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The Pros:
  • Duh, you can play GameBoy Games on your Palm!
  • Converts GB roms into the Palm format
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The Cons:
  • Plays a touch slowly, even with acceleration software
  • You lose the ability to do productive work on your organizer!

Palm Infocenter.com Ratings*:
8b
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Palm Infocenter.com Pick!
Liberty, Palm OS Gameboy Emulator
Ed Hardy (ed@palminfocenter.com)
7/7/2000


After years of waiting, Liberty, the GameBoy emulator for the Palm is finally here! Is it perfect? No. Will it allow you to play GameBoy games on your Palm? Most certainly yes.

Liberty comes in two forms: demo and registered. The demo form is fully functional except that it can only play ROMs that are at most 32 K. Fortunately, it comes with a few demo games that are that small and a quick search of the Internet quickly turned up some other games that also meet that criteria. This should give you everything you need to fully test the app before putting down your money.

When you first launch Liberty you will see a screen that displays the games you have loaded onto your Palm. This is straight-forward; just select a game and hit 'Play".

I played all the bundled freeware games and Liberty executed them fairly well on my Palm IIIx. Several of them are strategy games so the speed that they play at is unimportant. One of the games is called "Free Ants!" and it is a good test for how quickly this emulator runs. It is a version of the great old game "Lemmings" so it needs to be run fairly close to real time to be fun. It tears me up to say this but this really didn't happen for me.

When I wasn't happy about how quickly "Ants" was moving, I played around on the Configuration screen. This will allow you to set the throttle speed. As the instructions say, "Some games will be faster with throttle set to low; some with throttle set to high." This is also where you can set your frame skipping, called 'frame blit'. The default setting for this is to show every other frame but you can reduce this all the way to every fourth frame or show every one. I played around with these for a while and still wasn't satisfied. "Ants" has a convenient timer on it and each second on the timer took about three seconds in real time. So the game was just barely playable but it took a bit of patience.

The instructions recommend using an over-clocking utility. In fact, they say they'll be offering a bundle of Liberty and Afterburner. So I installed the latest version of Afterburner and set Liberty up to the maximum speed I could: 32 MHz. This helped quite a bit. The each second on the timer on "Ants" now took about 1.5 seconds of real time.

Though I'm a touch disappointed I really can't fault Liberty for not being as fast as a real GameBoy. Emulating one piece of hardware on another is a tremendously difficult thing to do and the Palm's Dragonball processor isn't exactly a speed demon. The one in my Palm IIIx pokes along at 16 MHz, the Palm Vx and IIIc sport 20mhz chips. The fact that Liberty works at all is a major achievement.

I decided it was time to break away from "Ants" and tried some other commercial GameBoy games. I met with mixed results. Some games wouldn't play at all. Some worked fine. Naturally, the games I had the best luck with were the strategy games where the speed of the game is less important.

Liberty comes with a utility to convert GameBoy games (.gb) to Palm format (.pdb). I tried this with half a dozen games and it worked great every time. Just drop a game onto the conversion utility and it will be converted almost instantly. This is a really great feature and the developers deserve a lot of applause. What surprised me most about this is how much the file sizes increased. For example, a GameBoy file that was 256 K became a Liberty game at 481 K.

I feel obligated to point out here that downloading GameBoy ROMs off the Internet is illegal and the guys at Gambit Studios won't have anything to do with it. As the developers say in the instructions, "Do not contact Gambit Studios asking where to get commercial games. We don't know, and will not respond to your requests."

The other options on the Configuration screen weren't important during my quest for speed but they are handy once you are playing the games. You can remap any of the buttons and make the Calc and Find buttons into Select and Start buttons. There are also 'Select' and 'Start' buttons at the top of the screen that are always available.

If you have a non-color handheld, you can change the brightness of the grayscale tones for better viewing in various lighting conditions using the Grayscale screen. Just select the settings that provide the best picture for you.

If you have a color handheld, Liberty will show games in color after you change the gray palette to a color combination you like. You can select any color combination you choose. The developers advise, "Our experience has shown us softer colors work much better than bright ones, and complementary colors better than contrasting ones."

The developers for Liberty, Michael Ethetton and Aaron Ardiri, deserve a big round of applause for all their hard work. They persevered, putting in ridiculous hours, to produce a piece of software that nay-sayers had dismissed as "Vaporware". But it isn't vapor and it is available now for $16.95 on their site, PalmGear, or Ardiri.com.

