PCZ ISSUE 114 - APRIL 2002

 
 

SHOULDN'T I BE TALLER?

As emulation gets ever bigger and more ambitious (with even mighty arcade games like Tekken now bowing before it), sometimes we miss the little things. And just the cutest little thing Emulation Zone has seen this month is Tiny Pacman. A genuine emulation using the real ROMs, TinyPac runs in a microscopic window (see screenshot for a real pic of the game running in real time), so you can tuck it away in a corner and no-one will ever know youíre playing a game instead of doing anything useful. (And since you canít make out your score, this really IS a useless way to spend your time.)

Of course, if you think thatís small, you havenít seen anything yet. Tiny Invaders is so small it runs on the taskbar (if you wipe out the invaders the icon turns into a happy face, if they kill you it turns into a skull), but still manages to include proper invader movement and even a Mystery Ship. Roughly half the size of the fingernail on Emulation Zoneís pinky, it has to be the smallest videogame ever. Unless you know different.

Sticking with the ďtinyĒ theme, just a quick update on Game Boy Advance emulation.  The capable but cranky DreamGBA has recently been usurped by a new GBA emulator, Visual Boy Advance. Boasting even better compatibility (VBA plays newer games that DreamGBA canít handle, like Doom and the lovely Gradius Advance) and a friendlier interface, this is the ideal way to check out all those GBA games that looked like they were probably really good, but you couldnít tell because you werenít standing on the actual surface of the Sun at the time you tried to play them.

And finally, the long-awaited debut ofÖ the keyring emulator. Yep, your PC, powerful enough to run the budgets of most major countries, can now busy itself with the task of emulating a tiny keyring videogame requiring less processing power than a digital watch. Emulation Zone actually owns a real Tetris Jr keyring,  but has big grown-up fingers that always press at least three of the teeny little buttons at once. Another triumph for the world of emulation, then. Next month: We emulate things that are actually too small to see.

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Tiny, but itís probably the best Gradius game ever.

Tiny Pac-Man superimposed (actual size) on its own Emu Zone column. How post-modern is that?

At last, a Tetris for shovel-handed klutzes.

 

VISUAL PINBALL TABLE OF THE MONTH

Genie (Gottlieb)

I still get the odd email from readers too ham-fisted or technophobic to get Visual Pinball working properly with the Visual PinMAME plug-in, or unfortunates whose PC isnít quite up to the spec (700Mhz or so) required to decently run the two programs together for all the fancy bells and whistles of modern tables. So in keeping with this monthís theme of littleness, hereís something just for you guys. Gottliebís 1979 electromechanical table Genie was a feature-packed ďwidebodyĒ table that didnít do particularly well at the time of its original release, being crowded out both by the exploding videogame scene of the time and the advent of more technically advanced electronic pinballs.

Divorced from the technological hype of its time, though, itís an excellent and extremely challenging pinball, brought to life by whatís one of the most exquisite VP conversions to date. High-resolution, painstakingly-redrawn graphics (far superior to most VP recreations, and easily up there with the likes of Microsoft Pinball Arcade) and beautiful lighting show this one off a treat, and the varied pace and gameplay keep it captivating for longer than almost any of its peers, fancy electronic trickery or not. And because it doesnít need ROM files to emulate it (electromechanical pins, of course, not actually having any ROMs in the first place), Genie will run fast and smooth on even a clunky 200Mhz PC without any need for the services of Visual PinMAME. The old-fashioned artwork and the bells-and-chimes sound effects make Genie appear quaint, but the gameplay is timeless.

Downloads

 

(Left) Sometimes, wide can also mean beautiful.

 

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