Quick Review: Nesoid NES Emulator for Android

I’m a big fan of the T-Mobile G1 but to say that the selection of quality games from the Android Market has been underwhelming (at best) would be sugar-coating it. Luckily none of that really matters any more, as Android finally has a decent NES emulator.

It’s called “Nesoid” and, while emulation purists will scoff at the notion of charging money for emulation software, the program only costs two bucks and there’s a trial version available that allows you to play Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers all the livelong day.

As for ROM support, Nesoid ran just about every ROM I threw at it and the program features save- and load-states so you can save whatever game you’re playing mid-level and pick right back up where you left off the next time you load up Nesoid.

Sound and music, much the bane of any mobile emulator’s existence, works okay on Nesoid. It gets a bit choppy, especially in more intricate games like the ones put out in the NES’ later years (see Super Mario Bros. 3 in the above video), but the sound can be turned off, which improves framerates considerably. And apparently the sound is smoother if you’ve upgraded your handset to Cupcake. I haven’t yet, so I won’t comment. As it stands now, though, it’s just a minor annoyance that sometimes results in some slowdown here and there but doesn’t detract from the experience enough to be a true deal-breaker.

The control scheme is better than I thought it’d be, but still not great. You can’t use the trackball at all, which may have been a nice thing to use as the control pad. Instead, the default key settings are 1, A, Q, W for up, down, left, and right, O and P for the B and A buttons, and delete and enter for select and start. These buttons can all be reconfigured, and you can assign turbo keys and diagonal direction keys as well.

The interface itself is nice and polished, with a file manager-style list of ROMs that you load up onto your SD card. Games load quickly and hitting the Menu key mid-game allows you to save your current game, load a previously saved game, or choose a new game to play.

For $1.99, Nesoid opens up a whole new world for portable gaming fun on your G1 handset. It’s not perfect by any means, but it easily works well enough to justify the tiny price tag. Check out the above video and take the demo version for a spin first and see how you like it.