Emulation 101:
Classic Gaming
on the PC

   - Keita Iida


Atari 2600

Atari 5200 /

8-Bit Computers


GCE Vectrex


Multi Platform


Emulation Links

- ATARI 2600 -

Not surprisingly, there are more emulators available for the venerable Atari 2600 (VCS) than any other classic home video game system. Given the competition is fierce as a result of so many 2600 emulators out there, you can't go wrong using any of the ones out there. However, there are two programs that are widely regarded as the best of the best.

Stella is perhaps the most popular 2600 emulator at present, and with good reason -- there are versions available for Linux, DOS, OS/2, Power Macintosh, Unix/X and Windows 95/NT. The user interface is top notch, and getting the program to work is literally easier than tying your shoe laces. Stella does have an extensive users guide, however, so you won't have to ask someone in embarrassment in the case that you can't immediately get it running. The authors also have an extremely well-organized home page.

Though it got a late start in the VCS emulator ballgame, PC Atari is the emulator of choice among many emulation fans, especially those with slightly older computers. It performs flawlessly on just about every game we tried on it. It's also fast, too. It strikes a perfect balance between speed, compatibility and ease of use. The sweet spot among middle-of-the-road PC owners.

For people in need of an emulator that will run on their 486 or low-end Pentium PC, Z26 is your answer. You'll be able to play 2600 ROM images at full speed, even with sound. It's not as refined as the aformentioned two emulators, but its assembly language ensures that it will remain the fastest one for the forseeable future.

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