Comments on: Nintendo NES Emulator For Palm OS 5

NesEm Palm OS NES emulatorKalemSoft has released NesEm, a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for Palm OS 5 devices. NesEm is the first Palm OS Nintendo Emulator and runs a number of classic NES games.
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why only os5? :<

pketh @ 5/29/2003 1:01:21 PM #
I'm no hardware expert but I do remember my old 486 33mhz pc could emulate the NES, so why is this not feasible on a OS4 33Mhz system?

RE: why only os5? :<
asiayeah @ 5/29/2003 1:04:05 PM #
Unfortunately, a 33MHz Dragonball processor on your Palm is much slower than a 33Mhz 486DX.


With great power comes great responsiblity.

RE: why only os5? :<
rsc1000 @ 5/29/2003 1:04:45 PM #
Because desktop PCs use completely different architecture, with subsystems taking care of a lot of the functionality that the CPU must do on older, 68k Palm devices.

RE: why only os5? :<
rickyspears @ 5/29/2003 1:05:57 PM #
Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean that it's not posible. It just means that this developer decided to write it for OS 5.

The stylus is mightier than the pen!

RE: why only os5? :<
jamesgood72 @ 5/29/2003 1:08:08 PM #
I don't see how a 33MHz Dragonball is slower than a 33MHz 486DX. I know the DX has a math co-pro, but that's going to be of little use here. I would say it's a lot more to do with Palm OS's memory management. Also, you really need a hi-res screen, and that's only garanteed (?) for OS 5 Palms...


RE: why only os5? :<
kevdo @ 5/29/2003 2:12:22 PM #
The sound functions built into OS 5 are much more robust than in earlier versions -- that'd be a good reason to limit this to OS 5.

-Kevin Crossman
RE: why only os5? :<
bcombee @ 5/29/2003 2:53:29 PM #
A 33Mhz Dragonball CPU takes three to five cycles to execute an instruction. A 486 CPU takes one cycle to execute most instructions. So, while the CPUs are running at the same cycle rate, the Dragonball only runs at 25% of the speed.

The 486 also has memory caching that provides a major reduction in the time needed to retrieve instructions from memory. The Dragonball doesn't have an instruction cache, which leads to even slower performance.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at

RE: why only os5? :<
jamesgood72 @ 5/29/2003 3:05:20 PM #
Thanks for the info Ben.

The Motorola processors may take longer for each instruction, but the instructions in general, do more on the Motorola. i.e. you need several x86 instructions to be equiv to one Motorola. Isn't that correct?

I seem to remember a comparison from the old Motorola/Mac / Intel/PC discussions, saying that on average a 40MHz 040 is about 95% of the speed of a 66MHz 486 DX2. I do realise that the Dragonball is not an 040...



RE: why only os5? :<
bcombee @ 5/29/2003 4:18:24 PM #
Those old Mac ads were comparing the 68040 to the 486. The '040 has a cache and a much shorter instruction execution time. However, the Dragonball processors all contain the original 68EC000 core which isn't nearly as optimized for speed. The '040 is faster per cycle than the 486, but the 68K is not.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at
RE: why only os5? :<
jamesgood72 @ 5/29/2003 6:07:46 PM #

Ah, well there's something I didn't know. I thought the 68K dragonballs were based on the 68020. Definitely not as optimized as I thought...

Thanks for the info.


RE: why only os5? :<
hotpaw4 @ 5/29/2003 8:24:58 PM #
The Dragonball EZ/VZ use a plain CMOS 68000 core, not a '030 or newer which can do a no-op in 3 cycles. A 68000 takes 4 cycles, plus wait states, to execute a simple no-op. Most 68k instructions take even longer (up to 12 cycles on average on some of my benchmarks).

IIRC, a 486DX could do a no-op in one cycle if the instruction was in it's smallish icache, but on average took around 2 or 3 cycles per instruction (almost the same as an ARM9 CPU) on some small benchmarks.

My guess is that an emulator in OS4/68k code would be around 20 times slower than the same emulator under OS5/armlet code, given the current CPU frequencies. That would seriously impact game playability.

RE: why only os5? :<
pketh @ 5/29/2003 9:58:24 PM #
thanks for the enlightenment :) appreciate it.

RE: why only os5? :<
maven @ 5/30/2003 11:44:52 PM #
As someone who once looked into writing an NES emulator, I can agree with Ben and others above. It's just not possible to get full speed on most pre OS-5 devices. Another factor is screen resolution - most earlier devies did not have the resolution to display a full NES screen.

RE: why only os5? :<
RhinoSteve @ 5/31/2003 2:23:12 PM #
It has been done already. The PalmOS 68K Nintendo emulator was called Liberty. Search around on the web, I'm sure it is out there somewhere.
RE: why only os5? :<
rsc1000 @ 5/31/2003 2:34:57 PM #
>>It has been done already. The PalmOS 68K Nintendo emulator was called Liberty. Search around on the web, I'm sure it is out there somewhere.

