Developer's Conference
Future PDAs
Dark Haven 2 Preview
Which is the best gaming PDA?

Billiard (Palm)
Zillionaire (Palm)
Hot Xonix (Palm)
Casino (Palm)
Space Trader (Palm)

Find out about advertising on our site

Liberty (Palm) July 7, 2000

The much anticipated Liberty GameBoy emulator for the Palm has finally been released. Everyone seems to want to know if the developers have pulled off the impossible: a real GameBoy emulator running at decent speeds.

A GameBoy emulator for the Palm seems like a daunting task. The limitations of the hardware will make for very slow emulation speeds. And do you really want to dedicate megs of storage space for just a few games? Although it's obvious that games designed for Palm will work better than emulated games, an emulator is a great way to try a variety of different types of games (legal issues aside).
The first thing that has to be said is that the emulator is slow. Very slow. After all, the Palm doesn't exactly have a super-quick processor. Don't even think of running the emulator unless you are using an overclocking utility such as AfterBurner. Now that we got that out of the way, how does it handle a variety of games?

The registered version ships with several freeware gameboy games. While these games aren't bad by themselves, the real benefit is that it can run the thousands of retail gameboy roms out there (although you legally must own the actual cartridge). I cranked up the acceleration, and set the emulator to display every 4th frame. At these settings, most games played fairly well. It still wasn't exactly close to the full speed, but at least most games were playable.

The first game I tried was Super Mario Land 3. Even at the maximum acceleration settings, this game was way too slow to be playable. Everything was in slow motion, with framerates around 5 fps. I didn't give up though, and since I heard that Dr. Mario ran nicely, I decided I would try that next. It indeed ran perfectly at full speed, in fact a bit too fast with the acceleration.

The next test was one of my favorite GameBoy games from yesteryear, Blades of Steel. The game's speed was okay with displaying every 4th frame, but it of course makes for a very jerky experience. I had a few problems with the down key, it always took a few tries to get my guys to move down. The worst experience came when I wanted to exit the game, and was given a "Invalid chunk ptr" error and was forced to reset. Unfortunately everytime I manually reset the device I was given an "Invalid handle" error and was forced to do a hard reset. I tried Blades of Steel again after I reinstalled everything, but with the same results. As this was an initial release of the emulator I was a bit understanding, but made a mental note to backup my Palm more often...
Most of the other games I tried worked and played well. It should be noted that not all games are supported, for example the 1 meg Pokemon rom turned into 2 megs when converted into .pdb format, and I was warned that it might not be supported. Would you really want to waste 2 megs of space on one game though? I guess that's up to you... The demo version only supports roms under 32k in size, which severely limits the number of games you will be able to test out.

A great feature of Liberty is that on the IIIc you can colorize the display by customizing the grayscale palette. This greatly improved the visibility of the games, and went a long way towards enhancing gameplay. Most games work great on the emulator, although speed is still an issue. Action games run slowly, and when you play the game on a real GameBoy you realize just how much slower the emulation is. The value of being able to play thousands of games on your Palm is quite an attractive offer though. The registered version goes for $16.95, which is a bargain considering the amount of development time that went into this.

Overall, Gambit Studios has indeed pulled off the impossible: a great GameBoy emulator for your Palm. While you will still be jealous of the WindowsCE GameBoy emulators, Liberty does a great job, and deservers www.PDAGames.com's highest rating.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Title: Liberty
Publisher: Gambit Studios
Summary: A gameboy emulator for your Palm!

Home  -  Reviews  -  Features  -  Contact Us
Content Copyright © 2000 PDA Games All Rights Reserved.
Designed by Acro Media Inc.