We’ve covered a few grand follies here at Emulation Zone in the past (converting text adventures to the Game Boy, emulating keyrings, Space Invaders in a 16x16 pixel box), but it’s hard to imagine there’ll ever be one quite as heroically insane as Daphne. An emulator of the laserdisc coin-ops of the early 1980s, Daphne plays host to a set of games that were near-universally reviled, and quite rightly so.

What’s more, to play them you have to get hold of MPEG rips of the original laserdiscs, which weigh in at anything up to 2GB (yes, gigabytes) a time. And to ad insult to injury, practically the only two genuinely good laserdisc games – Clint Eastwood movie simulator Firefox, and twin-viewpoint scrolling blaster MACH 3 – are also almost the only two that AREN’T emulated by Daphne.

So why on Earth is Emulation Zone wasting your time telling you about it? Well, because Emulation Zone has a guilty secret. Emulation Zone actually liked laserdisc games. Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, in particular, sucked 10p pieces out of Emulation Zone’s pocket at a frightening rate two decades ago, and your shame-faced reporter still enjoys nothing more than a quick blast through the excellent Game Boy Color version of DL whenever he’s stuck on a train for an hour.

Sure, they were highly linear games of very limited interaction, but you could say the same thing about any Final Fantasy (or Max Payne, come to that), and Dragon’s Lair is a heck of a lot better scripted, and a lot nicer-looking too.

While for most people DL et al were the extent of laserdisc gaming, a surprisingly wide variety of genres was actually represented. The aforementioned Firefox and MACH 3 resembled Star Wars and Xevious respectively, Astron Belt was a sort of Wing Commander variant, Cliff Hanger was a derring-do-filled spy adventure and Bega’s Battle was a strange (and deeply terrible) Galaga clone.

Then there were hybrids of Dragon’s Lair and Firefox like Cobra Command, which also boasted cel-shaded-style graphics decades before Jet Set Radio thought of it and later showed up on Sega’s ill-fated Mega CD. You can play ‘em (nearly) all in Daphne - if you have a fat enough net connection to download the videos, of course - and Emulation Zone is prepared to bet right here and now that you’ll enjoy them a lot more than you’ll ever admit to anyone. Go on. Nobody’s watching. It’ll be our little secret.


“Stupid bloody princesses.”

Hot chopper action in Cobra Command.

“They’ve emulated WHAT now?”



Miami Chase (Codemasters, Amiga, 1991)

So, you think Grand Theft Auto, but set in 1980s Miami (as in the forthcoming GTA3 sequel, Vice City), is a pretty nifty and original idea, do you? Tch. Just goes to show what YOU know. Some of us were already playing that particular game more than a decade ago.  In Miami Chase – a £7.99 original budget-game release for the Amiga – you go zooming round said viewed-from-above American metropolis in a zappy sports car, disobeying traffic regulations, causing havoc and killing innocent passers-by. You even attract the attention of the rozzers if you go over the top, and they’ll chase you down with sirens blaring, stop you, and haul you out ready for a good Rodney King. The difference is, in this game, you’re a cop too (by the classy name of Don Ferrari), so when they catch you, even if you’ve just blown up three cars full of innocent people, a big Miami patrolman grins at you with his gold tooth showing and says “Ah, it’s you, Lt. Ferrari. Sorry, we had no idea, carry on.” When it comes to corruption, GTA was a naive beginner.

Even the coding of Miami Chase was a little shady. It was credited to “Team 7”, an outfit made up of coders (Andreas Tadic, Stefan Boberg, Allister Brimble and others) more usually associated with Worms firm Team 17, and whose logo was identical to Team 17’s, but with the “1” blacked out. Clearly some kind of numbers racket, then. (Taxi for Emulation Zone! – Ed)



(Left) GTA for beginners.


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