If there’s one thing guaranteed to make a hard-working, conscientious games magazine look like a fat idiot, it’s trying to keep up with the fast-moving world of emulation. Faster-moving and harder to get a grip of than a greasy ferret with somewhere important to be, no sooner do you nail the emu scene down on a bench than it gnaws its own leg off and skitters away slightly off-balance to wreak chicken-shed havoc on your production schedules. (Get on with it. – Ed)

In our big up-to-speed emulation feature two issues ago, we noted of Game Boy Advance emulators that “none of them have sound, they only run a few games and you need a pretty tasty PC to get full speed out of them, but given the speed of emulation development, it won’t be long until those deficiencies are ironed out”. Proving once again how right we are, literally the day after that issue hit the streets, not one but two GBA emulators showed up running a large majority of Advance games full speed and with glorious sound and music.

VirtualGBA, written by veteran emu coder Marat Fayzullin, is a pretty impressive piece of work with decent compatibility, speed and sound, but it costs $35 for the registered version, and let’s face it, pretty much none of you are ever going to pay that.

Luckily, then, VGBA was pretty much instantly superceded by an emu far better still, the extremely impressive DreamGBA. Updated on a more or less weekly basis (it was on version 2.1 at the time of writing, but will doubtless have progressed even further by the time you read this), DreamGBA runs around 98% of GBA titles so far (of which there are already over 80), with near-perfect sound and a variety of graphics modes that allow just about any PC to run the emu at acceptable speed.

Excitingly, there’s even a “Real GBA” display option, which (as you may or may not be able to see from these screenshots) simulates the GBA’s LCD display with trainspotter accuracy by building it up from thousands of visible individual little crystals. The effect is undeniably authentic, and as it’s like looking at your PC monitor through a fine wire mesh (especially if you’re using the full-screen display), it renders DreamGBA almost as hard to see as the real machine’s notoriously dark screen. Now that’s dedication.

The trouble with Game Boy games has always been, of course, that unlike with PC ZONE’s value-packed demo CD, you don’t get to try them out before you have to cough up 35 quid. But now, thanks to DreamGBA, you have no excuse for ever buying a duffer again. (Plus, you’ll be able to use it to figure out what all that stuff was you could never see on the real thing unless you were standing directly under the floodlights at Old Trafford with an electron microscope.) Take a look for yourself.


Two outings for Pac-Man this month – this is from the “Pac-Man Arrangement” (actually a surprisingly recent arcade release) game in Namco Pac-Man Collection on Game Boy Advance.


Despite only being out a couple of months, the GBA can already boast not one but two Street Fighter games. This is (checks complex-looking chart) Super Street Fighter 2X Revival Edition. 










One of the lesser-known coin-operated outings for the little round yellow fella (and the morals-restoring thematic link between Ms Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man), Bally’s 1982 table managed to pull off the tricky task of retaining our hero’s maze-munching antics on a pinball machine, by virtue of a light “maze” in the centre of the playfield, with Pac-movement controlled by using one flipper to set your direction and the other one to move while a little “ghost” light chased you around. It was even possible to collect “power pills” in the pinball section of the game with which you could turn the tables on your spooky adversary.

One of the greatest pins of its era, with particularly excellent sound, it’s been converted to run pretty much perfectly through Visual Pinball/PinMAME, and it’s well worth the trifling 1MB or so download.



(Left) “Chased by ghosts through a maze/In a pill-poppin’ daze?/Who ya gonna call?” We recommend Alcoholics Anonymous.


Emulation Zone is brought to you in association with the International World Of Stuart Foundation.