NullDC, the Dreamcast emulator released with an open source license by its author after years of inactivity, remains a noteworthy example of what kind of results the community devoted to emulating the newest gaming machines can achieve. Although there is wide room for optimization and the implementation of still-lacking features, nullDC is a powerful engine which renders with ease – granted it run on a suitable hardware – several instances of the Sega console at the same time on a single PC.
Followers of the VOGONS board and DOSBox official forum are already aware of this: one of the forthcoming versions of the best PC-with-DOS emulator out there should include a very important architectural novelty, ie the software implementation of the historical Voodoo Graphics chipset created by 3dfx Interactive in the Nineties. “Kekko”, the programmer working on the project with the aid of the DOSBox crew and the coding-capable VOGONS users, says that his aim is the complete and faithful emulation of SST-1, the first Voodoo chipset marketed in 1996 inside the first 3D graphics accelerated cards on the PC.
During the past few days two important facts happened in the emulation world: DOSBox, the virtual machine that accurately replicates the PC world obsolete hardware has been updated with a new version release, while the Dreamcast emulator nullDC has found itself at a crossroad in its erratic history. Both cases concern software that are almost unique in their kind, and both the news are worth being told for the practical effects they have on the many fans using them.
UPDATE: After a few months the CPU upgrade turned to be a remarkable failure. I advise anyone against this kind of practice and I invite you to read the post regarding my useless troubleshooting efforts.
I purchased my latest computer in absolute emergency conditions, and except for an annoying, sound-related issue when I extensively use the network (a fact for which I would be inclined to blame and damn Vista SP1) I’m satisfied with it until now. But being obliged to spend a limited budget obviously didn’t hinder me to upgrade the system main component, the CPU, overlapping to satisfaction the pleasure of having a fairly recent setup to let me use it in scenarios that are a little less retrograde than the ones I’m usually accustomed to.
I had already talked about Dolphin‘s remarkable qualities in a previous post, being it the only emulator currently capable of replicating a Nintendo Wii console on PC and running some commercial games. Another, impressive confirmation of the emulator capabilities comes from this YouTube video (via Joystick Division), that in a single shot shows off what the recently added Full HD video clips viewing (1080p, or 1920×1080 pixels) is really useful for while it demonstrates the growing Dolphin compatibility with the latest games published for the Nintendo console.
This news would have come out a bit earlier if I hadn’t have to deal with some other stuff, nevertheless the subject is interesting and deserves to be reported anyway: MESS, MAME twin emulator which embraces its philosophy of completeness and accuracy shifting the focus from the arcades to the home machines hardware, has recently added support for Philips CD-i, ie what almost certainly is the worst videogame “console” ever appeared in the not-so-young history of the medium.
As the yet partial success obtained by PCSX2 with PlayStation 2 emulation demonstrates, adequately recreating the last generations videogaming machines on a PC screen – it doesn’t matter how much powerful and advanced equipped CPUs and GPUs are – isn’t an easy task. For this reason the results recently achieved by GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin are exceptional to say the least and let foresee a bright future for the Nintendo machines emulation “scene”.
After the release of DOSBox version 0.73, I was asking myself why the emulation status page wasn’t updated yet and kept reporting the own features of version 0.72. Actually mine was a rhetoric question because I knew that sooner or later, as already happened in the past, the page would have been updated with the current status of the several subsystems of retrogamers PC/DOS preferred emulator.
On the occasion of SourceForge.net’s project of the month award granted to DOSBox, I asked the crew behind the best PC/DOS emulator out there to reply to some questions about the project. The developers were busy with the last works on the new version of the emulator, thus the interview was changed to include some DOSBox 0.73 related features and finally in the past days the crew was kind enough to send me back the replies I was seeking for. There is no Big Scoop (tm) here nor I was asking for one, but I hope the conversation is an interesting reading anyway.
Even though the last works on the code have been slowed down by some last hour bugs, around the end of May the DOSBox developers have kept their word by releasing the new version of the best PC/DOS emulator out there. After almost two years since the previous official main release, DOSBox 0.73 comes to improve the already remarkable compatibility level of PC retrogamers’ preferred virtual machine and introduces a lot of new stuff in practically every aspect of the emulation.