Surface Gaming Round 2: Emulation


At some point in the last few years, I decided that I was going to set up a box full of emulators and older games and put it under the living room TV and have access to decades worth of interactive entertainment whenever I felt like it.

That was before I realized that just playing the games I had actually, you know, BOUGHT would probably last me until the end of days and I didn’t need access to thousands more.  So that project got shelved, and then I took the shelf I’d shelved it on and fed it through a wood chipper, and then I burned the chips.

Really I just wanted to see how far I could take that metaphor.

Still, I had a retro style gamepad lying around as a result, and it became unearthed during a recent cleaning spree, so I figured I would see how the Surface 3 could handle emulation tasks.  I also have a handful of GBA, WonderSwan and SegaCD games in the backlog still, so I carefully went out and found ROM images for JUST those games, set up RetroArch, and gave it a go.

Initial results are… well, they’re passable.  From the point of view of “I have a portable SNES in my backpack and can pop out its little kickstand and play a game wherever I want”, it’s pretty good! It’s totally like that Switch reveal video, where Karen invades your cool rooftop party so she can play video games in the middle of it.  I HAVE BECOME KAREN, DESTROYER OF FUN.

Performance, on the other hand, well, the Surface 3 does not have a beefy processor and it seems to be stretching things a bit to get much oomph out of it.  I started with Klonoa: Empire of Dreams, and it plays really well when you’re in the game levels… but when you’re on the world map, or in one boss fight so far, there’s a ton of audio slowdown and it’s really kind of painful on the ears.  And that’s just a GBA game, which should not be a real burden to emulate.  I’m definitely not going to try emulating any 3D systems on this little guy.

Also as a side note, it’s very weird loading some of these ROM images and seeing little intro bits by whatever group ripped the images, with Amiga-demoscene-style bouncing text and greetings to their buddies, before you can actually get to the intro screen of the game.  It’s a mix of nostalgia and annoyance.


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1 Response to Surface Gaming Round 2: Emulation

  1. That’s pretty damn cool to be fair. Getting a SNES running on your tablet…imagine that thought when the SNES was originally released!


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