Emu Zone has remarked more than once on the difficulty of finding more things to replicate as emulation enters its second decade, but the hardworking emu scene is not easily discouraged, and this month sees the debut of the virtual version of one of the gaming world’s odder curios. The Pokemon Mini, released by Nintendo as recently as 2002, was (and, to the best of your correspondent’s knowledge, remains) the world’s tiniest handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges.

Running a handful of mostly Pokemon-related carts the size of postage stamps, the console resembled Sony’s Japan-only PocketStation or the Dreamcast’s VMU memory card, but was more powerful then either (and unlike the VMU, didn’t exhaust its batteries in 25 minutes) and capable of hosting some pretty decent little games, in a resolution comparable to the original mono Game Boy. Impressively, it even packed a “rumble” function.

But anyway - the point, of course, is that there’s now no need to lug a bulky, heavy Pokemon mini around with you if you fancy some action on Pokemon Mini Party, Shock Tetris or the indescribable Zany Cards. All you need is a PC approximately 300 times the size of the handheld device itself and a copy of PokeMiniDream, the world’s first Pokemon Mini emulator.

 The first release is already impressively complete, running most of the machine’s slim catalogue of titles complete with sound effects, but tragically the authors have failed to bring the “rumble” effect across to the PC, leaving Emu Zone unable to award the emulator a score greater than 29.4 out of 35.6 in its disappointment at not (yet) being able to watch the PC judder its way across the floor of Emu Zone’s office like a gigantic mobile phone or an inexplicably-vibrating fridge. Still, you’ve got to have something to look forward to, haven’t you?


Who could ever forget Sodateyasan Mini?




Scooby Doo (Spectrum, 1986/enhanced 2004)

If there’s one thing we love here at Emu Zone, it’s when the world panders to our every whim. Creepy, stalkerish readers who note down everything Emu Zone says in a special notebook and pore over it in the small hours of the morning looking for hidden KILL messages VERNON and KAYE instructions will recall EZ135, in which we covered the DOS-only “enhanced” Spectrum emulator Spec256, and bemoaned its refusal to run on modern Windows PCs. Racing to obey the mighty diktats of Emu Zone as usual, the emulation scene has responded in fine form, specifically the form of the inventively-punctuated EmuZWin. This long-standing Speccy emu recently received an upgrade which incorporated the functionality of Spec256, meaning that all the enhanced 256-colour versions of Spectrum games released previously can now be enjoyed by all PC owners.

Still more excitingly, some alert coders decided to mark the new EmuZWin by converting a whole new clutch of games to the Spec256 format, including Elite’s 1986 platformer Scooby Doo. Scooby was a game with an interesting story attached to it already (the licence was originally supposed to be used on a spectacular-looking Dragon’s Lair-type adventure, but after months of advertising the project was abandoned and a poorly-reviewed 2D platform game swiftly knocked up instead by a different developer), but the 256-colour conversion really brings the game out of its shell.

In monochrome it was all but unplayable, but the vastly-improved clarity of the extra colour reveals a fast, compelling, all-action game reminiscent of a sort of hyper-wired version of Irem’s classic Kung-Fu Master coin-op. The port is still slightly glitchy in some of the later levels, but hopefully by the time you read this it’ll be all brushed-up and shiny, and most of you are probably too wussy to get off Level 1 anyway. With or without the aid of “Scooby Snacks”.



Scooby before: camouflaged.

Scooby after: exhibitionist.


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