PCZ ISSUE 140 - APRIL 2004



It’s a good rule of thumb to say that emulation of gaming hardware generally runs two full generations behind the current state of the art. When your reporter started to write about emulation seriously, almost a decade ago, the 32-bit Playstation and Saturn were just getting into their stride, and decent emulations of the 16-bit SNES, Mega Drive and Amiga were all just pipe dreams. Now we’re a generation on, those machines can all be recreated to perfection on even the humblest PC, and the world’s tireless emu coders are finally nailing the next hardware generation up – the pioneers of 64-bit gaming.

Alert readers will recall that a year ago this month, Emu Zone brought you the first news of Project Tempest, the Atari Jaguar emulator. While an impressive technical achievement, it wasn’t all that playable, but a year on the emu has progressed in leaps and bounds. Speed, sound, compatibility and graphics have all been boosted, to the point where the awesome Tempest 2000 (the game the emu was created to play, hence the name) now runs full-screen at full speed with full sound and joypad control on Emu Zone’s creaking Athlon 2000XP with cheapo graphics card. Ten years after its release T2K remains one of the most overpowering gaming experiences ever created, and if you haven’t played it before then you owe it to yourself to sample it now.

Meanwhile, the ill-fated 3DO console (whose failure directly, sort-of, led to the blight on gaming that was the Army Men game series, and you don’t get fates much iller than that), which shared the vanguard of the 64-bit revolution with the Jaguar, has finally also been caught in the EmuNet. FreeDO (do you see what they did there?) is still at quite an early stage (comparable, in fact, to the first time we looked at Project Tempest), but is already capable of running 3DO game images at a playable speed with sound.

In its very short life the console played host to a handful of excellent titles, most famously the classic two-player tank battle Return Fire, a Need For Speed game that EA have failed to live up to ever since, and the first fully-3D version of FIFA International Soccer, which blazed the trail for all sports games as we know them today. Emu Zone isn’t entirely sure if that’s something we should thank the 3DO for or not, but there you have it.


“Warp” doesn’t begin to cover it.

Emu Zone: just can't stop enabling stuff.

Okay, Return Fire doesn’t LOOK much. It's a shame you can't hear the music.



Crazy Climber 2000 (Nichibutsu, Playstation) 

Since we’ve got a bit of a “2000” vibe going on in Emulation Zone this month, it’s worth taking a moment to once again celebrate one of the chief reasons that emulation is so great, namely the chance to finally play games which the software industry didn’t deign us worthy of ever being allowed to play legitimately, because we live in the wrong country. Official modern-day updates of classic arcade games have a bad reputation - and rightly so, because most of them are atrocious hack jobs which glue a much-loved brand name onto a rotten game which has absolutely nothing in common with its supposed ancestor.

Crazy Climber 2000, however (a Japan-only PS release, and in fact only one of many sequels to arcade Crazy Climber which Western gamers were never allowed to play), does exactly what an update should do – leaves the core gameplay intact, but brings the presentation into the modern age. So CC2000 brings you exactly the same “climb-a-skyscraper-while-the-inhabitants-try-to-kill-you” action as the 20-year-old original, but depicted in lovely 3D graphics, with the building rotating around smoothly as you desperately shuffle from side to side to avoid the hail of household implements hurled at you by hacked-off householders, tumbling girders, lethal electrical cables snaking from neon signs and, of course, King Kong. Still one of the quirkiest and most addictive games ever to come out of Japan’s endlessly-innovative 1980s arcade industry, Crazy Climber and the Playstation’s graphics chips were made for each other like bacon sandwiches and tomato ketchup. Emu Zone is hungry now. Bye.



(Left) If you could see what he can see/
When he's climbing windows.


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