The perils of playing ROMS on a laptop

Gaming on a laptop has always been one of those iffy tasks that doesn’t always go as planned. The biggest deal to over come is not having a strong enough video card, fast enough CPU or enough RAM as a desktop gaming computer.Another issue that often arises when gaming on a laptop is a lack of USB ports.

Of course, sometimes a gamer has little to no choice. As of right now the PS4 is my dedicated gaming rig. Unfortunately I haven’t landed on my feet following my move across country so I am stuck using my laptop. Sure, I do have a Nintendo Switch but even in portable mode, it requires being docked for charging and I haven’t had a chance to dig out the dock just yet. That leaves me with two choices, gaming on my phone or gaming on my laptop. (Yeah realistically not gaming at all is not an option).

The first thing I decided to do was dig out some of my USB gaming pads to see which emulators I would be able to run. I realized that having moved across the country leaving so many of my gaming items in the heat of my car, I hadn’t considered the possibility of any of them becoming damaged.

I have long been accustomed to playing my Sega Genesis roms using my USB SNES controllers. Okay well truth be told they are real SNES controllers I hook up using a USB adapter. Also, remember I still purchase all of these ROMS via the eshop on my Wii and Wii U so this is just what I consider an emergency back up when I don’t have any other option.

Now what happened is the reversal. For the first time I wasn’t able to locate my SNES controllers so I ended up having to use Sega Genesis 6-button pads for playing SNES games. The issue with this is, it’s missing a button so mapping the controls has to be done on a game by game basis. In the end, it became too much of a frustration to even bother so I called it quits. I also dug out my PS3 controller and my N64 USB controller but those didn’t go over well either. The N64 controller didn’t work out so well because the D-pad wasn’t responsive. I wasn’t sure how to get the PS3 controller working with my laptop so I might have to try again some other time.

Not too long ago I watched an episode of the sitcom, The  Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon was playing some N64 emulator using his laptop. He was having a less than ideal experience during the episode. Now truthfully he was trying to make a point by using the keyboard as the primary controller. I was never able to get any enjoyment out of playing roms using the keyboard, heck I don’t even play PC games that are meant to be played with a keyboard, if I can’t use a joystick or game pad I don’t even bother.

My first indication there was going to be an issue as when I hooked up my very expensive arcade stick. I couldn’t get the emulator to recognize any of the inputs. This was depressing but predictable considering how I had it tossed in the trunk. I knew there was a risk it wouldn’t work but I held out hope, in my experience most controllers tend to be a lot more durable people often assume anyways. Once I realized it wasn’t working I switched over to the Sega Genesis 6-button pad. The first one I tried, the Pro Pad 6, didn’t work. It let me record the inputs in the INI file but whenever I loaded up the emulator, for  some reason it lost the inputs or the controller just went dead, I couldn’t figure it out.

Finally I was able to get the standard 6-button pad to work so I mapped the keys, booted up Super Mario World and died at the first jump, three lives in a row. It was frustrating because the layout of the Sega pad just wasn’t compatible with the SNES layout, my reflexes weren’t able to adjust. I then had to spend the next few minutes playing around with custom button mapping configurations until I found one that was comfortable enough for me to be able to play the game. Now, it was at this time I realized I was going to have to do with with each and every game I played. I figured as much, playing Genesis games with an SNES pad always required creative button mapping, hence the reason why I have the Sega pads and the USB adapter to make use of them in the first place. In my opinion if you are going to use emulators in place of real hardware, for whatever reason, at the very least try to use authentic controllers with USB adapters to augment the experience.

In the end the experience wasn’t worth the time and effort wasted trying to re-play a  nearly 30-year-old game I have played countless times. I guess it might be in my best interest to find the Switch dock and get that thing charged up. Either that or see if I can get fresh batteries in one of my Game Boy units. Ah, the perils of being a gamer without access to his gaming consoles. Welcome to 2018.

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