How to use OpenEmu to Play Retro Games with USB Game Controllers on your Apple Mac

If you have a Mac and you’re a lover of Retro Games like Galaga, Berzerk, Centipede, Contra, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong or Frogger, you’ll probably realize that there are very few Video Game Emulators out there that are made specifically for the Apple Mac.

Currently the only way to play these retro Games on your Mac is via San Francisco-based nonprofit Internet Archive website Internet Arcade, which utilizes a JavaScript program called JSMESS that emulates old computer platforms like the Commodore 64 or Atari 2600 (Deer, November 2014).

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Worse still, most emulators are outdated and are only compatible with Windows XP, resulting in them sharing the same fate as the Mac Users.

So even if you have Windows 7, currently in Pole position since September 2011 ahead of Windows XP according to the statistics from analyst StatCounter (Deer, 2011) or Windows 8, now slowly gaining on Windows Vista according to Operating System analyst NetMarketShare in December 2013 (Deer, January 2014), our emulators haven’t been updated to work with these newer versions of Windows.

However, Mac users finally have an option in the form of Front End software OpenEmu (Lendino, 2014). This is not an emulator, but rather a software package that creates a streamlined environment to load these vintage games with a design interface that’s reminiscent of Apple iTunes.

Normally, a front end needs an emulator to run and play the game ROMS that you download.

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Best of all, it’s tailored only for Apple Mac users; so no, we haven’t been forgotten, it seems!

That’s not the case with OpenEmu, which comes with a built in marketplace where you can download the specific emulators for the various game ROMS you wish to play on your Mac organizes as if you were on Apple iTunes Store. From there it’s a matter of downloading the various ROMS for the games themselves.

Please note this is illegal, as albeit these games are no longer being made, they are still protected by copyright. Especially as many of these ROMS websites allow you to download them for free, making money from advertising or sell them unauthorized for little or nothing. 

How to use OpenEmu to play games is a matter of Experimentation

Using Open OpenEmu  is pretty straightforward on your modern day Apple Mac:

  1. Download the OpenEmu Experimental front end.
  2. Open the DMG archive after the downloading is complete
  3. Drag OpenEmu to your Mac’s Applications folder
  4. Go to the App Store and download The Unarchiver which is free and is used to open up ROM packs

MICO Wars - How to use OpenEmu to Play Retro Games with USB Game Controllers on your Apple Mac - 21-12-2014 LHDEER (1)

That’s basically the setup; where you get your ROMS is strictly up to you. Once you have your ROMS downloaded though, the procedure for using OpenEmu  to play your ROMS is pretty straightforward:

  1. Drag each ROM into the main window on the right side of OpenEmu ‘s interface
  2. OpenEmu will search the Web for box art but you can locate one manually using Google Images
  3. Download and then drag the art over to the multicolor-banded image above the ROM
  4. Choose a console from the left-hand side of OpenEmu.
  5. Select the game you want to play
  6. Double-click on the box art
  7. Game loads as if running on the original console

MICO Wars - How to use OpenEmu to Play Retro Games with USB Game Controllers on your Apple Mac - 21-12-2014 LHDEER (3)

Your ROMS should play with little problem, albeit your games will look very low quality on a high resolution 1080p monitor that our computer may have. To get back the same look and feel as if you on a CRT Monitor, you’ll have to adjust the scanlines in OpenEmu  as follows:

  1. Go to File
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Select Library
  4. Select Filter
  5. Select Scanlines

Great Retro Games need Great USB Controllers that need to be Mapped

Now you’ve got the appearance right, but what about the controllers?

When I’m at home in Milk River, I usually play a lot of Video Games (Deer, July 2014) using an Xbox Controller. But these games were originally played on consoles that had their own distinctive controllers.

Thus you might want to run out and buy a controller for each specific Game Platform and Console to play your various ROMS, which depending on your pocket, may not be such a viable option. Especially when you scope out the prices for the original controllers on Amazon:

  1. US$13.00 for the Buffalo Classic USB Gamepad
  2. US$169.99 for the X-Arcade Tankstick + Trackball
  3. US$24.99 for the Logitech Gamepad F310
  4. US$9.99 for the Classic NES USB Controller

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If you have a regular USB Controller like the Xbox Controller, then just like connecting it to a PC to play Xbox Games you’ll have to configure and remap the controller to work with the Game Platform and Console that OpenEmu  loads. To do this is again fairly simple:

  1. Click on Preferences
  2. Click on the Controllers tab
  3. Choose a controller from the drop down menu and a match image will appear on the left
  4. Plug in your USB controller
  5. Click the menu below the keyboard shortcut
  6. Choose the USB controller
  7. Click in each field for moving the D-pad and various buttons
  8. Click the corresponding buttons on your controller

This will create a one-to-one mapping of your controller so that it operates in much the same way the original Controller for the System Game Platform and Console. To test if it worked, just start a ROM and see if it brings back those 90’s Nostalgic memories and the gameplay feels right on your ultra-modern Apple Mac.

Here’s the link

OpenEmu

Internet Archive

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2011, October 7). Windows 7 trumps Windows XP for Pole Position – Windows 8 Cloudy Future. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/windows-7-trumps-windows-xp-for-pole-position-windows-8-cloudy-future/
  2. Deer, L. (2014, January 5). NetMarketShare Stats shows Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer poised for Growth – Rising Tide of the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8.1 Tablets in Real-Time. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/01/netmarketshare-stats-shows-windows-81.html
  3. Deer, L. (2014, July 13). How to connect Xbox One controller to any Computer or Laptop. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/how-to-connect-xbox-one-controller-to-any-computer-or-laptop/
  4. Deer, L. (2014, November 11). Internet Archive’s 900 Classic Arcade Games – 30 years of Free Arcade Game with retro CTRL-ALT-SPACE and Arrow Keys Button Masher Action. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/11/internet-archives-900-classic-arcade.html
  5. Lendino, J. (2014, December 10). How to play Retro Games on your Modern Mac with OpenEmu. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2473120,00.asp

 

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6 thoughts on “How to use OpenEmu to Play Retro Games with USB Game Controllers on your Apple Mac

  1. “Currently the only way to play these retro Games on your Mac is via San Francisco-based nonprofit Internet Archive website Internet Arcade, which utilizes a JavaScript program called JSMESS that emulates old computer platforms like the Commodore 64 or Atari 2600”

    What in the hell kind of research have you been doing? OS X Mame 0.135 was released donkey years ago!!! There’s also SDL MAME which has this based covered too!

    Like

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