As you’ll have seen if you’ve read this month’s letters pages, Emu Zone has come under attack from some eager junior-detective types among PCZ’s fine readership for its slack attitude to the evil software piracy going on in the guise of emulation, and the attendant deaths through starvation of countless thousands of impoverished software publishers. So to start this month’s column off, we’re going to talk about the emulation of a game that was actually free on its original release, in the hope that no-one will blame Emulation Zone for the imminent collapse of Western society and all that we hold dear.

Tragically, almost no-one in said Western society bought Sega’s excellent Dreamcast console (and so, quite frankly, deserves any imminent collapse it may suffer, in Emu Zone’s book), and that means that a distressingly small number of people ever got to experience the joys of the first-ever online console game, Chu Chu Rocket. (So named, incidentally, because the game stars a bunch of mice, and apparently the Japanese word for “mouse” is “Chu”. So it’s really called Mouse Mouse Rocket, which may be the best name for a videogame ever. But anyway.)

CCR is a superfast puzzle game with roots in Lemmings, which is to say you have no direct control over the hordes of little furry mammals which populate the game and you have to guide them to safety (a rocket) in a perilous environment (exploding space station full of cats). We don’t have time to detail its finer points here, but suffice to say it’s one of the most entertaining things you’ve ever played. Or rather, haven’t played, since - as we’ve already established - you didn’t buy a Dreamcast. You fat idiot. But now, in a wholly predictable turnaround of fortune (what, you thought we were just shooting the breeze, there?) you can. Because some people with clearly far too much time on their hands have just produced a more-or-less perfect replication of the game. On the Atari ST. Yes, we wondered too.

The ST version of Chu Chu Rocket plays, looks and (to a slightly lesser extent) sounds just like the real thing. It has the competitive modes, the puzzle modes, challenge modes, and everything else featured in the original. And while it’s been primarily released for real ST owners to copy onto floppy disks and load into their real STs, the magic of emulation means that you can, obviously, now play it on your PC. And as a bonus, you won’t have the spectres of destitute former Eidos, EA and Infogrames executives shambling around in a Tesco carpark swilling down Special Brew on your consciences while you do it. Normal civilisation-destabilising service will be resumed (in a very big way, Neo Geo fans) next issue. Thank you.


There's some debate, in fact, over whether "Chu" really means "mouse" or "squeak". Either way it's great.


"Mouse Mouse Rocket".


Or "Squeak Squeak Rocket". You decide.




The Twilight Zone (Bally)

It’s about time this table got a mention, because it probably did more to popularise Visual Pinball and Visual PinMAME than any other. When VP first came out, many people were rather underwhelmed by the uninspiring demo tables included with the original beta, and the promised potential seemed a rather distant prospect. But the release of Twilight Zone, the first table to make use of the incorporation of PinMAME into the program, suddenly showed just what VP was capable of. Here, for the first time on a PC (and just about for the first time ever, a couple of old NES games notwithstanding), was a real live pintable straight out of the arcades, that looked, sounded and acted like the real thing, and people were astounded.

Twilight Zone is also notable because it’s pioneered so many of the innovations that even VP author Randy Davis never envisaged, especially in the recreation of playfield “toys”. The table has been updated constantly since its first release, with every new version refining the blueprint further until it’s practically indistinguishable from a photograph of the real thing. Twilight Zone, we salute you. With, er, this picture.



(Left) Twilight Zone - pretty much the real thing.


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