Wrong - pay attention before posting yr thoughts:) Liberty is a gameboy emulator - this is an NES emulator (u know - a console machine that connects to a tv set).


rsc1000 @ 5/29/2003 1:06:37 PM #
I have been waiting for emulators to hit OS 5 devices. XCade is great (though i wish they'd actually update the damn thing with support for other games - i want major havoc!). Now - how about a C64 emulator?

RE: Cool
macshimidh @ 5/29/2003 2:04:57 PM #
Even better, how about a DOS games emulator?

- Ancient Art of War
- Gato
- Mechwarrior 1
- Castle
- Red Baron

...just to name a few.

RE: Cool
JKingGrim @ 5/29/2003 2:55:10 PM #
I have MW3. MW1 was a DOS app? Is there a download for it?

RE: Cool
VisorMiser @ 5/29/2003 3:00:30 PM #
Welcome because they don't seem to be updating Liberty (gameboy emulator) anymore.

the VisorMiser
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. -- Sir Winston Churchill
RE: Cooler would be...
McTrinsic @ 5/30/2003 8:44:45 AM #
Well, sure this is cool. Though I'd rather say nice. Its the right way to go.

However, i would prefer an ATARI VCS 2600 or Commodore C64 emulator.


The screen of the Palm-based PDAs is limited in size. Though the resolution might be - depending on the PDA model - even better than the C64, the emulated systems all were designed to be displayed on a *TV*.

Thats why I would say Atari 2600 - the games were made with TV in mind, too, but the little resolution makes the screen better "readable" on a PDA.

And, the games were great considering playabilty - anyone remember Pacman, Pitfall / II, Decathlon, River Raid, DigDug, Chopper Command, Galaxian, Joust, Missile Command, Vanguard, Defender and all the other titles?

THATS what we need!

And of course, a C64 emulator - no other system has software en masse like the C64.

RE: Cool
rsc1000 @ 5/30/2003 12:51:54 PM #
>>ATARI VCS 2600

My friends and i recently gathered together some 2nd hand Atari 2600 gear that we had - some we picked up recently at a yard sale. We planned on having a 'Atari 2600' nostalgia party of sorts. We had been going on about how great those games were - how in many cases they were so much more entertaining than todays games. So we got together, hooked it all up, and began going through those games. After about 25 minutes we came to the sad realization that - in fact - these games were 100 times more boring then we remembered:) Oh well.

Fortunately - i DO still get much enjoyment out of C64 games - the complexity of the games and the graphics was great enough AND the gameplay good enough (in many cases) that i still get a great amount of entertainment value out of these games. So i want a C64 emulator for PalmOS 5.

>>Thats why I would say Atari 2600 - the games were made with TV in mind, too, but the little resolution makes the screen better "readable" on a PDA.

>>And, the games were great considering playabilty - anyone remember Pacman, Pitfall / II, Decathlon, River Raid, DigDug, Chopper Command, Galaxian, Joust, Missile Command, Vanguard, Defender and all the other titles?

Yeah but - all of these games are available for this NES emulator - and they are MUCH better than on the Atari 2600. Of course - the NES was meant for a TV as well - so the resolution is fine on a Palm OS 5 device.

RE: Cool
rsc1000 @ 5/30/2003 4:24:34 PM #
I re-read yr list of games and i realized that half od those are not available for NES - to my knowledge. But the others are and their are simply more and better games for NES than Atari 2600. But i do agree - an Atari 2600 emulator should be done.

RE: Cool
maven @ 5/30/2003 11:50:00 PM #
Atari 2600 emulator - I have sources who tell me it's coming (and for older Palm devices as well!) :)

RE: Cool
RedStickJoe @ 10/9/2003 9:19:43 PM #
When color hi-res Palms came on the scene, I thought a Commodore 64 emulator would be lovely.

C64 resolution was 320 x 200 pixels, which would fit just so, and allow a 320x120 window below for disk drive controls and special characters (i.e. run-stop, C=, and function keys).

My only problem was with how the SID could be emulated effectively on such a tiny speaker.

I've got quite a bit of C64 stuff at my house to play with which I revive with VICE and Frodo, but of course that's just me.

I saw the PocketPC C64 emulator advertised-- lo and behold, just like I envisioned it. Only no Palm version, and apparently not anywhere close to being in site.

I disagree with the "readability" issue... this was used comparing VIC-20 games to C-64 games when they were released. I've only seen that on "simple" games-- when the time was taken by a developer to fully use the functions a computer could provide, there were some awesome results. When they spent most of their time trying to appease all people/machines, the visual effects suffered because they had to meet the common denominator (mind you, not the *lowest*; I've spent some time with the Atari 2600). I've had "Pong" and "Defender of the Crown" playing on a Commodore 64 (okay, not at the same time), and the differences are obvious :)

"The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the pieces." --Aldo Leopold

Slick as snails

rsc1000 @ 5/29/2003 3:02:47 PM #
I just tried the demo (it limits you to ROMs that are 31k or less) with the Mario Bros rom - works perfectly. So far (though there aren't many ROMs to try because of the size limit of the demo) it seems very professional and bug free. Nice emulator, very smooth, and a straight forward desktop app.

