Power Player: early look at a new emulator

I recently started learning how to make NES games using 6502 assembly.

I’d been looking for an excuse to try out the Playdate SDK for a while and this seemed like a good opportunity to do that.

Technically this is a libretro frontend, so it could potentially run other types of games too.

It’s still very early (I haven’t finished hooking up the controls yet) but initial results seem promising.

I manually configured some rendering settings for each game but have started exploring some algorithms that might be able to do that automatically.

I don’t have a device yet so no idea how this performs outside of the simulator.








cc @wallmasterr since I saw that they were interested in this type of thing before.


This is amazing! Is the code available somewhere?

Not yet, but I plan to unless the implementation changes significantly.

Beyond using this for my own game development I thought perhaps I could explore offering this to other NES game devs as a way to port their games to Playdate.

However, I’m not sure anyone would want to do that because of the licensing constraints.

The software licenses for the libretro cores (GPL 2 or 3) prevent distributing software that depends on them without making the source code of that software available as well.

That means any game that comes prepackaged with a libretro core would need to make its source code available.

I think the alternative is to provide a more general-purpose emulator and have users side-load it with their own games.

Unfortunately that’s not as accessible for people who just want to play a new game (perhaps downloading it through Catalog) but maybe not that different for people who are already side-loading Playdate games from itch.io, etc.

I think most people making NES games at this point would be okay with using a GPL compatible license.

I'm curious to see how it performs. I ported nofrendo (NES emulator) to Playdate and also made some optimizations but performance are not good (20 fps).

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There's also multiple GB emulators that struggle with performance. Mostly drawing to the screen is the bottleneck.

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