The Site was popular as a valuable resource for Emulators, ROMs and more, but download links have now been removed in fear of potential legal action.
Emulation is something that many gamers have used to relive classic games for a while now. Whether through official re-releases on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Store, or taking a more legally ambiguous route through the use of PC emulators and ROMs.
This past Wednesday the Emulation Community was dealt a pretty hefty blow when longtime emulation site Emuparadise announced via blog post that, in fear of legal action, they were suspending all downloadable ROMs, ISOs, and other such emulation resources for the time being.
Though MasJ, the site’s founder, wouldn’t give any specific reason other than not wanting to “risk potentially disastrous consequences” for the sudden action, some sites such as Kotaku have claimed that Nintendo’s recent actions against emulation sites such as LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO are the main motivation behind Emuparadise’s sudden change.
This doesn’t come as a surprise to many in the emulation community, as Nintendo has been notorious with being relentless towards sites that host downloadable ROMs and ISOs of their products. Some felt it was only a matter of time before The Big N either spooked or took direct action against Emuparadise.
Emuparadise, however, seems like it’s going nowhere; in the same blog post, MasJ said they were still going to keep the site going, and would instead move towards making it a sort of be-all-end-all database on emulation and retro gaming.
Some say that emulation is a “legal gray area” due to how many other companies that own emulated games either don’t seem to care or are defunct, but the fact of the matter is that unless you dumped the ROM or ISO you’re playing with, it’s illegal. Downloading and running the emulator, however, is not illegal. This gets even more convoluted if you’re running an emulator that requires a BIOS file, such as a Sega-CD or PSX emulator, as you can only use BIOS files you’ve dumped yourself.
Regardless, many retro gaming fans forgo the legal red tape, as gamers getting in legal trouble for downloading and playing illegal copies of ROMs is almost unheard of, and many also feel this is a way to keep these classic games alive that might otherwise fade even further into obscurity, or worse, non-existence.
Some companies have started to tap into this sought-after nostalgia, such as Sega, who has an impressive collection of first-party Genesis/Mega Drive games available in their SEGA Mega Drive & Genesis Classics, going so far as to enable ROM hacks in the Steam release; Capcom has also been known for re-releasing older games, and even lesser-known arcade games such as their Dungeons and Dragons series; Atari even jumped in with their Atari Vault that offers a nice selection of both arcade and Atari 2600 games.
Nintendo’s also dipped their hand into the retro market long ago with the Virtual Console, and more recently their Classic line up of smaller portable emulators fashioned after retro consoles such as the NES and SNES. The problem with the Virtual Console, however, is that games are not transferable between devices even if bought on the same account; so if you bought Super Mario Bros. on your Wii all those years ago and recently bought a Switch, get ready to buy it again. And then buy it again as it’s one of the included games on the NES Classic.
While it’s sad to see Emuparadise “change”, it’s a change that’s understandable – and it’s surprising it reigned for an impressive 18 years before something happened. Nintendo is also within their full legal right to go after ROM sites, as they are illegally hosting and distributing their intellectual property – though some such as myself wonder if emulation piracy would be reduced if Nintendo solved the issues with their Virtual Console games.
On the positive side, it’s nice to see Emuparadise not get slapped around by The Big N and take the initiative to avoid any problems – and let’s not even guess what the legal fees would’ve been like. They’re rolling with the punches, and in a way, still keeping the spirit of the site alive by working to make it the be-all-end-all database of emulation and retro gaming goodness.