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How to turn your PC or Mac into a lean, mean retro gaming machine

If you can't locate the ROM of the game you want to play for your emulator, but happen to have the original game's cartridge, there is a handy device you can use to connect the cartridge. Retrode is an adapter that supports a number of game consoles including Super NES, Sega Master, Nintendo 64 and Genesis. The adapter is available from DragonBox.

Retrode

Another option is the Retrode adapter

Some of the games you may want to play could have been written for a specific operating system. Windows is a classic example where many retro games were written when Windows 95 was cutting edge technology. If you need to emulate a number of different versions of Windows on your PC or Mac this is possible via virtualisation. VMWare Workstation enables you to create a number of virtual installations of Windows that can then be used to run your games.

Your existing Windows installation acts as a host for the other operating systems you have installed via VMware's application. And the installed copy of Windows 98, for instance, is a complete installation and not a cut-down version that lacks many of its features.

When running in emulation mode, you will feel you have actually travelled back in time to when you were using Windows 98. Virtualisation is so good these days you can install multiple versions of Windows without any problems, just make sure the host PC has a fast processor and plenty of RAM. Once you have your chosen version of Windows running, it's just a case of running the game you want to play, as the game thinks it is running on a Windows 98 machine (or whatever version of Windows you have installed).

Using emulation and virtualisation offers everyone a chance to play retro games on the latest desktop and mobile devices. The interest in the early days of gaming hasn't diminished with old Atari games long since consigned to landfill being exhumed with an original copy of ET for the Atari 2600 selling for $1,537 (around £1,025, or AU$1,985).

If you're a gamer who laments the early pioneering days of computer gaming, the tools you need to play an array of classic games are readily available. It's not game over for 8-bit gaming, but game on!