Most months, keen and dearly-beloved viewers, Emu Zone operates at the borders of legality. For you, we risk our lives* to report on developments in a field illuminated only by the grey half-twilight of dubious morality. We tell you about emulators which are in themselves mostly legal, yet which in most cases you must consort with evil criminals to use. It’s a bit like your local B&Q legally selling you a hammer, in the full knowledge that you’re going to use it to batter the inhabitants of the local orphanage to death. (Because, as we all know thanks to our pals at ELSPA and FACT, emulation is piracy and piracy is terrorism, and every time you use an emulator it directly funds Al-Qaeda’s evil empire of Nazi paedophile pornography and destroys society and that.)

So every now and again, as we did a few months ago when we told you about some legit commercial retro packages, we like to keep in with the forces of law by covering some entirely legal emulation. This month is such a month.

As you’ll know if you’ve been paying attention over the last two or three issues, one of the biggest gaps in gaming history is the one caused by the PC’s incompatibility with slightly older PC games. Among some of the most fondly-recalled titles of the Incompatibility Era are the SCUMM point-and-click adventures released by several companies, but chiefly LucasArts.

Starting off with vintage cartoon spooker Maniac Mansion (the name SCUMM stands for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion), the engine quickly facilitated a purple patch of creativity, with games like Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Loom, the first two Secret Of Monkey Island titles (which are ironically ABOUT PIRATES!!!!!), and the legendary Sam And Max, whose sequel was recently canned due to international terrorism**, to the loud disappointment of SCUMM-lovers everywhere. Predictably, today’s useless, DOSectomied PCs will have a crashing fit if you attempt to run any of these games on your modern machine, and that’s where SCUMMVM comes in.

SCUMMVM (standing for SCUMM Virtual Machine) is a simple framework within which most SCUMM adventures will happily run on your Windows desktop, either fullscreen or in a dinky little window. The interface is a breeze and the emulation works superbly, but the most notable thing about SCUMMVM is that it comes with the support of many of the original creators of the games. Some of the original authors/publishers of SCUMM games freely allow their titles to be distributed for use with the emu, and some of them can in fact even be downloaded directly from the emulator’s homepage.

The versatile SCUMMVM has even been ported to console formats like the Dreamcast (on which the games were never originally released), as well as to the Mac, BeOS and PalmOS, so there’s literally no excuse for you to ever find yourself anywhere in the world unable to play Flight Of The Amazon Queen or Broken Sword, free from harassment from even the most totalitarian and oppressive local law enforcement. And it’s all thanks to your chums at Emulation Zone!***

* Actual lives not risked.
** Cancellation not actually due to terrorism.
*** Is not actually thanks to Emulation Zone.


Sam and Max gleefully eye a brutally-dismembered hand.

Yeah, I’d say he needs help alright.

Monkey Island? That looks more like a Siamese cat.

More wise words, this time in Broken Sword.




The most ringing endorsement of SCUMMVM comes from developers Revolution Software’s, best known to modern PC users for the Broken Sword series, but famous in previous gaming times for excellent and stylish games like Lure Of The Temptress and Beneath A Steel Sky (whose graphics were created by comics artist Dave Gibbons, of Watchmen fame).

“Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky, both of which are 10 years old,” says Revolution’s avuncular head cheese Charles Cecil, “were running into PC compatibility problems. By giving them away free, supported by the SCUMMVM emulation system, we are delighted that the titles have received a new lease of life. Furthermore, the titles are now available on a much wider range of platforms. It's a win-win scenario.”

Emu Zone only wishes more people in the videogames business were this enlightened.



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