Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
27 December 2005
The Need for Illegal ROMs
One justification for downloading arcade ROMs is that you can't get the games anywhere else. If the lists at KLOV are to be believed, then this seems like a weaker argument than I had previously thought.

First, you should go look at the lists.

Now, in the Top 10 Most Popular Games we actually have 11 titles, because of a tie at 10th place. Of those eleven, only Donkey Kong and TRON haven't received real emulation rereleases. Still there are many, many ports of Donkey Kong which are worth playing. (I tend to favor the NES version.) Which means only one game, TRON, isn't available legally. That's a shame, and I have doubts that it will ever be emulated legally somwhere.

Update: As Alex notes in the comments below, TRON 2.0: Killer App for the GameBoy Advance has both the original TRON and Discs of TRON as bonus games. Certainly not emulation, but quite possibly good ports. I'm going to pick this up as soon as I can to see how it works.

Of the Top 10 Collected Games, all except Donkey Kong are emulated somewhere.

Now, if we look at the Top 100 Video Games (as selected by the KLOV staff), there are many notable games not emulated:
  1. Computer Space
  2. Pong
  3. Tank
  4. BiPlane
  5. Death Race
  6. Sea Wolf
  7. Lunar Lander
  8. Berzerk
  9. Eagle
  10. Star Castle
  11. Donkey Kong
  12. Gorf
  13. Mousetrap
  14. Qix
  15. Donkey Kong Jr.
  16. Pengo
  17. Q*bert
  18. Space Duel
  19. Tron
  20. Dragon's Lair
  21. Track and Field
  22. Punchout
  23. Choplifter
  24. Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
  25. Arkanoid
  26. Outrun
  27. Double Dragon
  28. Street Fighter
  29. Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja
  30. Cyberball
  31. Tetris
  32. Golden Axe
  33. Golden Tee Golf
  34. Raiden
  35. Captain America and the Avengers
  36. King of Monsters
  37. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  38. X-Men
  39. Lethal Enforcers
  40. NBA Jam
  41. Daytona USA
  42. Area 51
  43. Soul Edge
  44. San Francisco Rush
  45. House of Dead
  46. NFL Blitz
  47. Gauntlet Legends
  48. House of Dead 2
  49. Time Crisis II
  50. Carnevil
  51. Ferrari F355 Challenge
  52. 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker
  53. Gauntlet Dark Legacy
  54. Ridge Racer V
Of these 54 games, many have ports that I'd think sufficient.

Sure, there are lots of games that aren't here. Hundreds of games are not available in legal emulated form, and for each game there is someone who wants to play it. But doesn't the list of legally emulated games cover what most people want to play? And beyond that, don't accurate ports further lessen the need for illegal ROM use?
--Matt Matthews at 22:17
Comment [ 4 ]

Comments on this post:

Well, quite simply, the popularity of games is not the same as their importance. In his book, "Free Culture", Lawrence Lessig talks about a similar problem with film. Due to constant copyright extensions, the term of copyright exceeds the shelf life of film. There are hundreds of films that are literally turning to dust on the shelf and will no longer exist soon. Many people would love to study these films and would fund their convsersion to DVD our of their own pockets (it can actually be done quite cheaply these days). But they have little commercial value, so the studios just don't care.

On a more personal note, my favorite arcade game of all time is Wonderboy in Monsterland, and I'm awfully glad I don't have to wait for Sega to decide that its important enough for me to be able to play it.

By Blogger Casey, at 28 December, 2005 22:04  

Casey, I'd be interested to know if you've tried any of the Wonder Boy in Monster Land ports? Wikipedia says that there are several: Sega Master System, PC-Engine, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.

At least the Amiga and Atari ST should be capable of near-perfect ports, I'd imagine. Of course, much depends on how skillful and faithful the developers were. Screenhots of the PC Engine version (which apparently has a hack to put it in English) make it look reasonable. The SMS version actually looks better than the Commodore 64, which surprised me a bit.

I bet all of these are cheaper than the real arcade hardware, but I could be wrong. I haven't taken the time to price originals of these ports versus buying the just the hardware ROM version of Wonder Boy in Monster Land.

Anyway, I'm in a similar situation. I'd like to play Two Tigers, but it hasn't been released in emulated form. However, there is a clone made for the Commodore 64 called Island of Dr. Destructo that I am seeking. I played it back when I was downloading Commodore disk images, and found it to be a reasonable approximation of the original. So, instead of downloading the ROM, I'm at least seeking out an alternative.

By Blogger jvm, at 29 December, 2005 00:22  

Tron is available for the GBA, along with the Deadly Discs game, in "Tron 2.0 Killer App." Granted, you have to buy the crappy killer app game, but it is available.

By Blogger Alex, at 29 December, 2005 10:21  

Alex: Jeepers! You're right, and I totally missed that. I've added this game to my want list, just for these ports.


By Blogger jvm, at 29 December, 2005 11:15  

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