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Emulator

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An Emulator, in the most general sense, duplicates (provide an emulation of) the functionality of one system on a different system by translating calls designed for the target hardware into calls that the host system's software can understand and interpret correctly into an output, so that the software appears to behave identical to the target system. Unlike a simulation, it does not attempt to precisely model the state of the device being emulated; it only attempts to reproduce its behavior. This behavior can have differing degrees of accuracy between emulators.

A popular use of emulators is to run software and games, often referred to as ROMs, written for hardware that is no longer sold or readily available, such as the Commodore 64 or early Amiga models. Emulating these on modern desktop computers is usually less cumbersome than relying on the original machine, which may be inoperable. However, software licensing issues may require emulator authors to write original software that duplicates the functionality of the original computer's bootstrap ROM and/or BIOS, often through high-level emulation.

Legality of emulators[edit | edit source]

Most emulators are perfectly legal under United States and international law, protected by laws that cover reverse engineering. However, emulators can be illegal if they use copyrighted code from the original console, computer, or program.

Legality of ROM images[edit | edit source]

ROM images are copyrighted code and are protected by international law. The only legal images are homebrew games of original content, created by programmers, images released into public domain, or images downloaded with the permission of the copyright holder.[citation needed]

Common legality myths[edit | edit source]

  • 24-hour rule: Many emulation download sites like to claim that you can keep unlawfully downloaded ROMs for 24 hours and then delete them, and still remain legally compliant with the law. This rule has no basis in fact.[citation needed]
  • Owning the game: Owning the game in its original form does not make downloading a ROM image of it legal, according to the letter of the law. The only fully legal way is to make a backup image yourself using special hardware. However, this hardware can be expensive and/or complex to create (and illegal sometimes, as is the case of Nintendo ROM image-extracting hardware), although many gamers consider it ethically correct to download an image as long as you own the original game.[citation needed]

Console emulators[edit | edit source]

Arcade[edit | edit source]

PlayStation[edit | edit source]

PlayStation 2[edit | edit source]

PlayStation 3[edit | edit source]

PlayStation Portable[edit | edit source]

Super Nintendo Entertainment System[edit | edit source]

Nintendo Entertainment System[edit | edit source]

Xbox[edit | edit source]

Xbox 360[edit | edit source]

Virtual Boy[edit | edit source]

Nintendo 64[edit | edit source]

GameCube[edit | edit source]

Wii[edit | edit source]

Wii U[edit | edit source]

Dreamcast[edit | edit source]

Saturn[edit | edit source]

Mega Drive/SEGA CD[edit | edit source]

PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16[edit | edit source]

PC-FX[edit | edit source]

3DO[edit | edit source]

Handheld emulators[edit | edit source]

Game Boy[edit | edit source]

Game Boy Color[edit | edit source]

Game Boy Advance[edit | edit source]

Nintendo DS[edit | edit source]

Nintendo 3DS[edit | edit source]

PlayStation Vita[edit | edit source]

Console Emulators for other Platforms[edit | edit source]

Handheld Emulators for other Platforms[edit | edit source]

Personal computer emulators[edit | edit source]

MSX[edit | edit source]

NEC PC-8801[edit | edit source]

NEC PC-9801[edit | edit source]

FM TOWNS[edit | edit source]

X68000[edit | edit source]