Emulation is awesome. It makes it possible for old code to run on new machines, meaning your favorite old games are still accessible. Best of all, there are plenty of great free programs around for the job. Varun talked about 3 emulators to play old, free games on Linux, and there’s a lot more emulation articles here on the site.
But it can become confusing, depending on how many kinds of games you’re trying to run. Different old systems need different new emulators. There’s no all-in-one solution to this problem yet, but Mednafen is helpful in reducing the number of emulators you need to install on your system.
There’s nothing too complicated about installing Mednafen. If you’re a Linux user, just check your package manager for “mednafen”. Ubuntu users can simply click here.
Windows users should head over to the Mednafen releases page and download the executable binary found under the “Microsoft Windows” header. You’ll need to download the portable program and place it in the folder of your choice (Program Files is probably good for consistency’s sake).
You won’t find Mednafen in your applications menu on Linux or Windows; rather, you need to set the program to be the default way to open ROMs. Right-clicking on your ROMs, then clicking “Properties” will reveal the way to do this on Linux and Windows alike. Now you can simply double-click ROMs to open them in Mednafen.
There are two main ways to configure Mednafen. The first is to open a ROM, then use keyboard shortcuts to set up things the way you like. Press F1 if you don’t know the keyboard shortcuts and help will show on-screen:
(Tip: if you’re looking to toggle fullscreen, “Alt” and “Enter” is the combination you need).
The other way to configure Mednafen is to edit your configuration file. Linux users will find this file, called mednafen.cfg, in the hidden “.mednafen” directory in your home folder:
Windows users can find their configuation file in Mednafen’s directory. Anything you might want to change about Mednafen you should find in this file, so check it out and turn this program into something you can love.
Stuck? There’s always the official Mednafen documentation if you need a hand.
Recently I pointed out that media center program Boxee can become the ultimate ROM and game launcher. Mednafen works really well with this, because of its almost total lack of a distracting user interface once you have everything set up. Try it out yourself, or with the media center of your choice.
Mednafen supports a variety of different old game consoles. Here they all are:
- Atari Lynx.
- GameBoy (Color).
- GameBoy Advance.
- NES (Nintendo Entertainment System).
- PC Engine(TurboGrafx 16).
- Neo Geo Pocket (Color).
- WonderSwan (Color).
- Sega Master System.
- Game Gear.
I love this program because it’s simple and it works really well. I use it quite a bit on my Ubuntu netbook as well as my Windows 7 media center (through Boxee, of course).
Does this program work well for you? Is there a program you prefer? As always I’d love for you to share your knowledge below, and you can even flame me if you want. I like everything.