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Anyone found a working rom ?

V0iD @ 7/7/2000 3:04:27 AM #
I tried various of the roms refered to at gambits page, but either:
- There were > 32kb that the demo did not support
- Or they never got farther than the intro screen

If you find a rom that actually works with the demo, please post the URL here.

Thnx

RE: Anyone found a working rom ?
nick @ 7/7/2000 5:53:18 AM #
http://emulation.zone.ru/gbroms_e.html" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://emulation.zone.ru/gbroms_e.html - The tetris download works but you will need afterburner running to keep the speed up.

P.S I wish to give my apologies to the developers of the emulator for suggesting that this was a hoax - an impressive success.

RE: Anyone found a working rom ?
Dylan @ 7/7/2000 6:11:18 AM #
So far tried and tested on my Palm V 3.3 Tetris and a game called Space, both were 32kb on my PC went to 33kb when converted but my copy of liberty shows them as 32kbs. The only things is the emulation is very slow, I don't know if that's because my memory is very full (I have 255KB left of 2 Mb) or the settings, will investigate. Liberty is amazing I have to say, I just need to work out this speed problem. I now wish I had a Palm Vx 3.5!
RE: Anyone found a working rom ?
Ben Esacove @ 7/7/2000 6:46:52 PM #
The only 32KB Gameboy games that I know of (own) are Lode Runner, Crystal Quest, Minesweeper, and Tetris.

If you don't own these or don't have a GB transfer unit, a cool free game that works really well with Liberty is Willy Wonderworm, available from http://icarus.ticalc.org/.

Ben" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://icarus.ticalc.org/.

Ben

RE: Anyone found a working rom ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/10/2000 12:39:41 PM #
BattleCity, Dr. Mario, and Tennis all work great at seemingly real time (tennis is a bit slow, bit playable)!

Set to skip every 3rd or 4th frame, and clock
to at least 28 mHz

Gary

Speed up liberty

Dylan @ 7/7/2000 7:46:44 AM #
Get Afterburner 3, comes with hackmaster 20Kb, speeds up individual programs on your Palm, I am clocking 28Mhz to get Liberty playable. You can get a copy here : http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?sid=62244620000701163254&prodID=7429" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?sid=62244620000701163254&prodID=7429
RE: Speed up liberty
Jim Duffy @ 7/7/2000 1:03:55 PM #

The speed is just unacceptable at this point.

I tried AfterBurner 3 and it kept crashing the palm even at 24mgz it causes a reset which wiped out all my apps. Thank god I have Backup Buddy.

If anyone out there does not have Backup Buddy I highly recomend you not overclock with AfterBurner and try the emulator, It will ruin you day.

Jim

RE: Speed up liberty
Xak (xak@mail.com) @ 7/17/2000 4:09:47 PM #
Actually I overclock my Palm Vx to 32MHZ (!) with no problem. Never had any hard reset problems with overclocking.
RE: Speed up liberty
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/20/2001 7:04:56 AM #
Clocked my IIIc to 28MHz and my girl friend won't give it back...

GB Cartridge readers

Hephaestus @ 7/7/2000 9:18:20 AM #
Does anyone know who sells a GB cart reader?
RE: GB Cartridge readers
ed@palminfocenter.com @ 7/7/2000 9:52:45 AM #
I looked but wasn't able to find one for sale. I even looked on eBay. I did find several places giving instructions for building your own, like this one:

http://pc1-archbo.bot.unibas.ch/~lukas/GBprojects/CartIO.html

As this product takes off I think the market for these is going to take off, too. Anyone handy with a soldering iron interested in starting a side business?

RE: GB Cartridge readers
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2000 10:02:55 AM #
Lik-sang.com (Hong Kong) I ordered from them and received within a week.
RE: GB Cartridge readers
weknews @ 7/7/2000 11:03:12 AM #
One is in development that will interface directly to the Palm. Hopefully you will see it soon!

It is pretty slow!!!

Torben Hansen @ 7/7/2000 9:29:41 AM #
I have just tried Liberty demo. I think it is pretty slow, and I even use Afterburner at 32 Mhz. I hope it gets better in the full version.
RE: It is pretty slow!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/29/2001 12:24:45 AM #
MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! YOUR PROCESSORS ARE PATHETIC!!!. My Sony Clie` came STANDARD w/ 33Mhz, and I'm about to upgrade to 66!!!! AND it comes w/ 8 Megs of memory and disk space, so you can all SUCK IT!

