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NESoid lets you play classic NES games on your Android device

About ten years ago, I remember installing a PlayStation emulator on my PC. With marvel, wonder and awe, I played through Final Fantasy VII yet again. It was awesome! Both the MIDI orchestration and jaggy polygons were faithfully preserved and everything!

I also remember that it was slow. My PC had a 600MHz processor, yet it struggled to emulate the 33MHz processor in the PlayStation 1. Fast forward to today, however, and the gigahertz processor is ubiquitous, be it in the desktop or mobile form factor. I don't think anyone foresaw that we'd have 1GHz processors in computers that fit comfortable in our palm.

But hey, who's complaining?

There are many emulators for Android smartphones, but today I'm going to look at the most important: NESoid. It's a free app that lets you play just about every NES game on your Android phone. It's not without its niggles (read on!), but you really can't complain when it comes to free games.

You can install it by searching for 'Nesoid' on the Android marketplace (grab the Lite version, or pay the few dollars if you need the ability to save and load games).
First things first: you need some game ROMs! I use The Old Computer -- there are lots of ads, but their database is truly exhaustive! As you can guess from its name, they don't only do NES ROMs either.

At this stage, I have to tell you that downloading ROMs is only totally legal if you own the actual NES cartridges -- but even if you don't, it's very unlikely that you'll get into trouble for downloading these games.

Once you have some ROMs (make sure they have the .NES extension), simply transfer them to your phone's SD card. Then open NESoid, navigate to wherever you dumped the ROMs... and off you go!

There are some niggles though, as I said. First, if you don't have a hardware keyboard, it's really quite hard to manipulate an on-screen D-pad and A/B buttons. Second, if you don't have a multi-touch device, lots of games will be almost unplayable. I tried to play Street Fighter 3, but as I lacked the ability to hold a direction and punch... it wasn't a whole lot of fun. Still, if you have a newer HTC or Droid smartphone, games are probably very playable.

Like PC emulators, NESoid has a ton of configuration options. You can change how the game's graphics are scaled, and you can also increase the 'fast forward' speed, so that you can play games like Super Mario Bros in double-quick time! Cheaters will be glad to hear that NESoid even has Game Genie support! (Wow, I haven't seen the phrase 'Game Genie in over a decade...)

All in all, NESoid is a fantastic little app, if only to provide cheap, rheumy-eyed retro gaming for the commute to work -- or, if you're like me, while you're loosing your bowels into bowl of hell.

NESoid Tech Specs
  • Installed Size -- 1.2MB (and each game is very small, between 20 and 200 kilobytes)
  • Speed/Responsiveness -- The interface is fine, and the emulation itself is fast. Street Fighter 3 is one of the 'largest' NES games, and it runs fine (Android 1.6 @ 600MHz, LG GT 540 Swift)
  • User Interface -- On-screen keyboard is messy, but there isn't really a graceful solution for that (it is configurable, though!)
  • Configurability & Extensibility -- You can configure almost everything, and obviously with the huge library of NES games, extensibility is a given!
  • License -- Free, not open source. Paid version ($3.98) lets you save and load games
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Tags: android, android market, AndroidMarket, app, emulator, final fantasy, FinalFantasy, free, games, nes, nesoid, nintendo, street fighter, StreetFighter