It’s only fun if I pay for it

This holiday I spent some time with my old friend Commodore. Not the patriarch himself, but the sixty third child to bear his name. We did some catching up and despite looking like hell, Commodore is still a lot of fun. But then theres a problem with emulating your friends; they feel cheap.

When I was younger I had to spend my parents hard earned money to buy every single game I owned. Now with the advent of emulation, I download dozens of designers entire careers in a matter of hours. McGruff may be upset that I have turned to a life of crime, but there is a deeper issue than ethics at work here.

I can’t convince myself to spend a significant amount of time with any one emulated game. As soon as I come up against resistance, I do a hard reset and load a new ROM. The reasons for this are obvious yet intimately related: I own practically every C64 game ever made and every C64 game I own cost me the effort of clicking download and enduring the stupid anime porn flashing graphic on the ROM site I use.

Because I have so many games, it’s easy to believe that the next game will be better. How the hell do I actually make a selection in Times of Lore? The button brings up my menu but then also cancels it. Screw this crap, I’m playing Planet Fall. Wait, what do I do? Theres absolutely no direction and this is my first text adventure. North. I cant go that way. North. I cant go that way. NORTH! The ship explodes and I’m dead. I have to start over.

I think I’ll start Druid instead. This game is impossible, but I have the will to endure a few dozen deaths and sort of get the hang of it. Until I come to a door and cant figure out how to unlock it. After mashing every key hoping it’ll activate the key I’m holding, I actually go above and beyond. I check the internet for help. The minus key uses keys to open doors. But then I just died again so fuck this stupid game. Archon 2 is much better anyway. Huh, I chose two player by accident. Where’s my DS?

Now that I’m an adult games cost real money and so they explicitly have some value. Stolen games aren’t worth anything, though, at least not to me. But maybe you’re some sort of wizard who can see value in free things.

Its very odd that I’m glad downloadable games aren’t free on consoles. Because I actually paid money for it, I’ve now gotten a few stages into Super Castlevania instead of the few minutes in I got on my PC. Imagine they charged $30 for the game, I probably would have finished it.

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17 years ago

Excellent point. I combat this by only emulating games I own or have owned in the past. At least that’s what I tell myself and others.

The folder is called “NES ROMS” though, not “Select NES ROMS” and more than once have I happened upon a game that I’d always wanted to play and ultimately only played for 9 minutes.

Metroid was my first NES purchase. I bought it with money from bottle returns and I played it to hell. I played it every goddamned day because I earned that shit by kifing Coke bottles and carrying them around on my bike. It was important that I finished the thing.’

17 years ago

This is pretty true for me too. The exchanging of currency is like an obligation to play the game you just purchased. But this may or may not be a good thing, depending on the game.

17 years ago

Very true. Many times I’ve tried starting a game emulated, gotten 10 minutes in, and just given up. In one case, I emulated a game and got halfway through. When I got around to buying the game (a great deal of searching and $13) I beat it twice in a row.