Is it worth buying a SNES?
This topic is locked from further discussion.
Didn't this get locked? What happened.
I can imagine there was a discussion regarding whether or not to reverse the lock on this thread, since technically emulators and emulation software are legal as long as the user obtained a dump of the system BIOS and they purchased the system originally.
As long as the discussion is kept simply to actual emulators we should still be within an okay, legally grey area.
I built a nintendo, using parts from here. Its pretty easy.
Emulators provide a better experience, whereas a SNES would provide a more "authentic" one.
I prefer emulation of my old SNES games. No chance of the 20 year old save battery dying, no blowing, better picture, and just an all-around better way to play old games.
Emulators, specifically BSNES can offer the full SNES experience. If you're a purist and insist on using a cartridge then you can purchase something like Retrode which allows you to use original cartridges with an emulator. Combine that with a SNES USB controller, and you have the same experience.
There are now emulators for the SNES that have 100% accuracy.
Emulators typically take shortcuts in order to speed up the emulation, but we are at the point now where CPUs are powerful enough to have accurate emulation of the SNES without needing to use them.
This means that you can now emulate a SNES and sound will be exactly the same as the real hardware now (a lot of older emulators sound really bad when you compare them to the real hardware) and you no longer have the limitation of a 480i RGB output at best - you can output to your display's native resolution with pixel-perfect accuracy.
If you are trying to play on a flat panel, this can make a considerable difference, as most flat panels do a terrible job of handling interlaced inputs - especially from games consoles - and upscaling from 480i typically adds a lot of lag. (and you already have a minimum of 1-2 frames of lag if you are using a flat panel) I've spent a lot of time with devices like the XRGB scaler family to try and get decent results on flat panels and while they work OK, they still don't look nearly as good as emulation.
You also have the advantage of trying to emulate a CRT if that's your thing. While I don't like a lot of the "NTSC" style filters that emulate a crappy CRT connected up via composite, or "scanline" filters that simply add black/gray lines over the image, there are some which soften the look of the hard-edged pixel graphics in a more natural way, and help make dither appear as if it's a transparent color as originally intended.
The problem with this emulation though, is that to perform with 100% accuracy, it means emulating the clock speeds perfectly, which has given me trouble. Due to how PC architecture works, audio and video run off different clocks, and video cards are a bit loose with their timings, because monitors don't need exact refresh rates to sync correctly (they are usually quite tolerant) and the emulator itself has no control over the video card clocks. On the other hand, NTSC is exactly 60/1.001Hz, and the SNES itself did not conform to NTSC standards exactly with its output. From doing a quick search it seems that it was either 60.08Hz or 59.97Hz depending on the output mode. (NTSC is around 59.94Hz)
This means that I have never been able to get perfectly smooth gameplay with these emulators and have to put up with either: stuttering, audio distortion, audio sync issues, or screen tearing. (v-sync issues)
It seems like this would actually be a relatively simple fix if the emulator dynamically changed the SNES clock from 59.97/60.08Hz to whatever the video card clock is outputting, resampling the audio to match, but then you don't have "100% accurate" emulation. (even though it would be a much better experience)
That's a problem you never have to deal with if you are playing on the original hardware - though you may have other problems caused by things like improper cadence detection if you are trying to play on a flat panel. (resolution pumping, combing artefacts, stutter etc.)
If you can source a good CRT (the Sony BVM or PVM monitors are often available second-hand these days, and are amazing) and a working SNES with an RGB cable, I would say that's still the best option to use today.
If not, you are probably best with emulation - especially if you don't care about 100% accuracy, because then you shouldn't have any audio/video sync issues. (they only appear when you are doing accurate emulation in my experience)
If you do get a SNES, I'd suggest the real deal over the Retron. I've had some weird experiences with the Retrons.
Also, if you buy a real SNES, you run the risk of falling into that "retro gaming hole." It's a fun hole to be in, but can be an expensive one.
Also, if you can get a really awesome CRT you'll be in retro gaming heaven. Sony Trinitrons are pretty much the go-to TV for retro gamers. I was lucky to find a really nice one at my local thrift store on my birthday two years ago (bonus!).
I also have a USB controller, though, to play emus of the games I have on carts on the go. And what everybody said is true: Emulators do tend to play the games better, but if you want that "retro" experience, you gotta get the real deal.
Emulation is just fine, especially with some of the cooler filters in ZSNES that really actually make the games look like they are running on a CRT (not just shitty scan lines and fake interlacing but big ol subpixels and stuff). Buying a real snes is cool but it's not essential and if you care more about experiencing the games, emulator is way better. Much better access to games and it doesn't take up space. If you have a controller, you'll be fine. You can even get a USB SNES controller if you want "authenticity." But I use a 360 gamepad and a PS3 gamepad would work great too.
If you just want a nostalgia kick, go for the real thing. Otherwise you should go with the emulator.
Hell, you can even get an emulator on your phone, and if you have the right phone you can use bluetooth controllers with it. Last PAX Prime we had a Galaxy S3 in the group and a couple of PS3 controllers. Tetris Battle Gaiden's versus mode made waiting in lines pretty enjoyable.