Games

Gameboy @ 7/7/2000 2:20:15 PM #
http://www.nwnet.co.uk/syko/gb.html" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.nwnet.co.uk/syko/gb.html

A collection of under 65k games.

Liberty on the IIIc

Addicted @ 7/7/2000 5:25:45 PM #
(Sorry for my bad english...)

All of you know that the color display is really sloooowwwww on the palm IIIc and all the games that are using it, like zap2000, are slower in color than on 4 grey machines. Try to disable color on the game "Void" and you will see it run twice faster.
If Libery is using color it only displays 4 of them. So, wouldn't it be great to switch the IIIc on "grey level" display within Liberty. It tried this with some utilities but it seems that Liberty is using color even whith the screens in 2-bit.

RE: Liberty and Color Screens
Maven @ 7/7/2000 5:40:29 PM #
Yep.. you've figured out one of our great secrets... we've managed to get colors in the 2-bit mode, preventing those slowdowns that would occur in 8-bit mode. You know we couldn't handle it any slower :-) So, Liberty on the Palm IIIc rans just as fast as it would in 'greyscale' mode! - or just as slow, depending on your outlook ;-)
RE: Liberty on the IIIc
Addicted @ 7/7/2000 5:56:01 PM #
How is it possible to display colors in 2-bit mode ?!? Are u joking ??
RE: Liberty on the IIIc
Maven @ 7/7/2000 7:59:53 PM #
Completely serious. Pretty amazing huh? I had the idea, and Aaron figured out how to implement it. He's a great guy to work with, and without his help you guys wouldn't have seen iberty for a while longer :-)
How it was done :))
Aaron Ardiri @ 7/7/2000 10:40:53 PM #
hi!

dying to know how it was done? :)) one of those undocumented features you stumble across when doing some trial and error :)) but it has a great effect.. it will take a while before others realize how to do it. on another note.. it is very easy to also set up the IIIc to use 4bpp (16 color) so you get 16 color games at twice the speed of the normal 256 color games :))

// az
ardiri@palmgear.com

Afterburner Questions

BrianX124 @ 7/7/2000 6:14:47 PM #
Hello,
I was wondering that since I am running afterburner, it is overclocking my visor...Right? So does that mean that I risk permanent hardware failure or damage? If I do, I will stop overclocking right now. I have been running just about everything at 32mhz now and nothing has gone wrong. But I have decided to stop until I can get an answer. Thanks! -Brian

RE: Afterburner Questions
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/7/2000 6:26:54 PM #
You should be fine, the processors are all severly underclocked (for longer battery life). At worst you might get a crash, but as long as you've backed up the stuff you should be fine. The only downside to overclocking is that is absolutely DEVOURS the battery. I often keep my palm underclocked to conserve more battery power, and it's amazing how fast the battery will go when playing with Liberty at 32mhz.


*WARNING*

pthree @ 7/7/2000 7:08:44 PM #
Not to be an alarmist, but certain palm configurations have been reporting fatal reset loops, resulting in bliinking usor, that can only be stopped with a hard reset. Liberty has been taken down for the moment, and will not return till it is fixed. If you have dloaded liberty, but not installed please refrain from doing so at this time, until an updated version is available.
RE: *WARNING*
CmdrTaco @ 7/7/2000 8:19:19 PM #
I thank you for the honest of your warning.
VERY REFRESHING. (But I'll download it anyways!)
RE: *WARNING* FIXED
Maven @ 7/7/2000 9:58:32 PM #
The latest version (1.0c) is now available on the websites. The problem reported by some users has been fixed. PLEASE GET THE LATEST RELEASE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE HAD NO PROBLEMS!

Thanks,
Maven
Gambit Studios, LLC

RE: *WARNING*
jonecool @ 7/11/2000 4:26:06 PM #
This happened to me! Twice on my Palm VII!

I took liberty off the second time as it forced a hard-reset. I wasn't sure if it was Liberty or Afterburner, I played it safe and took them both off.

The program really is good, but the hard crashes forced me to dump it.

RE: *WARNING*
I.M. Anonymous @ 7/12/2000 11:08:01 AM #
I've had hard crashes with Afterburner. I had to let my Palm sit for a LONG time without batteries before it would work again. Be careful about jacking the clock up too high....

