ROM image

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ROM image
Basic Information
Type(s)
Terminology

The contents of game cartridges can be extracted with special software, creating files known as ROM images for use in emulators. Illegal distribution and trade of these ROM images are hugely popular in software piracy circles, where the files are commonly referred to as "roms" (or even "romz", which has a connotation with "warez") even though the term is technically incorrect. The term is so widespread that it has even started to refer to computer games that do not come on cartridges, but instead on floppy disks or CD-ROMs.

Usage of such files is usually a violation of copyright unless your jurisdiction has adequate fair use protections enshrined in law. Many people believe that video games that are no longer sold by official companies ("Abandonware") should be allowed to be downloaded, as the company would not suffer profit loss. However, some ROM images are already legal, as they are released as freeware or homebrew. These ROM images are available legally and can be freely distributed.

The following file extensions have historically been used for ROM images and disc images:

  • 32X (32X)
  • 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)
  • A26 (Atari 2600)
  • A52 (Atari 5200)
  • A78 (Atari 7800)
  • ADF (Amiga Disk Format)
  • BIN (Multiple Platforms)
  • CIA (Nintendo 3DS Update Files)
  • CSO (PlayStation Portable) (Compressed Disc Image)
  • DO (Apple II)
  • EBP (PlayStation Portable) (Bootable POPS Image)
  • FDS (Famicom Disk System)
  • GB (Game Boy)
  • GBA (Game Boy Advance)
  • GBC (Game Boy Color)
  • GCM (GameCube)
  • GG (Game Gear)
  • ISO (several CD- and DVD-based systems)
  • JAG (Atari Jaguar)
  • LNX (Atari Lynx)
  • NES (Family Computer/Nintendo Entertainment System)
  • NDS (Nintendo DS)
  • PCE (PC-Engine)
  • SFC (Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
  • SG (SG-1000)
  • SMC (Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System)
  • SMD (Genesis/Mega Drive)
  • SMS (Master System)
  • ST (Atari ST)
  • TAP (ZX Spectrum)
  • ZRD (ZX Spectrum)
  • TZX (ZX Spectrum)
  • Z64 (Nintendo 64)
  • Z80 (ZX Spectrum)