An NES emulator comes to Windows Phone and we put it through its paces

Game emulators are a lil' pastime around WPCentral. What can we say other than we like our old games as much as our new Xbox LIVE ones? We've covered Purple Cherry (Gameboy) and Blue Tomato (for you Sega fans) and now we're very happy to see Nudua's vNESLight come to the Windows Phone Marketplace for emulating games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (abbreviated as NES).

Version 1.0 of the emulator actually arrived two weeks ago after a two-month hold up by Microsoft and v1.1 is about to go live in a few days with some minor bug fixes. Version 1.0 now features Skydrive support,  including recognition of ZIP and RAR files making ROM imports very easy. You can also save your games to Skydrive too in case you want to switch devices and the UI has been re-worked to be more "Metro".

Emulation of Nintendo games also now supports sounds from varying bitrate quality (8000, 22050 and 44100 Hz) as well as Auto-frame skip for older Gen 1 devices. But if you're like us with a Titan, Titan II, Focus S or Lumia device, you can easily run at no skips and max bitrate. Audio emulation is pretty good but there are distortions here and there, but since we know sound emulation is hard stuff, we're just glad it's here.

Other features include the ability to pin any game to your Start screen for 1-touch launching, a recently-played section, redesigned virtual controls and overall just a fluid UI. We still find Purple Cherry/Blue Tomato to have a little more pizzazz in terms of design but ultimately this is about the emulator and the developer, Nudua, has done a bang-up job there making this a must have for any serious NES fans out there.

The app comes in two versions: free (with minimally intrusive ads) or $0.99 with no ads. Both versions have the same feature set so it's up to you with what you prefer (we always opt for the paid version, but that's us).

Update: Nudua let us know that the crackling sound will be fixed in an upcoming update, just a temporary hitch.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Now to find some game roms
  • And where do I find these game roms?
  • Cool Rom is the best place to find most ROMs.
  • Hasnt this beenin te market for awhile already?
  • Yes and no. You're thinking of the beta which came out on the Marketplace back in November. But vNESLight hit version 1.0 (aka official) on April 1st and we're using v1.1 in the video which goes live this week. Version 1.0 was held up for nearly two months by Microsoft and it's a rather big update with a re-worked UI and new features -- that's only been out for two weeks though, hence our post ;-)
  • Thanks for the reply.  I hadn't used it in some time so I forgot it was a beta version.  That makes sense now!  And I did actually read your work!
  • First line, second paragraph ;)
  • What's really awesome is it now has the option to use the physical keypad to play games. Now my LG Quantum is that much more cooler of a device, even though it's 1st Gen. ;-)
  • Enter the emulator/rom Nazis
  • A emulator is proven to be good with low specs not with top of the line specs. And on the HTC radar its still slow and buggy.
  • HTC Radar though is far from top of the line as it only has a 1GHz CPU. Even the Lumia 710 is faster with its 1.4GHz processor. Don't get me wrong, I love the Radar but it is a lil' slow.
  • Looks nice, takes me back!! off topic-do we know what the xbl game is 2morow for wp7??
  • Here ya go:
  • So while you can buy the app in the store you still need to have a unlocked device to actually get anything onto it. To be honest they should make the app free. They are not going to get too much in the way of users outside of registered developers.
  • " still need to have a unlocked device to actually get anything onto it."
    Where did you get that from? I mentioned no such thing in my article. You do NOT need an unlocked device to run this else I would have called it "homebrew". To load games you download a ROM to your PC, upload to Skydrive and import it. End of story.
    "To be honest they should make the app free."
    It IS free. There is an ad-supported free version and a non-ad version, it says right there at the end with links to both. I'm starting to wonder if you read my article at all :-/
  • Just copy and paste the link of the web location of the rom you want. It can all be done inside the phone, don't over think it. Try googling NES roms :) you'll see.
  • You don't need an unlocked device, just follow the directions.
  • The 1.0 update was a huuuuge improvement. In using a trophy and the beta was basically unusable before. Better interface overall too and good price point as well. The exploded view of the controller at start up still doesn't fit though. Its too complicated. If it were simpler and graphic it would fit the metro theme more. That's just me being a nitpicker though ;). Great job overall.
  • Ahh, thank you for the Trophy report -  I'll have to give it a try. The beta wasn't even close to usable with sound turned on.
  • Yeah the autodetect works well. If you skip 4 frames though it runs great. Damn near perfect for most games I've tried actually. If you turn on the sound it takes a major hit though.
  • You forgot one of the coolest feature of this emulator. Real time saves. When your playing a game, just hit the back button, a menu will come up, hit save and it will save exactly where you were. In Landscape mode the back button is right next to the A/B buttons so it's a quick hop back.
    This is a great emulator even better than the "faster" ones we saw back in WIndows Mobile day.
  • It's a really good emulator, I sprung for the non-ad version for a buck and am very happy with it.
  • They should make a third button that presses a+b together. Games like double dragon are hard to pull off certain moves. Also turbo if possible.
  • True.
  • Hey Daniel,
    I know there has been articles on other sites regarding devs making more money on some apps with ads rather than the up front market price.  With WP7 apps, is this ever true?  I always enjoy an emulator, esp. on an os with a smaller selection of games, and I would like to support the dev. with the option that makes him the most money.  I'm probably just going to buy it but I thought I would ask.
  • it's giving an error in my phone, I have a Lumia 1020 phone.. every time i try to install it through skydrive or copy pasting link.. it's reading the file but says 'unable to extract files'. HELP anyone??