Mac Compatibility

Skye McCaskey @ 7/8/2000 3:23:25 PM #
Are you going to have a mac version of the ROM converter soon?

"New Release"

BionicNad @ 7/8/2000 6:39:44 PM #
It's about time that someone came out with this. Intoducing the "ShockNad", the worlds first virtual pleasure machine for the palm platform.
(You know that there was some motive in calling it the "Palm") Users will slip on the specially
design rubber sheath which is embedded with circuits that will generate heat and electronic
pulses, while simueltaneously watching a downloaded "partner of their choice" on the LCD
screen. (The IIIc is best) The sheath will plug into the expansion port into the palm while the user reels in delight
as he is automated ino ecxtasy. Cleanup is a breeze. Just unplug it and run it under the sink
and the "after-love" liquids will virtually swim out. Some of the "partners" currently in development
are Carmen Electra, Pamela Anderson, Will Smith, Bob Hope, Liz Taylor, Richie Sambora,
the legendary Micky Mantle, and last but not least Dru Hill. In the future we see Wu Tang Clan,
Baywatch babes, and Darth Vader. It will be out in August, but preorders are being accepted at
<www.bionicnad.com.> Pricing will be $49.99 for the sheath and roughly $10.00 for each
cyber partner. Visit us for more information.

any other convertors

Mondlicht @ 7/11/2000 4:33:22 PM #
anyone knows where to find any other convertors for the palm liberty

Saving games

Rich @ 7/22/2000 11:32:47 AM #
First, if you haven't downloaded the newest version of Liberty (1.0e), you may want to. It is significantly faster than the previous version. Coupled with Afterburner, it is finally getting where it needs to be in terms of speed. I am pleased with the performance I am now getting.

Now, does Liberty actually have the ability to save games? If it does, I may never know because I only have the Zelda ROM on my Palm. To save, you must press "A", "B", "Start" and "Select" at the same time. I don't think it is possible to press "Start" and "Select" at the same time since they are part of the Palm's screen and you can only press one thing at a time on the screen. I'm looking forward to Liberty eventually coming up with a solution for this. It would turn the emulator from an amazing novelty to something I would actually use.

RE: Saving games
Maven @ 7/23/2000 8:41:06 AM #
I just wanted to respond with a note that we are currently working on a major update to Liberty which will be released the first week in August (so be sure to check our web site)

The update will include:

* Multiple-game saving
* Support for SRAM emulation for games like
Zelda, Pokemon, etc. that have built-in saving
* various fixes for compatibility in certain games.

Thanks for your interest in Liberty, and for supporting the Palm software community!

Best regards,
Michael Ethetton, President
Gambit Studios, LLC
http://www.GambitStudios.com

" CLASS=NEWS TARGET=_NEW>http://www.GambitStudios.com

Visor GameBoy

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2000 5:53:15 PM #
Heres and idea for a willing spring bord develepor a module that will let you plug game boy games INTO the visor (the slots about the right size) so any offers for develeopment!!!

Gameboy Emulator Update

I.M. Anonymous @ 4/18/2001 4:53:08 AM #
Don't bother with paying for Gambit, it's not worth it instead check this out

http://palmboy.suburbia.com.au/index.htm#download

and try Dr Mario for a perfect Palm Pilot emulator...
I also try Pokemon but it's a bit slow and big for my 2 meg...

RE: Gameboy Emulator Update
I.M. Anonymous @ 12/31/2001 8:31:06 PM #
could you send me a site where I could get gameboy roms for my palm?


It's not bad considering...

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/23/2002 12:24:51 AM #
I admit, I haven't tried Liberty, but I did try out PalmBoy, another Palm emulator. Yes, it is much slower than the average gameboy, however, I did find it playable, and this was without Afterburner (I look forward to seeing how Afterburner makes it work faster). On action games, it is annoying, but for games like Final Fantasy (except for some animation scenes) it is tolerable.

I mean, I wouldn't sell my gameboy anytime soon, but I am very impressed these emulators can run games at all on the Palm. I think most just have to realize it's a trade-off... if you want free games on a handheld device then you have to tolerate the slowness (at least until the Palm technology gets better). If you want speed, then get one of those devices that will put roms onto flashcards, and play it on a real gameboy, because you just won't get it on the Palm.

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