as a modern Amiga. A true Amiga successor. UAE would be it. Anything and everything you could possibly want, and more, is emulated past the point of perfection. In 99% of cases if you’re after Amiga emulation you want to just download the latest WinUAE build and be done with it.
If your only interest, as mine, is core Amiga 500 games playing and very little else then a more friendly UI might be worthwhile. FS-UAE is probably the obvious choice removing most of WinUAE’s configurability to give a fairly functional gaming frontend.
I had an old licenced copy of Amiga Forever 2016 Plus edition laying around. Amiga Forever is the “legal” Amiga solution with official copies of all the various Kickstarts and Workbench’s. Amiga Forever’s Player frontend makes for a very nice entry point for organising multiple machine configurations. It feels more like running virtual machines in VMWare, HyperV or VirtualBox.
For me, for the past 20 years or so, there’s only ever really been one name in SNES emulation – SNES9x. These days others might do it better. bSNES promising cycle accurate emulation and modern processors being more than fast enough to make it happen. But at the end of the day SNES9x will run on pretty much any hardware you throw it at, run at a good speed, and run absolutely any ROM you happen upon. It just works and really that’s all I want.
PlayStation emulation as always felt very hit and miss. Functional would be the word. You have your plugging emulators like PCSX-Reloaded and ePSXe that do good to alright job once you’ve faffed the right pluggings and settings for your hardware. Xebra promises the most accurate emulation with the worst UI and snobby disc image support. Bizhawk slowed to a crawl. Madnafen is great inside RetroArch, not so outside as a commandline program.
DuckStation is something I only discovered trying to re-setup the T610 in late 2020. Why had I not heard of this before? This is the Caprice Forever for the PlayStation emulation community. The UI is based on the Dolphin Wii/GameCube emulator, and as such is very intuitive. Emulation speed is near perfect on the creaky AMD T56N processor. Plenty of shaders and filters for those with a real PC to run them on. Runs every game I’ve thrown at it.
Microsoft Windows XP
I wanted to play a handful of games from the 1998-2002 era. Mostly Windows 98 with Direct-X. Alas these titles rarely work on modern hardware. And they are just slightly beyond the scope of Dosbox. Both Dosbox and PC-Em can run Windows 98 with 3DFX Voodoo drivers but at a speed barely touching 1994/5 era hardware. Windows XP will run most games from the era I want, if only I can run it with DirectX 3D support.
The initial idea was VMWare Workstation Player which is free for non-commercial use and supports Direct-X passthrough for Windows XP. Alas, while the T610’s CPU supports virtualisation – it’s disabled without a BIOS option to re-enable.
Thankfully an old version of VirtualBox runs surprisingly fast without hardware virtualisation support, and it comes with a video driver that allows DirectX to work on Windows XP. Alas, the video driver apparently is a major security risk and has been replaced in newer versions without 3D support. So VirtualBox 5.2.40 is the one to get. Just make sure the VirtualBox Tools are installed with XP in Safe Mode.
Retropie – XBox Series X Dev Mode
Three original XBox games cause us a bit of a headache without having an orginal XBox wired up to the television. Neither the XBox 360 or the XBox Series S|X offer support for them as part of their Backwards Compatibility modes.
Unfortunately the HP T610 Thin Client is also not powerful enough to offer credible solutions for these three games either. Thankfully the Series X can be unlocked for a one time fee to allow you to sideload your own applications. Using this Developer Mode the Series X can run a version of the Retropie emulation suite that includes support for the Nintendo GameCube console and thus, in turn, a method of playing the three problematic original XBox titles. And unlike the HP Thin Client, the Series X is way more than powerful enough to fully emulate this system.