Nearly five years ago, I dug out the old SNES to satisfy my hankering for some classic Mario. After a few hours of playing Super Mario World, I saved my game, intending to return to it later that evening. I turned the console back on to find that, 22 years after it was first purchase, the battery within the Super Mario All-Stars cartridge had depleted, leaving my game unsaved. I played anyway, resorting to leaving the Super Nintendo on overnight so that I could continue – and complete – the game without losing my progress.
One Japanese gamer, though, has taken that idea to the extreme, leaving his Super Famicom (the Japanese moniker for the SNES) on for over 20 years. Twitter user Wanikun posted a photo of his Super Famicom, powered on, revealing in a caption that the system had been that way for more than two decades to ensure he did not lose his progress on platformer Umihara Kawase after the internal battery that powered the SRAM died.
Wanikun’s Super Famicom has been on for somewhere around 180,000 hours. It was unplugged only once, to move house, but Wanikun was able to rush the console to his new place and plug it in again before the internal power entirely dissipated, according to RocketNews24.
That’s one way to do it. I just bought a set of Torx screwdrivers and a new battery in the end.
The PlayStation 4 is winning the console war, consistently outselling the Xbox One and Wii U, but had a particular historical curiosity progressed as intended, things could be so much different. Back in the late Eighties, Nintendo approached Sony to produce a CD add-on for the Super Nintendo console, which relied on en vogue cartridges. Sony, at the time not interested in entering the games market alone, agreed to develop the hardware, previewing the result at the 1991 Consumer Electrics Show. The prototype, dubbed the “Play Station”, was a combination of Nintendo’s SNES console and Sony’s SPC 700, which ran SNES-CDs. However, a breakdown in licensing agreements meant that the hardware was never released, leaving Sony with the genesis of its own game platform, leading to the release of the Sony PlayStation in 1994.
Engadget was granted some time with the SNES Play Station, and has confirmed that if it’s a fake, it’s a damned good one. While the CD drive is not functional – not surprising considering its age – the rest of the console is fully operational and capable of playing SNES cartridges.
Terry Diebold himself has elaborated on this curious story, telling Engadget: “The company I worked for, Advanta Corporation [a banking company], they filed for bankruptcy (November 8th, 2009). When they did that, we purged the buildings. What you do is you take pictures, you itemise, and then they had an online auction. And I had gotten into the auction myself because there were a few things I wanted to buy.”
Diebold had already earmarked the SNES PlayStation prototype as an item of interest and made sure to track it during the auction. “So I knew what were in certain lots,” he said. “And when they called out the certain lot number, I raised my panel and I ended up winning it. You want to hear the ridiculous price? $75.”
Scientists from the University of Tübingen in Germany have made Mario, star of the Super Mario games, self-aware, able to think, talk, and learn. The project, called ‘Mario Lives!’, was created to compete in the annual competition run by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and is a modification of the Super Nintendo classic Super Mario World.
As one of the researchers explains, “As most of you know, this is Mario. But what you do not know is that this Mario has become aware of himself and his environment – at least to a certain extent.”
Mario is aware of his environment and has his own internal emotive states. He can also be externally influenced by the research team, so when told that he shouldn’t feel happy, Mario responds, “Somehow, I feel less happy.” Mario is later asked what he learned after jumping on a Goomba. He answers, “If I jump on Goomba, then it maybe dies.”
The AAAI Video Competition 2015: People’s Choice Award takes place on 29th January in Austin, Texas.
Emulation is a popular pass time for many PC gamers, and in recent year there has been a big increase in GPU horsepower in the mobile market, allowing us to enjoy many classic games on the go, not just on our desktops. The Nvidia Shield is one of the most powerful mobile gaming devices on the market, and this is especially thanks to its Nvidia Tegra 4 GPU/CPU, which is not only capable of running many older games such as those from the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive, but also a lot more advanced 3D titles from consoles such as the Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast and more. What I hope to find out today is whether or not these games work well enough to justify using the Nvidia Shield as a dedicated emulation device.
Obviously there are some grey area legal issues when it comes to emulation, most of which focus around the piracy of compatible roms, so I feel obligated to mention that I do not condone anyone downloading games, but that there are also many other ways to obtain these games. There are tools and apps out there which let you rip games you own, and this applies to both cartridge based games as well as disc based games. Fortunately I’ve been collecting games for many years now and can use games I already own and have at my disposal, but keep in mind that you’re responsible for sourcing your own titles how you see fit, as we here at eTeknix take no responsibility for this, nor will be providing sources to where or how you can obtain the games. Boring stuff out of the way, let us get back to the action!
Getting roms configured on your Nvidia Shield, or to be honest any powerful mobile device can be a little tricky. Generally the more powerful your device, the better chances you’ll have of getting your games to run, as the task of emulating hardware can be quite demanding, especially when it comes to more modern titles such as those from the Sega Dreamcast. So while I am focusing this article on the Nvidia Shield, there is no reason why you can’t try this out on your mobile phone or tablet, so long as you think it’s powerful enough to do so.
The Nvidia Shield has a few extra tricks that make it a great choice for emulation, firstly because it has a controller built directly into it, as well as a high quality touch-screen display. You can use USB OTG to connect wired controllers such as the Xbox 360 controller, a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable to put the device into console mode and play on your big screen and more, so you’re not going to be limited to only playing this as a handheld, but virtually anywhere you want, on whichever screen you want (so long as it has Miracast or HDMI).
Today I’ll be taking a look at the Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive, PlayStation 1, PlayStation Portable (PSP), Dreamcast and Nintendo 64. There are plenty more emulators and formats out there, but I feel the ones I have chosen cast a wide net over what is possible on mobile device emulation. Even older or less powerful systems such as Gameboy, MAME, NES and Master System generally all work from the same emulators I’ll be testing and already have widespread, proven compatibility with most mobile devices, so feel free to experiment with them at your own leisure.