Retro gaming is making a massive comeback. As gaming matures as a form of entertainment, studios are digging into their back catalogues and providing us with access to classic titles. For example, the Nintendo Switch is a casual retro gamer’s dream. From almost-perfect Sega conversions by the games M2 studios, to good-enough offerings of classic Nintendo games for Nintendo Online subscribers, anyone who wants to try some retro gaming is spoilt for choice.
However, serious retro gamers have to put serious time into getting an authentic experience. They spend money on CRT TVs, old console hardware and other bits and bobs that help bring back the feeling of sitting in your 80s bedroom and whiling the hours away playing Duck Hunt or Zelda.
Ironically, it’s futuristic VR technology that might bring us back to the good old days. EmuVR is a retro game emulator that takes you into a virtual space designed to be the ultimate playground for retro gamers. Not only that, but it’s got some amazing features up its sleeve.
The Room (No, Not That One)
The creators have created a virtual space that is pure nostalgia. It’s the ultimate gamer geek playground. Your games (which you have to provide as digital files) are scattered all over the place.
Likewise, game consoles that go with those games are also simulated. Your digital roms are represented by simulated replicas of the discs or cartridges they would have originally come on. You have to put the virtual media into the virtual console to start playing.
You can use your digitized hands and simply pick up a controller after switching on the right TV and making sure it’s all connected correctly. Recently EmuVR got an update for light gun support. Just look at this.
That’s actually a pretty big deal, because there is no software fix for the fact that light guns do not work with modern TVs. They rely on the technical nature of CRT screens. So unless you want to buy an ancient tube TV and all the other hardware you need to relive your light gun days, this is probably the best solution out there.
All this technical wizardry is impressive, but what we love most about the EmuVR idea is that it acknowledges that these games are special within a specific context. In some ways this is less about playing the specific games and more about time travel The small details of opening game boxes, switching on an old TV and having to go through gaming rituals that are now obsolete makes this something special.
If you are thinking about giving EmuVR a try, you’ll be sad to hear that it only supports a small number of VR platforms right now. The Oculus Rifts are covered, as is the HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. You can also use EmuVR on a regular old 2D screen, although that seems a little besides the point.
The Oculus Quest, Go, Gear VR and any other mobile VR solution is not supported. It’s a pity that there isn’t a Quest version of the emulator, but as the Quest gains market share that might change.
How Do You Get It?
Right now EmuVR is in closed Beta. You can ask to be part of it by following these instructions. They also have a Patreon you can donate at, although the software will always be free. Just remember that there are plenty of legal grey areas when providing game roms, just as with all emulation. There’s no single set of rules that makes it OK and usually you are technically committing software piracy or some other form of copyright breach. That’s entirely your responsibility, but if you are going to tread through those murky waters, you might as well do it in style, right?