We let you play old games (such as Mario, Sonic, etc.) on your PC. We do this using a technology called emulation. It really IS THAT SIMPLE!
So you're new to emulation and don't quite know where to begin. Well, it's easier than it looks at first! For new users, the number of different options can be quite scary. But don't worry, we're here to help!
ROM / ISO - The image of the actual game. This is basically a file that is converted using special means into a format that a personal computer can easily understand. eg. Paper Mario N64 ROM. This image would be a 1:1 copy of the actual N64 cartridge but available as a single file on our website.
Emulator - A program written to run games designed for consoles/arcade systems on your computer or mac. eg. Project 64 for Nintendo 64, epsxe for Sony Playstation and so on.
It's quite easy, grab a ROM (use our site search to find things easier) and download an emulator.
There are usually a number of emulator choices for each system. This might at first confuse you, but we have tools available for you to EASILY make the right choice. Here's how:
1. Emulators are sorted by Operating Systems. (we use the word Platform for various reasons..) So, if you're on Windows, you need to look at emulator choices for Windows Systems.
2. Our users vote for the BEST emulator to use with a given ROM, this makes choosing one pretty easy. On the details page (the page with descriptions and screenshots for a game..) take a look at Emulator Recommendation. If you click on the "Pick an Emulator" field, you'll get a list of emulators sorted by Operating Systems along with the votes for each emulator. Check out the best one for your OS. Scroll down to the Quick Download links, and download your emulator.
Most of our ROMs and ISOs are compressed using various formats such as zip, 7-zip, RAR, etc. Since emulators cannot understand these formats (some emulators such as snes9x do allow zip files..) it's always best to uncompress the file you download. You'll know what program to use based on the extension of the file you've downloaded. Here's a quick list of what you might need based on the file extension:
Note: After you extract your ROM/ISO you can usually load it up into an emulator. However, if you downloaded a PSX ISO, you might need to unECM your file first. In this case, please use PakkISO or unECM.exe to convert your .bin.ecm file to a .bin ISO. Once you've done this, you're good to burn your file onto a CD or load it up using ePSXe or your choice of PS1 emulator. We ECM the files since this provides much better compression and often better integrity of your downloaded files!
Once you've downloaded your emulator, install it and you're ready to rock! Fire it up and you'll probably get a GUI (at-least on Windows and Mac OS..) and you can choose your ROM file to load. Check out your emulator's readme file for more information or search our forums.
If you have any more questions, you can always ask in the relevant subforum at epforums.org.