RE: Slick as snails
Kesh @ 5/29/2003 4:16:58 PM #
Well, crap. It can't use native NES ROMs, and the converter is only for Windows. :( Guess I'll have to do that in Virtual PC.

RE: Slick as snails
bcombee @ 5/29/2003 5:08:55 PM #
The PDB format used for ROM conversion is very easy to reverse engineer, and the .nes ROM format is well documented, so I think it should be easy to make a portable conversion tool.

As best I can tell, the ROM PDB files have creator 'NESE' and type 'nROM'. Record #0 is 16 bytes and has the iNES-format header. Record #1 is the PRG ROM image, while record #2 is the CHR image. I don't yet know the split point for PRG/CHR images that are >= 64K.

You could use PAR to assemble a PDB from this info after using a tool to split the .nes file into multiple parts.

Ben Combee, CodeWarrior for Palm OS technical lead
Programming help at

RE: Slick as snails
Kesh @ 5/29/2003 10:40:21 PM #
If I understood what any of that meant, perhaps I could. ;)

RE: Slick as snails
Javahead @ 5/30/2003 11:15:19 AM #

p.s. kidding aside, thanks for the info Ben. that was helpful for those who did understand what you said. ;)

Nes roms?

stellaboy @ 5/29/2003 4:23:40 PM #
I have been so happy with my Tungsten every day I have owned it Today I am really, really happy with it. I now have my childhood NES in my pocket. BUT can some one tell me where I can get some NES ROMS from. Thanks.

RE: Nes roms?
helf @ 5/29/2003 4:39:04 PM #
Do a search on for "NES roms" ..

RE: Nes roms?
stellaboy @ 5/29/2003 5:21:48 PM #
Sorry I need to clarify myself. Which Nes Roms work with the demo?

RE: Nes roms?
jamesgood72 @ 5/29/2003 6:17:14 PM #
You'll have to download the ROM to see... It will only run ROMs 24KB or smaller. Don't be fooled by small .ZIP file sizes, it's the non-compressed size that it looks at.


RE: Nes roms?
rsc1000 @ 5/30/2003 1:08:57 PM #
A list of compatible ROMS is right on the emulator site - damn people are helpless:

... other stuff works that isn't on the list - but list contains roms that are confirmed to work. remember - the demo limits you to 32k roms(i think thats right? go look it up for yrself on the site).

RE: Nes roms?
stellaboy @ 5/30/2003 4:29:57 PM #
That's been a great help thanks a lot.


kevdo @ 5/29/2003 7:01:52 PM #
I installed this and tried the Donkey Kong Jr. rom. It runs but is pretty slow (kind like slow motion). Much slow, in fact, that the xcade version (of course xcade doesn't support sound or reassignable buttons yet...)

-Kevin Crossman

RE: Slow?
blueBlade @ 5/29/2003 11:18:53 PM #
what does the fps counter say? (is there an fps counter?)

30fps is what near perfect speed should be, at least for pNester. 50-60 is ultrasmooth. Most 400mhz machine should give above 50-60fps on all ROM (ie. sound and picture run faithfully like on original version)

Games that work on Demo

TedTschopp @ 5/29/2003 8:56:27 PM #
I was able to get Milliped working on the demo version. It is just 24K in size.

It ran like a charm on my NX70. It might have been even a bit fast. :-)


RE: Games that work on Demo
rsc1000 @ 5/30/2003 4:03:39 PM #
The first games i tried with the demo was Mario Bros - it ran perfectly. It doesn't seem slow like somebody reported about donkey-knog jr above.

Cool, now if the web site would come back so I can register!

DaveyDave @ 5/30/2003 10:36:57 AM #
Is it down for everyone else as well? Grrr....

RE: Cool, now if the web site would come back so I can register!
karrock @ 5/30/2003 11:54:07 AM #
Works for me

RE: Cool, now if the web site would come back so I can register!
septimus @ 5/30/2003 12:26:18 PM #
registration has been broken for me for about 15 hours now. Although now I get a 404 instead of a page about not recognizing my email. I figure another day and then it's pester time.


Benji_27 @ 6/24/2003 7:41:04 AM #
Rant :
I would be so much happy if anybody of those great prgrammers could find a way to make ScummVM works on the tungsten T.

I find it soo adictive to play on my M515 that I'm somehow disapointed to have upgraded to a Tungsten.

Great PDA, so much better than the M500s, but no Indy4 or day of the tentacle... Sob ;o)))

See ya.


RE: Well...
j.j @ 9/6/2003 8:14:56 PM #
Where can I download games from?

will it work

Vamslay1415 @ 1/25/2004 7:13:25 PM #
Will it work with my palm (Tungsten E) that i got January 13 this year? and does it support .nes file types?

Where to get these games

NCfan @ 2/22/2004 11:07:10 PM #
This may seem like a stupid question but can anybody help me find the url to a site where I an actually download games for my NES emulator. I have the trial version but have no clue where to get the games. I have a feeling I am missing something obvious, so could somebody please help.


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