Is Emulation the Best Feature of the Nvidia Shield?

Dreamcast


I’ve been saving the best till last, the Dreamcast has long been one of my favourite games consoles and it’s by far one of the most entertaining for emulation. The console didn’t have the best life, in fact it was the console that killed SEGA’s hardware producing career, but not for lack of trying, because the Dreamcast was a great bit of hardware with some truly iconic games. There is an open source emulator for the Android that is still constantly being tweaked and improved with regular builds of the .apk being made available for download, plus it’s completely free. Setting up the emulator was a little harder than the others, as you need to get the correct bios and flash files onto your Shield, as well as have the .iso files of the game, which can be up to 1GB per disc in size since the Dreamcast used a custom CD type that makes ripping your games a tricky task.

Emulators used

  • Reicast

Metropolis Street Racer was one of the most definitive racing games of the generation, a series that later became the Xbox 360 smash hit Project Gotham Racing (PGR).The graphics look great on the Shield and getting the game up and running was really easy, I’m currently experiencing a glitch similar to my test on Gran Turimo where I cannot hear any engine sounds, but the music plays through perfectly and I was able to enjoy the games superb soundtrack. The game runs over 30fps, so gameplay is really smooth throughout and despite the audio glitch, which I suspect can be resolved with some tinkering of more advanced settings, it’s a joy to play.

Sonic Adventure 2 is the crowning achievement of the emulation tests, running at (more or less) 60FPS throughout, the games incredibly fast pace doesn’t falter at all. All visual effects are rendered beautifully and if it wasn’t for the fact that the resolution and antialiasing are better than they ever were on the Dreamcast, you wouldn’t know it was running on an emulator. If you’re going to emulate a Dreamcast game, then I doubt you’ll find anything that runs better than this.

Soul Calibur, one of the best games to ever hit the Dreamcast also ran superbly well, I had no graphical glitches, the sound was perfect and the FPS was always above 50, and often hitting 60FPS. The resolution is higher than it was on the Dreamcast and overall this was as fast paced a gaming experience as it ever way, another prime example of how powerful the Tegra 4 processor can be, you won’t find anything close to this level of fighting game action in the Android market place.

No Dreamcast emulation test would be complete without one of the most highly regarded actions RPG’s to ever hit a console. Shenmue I and II both worked very well on the Shield, although not without some minor technical faults. The sound can often crackle, but it’s a rare issue and as you can see in the screenshot below, some polygons tend to overlap (see his right eye). The game runs steady at around 30fps, making it more that playable. Even when involved in some of the games larger environments and bigger action sequences it didn’t have any issues.