Monday, October 17, 2005

Emulator ethics?!?

Since my last essay I decided to involve myself in one of the RPG's that everyone raves about even today, Crono Trigger (made for the Super Nintendo). Unfortunately I don't own a system, and so I got a copy of the emulator (the platform, which basically allows super nintento games to be used on the computer) and my brother sent me all his roms files (those are the games). After playing many hours of it, I suddenly realised that I didn't even know if any of it is legal or not. So I asked my brother and I checked online!

Apparentaly Sony lost a case against this company, Connectix, in which the court said that emulating the playstation for the computer is completely legal. I found some information on one of these legal info FAQs: "Emulation simply makes one hardware platform act like another. There is nothing wrong with making the hardware you own behave the way you want it to. That is exactly what software is for, it makes the hardware you own behave in a useful manner. Emulation is not used simply for playing console games on a PC. Emulators exist for all kinds of hardware and all types of platforms. Console emulation is only part of a very large emulation community." (

The problem is that most roms that you find online are not legal. Apparentaly it is legal to have a rom if you already own the game (meaning for the actual Super Nintendo) as it is considered a back up to your game. If you don't own the game, then well, its really illegal. It is also very illegal to distribute these roms on internet sites (though you can find them anywhere with just a google search and some hunting!). You can find a lot of info on that on the above website.

The problem is that its actually very expensive to buy these platforms and to buy the games for many people, and its rather frustrating to need to buy a platform just for one game. For example, I'm a big fan of the Playstation 2 game, Kingdom Hearts. They decided to release a game in between part 1 and 2 (which has not been released) called Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and unfortunately they made this for the Gameboy Advance. So for all those people who didn't have a GBA, they couldn't play the game. And of course, two days after the game was released, so was the rom file on the internet.

The question is, is it right? Who's to check and see if someone owns the Gameboy before they download a rom file? Can we actually prevent this kind of thing? It puts a whole new meaning into legal, and makes it all seem like its more than black or white. Since its on the internet it really can't be prevented, just as bittorrent still continues to exist today!


At 9:00 PM, Blogger David K said...

yes~ i agree,roms are just like MP3, they can not be prevented.
i use GBA roms as well, because i think the games produced on GBA is just not worth buying, gameplay time is too short and graphics not good enough. But for PS and PS2 games i always buy original copies, they are pretty expensive, thats why i only buy the games that i think is worth buying (Final Fantasy series is one of them). When i went to japan, i always buy games from second hand shop, i am pretty amazed that they have PS2 games that is only 2 or 3 weeks old and the condition is great and only cost around $37. I think this is a good system.

Btw Crono Trigger is awsome~ i played it back in high school and i consider it as one of the best RPS games. The art work is good as well, it's done by the same guy who did Dragon Ball. Too bad the sequal, Crono Cross which is on PS is not as good though.


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