vNES lets you play old-school Nintendo games online

March 2, 2008
Kirby’s Adventure

FROM JASON’S JAVA-GASM — I haven’t seen a working 8-bit NES in years, but I’ve spent plenty of time blowing air across the contacts and praying to the digital gods to breathe life back into my old Bomberman cart.

No luck. There are always ROMs, of course, but if you’ve got web access there’s a better solution: The Virtual NES.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes

No more hunting around on shady ROM download sites. vNES might not have every Nintendo game ever made, but they do have 765 at last count — which should keep you busy for a while. You can easily find classics like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Maniac Mansion, and Xevious, but the site also has obscure titles like RoboDemons, Famicom-only titles like Tecmo World Cup Soccer, and Japanese ones like Bananan Ouji no Daibouken.

Super Mario Bros. 2

Conspicuously absent from the roster is Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!, which is difficult to port because it (as Rym is quick to point out) it was the only NES game to ever use the MMC2 chip.

Overall, the rendering isn’t at all choppy like a lot of Java-based games — even when side-scrolling — and the controls seem to have very few bugs. Games load super-fast (at 128k or so each, how long can they take?) and there’s no unzipping or other old ROM-using nonsense to wrestle with.

You do have to mouse-click inside the game area before playing. The controls are simple: Arrow keys, Z and X mapped to B and A respectively, Enter is Start and Ctrl is Select.

Have fun, children of the 80s.