Hack 21. Play Classic Games
Do you want to relive the early days of computer games? It's easy to find emulators that let you play the real thing, or remakes that kick the originals up a notch.
Any Palm can play classic games, but if you are really into playing games you should look at Tapwave's Zodiac (http://www.tapwave.com). The Zodiac has familiar game controls and is laid out in landscape mode (480 x 320 pixels) to work better with games. The Zodiac also has a graphics accelerator and a stereo headphone jack. It comes in two flavorsa 32 MB model for $270 and a 128 MB model for $350.
Note that emulators tend to be more faithful to the original games while remakes tend to look and play better on Palm devices, unless your playing style depends on specific timing (or bugs) in the original games. For example, if you use patterns to complete Pac-Man mazes, they are more likely to work on an emulator than on a remake.
There are several good emulators available for Palm OS.
Once you have an emulator, you need to find legal games for it. You can get legal games by searching the Web for games that have been legally released (such as new open-source or homebrew games). Sites such as http://www.pdroms.de have legal free ROMs, usually in the public domain, and often of a high quality. You can buy original games (e.g., purchase arcade cabinets or circuit boards off of eBay) and use an EEPROM reader/burner to extract the ROM image. Download the image to your PDA to start playing. Or you can purchase ROMs legally from StarROMs (http://www.starroms.com).
18.104.22.168. CaSTaway (http://www.codejedi.com).
CaSTaway (Figure 3-21) is an Atari ST emulator. You will need to get an image of the operating system (TOS) and a disk or ROM image of the games you want to run.
Figure 3-21. CaSTaway, Atari ST emulator
22.214.171.124. Kalemsoft (http://www.kalemsoft.com).
Kalemsoft sells emulators for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Sega Game Gear / Master System, and PC Engine / Turbo Grafx-16. The NES emulator is shown in Figure 3-22.
Figure 3-22. NesEm, a Nintendo emulator running Bomb Sweeper
126.96.36.199. vPCB Arcade Emulator(http://www.freewarepalm.com/games/vpcbarcadeemu-latorforpalmos.shtml).
vPCB Arcade Emulator is an open source emulator for arcade games.
188.8.131.52. xCade (http://www.codejedi.com).
xCade is a commercial arcade emulator. Both vPCB and xCade support different games, so look at both of them if you are interested in a specific game.
184.108.40.206. Liberty (http://www.gambitstudios.com).
Liberty is a commercial emulator for the Nintendo GameBoy. You can see a sample game in Figure 3-23.
Figure 3-23. Liberty GameBoy emulator running Alien Planet
220.127.116.11. Little John PalmOS (http://yoyofr.fr.st/).
The Little John emulator is an opensource emulator for multiple systems. You can see the startup screen for the SNES system in Figure 3-24.
Figure 3-24. Little John multi-system emulator
PalmMame (http://www.pocketdimension.com/PalmMAME.html) is a multi-arcade machine emulator that can play ROMs from arcade machines.
There are more emulators available that are specific to the Zodiac (http://zodiacgamer.emuboards.com/). If you are really serious about emulators, you might find something to spark your interest.
There are some high-quality remakes of popular games from the 1980s and 1990s. These games have been rewritten to run natively on Palm devices without needing any emulators. In some cases, the remakes have actually improved on the originals.
18.104.22.168. Ultima series (http://www.palmgear.com).
Ultima (see Figure 3-25) is a traditional computer role-playing game. Several titles in the Ultima series (Ultima 1, 2, and 3) have been redone as native Palm applications. The ports actually improve on the originals. All of the graphics have been redrawn in 256 colors instead of the original 16. The playability is very goodthis series seems to work well on Palm devices.
Figure 3-25. Ultima series
22.214.171.124. Archon (http://www.emperor-studios.de/).
Archon (see Figure 3-26) is a fantasy strategy game, loosely related to chess. It combines a touch of strategy with action. When one piece moves onto another, the play switches to a battleground where the two pieces fight for control of the square. The loser is removed from the board.
Figure 3-26. Archon title screen
126.96.36.199. Atari Retro (http://www.gomdm.com/pda_palmos_games.asp).
The Atari Retro package contains seven classic games: Asteriods, Breakout, Centipede (see Figure 3-27), Missile Command, Pong, Adventure, and Yar's Revenge.
Figure 3-27. Centipede from Atari Retro
Of course there are many more games and emulators available than are listed here. If you are interested in classic gaming, you will find information on the Web. You can also find more information in the book Gaming Hacks (O'Reilly, 2005) and Retro Gaming Hacks (O'Reilly, 2005).