Learning From Example: Gameboy games and Palm apps


Are emulators illegal? I mean, we have the GoBoy Gameboy emulator for Symbian devices which can play Gameboy ROM files and there's a Palm emulator for the PocketPC which can run Palm Apps. That's potentially over 3,000 Gameboy ROMs and 16,000 Palm apps available without having to buy either platform's antiquated hardware. If they're not illegal, I can't figure out why no one has commercialized an emulator yet.

I would have no ability to write such a thing, but it seems to me a fantastic opportunity for someone to write a Palm emulator for the Symbian phones. Palm Apps are stuck in a 160x160 format, so the apps would fit easily on my 7650's 176x208 screen, with room at the bottom to emulate function buttons - the 7650 doesn't have a touch screen, but a little ingenuity could work around that using the little track-button. (Another opportunity would be a conduit so that you could sync your Nokia with the Palm Desktop - which you can't do now. That would rock.)

The thing that's obviously illegal about the Gameboy emulators is that the ROMs are all pirated. Or I should say, 99.9999% of them are, since maybe you're one of the people with a linker who's copied the ROMs directly from your Gameboy cartridge. What happens if you go directly to the publisher of some popular 1992 Gameboy game and say "hey, I'd like to publish your ROM on the web"? Does Nintendo have veto-rights on that or is the game publisher owner of the ROM? Having a website with re-packaged Gameboy ROMs available via easy-to-download system to your Symbian phone would rule. Why duplicate the wheel? With thousands of good games already created, it seems an obvious resource to tap.

Palm apps would be simpler because they're already available via the web anyways. So you wouldn't have to repackage anything, though creating a system to install Palm Apps to your phone Over The Air (OTA) would rule also. Again, another huge-resource to look into.

Anyways, even if it would be impossible, both platforms are good places to explore for good mobile ideas. I mean, the Gameboy has been a mobile platform since I was in high-school - learning from the popular games wouldn't be a bad thing if you're a mobile game developer. Same thing goes for the Palm. I like to roam around Handango's Palm and PocketPC section looking at what's available to spark ideas. Most apps are pretty basic and almost none are "connected", but still, it's nice to see the apps as examples.

I've got an outline FULL of app ideas. I need to sit down and focus on one of them. I'd LOVE to resell Gameboy ROMs for Symbian phones, though... that would rock.


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