PCZ ISSUE 116 - JUNE 2002



It isn’t often Emulation Zone gets to report some good news about the attitude of software companies towards emulation, but today is such a day. The MPU34 fruit machine emulator has come a long way since we first reported on it in 2001, with all sorts of technical and graphical enhancements, but perhaps the single most encouraging development comes in the form of fruit machine maker Empire’s decision to explicitly permit the emulation of all their machines beyond a certain age.

Indeed, not only has the company chosen to allow their older machines to be emulated, they’ve even gone so far as to assist in the process by supplying correct reel graphics and flyer images to MPU34 developers so that they can build the most accurate recreation of Empire’s machines possible. Emulation Zone plans to buy a hat immediately, in order that it can tip it in Empire’s direction for being one of the pioneers of a sensible, practical attitude that’s still all too rare in this area of gaming.

In conjunction with the MPU34 author finally releasing a version of the emulator which opens up the development tools to all, rather than just a select few coders, the result has been an explosion in high-quality releases for the emu, covering all bases of fruit-machine gaming from £250 club machines to the simply one-button granny games found in bingo parlours across the nation. And with it almost being summer fair season, keen PC Zone viewers  will soon be able to go to town on the vintage fruities that tend to inhabit Britain’s travelling fairgrounds and make loads of money to spend on candyfloss and slightly undercooked chips. How much better can life actually get for Emulation Zone readers? Emulation Zone doesn’t know, frankly.



The Big Cheese, one of Empire’s officially-sanctioned fruit-machine emulator releases.

Another top-notch new MPU34 title, Boulder Dash (no relation).



Super Mario RPG (Nintendo/Square, SNES)

One of the most powerful arguments in support of emulation is that if we all stuck to the letter of the law, we’d simply never get to play fantastic games like this. Nintendo never deigned to give the SNES’ last-ever Mario game a release in Europe, which meant that only people prepared to invalidate their warranty by chipping their console, and pay shocking prices for the few import copies that reached these shores, were ever allowed to experience one of the 16-bit era’s greatest games. 

Made by Final Fantasy creators Square, 1996’s SMRPG is in fact, while structurally similar, a far superior game to any of the FF titles.  One of the primary reasons for this is that SMRPG doesn’t use the shoddy, lazy “random battles” approach to building up your party’s experience points – all the enemies you encounter while just walking around can be avoided if you don’t want to fight them, leaving you to get on with exploring the game’s charming and funny plot. It’s an inventive and supremely entertaining story, which at one point even sees Mario and arch-enemy Bowser teaming up and fighting on the same side, and that’s all the ruining Emulation Zone is going to do for now. Suffice to say that Super Mario RPG is one of a microscopically tiny handful of games that has ever squeezed both an out-loud laugh and a lump in the throat from Emulation Zone’s cold, cold heart, and if that isn’t a recommendation we don’t know what is.

The game plays very nicely on both of the leading SNES emulators, SNES9X and ZSNES, although we recommend the slightly more elegant implementation of ZSNES. All that remains is for you to turn to the Dark Side and find yourself a copy of the game ROM, doubtless destroying poor old Nintendo’s entire corporate financial viability and casting thousands of unfortunate Japanese programmers into poverty in the process. What truly evil fiends you all are.



(Left) “Actually, maybe I won’t bother this time.”


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