How much would you spend to save the thing you love? For one SNES fan, that would be almost a decade and more than $10,000. A programmer by the name of byuu has dedicated his/her life to recreating the Super Nintendo, but unlike other emulation projects that allow you to play games of old, Byuu a team were able “to reverse-engineer every single SNES coprocessor (like the Super FX chip used for Star Fox’s 3D graphics),” according to Tested. The process also raises some important questions about the nature of copyright and why we should be bothering emulating at all:
Nearly three years of effort went into reverse engineering the SNES DSPs and adding their code to bsnes. Let’s put that into perspective. After about 15 years of active development, the SNES emulation scene finally has a low-level emulator that’s nearly representative of the original hardware. The Super Nintendo is over 20 years old, and every successive console generation makes Nintendo’s 16-bit programming look like child’s play. How can we hope to preserve that technology for the sake of history if 1) it’s so dizzyingly complex and 2) only extremely dedicated fans like byuu are even bothering to try?
Wesley Fenlon has a great recap of byuu’s struggle and the importance of pirating software for future generations.