iPhone console emulators: What's the point?

Why waste time playing sucky, decades-old Commodore 64 and Super Nintendo games when their modern counterparts are infinitely superior?

If you're in the mood for a little action-adventure gaming, would you rather play the decades-old C64 game "The Last Ninja," or...
If you're in the mood for a little action-adventure gaming, would you rather play the decades-old C64 game The Last Ninja, or... Manomio

As a teenager I just about lived in the video arcade (Abbey Road in Farmington Hills, Mich.--anyone remember it?). I owned an Atari 2600, an Apple IIe, an Amiga, a Sega Dreamcast, and just about anything else that was good for games.

You'd think, then, that I'd go ape over something like C64 for iPhone 1.7, a newly updated Commodore 64 emulator that revives such classics as "Boulder Dash II," "Jupiter Lander," and "International Karate."

And you'd be wrong. While I have nothing but fondness for the videogames of my youth, I also have no desire to play those games again. Know why? Because by today's standards, they suck.

That's why I'm continually puzzled by the amount of effort people exert to play retro games. For example, to run NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and/or Game Boy Advance emulators, you have to first jailbreak your iPhone , then track down game ROMs (most of which are distributed illegally) and jump through hoops to get them loaded.

...a modern, visually lush Diablo clone like Underworlds?
...a modern, visually lush Diablo clone like Underworlds? Pixel Mine

Then you have to deal with awkward, often glitchy controls and missing or iffy audio--all so you can play some atrocious-looking 8-bit adventure game which, let's face it, wasn't that great to begin with.

Even the aforementioned Commodore 64 emulator, which actually managed to get Apple's approval (after a roller-coaster ride last year), strikes me as a waste of time. Why bother with the original Buggy Boy when there are countless iPhone-optimized racing games that look and play so much better?

Believe me, I get the "nostalgia factor." While I was initially impressed by bona fide app remakes of classics like Karate Champ and LED Football, the games themselves bored me to tears within minutes. But spiritual successors Chop Chop Ninja and Madden NFL 10? I'm still having a blast with those.

Am I just being curmudgeonly? Missing out on the joys of retro gaming? Or do you think all this emulator stuff is just kind of pointless? Vote in our poll, then hit the comments to share your thoughts. (I'd love to hear about your favorites of yesteryear, too. I had mad love for Cinemaware's Rocket Ranger on the Amiga.)

 

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